What Padma Lakshmi Eats in a Day

Plus, why she eats yogurt with every meal.

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With so many cultural influences from around the globe, America just might be the most exciting, delicious place to eat. Our series, American Food Today, guest-edited by award-winning cookbook author and TV host Padma Lakshmi celebrates the rich diversity of American food.

If you follow Padma Lakshmi on social media, watch her on TV or read her books, you know how much she loves great food. So, you won't be surprised to learn that even her everyday breakfast has little touches that make it a special meal. Lakshmi invited EatingWell into her New York City home and walked us through a day of meals (and introduced us to her dog, too). For Lakshmi, the concept of eating well means having balance, eating a lot of colorful foods, vegetables and fruits, but also eating from different parts of the world and sharing food with those you care about, as well as those you don't know well to learn about each other. Read on to see what a day of meals looks like for the author and TV personality—if you're like us, you'll want to steal some ideas for your own meals as well. You should start out by stocking your pantry with some of Lakshmi's staples: onions, garlic, ginger, coconut milk, spices, butter, eggs, chicken thighs, rice, a variety of beans and plenty of yogurt.

Breakfast: Yogurt and Fruit with a Sweet & Spicy Twist

Lakshmi starts her day with slices or chunks of papaya along with dahi (Indian yogurt) with a small drizzle of spicy maple syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon. "I have to eat in the morning before my workout because I won't make it through my workout if I don't," says Lakshmi.

Lunch: It's All About the Leftovers

Lakshmi's lunch is often leftovers from the night before, such as dal, rice and a vegetable, a turkey sandwich or some chicken soup. On the day we visited she had dal with rice, along with a curry made with tindora (a tiny squash) and sambar curry powder, plus mango curry and yogurt. "I guess I eat a lot of yogurt," says Lakshmi. "It helps calm my tummy with spicy food. It also just makes me feel good. I think it's nice to have a little bit with every meal, or most meals, if you can."

Dinner: Comforting Curries and More

Lakshmi says her go-to quick and easy dinners include frittatas, dal and rice, simple pastas and fried rice and vegetables with a fried egg on top. For dinner on the night we visited, Lakshmi had what she calls one of her favorite homestyle meals, hariyali chicken—a green curry with chicken thighs, coconut milk, her "holy trinity" of garlic, ginger and onions (or shallots), plus carrots and fennel and curry leaves. Along with the green curry, she has an unripe mango curry from her book Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet (buy it: Amazon, $18). "It's something you see at South Indian weddings all the time," says Lakshmi, adding that it's spicy and simple with just about five ingredients.

And to Drink?

"My go-to cocktail is probably something with tequila," says Lakshmi. "I don't like sugary mixed drinks, so I tend to have my spirits just with club soda and some lime."

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