She dishes on Brazilian food, batch cooking, and the value of bettering oneself.
Advertisement
Camila Alves McConaughey headshot
Credit: Courtesy of Camila Alves McConaughey

Camila Alves McConaughey believes no one should go it alone. The mother, entrepreneur, and former TV host has worked to bring people together through her online community, Women of Today, which promotes dialogue about physical and mental health. Previously, she and husband Matthew launched the Just Keep Livin Foundation, aimed at helping high school students succeed.

This same emphasis on community extends to family life, too. When Matthew travels for work, Camila and their three children pack their bags, too. And when it comes to cooking, the kids lend a hand.

Camila touches on these topics and more in her conversation with Homemade host Martie Duncan, including her story of immigrating to the U.S. from Brazil as a teenager and working a handful of jobs before her modeling career took off. Of course, the episode covers Camila's cooking, from the pantry staple that reminds her of her Brazilian heritage to her hack for batch cooking ground meat. She also shares her thoughts on making time for self-care in a busy household. Download it for free at Apple PodcastsSpotify, and anywhere else you listen to podcasts beginning March 10.

About Camila Alves McConaughey

While visiting her aunt in Los Angeles, Camila Alves McConaughey decided at 15 that she would live and work in the United States. While learning English at a community college, the Brazilian native cleaned houses and worked in restaurants as a hostess and waitress. At 19, she moved to New York City to pursue modeling. She hosted Bravo's "Shear Genius" in 2010 and Food Network's "Kids BBQ Championship" in 2016. She currently maintains her online platform, Women of Today, in addition to philanthropy work alongside the Just Keep Livin Foundation. She lives with her husband, actor Matthew McConaughey, and their three children in Austin, Texas.

Camila Alves McConaughey setting the table outside
Credit: Ashley Burns

Episode Transcript

MARTIE DUNCAN Welcome to Homemade. I'm Martie Duncan. We often talk about favorite recipes, food memories, and old family traditions on this show. But on today's show, we're going to talk about some new traditions, including how to take better care of ourselves and our families, especially with so much craziness going on in the world.

My guest today was the host of one of my favorite shows, Bravo's "Sheer Genius," and you've also seen her on Food Network, the "Today Show," "Rachael Ray," and other shows providing cooking, nutrition, and lifestyle tips.

While you may have first gotten to know her as Mrs. Matthew McConaughey and seen her on the red carpet wearing all those beautiful gowns, she's also an entrepreneur. Her lifestyle brand includes a website called womenoftoday.com, and it is a community of influencers, content creators, and experts on topics like parenting, food, nutrition, beauty, fashion, and a whole lot more.

She's got millions of followers, including me, on Instagram, and I love following along with her daily life. She opens up the doors and lets you see pretty much everything going on at her house. I'm so thrilled to talk to Camila Alves McConaughey. Welcome to Homemade. 

CAMILA ALVES MCCONAUGHEY Oh, thank you so much for having me. what a nice introduction. Can you just called me every morning, give me that introduction? Just say, "Camila..."

MARTIE You know what? I'll do it. Yes, I'd love that.

You know, I had Dorie Greenspan, the baker, on my show early on, and Dorie told me that for a time she worked for Julia Child. And Julia would call her every morning. And she said that was like her daily affirmation. Like, Julia would call her and, "Come on, let's go. Let's do this. Let's do that..." And she said it was really like her daily motivation.

CAMILA That's amazing. That's amazing.

MARTIE I think it must be nice to have somebody call you like that and say, "Come on, let's do this!"

CAMILA Yes, I might need to start that practice.

MARTIE Yeah, maybe. Me too. I wish somebody would call me. But I feel like you should pass it on and call somebody else. You never know what somebody's struggling with. I don't care who they are. 

CAMILA That's very true. That's very true. You know, you touch into a point that's very important. And I think it's very important for all of us to be aware of that right now. And just in general. I talked to my kids the other day because they went into a situation and they were laughing just as kids, not, you know, like fully grasping. 

And they're like, "Well we just thought it was funny." And I was like, "No, you can't." Like, "Do you know what's the backstory on that? Do you know why this situation looks like this or why the situation is happening?" And they all stopped and they're like, "Oh, my gosh, yes. I'm so sorry. I shouldn't be laughing." Because it's so true. Like, you never know what somebody is going through. You really, really, really don't know.

