October 22, 2014 10:22 AM

Courtesy Natural Health

Giada De Laurentiis’s daughter, Jade, seems to have inherited her mom’s culinary savvy. Case in point: The six-year-old seems concerned that a certain jolly Christmas visitor needs a more interesting diet.

We know, it’s not even Halloween yet. But in the November issue of Natural Healthon newsstands Thursday, the Food Network star talked about her plans for the upcoming holidays as well as her daughter’s opinion on the optimal Santa snack. “Jade thought, ‘He probably gets too many cookies from other kids.’ So [last year] we made mac-and-cheese cupcakes, so he could have a meal. That just goes to show you she thinks long and hard about Santa’s diet,” she said.

Of course, there’s another food-centric holiday between now and Christmas, so De Laurentiis also shared recipes for a Thanksgiving menu that includes a turkey seasoned with paprika and chiles and sautéed broccoli rabe (both shown below), as well as cranberry soup, mashed root potatoes and a chocolate-hazelnut pie.

Courtesy Natural Health

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And although she might reign the stoves on her TV shows or at her first-ever restaurant, GIADA, which opened this past summer in Las Vegas, the chef is happy to accept help when she hosts Thanksgiving. She says it’s usually a potluck, though she handles the turkey and her husband, fashion designer Todd Thompson, makes his family’s mashed potatoes. “It takes a lot of the pressure off and lets your guests be a part of the entire celebration. It engages everybody and empowers them to feel good about their ability to create something,” she says.

Another nice thing about planning, cooking and cleaning up a meal together? There’s a communal aspect to it. “It’s connecting with other human beings, which we lack in this day and age because we’re always on our phones,” she says. (Not to mention the fact that it’s tough to text or Tweet when you’re in a total turkey coma.)

RELATED: Giada De Laurentiis Hosts an Italian Dim Sum Brunch

Along with asking her guests to contribute to the Thanksgiving meal, De Laurentiis had another strategy for making hosting less stressful: Use supplies that you’ve probably got in your desk. “I put Post-it notes in different parts of the kitchen to remind me of what I have to do and the timing of it all. I wash platters and put labels on everything, so I can remember, ‘I said the stuffing is going in this dish, and the cake goes here, and the sides go over there,’” she says.

Courtesy Natural Health

And when guests arrive, she makes sure they’ve got something to snack on—think popcorn seasoned with cheese or chilies or a mix of toasted nuts and dried fruit, which epitomize De Laurentiis’s healthful cooking style and are low-maintenance for the busy host. “Put out food that can sit, so you don’t have to worry about warming anything. That’s the trick to entertaining,” she says.

—Lexi Dwyer


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