By peoplestaff225
Updated December 03, 2020 02:52 PM

Long before she was a chef, Cat Cora was raised eating “clean, whole” foods.

“I grew up following the Mediterranean Diet — lots of vegetables, leafy greens, fruit, lean meat, more fish, grains and lots of hydrating,” Cora tells PEOPLE.

These days she still takes a balanced approach to eating. “I don’t deprive myself or deny myself a bit of dessert, but I do everything in moderation.” While the chef doesn’t have cheat days, she tries to incorporate indulgences throughout the week, like a small piece of dark chocolate or frozen yogurt after dinner.

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While working as a chef requires Cora to do a significant amount of nibbling, which could potentially compromise her clean eating, she has a go-to plan for battling the impulse to eat too much while testing her recipes.

“Tasting — not eating — is the key. When I’m done, I can skip a meal and have a healthy snack like some almonds, piece of fruit or hummus and carrots,” she says.

Check out her daily food log below — and pick up the new issue of PEOPLE (on newsstands Friday) to read more about her diet.

Green smoothie with spinach, chia, 1 scoop protein powder, frozen berries, 1/2 banana and water

1 medium apple
Small handful of raw almonds

Kale and spinach salad with chicken breast diced with Healthy 8 chopped veggie mix

Hummus with carrots and cucumbers

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Salmon with faro and sautéed garlic, ginger, cilantro and edamame
Small crisp salmon skin salad with balsamic vinegar

Late Night Snack/Dessert
Berries with Greek yogurt and 1 teaspoon of agave

Total Calories

The chef’s diet gets a thumbs-up from dietician Keri Glassman of “An apple and almonds is an excellent snack,” she says. “It’s the perfect size and combo of nutrients and easy to eat anywhere, anytime!” Glassman also likes Cora’s afternoon menu. “Hummus is a good choice after having chicken at lunch it’s a great way to get in a little more protein that’s plant-based!”

–Michelle Ward Trainor & Maria Yagoda

NOTE: It is recommended that women eat at least 1,200 calories per day, and men eat at least 1,800 calories per day.