We've got great news for all you foodies out there: Giada De Laurentiis, the Italian cooking queen of Food Network, is releasing a brand-new cookbook, Giada's Italy ($31, Amazon) in April. (We can practically smell the fresh basil and Pecorino Romano already!) In the meantime, however, Giada is keeping our tastebuds happy by partnering with Simply7 to create delicious guilt-free popcorn, just in time for National Popcorn Day.
This new partnership is also coming at a time when we could all use a little help keeping our New Year's resolutions to get fit and stay healthy. With that in mind, we asked the star chef for her best tips for staying on track with a diet past January, while still enjoying the yummy food you love. Here's what she said.
Don't deny yourself healthy snacks.
Simply7 popcorn is unique in the fact that it's made from red and blue corn, which is not only sugar-free but contains more protein than typical yellow corn.
"Our corn has more crunch and more flavor than your typical store-bought popcorn, making it a more flavorful, better-for-you snack," said Giada.
Aside from being a healthy snacking option, Giada's popcorn is a snack that gives back. Simply7 is currently working with female farmers across the U.S. in hopes of making them the primary source of their blue and red corn; they're also providing donations to female farmer organizations to help bring awareness to women in agriculture.
"I wanted to do more than just have a popcorn line," said Giada. "I wanted to empower women."
(Photo Credit: Simply7)
"We're really going back to basics," she continued. "Even if you don't care about farming, you care about where your food is coming from. This is really a snack that can make a difference."
Right now, Simply7 popcorn is only available online ($36 for 12 4-ounce bags, Amazon). but you'll be able to find it on the shelves of major grocery stories within the next few months.
Use more lemon in your cooking.
One of Giada's go-to items? Lemon juice.
"Lemons are my fallback," said Giada. "Because acid acts as a neutralizer and a balancer, not as much salt or fat is needed to make the dish flavorful. Lemon juice tingles the tongue and wakes up taste buds; it's an ingredient that'll give any dish the perfect balance between sweet and salty."
If you don't have a lemon, Giada said any citrus will work.
"Lemon juice, lemon zest — any citrus will add more flavor."
Pasta isn't the enemy.
It's no secret that pasta is full of carbs, but that doesn't mean we should steer clear forever. In fact, Giada has given us a way to enjoy pasta without feeling like a big diet cheat — and it's not opting for veggie-noodles or gluten-free varieties, either.
"There's a lot of pastas that are made gluten-free that are good these days, but that isn't going to satisfy your pasta craving," she said.
Her cure? Portion control. To keep her portions small, Giada said she serves her pasta on appetizer plates.
"Just don't eat a lot of it," she continued. "Instead of cooking a whole bag of pasta, just use half and load up on veggies. That way you're not eating so much pasta."
Flavor is everything.
During our talk, Giada made one very important observation: If your food isn't flavorful, you'll end up eating more of it.
"Whenever you're cooking pasta, make sure your water is seasoned really well, so you're starting with a lot of flavor from the get-go," said Giada. "That is how we're doing the popcorn. Heritage corn has a nuttier flavor and more crunch, which means not as much needs to be eaten to become satisfied."
Basically, using good ingredients can equal a much more satisfying meal.
"That is something we've lost in this country," she said. "We have to eat a lot to satisfy our cravings."
Moderation is key.
One of Giada's mottos is, "Eat a little bit of everything, but not a lot of anything." We have no doubt it's working for her — she's as gorgeous and energetic as ever these days! She also mentioned that despite her busy career, she always prioritizes spending time with her daughter and getting in some quiet time whenever she has the chance.
"Life is all about balance," she said. "Don't overdo anything. Being healthy and staying fit is a mind-body experience; you need to keep your mind in shape to keep your body in shape. Don't try to overwork yourself, balance your food, and drink a lot of water."
Pretty good advice, huh? We'll definitely be giving it a try.