Katie Lee, Our Favorite TV Chef, Talks Vegan Beauty and the Joy of Greening Her Routine

|Updated Jun 3, 2020
Neilson Barnard

Katie Lee is a chef, author, television host (of the Food Network show, The Kitchen) and now Revlon spokesperson for their new "clean and vegan" line of Total Color hair dye. She is tickled pink to be "that girl" on the Revlon ad, since growing up in the south, watching Cindy Crawford and other models who inspired her, and never dreamed that someday she would be one of them.

A combination of hard work, genuine niceness and a penchant for delicious, healthy, Instagrammable dishes has gotten her from her hometown of Huntington, West Virginia to New York City and a perch at the center of the Food Network's media lineup. Her Instagram bio includes her joyful approach to eating: No carb left behind.

Katie Lee is a true original (it feels right to always use her first and last names, like Katie Sue or Sarah Jane). She neither denies her roots (not the hair kind, the heritage kind) nor lets them define where she is going (we predict prime time). We are inspired by the fact that food, in her able hands, is not just nurturing but a celebration, a joyful event to be savored and shared.

We celebrate Katie Lee, who inspires us to be our own personal, authentic, food-loving best and to eat healthily and keep it real. Her exclusive interview with The Beet will inspire you too.

@KatieLeeKitchen @KatieLeeKitchen

The Beet: Congratulations on your amazing new spokesperson role with Revlon!

KL: I've always admired this company, ever since I was a girl.

I am so excited about partnering with Revlon. I admired them forever. I can remember being a preteen and walking in the Drug Emporium and walking the aisles with my mom and living in this little small town and thinking about these women like Cindy Crawford, living these big lives and I never imagined I would be the one doing that someday. I would actually color my mom's hair. I was the one putting the gloves on. So it has come full circle.

The Beet: Why do we need "vegan" hair care?

KL: I've really tried to 'green' my beauty routine! It started by greening my food.

I've really been trying to 'green' my beauty routine for a while now. It started with food. So first I was 'greening' my food. Then it became part of my beauty routine. Then I thought about what endocrine disruptors I was putting on my skin and in my body. A year ago I went into a deep dive of clean beauty, but I didn't think about my hair, other than aerosols, so I had not thought about hair care.

I started thinking about clean shampoos and conditioners and such. I love this dye because it's vegan and there are no harsh chemicals in it. And it's great to not have to sit in a salon and breathe in all the chemicals. It's a semi-permanent dye. And it covers up my gray. I have gray! I'm 38 and when you have really dark hair they really stand out. And they always start showing in my part, you know, the scraggly one that stands up!

My attitude is if you want to cover your gray and be really clean, start with your shampoo and conditioner (I love BrioGeo dry shampoo which is all-natural stuff) and then use Revlon's Total Color, which is clean and vegan.

The Beet: So How is The Kitchen, and What Are You Excited About at Work?

KL: The Kitchen is still going strong. We just filmed our 300th episode.

It's been six years and I love my job so much. and I am so grateful for my opportunity. After all this time we have great fans and I just feel so grateful for all of them.

People always ask me: What's my pie in the sky? I want to host The Price is Right. I grew up watching that show and there is something about that show that makes me happy.

The Beet: Speaking of Joy, What's Your Favorite Plant-Based Meal in Sag Harbor

KL: The Tempeh Ruben at Provisions. I dream about that sandwich, I love it so much.

The bread is nice and toasted.  They put it on the griddle. You can get it with soy cheese or Monterey Jack. Tempeh on the griddle and with sauerkraut. I love tempeh. It tastes so great. It is so important to get that fermented food. My husband is not a tempeh fan but he likes it too.

The Beet: You're not plant-based but you come close at times. What do you eat in a day?

KL: I love eating plants! Even though I make a lot of indulgent recipes, for the most part, I skew healthy.

My mom and grandma were vegetable lovers. My grandma said, "Make 75 percent of your plate vegetables! And they would make "good-wiches" -- they would take a ton of vegetables and wrap them up in tortillas.

Katie Lee's Breakfast: Every single day, I go to Whole Foods and buy their big bags of frozen fruit. I put in blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, mango, and a banana, and orange juice. I top it off with soy milk and chia seeds. It turns a deep purple color.

Katie Lee's Lunch: Chopped salad. I call it "The trough." I put it in a big metal mixing bowl, and I feel like the pig eating it. I put whatever I have in the fridge in there: Veggies, sauerkraut, beans, pickles or sweet pickles. It's a mish-mash... and nuts ... It looks like a trough.

Katie Lee's Dinner:  It's usually whatever I'm testing. For the last few months, I've been recipe testing for a cookbook...so dinner is whatever I'm testing that day. A lot of simple recipes that are fresh and simple to make. I love comfort food on the healthier side.

I eat real food that's not processed. I am not afraid of eating fat or eating carbs, but I try to eat real food.

The Beet: So that's your diet philosophy: Eat healthy and keep it real? Love that.

KL: Yes! I'd rather have the real thing than something that is pretending.

Recently I went to a girlfriend's house and she pulled out low-fat ice cream and when you turn it around to read the label it has all these ingredients I didn't recognize.

The Beet: What's Your go-to workout these days? Still surfing? Or something else?

KL: I used to be obsessed with high impact. Now, for cardio, I really like to just walk.

I've found walking to be my favorite part of cardio. For toning and sculpting. I do Obé Fitness. I really love it. There are 28-minute classes, and I feel I can fit that in any time. All I need are my little weights. They also have ten-minute workouts 10-minute arm or legs. I come back from a walk and do 10-minute arms. I take it on set with me and I'll do my 10-minute arms. I don't break a sweat. And it's so doable!

The Beet: Thanks, Katie. One last question: What's your eating or food mantra?

KL: Make your diet colorful.

If you think of having all the different colors, it's a great way to think. That's why I get all my fruit in, I can check that box. When I make my salad, There has got to be vegetables. And I love the idea of fruits and vegetables. What can we all do for ourselves? We can eat more plant-based. What can do for the planet? We can more eat plant-based.

This morning, Katie announced that she's expecting her first child on an Instagram post saying she's "eating for two". We wish her a healthy, happy pregnancy, from everyone at The Beet!