All Posts In Behind the Scenes

Food Network Staffer Diary: I Broke Up with Coffee for 4 Days

by in Behind the Scenes, January 18th, 2017

Food Network Staffer Diary: I Broke Up With Coffee for 4 DaysCoffee lovers everywhere, I did a very dumb thing: I decided to cut out coffee from my life. It was time to be an independent woman who didn’t need no caffeine. And boy — was I wrong.

As some of you may know, caffeine is a stimulant (i.e., it enhances alertness, increases heart rate and increases blood pressure) and can cause a mild physical dependence if you drink more than two cups of coffee a day (me). Concerned that I may become a little too dependent on coffee, I decided to cut it out completely for as long as possible and see if I could be just as productive — if not more — without the liquid gold. After all, I really cannot afford to buy $5 lattes every single day as a recent college grad, so maybe cutting this out could be economical.

So, here are the rules: One shall not consume coffee in any form, and one shall not eat or drink anything that has caffeine (chocolate, tea, the list goes on).

That’s it — pretty simple. To give you a sample of my regular daily caffeine intake, I usually start my day with one cup of coffee. I have a second when I get to the office, and at about 2 p.m. or 3 p.m., I have my third. You could say I’m a frequent user, and I’ll deny it.

Let’s get to the good stuff.

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Food Network Staffer Diary: I Attempted the Twinkie Diet for 48 Hours

by in Behind the Scenes, January 11th, 2017

Food Network Staffer Diary: I Attempted the Twinkie Diet for 48 HoursMaybe I was delusional, maybe I was naïve. But for some strange reason, I not only agreed to do the Twinkie diet, but I was the one to suggest it. I committed myself to 48 hours of living off only Twinkies. Those golden sponges filled with a mysterious cream that can survive nuclear bombs, hurricanes, droughts have found a special place in my heart over the years. And after two days, they have swiftly found a way onto my thighs too.

So, here are the rules: You can eat only Twinkies. You can drink water, coffee and tea. You must eat two Twinkies every three hours until you have maxed out on your daily calorie intake. That’s it.

I did some quick research and compared three calorie-counting calculators to find out just how many calories I should be consuming to lose weight. The calculators compute your height, weight, gender and fitness level, then magically spew a number — mine is 1,360 calories if I want to lose 2 pounds in one week. (This is the maximum healthy level of weight loss one should work toward.)

Now, let’s do some simple Twinkie math. 1 Twinkie has 130 calories. If I’m eating every three hours, I must eat two Twinkies every three hours (as I’m not awake 24 hours a day and thus cannot eat one every three hours to meet 1,300 calories). So this ends up being my strict schedule: Two Twinkies at 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. This gets me to 1,310 calories. If this is too much nonsense, here’s what to know: I had to eat 10 Twinkies per day.

Bored? Let’s get to the good stuff.

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Food Network Staffer Diary: I Tried (Basically) Every Food Beauty Myth Out There

by in Behind the Scenes, January 4th, 2017

After spending hundreds of dollars on beauty products that promise to make my hair shinier and thicker, and my face smoother and tighter, I am at a loss. (And my mom is going to kill me with my Sephora binges.) I’ve tried $20 practically sample-sized bottles of products claiming to give me “new hair in two uses!” (what does that really mean?) and face masks that will make me “as smooth as a baby’s butt” (whoever thinks that’s a great analogy needs to be fired) with nothing but bleak disappointment. So, naturally, when it came to testing which foods can be a cheap and easy beauty product substitute, my credit card thanked me.

However, this was not an easy road to beauty. Beauty can be painful — and very, very smelly (I’m looking at you, mayo). Some of the beauty hacks I found online are straight-up weird, while others are just wrong. Nevertheless, I tried them all for you. You’re welcome.

Here’s what I started with:

My Hair: Thin and wispy shoulder-length, light-blond hair with (fake) highlights. Dry shampoo is in every purse I own, thanks to the oil gods thrusting the oily life on me.