MARTIE No. Because everybody's Instagram and everybody's social media just looks so cheery that people don't post the hard and painful things most of the time. 

CAMILA Yes.

MARTIE so you really never know what somebody is struggling with on the other side.

CAMILA It's true. Kindness is key.

MARTIE It surely is. Listen, you're a mom of three. I saw on your Instagram you're a new dog mom. You have your mother-in-law living with you like a lot of Americans. So you're really just — even though I know at a very high profile —but you're still a regular American family. 

CAMILA It's interesting because, you know, we — Matthew is very, you know, Texas. I'm from Brazil. We're a mixed family. We got three kids. We got an eight year old, we got an 11, we got a 12. We had two dogs. We now have four dogs. We just adopted two puppies.

We went into the Humane Society to get a cat and walked out with two puppies. Just craziness. I don't know what I was thinking saying yes to that. And I was the one that instigated it. I was doing like, "Yes, let's take both." You know, I'm always like "More life, new energy! I mean, we can do this. We can take care of these little guys."

MARTIE 'Cause you couldn't stand to walk away and leave them there. That's why.

CAMILA Jeez. My heart is too soft, it's a thing. We got, you know, a cat, and we got my mother-in-law.

MARTIE Right.

CAMILA So we got from puppies to eight year olds all the way up into 89.

MARTIE Eighty-nine.

CAMILA She just turned 89.

MARTIE I saw that.

CAMILA Since this whole pandemic started, she moved in with us, and because she's 89 years old and, you know, we have a high risk at home. So we've been pretty much kind of handling everything ourselves. So when you say, OK, yes, you know, our family, as you say, high profile. Look, we work really hard. Really, really hard. But to your point, we're just doing what everybody else is doing, trying to figure out.

MARTIE Right.

CAMILA You know what I mean? Like, I haven't had a place to drop off the kids since this whole thing started.

MARTIE Right. Nobody does. Everybody's doing that. So that's what I meant, like you're just doing it like everybody else. And what we call a sandwich family, you know, there's you in the middle and your kids that you're caring for and raising, but also your mother-in-law that you're helping with now. So you're all like a lot of families. You're enduring a lot of the same things.

And where I think you bring a lot of value to, and why I follow you on Instagram is because not only for the cooking, which you're an amazing cook — I saw you on "Rachael Ray "one time, and that's when I'm like, "I'm going to follow her. She's great." And what I like about it, not that the fact that a lot of it's healthy, but you bring a lot of awareness to, like, "Read your ingredients. Know what you're getting into. See what's up in the back. If you can't pronounce it, don't eat it."

And I love the fact that you're teaching your kids that. Don't you think it's important that we do kind of try to teach the next generations early so they get these better habits early on?

CAMILA So, I cannot express to you how important it is to start healthy habits early. So, I'm 38 now. And I went through my journey with health problems and all those things. And I go back into everything that I used to do and how I used to do it and how I was raised. And I go, wow, if I only knew and if I only had better habits when I was younger, I wouldn't have it because I see the difference.

I'll give you an example. I, even today, struggle with sugar intake. It's a battle for me. And I go through stages where I'm like really great at it and I go through stages that it's like, ugh, especially for getting around the time of the month and all of that. Like, can't control it. And it's really hard. And we all know it's no it's argument whether sugar's good for you or bad for you. You can talk to any doctor, any nutritionist, any expert. Sugar is the devil. It just is. We just did a whole month on Women of Today called "Sugar Talk," where we had a bunch of experts and people explaining that.

But I go over to my husband. And he grew up in a way that his mom did not allow him to have much sugar. So they had like on Sundays, they could have milkshake or something like that. Right?

MARTIE Right.

CAMILA Or only on special occasions. And they just didn't grow up with having it around the house and daily intake. So I see him now, as an adult, and he has no problem with sugar intake. And when he has it, he's like, "Oh, I enjoy it." He'll have a little bit of it and he's satisfied. He's done. And I sit there and I go, wow. You know, and it's proven. This is science, you guys. This is not, like, my opinion. It's proven that whatever you start with as a kid, it will dictate your journey as an adult. Right? And you can change that journey. But it's just harder. It's that much harder.

MARTIE I think it is. And families are so busy and sometimes you just want to give the kids something to eat. And it's not necessarily always the best thing. And a lot of kids are feeding themselves.

