When I heard that famed life guru Gwyneth Paltrow had released It's All Easy, her second cookbook that focuses on quick, simple weeknight dishes, I thought the only way to truly understand Paltrow wasn't to walk a mile in her Loeffler Randalls—I had to eat from Monday through Friday like I was living her life.
Feeding myself for the week cost about $87.72. To be fair, it's a far cry from the estimated $375 it would cost to feed myself using recipes from her last book, It's All Good. But then again, I did have some items already on hand (the chicken breasts, tortillas, salt, pepper and other seasonings, fresh salsa).
Day One: Taking a Sip of the Goop-Aid
Sure, I could've kicked things off in the Goopiest way possible, making a chia pudding or acai bowl, but I was sold when I saw Paltrow's recipe for migas—an egg scramble featuring fried tortilla wedges, salsa and cheese. Plus, I could tackle this recipe without even having to go grocery shopping.
Paltrow's migas recipe is pretty straightforward: Cut tortillas into wedges, fry them in oil with a diced onion for a minute or two, then crack in your eggs, scrambling everything into a crispy-edged mess. The author includes three salsa recipes you could make to top the dish—but, considering it's a weekday and the premise of the book is about easy cooking for the super-busy, I opt for jarred. #sorrynotsorry
Lunch: Leftover migas
My coworkers are considering firing me, and for good reason: I reheated the now-rubbery mess in the office microwave. The whole place smells like car tires and diner grease.
Dinner: Zucchini Cacio e Pepe
I've resisted the spiralizer trend for years now, convinced I absolutely didn't need—or want—another gadget cluttering up my kitchen, but for Paltrow, I give in. She actually tells me to "put this book down and order one," so I find the tiniest, cheapest model around—and this $15 OXO model is so ridiculously easy to use that I find myself swearing to everyone that they need to try it right away, as if I'm providing vital life information.
It's in that moment I know...
THE CONVERSION IS REAL, AND IT'S HAPPENING ALREADY. WHO AM I?
But also, the zucchini cacio e pepe is simple and delicious. You're basically just shredding zucchini noodles and tossing them with olive oil, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. There's no mistaking this for a hot bowl of pasta—the recipe doesn't even call for cooking a thing—but you could easily make this without a recipe (we love that stuff at Delish).
The one thing the recipe doesn't mention but really, really helps: Pat the zucchini noodles dry and ring out any excess water. It makes the texture just a little more pasta-like (and less soup-y).
Day Two: It's Getting Real.
Breakfast: Avocado Toast
It's All Easy features three recipes for avocado toast—an Asian variety, topped with toasted sesame oil, sriracha and a soft-boiled egg; a spring veggie one, with lemon zest, radish slices and pea shoots; and a bacon-and-almond-butter one.
The latter seems all kinds of wrong ... until you try it. The fat in the avocado and almond butter balance out the saltiness of the bacon. This dish basically embodies Paltrow to so many people: You want to hate it, but you can't.
Lunch: Roasted Beet and Blue Cheese Salad
This recipe requires commitment to Sunday meal prep, something I only muster the enthusiasm to do roughly ... the first two weeks of every January. You have to peel, chop and then roast golden beets for an hour to make them GP's preferred way—though she advocates buying cooked beets or simply boiling them until tender if you're short on time—then tossing it with radicchio, endives, diced shallot, crumbled bleu cheese and four chopped, boiled eggs.
My breath smells like an egg truck crashed into a sulfur factory, and I'm oddly okay with it. Sadly, no one around me is.
Dinner: Grilled Chicken Wrap with Avocado
My husband and I went out for dinner, so I try to find a Goop-friendly dish. I settle for a grilled chicken, avocado and lettuce wrap with mixed greens. Then steal my husband's fries whenever his head's turned.
Day Three: There's Vegenaise on Everything.
Breakfast: Avocado ... Triscuits and her Ginger, Sesame and Almond Drink
I've run out of crusty, artisanal bread, so I settle for slicing avocado on Triscuits. Plus, this gives me more time to make Paltrow's Ginger, Sesame and Almond Drank. It features the most brilliant cooking hack I've found in the book: You can make your own almond milk by blending a tablespoon of almond butter with two cups of hot water.