My Skin: Normal to oily, few breakouts

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Food Network Staffer Diary: I Took a Knife Skills Class, and Here’s What I Learned

by in Behind the Scenes, How-to, December 28th, 2016

Food Network Staffer Diary: I Took a Knife Skills Class, and Here's What I LearnedDear readers, this is my confession. I may work in food, but for my entire life, I have been holding my knife incorrectly. And using the wrong knives. And generally making life more difficult for myself than it needed to be.

Finally, I decided to do something about it.

For the last four years of my life, I was a college student, settling for cutting everything in my house with a haphazard set of serrated and paring knives. Everything worked, but just barely. I was too busy focusing on my classes to focus on technique or true expediency.

But now I have graduated and have a little more dignity than a bowl full of misshapen veggies — and the constant fear that I might slice my finger off with a steak knife as I slice through a slippery mango. And I have a whole slew of foodie co-workers to impress. So, what does any post-grad with a plan do?

Go back to school, of course.

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Food Network Staffer Diary: I Ate Only Convenience Store Foods for 3 Days

by in Behind the Scenes, December 21st, 2016

Food Network Staffer Diary: I Ate Only Convenience Store Foods for 3 DaysEating on the go can be a real struggle. Healthy eating on the go can feel virtually impossible.

I consider myself an above-average eater when it comes to incorporating healthy foods into my diet. I am an avid supporter of all things Brussels sprout and make a mean oven-baked salmon. But when it comes to making quick, convenient decisions, I’m definitely one to reach for a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. Fine, two bags.

When you pop into a convenience store only minutes before the last train home takes off, you have mere seconds to make a game-time decision. Ninety-nine percent of the time you’ll reach for the Sour Patch Watermelon candy. You’ll tell yourself it’s a fine choice — you’re “in a rush,” and there’s simply no time to sift through 7-Eleven looking for real options. But … what if there was?

I posted up in a 7-Eleven for 41 minutes of my life to see if “healthy eats” actually exist in convenience stores. I entered the 7-Eleven located only two blocks away from my apartment on a Sunday morning at 9:46 a.m. There were approximately four other people “shopping” in the store, and I grabbed a shopping basket to start my search. The store had a total of three shopping baskets, none of which were being utilized by any of the other customers. After taking my first lap around the joint, I became very aware of how bizarre the edible options at these stores are. I expected to see chips, I expected to see nuts and I definitely expected to see candy. But canned tuna was … a questionable surprise. In that moment, staring at a rather large supply of canned fish, I knew I had underestimated this establishment.

While the store had a relatively wide range of foods, there was a deflating lack of legitimate options. I almost dropped dead when I saw they still carry Lunchables but was extremely disheartened to realize they sold only the “Turkey & Cheddar with Crackers” variety. (Everyone knows Lunchables pizza is the move.)

Lunchables aside, there were some relatively healthy options at my disposal. Greek yogurt, oatmeal and cereal were all seemingly normal breakfast choices. Premade fruit salads, hummus and pretzels, protein bars and “skinny popcorn” would make do for snacks. Finding produce to make legitimate meals, on the other hand, was going to be a real challenge. This was going to require some really questionable creativity.

I was surprised to see 7-Eleven sells deli meat in addition to some very simple premade salads. I tossed both in my basket with plans to make a more sophisticated concoction on my own, along with a bag of crunchy roasted chickpeas to use as a salad topping. I then threw a dozen eggs and a low-fat cheese stick in the basket, figuring I could use both to make an omelet for dinner one night.

I checked out of 7-Eleven with four angry, confused customers (all of which were probably buying only one bag of Doritos) waiting in line behind me. It was officially time to make convenience a lifestyle.

Here’s what my three-day diet looked like.

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Food Network Staffer Diary: I Made a Giant Sushi Doughnut in a Tiny Kitchen — Here’s How

by in Behind the Scenes, Community, December 14th, 2016

Sushi DoughnutBy KC Cibran
I moved to New York City a few months ago — fresh out of college — for a postgrad internship with Cooking Channel. The most-common question I get is, “Is there a lot of food in the office?” The answer is yes. I mean, I literally work with food. When I’m not eating it in the break room, I’m seeing it on my computer screen. I’d say my passion for cool foods has definitely hit a high since I started working here. But when I’m not at work, I am confined to the tiny space that is my kitchen. Girl with big foodie dreams meets tiny kitchen. Seriously, I am confident that I can now win any fridge Tetris challenge.

