Giada De Laurentiis

Olive oil basics, recipes and more: Giada answers your cooking questions

March 27, 2012 at 2:16 PM ET

TODAY /

One of our favorite ladies of TODAY's kitchen, Giada De Laurentiis, joined us to answer reader questions on Facebook for a live chat Tuesday morning. Here's a recap of the cooking Q & A — you just might find a nugget of info that can help you out!

Suzanne Simpkins DiVentura: When should you use extra virgin olive oil or just regular olive oil when cooking?

Giada: When you cook, use olive oil. But when you are dressing something, use extra virgin olive oil

Jennifer Paluszak Hadden I'd like to make your lemon and lavender cookies, but we have a toddler with a nut allergy. Should I just substitute more flour for the almond flour? Thanks.

Giada: Yes, you can substitute all-purpose flour for the almond flour.

Kim White Lester What is your favorite type of whole wheat pasta? I like it but my family often doesn't and I haven't found a brand they like.

Giada: My favorite whole wheat pasta is actually....mine! My whole wheat penne at Target. It's organic, it's well priced and it holds its texture really well and it's not gummy. It's delicious!

Lynda Flynn If a recipe calls for minced garlic would you get the same results with a garlic press?

Giada: Yes! you can uses a garlic press. Garlic is always up to your taste — how ever you like to use it.

Sharon C. Bennett Do you eat your own food or diet food all the time? You look great!

Giada: Thank you!! I don't "diet" but I eat small portions and I work out. And if I overindulge one day, then I really watch it the next.

Jane Knight Phillips In today's recipe, can I use prosciutto instead of pancetta?

Giada: Yes, you can use prosciutto. But add it in right at the end — toss it with the Parmesan cheese.

Sundee Hulshoff- Rivers Do you have a kids cookbook out? If not, is that something that you may venture into?

Giada: I don't have a kids cookbook, but my new cookbook is made for kids and adults too. Most of my cookbooks have some recipes for kids in them.

Michael H Wirtschafter Hello. Looking for substitutes for side dishes when you have an allergy to any kind of beans(green beans, peas , lentils etc.) and are tired of the same types of sides (potatoes, rice, carrots, broccoli) for dinners??

Giada: Try quinoa, farro or couscous, or yams, carrots & yams — there are lots of things out there!

Grace Tseng Ho What is your favorite Italian restaurant in L.A.?

Giada:My favorite Italian restaurant in L.A. is Capo

Cathy Curts Morgan any good recipes for pork chops? It’s one of the cheaper meats right now but I can never think of anything besides BBQ or frying.

Giada: I have a recipe for spiced pork chops with sweet and sour glaze, as well as a recipe for roasted pork with smoky red pepper sauce. Both are in my cookbook, "Weeknights With Giada"

Lynn McCarthy Now that I am back living in New England and more closer to seafood (lived in Vegas before...ugh), what is your fave Italian recipe for fish or seafood?

Giada: My favorite Italian seafood recipe is cioppino (fish stew). It's very easy, tons of flavor — it's satisfying but still light. It's a great one-pot meal.

Jerusalen Barrios How do you get young children interested in trying new foods early like 15 months old?

Giada: Try foods that are colorful, and different shapes help as well as foods with lots of flavor

Shannon Noni Selis I am always trying more creative ways to make lamb, i have tried it with mustard + rosemary and I have tried it with mint, any other ideas?

Giada: When it comes to lamb, I like lamb chops. I like to serve them with salsa verde or a nice marinara. Keep it simple!

Jessica Lenstrom-Cheatham Favorite pasta recipe of all time?

Giada:My favorite pasta recipe of all time is baked rigatoni with bechamel sauce

A Bachelor & His Grill When it is your turn to relax & enjoy, who is cooking for you & what is on the menu?

My husband Todd makes Sunday morning breakfast — Todd's Scramble Surprise, which is comprised of anything he finds in the fridge!

Brigid Hughes Astuto I am making your orecchiette with mixed greens and goat cheese for my two daughters tonight. They don't like goat cheese. Any suggestions for a substitute? Maybe fresh mozzarella?

Giada:Whatever cheese they like is fine — including fresh mozzarella! Goat cheese is sometimes too tangy for a lot of kids.

Terri McCarron Lottmann I am making your Halibut Artichoke Caponata. Do you recommend defrosting the artichokes first?

Giada: You can defrost the artichokes, but you don't have to.

Whitney Garibaldi I had a question regarding jarred sauce, what brands to you recommend? I find that none taste as good as homemade!

Giada: I have one that I sell exclusively at Target that I think tastes as good as homemade. Affordable, and you can doctor it up if need be. Give it a shot!

Michelle O'leary: How do you do it? With your schedule, how do you fit it all in? Exercise, good eating habits and always looking so amazing? Give up the secrets!

Giada: I have a great support group. A supportive husband, my friends and my family. I definitely make an effort to get up early -- crack of dawn before Jade wakes up — and I choose to do yoga. It really helps me stay fit and keep a solid mind. Lots of breathing!

Wil SheltonI really enjoy cooking and being in the kitchen, but when it comes to meal planning I can really use some help. When you plan a meal do you sit down and plan it before heading out to the market or do you get inspired while cruising the aisles at the store?

Giada: I usually plan it ahead of time, but my mind can get swayed a little bit depending on what's fresh and available at the grocery store!

Kelly Booth What's your favorite meatless meal?

Giada: My favorite meatless meal is my Swiss Chard Rolls. I also have a whole chapter titled "Meatless Mondays" in my new cookbook.

Mike Carey Any advice for a guy who has a complex from turning 40 today!

Giada: I'm over 40 and it turned out OK for me! My feeling is that men get better as they age. Men are like wine!

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