FIVE X FIVE: Nicole Centeno

The Tot FIVE x FIVE invites inspiring mamas to answer five questions on motherhood and curate their favorite kids’ products they can’t live without. Here we talk to Nicole Centeno, Founder of the wildly popular plant-based meal program, Splendid Spoon.

Nicole Centeno splendid spoon

As someone who admittedly had a complicated relationship with food, mama of two, Nicole Centeno, credits her first pregnancy for giving her a newfound determination to finally create a foolproof meal plan for herself and growing child. The result: Splendid Spoon, a satisfying plant‑based meal program that is ready-to‑eat, pre-portioned, calorie‑controlled, and made with only whole ingredients. Wildly popular, Nicole used her background in biochemistry and training at the International Culinary Center in NYC to craft soups that are designed to give women the nourishment they need, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Refreshingly honest, incredibly inspiring and highly knowledgeable, Nicole is making it her mission to take the stress out of eating and bring back the childlike enchantment she once had while playing in her mother’s vegetable garden. The author, entrepreneur and soup captain is mom goals all over and we are here for it!

smiling woman eating food

Nicole on Motherhood

  1. How/ when did you get the idea to turn your soups into a business? “When I was pregnant with my first son, Grover (now 6!) I was trying to figure out a bunch of shifts — a career change from media to food, becoming a new mom, and figuring out a more balanced diet for my pregnant body (I was relying heavily on croissants and granola bars at this very busy juncture!) I knew from my background in biology and culinary school that creating thoughtful healthy meals took time — and I wasn’t willing to take time away from building my business and planning out motherhood to get there. So, the idea of replacing my forgettable (or let’s face it, forgotten) weekday meals of croissants and granola bars made a lot of sense. What if I could replace all my 9-5 snacks and crummy meals with something simple and super nourishing? This was how Splendid Spoon came to be. This idea that if you have a really easy, really high quality meal ready for you when you need it during the workweek, you save time AND improve the quality of your health.

  2. What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve faced while growing two humans/ launching a business? “Defining my own work-life balance. The majority of venture-backed consumer businesses out there are run by men. Relatively few 30-something moms are starting businesses that attract institutional capital, so there aren’t as many role models out there. I’ve had to become really comfortable with designing a blueprint for the work-life balance that makes me feel satisfied and fulfilled.”

  3. How do you teach your kids healthy eating habits? “I include them in cooking, always try to give them choices, and am a broken record talking about ‘growing foods,’ our term for fruits and vegetables (taught to me by fellow mom-preneur Diana from Cisse Chocolate!) Kids have a similar relationship to food as grownups, they’re just more vocal about it. We are all tempted by sweet processed treats — but where grown ups can quietly indulge, kids are really vocal about their preferences. I follow an 80/20 rule with my kids, similar to my own diet. If the food is being eaten on my terms (in my home or in their school lunch) it’s going to be clean, whole foods and lots of those growing foods. Out of the home – birthday parties, holidays at Grandmas – they can partake in what the rest of the group is enjoying. Perfect can be the enemy of great, and I think 80/20 is pretty darn great.”

  4. Do you have certain non-negotiable traditions or values you want to install in your kids? “Kindness, collaboration, and gratitude are my main values. I think one of my main responsibilities as a parent is to show my kids how their words and actions, affect other people and their world. These values really pull you out of yourself to see the ripple effect of your choices.”

  5. What’s next for Splendid Spoon? “More amazingly easy meals made with wholesome ingredients! And some fun partnerships that help our customers reach and track their wellness goals.”

smiling mom and son eating a meal

Nicole’s favorite Mealtime Picks

  1. Thinkbaby Sippy of Steel: “A throw-proof, leak-proof, everything-proof sippy is PRICELESS.”

  2. OMY Paper Coloring Mats: “I love any kind of screen-free activity for the dinner table. I keep a pen and pad in my bag or restaurants and my kids will love this upgrade.”

  3. Petits et Maman Spaceship Plate: “My kids love having the ability to choose what goes into each section, and I love dedicating at least one section to those growing foods 😉 Plus it is SO cute.”

  4. State Bags Color Block Lunchbox: “It keeps lunches cool and perfect fit for my favorite bento lunch box.

  5. We Might Be Tiny Bunny Snackie: “Homemade snack cups for things like grapes and carrot sticks are key to avoiding packaged snacks.”