Despite the space, I pretty much live with an Iron Chef Jr. Her name is Annie, and she keeps me alive in this city by cooking for me. We cook cool foods on a budget and have fun doing it. While researching our next project, we ran into a food craze known as the sushi doughnut. We love sushi, and we love decorating food, so we decided to make our own. Please, step into our sushi doughnut world.

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Food Network Staffer Diary: I Ate Like a Kardashian for 3 Days

by in Behind the Scenes, December 7th, 2016

Food Network Staffer Diary: I Ate Like a Kardashian for 3 DaysMost of us go above and beyond simply “keeping up” with the Kardashians. Ever since Kim K.’s not-so-little scandal in 2003, confused (and mostly bored) people across the U.S. have been absolutely obsessed with the Kardashian family. Kylie Jenner dyes her hair and within a split second her “transformation” is the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter. Kim posts a nude selfie to Instagram and a full-blown social media war ensues. Khloé Kardashian finalizes her divorce with Lamar Odom and 90 percent of the U.S. population reacts as if the royal couple just called it quits.

In 2007 our fascination with the Kardashian family transitioned into hardcore obsession. Keeping Up With the Kardashians was officially on the air, exposing a concerning amount of American people to the most highly addictive television series to date. Even I will admit I’ve spent hours of my life watching Kourtney Kardashian eat salad on a television screen. Those are hours I will never get back, and, unfortunately, that’s something I have to live with.

Over the past 10 or so years, we’ve watched each of the Kardashian sisters grow … and in other ways, we’ve watched them literally shrink down. Yes, I’m talking about their beyond drastic, inconceivable weight loss journeys in which they seemingly drop about 5 pounds overnight.

Kim lost almost 70 pounds only seven months after she and Yeezy welcomed Saint West into the world — 70 pounds could very well be equal to the weight of both my legs combined. Khloé also shed some serious poundage within the past year, reaching her slimmest weight yet in late July. The 32-year-old superstar dropped a whopping 40 pounds post-separation with Odom and has kept the weight off since. Kourtney has been stick thin for years. Then again, we’ve never seen her eat a carb, so that explains that.

All three of the OG Kardashian sisters have opened up to various media outlets about their day-to-day diets. After hearing each of them spill the beans on how they stay so thin, I decided it was time to give the Kardashian diet a good old-fashioned try.

I ate like a Kardashian for three days, following Khloé’s, Kourtney’s and Kim’s daily diet plans. Here’s what I ate each day and how I rated each Kardashian’s diet.

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Food Network Staffer Diary: I Ate Only Orange Foods for 24 Hours

by in Behind the Scenes, Community, November 30th, 2016

Food Network Staffer Diary: I Ate Only Orange Foods for 24 HoursIn many ways, fall is all about orange. Between society’s perpetual obsession with all things Halloween and the endless supply of festive autumnal vegetables, you can’t turn a single corner without spotting the color.

In an attempt to fully embrace the fall spirit, I decided to eat only orange foods for one full day. When I first accepted this challenge, I feared what my body may go through. I pictured myself loading up on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and aggressively squirting Easy Cheese into my mouth (no shame). And before my short-lived diet even started I was already resenting it. But I made a commitment, and without my good word, I was nothing. I strapped on my booties, put my big girl pants on and trekked all the way to my local grocery store to purchase the goods. And truly, the orange options were endless.

Butternut squash. Sweet Potatoes. Peppers. Pumpkins. Oranges. Apricots. Cantaloupe. Carrots. Peaches. Persimmons. Mangoes. Nectarines. Orange tomatoes. Tangerines. Goldfish. Cheez-It crackers. Cheese puffs. Cheez Doodles. Cheese. Cheese. A lot more cheese. The world was my oyster.

Of course, oysters were off the table.

