She plays Fiona, a sultry weapons expert on the spy show Burn Notice (on USA Network), but off the set, actress Gabrielle Anwar leads a much simpler and more peaceful life. The 42-year-old mother of three prefers organic and Ayurvedic meals (and composts the leftovers), meditates daily, and takes herbs. A natural beauty (her mother is British, her father is Indian and Austrian), Anwar favors a minimalist style: She uses few grooming products and wears breezy, lived-in clothes. After a long day of filming, Anwar, who is witty and approachable, spoke to us about how she stays healthy, creative, and green.
You seem so relaxed after a hectic day. How do you manage stress?
I meditate twice a day. I like the ritual of doing a sunrise and sunset meditation—30 minutes in the morning is invigorating, and at night it’s a gentle way to wind down. I do primordial sound meditation, an updated form of transcendental meditation devised by Deepak Chopra.
Do you follow a specific diet?
I eat according to Ayurvedic [India’s 5,000- year-old system of traditional medicine] principles. I love incorporating Ayurveda’s six tastes—bitter, sweet, sour, salty, pungent, and astringent—into one simple, satisfying meal. When I feed myself one dish with all these flavors, I am fulfilled. My favorite Ayurvedic meal is khichdi [a lentil and rice dish]—it makes me feel nourished and warm.
Do you grow your own food?
Yes. My children and I grow tomatoes in our garden. We watch them ripen on the vine, we pick them, rinse them, pull out the little green leaves, and slice them—and the scraps we don’t finish go into our compost bin, and later, back into the earth. It’s a lovely process.
How do you eat healthfully when traveling?
I use the Urbanspoon application on my iPhone to find local health food restaurants. I also carry dried seaweed with me. It’s the perfect plane snack—it’s nourishing and surprisingly filling, and it’s salty, so I drink a lot of water, which keeps me hydrated.
Have you tried complementary medicine?
Absolutely—I’ll hop on the acupuncturist’s table, see a chiropractor, or take homeopathic remedies, and I take my kids to a holistic pediatrician. Western medicine has its place, but a lot of times it doesn’t address the root cause of an illness. So if I have a cough, I’ll try something like Chinese mushrooms first. Echinacea is a big staple in the house during cold season; for bruises, I use arnica.