Plus, how the celebrity chef stays healthy and energized at 50.

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She's known for her delizioso recipes—and her new cookbook, Eat Better, Feel Better (buy it: $19.48 at Target), is all about food that's healthy as well as tasty. (A woman after our own heart!) Here, the chef shares her road to wellness and what's always in her fridge.

Finish this sentence: To me, cooking is…

Therapeutic. After a chaotic day, I love getting lost in a recipe. The entire process from start to finish—the chopping, the aromas, tasting along the way—feels like a meditation. It brings me such a sense of calm and joy.

What food says home to you and why?

Pasta. My grandfather used to have a pasta factory in Torre Annunziata, right outside of Naples. When I was a kid, he opened up his own Italian grocery store in the U.S., and I used to spend hours there with him, watching him make pasta from scratch.

What is always in your fridge?

Greens (arugula, kale, chard), cooked brown rice, Parmigiano-Reggiano, fennel and dark chocolate.

Beer, wine or cocktail?

Negroni.

Giada De Laurentiis on a designed background
Credit: Getty Images / Rob Kim

What inspired you to write Eat Better, Feel Better?

Over the last decade, from age 40 to 50, it became impossible to ignore the fact that the choices I had been making for the last 20 years just weren't working for me anymore. With my busy schedule and the amount of traveling I usually do, I was always suffering from sinus infections and other health issues. I came to understand that what made everything worse was the food I was putting in my body, like lots of caffeine and sugar, to make up for how tired I felt.

I decided that I had to change. And that's not to say I gave up everything. It's about eating foods that love you back. And all the recipes in the book include meal-prep tips to reduce stress. (You can buy her new cookbook at Target for $19.48)

Does your daughter have some favorite recipes from the cookbook?

Yes, Jade loves the Chocolate Chip Quinoa Cookies, Crispy Broccoli and Green Bean Fries.

Living in sunny California, what are some of your favorite ways to be active?

I go paddleboarding and take my dogs for walks and runs on the beach. I also bought a bike during the pandemic and I love riding it around the neighborhood. It's a fun activity to do with Jade too. And I do yoga in my backyard almost daily.

What does healthy mean to you?

Standing tall and feeling energized.

We're all about balancing eating deliciously with being healthy. How do you walk that line

Moderation. A little bit of everything and not a lot of anything.

What's your if-I-only-had-one-meal-left meal?

My 7-layer chocolate cake. This classic, French-inspired signature cake has been in my repertoire for nearly 30 years. It is to die for! 

This article first appeared in EatingWell, September 2021