Grocery store salad bars are her BFFs.
Carla Hall is no stranger to staying busy. For the last few months, the former co-host of ABC’s cooking and recipe show The Chew has been on a tear, promoting her latest cookbook, Carla Hall's Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration. She’s also the culinary ambassador for Sweet Home Cafe at the Smithsonian National Museum for African American History and Culture and is involved with several charities and causes, including Helen Keller International and AARP’s Drive to End Hunger.
That got me thinking: How does a chef who’s that busy—and often bouncing from hotel room to hotel room—eat healthy? When asked, Hall laughed and said, “You get very creative when you’re on the road.”
Hall explains that because she’s been promoting a cookbook about soul food, everyone gets really excited and tells her about all of the best, local soul food restaurants in the cities she’s visiting. “I talk about soul food and celebrations every day, but I tell them I have to have some everyday food. I can’t celebrate every day. Most of the time, I go for beans and greens and raw foods,” Hall says.
She adds that things like grocery store salad bars and microwavable bags of veggies have been a lifesaver. “One of my favorite vegetables are peas," says Hall. "Think of how much protein is in peas—peas are the way to go!”
Hall is a self-proclaimed flexitarian who says she doesn’t really miss meat. In fact, she seems to enjoy cooking plant-based meals. “You know, one of my favorite recipes that I created for my husband, who’s a vegetarian, is barbecued celery root," she says. "Celery root has become one of my favorite vegetables. A lot of people don’t know what to do with it, but when you grill it, it becomes very satisfying and meaty.”
Hall isn’t a big fan of dieting, and mostly relies on intuitive eating. “I’ve never been a fan of fad diets, so I have to listen to my body. The best way to do that is exercise. If you eat the wrong thing, and then go workout, your body will be like ‘oh my God, what did you put in me?’”
She finishes with some very wise words that anyone on a health journey should heed: “A diet is only a guide, you have to be your own advocate.”