"Food is more than just the physical act of putting food in your body, but it’s about how you nourish your soul.”

Tracee Ellis Ross is no stranger to portraying strong, inspirational female characters on TV. From a high-powered attorney on the long-running CW hit series, Girlfriends, to her most recent role as an anesthesiologist and mother on the ABC comedy, Black-ish. Yes, Tracee Ellis Ross knows exactly what it means to be an ambitious, driven woman, both on and off the screen. Not to mention, the 43-year-old comedienne, model, producer, and TV host probably picked up some tips along the way from her iconic mother, actress and singer Diana Ross.

But now Ross is championing for women off camera, partnering with Special K and its “Nourish Your Next” project. The campaign is all about supporting, honoring, and empowering women from all over the world to nourish their inner strength and what’s next in their lives, whether personal or professional. Just like the women it celebrates, Special K is promoting positivity and health with its latest venture and new cereal lineup featuring two different flavor combinations: Apple Raspberry Almond (as pictured below) and Coconut Cranberry Almond.

“It was such a natural collaboration for me, and I was so honestly proud of Special K for coming up with such a campaign and a concept in taking cereal to the next level,” said Ross. “I try to find food that not only tastes good in my mouth but feels good in my body. And that’s part of the way that I have learned how to nourish my soul, and it’s the same concept. That’s why I love that word ‘nourish.’ It’s sort of how you actively draw things into yourself in order to fuel and give you a space to jump off from and live your life in its fullest capacity.”

As Ross settles in season two of Black-ish, she shared with Cooking Light why she’s deemed the “salad queen” among her family and friends, her love for cooking, how she’s nourishing her being, and her inability to resist potato chips like the rest of us.

On the six things she does to achieve joy, nourishment, and a healthy body:

- Getting Enough Sleep – “I like to get eight hours of sleep at night, and I do my best to stay close to that even when I’m working. I try to protect that eight hours and not get less than six."- Drinking Water - I really hydrate with fresh, beautiful water as much as I can. I drink natural spring water. I don’t really drink a lot of soda or juice."- Eating Whole Foods – “I really do try to eat mostly whole foods, unprocessed foods, and something fresh and alive every day, whether it’s a salad or piece of fruit. And that is really important to me in terms of staying connected to my body and letting it sort of fuel itself off of the natural elements of life."- Staying Connected – “Staying connected to family and friends and making sure that I have connection to a sense of community and like-minded individuals that conjure a sense of love and connection with me and other people."- Taking Time for Herself - “A combination of things, of knowing myself and allowing myself time to just be, which would be silence, reading, or just quiet time with myself.”- Laughing – “I really try to laugh as much as I can. And I think that has to do with a perspective, allowing myself a sense of joy in my life and in my day and not wearing the clothes of life too tightly--letting things have some play to them.”

How she manages the hassle of eating when she’s working:“Well, I don’t ever think of eating as a hassle. I think food is really cool, and I think there are so many different ways to eat joyfully. And by the way, joyfully does not always mean eating a small amount of calories. We order food, and sometimes when I have enough time, I cook food and bring food to work. I do make sure that I eat. I’m not a gal who wants to skip meals because, really, whether it’s eating the wrong thing or not eating enough food, I will not have enough energy to get through a 14- and 16-hour day. In order to maintain my schedule, I just have to be diligent about that, because otherwise I crash. That’s really one of the reasons I responded to this campaign. I just feel like it’s really important being mindful and putting our attention on how we nourish ourselves, instead of it being something unconscious that we might forget to do or don’t really think about.”

Her inspiration and guiding light moments in food:“There’s a friend of mine, Linda, who taught me about all of these different, wonderful ways to let food come to life and do what it does so beautifully when you’re eating whole foods. I am a farmers’ market girl. I often find a ton of inspiration from what is fresh, and that’s how I create some of the dishes that I make. If you buy fresh ingredients, there’s not much you have to do to it. It’s sort of how you allow it to be what it is.”

Cooking skills and favorite family recipe:“I do cook a lot, and I enjoy cooking. I love cooking for my family. I’m usually in charge of meals when we’re all together, whether it’s choosing where we all want to go or me doing the cooking. My family loves my butternut squash and my broiled steaks, and I’m known as the ‘salad queen.' I make things up as I go by whatever is in my fridge or what I find at the farmers’ market.”

Foods worth the splurge and why they’re important:“I splurge on a regular basis because I think it’s really important to give myself treats, and no one else is gonna give them to me. So, I love a potato chip, and I love olives. I would say I eat at least a whole bag of potato chips at least once or twice a week, but for sure once a week. I’m obsessed with bread pudding, and I love a pancake and croissant. I stay away from dairy, sugar, and things like that, but that doesn’t mean I don’t eat them. There’s a ton of indulgent splurges, and I really do believe in that. I think you have to have a sense of discipline and a relationship with yourself. For me, personally, telling myself I could never eat something just doesn’t work. I learned that I could have a couple of bites of something and call it a day. Eating to the point where you feel sick doesn’t work for me. That sort of changes the balance of the whole thing, but eating in a way that you enjoy it, is great.

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