Also, I'm now a person who makes her own almond milk. And raves about how easy it is.
The drink itself is a little hard to swallow—it's made with a mix of toasted sesame oil, chopped ginger, coconut sugar and almond milk—and it smells like salad dressing but tastes like a sweet milk tea. I keep picking bits of ginger out of my teeth.
Lunch: Moroccan Chicken Salad Wraps
One thing you'll learn early on in this cookbook: Paltrow loves coating chicken in Vegenaise. It seems contradictory, but if you hate the eggy taste of mayo, Vegenaise suddenly makes sense, and it doesn't compete with the other, bolder flavors in this wrap: cumin, cinnamon, lemon juice and cilantro. It's the first time I've ever wanted to keep eating chicken salad after the third bite.
Dinner: Three-Mustard Chicken
This recipe shows off Paltrow's wiiiild side. Chicken with not one but THREE types of mustard?! And a slathering of Vegenaise for good measure?! Homegirl's out of control.
You essentially coat chicken in a sauce made from three types of mustard—grainy, Dijon and wasabi—champagne vinegar (another recurring favorite ingredient in this cookbook), olive oil and maple syrup. Paltrow's recipe calls for dipping the chicken in the mustard sauce, then sprinkling it with breadcrumbs before baking, but to me, the breadcrumbs absorbed all of the mustard flavor, leaving the chicken itself dry and bland. My advice? Skip the crumbs.
Day Four: My Blender Is About to Break.
Breakfast: 9-minute boiled eggs and Jessica's Coconut "Latte"
My stomach seems flatter. I don't believe in scales, plus I'm only three days in, but something tells me this whole eating-less-processed-food-and-getting-more-greens is good for me. Who would've thought?
I keep my health (and wannabe Gwyneth) kick going with some boiled eggs, taking out a timer and blanching those suckers in ice water the SECOND the buzzer goes off, just like GP. It seems like too much planning for a boiled egg—until I realize I've never had such flavorful yolks before.
Dammit, Paltrow. You're good.
Jessica's Coconut Latte: Jessica Seinfeld—yup, Jerry's wife—introduced Gwyneth to this dairy-free "latte," where you basically brew coffee as you normally would, then pour it in a blender with two tablespoons of coconut oil and pulse until frothy. It's every bit as rich and creamy as a regular latte, only the oil leaves a slightly filmy aftertaste.
The downside, besides the aftertaste? You have to clean out a blender and your coffee machine every morning.
Lunch: Moroccan Chicken Salad with Quinoa
Paltrow says her Moroccan Chicken Salad is "almost more satisfying eaten straight out of the bowl." My coworkers can attest to that; they ate the leftovers right out of the fridge while I made Paltrow's quinoa recipe. Spoiler: Rinse quinoa first, then essentially cook it according to the package's instructions.
Dinner: Leftover Roasted Beet and Blue Cheese Salad
You must have gum on hand after this meal. Otherwise it's cruel and unusual punishment for everyone you speak to.
Day Five: Finding the Food That'll Give Me the Butt of a '22-Year-Old Stripper.'
Breakfast: Almond Orange Overnight Oats
Despite the 'easy' tagline, this isn't exactly a make-and-go meal. Aside from needing the oats to soak overnight, you also need to budget in time to carefully toast unsweetened coconut flakes and slivered almonds, and grab a blender to make your own almond milk. But they are, hands down, the best overnight oats I've ever tasted.
The hint of coconut, the toasted almond flavor, the slight citrusy flavor, thanks to a splash of OJ—if you make nothing else from this cookbook, make this. Again and again.
I celebrate this victorious breakfast in the most Paltrow way I can think of: Doing donkey kicks and squats to the pulsing beats of a Tracy Anderson workout DVD, because I, too, want the butt "of a 22-year-old stripper."
Lunch: Three-Mustard Chicken and Mixed Greens Salad
Hey, eating leftovers helps keep my grocery bills down.
Dinner: Grilled Chicken Chopped Salad
You may be wondering why I need a recipe for this. I ... don't have a great answer for you.
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 rut—and 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.
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