Tuesday, June 11, 2013

It's All Good

I love cookbooks. There is something almost "zen" for me when I sit down and thumb through big, beautiful glossy pages of a new one. If I had to list calming activities, flipping through a cookbook or three would be high on my list. Every now and then I come across a special cookbook that really inspires me, and that is exactly what happened when I picked up It's All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow. It's All Good was born out of Gwyneth's need to clear out her system, heal, and reset (something I'm pretty sure many of us need to do). With the help of Julia Turshen, they created a collection of healthy comfort food recipes but without sugar, fat, and gluten. 

No sugar, fat, or gluten? Bare with me for a moment. While I am intrigued by people who willingly give up those three lovelies I just listed, until I develop an intolerance or allergy to them, I am most likely never giving them up fully. What I would like to do is cut back on all three. I am trying to figure out what works best for me and my body, but that means a lot of trial and error on my part. The golden rule of "all things in moderation" seems to be the key, but for me (a carb-o-holic) how do I moderate a fresh baguette or a side of truffle fries? Sometimes the answer for me is to have none at all, or just on special occasions. 

Anyway back to Gwyneth. The book is broken down into many sections listed by meal or ingredient group, followed by a great weekly menu section with different goals in mind (think detox week, or family-friendly week). The pictures in the book are stunning and drool-worthy even for "Millet Falafel" (I used to feed my parakeet millet when I was six so pardon me if initially I was not chomping at the bit to eat a mouth full of bird seed). What I took away from this cookbook was the concept of truly clean eating and how easy it can be to implement it into my diet. Am I going gluten-free? No. Am I giving up butter? Heck no. Can I cut back on both those things? The answer is yes I can, and I can do it without feeling deprived. I am excited to try some of these recipes out, but I am actually really looking forward to cleaning up my diet. Weird. 

Below are two recipes from It's All Good that I'll be making ASAP!

Chicken Burgers, Thai Style

  • 1 pound ground chicken (preferably dark meat)
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely minced
  • 2/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, very finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon very finely minced red chili 
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil (like canola, grapeseed, or safflower oil)
Thoroughly mix the chicken with the garlic, cilantro, shallots, red chili, fish sauce, salt, and pepper. Form the mixture into 4 burgers, each about ¾ inch thick.Heat a grill or grill pan over medium heat. Rub each burger on both sides with a bit of the safflower oil and grill for about 8 minutes on the first side and another 5 minutes on the second, or until nicely marked and firm to the touch.

Carrots with Black Sesame + Ginger

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil       
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger 
  • 4 large carrots cut into matchsticks (4 cups)
  • Coarse sea salt
  • A couple of drops of hot toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted black sesame seeds
Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet set over high heat. Add the ginger and cook, stirring it into the oil, until it becomes fragrant, just 30 seconds or so. Add the carrots and stir to combine them with the gingery oil. Add a big pinch of salt and ¼ cup of water and turn the heat down to medium-high. Cook until the carrots just begin to soften and the water evaporates, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil, soy sauce, and sesame seeds and serve.

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