What happens when you cook with U.S. Wellness Meats products?   Culinary magic.

Kristina Vanni

Kristina Vanni
Cooking Show Host, Food Writer, Award-Winning Cook

Kristina's passion for food began at age 12, when her original recipe earned a spot in the winnera's circle at the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Since then she has gone on to win top honors from Martha Stewart, Betty Crocker, and Kraft, as well as the National Beef Cook-Off and the National Pork Board. She was named the "Hot Chef" 2009 by the National Restaurant Association and recently won the casual dining division of the "Make Australian Lamb America"s New Favorite Burger Contest."

Kristina can be seen as a culinary expert and product spokesperson on morning show segments in cities across the country. Kristina served as the food and wine correspondent to Melbourne, Australia for the CBS travel special "Aussie Week." She also hosts the Better Homes and Gardens series "100 Days of Holidays" as well as their website www.betterrecipes.com.

Examples of Kristina's recipes and food writing can be found in cookbooks, food magazines and online. She currently writes "The Daily Dish" an online series for Better Homes and Gardens and is a special correspondent for the National Restaurant Association. For more information, please visit her official website www.KristinaVanni.com. Follow Kristina on Twitter at @KristinaVanni.

Q: How did you get involved in cooking to begin with? Was it something you learned to love early on or did you come to it later?

A: I have been involved in cooking for as long as I can remember! I quite literally "grew up" on the kitchen counter watching my mom cook. My mother and grandmother are both award-winning cooks, and I have so many wonderful memories of their cooking competitions. When I was old enough to start entering cooking contests myself, I was thrilled! My first big competition came at the age of 12 when I was lucky enough to be one of the 100 finalists in the Pillsbury Bake-Off. In fact, my grandmother was a finalist that same year, so we actually competed against each other! She ended up winning $10,000 for her recipe and I won $2,000! From that moment, I was hooked and have been entering cooking contests ever since. Today I work as a food writer and website host for the Better Homes and Gardens website www.BetterRecipes.com. I also travel all across the country and the globe doing live cooking demonstrations and television shows.

Q: Why is eating grass-fed meat and sustainably-caught fish different? How does it affect your cooking? Is it just about health? Or is there more to it than that?

A: Making the choice to eat grass-fed meat and sustainably-caught fish is easy. It just tastes better! I think it also does affect my cooking because I find the color of the meat or fish is more appealing and results in a more beautiful dish on the plate. .

Q: How did you learn about grass-fed meat?

A: I started seeing the option at grocery stores, and began purchasing their grass-fed products.

Q: What are the most important keys to success for the home chef?

A: Nowadays, there are so many great resources for the home chef. When someone is looking for new recipes to serve their family, I think they should look to a reputable source, such as the classic Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. The internet is also a great resource, but again I encourage cooks to turn to a brand you trust. That's one of the reasons I love working with www.BetterRecipes.com! I also encourage the home chef to have fun and be adventurous! Give new dishes and new flavors a try. It helps break up the dinnertime monotony and expands your family's palate.

Q: What advice do you have for families in the kitchen? And for encouraging everyone in the family to eat the same meal?

A:I think mealtime should be a family event. Kids are more likely to try new foods and eat the same meal as the rest of the family when they are invited to be part of cooking process. Cooking should be fun and not a chore!