'It's All Good' Review
About a month ago my blog feed inundated me with stories and critiques of Gwenyth Paltrows new cookbook "It's All Good." At first I ignored it as hype due to celebrity status but eventually I read an article by Rebecca Harrington in NYMags- The Cut and decided to check it out.
Before I bought it I went through article reviews (most were just bashing or praising the author with no mention of the recipes) and amazon reviews to get an overall feel for the book. These were the recurring points I found:
- "I LOVE GWENYTH PALTROW/GOOP/GP...etc <--very helpful :p
- I never knew how to cook this way
- I feel so good after eating this way
- The recipes are so easy
- Gwenyth Paltrow has a phobia of food (i'll get to that in a later post)
- The ingredients were hard to find
- The ingredients were really expensive
- The ingredients were strange, unknown things that no one could find
- The recipes were too simple (e.g., "she taught me how to boil an egg' was a popular complaint).
The reviews left me a little confused. They either liked the author or complained because they had to find ingredients like raw honey - is raw honey and quinoa really that exotic? None of the reviews really seemed to be done from a 'how are the recipes' POV. Even more, no one that has actually done an elimination diet, or been vegan, seemed to be putting in their two sense.
This is where I come in.
I ordered the book, flipped through from cover to cover, and let my review begin. I made 26 total recipes -over 6 days- that ranged from breakfast to dinner, entree to side, savory to sweet. Here are my overall thoughts (I also did a more specific review of the elimination recipes and the vegan recipes in previous posts).
- A good kick start to healthier living. This book seems to be more for the general population rather than the specific group of clean, allergic or vegan eaters -I have many more books I would recommend for these groups instead of this one. With that in mind, it is always good to have a celebrity support any sort of healthy cooking movement. It gets the ball rolling. "It's All Good" really does cover a really wide range of recipes (soups, veggies, fish, pountry, kids cooking, sweets) supplying a lot of options. In the same vein it introduces different types of cooking that many new-to-healthy-cooking home cooks don't do (i.e., salt roasting a whole fish).
- Many people complained about the fact the ingredients were hard to find- or 'bankrupt' expensive. I did not have this issue. I live in a relatively small farming town- and dont' make a six figure salary- and I was able to find/buy EVERYTHING except sweet white miso paste- and for that I just drove about an hour to Whole Foods. Not a big deal. If you are used to cruising the processed food section- and don't want to leave your comfort zone- then don't pick up a book for clean and healthy living. I cook and eat clean/vegan/vegetarian/gluten free constantly and I never left my comfort zone or price range.
- Simple is not always bad. Yes there are recipes for how to boil an egg but many people have NO idea how to do that. (Hint- if your yolk is green you cooked it too long). The section of simple recipes is in the back and just covers some real basic, staple recipes. I find NO fault with these. Thomas Keller has how to roast a chicken in his French Laundry cookbook and no one freaked out about that. Everyone has to walk before they can run and I found these recipes to be helpful and a good addition to the book.
- Lack of flavor. As stated in the specific reviews, many of the recipes served as a 'good start' to a meal but required much more flavor/seasoning to be satisfying. While I have no issue doing this -as I usually don't follow a recipe to the 't' anyway- this can be a bad start for someone either (1) new to home cooking or (2) new to elimination/vegan cooking. It will give the sense that to eat healthy -and be as 'youthful looking' as Gwenyth Paltrow- you have to eat bland, sometimes boring food. I am here to tell you that this is NOT the case
- Lack of options. While the recipes do cover a wide range of areas, if you decided to follow the cult of GP and just use this book then you will have very few breakfast options (elimination) or entree options (vegan).
- Elimination Diet does NOT equal FAD diet. I am not sure if this is Gwenyth Paltrows doing or the media (since the book is subtitled 'Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look and Feel Great' I will put at least some of the blame on the author) but the book frames an elimination diet as the newest fad diet. This is NOT the case (stay tuned for a post on what as elimination diet actually is). If you really think you have a food allergy, do some research and do it the right way. This is NOT the book for that.
So there you have it. Overall, the book was 'ok.' I am not clamoring to use to again, but I'm not going to burn it. There were a few recipes that I may reference in the future as a starting point and then season/modify to my own taste.
One thing it did do was inspire my next review. After eating so many 'blah' vegan recipes I'm going to review a book I know and love: Veganomicon! Im pretty excited!