Padma Lakshmi, cookbook author and long time host of Top Chef, has a new Hulu show, Taste the Nation With Padma Lakshmi in which she guides viewers through diverse cuisines, from native American food in the Phoenix area to Thai food in Las Vegas. The idea for the show came to her several years ago, when she partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on immigration rights, she told an interviewer.

The luminous TV personality dines on everything from home-cooked Indian food with her mom, to Chinese food with the famed Chinese-American restaurateur Cecilia Chiang in San Francisco. But what does the 49-year-old nosh on when the cameras aren’t filming? While she’s not strictly vegan, or even plant-based, a recent article in Women’s Health, “Here’s What Padma Lakshmi’s Plant-Based Diet Looks Like On A Typical Day”, shows that this svelte star is all about veggies.

First, it’s worth noting that she sips on masala chai all day long, a black tea beverage infused with traditional Indian flavorings, perhaps giving that boundless energy she’s known for.  Lunch is when Lakshmi really pumps up her veggies and grains intake, loading up on dishes like black-eyed peas over polenta or roasted fennel salad.

For snack time, Lakshmi keeps things vegan with combinations like apples and peanut butter or tomato and chips. “I probably eat at least half that plate because it's just sitting there,” she tells Women’s Health.


“The biggest takeaway for me [creating the show] is that people tend to connect with their culture through food, especially when they're very removed from their native culture,” says Padma, who explores her Indian cuisine and her roots in the episode, “Don’t Mind If I Dosa.” “It became a rich vehicle for talking about larger issues.”

For dinner, more nutrient-dense foods from the earth reign, like lentils and rice in a vegetable curry (she mixes in an Indian yogurt sauce called raita, but it tastes just as decadent sans dairy) or lasagna—we’re hoping with plenty of spinach and other veggies in the mix. When it comes to dessert, Lakshmi actually doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, but if she’s got a craving, she’ll indulge in a bit of chilled dark chocolate or fresh blackberries, watermelon, pomegranate, or tangerines.

As for cooking inspiration, we watch her IG videos and think: Wish we were having what she's having!

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