What Padma Lakshmi Typically Eats In A Day

Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi may have started as a model, but is now a full-fledged culinary celebrity. She's written cookbooks, a memoir, and even has her own show, Taste the Nation. Throughout her life, food has been a constant passion that stemmed from her childhood in India, up through her career of professionally judging it. Gorging on all those dishes on Top Chef does leave her with palate fatigue. However, it doesn't diminish her love of all things culinary. 

Since she's in great shape, you probably think she picks on salads when she's not judging the show. However, Lakshmi loves food too much to starve herself skinny. With that and her penchant for cooking, her amazing figure is even more impressive. She does credit a lot of her fit figure to regularly working out. But, a lot more has to do with her food choices. Surprisingly, her diet includes a good dose of everything. Take a look at what Padma Lakshmi typically eats in a day.

Padma Lakshmi starts her day with tea

Tea is touted as a potion for a number of ailments. It boosts immunity, adds antioxidants, can brighten your smile — it does it all (via Today). A 2019 study by the National University of Singapore even found that regular tea drinkers have better brain health. So, Padma Lakshmi's penchant for an early morning cup must do a world of good. Lakshmi was born in India before moving to the United States, so it's no surprise her passion for tea started as early as high school. India is the second-largest tea grower. Also, its population is wildly enthusiastic about the brew. As she told The Daily Tea, "There's a cup of tea being made every 20 minutes in my home in India."

In an interview with The Cut, she spoke about how tea fits into her routine. She drinks it as soon as she wakes up (with milk and honey) and is "very particular" about how it's made. She said, "it's got to be really good and made properly with not too much milk and not too sweet."

Her Twitter posts, too, reveal this love, and the array she picks from. She's also vocal about her distaste for the redundant phrase, 'chai tea.' Why is it a bad idea to say chai tea? Because 'chai' is simply the Hindi word for tea.

Eggs are a staple for Padma Lakshmi

Padma Lakshmi doesn't fuss about breakfast. But, it always includes one staple that helps her stay healthy. She starts every day with a couple of eggs, usually poached (via Delish). She's on the right track there, since eggs contain only 77 calories. They're low-calorie but healthy and contain vitamins, calcium, and heart-healthy, unsaturated fats (via Keck Medicine of USC). In an interview with Bon Appetit, she said the rest of her morning meal varies. She sometimes switches it up with savory French toast, herbs de Provence, and cheese. She likes sourdough toast, and a grapefruit accompanies whatever else she is eating.

However, she doesn't eat a daily dose of eggs just for health reasons. In fact, she may even be a little obsessed with the food. She also detailed the "million ways" she would eat them in the interview. "Sometimes I like soft-boiled, sometimes hard-boiled and sliced, and other times poached. It can be scrambled, but I don't really do scrambled unless I do it myself," she said.

Lakshmi (along with her mother, Vijaya) even prepared a spiced egg dish for an InStyle Mother's Day brunch special. The Top Chef host loves them in any variety of ways, just as long as they aren't overcooked. Lakshmi told Bon Appetit this is one thing that makes them lose their appeal for her.

Padma Lakshmi has two snacks a day

Mindless snacking is a bad thing, but a few portion-controlled snacks can boost weight loss. And, Padma Lakshmi knows how to snack healthy. She told Glamour she believes food should always be pleasurable. This means she doesn't deny herself, even on a diet. In the interview, she says she's also not one to go on special cleanses. She explained, "You don't want to be so ravenous that you get a headache."

For the most part, she sticks to three moderate meals a day. Because of her busy schedule, though, she needs to keep her energy up and also eats two small snacks. She picks nonfat fruit yogurt, a green apple with low-fat peanut butter. Another snack she enjoys is grapefruit with honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Other times, she might enjoy snacking on a scrumptious pomegranate and goat cheese toast (via Facebook). A few other foods that Lakshmi said make her snacking list include jalapeño chili rellenos, edamame, hummus on endive leaves, cold poached shrimp, and baked pita chips. Don't they all sound delicious?

Padma Lakshmi enjoys the occasional glass of wine

It's one of the most versatile drinks on the planet, makes a perfect braise for a heady coq au vin, and is a scrumptious soak for shellfish in a moules marinières. Red, white, or rosé — it's wine. It's also one of Padma Lakshmi's preferred drinks. In moderation, wine can boost antioxidants and help prevent cardiovascular disease. A study in Gastroenterology found it can even be good for gut health (via MedicalXpress). Padma Lakshmi said she thinks people don't use wine in food enough and loves cooking with it. She even uses it to make her favorite dessert — peaches poached in red wine. 

Lakshmi does advise, however, in always using good quality wine while cooking. "A lot of people use leftover wine in their dishes, and the alcohol burns off, and that's fine," she told Wine Spectator. "But when cooking at a lower temperature, the wine matters." She isn't fond of hard alcohol, but does enjoy the occasional glass of wine — and not just with dinner. She sometimes has "one beautiful glass" of Pinot Noir with lunch (via Bon Appetit). As for what sort of vino she enjoys, Lakshmi said she gravitates towards dry, crisp wines.

