For all the 20-somethings out there, you probably read this title and instantly thought of Haylie Duff as the quirky, yet sassy girl we grew up watching in movies like Napoleon Dynamite and Material Girls. However, Haylie’s ditched acting to join us foodies in our food-loving world, by developing her own recipes.
From starting her own blog, to being the host of her own show on the Cooking Channel, to becoming a mother (to an adorable little girl Ryan) and representing a new brand, Haylie’s life has been quite the juggle.
Luckily for me, the amazing Brooke Hamroff over at SpoonHQ teamed up with our friends at Sweet Scarlett’s, and gave me the opportunity to interview Haylie.
Spoon: Can you tell us a little bit more about what you’ve been up to lately?
Haylie: I think everyone who’s gone onto my Instagram lately can see that my life is pretty much revolving around my daughter right now. I feel very fortunate I’ve been on hiatus from Real Girls Kitchen in these first few months of her life. It’s been so special to be able to be home with her and not feel like I’m stretching myself too thin between work and trying to be home, so I’m just a stay-at-home mom right now, which is awesome. During her nap times I’m working on the third season episode ideas and recipe for Real Girls Kitchen.
Spoon: What inspired you to get involved in the food industry? What is it that made you want to make the transition from being an actor, to being the host of your own show?
Haylie: You know, it’s funny I never would’ve thought I would be doing this. When I posted my first recipe on my blog, I was actually on location on a movie in Canada and it was really bad weather, so I had cabin fever and ended up posting a recipe of meatballs and it got this huge response and it kinda grew and grew. I didn’t really set out to do this and change my career in any way, it just kinda happened. My mom laughs about it all the time, because she’s always like ‘I dont know how the girl who used to burn everything has turned into this great cook.’ I’m so grateful for this, because it’s the been the best creative outlet for me. It’s creatively fulfilling for me in the way that acting just wasn’t doing it for me. I’m grateful everyday that I get to do this job.
Spoon: What is it that you would say inspires your recipes?
Haylie: I pull inspiration from so many different places. From something great that I ate at another restaurant, to a picture I saw, to a craving that I have, to something a friend of mine wants to eat. I feel like I’m constantly being inspired from a bunch of different things.
Spoon: How is it balancing motherhood while also hosting? I know you just mentioned you’re currently a stay-at-home mom, but have there been days where balancing everything has been tough?
Haylie: The day that I went to New York to do my press day and the big luncheon with the Sweet Scarlett’s team, that was a day where I had to balance being a mom and going to work for hours at a time, and you just kinda do it. Everyone loves to say that the struggle is real, but it’s more like the juggle is real. You just kinda have to make everything work.
Spoon: How have you managed to cope with having to stick to the status quo while being in the public eye? Basically, what is expected of you as a host? Do you ever feel like there is a pressure in having to look/act a certain way?
Haylie: I think there’s always a pressure whenever you’re putting yourself out there for other people to have judgments about you. The biggest one in particular is having a baby and seeing so many celebrities that can walk out of the hospital two days later and look like they’ve never had a baby. That’s one of the great mysteries of the world. So many moms are just like how is this happening, you know? I didn’t get offered that deal with the devil, you know. I think those kind of pressures are always going to be there, whether it’s someone on TV, or a group of moms at preschool. One thing I learned in these first couple of months, is that sometimes moms are harder on each other than anybody. I do think that being in the public eye definitely adds to it, but I think there’s a pressure to that in general.
Spoon: To piggy back off that, what’s your thought on body image in Hollywood?
Haylie: I mean, we could talk about this topic for so long. Every girl, woman, teenager, feels pressure, or is critical about themselves at some time or another. We don’t always have the best role models for younger women to look up to. I see these super thin girls, and now that I’m a mother to a little girl, I look and think about who she’s going to look up to when she grows up, ya know? On the flip side of that, I think it’s easy for us to say we have all these bad examples of people being too thin or this and that, but these past few years I think we’ve had women come out who are comfortable in their own bodies. Women who have embraced being womanly and having curves. I think we have turned a corner in a lot of ways with that, but I think that pressure will be there until the end of time, truthfully. The biggest thing we can do is that instead of being thin, or losing weight is eating healthy. That’s one of the biggest things I loved with working with Sweet Scarlett’s and doing these recipes, is working with grapefruits and their health benefits.
