The Food Network star dishes about her latest book, her biggest kitchen pet peeve and her love of coffee.
Valerie Bertinelli on a designed background
Credit: John Russo

Valerie Bertinelli can't wait for you to read her new book, Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today. Always keeping busy, the actor has two Food Network shows, Valerie's Home Cooking and Kids Baking Championship—both premiered this week!—plus she's working on a pilot for NBC called Hungry, which follows a group of friends in a food-issues support group. EatingWell caught up with her to chat about her healthy outlook on body image, the one kitchen gadget she can't live without and why her backyard vineyard is her happy place.

EatingWell: What does Enough Already mean to you?

Valerie Bertinelli: I've struggled with my weight for my whole life. But even being at my lowest weight never made me happy. I decided enough with the scale. Enough with the weight. Instead, I'm going to eat whatever I want today anyway and do my best to be more conscious of what I'm putting into my body. Then, with all the grief I experienced losing my ex-husband [Eddie Van Halen], the book went in another direction, too. It was cathartic, and I think readers will relate to it because all of us have been experiencing grief these last few years. I know my life seems "Hollywood"—and I've been doing this since I was 12—but it doesn't mean I'm less human and don't go through the same hardships. Even though my experiences might be different, at the core, who we are as humans and the feelings we can share are universal.

EatingWell: The book feels like it was written by a friend. Was that your intention?

VB: I wanted it to read like we're sitting around and asking each other "You OK today?" and sharing recipes, advice, what happened that day and how we got through it.

EatingWell: What do the words "eating well" mean to you?

VB: They used to mean something like "You're a bad girl and you need to eat better." Now it means treating myself well. I think about what I'm eating and will it make me feel good mentally. If it does, it will be fine for my body. I'll think about whether I have had enough vegetables, because I can feel it when I haven't. When I travel with my son's band [Mammoth WVH], it's hard to eat well. So when I come home, I'll eat salads for three days—big chunky salads with all kinds of veggies and a great lemon vinaigrette. I find that if you listen to your body—I don't do this all the time!—it will tell you what it needs to feel better.

EatingWell: What food issues are you most concerned about?

VB: Food waste. There are so many hungry people in our own country alone. I do my best to not waste food. Leftovers are my favorite thing to have the next day. People joke about having a bag of lettuce in the bottom of your drawer. Don't put it at the bottom; put it where you can see it.

EatingWell: Do you have any specific health or beauty rituals?

VB: I'm not good at rituals. Like I'm not good about washing my face every night. If I don't have makeup on, I won't wash my face. I'm trying to drink more water. 

EatingWell: What is always in your fridge?

VB: Hard-boiled eggs. They're such a good snack. And I usually have some sort of pre-made salad, like chicken, egg or tuna salad, so I can eat that throughout the week. 

EatingWell: Beer, wine or cocktail?

VB: All three, but especially wine. I have a vineyard in the backyard and make my own wine from my 200 grapevines. I actually wrote the entire book in my wine cellar! I also like a great cocktail, like a nice dry martini, Negroni or Manhattan—it depends on my mood and the time of year.

EatingWell: What's a kitchen tool or gadget that you can't live without?

VB: My coffee makers. My son Wolf makes fun of me because I have two of them that can whip up warm coffee and cream. It's my first step in the morning, the ritual I look forward to. I've put cinnamon in my coffee for 30 or 40 years. I like my coffee creamy, and I don't care what people think.

EatingWell: Finish this sentence: To me, cooking is...

VB: Soothing. It's Zen. It's my art.

EatingWell: What would you request for your last meal?

VB: My last meal would probably be the focaccia pizza in the back of my book. Oh it's so good. You can do anything you want with it. 

EatingWell: If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?

VB: I'd like to have dinner with Ed again. One more time.