CAMILA I do believe that doing better — I'm not trying to preach anybody to be perfect.

MARTIE Yeah, same here.

MARTIE 'Cause I'm not. 

CAMILA Yeah. Because I'm not neither, OK? And I like to enjoy life and I do have my treats and I do go bad and all of that with things. But...

MARTIE I think you have to. You can't live otherwise. I mean, you have to.

CAMILA You have to. But I just feel like — well, it's a choice, right? Some people don't. And it's a choice and they do great. But what I'm thinking is, it's not as hard to do better for you as most people think it is. And it starts with the simple thing. Parents say this all the time. Parents go, "My kid will not eat this. My kid will only eat this." And, you're like, "OK. I hear you."

I went through a stage where my child will only eat beans. But eventually, at the end of the day, we are the ones responsible for what we bring into our household. We're the ones buying the stuff, and not just for the kids but for ourselves, too. And if you stop at the store when you start doing the grocery store, you go, "No, I'm not getting this. And you know what? I need to treat. Let me find a treat that's better for me than that old crappy stuff that I used to get. Or, you know what? I'm just going to get myself one little small pack and that's it."

Everybody has to understand what kind of personalities they have and what they can deal with and be honest with themselves. But if you start there, it's already a huge change that you can make that will trickle down.

MARTIE I think you're so right. You grew up in Brazil, like you said, and you or your family were farmers. Some of my family were farmers, too. And I think we did have some exposure to healthier things early on that stuck with me. We would have a lot of vegetable meals with no meats or anything like that. Now, being from the South, we fried a lot of those vegetables and maybe...

CAMILA Yeah, right.

MARTIE Yeah. But still, there were a lot of vegetables. From your Brazilian roots, are there recipes and are there food traditions that you grew up with that you still embrace today and things that you've shared with your family?

CAMILA Listen, we always have a pot of beans in the stove. And I take turns. It's either black beans or pinto beans or white ring beans. I cook it on the regular pot or cooked on a clay pot or Mexican style. You know, like we always have a pot of beans in the stove, which beans, guys, is a superfood. Right?

MARTIE It is. 

CAMILA It's so good for you. It is so inexpensive. So easy to make. You can feed a whole family with it. 

MARTIE You sure can.

CAMILA And you have so many variations of it. So that's one tradition, because in Brazil, it's rice, beans and protein and vegetables and legumes. Right? Like that's kind of the plate down there.

MARTIE Right.

CAMILA So we grew up like that was daily. You always have rice and beans in your plate kind of thing. And my family loves it.

MARTIE Yeah. Southerners we do as well. Butter beans, black eyed peas, things like that were very important to us, too. Like you said, you can feed an army with them. You can change them up a lot.

CAMILA Yeah. 

MARTIE And they do stretch a long, long way if you're on a tight budget. All right. So, with this busy family, what does dinner look like at your house these days?

CAMILA Every night it's a little bit different. It depends how much prep time I have or not. But I'm going to tell you some things that I started to do. I try to, like, do some batch cooking. 

MARTIE Yes.

CAMILA Which I usually try to do it on the weekend. or one of the nights, like if I happened to finish work early and kids are happy, things are happy, then I'm like, "Let's go, Camila. Get in there." And, you know, I start making dinner and batch cooking at the same time. And I've been using those, you know, the thing that you — what's the name of it — it vacuum seals.

MARTIE FoodSaver!

CAMILA Yes! Thank you. Those things are great. Those things are great. So like on a batch cooking, I have this one thing that I do, which I'll cook like a large batch of, let's say, ground beef.

And sometimes ground turkey or I'm — ground chicken, mix it up. But like let's say I cook a large batch of ground beef and then I split in three and then one third will be for like a meat sauce, which I just then add just tomato sauce, basil, garlic. The other third I add taco seasoning. And I freeze that for a taco Tuesday night. And then the last third, I would freeze it for later on to do like a rice and meat, protein vegetable bowl. And I do like Asian style seasoning in it. And I tell you one thing that I never did before the pandemic and I got into it, which was been doing a baked potato night. 

MARTIE I love 'em. 

CAMILA I used to never do that. I'm like, why? I was like, "Why haven't ever done this?" But, you know, do like the toppings because it's easy. It's fast. You get a potato. Lasts you a long time, as we all know, and just a simple, good baked potato bar. And it's been like so good. And I'd be making a lot of the coleslaw, which I've shared on Women of Today, the recipe as well.

