“Food is love for me,” Bertinelli tells PEOPLE during an event for Beringer wines. “Good or bad, bikini shot or not. I go up and down in my weight but I’m not going to worry about that because I share my love though food.”
“I’ll go through times where I indulge way too much and then times where I pull it back,” she continues. “It’s about listening to your body.”
This positive attitude toward eating didn’t come naturally for Bertinelli, who has been open about her past struggle with food addiction. “I used food as a crutch, and I abused food in a way that I shouldn’t have,” she told Dr. Oz in 2012. “It made me afraid of food for a while, too, but now I embrace it.”
Now releasing her second cookbook, Valerie’s Home Cooking, out in October, Bertinelli is showing her authentic self through dishes that are close to her heart. “I want you to feel like you’re in your kitchen with me cooking,” she says. “Every single recipe has a story with it.”
FROM COINAGE: Here’s When It’s Worth to Buy Organic
These recipes include comfort food favorites like tuna noodle casserole and sausage biscuit sandwiches (a riff on something her mom used to make) to more elevated dishes like steamed clams with coconut milk. “I really to help people not be afraid to make something,” says Bertinelli. “A lot of people are afraid of clams, but they could not be easier, they’re super affordable and they look fancy.”
For more exclusive celebrity food news, follow People Food on Facebook.
Her passion for food is something she shares with her husband, Tom Vitale. “I have to travel too much; I have to go do things all the time—I don’t want to go out,” she says. “Turning on some music, opening a bottle of wine, and cooking with Tom is my ultimate date night.”