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I had the pleasure of sitting down with Hollis Johnson, a finalist on Food Network’s “Kids Baking Championship.” When I tell you she is just as enchanting in person as she is on television, I mean it! She is so mature and poised for a girl of 13 years old; I immediately fell head over heels for her.
Hollis and I met, accompanied by her father, Greg Johnson, at Bold Bean Coffee in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. This quaint little coffee shop — that happens to be her favorite — was the perfect quiet setting to chat with her over an organic chai tea latte and hot chocolate (soy) milk.
Of course, I wanted to get some insight on what it was like to be on the show, her inspirations, etc. But, Hollis is very conscious about eating and cooking healthy so I wanted to pick her brain and get tips on how to help moms (like me) get our kiddos to eat healthier.
Q: First off, what is it like to be on The Food Network’s “Kids Baking Championship?”
A: When you walk in it’s this huge set and there are these cameramen holding these ginormous cameras. They [cameras] are all around, hanging above you. You look around and you each have your own little mini station, with the separate containers, little kitchen tools and machines. Then you see Duff [Goldman] and Valerie [Bertinelii] walk in. I’ve been watching Duff on TV since I was a little girl watching Ace of Cakes with my sister. It’s so cool having him talk to you in person! It’s a memory I will never forget!
Q: Speaking of Duff Goldman, on episode three he says, “I really hope Hollis doesn’t open up a bakery within 10 miles of me.” How does that make you feel?
A: That’s just one of the biggest compliments you could get! Because, he has his own show! A compliment like that, it’s super exciting. You just can’t believe it!
Q: At what age did you start baking?
A: I’ve been baking since I was two or three years old. I started off with my mother (in the kitchen) I would ask her if could help make dinner and she would let me stir. I used the knife really young, I was about five. Of course, she would guide me with it. And then it became more for holidays. It would be tradition to bake my Great Grandmother’s cream cheese cookies recipe — it’s German — so we’d always make those at Christmas time and then my sister and I would do it more and more for fun.
But, another influence in my cooking and baking has been my family’s international travel. Every time we go to another country we would cook and bake something, so we would take that knowledge and bring it back home and use it in our everyday.
Q: So, that has been your inspiration, your travels?
A: Yes, from home, from my mother and then from my travels. So, it’s a little bit of both.
Q: Which country has been your favorite to visit so far?
A: We’ve been to 13 and counting. So, a lot! Some of them it’s not as easy to remember because I was so little. But, you know, some you really take the experiences and treasure them. I love London and England because it’s like you’re stepping back in time. It’s not as modern in a way as you find in New York City. You still have your old shops, the architecture is so old, the accents the people say; it really feels like you’re stepping back in time. I love it there. It’s busy, but it’s a lot of fun.
Q: You like to bake and cook clean, healthy, organic foods. What are some tips you can give moms like me to help get our kids to eat more nutritiously? For example, I have one little boy who doesn’t want to eat unless it is a chicken nugget or a noodle! What are some of the things you would say to do?
A: I heard you say noodles. One of the things that my mother would do when we were little and would have mac and cheese, she would puree some butternut squash and mix it in because it’s the same color. It just adds that beta keratin nutrition in it. Another thing that you could do when your children are having oatmeal for breakfast: Flax seeds are really good because they are really healthy and you can’t see them in there. You can put them in smoothies and add carrots. One time my sister and I found this recipe for chocolate avocado ice cream. I’m not the biggest avocado person, but it was really good because you don’t taste it!
Q: What are some of your favorite healthy items to make at home?
A: I love apricot oat bars. Because when you come home it’s a nice little snack to have to eat. You’re getting the nutrition from the apricot — you can use any preserve you want but I like apricot — and the granola, which adds nuts, and you can add flax seeds to that of course, too. But I think it’s a warm filling recipe and it smells so good with the cinnamon baking.
Q: Would you mind sharing the recipe with me? I would love to share that with the other Skinny Moms.
A: It’s actually something from Food Network so I don’t mind at all! (Recipe is below, or click here to see it on Food Network.)
We will find out Monday night at 8 p.m. EST if Hollis is the winner of the Kids Baking Challenge! Please be sure to tune in to Food Network and cheer her on. She will be tweeting live during the finale so make sure to follow her on Twitter @HollisSJohnson and Instagram @hollisberry01. Make sure to comment and hashtag #BakingChallenge, #FoodNetwork and #KidsBakingChallenge. (I also hashtag #TeamHollis because I am a superfan!)
Nutritional Analysis Per Serving: Calories 232, Total Fat 11g, Saturated Fat 5g,Protein 3g, Total Carbohydrates 31g, Sugar 16g, Fiber 1g, Cholesterol 28mg, Sodium 112mg