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The celebrity chef tells PEOPLE about finding comfort in the kitchen, "I made eight cakes in six days"

February 27, 2014 12:45 PM

Reeling from the career-shattering scandal last summer that she has likened to “a death,” Paula Deen took comfort in her family, friends, fans and her favorite place: the kitchen.

“I made eight cakes in six days,” the celebrity chef, 67, tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s cover story.

Deluged with German chocolate and coconut confections, Deen says her husband, Michael Groover, 58, told her, “‘Honey, I don’t know if I’m going to survive this.’ ”

Paula Deen

Deen, who famously revealed a 40-lb. weight loss in January 2013 – one year after she announced her Type 2 diabetes diagnosis – says she “didn’t eat all those cakes” but admits that, since the scandal, she has been indulging more.

“I have been eating way too much lately and I have to get back on [a healthy diet] again,” she says.

As for her health, “It’s good,” she says. “My last bloodwork, my A1c [blood sugar level] was 5.4 percent, and my blood pressure is 120 over 70.”

Reporting by LIZA HAMM

For much more on Paula Deen’s life post-scandal, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE.

PREMIUM: Paula Deen: ‘I’ve Never Been a Quitter’

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