For Lakshmi, wine, like food, is emotional. "If you think about it, so much of the courting ritual is surrounded by wine and food. There's a built-in romance to wine," she told Esquire.

Lunch for Padma Lakshmi is usually leftovers

When it comes to food, Padma Lakshmi and her daughter are usually in sync. But, there's one thing they don't agree on. She told Parade that her daughter, Krishna, "doesn't like leftovers." On the other hand, Lakshmi is a fan. She doesn't like to waste anything and this includes the leftover cheese from her dinner parties. Instead of tossing it out, she transforms it into a gourmet grilled cheese.

Lunch for Lakshmi usually includes leftovers from dinner. Leftovers from Taco Tuesday are added to frozen rice (she has her own range) along with using leftover beans. She also turns leftovers into fillings for dosas (Indian crêpes) and stew (via Delish). Sticking to leftovers may sound dull, but take to Instagram to see the magical things Lakshmi does with them. From a vegetarian burrito to mishmash brunch, they always look delicious. She also makes tasty soups from her leftovers.

Padma Lakshmi focuses on fruits and vegetables

Lakshmi has always been conscious about what she eats, but admits her food choices have evolved. She credits a switch to simpler food to her age as well as to motherhood. She told People, "What you eat shows up on your skin, on your hair, on your nails [and] on the whites of your eyes. And people don't realize that!"

She said the focus on healthier food trends has helped too. "We're all eating more whole, less processed foods,"  Lakshmi said. Her meals are well-balanced, including some protein, a lot of lentils and beans. But, she focuses heavily on fruits and vegetables. In fact, they make up half of every meal for her. 

Lakshmi's plate is an artist's dream and she makes sure to include an array of colors. "I eat 50 percent fruits and vegetables, fruits and vegetables of all colors. That really, really makes a difference," she told People. She also has a trick to include enough fruits and vegetables into her diet. As she explained to Into The Gloss, "The order you eat your food matters, not just what you eat." However, she doesn't deny herself anything, not even carbs. She simply eats them last. As she tells Fitness Magazine, if she fills up on vegetables and protein, she "may not want all of the potato."

Padma Lakshmi prefers veggies over meats in her diet

Growing up between India and America greatly influenced Padma Lakshmi's food habits. And, going back to vegetarian roots has benefited her diet. She told Into The Gloss, "I've actually gone back to eating a lot like I ate when I was a child, which is really mostly plant-based."

Of course, Lakshmi doesn't deny herself the occasional meat-based meal. In regards to a daily diet, though, she believes people don't need "that much meat." She urges others to follow suit with eating more plant-based meals. Not just for a slimmer waistline, but because it's also good for the planet.

In a segment on Huffington Post Live, she said that there's also an economic benefit. "It's hard to get organic vegetables that are lower priced, but a bag of beans or lentils, which gives you a lot of protein, costs less than the same equivalent weight [of meat]," Lakshmi explained. In an interview with Detroit Free Press, Lakshmi said she loved exploring exotic foods. She explained that this was probably why she understood how to eat plant-based without feeling deprived.

Dessert isn't a priority for Padma Lakshmi

Dessert isn't always terrible for you. Sure, cakes, ice cream, and cookies can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes. But, if you're active and healthy, you can indulge occasionally. It's a better idea to pick dark chocolate, or a nut and fruit-based treat over sugary cakes and cookies, though. (via Time). Padma Lakshmi's approach is similar and she can make a mean fruit pie. However, when it comes to eating, she usually favors savory foods over sweet. One of her favorites is cheese. To avoid temptation, she keeps it in the bottom drawer of her fridge (via Delish).

As she told Women's Running, if she does crave dessert, she has homemade jello. "You just buy Knox unflavored gelatin, then use fruit juice instead of artificial colors or flavors. I'll use cran-apple juice or reduced-sugar grape juice. It's delicious and so easy," she said.

Apart from the occasional fruit-flavored jello, Padma Lakshmi stays away from most sweets. Outlining some rules to healthy eating, Lakshmi told E! News it's okay to indulge in dark chocolate. A small piece, she said, would satisfy your cravings. Just "skip the cake or pies come dessert time, which are loaded with sugar," she said.

Padma Lakshmi really loves pickles

Many of Padma Lakshmi's food choices stem from nostalgia. She often picks foods that remind her of what she ate growing up. One of these is a pickle, which is a common side to meals in India. Lakshmi has enjoyed sour foods like pickles as early as the age of 2. She told NPR, "I was climbing up on my grandmother's shelves in the kitchen like a monkey, sort of like a temple monkey, to try and get at the pickle jars ... I think my young palate needed that stimulation."

She even grows her own peppers to make pickles and told The Guardian she's used south Indian pickles — which are made with spicy mango, mixed fruit, and lemon — to marinate fish. Lakshmi has also said that she enjoys a pickle on the side while enjoying yogurt and rice. So what's Padma Lakshmi's favorite pickle? That would be a lime pickle from a village in Kerala and her house is always stocked with them.

