What Food Network Staffers Are Doing to Refresh This Year

It may not be the year to cut out carbs. But what if we ate more homemade ones?

January 12, 2021

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homemade chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven.


homemade chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven.

Photo by: Esther Chou/Getty Images

Esther Chou/Getty Images

In years past, I’ve made a sweeping goal for myself like "cut out dessert" or "go to the gym every day" at the beginning of the year. But right now, my dessert cabinet is literally the one thing (all right, one of the main things) I look forward to every day. And my "gym" is now a patch of floor between my coffee table and a boucle chair that I’m scared of getting dirty.

This year, instead of making a resolution, I’m refreshing: making small changes that’ll reinvigorate my life. I’m going to try to satisfy my sweet tooth with more homemade desserts, and workout for at least ten minutes every day. I chatted with other Food Network staffers to learn what they’re doing to refresh this year, too.

Photo taken in Varese, Italy


Photo taken in Varese, Italy

Photo by: Anna Quaglia / EyeEm/Getty Images

Anna Quaglia / EyeEm/Getty Images

Eat More Homemade Carbs

"I really want to make more things from scratch when it comes to carbs. I have always leaned towards the easier carbs such as dried pasta, ready-made sandwich bread and of course premade cookies. After a year like 2020, I’ve learned to really appreciate the process of making things. There is something so exciting about waiting for things to proof and bake. I have already made focaccia and egg pasta in the first two days of the year. I would love to continue this resolution to eat better-for-me carbs."

- Vivian Chan, Digital Culinary Producer

Shop Unused Spices In My Pantry

"I’m going to refresh in 2021 by 'shopping' my pantry. I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to spices and condiments, and between the samples and impulse purchases I’ve accumulated over the years, my cupboard is overflowing with products I’ve been wanting to experiment with in the kitchen. So this year I’ll be trying one new pantry item a week, from Burlap & Barrel’s Floyd Cardoz Masalas (a collaboration with the legendary Indian-born American chef, who passed away from COVID-19 last year) and Queens Superette’s mushroom salt to Kisoondo’s strawberry gochujang and Wadaman’s golden sesame paste.

- Frances Kim, Digital Programming Manager

Expose My Kids to New Flavors

"I have been ordering books and using them to do research and also to find inspiration, not just professionally, but to find more meals to feed my kids. To give them exposure to new flavors. The other thing I have told myself is that I want to eliminate more processed foods from the house. Like after a pantry purge on the Biggest Loser, I am always hoping to have nothing but whole foods, something that is harder when commuting and working at the office, and time is an issue."

- Vincent Camillo, Sous Chef, Food Network Kitchen

Italian-American cuisine baked ziti lasagna with mozzarella cheese


Italian-American cuisine baked ziti lasagna with mozzarella cheese

Photo by: EzumeImages/Getty Images

EzumeImages/Getty Images

Re-Perfect Classic Recipes

"I’ve been re-perfecting things I don’t get to cook much anymore (and honestly since I don’t test or develop recipes regularly, that’s pretty much everything). The last month or so I’ve been making apple pies to refine a go-to crust and filling; baked ziti is up next. Circling back to crumb toppings this week, too. In light of Genevieve Ko’s paean to following recipes in The New York Times, I will add that I a) have felt that way for years and b) decided to start my refining process that way – to make something so I can find out what the developer’s preference and intent was before I take a little bit of this and that from various sources. And I generally add surveys of my team [of recipe developers] and other colleagues after I’ve done some research and cooking, because they are experts and valued guides."

- Miriam Garron, Senior Director, Food Network Kitchen

Choose Healthier Snacks

"My 2021 refresh is to cut back and be smarter about snacking. I don’t think I will ever give up snacking completely, but I hope to choose healthier and more wholesome options instead of processed food items."

- Amanda Neal, Recipe Developer

Set More Attainable Goals

"For me, this year is all about setting smaller, more attainable goals. Instead of attempting to fix all the things that went off the rails in 2020 at once (which, for the record, feels like just about everything), I’m taking it one day at a time and setting goals like 'get 8 hours of sleep tonight,' 'spend 30 minutes reading before bed' or 'eat a healthy breakfast today.' That way, I’m rewarded with a sense of accomplishment every day. It’s my way of constantly refreshing my motivation and keeping myself on track."