Spoon: If you could have a point of advice for girls dealing with their own insecurities in terms of body image-related issues, what would you say to them?
Haylie: There’s so many things. I feel like as you get older, you tend to look back at your younger self and say how great you look. As I turned 30, I look back at my 20-year-old self, and question why I would always worry about putting on that bikini. I think I would just tell them not to compare themselves to anybody else. To just embrace who they are and know that that’s enough. And anyone that doesn’t think it’s enough, ya just need to move on.
Spoon: What do you think about the health crazes that have been so prominent these days? Have you ever followed one or thought about following one?
Haylie: I have over the years. I actually was vegan many years ago for almost two years, which is actually not true (laughing), I was more like a non-dairy eating pescetarian. It worked for me and my life at the time, but I feel like doing any hardcore diet isn’t sustainable. Can you sustain that forever? I don’t know, maybe. I think trying new things and experimenting is okay, but only as long as it’s healthy and good for you. I definitely don’t believe in any extreme crazy crash diets. But I just want everyone to be happy.
Spoon: What can you tell us about the new product you’re working with, the new Sweet Scarlett’s grapefruits? And what is your favorite way to utilize them?
Haylie: First of all, I was so excited that they asked me to apart of this, because they’re based out of Texas, and I’m based out of Texas. Instantly, I was very excited to do something that was aligned with my hometown and my roots. For me, I see a lot of different products and opportunities to work with different brands, but when I looked into everything that they represented and all the facts about the grapefruits and where they’re grown, I just felt such a pull to work with them. Plus, getting to come up with multiple recipes with one ingredient was a real challenge for me, but a really good excuse to roll my sleeves up in my kitchen. They sent out a HUGE box of grapefruits to my house and my friend and I just got to experiment in the kitchen all day. And I got to go to this luncheon, where we served all the recipes and that was a first for me too. I have never actually sat at a table and seen a whole crew of strangers sit and try my recipes and it was so strange, I felt like I had my own restaurant for a second. It was possibly one of the scariest feelings, I have a newfound respect for chefs now.
The Wonderful Sweet Scarlett’s grapefruit is such a special product, from the taste, to the look of it, I have such appreciation for it. If I wasn’t eating it before, it’s become a heavy rotation in our house now.
Spoon: So, what’s your favorite way to use them?
Haylie: My favorite way is probably in the BBQ sauce with the chicken skewers. We’ve made that a bunch of times since I first did the recipe. The grapefruits are also SO good by themselves. You can just sit there and eat them with a spoon and not even need to add sugar.
Spoon: What are your future plans for Real Girls Kitchen and beyond? Is there anything else you have your eyes on?
Haylie: I feel like my brain is constantly turning with different things I want to do, but right now I’m just focused on getting the outline for the next season done. I’m about three quarters of the way done with it, so I’m feeling pretty prepared. We start shooting within the next month and a half. We try to go into the season with the best game plan possible, because everything tends to go a little crazy once we start shooting. So I think just having a really good next season is what we’re most focused on. But truthfully, I just really want a fourth season. Is it terrible to say that already? We’re focusing on getting outside of the kitchen a little bit. Last year I was pregnant the whole time we were filming and they kinda just hid me behind countertops and stuff like that, so we were in the kitchen more than we ever had been. I really want to get back into the food adventure-inspiration element. I think just adding a little bit more of that adventure feel is something that I’m going after this year.
SPEED ROUND *DING*DING*DING*
Spoon: Favorite color?
Haylie: You’re going to think I’m so weird, but grey is my favorite color.
Spoon: If you were stranded on an island with only one meal to eat, what would it be?
Haylie: An ahi nori wrap from The Mermaid Cafe in Kauai. It’s so good, I could eat it everyday.
Spoon: What’s your favorite meal to cook yourself?
Haylie: Italian stuffed shells
Spoon: Favorite song?
Haylie: Someone New by Hozier
Spoon: If you could eat dinner with one person in history, who would it be and why? Where would you eat with them?
Haylie: Lately after having a baby I’ve been really missing my grandmother, so I would pick her because she would have so many funny things to tell me about my life right now. We would definitely eat fried chicken somewhere in the south.
Spoon: Favorite spot to eat?
Haylie: My favorite restaurants change all the time, so I’m just going to say that my favorite place to eat is on the beach.