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Women's Health

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Recipe for Success: Padma Lakshmi

The Top Chef host dishes on food, fame, and her struggles with endometriosis -- plus she shares two delectable recipes.

Cooking at Home With Padma

Food remains the throughline of her career -- and her personal passion. Although Lakshmi, who was briefly married to acclaimed, British-born Indian novelist Salman Rushdie, has traveled the world in pursuit of exotic dishes, she often craves homespun, simple foods. For a solo dinner, she might whip up an omelet with sautéed mushrooms and spinach, flavored with thyme, oregano, and fresh red chilies. "Plus a beefsteak tomato sliced thick with some fresh olive oil," she says. Her other dinner staple is what she calls her one-pot wonders ("I don't like doing dishes.")

She also treats herself to the occasional weekend bed picnic. "A perfect Sunday would be to work out at the gym, come home, take a bath, get back into a pair of crisp, clean pajamas, and tuck myself into bed with something to read, a tray of sandwiches, and a big pot of tea." And while her choices of picnic reading material are sophisticated -- The New York Times, The Atlantic, Italian Vogue -- her sandwich selections are deliciously simple: BLT, grilled cheese, and egg salad.

"I was rushing around all morning and didn't have time for breakfast," she says, looking at her plate. Every savory morsel of orecchiette is gone. Eating heartily is a much-earned reward for her no-excuses gym time. While there, she lifts weights and does cardio -- the StairMaster, the treadmill (which she adjusts to a steep incline), or the elliptical machine.

Her regimen certainly works. Just take a look at the evidence in a nude Allure magazine photo shoot last May.

Why bare all? "I thought it was a really good forum to show women that you can be curvy and you can be healthy and you can eat -- those things are not exclusive to each other -- and you can have a beautiful body when you're in your 30s. It may not be the body you had in your 20s, but it can be just as elegant and beautiful and sensual and feminine."

Padma's Childhood Scar

Lakshmi didn't always feel so comfortable about her body. Especially the appearance of one seven-inch section of her right arm, the result of a car accident when she was 14. She was on a Sunday afternoon drive in California with her mother and stepfather when their car was rear-ended, and her right arm was shattered. The surgery left a prominent cross-hatched scar on her upper arm.

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