Padma Lakshmi's Go-To Breakfast Is Packed with Anti-Inflammatory Ingredients
Early on in the season of the 19-seasons-strong reality TV cooking competition Top Chef, some challenges entail host Padma Lakshmi sampling 19 dishes. "It can be anything from Mexican food to donuts to ceviche," the food expert, host, cookbook author and mom says.
With all of that on her plate—and sometimes before noon—you might imagine she might follow some sort of intermittent fasting strategy. But as a well-balanced eater after our own heart, Lakshmi never skips breakfast.
According to her Harper's BAZAAR Food Diary, and confirmed by our recent day-in-the-diet of Padma Lakshmi, her most common morning meal is a food and drink pairing that's tames her appetite and any chronic inflammation that might be hanging on from her hectic schedule or wide-ranging menu the days and weeks prior.
"Somewhere around 6 or 6:30, I have my first cup of tea, which is Bakri Masala Chai Tea with whole milk and honey," Lakshmi explains in the food diary. "Ten to 15 minutes later, I will have my second cup of tea—same tea—usually with a big bowl of vanilla yogurt with cinnamon and sliced banana."
Related: 10 Ways to Reduce Inflammation
As far as the yogurt goes, Lakshmi stocks Stonyfield Lowfat Vanilla and Fage 2% alongside other dairy all-stars like Organic Valley Cottage Cheese (more on that later).
"Tea has long been known for its benefits—studies have shown it can help your heart, may improve sleep (when you reach for decaf) and may even protect against certain types of cancer. And it's hydrating," explains one of our staff registered dietitians, Victoria Seaver, M.S., RD, also associate editorial director for EatingWell.com.
In addition to the probiotics that feed the good bacteria in the gut—and in turn, can promote lower levels of inflammation—"yogurt delivers satisfying protein, calcium and vitamin D," Seaver continues. "When paired with a piece of fruit, the fiber content of the meal increases, which adds even more satisfaction," and a bonus microbiome boost.
Whether it's for someone with a sizable tasting menu or a regular weekday meal plan ahead, this is a nearly perfect breakfast to set yourself up for success in the 24 hours ahead, Seaver says.
"Starting your day with anti-inflammatory foods may help you better manage inflammation-causing factors later in the day, like stress. Plus, if you think about the types of foods that contain anti-inflammatory components—fruits, veggies, whole grains and healthy fats—choosing those items means you'll be starting your day on a healthier, more energizing note than if you were to reach for a baked good or sugary cereal," she adds.
To up the anti-inflammatory ante even more, Seaver suggests adding a healthy fat source, such as a handful of nuts or seeds. Or try a scoop of granola or muesli for even more fiber from whole grains.
While this is healthy breakfast recipe Lakshmi turns to most, she's not afraid to mix things up with another favorite dish like:
- Blackberries and cottage cheese
- Toast with avocado and sliced cheese
- Egg in a whole with a jammy yolk drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Maldon sea salt and topped with Maggi Hot and Sweet Tomato Chili Sauce
Seaver promotes variety as part of a healthy diet, but definitely gives the green light to having a "mini menu" of options to turn to (rather than a different breakfast recipe every day of the month, for instance) if that's a better fit for your schedule and preferences.
"More variety in your diet ensures that you'll get the full range of nutrients your body needs. But if you find a breakfast that's easy and enjoyable, you're more likely to eat breakfast. Research suggests regular breakfast eaters see benefits over non-breakfast eaters, including an easier time maintaining a healthy weight and lower disease. So yes, I think it's totally fine to repeat the same breakfasts, if you're prioritizing variety at your other meals," concludes Seaver.
Not a big breakfast eater yourself? We're here to help change that. Discover the 10 of the best healthy breakfast foods to eat, plus try our 30-day healthy breakfast challenge for a jumpstart.