Shannon Allen is the type of person who does it all. As the mother of five children with her husband Ray Allen, two-time NBA champion, she’s built a food empire on a mission to reinvent fast food. grown, the first-ever USDA organic certified fast food restaurant (with a drive-thru!) in the US. At grown, you can expect “real food, cooked slow, for fast people.” Prior to starting grown, Shannon hosted the TV show, The Pre-Game Meal, inspired by her years of optimizing game day meals for Ray. Living in Miami with her family, Shannon spends time building her brand, advocating for research on Type 1 Diabetes, and enjoying the simple moments with her kids and husband – outside and around the table. We chatted with Shannon about her philosophies on food, her go-to family-pleasing dinners, the three things she incorporates in every recipe, and her plans for the summer.
NBRHD: What was your first experience in the kitchen?
Shannon Allen: My first experience in the kitchen was running out to our family’s garden in Connecticut with a salt shaker in my hand to grab a warm cucumber or tomato for breakfast. That, or heading down to our basement to grab “a jar of tomatoes” for my mom and dad who canned and jarred everything in anticipation for winter stews, sauces, and soups. My parents were hippies. Turns out, they had the right idea about growing your own food and instilled in us early the importance of taking care of each other and the earth.
NBRHD: What are your foundational sources of inspiration?
SA: My inspiration is love. My love for my husband and children, our family, friends, GOD, myself, people, humanity, Mother Earth and her many inhabitants, and the opportunity to create something that I wished existed. It’s all the same energy – whether you’re writing a song, designing a space, telling your kids a bedtime story, ideating a new business or non-profit that helps people live better, or creating a delicious snack. It’s creation energy. For me that source is love.
NBRHD: What’s your general philosophy around food?
SA: Eat real food. Focus your energy on consuming organic foods, single ingredients, and mostly fruits and vegetables. If you can’t pronounce it, it’s most likely not food, but rather, a “food-like substance.” We’ve been brainwashed to believe that stuff in shiny packages is fast food. It’s not. An orange is a fast food – you peel it, you eat it. Do you want to give yourself the best shot at optimal health and wellness? Start by eating the good stuff. It’s really simple.
NBRHD: Where do you find inspiration when you’re feeling burnt out?
SA: Spending time with my family in the sun by the ocean always recharges my batteries.
NBRHD: What is your go-to meal when you don’t feel like cooking?
SA: When I don’t feel like cooking, I place a family-style salmon, with sweet mash & broccoli delivery order from grown.
NBRHD: What’s your favorite healthy, crowd-pleasing meal, even with picky eaters?
SA: You can never go wrong with gluten-free panko encrusted chicken tenders, long-grain white rice, a pot of black beans, and garlic sautéed broccoli. Something for everyone.
NBRHD: What are your favorite things to have for breakfast, lunch, dinner?
SA: But, first coffee. Then, maybe a slice of GF toast (I have a ton of food allergies, so I’ve had to eliminate most traditional breakfast foods like eggs, oatmeal, and pancakes from my diet). Coffee is my go-to. I love a hearty salad for lunch, finely chopped organic curly kale, cashews, cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, dried cranberries with a lemon vinaigrette, and a scoop of tuna or chicken salad. For dinner, I’m thrilled when I can have a nice piece of protein with veggies like asparagus, sautéed mushrooms, or collard greens. My favorite two snacks are freshly chopped watermelon with a squeeze of lime and a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt or a bowl of freshly popped popcorn with organic salted butter.
NBRHD: What was your last delivery meal? Where was it from and how was it?
SA: My last delivery was from our Southern-inspired Soul Food concept @grown_southern. I had the “Table Salad” with sautéed shrimp, and it was delicious. I had nothing left on my to-go plate.
NBRHD: How have you been decompressing lately?
SA: I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen with my husband and our five children. Cooking, that rocking of the knife, is very therapeutic for me. I love creating and I love seeing my babies’ smiles when they love their food.
NBRHD: What’s the last great thing you read, watched, or listened to?
SA: I’m obsessed with Stanley Tucci’s “Finding Italy” on CNN. It’s food porn, and I can’t get enough.
NBRHD: What’s something you’re looking forward to this summer?
SA: Chilling the fuck out. The summer for us is all about unplugging from the matrix. Leisurely beach days, bike rides, backyard hoop games, gardening, spending time reconnecting with our extended family, summer birthday celebrations, long walks in nature, grilling out, time spent luxuriating in a good book, long talks around the fire pit, family game nights. Pretty simple stuff.
NBRHD: What does your morning routine look like?
SA: My morning routine starts around 6:30 am when our youngest son wakes me up to take him to school (he’s the only one who’s not Zoom schooling). I weigh myself (yup, every morning), brush my teeth, shower, smooth down my hair, get dressed, drink a glass of room temp water, make my coffee, take 9,000 IU’s of Vitamin D, give our middle child Walker his morning insulin (he has T1D), and then I’m out the door by 7:20 am.
NBRHD: When do you have your first meal and what does it usually consist of?
SA: My first meal of the day is usually a late lunch. I drink coffee for breakfast. I am on the paleo diet, exclusively. I might grab a piece of grilled chicken and a small salad or a banana and a handful of cashews or a hot bowl of last night’s leftover bolognese sans pasta.
NBRHD: What are your favorite pantry items? Any tips on how to use them?
SA: I put fresh organic garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and diced onion in everything I cook. I don’t even have to think about it. It’s my default.