Cookbook review: The Clean Plate by Gwyneth Paltrow – keep the biscuits handy
IT IS easy to scoff at Gwyneth Paltrow, the actor, wellness enthusiast, and owner of 'modern lifestyle brand' Goop.
Between a high-profile lawsuit over health benefit claims about one of her company's products and raised eyebrows at her 'conscious uncoupling' from former husband Chris Martin, the woman gets a lot of flack.
But you can't deny she's a blockbuster bestseller on the cookbook front, and her latest, The Clean Plate, looks set to follow the same path as her previous three...
The book: The Clean Plate by Gwyneth Paltrow
Who will love it? Goop fans, veggies, vegans, people with gluten intolerances, and those looking to thoroughly detox.
What is it trying to get us cooking? Arguably, this is a diet book. It features meal plans, detoxes and cleanses, each with a health angle. The ethos of 'clean eating' runs throughout. Don't expect to find gluten or nightshades (tomatoes, aubergines) in here, let alone refined sugars. There's an entire section featuring interviews with doctors, covering everything from the 'heavy metal' detox (not music related) to heart health and adopting Ayurvedic principles.
The food itself is veg heavy. Expect lettuce cups galore, and 'nomato' sauce (spoiler: There's no tomato in it) and 'cauli rice' in many forms. And forget potatoes and bread.
How easy is it to use? The recipes are very straightforward, especially once you've got your head around the US measurements (they're all about 'cups'). However, many of the dishes call for you to have already made some of the 'basic' recipes towards the back of the book, so it's wise to prep ahead.
The best recipe is... The steamed chicken and cabbage dim sum (although we reckon they'd be even better fried).
The recipe we're most likely to post pictures of on Instagram is... The cashew turmeric iced latte.
The dish we're least likely to try is... The braised chicken tacos on butternut squash 'tortillas'. This recipe sees corn tortillas swapped out for thinly sliced rounds of squash – butternut squash is tough enough to chop, let alone transform into delicate circles.
Overall rating: 6/10. It's a beautifully made book and if you're on a major health-kick it's going to appeal but we still have reservations around the ethical and social problems that the 'clean eating' movement fails to address. And a lot of these dishes look like they'd leave you hungry and reaching for the biscuits.
:: The Clean Plate by Gwyneth Paltrow, photography by Ditte Isager, is published by Sphere, priced £25. Here's a recipe from the book for you to try:
PERUVIAN CHICKEN CAULI RICE SOUP
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
1/2 jalapeno (optional)
Juice of 3 limes
1/4 cup water, plus more if needed
4 cups chicken stock
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1tsp kosher salt
1/2 head of cauliflower, riced
1/2 cup frozen peas
Lime wedges, for serving
Combine the onion, coriander, jalapeno (if using), lime juice and water in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth, adding a little extra water if needed to loosen the mixture. Set aside.
In a medium soup pot, bring the stock to a simmer over medium-low heat. Add the chicken and salt and cook until the chicken is opaque and fully cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken and let cool.
Meanwhile, add the cauliflower rice and peas to the broth and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the cauliflower rice is tender but not mushy. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat.
To serve, increase the heat to medium, return the shredded chicken to the pot, and add the onion-coriander puree. Stir to combine and cook for five minutes before serving. Divide into bowls and garnish with lime.