Padma Lakshmi Shares the Product That Helps Her Find Balance During the Holidays
She's an acclaimed television host, best-selling author, influential political and social activist—what can't Padma Lakshmi do? However, the multi-hyphenate will be the first to admit that there's no such thing as a linear career path, especially if you are pursuing your passion, and she never takes her success for granted.
"I've always been interested in food and, even as a toddler, I would get into my grandma's or mom's kitchen and experiment with different ingredients and make a mess," says Lakshmi. "But I didn't get into the food business until my first cookbook at 29, and even then, I really didn't get into that world until my 30s. What we don't hear often about origin stories is that they almost always take longer than they seem, and I had to create that path for myself."
Today, Lakshmi is one of the world's most popular food personalities, and she's one of our go-tos on Instagram for finding unique and easy recipes to elevate the everyday. Though she wears many hats, she recently added investor and brand advisor to Indian-inspired yogurt brand Dah! (pronounced DAH-hee, as dahi is the Hindi word for yogurt) to the list. We asked her all about why this partnership was the perfect next item to add to her killer résumé and why people shouldn't fear dairy.
"The brand sent me a box of their products about two or three years ago, and I get sent so many different food products all the time that I don't even get the chance to try and have to give away," says Lakshmi. "However, I noticed that the package was perishable and decided to stick all the lassi they sent over in my fridge."
Turns out, the product was a huge hit, and Lakshmi opened the fridge the next morning to find no trace of the Dah! samples. Her young nephews had fallen in love with them and were asking if she could take them to the store to buy more. Then, after seeing that the product has more probiotics than any other yogurt on the market—a whopping 150 billion colony-forming units—and was lower in added sugar than the other drinkable yogurt options out there, Lakshmi knew the company was onto something.
"People drink kefir solely for the health benefits and not the taste, but here was something that trumped it in flavor and health benefits," she says. "It felt like a treat but was really good for you and that appealed to me. I don't endorse a lot of food products, and if I won't give it to my family or myself on a regular basis and feel good about it, you won't see me promoting it, but we all loved it."
Lassi, a traditional Indian yogurt drink, has long been a go-to food for Lakshmi and her household, but she loves Dah! for the convenience factor and the low-temperature culturing methods that allow the product to preserve such a high amount of the good bacteria. Plus, the products are now widely available at supermarkets nationwide, including most recently, at Sprouts. Her favorite thing about the product, though, is that it makes an ideal grab-and-go snack that is full of calcium, vitamin C and protein.
"I love drinking it, especially during the holiday season with all the cocktail parties where you're drinking on an empty stomach and there are a bunch of fried canapés everywhere," says Lakshmi. "I often down a 12-ounce glass before an event, and it gives me a bit more discipline."
Lakshmi also loves to cook with Dah! products and most recently featured it on Instagram as part of her Thanksgiving turkey brine recipe, honoring the age-old Indian culinary tradition of tenderizing meat in a yogurt-based sauce. She also frequently uses Dah!'s lassi in smoothies, curries, popsicles and even as an easy pie filling topped with fresh berries.
"Dairy gets a bad rap in the States, and the brand does have other plant-based offerings, but my approach to health is all about a well-rounded diet with nothing off-limits and nothing in exaggeration," says Lakshmi. "There's a vital place for dairy in my diet, especially with products as healthy as these, and yogurt is something we have in my household in various forms multiple times a day."
Here at EatingWell, we're also big fans of fermented dairy, if your body can tolerate it. It offers not only probiotics that support improved gut and immune health, but it also may produce anti-inflammatory effects in the body, provides a host of vitamins and minerals, and offers a boost of protein to keep us satiated between meals. We'll drink to that!