The arrival of Gwyneth Paltrow's new cookbook has stirred up plenty of buzz about the star's lifestyle. Charlotte Sinclair finds out if the recipes are as perfect as the woman behind them
Oh, Gwyneth. In her current, Gooped-up incarnation as a lean-limbed, pasta-making, Glee-singing, wine-swigging champion of the sisterhood, she’s only become more perfect. It seems she will never be one of us, though her make-up free, tousled appearance on the cover of her new cookbook, It’s All Good, would like you to think otherwise.
The photographs in this new book – even before you get to the food – are quite fabulous. Gwyneth is pictured at leisure on her estate in Amagansett, frolicking in denim cut-offs on a scooter, playing with her blonde moppet children (Chris Martin is naturally absent), walking through a meadow in a rustic straw hat and poncho. The mode the publisher is reaching for, one imagines, is rock star Martha Stewart, a dejeuner sur l’herbe with the poster-child for the Whole Foods-generation: Gwynnie in Stella and Rag and Bone. I find myself studying, nose pressed to the page, exactly the contents of her kitchen shelves, and whether that’s a dimple of cellulite on her thigh or a shadow.
Of course it’s a shadow! This is Gwyneth! And, specifically in this case, what Gwyneth eats! What woman doesn’t want to know that? Nor can be forgiven for hoping that these recipes might – by some alchemy of heirloom tomatoes and vegan mayonnaise – perform a Gwyneth-shaped metamorphosis upon one’s body?
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Though even Gwynnie isn’t perfect it seems. (What possible hope is there for the rest of us?) It’s All Good, co-authored with chef Julia Turshen, is the result of Gwyneth’s own failing health – in this case, a 2011 migraine and panic attack. A subsequent diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency, anaemia, and over-stressed adrenals was made by Dr Alejandro Junger, he of the ultra-cleansing, no wheat, no dairy, no alcohol, caffeine, eggs, sugar, shellfish, potatoes, meat, soy – no fun - ‘Clean’ diet. Dr Junger recommended an elimination diet, not just for a few weeks but for life. “The rest of my life?” writes Gwyneth. “Without Parmesan cheese and fried zucchini and pasta and baguettes and Pinot Noir?” (She does sound normal after all.)
The book, then, was a way to escape a diagnosis of terminal gastro-boredom, while reaping the health benefits of eating clean. Each recipe here features a subheading denoting whether it’s apt for an elimination diet, a lean-protein weight loss program, or a food allergy issue, avoiding dairy, sugar and gluten. Which, granted, makes it sound about as much fun as a vegan sausage.
However. And here’s the revelation: it’s really good. Yes, there’s a certain crunchy, knit-your-own-muesli quality to some of the recipes. But there’s also, and above all else, a reassuring amount of real looking, delicious-tasting food – all of which requires very few fussy ingredients. (Especially gratifying for those suffering Ottolenghi recipe-overkill.) There’s chocolate cake layered with ‘buttercream’ (lots of things come in inverted commas), power brownies, almond cupcakes and fish tacos. There’s even beef tenderloin, though it comes with a Gwyneth caveat - “I don’t eat red meat” – making you feel guilty for even considering it. Weakling!
Over two nights, I cooked (or assembled in the first instance), an Italian tuna and chickpea salad with a delicious citrus dressing, the Perfect Herbed Grilled Chicken, bashed paillard-thin and coated in fragrant thyme, rosemary, sage, basil and garlic; roasted cauliflower and chickpeas with mustard and parsley (totally amazing – even the men around the table were in awe), and a dairy free ‘ice cream’ made by blitzing frozen bananas, almond milk and maple syrup, and covering with crushed, syrupy almonds. And – and! – kale chips, the leaves roughly chopped and baked in the oven with olive oil and salt. It is now apparent that I am a kale convert. And a Gwyneth convert too. You see? It worked.
It's All Good is out now and available on Amazon , RRP £20.