By: Gibson Johns
Haylie Duff wasn't always a good cook. In fact, that's actually why she started her blog, Real Girl's Kitchen, in the first place. Originally intended as an avenue for Duff to try out different recipes to help improve her culinary skills, Real Girl's Kitchen has since spawned a cook book and a show on the Cooking Channel.
And she has another show on the way called "Haylie's America."
Just because her cooking skills have reached a level that would be considered professional by most people doesn't mean that the mother-of-one has left behind her snacking habits, though. She calls snacking her "number one," which makes her #PhillyFlavors partnership with Philadelphia Cream Cheese make a lot of sense.
Not only that, but Duff's one-year-old daughter, Ryan, also loves to snack. Duff admits that having a child has had an immense impact on her eating habits, forcing her to think twice before deciding what to make for her family.
We recently caught up with Haylie Duff on the phone to talk about her first year as a mother, her ever-growing Real Girl's Kitchen empire, her partnership with Philadelphia Cream Cheese and and what her "weakness in life" is.
See photos of Haylie Duff's "Real Girl's Kitchen":
Check out our full conversation with Haylie Duff below:
Let's talk a little bit about your ever-growing Real Girl's Kitchen empire. You have a blog, a cookbook and a television show! When you first started your blog, did you ever think it would turn into something as big as it is now?
Honestly, Gibson, no. Never! We were just talking about this yesterday -- someone asked me how this all got started, and I honestly started Real Girl's Kitchen -- my blog -- because I didn't know how to cook. The first few recipes I put up were things that I was messing up in the kitchen, and I think that's sort of what drew people into me and my kitchen in general: I was a real girl figuring out how to cook to myself and my family and my friends. Now, it's taken this really beautiful shift into me loving to cook and being passionate about it and at some chance being good at it. But, no, never in a million years would I have thought this, and I pinch myself all the time. The fact that we're going into a second series with the Cooking Channel is amazing. I'm just so grateful.
I actually have a new show coming up that isn't Real Girl's Kitchen anymore -- it's called "Haylie's America," and it's a travel series!
Amazing! What's the premise, exactly?
It's about getting outside of the kitchen and getting out into the world. Basically, I feel like I go through different phases in life with food where sometimes I'm very much in the kitchen zone, cooking all the time and testing recipes, figuring out who I am in the kitchen. Then I go through phases where I don't want to cook as much, and I want to be out in the world meeting new people and experiencing new foods and restaurants. For me, this new series is really about capturing that adventure phase of my life. We're sort of referring to it as the "Snapchat version" of "Real Girl's Kitchen." It's just a little more real and not so polished, but still beautiful food and so much fun. It's a little bit rowdy, and we're really excited for people to see it.
I'm still doing original recipes in every episode, so that's one thing that will stay the same. One thing I'm really passionate about is sharing my recipes with people. The difference here is that I'm not really in my kitchen doing it. Each episode you never really know where I'm going to cook, which I find really fun and probably pretty stressful for the production company a lot of the time. [Laughs] In New Orleans, I cooked on the side of a dock with a propane tank and in Austin we cooked at a bed and breakfast. It's a free format, which keeps it exciting not only for the people watching but also me too.
Talk to me a bit about your partnership with Philadelphia Cream Cheese and how it came to be.
Philadelphia is doing this really fun contest where they're asking people to submit their unique, creative, wacky, amazing -- however you want to describe it -- flavor combinations, and that happens to be right up my alley. I love any kind of interesting flavor combos, and I happen to use Philadelphia Cream Cheese all the time in my cooking and my recipes in my day-to-day life, so when they asked me to partner with them in this contest -- I also have a bit of a weakness for contests -- I was really excited to do it.
So, here I am! I've gotten to try all of these amazing flavor combos, and I'm really looking forward to what people come up with.
What's your favorite Philadelphia Cream Cheese flavor spread?
I have a couple of favorite ones! I have a soft spot for the red pepper and olive one, because I tend to be a savory girl. I love that it's a spreadable cheese that you can put on a cracker or a pita or toast or a bagel and layer it with veggies and stuff like that. I like that you can just dip veggies into it, crudité style. I also love the veggie one and the peach one. I just did a fun pairing with the strawberry and balsamic which was really good.
I feel like people are going to send in some really great combos that I'm probably going to have to steal a couple of ideas from them.
The entire #PhillyFlavors contest is going to culminate in a snacking showdown later this summer, for which you'll be serving as a judge. What will you be looking for?
I'm just going to look for, number one: something that's really tasty, but also number two: something that's different. I want to see the weird things that people come up with; that's what I think I'm really going to be into.
Do you snack a lot? What are your snacking habits like?
I mean, we don't know each other that well, but it's absolutely my number one! I love snacking -- all I do is snack! My weakness in life is crackers, that's the one thing that I really have to try to cut back on when I'm trying to eat more healthily. I'm a big snacker, and I think that's also why I've felt like this is such a good fit for me, too, is that I'm going to leave here with 50 new ideas on how to snack more efficiently.
Do you have any creative snack ideas that you use when making snacks for your daughter, Ryan?
I do! We just got to the point where I starting putting Philadelphia Cream Cheese in her eggs in the morning, and it makes them creamier and puts a little bit of fat in there for her, which she needs because she's growing. She needs the extra calcium and dairy. I use it a lot when I cook for her.
She's just getting her little molars in the back, which is just exciting for everyone. [Laughs] But it's great, because it's making it easier to make more snack foods for her. One of her favorite things right now is little pieces of turkey with a little bit of cream cheese in the middle that I make little roll-ups with. Anything that she can grab herself and eat or bite into is number one. She's a big fan of that.
How has your first year as a mother impacted the way that you think about food and cook for yourself?
It made me plan more, which is good. We have less food waste in our house, because I'm planning our meals a lot more. That was one thing I was never so great about. Another thing I've really focused on is encouraging her to eat what we eat. Someone a while ago told me that if you start making two separate meals, you'll be making two separate meals 'til the end of time. I've really tried to introduce her to the same things we're eating, obviously with some exceptions.
That's one of the biggest things, too -- I've really paid attention to what I feed myself. I'm starting to look at what's healthy and what's not and thinking about whether or not I would want to give certain foods to her. If I'm not making it for her, maybe I shouldn't make it for myself either! We've all sort of cleaned up our acts a little bit, which is good.
RELATED: See photos of Haylie Duff's sister, Hilary, through the years:
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