With the growing trend of gluten-free diets, Gwyneth Paltrow’s second cookbook “It’s All Good” couldn’t have been published at a more convenient time. Whatever your reasons for excluding gluten from your diet, this is the latest and greatest cookbook for your kitchen.
Paltrow’s inspiration for this book came after experiencing a debilitating migraine coupled with a panic attack in the spring of 2011, later finding out she had a benign cyst on her ovary and a nodule on her parathyroid. After surgery, her doctor instructed her to start a strict elimination diet, avoiding dairy, soy, gluten, alcohol, refined sugars, coffee and many more foods. The diet was effective, and since recovery Paltrow has strived to adhere to this diet, of course indulging on occasion.
Continuing the trend from her first publication, “My Father’s Daughter,” Paltrow teamed up with her friend and food writer Julia Turshen, only this time as her co-author rather than her assistant.
The book is divided into sections for breakfasts, salads and dressings, soups, poultry and some meat, fish, vegetables, grains, drinks, a kid’s menu, desserts and “basic recipes” (mostly sauces). Throughout the book, the recipes are labeled to indicate whether they are vegan, protein-packed or part of the elimination diet. Above anything else, this book focuses on elimination diet recipes, meaning foods like potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and many other nightshades (a gamut of fruits and vegetables) should be avoided due to their high alkaloid levels that may result in nerve damage and joint pain.
While Paltrow and Turshen indicate that many of the recipes are intended to be gluten free, there is still a pretty substantial use of gluten-containing ingredients such as soy sauce, fish sauce, miso paste and even spelt flour.
Another downside to the book is its sporadic use of eclectic ingredients. Not to say that a variety of ingredients is a bad thing, but when they show up in the cookbook only one to three times, it’s not worth the effort. They basically expect you to keep your pantry stocked with things like harissa and xylitol (which if you know what those are tell your friends; they might think you’re cool).
Additionally, many of the things written in the book explain the origin of the recipes or why certain ingredients are unbelievably pestiferous. Whether it’s that striped sea bass is used heavily because “it swims in the waters close to Gwyneth’s summer home” or that “maple syrup adds another layer of autumnal yum” to an arugula salad, it just comes off as bombastic. Even more ridiculous is the inclusion of a hard boiled egg recipe that calls for one egg. Riveting. Paltrow also enjoyed spending time reminding the reader that she’s famous and therefore has famous friends like Gavin Rossdale and Cameron Diaz who can apparently make “the best hot popcorn ever.” It’s salted popcorn.
Questionable “recipes” aside, the inclusion of good dishes based on good ingredients makes for a laudable publication.
Focusing on the positive attributes of the book, there are many people out there that can benefit from it on various levels. Nearly all of the recipes are gluten-free and even the recipes that are not say what can substituted to make them so. The book also has weekly menus for certain diets, like a detox, vegan week or just overall healthy eating weeks. Paltrow also encourages the reader to get tested for allergies and sensitivities to foods to help formulate a diet that caters to one’s own needs.