While fluffy homemade breads and whipped coffees might have been the hot topic of quarantine conversation just months ago, there are those who have moved on from these viral culinary trends. In fact, some individuals, including model and influencer Olivia Culpo, are finding joy in more simplistic, healthier recipes that only involve a few ingredients — no kneading or rising required.
"I'm always trying to think of ways to make recipes I love healthier," says Culpo to TZR in a Zoom interview arranged by supplement brand OLLY for its #InTheGirlsRoom campaign. "Lately, I've been cooking recipes, where I replace certain ingredients with [healthier ones] that are a bit more nutrient dense. We've been making things like chickpea pasta and zucchini brownies."
Indeed, just doing a quick scan of Culpo's Instagram feed lately, and you'll likely come across at least a handful of beautifully shot videos and imagery of colorful grilled vegetable plates, charcuterie spreads, and the aforementioned chocolate chip zucchini brownies. With more than 61,000 likes and nearly 900 comments (that include "I keep rewatching this. Need now.") the latter recipe — that was captured by Culpo fresh out of the oven as a decadent chocolatey syrup is being poured over it — has become an influencer in its own right.
The Rhode Island native fancies herself quite the wizard at the grill, as well, a category that once intimidated her, but that she's embraced with gusto during her time indoors. "I realized that grilling is so easy," says Culpo. "I've found ways to make quick, easy, healthy foods without over-oiling or over-seasoning, and it's all so fresh and delicious." Easy seems to be the name of the game here, as Culpo says recipes that strike the right balance of convenient and healthy — like sheet-pan meals — are a top priority at the moment. "[Sheet pan dinners are] basically tons of veggies on a pan and maybe a protein that you just throw in the oven," says Culpo. One and done.
And as the past seven months have been a time of reflection for many, Culpo has had her own moments of self-discovery that extend past her culinary aptitude. "I think I've learned the importance of balancing stress, and how that can trigger any ailments or discomfort you feel" says the model. "[It's about] finding the proper supplements that work for you as an individual, and taking the time to test out what might support you the best."
In her own journey this year, Culpo has bumped hormone stability to the top of her list of things to tackle. "It's so personal," says the former Miss Universe, adding that a common culprit lurking in these imbalances is often stress. "Stress can come from so many different areas in your life [...] For me, I get a tightness in my chest, butterflies in my stomach and a knot in my throat."
In her research, Culpo says she's discovered the powers of the ancient Indian Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha. "The ashwagandha helps to get rid of that anxious feeling, but still allows you to maintain an alert brain and focus." (In fact, studies have found ashwagandha to have a clear calming effect, comparable to some prescription medications like Lorazepam, and can support a healthy sex drive.) "It's really interesting, once you go down the rabbit hole, discovering all these natural herbs you can take that help support the female body," says Culpo. And when paired with a solid zucchini brownie, they can really do wonders.
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