Actress/GOOP founder/organic skincare purveyor Gwyneth Paltrow's third cookbook, It's All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook (Amazon) debuted April 12. Unlike her previous cookbook It's All Good — which shunned gluten, dairy, and sugar — It's All Easy includes recipes for dishes like carbonara, pork belly ramen, and chicken enchiladas (albeit, made with spelt tortillas). In the intro, Paltrow calls it a "self-help book for the chronically busy cook."
Of course, not everyone is impressed with a cookbook that includes three recipes for avocado toast. On Amazon reviewer wrote that it was not a book "for people who cook often" while another expressed distaste with the photos, writing that they are less about the food and more about the author "looking 'natural' and healthy in various Parisian settings." Below, the review roundup, from the critics:
But what happens if she doesn't mean for her cookbooks to be prescriptive, as in "You should be living the way I live?" What if she means for them to be merely aspirational? That's a question I'd love to have put to her along with more basic things like how she develops her recipes and what's the division of labor between her and co-writer Thea Baumann. But when I asked to talk about the cookbook, the answer from her reps was no.
So instead the book will speak for itself. I put it to the test by cooking from it on three consecutive super-busy nights. Everything came out perfectly.
Some of the recipes call for ingredients that your local grocery store might not stock. But there are several recipes, like the grilled chicken chopped salad which calls for already cooked chicken, that can be whipped up in a jiffy. In my opinion, this book certainly accomplished what it set out to do, make preparing a fairly healthy meal or snack a pretty simple task.
This book is going to be loved by many, simply for being beautiful and delivering on its easy-breezy promise and cutting out extra information. (People are so used to being pandered to these days, told half the story because it's for their own good, that they won't miss the big picture.) They will hear about this book, gift this book, and even try cooking from this book because it's Gwyneth's. They will be charmed to pieces by the pictures of her gorgeous family and the novelty of this hitherto unknown dish called Zuni Sheetpan Chicken.
No, the cookbook isn't full of recipes like "how to hard-boil an egg." Instead, the pages contain unique riffs on foods that bloggers and trendy restaurants have been serving up over the last few years: acai bowls, ginger chia pudding, tortilla soup noodle pot (with zucchini noodles, of course), beet chips, even homemade coconut milk for no other than a coconut milk au lait. Gwyneth admits in the intro that there is even "some cheese" and "regular flour" in the recipes. She even assures you it's OK to "sneak in a glass of wine." Cue the excitement! But don't worry, there's also a gluten-free, dairy-free dessert section.
After a week of living the It's All Easy life, I've got to admit it isn't all that easy, at least not for the Easy Mac crowd (AKA me), but it can pull you out of a weeknight dinner rutâand get in more greens and a whole lot of Vegenaise in the process.
Just make sure you carry a pack of mints at all times.
I think it's fair to say that Gwyneth is the clear winner here. Her recipes were easy to follow and were faster (or almost as fast as) delivery. Many of the ingredients were things that I already had in my pantry (like almond butter and capers) or were well priced and easy to find at my local market. She clearly adjusted since It's All Good and has become more thoughtful about what is doable and accessible to her followers.
The true difference between It's All Easy and Gwyneth's other cookbooks, though, is its refusal to stay loyal to any one diet. There is a recipe for grilled cheese, and one for carbonara. Recipes use flour (the horror!) and sugar (ahhh!) and even butter (how dare you?). Maybe this is because Gwyneth switched co-writers for this book, working with Thea Baumann, Goop's food editor. Maybe it's because things that are "easy" aren't always "healthy." Or maybe Gwyneth is realizing that no one can be perfect all the time, not even her.
If you're into Paltrow porn, this $35 book is a soup-to-nuts success.
But as a DIY resource for cooks who like a challenge in the kitchen, not so much. Sometimes recipes are simple to the point of being lazy. Other dishes come coated in a been-there, done-that crust.