HI: Congratulations on the success of your first cookbook, Relish.
DO: Thank you!
HI: Why did you decide to write this book?
DO: Because I wanted to stop living my "placeholder life" and figure out how I could start living my better life right now. I didn't want a big struggle or life overhaul. I just wanted the easy tips and tricks that would help me balance.
HI: Balance when it comes to food?
DO: I apply the same attitude I have towards my food, to my style at home, and in fashion; to my relationships with family, friends and my husband, and to my career. In each of these areas, I wanted to learn to do little things a little bit better and see big results - and have fun doing it!
It's really about enjoying the journey as much as the destination.
HI: Can you explain what you mean by the 'placeholder life?'
DO: A "placeholder life" is one where you're biding your time, sometimes making the lazy choices, waiting for "real life" to kick in 10 or 20 years down the road when you think you'll magically have discovered how to do it all better.
What I realized was that I need to be making smart, meaningful changes to how I am living today if I want to reach that even better place down the road - and more importantly, if I want to fully enjoy where I am now.
HI: You grew up vegetarian, is that right?
DO: My mom grew up vegetarian, so that was primarily how she cooked for us growing up. We ate a lot of fish since my dad loves it, and my mom wasn't against us eating meat if the dish was a specialty of the region or restaurant - for instance, I loved having köfte when we came to visit my dad's family in Istanbul each year. But it really was her commitment against animal cruelty and in favor of what she saw as a healthier way of living with a mostly plant-based diet that steered our family towards vegetarianism.
HI: You've spoken about struggling with your weight (as a child). What motivated you to change how and what you were eating?
DO: I realized when I was heading to college that this was my opportunity to establish healthy adult habits that would last me a lifetime - and that if I didn't do it now, I might never do it.
I knew being heavy was making me unhealthy and keeping me from living my optimum life, and I wanted to change that.
I was 180 pounds at 17 and over the course of 3 years, I lost thirty pounds healthfully and permanently without ever having to give up the foods I love.
HI: What advice do you have for girls and women who are struggling with their weight?
DO: The biggest thing I had to remind myself when I was losing the weight was that I could have anything I wanted, anytime I wanted.
For me, it's the fear of deprivation that makes those "not- so-good-for-you" foods so alluring.
Decide if it really is going to be indulging for a good cause and worth the calories - meaning, it has to be something homemade or ridiculously delicious that is going to fuel your resolve to eat well the rest of the time.
If it is, then indulge in moderation and savor (relish!) every bite. No one has every felt guilty over homemade chocolate chip cookies (or eating half the dough). But don't cave to the stale cupcakes at the office snack hour.
Those are the indulgences I regret afterwards.
HI: If we opened your fridge doors right now, what would we find inside?
DO: Prosecco. Organic chicken thighs. Cucumbers, peppers and mixed greens. Yogurt. Hot sauce and chilies. Frozen bananas, blueberries, cherries and homemade cookie dough in the freezer.
HI: Which guest has surprised you the most, for better or for worse, on The Chew?
DO: Hugh Jackman. I was just surprised by how great he was at everything - the nicest man ever, and he could sing, dance, cook: the consummate gentleman.
HI: What's the best advice you received as a newlywed?
DO: The best relationships are built on good health and bad memory.
HI: Words to live by?
DO: Everything worth doing in life is worth doing well.
*Photo credit: Ellen Silverman
*An abbreviated, Turkish version of this interview ran previously, in Elle Turkey magazine.