To say that It’s All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes that Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great, by Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen, is my favourite cook book is not an overstatement. But before getting into details, I’d like to say a few things about my own eating philosophy. More than fifteen years ago, when I was still in high school, I started to develop an interest in healthy food and to change my entire diet. It’s been a gradual process, although from the very beginning I stopped eating red meat, white bread and other products containing white wheat, eliminated shop bought sweats and instead went for home-made desserts made with raw cane sugar. I considered this to be the first step to a more healthy lifestyle.
My parents and my brother quickly adhered to this way of eating as well. My parents had always been the proponents of a balanced diet, consisting mainly of organic fruit and vegetables and other products, like poultry, eggs and dairy largely supplied from the countryside, from my grandparents. But that was the moment when I decided to take it a little further and it was not because it had suddenly become fashionable. Information about healthy living wasn’t yet widely available, the celebrity-culture had not yet taken off, and organic food stores hadn’t started to pop up over night. I somehow reached this decision by myself, by reading a few rare books on the subject (I can’t recall the titles unfortunately) my parents had found and by starting to ask myself some questions. It was because it felt right, and, more importantly, because I noticed how good I felt overall afterwards. Before continuing, I’d like to mention that I don’t give advice, nor will I talk about my complete menu, these are just some basic lines I follow that will help you better understand why I think so highly of this book.
Over the years I’ve stuck to my eating principles and whenever I met someone new who didn’t know me, I was always confronted with the same question: Why are you on a diet? Some couldn’t understand that this was my way of living, that I ate that way because I chose to (without there being a health problem to be addressed or not even a weight issue, although your body will inevitably become leaner and feel lighter) and that I didn’t feel deprived of anything. And now it’s so rooted in my system that I feel it’s part of my education. The interesting thing is that, when I met my future-to-be husband, he was a healthy foodie himself too. It was very easy to motivate each other to continue to pursue this kind of lifestyle.
I admit that, in the meantime, I’ve started to take into consideration medical reasons as well, which only reinforced my determination to strive to eat as clean as possible. I still haven’t eliminated meat completely, although I rarely eat poultry nowadays, but again, only organic and only because I want to still be able to allow myself this option when I feel like it, every couple of months. However, I have been avoiding to eat certain types of fish for a long time, because the source of its provenience has become a big question mark. I have almost entirely given up coffee, I have drastically cut out on dairies too and I only consume goat’s cheese and yogurt, the only exception being the occasional latte and pancakes. I use only whole grains and I hardly ever use raw cane sugar now, as I’ve already perfected a few sugarless home-made desserts which are so delicious that I can’t understand why one would feel the need to eat something containing sugar when there are so many healthy alternatives you can turn to (in time I’ve also developed an intolerance to very sweet treats).
Of course there are indulgent moments when I can’t resist a bar of chocolate, an ice cream or a piece of birthday cake, the occasional take-away food or lunch/dinner at the restaurant – I always pay attention to what I order though. But my tastes remain simple, and healthy, clean food is my baseline. There is nothing I find more delicious than a simple dish cooked at home, composed of raw ingredients or slightly processed. If I tell you that one of my favourite meals is goat’s cheese and avocado slices on home-made rye bread toast, I think you’ll get the picture.
And now on to It’s All Good. Gwyneth Paltrow’s genuine and sincere story was the first thing I liked from the very beginning. The book is not written by a celebrity, but by a down-to-earth person, who is preoccupied with her and her family’s health and well-being above anything else. As for the food, I love every recipe I’ve tried and cooking tip provided here. They may seem humble for those unfamiliar with this kind of cooking, but, for me, it’s all I could ask for: healthy, easy to make and tasty. I had gotten so used to always changing recipes and substituting ingredients with others I approved of, and the truth is I really enjoy inventing my own dishes, but it feels so good to have an entire book of recipes you can prepare just as they are.
Some may argue that there is nothing extraordinary in these recipes, nothing new they could use. But the thing is that I wasn’t looking for anything complicated or which required the skills of a chef. I just wanted plain, nutritious food, the kind I know it tastes great, the kind that is good for you and your family, the kind that makes a cooking experience feel wonderful and rewarding. There are versions of these recipes I have already been making myself, but I like how having this amazing variety in one place, from breakfast ideas and soups, main courses and snacks, to juices and desserts, makes this book a great culinary reference source. The Frenkies-esque Beet Salad and the Lentil Salad with Mustard and Tomatoes have become favourites in our household, with the Millet Falafel and Chicken Paella close behind. And I am eager to make the Creamy Avocado + Cacao Smoothie and Orange Marmalade these days. I’ve already tried tens of recipes and they are all good.
Furthermore, I like the book visually: Ditte Isager’s beautiful photography that helps get through the message in its pages, and, because I always appreciate natural beauty and personal style when I see it, regardless of the background, the way Gwyneth looks (glowing, without any make-up) and the way she’s dressed (basic, casual, but flawless items). Maybe you are wondering why on earth I would bring up Gwyneth’s dressing style into a discussion about a cook book. It’s because I believe in lifestyle as a whole and that the way you live your life in every single aspect is reflected on your appearance and on the image people have of you. It’s a beautiful book, an invitation to wholesome, meaningful living.
photos of the book by me | original photography: Ditte Isager