Khamis, 17 Oktober 2013

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

It's All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great


Gwyneth Paltrow reveals what she eats in her cookbook.

I'M not a foodie. When I picked up Gywneth Paltrow's new cookbook, I was attracted by its presentation which made it look refreshing – mainly white with a minimal use of pastel colours. Of course, Paltrow's cover photo made her look really healthy and simply great.

Then, I read something on the dust jacket and that got me really curious.

Apparently, this cookbook is inspired by Paltrow's need to go on a strict elimination diet as advised by her doctors. That meant excluding diary, eggs, wheat, meat, shellfish, tomatoes, eggplant, corn, potatoes, soy, sugar, coffee, alcohol and processed food.  

I thought that was quite insane. Is there much else left to eat?

So I scanned through some pages and found that this book is not totally devoid of these ingredients. Ah, that was tricky. She was on an elimination diet for three weeks. After which, she was told this diet, if possible, would be good to follow for a lifetime. That's certainly not the kind of advice one would likely to follow, right?

This book is obviously geared towards healthy eating, so it is not surprising that the forward is written by one of her doctors – an osteopathic physician, Dr Habib Sadeghi.  

In his forward, the good doctor states that we should be passionate about food and it is the quality of food that matters.

Instead, we overthink food issues and worry about what to eat and what not to. And I couldn't help wondering – is this book over thinking it?

Her co-author Julia Turshen has also penned a couple of pages. It is interesting to note that Turshen had been struggling with weight issues but has now succeeded in losing weight after she started developing a positive relationship towards food (with the support of Paltrow).

There are more than 150 recipes and these are organised into 11 chapters – breakfast, salads and dressings, soups, poultry and meat, fish, vegetables, grains, drinks, kids' menu, desserts and basic recipes.

Basic Recipes are those that give flavours to her other recipes in this book. Among which are stocks, sauces and condiments.

The poultry and meat chapter focuses more on chicken, which is more friendly to various diets. There are only two recipes here with red meat – one beef and the other lamb.

The recipes are further categorised using three icons – Elimination Diet, Vegan and Protein-Packed. So you'll see her recipes tagged with these icons.

Not all recipes come with a picture of the end product, although the book has a healthy number of photos. Instead, there are some shots of Turshen, Paltrow and her kids with food and in their surroundings. I thought they could have included more pictures of the recipes.

There is also a section called Pantry which is organised into items found in the fridge, freezer, spice cabinet, on the counter and in the cupboard. Here, she talks about some of the ingredients used.

Vegenaise for example, is used quite a bit in her recipes as a substitute for mayonnaise. There is hardly any diary used. The few that has diary, uses yoghurt made from sheep or goat's milk which is easier on our digestive system. She has also included her doctor's comments on certain ingredients or food type.

Some of her ingredients are unfamiliar to me.  I found myself referring to the Pantry section or Googling when going through some of her recipes.

There are quite a number of Asian recipes – more than I expected, actually. I settled on a recipe that had familiar ingredients that I would likely to use again – Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Mustard and Parsley. I'm not sure if this is Asian-inspired. This recipe claims to be "so good", "ultra healthy and filling" and "actually leaves you feeling satisfied".

I was quite curious because cauliflower is not my favourite vegetable and I was wondering if the mustard and vinegar dressing would make it too sour. I used a quarter of a cauliflower instead of one head as stated in the recipe.

The verdict – it was good. The roasted cauliflower is sweet and soft. The Dijon mustard dressing was just right. I had substituted the white wine vinegar with apple cider vinegar. However, I would caution on the raw mustard seeds which are added to the dressing. They are pungent like wasabi. I recommend heating the seeds first in either a dry pan or in a bit of oil till the pop. Is the dish filling? Yes, and that's mainly due to the chickpeas. Satisfying? Oh yes. I found myself wanting more.

The second recipe I tried was Carrots with Black Sesame and Ginger. The recipe uses four large carrots. I tried with less than one carrot. I have stir-fried carrots with ginger many times before. I would dice the ginger and garlic finely. It does smell good and taste nice enough. I usually use mustard seeds but I have never tried it with sesame. I wanted to know how different it would be.

What turned out was nothing special. Maybe I did not get the proportions right. I must say I had accidentally used too much oil, though.

At the end of the book, Paltrow has provided five weekly menus. They are the Body Builder Week, Detox Week, Family-friendly Week, Vegan Week and lastly, for Healthy Everyday Eating.

The ingredients used in the recipes here are quite selective and healthy, I might add. Though I do not use many of these ingredients on a regular basis, I would not mind using some of them if there are easy recipes that taste good.  

If you're cautious about your food and the ingredients you consume, you might find some good ideas in this book.


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