MARTIE Yes, so without mayonnaise, too. Right? 

CAMILA No mayo. So it's better for you. But it tastes great. It's super easy to make. It lasts a long time. And it's the base with the fish on top, it's the side dish. So you can use it in so many different ways. It's the topping for the taco. So just again, dinner's at home now, it's been a lot of like how can I get creative and using one ingredient multiple times or cook a large batch, use it some, freeze it for later. 

MARTIE Well, cabbage is another one of those great ingredients that doesn't cost much and goes a mile. That brings me back to Women of Today. It's a community-based web site. It covers a very wide range of topics, everything like family, beauty, food, wellness, fashion, home, all the things that are important to all of us women.

I love the fact, though, that you have a community of people who are providing content, providing experiences. And it's not just one voice. It's a multiple platform of voices. Tell me how you got started with that and why that has become such a big focus for you.

CAMILA It makes me so happy that by looking at it, you're like, "Oh, it's not just one voice." Because that was really, really something that was important to me, that that was not a Camila McConaughey website. This is really about learning from each other and sharing. And, you know, I need to learn from you. You know, you can never — like we can all learn from each other.

MARTIE For sure. 

CAMILA So, with our jobs, we have multiple hats in our family, I like to say.

MARTIE Right. 

CAMILA But, you know, with Matthew's work and the work that I do with him and all of that, like we travel a lot. So when he goes to location, we all go. 

MARTIE Y'all pack up and go, too. Oh, wow. 

CAMILA Everybody. Everybody, the whole family. I've just lived in so many different parts of the world from a very early age, since I'm 19 years old. I lived all over. And every time I went into certain countries, other countries, or when I went to the South in the United States, I always felt the sense of community. I always felt like the conversation was a bit bigger and larger with, you know, more people. And if you needed something, you said it. And if that person didn't know, they'll be, "Well, I don't know. But my cousin might know somebody. Let me call that person. Let me connect you to it." And all of a sudden the next day, you're having your solution. You have answers of things that you are in need of.

And I felt like every time I came back, let's call it the mainland, I get you, know, it would go back into a very close, tight group of maybe five people. And that was it. And it was — and nobody was really open. So I just really wanted to broad that conversation. 

MARTIE Right. 

CAMILA Make it to where we're all part of this community. So, it's a community that is focusing on doing better for themselves and their communities. And the whole content on the website, on the Instagram, it's things that the community tell us that they want to learn, that they want to know. And they write, and they send their ideas and recipes. And we talk about it.

And we were doing some great events before the pandemic. And now we've kind of pivot during the pandemic to really more like necessities in terms like right in the beginning. Again, at first we were talking, we were going more of recipes and better for you, but a little bit more fancier, teaching people how to do that. And then we very quickly went to, "Nope, We're going to teach you how to cook rice and make beans." Like we started doing this exercise classes in the pandemic. We were doing five days a week? 

MARTIE Oh wow. 

CAMILA For free on Instagram. And out of that community, they started asking, "Well now we want to learn about this. We want to learn about lymphatic massage. And then can you show how to make recipes that are vegan." Which we weren't really focusing before.

MARTIE Right.

CAMILA Hey, can you show us how to teach this? So that all spins off into other content. 

MARTIE You're listening to Homemade. Stay tuned to learn how Camila uses tea to help jump-start her day and how you can create a tea station at home. She's also going to share her favorite food destinations from around the world. We'll be right back, after the break.

I'm Martie Duncan, and my guest today is Camila Alves McConaughey.

I love the fact that for the beginning of the year you have really focused a lot of your content and, I mean, it's varied, but there's a lot about, you know, getting a kick start on being healthier for the new year. Like everybody makes their resolutions. But you've also had content around taking better care of yourself.

Moms, and women, are often the caretakers for everybody in their lives. But a lot of times we don't take time for ourselves. And I love the fact that you have devoted a lot of space and time to that topic. Can you give us three tips for how you take care of yourself and encourage other people to do that? 

CAMILA Yes. Look, I think that it's fundamental that we take those little pauses. And I get it, I get it. It's not going to happen every day. It's not going to be perfect. But, if you set your intentions and try to do as much as you can, just like with eating habits, if I can try to as much as I can, you will get the benefits from it. So I try to do little things. So like I set up for myself a tea station. 

