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Haylie Duff: “Why my five-year-old wants to know every single ingredient in every single thing that she eats”

By Debra Wallace

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…I have entered the picky eater stage for sure with my kids. So, we’ve really gotten back to the basics. We are like carrots and ranch, cucumbers and lemon on top. We’ve gone back to just the very simple, plain snacks like that. My five-year-old wants to know every single ingredient in every single thing that she eats. But we do a lot of the turkey and cheese rollups, or my youngest one loves salami. Overall, we try to ramp up the fruits and veggies, and I am trying to have fewer snacks because my kids will snack right before dinner, and then it’s hard to get them to eat dinner.


Haylie Duff has a busy career, but she is also a bit of a homebody.

She is equally at ease in the kitchen with her two young daughters Ryan Ava, 5, and Lulu Gray, 2, bustling around her. In fact, that’s what she’s looking forward to this Mother’s Day.

She made a mark with her blog, Real Girl’s Kitchen, which was later picked up by the Cooking Channel and made into a TV show in 2014. This was followed by her first book, The Real Girl’s Kitchen. She also started her own children’s fashion line Little Moon Society.

The 36-year-old actress, best known for her roles in TV’s 7th Heaven, Lizzie McGuire, the movie Napoleon Dynamite, and numerous made-for-television films, as well as her on-air culinary pursuits.

She and her younger sister, actress Hilary Duff, stay clear of giving one another mom advice, but they are happy to support one another through thick and thin.

As Mother’s Day nears, Haylie says they will definitely celebrate with their mom, Susan, her daughters, sister, and other family members.

This year, Haylie is also celebrating her involvement in Mrs. T’s Pierogies Mrs. T’s All-Star Moms campaign; which is honoring moms everywhere by shining a spotlight on the story of an All-Star Mom on social media each week, while also sharing fun prize packages, including money and up to a year’s supply of Mrs. T’s Pierogies.

To nominate a hard-working mom to be showcased as a Mrs. T’s All-Star Mom— including yourself— go to www.MrsTsPierogies.com/AllStarMoms.

In addition, as part of this partnership, Haylie created a special recipe for Cordon Bleu Baked Pierogies; an ideal easy-to-make dish that moms are sure to love.

She has several movies coming up including The Baby Pact on Lifetime, a sequel to The Wedding Pact, in which Duff’s character, Elizabeth, and college friend Mitch agree that if neither is married in 10 years, they will tie the knot. True to fashion for a Lifetime comedy, they wind up together. But after The Wedding Pact’s happily-ever-after ending, (writer-director,) Matt Berman started to think about what would happen if things didn’t turn out as expected.

Now the newly expecting couple has made a deal that if something happens to one of them, the other will do everything they can to not be alone in raising the child. Mitch dies shortly after the new agreement is made, and Elizabeth moves back to her hometown, Fort Wayne. Eventually, her mother-in-law arrives to seek custody of the baby. She stars with Leslie Easterbrook, John Amos, and Gail O’Grady.

During an exclusive pre-Mother’s Day chat with Haylie, she spoke about her upcoming film projects, love for her extended family, how she and her daughters bonded during the COVID-19 lockdown, and the important life lessons that she wants them to learn as they grow up.

“In the stay-at-home time, families really have gotten back to spending that time at the dinner table together, and it’s so important to create those traditions and that time of just focusing on each other,” Haylie explained.

“We have really tried to make sure we stick to that in our family. We love to sit down at the table together, or we’ll go on a family walk together, and we love to do a nighttime family swim,” she continues. “That has been one thing that quarantine has really brought us close together, doing family activities.”

What do you love about Mother’s Day, and how do you celebrate?

Haylie Duff: It feels like we do something a little different every Mother’s Day. Before I became a mom, we overindulged my own mom, and now it’s like a shared holiday between all three of us in the family — me, Hilary, and our mom. I love that there’s a day to appreciate all the hard work that moms do, both the fun stuff and the hard stuff. For me, it’s a day to shower the moms in your life with love and affection, and praise.

What did you learn about yourself as a mom during the pandemic — a time when everything was isolated, and crazy, and changed, and routines clearly went out the window?

Haylie Duff: They really did, didn’t they? This year has been filled with so much up and down feeling. Some days I was like, “gosh, I love this. It’s amazing to be home and to have this extra time with my kids.” To be really focused on each other. And then there were other days where I was ready to just go to my room and shut the door and cry for 10 minutes so nobody saw me. I think that everybody kind of handles it differently. I think for all the reasons that I loved to be home with my family, one of the things that I really missed was the socialization with my girlfriends.

