Thursday, April 18, 2013

It's All Good

As I mentioned in Monday's post, I received a very generous Barnes and Noble gift card for my birthday.  I was casually browsing some of the book tables toward the front of the store when this caught my eye:
bizarre (for me) but irresistible impulse buy
I started flipping through it -- mostly so I could make fun of it later -- but then I started feeling like I wanted to make some of the recipes in the book.  I generally don't bother buying cook books because you can find recipes for almost everything online.  Let's be honest, most of the time people buy cook books for the pictures.  The difference with this book is that there were a lot of recipes I would not have thought of myself, and a lot of accompanying information that I found really useful.

OK, so we all know that Gwyneth Paltrow is on some kind of crazy diet and I will never forgive her for traveling around Spain with Mario Batali while refusing to eat meat and various other staples of Spanish cuisine.  WHO DOES THAT!?  Like, do a separate food travel show called, "A Macrobiotic Diet on the Road" or something.  Don't hang out with Mario Batali and then turn down the world-famous Spanish ham he hands you.  That's like going to Italy and saying, "Oh, I don't eat pasta."  SCREW YOU!  Sorry... I'll stop ranting now.  I also used to scoff at her blog/website when she first started it because it just seemed ridiculous (I mean, the idea that anyone would take life advice from someone who names her kid "Apple").  I tell you all of this so that you realize the internal conflict that went into my buying this book.  I would never have considered it if I had been spending my own money.

Except that now I kind of love it.
The thing that really got me is in her introduction when she explains the strict diet that her doctor recommended she be on for health reasons.  At first, she didn't think it would be possible to maintain it forever, but then she thought: "Could it become my baseline?  The way I would eat most days, with the occasional cheat day?  Could I lean toward it more?  I decided I could."  I agree with this mentality and appreciate the realistic attitude she takes about eating healthfully.  I also really appreciate that not once in the book does she attempt to be "low calorie" or "low fat."  It's not about that.  It's about eating whole foods that are packed with nutrients and then avoiding or eliminating foods that simply do nothing for you.  If I put aside the list of things she doesn't eat, our philosophy on food is essentially the same.  I was also inspired by her tips on making almond milk at home, her anchovy-lemon salad dressing recipe, her creative uses for quinoa and millet, and the way she makes roasting a whole fish in a salt crust sound easy.  There were very few recipes that I felt I would have come up with on my own and I feel like I learned a lot from the item-by-item nutritional explanation of everything in her kitchen and pantry.
She does have some issues with gender that bother me a little bit.  She describes omelettes and meat dishes as "man" dishes, or "what to make in the morning if your boyfriend is a body builder."  Um, hello, first of all, why can't my boyfriend make his own breakfast?  And second of all, I'm the closest one to a "body builder" between the two of us.  Furthermore, what's with the assumption that her readers will have a boyfriend?

But other than that, I'm on board with her eating habits.  I'm probably not going to follow her "elimination diet," which basically gets rid of any food that has been known to cause allergies/intolerances/sensitivities.  I spent more than an hour in Whole Foods reading every label before I just conceded that it wasn't absolutely necessary for me to find a bread that is simultaneously sugar-free, corn-free, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, AND organic.  I probably don't need to throw out my tomatoes because they're nightshades or the unopened jar of peanut butter in my cabinet just because some people are allergic to peanuts.  Some of the restrictions in this diet are just impossible with my budget and schedule.  But I go back to her opening remarks: I can lean toward it.  

I have used her recipes for certain things that don't photograph well, like the almond milk and salad dressing that I mentioned above.  So here are some things that I cooked sans recipe, but with her eating habits in mind:
brown rice penne with basil-walnut pesto and baby kale (all organic)
spanish tortilla with potato, carmelized onion, shiitake, and kale
(free range eggs from heirloom chickens and organic produce)
In truth, I wasn't supposed to use white potatoes, but I was on tortilla-making autopilot at the time.  I'll try sweet potato in the next one.  Everything else I've made has been a smoothie or a salad, which just aren't worth taking pictures of sometimes.  Because all of these foods are full of protein, fiber, and a ton of vitamins, I have been eating less and still feeling completely satisfied and energized.  I got into a food rut while I was on vacation and now I'm excited about cooking and eating again.  If nothing else, the book was worth it for that reason.

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