I moseyed my way through each aisle, deciding to fully embrace the orange life and dive into the challenge head-on. To my surprise, locating orange food was anything but difficult. Finding the right produce to make well-balanced, home-cooked meals on the other hand was much more challenging. I definitely wasn’t in the mood to eat mostly raw vegetables for an entire day; I’m simply not interested in a lifestyle that healthy.

Eating orange was not so bad compared to some of the extremely questionable diets I’ve been subjected to during my 22 years on Earth. In sixth grade I attempted an all-celery diet, which I told myself was a thing, but it definitely was not. I somehow made it through “breakfast” that day, had an emotional breakdown before noon, then binged on an entire box of Mallomars for lunch just to calm myself down.

It’s shocking I was overweight.

Anyway, here’s how I pulled off eating only orange foods for a day.

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Ina Garten on Her Creative Process, What Keeps Her Going and Why She Loves What She Does

by in Behind the Scenes, Shows, November 19th, 2016

Ina GartenWhen you pick up an Ina Garten cookbook or watch an episode of Barefoot Contessa, you might not realize how much work goes into creating the recipes, testing them and finally proclaiming them good enough to share. All of Ina’s recipes go through a rigorous testing period until they’re perfect, as the writer and TV host explains. Even Jeffrey has to wait until a recipe’s perfect before he can get a taste!

Thinking about Ina’s life story, it may seem like a stretch of the imagination that she went from writing nuclear policy in the White House to writing cookbooks in her Long Island home, but it happened. Despite the difference in subject, both lines of work require precision. But cooking goes a bit further, as it requires that something extra — the secret ingredient, if you will. And Ina has that. She says it’s just in her DNA. The rest is history: She didn’t attend cooking school or learn from a grandmother, but she picked up skills out of necessity while running her specialty food store, Barefoot Contessa. It started out as a way to try a new career and ended up giving her her well-known moniker. Would she have it any other way? Not really.

FN Dish recently chatted with Ina about her new series, Cooking for Jeffrey, her recently released cookbook and her Washington, D.C., special. Find out more about the elegant and earthy hostess in our interview.

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Food Network Staffer Diary: I Tried 7 Foods That (Supposedly) Curb Fear

by in Behind the Scenes, Community, November 17th, 2016

Food Network Staffer Diary: I Tried 7 Foods That (Supposedly) Curb FearAllhallows’ Eve may be behind us, but that doesn’t mean the horror movie trailers aren’t still everywhere. And every time one of them pops into my life, I go into flight mode. Headphones out. TV on mute. Ears covered. Eyes closed. Singing “la-la-la-la” until it’s finally over. I will do this in my home. I will do this on the treadmill. I will do this in public. I do not care. I do all this to prevent what I know will come if I don’t: looking out the shower curtain every 15 seconds, going out of my way to avoid mirrors in the dark, lying awake at night irrationally paralyzed by fear for weeks.

Did I ask for the scary-movie-trailer life? No, I did not. The scary-movie-trailer life asked for me — poor, innocent, fully grown, scaredy-cat me. I am scary movies’ easiest target. I get scared of pretty much everything. Even that rated PG-movie Enchanted — yes, the one about fairy tales coming to the real world — at one point made me jump five feet above my theater seat. The old hag was really ugly, OK?

Needless to say, I do not watch horror movies, save for a total of three in my lifetime. But if I did, all of them would get a rating of 1,000 out of 10 on the scariness scale from yours truly.

Besides making me a hilariously entertaining horror-movie buddy, this scaredy-cat quality of mine also makes me a prime test subject. For what, you ask? What use could I possibly have in the context of horror?

Well, according to Food & Life, a health-focused cookbook authored by Michelin-starred French chef Joël Robuchon and,neuropharmacologist and acupuncturist Nadia Volf, eating certain foods can help curb fear. Yes, apparently other than just willing yourself to be unafraid of fictional monsters and demons, there is possibly another way to get through a horror flick. So I set out to test whether Robuchon and Volf’s prescribed foods could actually fight fear.

Step One: Eat said foods, and only those foods.
Step Two: Sit through one of those gosh-darned horror movies.

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