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October 29, 2013

It's All Good

Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng

During my annual juice cleanse, I always love browsing through cookbooks and planning my post-cleanse meals. This summer, I came out of my cleanse cooking only dishes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s new book, “It’s All Good.” It was a seamless transition, as Paltrow’s recipes are all very streamlined, requiring just a few fresh ingredients. This book’s healthy bent perfectly fit my own health journey.

Paltrow developed these recipes after a health scare caused her to make some dietary adjustments. She transformed her overindulgent lifestyle to a much simpler and more wholesome one. At first glance, it’s hard to believe that such simple recipes will yield such tasty results, and that’s where she won me over. The book is an excellent resource on the basics of whipping up fresh, simple and mouth-watering meals. For example, there is an introductory chapter, titled “Pantry,” which lists the basic ingredients that will appear again and again in the recipes that follow, as well as their health benefits — things such as Vegenaise, miso paste, almond milk, eggs, Chinese five-spice powder and raw honey. Also, each recipe is tagged with icons indicating whether it is Vegan, Protein-Packed or fits the Elimination Diet.

A key difference between a good cookbook and just another coffee table book is its accessibility. For example, when I saw that Paltrow’s recipe for cold avocado and cucumber soup only required lime, cucumbers, avocado and salt, I was thrilled. It is something I could whip up anytime, without a special trip to the grocery store. The instruction is also astonishingly simple. Here it is in its entirety: “Combine everything in a powerful blender and blitz until it’s totally creamy and smooth.”

That is exactly what I did, and it was delicious from the first bite to the leftovers, which I served on rice crackers during aperitif hour (like an avocado mousse) and as a sauce alongside Paltrow’s herbed grilled chicken.

Photo Credit: Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng

I also fell for the banana “ice cream” with sweet-and-spicy roasted almonds, another just-whip-it-all-together recipe. The prep work of slicing and freezing thin rounds of very ripe banana was, believe it or not, a lot of fun. And, that was 50 percent of the work involved in this dessert; once you turn off the food processor, ta-da, just like magic, you’ve made the most delightful banana treat with the consistency of real ice cream. The book is more than a guide to healthy cooking; it is an ideal entertaining cheat sheet, a way to dazzle your guests with quick and healthy creations. The title is spot-on: it’s all good!

Gwyneth PaltrowWellness