So I have, all the things that I like to have on my tea. And to sit there and make my little combination of spices and herbs and all of that and sit down and have my tea before the day starts, before the house gets crazy. The mornings that I'm able to do that, my patience, my happiness, my energy levels are completely different than the days that I just get up and gotta run.

MARTIE Well, I think it is for me, too, and maybe for everybody, because you're starting from a place of pause as opposed to getting up and having to just run at it. You know, you have a time to think and plan your day a little bit and... 

CAMILA Yeah. Another thing I'd like to do again, a simple thing. Right? Like, taking care of your skin or taking care of your hair. I'm big on lymphatic massage. So I can't go to somebody to get a lymphatic massage. But I have learned how to do a version of it with the dry brush. And a dry brush, all it takes is just a couple of minutes before you take a shower. And you do it and you scrub it up. And it's right there. I also make like homemade scrubs. 

MARTIE Really? 

CAMILA Yeah, with sugar, honey, you know, different things in it. But I mean, if you want to just a simple one, you just put sugar and honey. And I leave it in a little — a container in the shower. And I just do that. And just that routine of just going like, "OK, I'm just taking a couple minutes..." Instead of like, "Oh, I'm just taking a shower to get to cook dinner." "I'm just pausing and take a couple of minutes to take care of myself."

And I get out of my skin looks better, it feels better, glowing. Then I'm like, "Ahh. OK." I just, you know, you have that different approach after you take a little pause. 

MARTIE Yeah, I think so. 

CAMILA So, you know, so even little things like that, you know. We create it to where I have like a string that I put it outside the door and every so often, kiddos, the string is out the door. Nobody comes in for 20 minutes. Just — I just need 20. You know? 

MARTIE You know, and I think that I grew up with a mom who certainly never took any time for herself. She was a busy mom with four kids. And if we can learn anything from the past generations is, it's not good for you to put yourself last every day.

CAMILA Yeah. 

MARTIE You got to put yourself up there occasionally because you're going to run out of steam if you don't. You say that you keep cinnamon on your tea station. I do, too. I have terrible inflammation as I'm aging. It's become more pronounced. A lot of injuries from playing sports when I was a kid. And I think cinnamon is one of those great ingredients that you can use to help prevent some of that inflammation. So you have that lymphatic brushing, adding cinnamon, you put some things in your teas that I didn't know about. Can you walk me through that? 

CAMILA Yeah, so this is what I do with my tea. So I do peppermint tea. I go between using yerba mate or matcha to kind of give me a little bit of, you know, the energy boost up. And then I add one cinnamon stick and, like you say, it's a great anti-inflammatory to try to bring that down. I do two cloves. I do a little dash of fennel seeds if I don't have fresh fennel. And fennel helps you get rid of excess water, so makes you, like, go pee more.

MARTIE I didn't know that. I didn't know that. 

CAMILA Yes. Yes. And I do a star anise. 

MARTIE Yeah, I love star anise.

CAMILA Ad then I just have fun with it. Sometimes I just stop right there. Some days I go, you know what? I'm feeling like I need a little bit more anti-inflammatory, so I put turmeric or I put sliced ginger or I add a lemon, like a slice of lemon. So I kind of play with it. Another thing, too, if you know you're going to have a really crazy morning. You know, the Yeti, like you know the Yeti brand, right? 

MARTIE Yes.

CAMILA That they have? So you can also do the night before and in the morning it's just the right temperature, but it becomes a very strong tea.

MARTIE Oh really? 

CAMILA So you have to kind of watch it because sometimes the cinnamon can become too strong, you know what I mean, for some people. But that's my combination. So cinnamon, cloves, a little fennel, star anise, yerba mate or matcha, one or the other, and peppermint.

MARTIE OK, so I've noticed that your kids, your daughter, particularly, cooks with you sometimes in the kitchen. 

CAMILA All the kids cook.

MARTIE All the kids cook.

CAMILA So I started very young with them. The way I started with them was, it's a mentality here in the States that I see, which is different in a lot of countries, where you going to start cooking with kids. It's should be caking. Baking, sorry. Baking. 

MARTIE Right. 

CAMILA Making cake, making, you know, cupcakes and all of that. I started the other way around. I didn't get them to baking. My daughter just start baking not long ago. So the way I did with my kids was, I got them one of those electric pans that you plug in and you can control the heat?

