Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Photo courtesy of Russ Harrington

Hello readers, and welcome to The Dutch Oven, a mixture of Q&A, tips, and information about people, places, and food that create our wonderful Southern culinary culture. Lift the lid and see what's inside today.

Trisha Yearwood. Just mention the name and you get responses like "She is my favorite country music singer of all time." Or "She has the richest-sounding voice in all of country music." Since debuting in 1991, Trisha has earned 3 Grammys, 3 Country Music Awards, 2 American Country Music awards, and has had numerous #1 and top-10 hits. A member of the Grand Ole Opry and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, Trisha has enjoyed a longevity in the music industry that few artists are able to maintain.

Trisha also has a fondness for the kitchen. Born and raised in Monticello, Ga., Trisha enjoyed a typical Southern childhood in that it revolved around cooking and family meals. After she married singer/songwriter/musician Garth Brooks in 2005 and became a "bonus mom" to his three daughters, Trisha relied on her childhood experiences to help create and strengthen her new family – she brought the girls to the kitchen and they all started cooking together. She also began writing cookbooks, compilations of recipes that she, her sister, and her mom had collected over the years and stored in shoeboxes. This love of cooking and collecting recipes evolved into yet another career, that of cookbook author and television personality.

Her third cookbook, Trisha's Table: My Feel-Good Favorites for a Balanced Life, debuted in April on The New York Times Best Sellers list, her Emmy Award-winning Food Network series, Trisha's Southern Kitchen, is now in it's sixth season, she has a new album out, AND she is touring with Garth in the Garth Brooks World Tour. Whew. She recently took a few minutes to chat about her book, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and her plans for the future.

SL: Your new cookbook is a mix of traditional comfort food recipes as well as some healthier alternatives. Is this a reflection of a change in your personal cooking style or have your viewers and readers asked for it?

Trisha: Maybe a little of both. You know I can never, ever give up those wonderful comfort food recipes, and we shouldn't have to. We love the taste of those dishes but they also hold memories for us. We can't let that go. But like many of my viewers, and probably Southern Living readers, we realize that we simply can't eat that way all the time! You can't have the fried foods, the fatty, ooey-gooey casseroles all the time. It's just common sense – we know that our health is related to what we eat, and if we want to be productive, to feel good, we have to be mindful of what is on the plate. But taste is still very important to us, especially Southern cooks. We want to please our family, plus we have a reputation to uphold as a good cook! So, in my new book, I combine some tasty, healthier options with the comfort foods we already know and love.

SL: How do you balance the traditional recipes with these newer, healthier options?

Trisha: I have tried so many diets over the years, probably all of them! But I came up with something that really works for me - I call it my 80-20 plan. 80% of the time I will choose healthier options, baked and broiled over fried, that kind of thing. Then the 20% is when I indulge! You kind of have to plan ahead sometimes. If you know a birthday is coming up and you really want some of that birthday cake, you need to back away from the table the days leading up to the celebration! So you aren't completely cutting out those dishes that you love, you are just being smart about how often you eat them and how much.

SL: How do you maintain this plan while on tour? Do you cook yourself?

Trisha: Oh no! I would never attempt to cook on tour. We have amazing caterers who know how to put out a spread for the crew. They have also started incorporating what they call "Trisha food," some lighter and leaner options for me and some others. I mean, sometimes we have 2 concerts a night and the crew will have a meal at 9pm! Do you know what that does to your energy level, to eat a meal and then try to do a show at that time of night? So I try to fix a shake, a small plate of protein, fruit, whatever, and just walk away from the buffet! It can be hard, and sometimes I think the 80-20 plan is more 20-80, but you just do what you can, each day, and don't beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon. That goes for everyone, no matter what your job is.

SL: You have said that you never had a Master Plan for your careers, that you didn't plan to write cookbooks, have a television show, a furniture line, etc. You simply walked through the doors that made sense at the time. Looking forward, what other doors would you like to walk through?

Trisha: Well actually, there are two doors. I am just so grateful and so blessed by everything I have in my life; my family and friends, my career, just really everything. But I am 50 years old now and I want to figure out a way to make it all matter more – matter for something bigger and more significant than just awards. How can I combine my music and my cooking into something important… maybe something for cancer research, fund-raising, something along those lines. Maybe create a foundation or invest in an existing one? I don't know what it might be, but it is something I have been thinking about.

The other door I would like to walk through is to find a way to invest in young girls, young women, who struggle with self-esteem and confidence issues. You know, I still struggle with stuff like that and I am 50 years old! Maybe we just always have that issue, I don't know. But I just have an interest in helping in that regard. Again, I haven't yet figured out how all this can work together, but that will come.

Want to know more about what Trisha's been up to? Check out her new line of cookware, Precious Metals, and watch for The Trisha Yearwood Home Collection with Klaussner Home Furnishings coming to stores this Fall.