September 27, 2018 09:00 AM

Prior to being diagnosed with postpartum depression in 2017, Chrissy Teigen noticed her passion for cooking was diminishing.

“I started looking at food and was like, ‘I’m just not in the mood.’ It’s like going to the grocery store when you’re full. You just don’t want the same things. Food wasn’t that thrilling for me,” she tells PEOPLE for this week’s cover story. “That was one of the first times I knew something was wrong.”

At the time, shortly after giving birth to her daughter Luna, now 2, she was developing recipes for her second cookbook, Cravings: Hungry for More, the follow up to her 2016 New York Times bestseller Cravings. Uncharacteristically, the work was something she began to dread.

Ari Michelson

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“When I wasn’t feeling great, being in the kitchen was like torture. It felt like such a job, and you want to be excited when you’re in the kitchen,” she says. “I cook because I love food and I love to eat. It makes me happy to serve people. And when you aren’t feeling that way, it was like torture.”

Ari Michelson
  • For more on Chrissy Teigen, plus our 49 other Food Faves, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday

Even simple tasks like leaving the house were difficult. “I’d ask people who came inside why they were wet. Was it raining? How would I know—I had every shade closed,” she wrote in an essay for Glamour. “Most days were spent on the exact same spot on the couch and rarely would I muster up the energy to make it upstairs for bed. John would sleep on the couch with me, sometimes four nights in a row. There was a lot of spontaneous crying.”

But with a diagnosis came relief. She was prescribed an antidepressant and sought help from a therapist. (Teigen told CBS Sunday Morning she believes she avoided PPD the second time by eating her placenta after giving birth to Miles, 4 months.) As she recovered, her energy—and her appetite—slowly returned to normal.

RELATED: Chrissy Teigen’s New Cookbook Is Out! See Which Recipes Our Editors Loved

“When Chrissy is living her best life food is a huge part of it,” says Adeena Sussman, Teigen’s coauthor, who moved in with the couple while working on Cravings and Cravings 2. “It was great to see her pick that love of food back up and just run with it when she was feeling better.”

Returning to the kitchen, Teigen says, “was like riding a bike. It was like nothing ever happened.” And the end result—filled with delicious recipes like her Egg-Mozzarella Ham Cups (get the recipe below) and adorable family photos—is exactly how she imagined it.

“I’m so happy we didn’t rush into this book,” she says. “And I’m so grateful to everyone around me for supporting being able to pause until we were able to put out the best possible Cravings.”

Chrissy’s Egg-Mozzarella Ham Cups

Cooking spray
6 thin deli ham slices, patted dry
½ cup finely diced mozzarella cheese, or tiny mozzarella cheese balls (4 oz.)
½ cup halved cherry tomatoes or diced tomatoes (3 oz.)
2 Tbsp. store-bought pesto
2 Tbsp. fresh breadcrumbs
½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
6 large eggs
6 cups mixed salad greens
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Coat 6 cups of a standard nonstick muffin tin with cooking spray. Tuck 1 ham slice into each muffin tin cup, trying to make as much of a cup shape as possible, with the edges sticking out the top.
2. Stir together mozzarella, tomatoes, pesto, and breadcrumbs in a bowl. Season with ¼ teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Divide mixture among the ham cups. Carefully crack 1 egg into each cup. Bake in preheated oven until tomato juices are lightly bubbling and egg whites are set, about 15 minutes.
3. Toss together salad greens, oil, vinegar, and remaining ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper in a large bowl to make a simple salad. Let ham cups cool slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Unmold them by slipping a knife under the cups and gently transferring them to a plate. Serve alongside dressed greens.
Serves: 6
Active time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

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