Please tell me more about these female friendships.

Haylie Duff: The other moms, my girlfriends in my life, play such an important role for me as far as being a soundboard for if I have an issue with a parenting question or just an outlet to go have fun. So, that was something that I really missed during the pandemic.

It was another reason I was excited to participate in Mrs. T’s All-Star Moms campaign, I was like this is such a great way to show the women in your life that you love them and you care about them. That’s one thing that I started doing during quarantine, like dropping off a pre-made meal to some of my girlfriends, and they would do it in return. Sometimes, it’s just nice to get a little pressure taken off of me.

Hayle Duff is looking forward to Mother’s Day

Why did you want to partner with Mrs. T’s Pierogies?

Haylie Duff: First of all, I love Mrs. T’s Pierogies. They are always in my freezer. They are such an easy, great meal during the week. When they asked me to develop a recipe for them, I had a really hard time honestly. Because every time I came up with a concept I would go on Google or I would go on their website and it had already been created. So, there are a million ways to make a meal out of these pierogies, so I love that. Because any time I can make weekday cooking easier for myself, I’m all for it.

What else was involved?

Haylie Duff: I also loved this All-Star Moms campaign that they’re doing. You can just nominate a mom, or even honestly, yourself. Then you can be highlighted on social media. There are prizes, there’s cash, there’s up to a year of Mrs. T’s Pierogies. I just feel like it’s a beautiful way to connect moms to each other and tell each other. Sometimes we assume that people know how much we appreciate them. And I love that this was a way for people to really know and you can show them how much you appreciate them.

Since we’re talking about yummy food.

Haylie Duff: My favorite topic.

What are some favorite healthy go-to snacks for you and your family?

Haylie Duff: Well, I have entered the picky eater stage for sure with my kids. So, we’ve really gotten back to the basics. We are like carrots and ranch, cucumbers and lemon on top. We’ve gone back to just the very simple, plain snacks like that. My five-year-old wants to know every single ingredient in every single thing that she eats. But we do a lot of the turkey and cheese rollups, or my youngest one loves salami. Overall, we try to ramp up the fruits and veggies, and I am trying to have fewer snacks because my kids will snack right before dinner, and then it’s hard to get them to eat dinner.

Sisters Haylie and Hilary Duff

What was the best advice that you ever gave your sister, Hilary, and what was the best advice she ever gave you?

Haylie Duff: We’ve really tried to not push our own parenting ways onto each other. I think that’s one thing that’s been really positive about our motherhood experience together. I think for us to just be supportive of whatever each other chooses and decisions that we make; that’s probably the best thing that I think we’ve done for each other and support each other through that.

Do you have advice for other busy moms who are still kind of trying to figure out their lives as schools are just starting to open? Most of us haven’t been to a movie theater, show, or concert for more than a year.

Haylie Duff: Honestly, there’s no easy answer to it, honestly. I wish I had the answer myself. I go through different feelings every day. Sometimes I’m like, we’re almost to the end of this. We’re getting back to normal life. We’re putting ourselves out there. And then other days I can be totally crippled with fear about Covid and what’s happened to the world these days. But I think it’s about just taking a deep breath and trying to take everything in stride.

What other advice do you have to offer stressed-out moms these days?

Haylie Duff: Do what works for you. If you feel like you’re ready to get back out there, go and do it. If you feel like you still are not quite ready to put yourself out in that way, I think it’s totally okay. I think it’s about just being respectful of everyone’s boundary with it. I think that’s one thing that we can all do for each other. Overall, it’s about being a little kinder and a little more understanding of what everyone feels comfortable doing.

Please talk about your upcoming movies and Lifetime specials.

Haylie Duff and her family

Haylie Duff: I just finished a movie for Lifetime, for the It’s a Wonderful Lifetime Christmas series called Blending Christmas. It was so much fun, and so nice to get back to work. I don’t think I realized how I missed that side of my life. And after a year of not seeing friends or things like that, one of my closest friends Marla Sokoloff directed the movie, so I got to go be on set with her every day. It was a truly wonderful experience. Then in May, I’ll go back to Los Angeles for a couple of weeks to shoot The Baby Pact, my upcoming Lifetime movie.

What life lessons do you want your children to learn and practice as they get older?

Haylie Duff: That’s a hard question. How much time do you have? I feel like the things that seem to be really important to us right now are just being kind to each other as sisters, but also to other people, and having tolerance for everyone. Working hard, and believing in themselves, and going after all the things that they hope and dream for in their life. And encouraging the people around them to do the same.

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