'The Kitchen' Co-Host Katie Lee On The Surprises Of New Motherhood — Pleasant, & Not-So

by Jacqueline Burt Cote

Some things about new motherhood are universal, like the feeling that all the other moms in your life have been holding out on you about some of the more unpleasant aspects of having a baby — even if you are a Food Network chef. “Nobody tells you how bad it is,” co-host of The Kitchen Katie Lee tells Romper about the childbirth process.

Lee, who recently welcomed her first child with TV producer husband Ryan Biegel, says she “wasn't prepared for how bad my body would feel” in the days and weeks after delivering brand new baby girl, Iris. Another thing she wasn’t prepared for (which, on the contrary, “everybody told [her]”) is how quickly those early, magical — albeit uncomfortable — weeks would pass.

“I didn't grasp how fast it would go,” she says.

“I’m so into her, obsessed, I just want to stare at her. I’m just starting to work again but since it's all from home it's nice; I can sit here and feed my daughter and work, and I feel like I want to be able to always find a way to be close to her and do my work. I have a feeling I’m going to be a real helicopter mom,” she adds, noting that while she “misses her co-host,” the decision to keep filming The Kitchen from home through the end of the year is the safest way to go… and gives her extra bonding time with Iris. “I want to be close to her! I’m having the best time. I want to go to the mall with her and her friends.”

For now, Lee is focusing on taking care of herself and her little one, finishing up her cookbook and finding ways to feel supported and strong in the face of new mom challenges. One of the nursing mom’s favorite forms of sustenance is her daily breakfast, courtesy of husband Biegel: a bowl of oatmeal with flax and chia seeds (both thought to help with milk supply), a scoop of peanut butter, berries, and banana.

“It looks like an Instagram picture every day,” she says. “We eat everything but try to be more plant-based.”

In a somewhat surprising twist for the New York Food and Wine Festival’s Burger Bash’s first-ever winner, Lee is even entering this year’s competition with her own spin on the new Gardein Ultimate Plant-Based Burger (basically an “amped-up” vegetarian version of her award-winning patty melt).

“I’m making a special sauce with griddled onions and lots of melted American cheese and buttered bread. I think it would fool any meat eater,” Lee says.

With all that talk of melted cheese, it’s no surprise that Lee credits grilled cheese as her go-to pregnancy comfort food, followed closely by a weekly ice cream cone. Sounds pretty restrained to Romper, but Lee says the lockdown this spring put a major damper on her pregnancy cravings.

“Covid kept me in check,” Lee explains, particularly because frozen yogurt bars (the kind where you can pile on lots of hot fudge and other toppings) were largely off-limits.

“I love frozen yogurt more than anything on the planet,” Lee says. “I couldn’t believe during my pregnancy that I wasn’t able to go out and get frozen yogurt the way I always envisioned.”

Yet another thing nobody told her about (but that one, no one could have predicted).