- Kristie Collado, Digital Programming Manager

Colorful mixed spices in vintage jar with wooden spoon on a double beige and brown background kitchen detail with room for custom text


Colorful mixed spices in vintage jar with wooden spoon on a double beige and brown background kitchen detail with room for custom text

Photo by: Flora Luna/Getty Images

Flora Luna/Getty Images

Declutter and Organize My Kitchen

"This year to refresh, I’ve been focusing on decluttering and organizing my home. I set aside 20 minutes a day and focus on a small project to accomplish often while listening to a podcast; multitasking! My first project was my spices. I pulled out all of my spices, took inventory of what I had on hand and purged the older spices. I 'refreshed' my spices with an upgrade to matching glass jars and labels. Now I get a little sense of satisfaction whenever I grab a spice to make a recipe."

- Alexandra Utter, Digital Culinary Producer

Move at Least 30 Minutes a Day

"I’m refreshing in 2021 by making sure I move for at least 30 minutes every day! It’s easy to be stagnant when working from home, so I bought a folding treadmill that I can slide under the couch or tuck in the corner when I’m not using it. That way, it doesn’t take up too much room and I can easily walk while watching tv or listening to music, even when it’s cold or rainy outside."

- Leah Scalzadonna, Associate Editor, Programming

Say Goodbye to Meat

"In 2021 I’m saying good-bye to my beloved bacon (and all its land animal-derived friends). I just don’t feel like eating meat anymore — for personal and environmental reasons. I’m going for plant- and seafood-based protein instead. I’m also interested in exploring the world of seaweed more. Especially kelp (aka sea tree) which is loaded with vitamins, minerals and even some calcium and iron. I’m adding kelp noodles to my e-cart and some dried kelp too — which can be reconstituted and added to salads."

- Leah Brickley, Senior Editor, Culinary

Incorporate Strength Into My Workout Routine

"This year I’m looking to refresh, or maybe reset is a better word, by focusing on strength. I’m trying to incorporate some physical strength work into my days and workout routine with things like core exercises, yoga, pilates, work with weights and even resistance bands. I’m finding more than ever that there is a connection between my physical and my mental strength and after last year they could both use some help. Even 10 minutes a day forces me to pause all the noise around me and focus on myself. It’s something I started last year and have found it so beneficial that I want to make it a regular practice."

- Melissa Gaman, Recipe Developer

Shiny small red ceramic teapot, pouring hot tea into a red mug. Conceptual with space for copy.


Shiny small red ceramic teapot, pouring hot tea into a red mug. Conceptual with space for copy.

Photo by: Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images

Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images

Have an Afternoon Tea Instead of an Afternoon Coffee

"Though I love coffee as much as the next person, I drank a lot of it in 2020. Most days, I started off with two cups of cold brew in the morning and ended with a shot or two of espresso in the afternoon. Though I won’t be giving up coffee completely in 2021, I’m going to limit my coffee consumption to one cup in the morning, and instead turn to tea to give me a boost in the afternoon. I recently discovered Teavana’s line of bottled craft iced teas and I can’t get enough. With flavors like Orange Cinnamon White Tea, Blueberry Mint Herbal Tea, Watermelon Basil Oolong Tea and Peach Green Tea, they’re the perfect substitute for sugary fruit drinks too. Plus, most of the flavors are under 100 calories, so I don’t need to feel guilty about drinking two a day either. They also feature ingredients like peppermint, ginger, turmeric and are made with botanicals, so each one is a new discovery for the tastebuds!"

- Michelle Baricevic, Online Editorial Coordinator, Food Network Magazine

Go On a Walk Everyday

"Like many, I didn’t go outside as much as I normally would in 2020. In an effort to refresh and stock up on some Vitamin D, I have promised myself to get outside for a walk every day, even if it just for a 10 minute stroll between meetings."

- Dana Beninati, Supervising Culinary Producer

Repurpose Leftovers

"Something I always wanted to refresh in the kitchen is how to deal with leftovers. Food from the night before or even old takeout never sounds appealing to me and to find ways to freshen up an old meal in a new and delicious way is def a goal of mine! I love a good food transformation!"

- Lauren Tom, Associate Content Producer

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