"Whenever I go, I smuggle it back in my suitcase — or we have relatives bring it with them. They're these round balls that look like round balls of dirt once they're pickled with chopped lime leaf, dried chile salt, and tamarind," she told Bon Appetit.

Padma Lakshmi's favorite indulgence is chaat

If there's one thing Padma Lakshmi can't stop talking about, it's chaat. She loves the Indian street-food so much, she once served it to guests at a Diwali party. The spread included bhel puri, samosas, and her favorite — paani puri. The dish can be messy to eat but is beloved across India and its origin story is woven in with Hindu mythology. 

In an interview with Vulture, she called chaat "real stoner food." She's so obsessed that she even helped writer E. Alex Jung sample some. The profile also described Lakshmi's effortless demonstration eating the somewhat tricky paani puri.

It's a dish that she will travel across the world to eat. As she told National Geographic Traveller, "When I return to India, the one dish I long to eat is chaat." Apart from paani puri and samosas, she also attempts to recreate bhel puri at home and she's not afraid to get innovative. She told Food and Wine that she once used Rice Krispies in place of the snack's puffed rice.

A homemade drink is Padma Lakshmi's detox fix

Padma Lakshmi is pretty open about her kitchen life on social media, often sharing recipes and giving fans a peek into her cooking process. Something she's shared often is her homemade detox drink. She calls it the 'Cranberry Drano.' In 2019, she posted a video of herself making it on Instagram, saying it's "perfect for after holiday shenanigans."

In an interview with Fitness Magazine, she said this was one of her healthiest habits. "I drink a homemade cleanse of two ounces of pure cranberry juice, six ounces of either green tea or plain water, one Emergen-C Vitamin C packet, and a teaspoon of fiber powder three times a day," she explained. 

If you're planning to detox like Lakshmi, exercise caution. Today reported that it may not be a great idea to overdo it. The drink's vitamin C content can beat your bloat, but an excess of the fiber powder could be detrimental. Lakshmi's affinity for this drink doesn't mean she's abandoned good old water. She also stays well hydrated, drinking three liters a day.

Padma Lakshmi loves a midnight snack

With her carefully curated diet, does Padma Lakshmi have any bad habits? Sure — if you count eating late at night. However, if you're picturing her vegging out in front of the television with ice-cream and chips, stop. Her go-to midnight snack is actually a bowl of cereal. 

Lakshmi told Extra Crispy that she enjoys cereal more at night than in the morning. She said she and her daughter indulge in a little mug of Raisin Bran when watching a movie. Lakshmi finds the snack super comforting. "I think it's the crunch of cereal, and that texture evolves quickly, like the first bite is so different from the last bite," she explained. 

And, when she isn't eating cereal, she's sipping on chilled milk. Her affinity for this goes back to her childhood. "My mom would make me drink four 8-ounce glasses of milk a day for protein," she told Men's Health. When she's really in the mood to indulge, she picks a quesadilla. She also makes what she calls Indian pizza. She said it's like a lahmacun and her version includes vegetables, yogurt, salt, sumac, and dried mint (via Bon Appetit).

Padma Lakshmi regularly eats soups and salads

She's eating everything from truffle mac n' cheese to wedding cake on Top Chef. So when she's not filming, Padma Lakshmi keeps it light. This explains her love of soups, salads, and stock-infused dishes like ramen. She often pairs her meals with a large salad. Apart from using "funky vegetables," she gets creative with nuts, dried fruits, apple, and mint. She always adds protein and likes to experiment with dressings. "You can change it up and make it different five days a week for lunch or dinner," she told Health.

A well-prepared salad can help fight diseases and strengthen your immune system. Soup can do the same and Lakshmi makes full use of these benefits. In 2020, Lakshmi appeared on Today to share some of her quick meals that freeze well and included a soup recipe. She's also partial to a make-ahead soup called a ribollita. It's full of healthy vegetables like spinach, lemon, celery, and Swiss chard. Chicken stock and cannellini beans round out the recipe and Lakshmi makes this Italian soup in bulk and then freezes it.

Padma Lakshmi can't resist some occasional pizza and fried foods

Not even Padma Lakshmi can stay away from a delicious, cheesy pizza (via National Geographic Traveller). In fact, she loves a fair amount of fast food. Even though she ordinarily sticks to a strict diet, she lets herself enjoy nachos and cheese. She also likes salt and vinegar potato chips and homemade fried chicken (via US Magazine).

She told Glamour that she's a fan of all things spicy and crunchy. She and her daughter also aren't opposed to frying whatever's around. "Suddenly, we'll have deep-fried carrots, meat, whatever — it gets crazy," she said.

She also occasionally reaches for a good burger. In a radio interview, she revealed that she loves to get her burgers from In-N-Out on the West Coast and Shake Shack on the East Coast (via WBUR). So, it's safe to say she loves a variety of savory treats. Pizza, though, is the one food Lakshmi admitted to Glamour that she's powerless around. She doesn't deny herself the indulgence, but she does emphasize keeping her eating habits "in moderation."