The Top Chef host shares her favorite part of her morning ritual and more in an interview with EatingWell.
a photo of Padma Lakshmi at home
Credit: Courtesy Photo; EatingWell collage

To say we love Padma Lakshmi at EatingWell is an understatement. From dishes like her coconut-braised cabbage to the 5-ingredient chickpea salad she's been making for two decades, we're obsessed with the Top Chef host's delicious recipes.

In a recent partnership with Kind Snacks, Lakshmi developed recipes for the Secret Kind Farmers Markets that will be popping up in New York City and Houston (if you can't make it, don't worry: you can get the showcased recipes here!).

We were elated to sit down with Lakshmi herself to talk more about this partnership as well as deep dive into her morning routine. Read on to find out the way she starts her day, her favorite breakfast to make with her daughter, and the one food that she eats every day.

EatingWell: Walk me through your morning routine. How do you typically start your day, and what's the first thing you eat or drink when you get up?

Lakshmi: I'm usually up by 6:30. The first thing I drink is a strange brew of collagen powder and bhringraj powder, and they're both dissolved in about 4 ounces of water. Then I have green tea with honey. My daughter is getting ready for school, so once she leaves I'll have a light breakfast. It'll either be a cup of cottage cheese with pomegranate or grapefruit, or a couple of scrambled eggs and a piece of toast. Then I'll go to the gym, and when I get back from the gym it's usually not lunchtime yet, so that's when I'll grab something like a Kind bar just to top me off and give me a bit of energy to sit at my desk for the next few hours.

For lunch, I'll usually have leftovers from dinner the night before, whatever that is. It can be lentils and rice, it can be green chili; it's just me and [my daughter] so whatever we had for dinner I'll often make extra for lunch. We cook one fresh meal a day, every day. Right now, we cook like five different dishes throughout the day because I'm testing recipes for a new book that I'm working on, so there's lots of food to choose from.

EatingWell: What's your favorite part of your morning ritual?

Lakshmi: Honestly, my favorite part of my morning ritual is that half an hour after my daughter, Krishna, goes to school and I don't have to go to the gym yet. So this is when I'll read the paper. I'm usually reading a story from The New Yorker or The New York Times, and I'll answer any emails that need to be answered at that moment. I don't stress out because that morning time for me is to catch up on what's going on in the world. It's a very simple, not complicated, routine.

EatingWell: What's your favorite breakfast to make with your daughter?

Lakshmi: We love egg-in-a-hole—I used to make it all the time in college and I still love it. She likes French toast, and I'm not a big sweet eater so I make her French toast normally with a lot of cinnamon and a touch of maple syrup on top. My French toast is a savory French toast, with a little bit of green herbs and green chile that's been minced. I don't like sweet so it's delicious, I highly recommend it.

EatingWell: What's the one food that you eat every day?

Lakshmi: I usually just try reaching for an apple, to be honest. I love Honeycrisp apples; we get great ones from the Union Square market, especially this time of year. I will often just slice up an apple and have it with some peanut butter, that's a great snack for me. I love just a handful of almonds—I think anything we can do to have nuts and fruits, those good fats and natural sugars that we may crave are better than eating things we can't pronounce. 

I try eating as many whole foods, and eating as close as how they're found in nature is really important. That's truly why I teamed up with Kind. I love that they use whole foods, nuts and fruits, because we don't get enough of that in our diet. The Kind bar is great, and my favorite one is Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt.

EatingWell: Do you have any current favorite food trends?

Lakshmi: I know everybody is into toasts, like avocado toast, but I've done a variation of one with butternut squash, and it's amazing. Squash is great this time of year, and so I've been cooking up a lot of butternut squash and honeynut squash. It's so easy: all you do is roast it with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. I'll roast up a big squash in the oven, and then I'll scrape it and keep the flesh in a Tupperware dish. I'll sauté a little bit of shallot and mix it in there so that the squash is seasoned. I love Middle Eastern flavors, and I've always loved za'atar, so I'll make the squash toast with za'atar and a little drizzle of pomegranate molasses with some toasted pecans on top. It's so filling, so nice and so wholesome. You just roast that squash up once every few days, and you'll always have it in your fridge. It's a made-ahead snack that's really healthy.

The Bottom Line

We're excited to try Padma's Kind Kitchen Recipes, including her Fruit and Almond Bites, Lentil Salad on Leaves of Endive, and Butternut Squash Toasties. We think tasty recipes like our Peanut Butter-Date Energy Balls and Lentil & Goat Cheese Toast are healthy choices to re-create these flavors at home.