It's so easy for the Internets to hate on Gwyneth Paltrow. She's an easy target. The actress puts herself out there, with her forays into becoming a foodie, a lifestyle guru, her just-asking-for it-named website goop, her occasional transitions from acting to singing. Her latest venture is a cookbook (her second) called It's All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great. It comes out next week, but it's already getting a lot of negative reactions because of its "water and air" diet. But that is a false impression.
Image: Courtesy of Hachette Book Group
Paltrow is putting together recipes that follow an anti-inflammatory diet, something that is in no way new, or simply the latest celebrity trend. Something that, with my recent loss of gallbladder and continuing tummy issues (IBS), I am only too familiar with. When one has to cut out, either short-term or long-term, a list of go-to foods that most folks eat on a daily basis in this country (anything fried, cheese, grains, tons of sugar) it can seem cruel and daunting, even un-American.
What's wrong with someone like Paltrow consulting a professional chef (Julia Turshen) and trying to come up with some not only edible, but good-tasting recipes? I haven't read the whole cookbook yet, but I'm eager to check it out. The few recipes that were excerpted in the recent issue of Self magazine seemed good to try (Banana "Ice Cream," Candy Bars, Turkey Meatballs), and hardly far out or weird.
Banana "Ice Cream" With Sweet-and-Salty Roasted Almonds
This recipe has all the rich, creamy texture of ice cream with none of the dairy or sugar. The crunchy topping is a snap to put together and is so good. Serves 4.
4 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
1/4 cup roasted almonds, finely chopped
2 tablespoons plus 2 tsp maple syrup, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
The chocoholics in my house flipped for these—we can't get enough! Makes 18 bars.
1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1 1/2 cups dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips (60% or higher cacao)
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
No food is more comforting to me than spaghetti and meatballs. I switched to turkey meatballs to help clean up my diet. Serves 4 (makes 24 meatballs).
10 small onions, coarsely chopped
1 cup arugula, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
8 fresh sage leaves
8 fresh basil leaves
Leaves from 4 sprigs thyme
Leaves from 1 sprig rosemary
1 lb ground turkey
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups Go-To Tomato Sauce* or store-bought spaghetti sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
*Check out Gwyneth's book for her Go-To Tomato Sauce recipe. (Recipes courtesy of It's All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great by Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen.)
It seems a sport still in this country to make fun of people for the food they eat or don't eat. Vegetarians and vegans are looked on with suspicion and scorn. I tried to cut out meat myself for a while, but have found that I become too depleted, tired, even weak without it. And beans, nuts, tofu, etc., are not suitable solutions for me. So I try to eat meat that is organic and local when I can. Fish that's not farmed. I've cut out a lot of processed food and most fried food and sugar too. That doesn't mean I never try something sweet — but I don't drink soda anymore and I don't miss it. And as you can probably guess, I've also lost weight. Paltrow isn't even pushing her cookbook as a diet, but that's how most folks are taking it. And they seem angry too.
We all eat way too much crap in this country. And then get belligerent if someone wants to limit the amount of crap we consume — like Mayor Bloomberg's proposed ban on gigantic-sized sodas in New York. Seriously, is your right to develop diabetes and lord knows what other health issues really that important to defend? Do you really need to drink 32-plus ounces of anything at one sitting?
It's easy to complain about Bloomberg or Paltrow. Who are they to tell me what I should eat or drink? It's always easier to focus on the messenger rather than the message. But there's nothing wrong with the idea that the consumption of soda, a beverage that used to be viewed as a treat and is now viewed as a go-to drink, should be reduced. Soda has absolutely no nutritional value. Junk foods, if you cut them out for a while, or at least reduce the frequency or amount of intake, will not only result in your losing weight (the other American obsession), but might actually improve your health.
From the few recipes I've seen so far, Paltrow is not trying to ruin her family's or anyone else's lives with her views on food. She still likes to drink wine and eat chocolate. But she suggests some easy substitutions for dairy — not eliminating it entirely, but cutting it down. Cheese is a hard one, I know. For a part-Italian girl it was a major go-to food for most of my life. But it is also hard to digest.
Will Paltrow or Bloomberg be able to change how most Americans eat? Of course not. But is that good? Sadly, not really. If only a cookbook like It's All Good or a suggested limit on soda consumption could spark some useful dialogue about what we eat and drink instead of scorn, or an opportunity to point fingers in derision at something different from the status quo.
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