So I started getting them to cook because they love eggs in the morning. So, well, you start cooking your eggs. So they started cooking the eggs and then they start adding thins in the eggs and then we started doing OK, now let's do a stir fry rice because they like that. And then they really fell in love with cooking. And they do smoothies and they really get into it.

My daughter, took her a little bit longer because I think that my son, the oldest, he's really good in the kitchen. And he comes up with, like, random stuff. Like so, his favorite breakfast to make is — and he came up with this. And he chops garlic, onions, turkey, kale. And he just sautés all of that really well done. And then he does eggs on the side and avocados. Like that's his thing. It's really good.

MARTIE And you've got somebody cooking for you, too. How lovely is that.

CAMILA Right? Exactly. So all the kids cook. I take turns in the morning of who makes breakfast. And then we take turns every so often of them making some form of dish, a meal. So we take turns in the kitchen. 

MARTIE You know, one thing I did want to talk to you were talking about kids and I did want to talk to you about this because, you know, I think on first blush, it might look like, you're incredibly beautiful and you're incredibly smart. So on first blush, it may look like...

CAMILA Oh, that's kind. Thank you.

MARTIE You've always had it super easy. But you came here very young and you didn't come here as a model. Like, a lot of people probably have the perception. You came here and then worked in a thousand jobs until you decided you were, right? Like, seriously, can you tell us a little bit more about your backstory? Because I think it's so inspirational. 

CAMILA Yes. You know, I moved here when I was 15 years old. My aunt lived here. I came to visit with my mom. And I got on the plane with my mom and I had two suitcases full of books, OK, because in Brazil, the education is different. So it was the last year before I was going to college. 

MARTIE Right. 

CAMILA Deciding what I was going to do. So you have tests. It's very intense. You have tests every week and all of that. So I had all the books because I was going to miss all this stuff. And I just — I looked at my mom in the plane before we took off. I looked at my mom and I was like — I was like, "Mom, I don't think I'm coming back."

MARTIE Wow. 

CAMILA And she looked at me and she went, "I know you're not."

CAMILA And I was like... 

MARTIE Wow. 

CAMILA And we didn't say a word to each other again about it. Like it just kind of, you know? So I came in and my aunt, she used to be a model in Brazil. And when we arrived, I was a tomboy. She dressed me up. Oh, my gosh. The most hor... hor... I mean, I was horrified. She put on like this tight, short, gold dress and these big high heels. I mean, it was — I was terrified. And she took me to modeling agencies here. 

And one of the modeling agencies said, yes, that they want me to stay and work. But it took a long time. It took from 15 into the age of 19 for me to actually start working as a model. So, up until then, I mean, I didn't speak a word of English. All I knew how to say was, "Hi, how are you?" "How much is this?" And "I'm sorry, I don't speak English." That was it.

MARTIE Really? 

CAMILA That was it. And it's so funny because once in a while, you know, we used to sing that song "Born to Be Wild," you know, and I used to sing that simple line and not know what it meant. That's how bad my English was. OK? 

MARTIE Yeah. I've got a best friend from Argentina and she says the same thing. She used to sing some songs because she was learning English through the music, and she would sing the most inappropriate things. I'm like, "No no no no no no no."

CAMILA You know, we went from having everything, and I had to move out of my uncle's house. They were going through a divorce and I had to move out, and was sleeping on somebody's couch with three huge dogs and had to figure out. So literally just pull out the newspaper and I was like, what kind of jobs can I do that it's honest? And I was starting to see ads for cleaning houses.

So I come from a family, my father's side, they're all farmers. My dad is farming until today. And we grew up. We had, you know, people working at our house and all. But my dad always said, hey, he was very old school this way. He was like, "You need to know how to take care of your home. Because you can be a queen but what happens when your staff doesn't show up? What do you do?"

MARTIE Right. 

CAMILA And so we grew up like knowing we had a sense of how to take care of the household and what to do. So I knew how to do that. So I was like, great, that's how I'm going to start. I didn't need to speak English for that. So I started cleaning houses, and then I would go and take English classes at the community college down in Redondo Beach at night. And I used to ride my little cousin's bike. It was the funniest thing over there and do classes at night.

So as I start learning English then I start working at a store and then I learn more English, then I start working as a hostess at a restaurant. Then I learn a bit more English, then I start being a waitress, until I got my call from New York City, from the agency in New York aand they said, "We're ready for you." And I was 19. So that was four years of just hustling, working hard, learning the language. And then I moved to New York by myself. 

