With her flawless skin, bright smile, and nonstop energy, Giada De Laurentiis looks and acts more like a woman in her mid-20s than someone just shy of 40. "I can't believe it myself," says the host of Giada at Home. "I think we all look in the mirror and see that 25-year-old. But as long as you're eating well and moving your body every day, age is just a state of mind.

The TV chef has put together her recipe for a healthy body and balanced life--at any age.

Start with a dash of passion

Despite coming from a Hollywood dynasty (her grandfather is producer Dino De Laurentiis and her grandmother was an Italian film star), Giada never had the urge to follow in her family's footsteps. "The movie business isn't my thing," she says. "I knew when I was 12 that I wanted to do something with food-I just didn't know what." Giada credits her grandfather's love of food as inspiration, but it was her mother and Aunt Raffy who taught her how to cook. "I learned tradition from my grandfather, who grew up selling pasta in Naples; simplicity from my mom, who had four kids and had to get dinner on the table fast every night; and creativity from my aunt, who is my cooking soul mate," says Giada. Today, she and her aunt work together on the recipes for her Food Network shows. "She finds the recipes and we tweak them. We've been doing that since I was a kid." By following her passion, Giada's career was born.

Toss with gratitude

A big turning point for Giada came five years ago, when her younger brother Dino was diagnosed with melanoma at age 29. "It was a complete shock to us all when he died two years later," says Giada. "No one believed someone that young could die of skin cancer. We were all in the 'Lance Armstrong defeating cancer' frame of mind. That's when I realized how short and fleeting our lives are. You have to enjoy every moment because this life doesn't last forever." It also made Giada much more sun-conscious. "I use sunscreen every single day, rain or shine, summer or winter," she says. "Experts think melanoma comes from burns we had as kids, so I also make sure Jade is covered in SPF and wears a hat when she's outdoors."

Stretch, knead, then let rest

BeforeGiada got pregnant, she worked out at the gym all the time. But whenher obstetrician warned her to take it a bit slower, she switched toyoga. "I thought, 'Oh, this will be a good way to stretch,' but itturned out to be so much more!" she says. "It taught me to breathe, itstrengthened my muscles, and it helped me relax." Giada was so thrilledwith the results, she continued to practice after Jade was born. Now,five days a week, a private instructor comes to her house at 4:45 a.m.for an hour-long session before Giada heads to the studio. "If I don'tdo it first thing, I simply won't do it," she says. "With my crazyschedule, that often means cutting into my sleep. But yoga gives me theenergy and focus I need to get through my day. I'm not saying I don'tneed a cup of coffee in the afternoon sometimes, but it's the yoga thatdefinitely keeps me centered."

Sweeten lightly

Likemany women, Giada had to struggle with her weight after giving birth."I gained 22 pounds, which doesn't sound like much, but I'm only 5'3",so it was a lot for my height," she says. "Because I had a C-section, Icouldn't work out for a long time afterward, so I knew the best way forme to lose weight was through diet." A self-professed sweets addict(she used to put 6 to 8 tablespoons of sugar in her coffee!), Giadaeliminated white sugar and cheese for six months. "The first two weekswere hard," she says, "but I got over the hump by eating a lot of fruitand replacing sugar with healthier alternatives, like brown rice syrupand agave nectar."