Padma Lakshmi talks with USA TODAY's Morgan Hines about her new show, "Taste the Nation," plus what she's been doing during her quarantine. USA TODAY


Still in quarantine? You’re not alone. "Taste the Nation," streaming now, and closing out Season 17 of "Top Chef."

She's also used her platform to speak about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and systemic racism while sharing educational resources with her followers. "I wanted to make the platform that I have useful in whatever way I could," says Lakshmi, who has attended local protests and donated to bail funds across the country. 

There is a crossover between her work and her activism. "Part of the reason that I did 'Taste the Nation' was to try and contribute something positive to the conversation," Lakshmi says. – As told to Morgan Hines

6 a.m. I wake up with the sun at 6 and then I kind of walk around and have a cup of tea and go back to sleep if I can for an hour. 

8:30 a.m. (Normally) I have to get my daughter up because she has to be on a Zoom call with her teacher and fellow fourth graders. It's been really hard to get her to concentrate. Half of the time the struggle was not with the actual material that she was learning. The struggle was actually with the fiddling at the computer, like clicking and dragging. But that's over now and it's summer vacation for her. 

9 a.m. Usually, my day starts with exercise. I do Pilates virtually. I was a little skeptical about virtual pilates, but it's OK. The other thing that I've done for cardio is the jump rope. I always carry a jump rope in my suitcase, even when I filmed "Top Chef." I try to jump rope for about a half an hour every day. I'm jumping for a minute then I take 10 seconds off to catch my breath, take a teeny sip of water (and) go again. Usually, during that time, I put a podcast or NPR on or something.

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This angel sleeping right here? Don’t let her fool you. She’s willful, opinionated, and thinks she’s got it all figured out. I love littlehands more than life itself, but man the last 9 weeks have really been.....challenging. She’s trudging through her online schoolwork, saying she doesn’t see the point. Stir crazy, yet doesn’t want to do any of the activities I suggest.⁣⁣ ⁣ As humans, we have a hard time with uncertainty and gray areas. I try to tell her that the worst things that happened to me when I was young made me stronger for having gone through them. So we keep pushing through the frustration and anxiety. Some days it’s easier than others, but we keep going. We know there are so many less fortunate. We remember how lucky we are, how privileged to be healthy and safe. And if we have a bad day we promise to wake up with a better attitude the next.⁣⁣ ⁣ Sidebar: she’s just entering puberty and is feeling all the feels, while I’m in the throes of peri-menopause and can see no end in sight. But I know that if we keep our hands clasped together, we will come out the other side. Different sure, but maybe better too. I’ll let her sleep a bit longer and enjoy this little bit of peace. 😴💖 #quarantinediaries #hanginthere #真人百家家乐官网网站homeschooling

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Morning to midday: I do my emails and then I'm cooking lunch.

3 p.m. I give (my daughter) a snack at like 3 or 4. I also need a snack at that time. I have a cup of tea. And then we're thinking about dinner. Basically our day is just punctuated with food or preparing the food. 

On why she did "Taste the Nation": I hope that "Taste the Nation" shows people that there's so much richness of culture and different cultures, right within our own country. The show asks the question, who gets to call themselves an American and what is American food? Well, American food is evolving every day. And I hope that it'll make people more curious about their neighbors and the people making their food, too, that it'll allow some ice to melt. 

We were still editing the show (when quarantine began). I actually still had to record some of my voiceovers. Miraculously, I found a place in Long Island where the woman actually had a recording studio on the side of her house. 

7 p.m. I'm actually working on a cookbook right now. "Taste the Nation" started as a cookbook and then I put it aside to do the show, but we're still planning on doing the cookbook. So we've been testing recipes. Every day is different. Like one day we'll have schnitzel. Tonight, we're going to have chicken tacos.

Cooking with 10-year-old Krishna: She's very good in the kitchen. She always wants to do more than she should for her age. I try to tell her, 'You're not allowed to use the big knife unless there's a grownup right next to you,' or 'You can't turn on the stove and cook couscous without an adult there.' But she feels she's mature enough and she invents recipes.

12 a.m. My sleep has been disturbed because on the one hand I'm really nervous and anxious, but on the other hand, I'm not getting enough exercise. It takes me a long time to get to sleep. 

What I'm reading and streaming: I tried to read "Conversations with Friends" by Sally Rooney, which was highly recommended to me. I started reading Alicia Keys' memoir. That's good. I read "How to Be an Artist." But that is pretty much the sum total. I mean, normally, I can read a book a week. I love to read, I just haven't been able to focus.

The one thing I was able to focus on was "Game of Thrones." I never watched when it was actually on, I don't have that kind of time in my life. But I was like, OK, I'm going to watch "Game of Thrones" from start to finish. There were several Saturdays I spent in a dark room, just watching episode after episode.

I don't know how else it could have ended, but you know, for Cersei and her brother just to be killed by rubble on top of their heads is not how I wanted her to die. I guess (I would have preferred) some kind of direct hand-to-hand combat between these two women, where Cersei wasn't relying on her army, or her brother, and Khaleesi wasn't relying on her dragons like that.

On racism, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor: I didn't look at that video (of Floyd's death) for a long time. It just feels so absurd – like, an out of normal human experience. And yet it is sadly all too normal. I also wanted to make a lot of noise about Breonna Taylor. Those officers are still out there and they're still being paid by taxpayers' money. 

The stuff that's bubbling up now is long overdue, but a lot of us have been thinking about it and dealing with it or experiencing it for years now. I think we all have a role to play. I'm sure it's hard for lawmakers to toe the line of being fair and needing to compromise to get things done and push through. But I think for a lot of black and brown people, you've been compromising for a long time.

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