MARTIE I just love this story. It's on The Women of Today website, y'all, if you want to read it for yourself and read what Camila went through when she came here. It wasn't instant magic, you know? It took a minute and she had to work really hard.

I don't think you've stopped working. You've got not just the Women of Today site. You have, like you said earlier, a foundation you're very involved with. Can you tell us a little bit about that, too? 

CAMILA The one thing that brings probably the most amount of joy is the foundation. It's the Just Keep Livin Foundation. It's a program that we started over 12 years ago? And we have programs across the country in different states. So we're kind of everywhere. And we're an after-school program. It's high school. Is title one school. It's that age that a lot of people don't want to deal with.

MARTIE Right. 

CAMILA But it's also that age that once they leave school and if they don't change their behavior, they're not just getting, a pull on the ear from the principal.

MARTIE Right. 

CAMILA They're going to jail. They're — it's real consequences after that. So we have all these kids that come to our programs, kids that were in gangs, kids that were depressed, kids that were not healthy. We also get, like, sports kids and happy kids. We have the outcasts. Our program somehow has been able to break barriers with kids and we have all kinds of different kids there, even special needs kids in there. 

MARTIE That's wonderful. 

CAMILA And they're all together. And we teach them nutrition on a budget, exercise. We do gratitude circle. This is a big, big thing that it sounds very small and very simple, but it has had such a huge effect on the kids every day of the program. We do field trips. A lot of these kids have never left their neighborhood. Ever.

I have this sweet story that sometimes I like to share what is, you know, one of the programs in Austin, Texa, they went on a hike. And halfway through the hike, this kid just froze up and he was looking at the body of the lake, and the coach couldn't really get the kid to talk or move. And then the kid finally, was like, OK, and went moving in with the group, kids go on. The kid goes on, does really well at school. I mean, the kid was about to be a dropout, goes on those really well, graduates. And as soon as he graduates, he comes back to the coach in our program to say, "I want to share something with you. That day on that hike..." He goes, "I have never left the walls of my neighborhood. I was stuck on a gang mentality and what everybody else did before me. That day, when I saw the body of water, it made me realize that it's more in the world than the four walls of my neighborhood."

And the kid went in, signed up for the Navy. And we have kids that go into Harvard. We have kids working in the White House. So many things that the program has impact kids, pretty beautiful to see. So we do field trips, we do guest speakers from all walks of life because we never know what is going to hit with what child. 

MARTIE Yeah, what's gonna stick. 

CAMILA So we have anywhere from celebrities to business to hairstylists to construction people to people that were in jail and just come out. We have all walks of life come in and talk to them. And we also do this one part that is very interesting that we didn't know if it was going to work or not in the program. And is a hundred percent attendance every time we do, which is community service.

So we tell the kids, we're giving to you, we're going to hold you accountable, to give it back to somebody else. And in the beginning, what they told us was, "I have so little. I never thought I could help somebody else." And with the community service aspect, they have such ownership. I mean, sometimes these kids have to wake up at 5:00 in the morning on a Saturday, on a Sunday. And it's a 100 percent attendance every time with whatever giving back component that we have as part of the program. So that is really, really special to see all that we're doing. Anyway, I can go for hours. But if anybody wants to learn more.

MARTIE That must be so rewarding and so fulfilling. Yeah. Tell us what it's called in case...

CAMILA Yeah, if anybody wants to learn more it's the Just Keep Livin Foundation. 

MARTIE All right, and y'all can go to the website, check it out and find out what they're doing that is causing these kids to 100 percent show up on a workday, I think that's pretty amazing and must feel so rewarding.

Listen, you spoke earlier, and I know we're about to run out of time here, but I want to go back to one thing. You do travel a lot. You always have in your modeling career. And now, when you guys go as a family and you're on set somewhere for weeks, months, whatever. 

CAMILA Yeah.

MARTIE What's your favorite food? What's your favorite place to go for food? And where would you most like to go that you haven't been? 

CAMILA Ooh, anywhere in the world? 

MARTIE Yeah, anywhere. I'm not taking you. I'm not, like, I don't have a plane. But if you could go, where would you go? 

CAMILA That's a really hard question. I'm going to give you a couple answers, OK?

