Giada De Laurentiis' Slim-Cooking Secrets

The star chef shares her best tricks for cooking well when you're crazy-busy, beating an energy slump, and—yes!—staying slim on pasta.


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Andrew Macpherson
Food Network star and best-selling cookbook author Giada De Laurentiis is sitting in a lounge chair overlooking the Pacific Ocean, taking in the beauty of the sunset. Its a short reprieve from her incredibly busy schedule: By the time you read this, the host of Giada at Home will be on tour to promote her new book, Weeknights with Giada, which focuses on cooking for the family with clean, fresh ingredients—like Giada does for her 4-year-old daughter, Jade (with husband Todd Thompson). We asked the 41-year-old multitasker how she takes time for herself amidst the (happy) chaos.

I bet the number-one question you get is: How do you eat all that great food and stay so slim?
That is the number-one question, and the answer is I eat a little bit of everything and not a lot of anything. Everything in moderation. I know thats really hard for people to understand, but I grew up in an Italian family where we didnt overdo anything. We ate pasta, yes, but not a lot of it. Pasta doesnt make you fat. How much pasta you eat makes you fat.

Would you ever do a kids cookbook?
I dont believe in kids cookbooks. Jade eats what we eat—food the entire family eats. I grew up eating what my parents put in front of me.

Whats the secret to serving fresh meals quickly?
Doing your homework ahead of time. Stock up your pantry and your freezer with things that arent perishable: Your favorite jar of tomato sauce that lists "tomato" as the first ingredient, lots of grains, olive oils, vinegars, tomato pastes, onions, shallots. When you go to the store, you only have to pick up meats and produce.

Youre very close to your family.
I wouldnt be who I am today without my family. Im a product of three people: my grandfather, who had the passion. His family owned a pasta factory in Naples before World War II, so he had a real passion for Italian food. My Aunt Raffy, whos on the show a lot, is the creative one. She brings me recipes from all over the world. And my mom. She had four children and had to get food on the table as quickly as possible. My mom [taught me] speed.

How do you keep your energy up when youre on the road?
I do yoga—stretching and core work. Every morning I do sun salutations. Sometimes I do a little meditation. My sister-in-law introduced me to Deepak Chopras website, which sends you daily reminders. I try to center myself because Im around a lot of different energies, and it gets a little crazy and chaotic.

What are your travel must-haves when it comes to food?
Almonds are my staple. Theyre nonperishable and can sit in my bag for the entire book tour. Plus lots of water, and—Im not gonna lie—Americanos [an espresso-based drink] everywhere I go, with a little agave because I dont do sugar.

Do you ever meet any overzealous fans on the road?
A few years ago at a book signing in Seattle, a young guy asked me if I would sign his salami. I just looked at him like, "Oh my God," and then he pulled out a real salami from behind his back. It was cute. It was definitely a fraternity dare because all of his buddies were laughing in the background.


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Alison Prato
Last Updated: April 06, 2012

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