The former Miss Universe covers the November issue of People en Español, where she shares how her rediscovered love for cooking has led to a healthier lifestyle, a desire to live every minute to the fullest, and a new career.

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While she was fighting skin cancer last year, Dayanara Torres had the best chef in Los Angeles at her fingertips: her mom, Luz Delgado. "I quit my kitchen duties. I'm not going to compete with my mom because I'm not going to win," Torres jokes.  After her mother left California earlier this year to visit Dayanara's sister Jeannette Torres in Miami — and had to stay in Florida during the first months of the coronavirus lockdown — Dayanara stayed home alone with her sons and rediscovered her love for cooking.

Besides sharing recipes with her sister and friends, the stunning beauty — who covers the November issue of People en Español — shared videos on Instagram of her cooking her favorite dishes, and her social media followers ate them up. Some of the most popular posts coming out of her kitchen: typical Puerto Rican dishes like rice with habichuelas, a delicious coquito, and healthy options like quinoa and toast with avocado.

Dayanara Torres - DO NOT REUSE
Credit: Siul Martínez; Estilista: Irma Martínez

Her battle with melanoma — which required life-saving surgeries and chemotherapy — made her embrace an even healthier lifestyle and a desire to live every minute to the fullest. "I would have never thought I'd be so happy at this time of my life with something that I'm doing, with something that is creative, that takes me out of my comfort zone, that I love and that I'm doing right from home," says the former Miss Universe and single mom of two. The model, actress, and activist, 46, also talked about some of the new projects that keep her smiling.

Dayanara Torres - DO NOT REUSE
Credit: Siul Martínez; Estilista: Irma Martínez

Torres recently signed a contract to launch her own line of home goods, ranging from kitchenware to towels and linens, that will be first sold in Puerto Rico in 2021. She also enjoys gardening and home decor, and has been painting on canvas, a passion she shares with her oldest son, Christian, who's now a college student in New York. Another form of therapy she's taken up during quarantine: sanding, painting, and renovating her own furniture at home. "I like what I'm doing, creating has been good for me," she shares. "The activity helps me mentally."

Another fun activity is enjoying happy hours and Zoom parties with her sister and friends, which she coordinates across different time zones. "It really scares me," Torres says of leaving her home, due to her compromised immune system following her cancer treatments. "It's better to be safe. Ryan has asthma, like I do, and if something were to happen to him, if he was ever in a hospital, I couldn't even imagine not being able to be by his side," she says about her youngest son, who lives with her in Los Angeles.

Dayanara Torres - DO NOT REUSE
Credit: Cortesía de Dayanara Torres

Both of her kids — whom she shares with singer Marc Anthony — are the first to taste her culinary creations and support her in all her endeavors. "They enjoy the fruits of my labor," she jokes. "They help me a lot when I'm making desserts. Ryan has always helped me making cupcakes and things like that."

Dayanara Torres - DO NOT REUSE
Credit: Siul Martínez; Estilista: Irma Martínez

Torres assures fans that her recipes are very simple and anyone can pull them off. "I'm not a professional or expert chef or anything like that, but I try," she laughs. This master of reinvention, who has gotten stronger after every fall, has become quite an expert at making lemonade when life hands her lemons.

For the complete interview, exclusive photos, and recipe, look for the November issue of People en Español, now on newsstands.