MARTIE OK. Great. 

CAMILA Turkey. The food there, it's amazing. 

MARTIE Agreed. 

CAMILA Italy.

MARTIE Of course.

CAMILA OK? Food there, it's amazing. And then New Orleans, Louisiana, baby.

MARTIE All right, yeah, that's it! And it is like a different place, too, isn't it? It's a place into itself.

CAMILA Oh, my goodness. 

MARTIE We were talking about it just yesterday because Mardi Gras is canceled. So, you know, a lot of us would be down there right now, hitting up all of our favorite places, seeing all of our favorite things, the street musicians, all the fun that goes on during Mardi Gras. And we're not able to do it this year. So we're kind of missing that. But, yeah, New Orleans, baby. It's just a unique place in this world. Isn't it?

CAMILA Oh, it really is. If people listening haven't been, when things calm down, you gotta make your way down there. 

MARTIE OK, where's your first place you're going? When you hit New Orleans, where's your first place you're going to eat?

CAMILA Ooh, I'm going to go to, oh my gosh. What's the name again? It's on St. Charles Street, and they have the best little — what is the name of those little cakes that they have there? It's salty. 

MARTIE Salty? 

CAMILA Croquette? Yeah, it's almost like a croquette, kind of — not croquette, like a kibbeh, almost. 

MARTIE Like beignet?

CAMILA No, no, no. That's the sweet

MARTIE Sweet, yeah. 

CAMILA So this is why I love this place. So it's called New Orleans Seafood House. Something like that. The name, it's not coming to me. But the restaurant has got the best little like — it's this it's almost like a kibbeh, like it's this little appetizer. and you got the dipping sauce and it's the best. So I go there to eat that. And then connected to it, they have the beignet place. So they have the restaurant and then they have the coffee shop connected to it. It's the same owner. And they have the, in my opinion, the best beignets in New Orleans.

MARTIE Ooh. You've got to come to Alabama then, because I'm gonna have to take you to somewhere for the world's best beignets.

CAMILA Ooh, really? 

MARTIE I'll send you my recipe.

CAMILA Please do. 

MARTIE I will do that. It's one of those splurges, though. I did a savory version of it on "Guy's Grocery Games" with Justin Warner...

CAMILA Really? 

MARTIE And we ended up winning the $20,000. Because of those beignets. Yeah. Troy said I would stand in line in New Orleans on a hundred-degree day for two hours to get those beignets. So, I think they were good. 

CAMILA Nice. Please, can you share the recipe with us on Women of Today? 

MARTIE Well, yeah, I would love to share recipes with your community! Are you kidding me? I would absolutely love it. And we would love to share one from you with our Allrecipes family, as well. 

CAMILA I would love that

MARTIE Yeah. Well, you'll have to send us one that we can share with our Allrecipes family. They would love it. You can never have enough family. You can never have enough community. You can never have enough support. It's a big, busy world and everybody's swirling around, and it's so nice to have somewhere you can go to find people who are either similar minded or help you along your journey somehow.

I think y'all are doing amazing things with the website and also with your foundation. And I don't want to keep you all day and I could because you're a delight. But thank you so much, Camila, for being on Homemade with us today, for talking about your life and your kids and your mother-in-law.

Hey, by the way, I love those kitchen karaokes. Y'all keep those going. I want to come over and do one of these days. I loved your Tina Turner tribute. That was fun. 

CAMILA Oh, that was fun. 

MARTIE What's love got to do.

CAMILA Got to do. Got to do. 

MARTIE Got to do with it. That was fun. And having her sing along with you, that was just so brilliant. And there's a million more things I'd love to talk to you about. But, I just want to say thank you for being so open and so sweet and taking so much time with us and being just so generous. Thank you. 

CAMILA Thank you. Thank you for having me. And hey, if anybody has that drive to help others, it's not that hard. Go do it. Keep sharing the love and spreading the love with each other right now. And we work hard. We play hard. We love hard.

MARTIE: That's right.

CAMILA Thank you so, so much for having me. I really appreciate it. And I'm here for you any time. 

MARTIE Please visit womenoftoday.com for recipes, great self-care tips, and more from their community. Like me, you can follow Camila on Instagram, all over Instagram, and the foundation we discussed earlier is called Just Keep Livin. That's "Livin" without the "g." Information on all the important work they do with school-age children can be found at jklivinfoundation.org.