Let's Talk About Cameron Diaz Becoming the Next Big Domestic Goddess

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Who else spent more than a few minutes on Instagram this summer watching Cameron Diaz make a salad?

Seriously, get this newcomer a show!

We knew that the onetime highest-paid actress in Hollywood had pretty much made the full pivot to wellness, authoring two books on the subject and popping up occasionally in public to talk about aging, health and nutrition. And that she's always been a big fan of food. And that she waxed rhapsodic about "shallot gold" on The Tonight Show.

But now we know that, aside from settling down with husband Benji Madden and becoming a mom to daughter Raddix, she's been spending her days stirring it up in the kitchen and learning all about the wine business. (And growing a s--tload of garlic.)

And whether it was having to stay home during the pandemic or just because the timing was right, this year the very private Diaz unexpectedly opened up her kitchen to her Instagram followers and started filming herself whipping up her favorite recipes, from a seven-ingredient roasted corn salad to buffalo cauliflower "wings" to scarf while watching the Lakers game.

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Before long, audiences were smitten with her and her massive Viking range.

Not that Diaz's culinary prowess should come as a shock. She's been an advocate for organic, clean eating for years. Her idea of a fun girls' night has always been to crank out homemade pasta (as she and Drew Barrymore have done) or jet up to Napa and take over a professional kitchen. She has shared recipes on pal Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop site. Asked if she'd rather cook or be cooked for, she told Bon Appetit in 2016, "Cook, always."

And if she could only have five food items with her on a deserted island, she'd pick an avocado tree, an olive tree, a lemon tree, a hen, and a rooster. "I would make salt from the ocean I'm presumably surrounded by," she told Goop.

So, the cooking totally checks out.

Rather, we're pleasantly surprised that, after hardly posting at all on Instagram for more than three years, she's now conducting interviews and doing tutorials in her own house. Fairly regularly! She's got the commentary thing down and everything.

But, Diaz admitted to Danny Pellegrino on the Everything Iconic podcast, in an interview taped Nov. 6, it's been "baby steps, dipping my toe in," as she gets used to putting herself out there once again.

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"I don't come from this era of sharing my life," the 48-year-old said. "That's always been something I've been very protective of, because I come from the era of tabloid invasion into my privacy and people stalking me and following me. So my instinct has always been to protect myself from not having the world know what I'm doing or where I'm going at any given point just so that I could exist."

But wading into the Instagram fray to cook has served as a balm in these fraught times.

Making her fall green salad in October—her "weirdo salad," she said, because she adds a pickled egg—Diaz shared that her version was inspired by a dish she loved at Jean-Georges in the Waldorf hotel in Beverly Hills, from "back in the day when we used to go out to eat. That was one of the only places I used to go." (So that's where she was all that time...)

And as she tends to do, she kicked off the demonstration by pouring herself a glass of white wine. Which these days is a promotional move because, oh yes, she also started a line of affordable organic wines this summer!

Diaz and Who What Wear CEO Katherine Power, who she met through sister-in-law Nicole Richie, launched Avaline in July after, as they've told the story, a few years back they stopped to ask themselves one day, "Huh, what's in wine?"

Cameron Diaz, Stars With Alcohol Brands
Cameron Diaz, Stars With Alcohol Brands

Dismayed to find out that all sorts of things could be in wine aside from fermented grapes, they decided to take action, and Avaline was born (and recently branched out from white and rosé into a new red).

Talking to Paltrow on The Goop Podcast in August, Diaz said that she herself has always really benefited from listening and one-on-one instruction, such as when she spoke directly to doctors and experts while researching her books, 2013's The Body Book and 2016's The Longevity Book.

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"I love learning things," she gushed. "So when I learn something, I'm so excited that I learned it. I'm like, 'Wow, I never even thought of it!' It's the same thing with the wine. All I want to do is tell other people so they can go, 'No way, oh my god!' and then they get excited about it. And then I love when people have that moment for themselves the way that I've had it, and they tell somebody else, and they get to have it, and then the information is spread."

Ultimately, "I really want people's lives to be better, is what it comes down to."

So it makes sense that the enthusiastic information-gatherer (a "manifester," Paltrow called her) has been happy to lean into teaching lately.

But she didn't take even throwing up a few videos on Instagram lightly, instead consulting her Avaline team to make sure she was offering something relevant and useful to the world.

Cameron Diaz, There's Something About Mary
Cameron Diaz, There's Something About Mary

"I think of life as this ever-evolving journey and I'm not a stagnant person," the star of films such as There's Something About Mary, My Best Friend's Wedding and The Holiday told Paltrow. "I'm not good at staying in one place, at doing the same thing all the time."

Over the course of her life she has taken different risks, she said, though the kinds she's taking now vary greatly from sort she took when she left home to start modeling at 16, sensing she had to travel the world or bust.

"We have to go outside our comfort zone," Diaz explained. "So I think the first challenge is to go, 'there's an unknown out there.' And for me, I have to go through that unknown to gain the knowledge to get to the other side, to keep taking this journey, keep moving forward. When you're young and you don't know any better and you don't know what it means, how hard the fall is, and how hard it's going to hurt when you land—you take the leap."

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Now, she continued, "Here I am, I'm in my 40s, I'm completely starting over. I decided at the beginning of my 40s to completely start over after having a whole life [in which] I did something at a very high level. It does feel different...In our 20s we're just trying to figure our s--t out…You're realizing how damaged you are in this way, like, 'wait a second, there might be an issue here'….Then in your 30s you're like, 'OK, I'm getting my footing'...

"And in your 40s you're like, "Oh my god, I've got to do something about this.'"

So now, aside from wanting to make the best decisions for her family's well-being, Diaz said, "I've just become comfortable not knowing anything, not knowing what's going to happen."

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Asked what it was like to just walk away from her acting career after 20 years (her first movie was 1994's The Mask and her latest was 2014's Annie), Diaz told Paltrow, "I got a peace in my soul. I finally was taking care of myself."

Then, it was really just a hop, skip (literally, to the kitchen down the hall) to a place where she wanted to start sharing more of what she'd learned with us.

Still stuck for the most part in our homes, who doesn't want a bowl of lemony, cheesy pasta, or handfuls of three-ingredient popcorn—or a glass of reasonably priced wine, for that matter?

But just as with producing a bottle of red, there's been a process.

"So the idea of putting myself, actually offering it up to people, it doesn't—it didn't—settle right for me, especially since I've been away for so long," Diaz told Pellegrino. "When I sort of stopped doing films back in 2014, it was just when Instagram was coming out. I played with it a little bit for fun...It was fine, nobody was really paying that much attention."

But "it was never a tool that was useful to me as an actor," she continued. "I didn't build my career upon it, I didn't promote my work on it. It was just something that existed that I wasn't a part of when I left."

Diaz gets now, however, that social media is kind of a big deal. And as she tends to do with all manner of subjects, she's learning more and more about it every day.

"But I had to find something that was authentic to me," she said. Noting how she wanted to put something relevant out there, she concluded, "For me, cooking is the easiest thing that I could ever do any time, because it's just what I do."

"It's probably the truest to me, as well, so that was easy to do."

And as it turns out, she's a natural in front of the camera.