While other 16-year-olds were touting around high school, Karolina Kurkova was strutting her stuff on the Victoria’s Secret runway and landing contracts with the world’s leading fashion houses.
The uber successful model, now 33, still spends much of her time traveling for work, but she’s also navigating life as a wife and mother who’s dedicated to keeping her family healthy.
“My philosophy is yes, I want great tasting food that I want to eat, but also I look at food as vitamins and fuel for my body and energy,” Kurkova told PEOPLE. “As someone who has an active and busy lifestyle, I am constantly doing things and traveling so I’m very aware of what I’m putting in my body. I don’t want to be consuming bad things—I want it to have nutritional value.”
The model frequently posts her fresh, colorful meals to Instagram, showing fans that it can be easy and delicious to eat good-for-you foods. This is a mindset Kurkova has always followed; as a kid, she ate home-grown fruits and vegetables that had a strong impact on her love for food.
“I love fresh produce,” the model said. “The food I grew up on as a child came from my grandparent’s house where they grew everything. They had cherry trees — I used to climb the trees and pick cherries. They had apples, pears, carrots, cucumbers, strawberries and raspberries. I didn’t realize back then how lucky I was, having that kind of food and being able to taste it straight from the ground and the nature.”
With such an emphasis on health and nutrition, what does a busy woman balancing work and a full house eat?
Breakfast and snack:
As any supermodel—or mom—knows, starting the day with a high-protein meal will give you the energy to kickstart your day.
Kurkova creates her own filling breakfasts using fridge and pantry staples and a little creative magic. She starts with a simple protein as the base (Greek yogurt or eggs, for example), then mixes in healthy flavorful ingredients to keep the meal exciting.
Some of her go-to combinations include Greek yogurt with pumpkin seeds, strawberries, cup of blueberries, shredded coconut, cacao nibs and maple syrup, or an omelette with leftover vegetables.
Kurkova’s alternative to your midday vending machine struggle sounds more like a treat! The model loves to blend up a smoothie made with coconut milk, cacao nibs, raw cacao powder, ½ of a frozen banana and chia seeds.
If she's on the go, a traditional sipped smoothie is her go-to, but if she's home, the model may get a bit more creative and opt for a trendy bowl version, like this recipe.
Lunch and dinner:
Though the model—like most clean eaters—follows a general guide of lean protein and veggies, her meals are anything but boring.
Kurkova says she often enjoys grilled salmon with steamed asparagus topped with olive oil and lemon juice, a 1/4 cup of white rice and 1/2 an avocado for lunch.
For dinner, she’ll opt for a soup made of leek, zucchini and potato.
To succeed with a healthy lifestyle such as Kurkova's, it's important to get creative in the kitchen. Start with a main lean protein like chicken, fish or vegetarian options, then find different veggies to dress it up and add flavor. This constant creativity in the kitchen will help you enjoy cooking more, plus you won't get bored of eating the same food every day.
Even for the healthiest of humans, dessert can be a non-negotiable. But for this beauty, it’s all about allowing yourself those pleasures in a healthy, moderate way.
Oftentimes, Kurkova will enjoy a few cubes of raw chocolate or raspberries after dinner to satisfy her sweet tooth, or whip up a simple pudding with fresh cream and, you guessed it, chocolate.
Other days, she enjoys a fruity tea with strawberries or peaches to curb those cravings.
Luckily, Kurkova’s philosophy of indulgence extends beyond a piece of chocolate at night. “I do believe in treating yourself. If you’re in a moment or in a great place where certain foods are made with love, even if it’s fried, you should have it! I believe in enjoying food and not always being super strict,” she said.