I’m a bit of a health food fan and a bit of a Gwyneth fan, so when she released It’s All Good, I’m a little ashamed to admit that mine was probably one of the first orders Amazon received.
Who am I kidding? I’m a huge fan. Of both the above.
The idea of lots of delicious recipes filled with only healthy ingredients was too much for me to resist.
I already have Gwyneth’s first book Notes From My Kitchen Table which is much more of a normal everyday cookbook and has some truly delicious recipes in it – the peanut butter cookies and cheesy stuffed turkey burgers are particular favourites in my house.
I have to admit that being a bit of a health ‘foodie’ myself – avocado on toast, porridge and egg white omelettes were already part of my repertoire, but I was very excited to attempt some of Gwyneth’s more original, delicious and uncompromisingly healthy recipes.
Here’s how I got on.
Sweet Potato and Five Spice Muffins
When I’m trying a new recipe, I tend to make half the amount the recipe states to try it out and see if I like it before using up most of the ingredients in my kitchen.
It really wasn’t sensible to do that with these muffins.
The recipe requires you to start off by baking one sweet potato in the oven for an hour. Then wait another hour for it to cool.
I suggest you use a pre-baked sweet potato to be a tad more energy efficient and to speed up your preparation time. Faffing around with and waiting for the potato was the most tedious part of this recipe.
Otherwise I made these really rather quickly and easily. I had one and thought they were pretty nice. The five spice really added flavour making them very tasty, and the texture was just soft enough. Delicious straight out of the oven!
As well as being yummy they also have fantastic for you sweet potato in them and are gluten free.
You can have them for breakfast or for a snack so it’s a nice thing to have in the cupboard for a quick, healthy (but not too healthy tasting) pick me up.
Once they had cooled I carefully stored them away in a baking tin and thought I would have a couple for breakfast, as mine were more cupcake sized than muffin sized.
When I checked in the morning, quite a few were already gone. Everyone had grabbed one or two on their way to work and the half portion I had made was already depleting rapidly!
Needless to say this particular recipe went down a treat. So I was back in the kitchen baking sweet potatoes.
After the success of these muffins I quickly attempted Gwyneth’s Banana Date Muffins.
They sounded even better than the previous ones!
But alas, it was not to be.
For whatever reason, these just didn’t taste right.
No one would touch them! They were horribly bitter and had been a bit of a pain to make – fussier than the other ones.
The bitterness could have been down to the vanilla or possibly even the banana – banana can be tricky to bake.
I couldn’t believe it! What a waste of time and ingredients. I won’t blame Gwyneth just yet though, I may have another go with fresh banana, new vanilla extract and maybe no pumpkin seeds?
Although the beauty of baking banana based goodies is generally that it allows you to use up all your ancient bananas…
It was deeply disheartening to have to throw most of these out, because after the success of the sweet potato ones I had obviously made an entire batch rather than sticking to my first attempt half batch rule.
Creamy Avocado and Cacao Smoothie
Cacao powder is a bit of an acquired taste. Some people just won’t touch it as it really doesn’t resemble its chocolate-y friend as much as you would think.
It has quite a distinctive flavour of its own.
I like to have a shake for breakfast, particularly if I’m in a hurry. I throw everything into my Vita-Mix and boom it’s done.
I’ve had this one a few times and I’m still not sure if I like it. I admit that it’s easy to make, has very healthy ingredients and does sort of satisfy a sweet craving. Sort of… It’s one of those healthy things that you have and it’s fine but it doesn’t set your world on fire.
It’s good as an afternoon snack when you’re having a bit of a sugar low and need a pick me up. It sort of does the job but without the sugar and without the pleasure.
Buckwheat and Banana Pancakes
I thought these sounded great. Buckwheat flour is naturally wheat and gluten free making these pancakes a healthy gluten free option that should taste yummy.
Alas, I had another banana related disaster with this recipe.
Cooked banana is an acquired taste at the best of times. It becomes very sweet, mushy and not that nice.
I also didn’t like the pancake batter itself, the flavour was too strong for a pancake.
It’s possible that using the buckwheat flour alongside normal milk rather than soya milk would have been more successful but that would have defeated the object slightly as this recipe is dairy free as well as gluten free.
So these weren’t much of a success.
The Best Green Juice
Green juice is very a la mode.
Everyone has a green juice recipe they’re trying to push. Some of them have tons of different ingredients in them (Jessica Alba I’m looking at you), so you have to go to the supermarket, make sure you have them all and then start chopping and blending. Nightmare.
I don’t actually have a juicer. I bought one once and was horrified at the amount of pulp it left, it just seemed like a terrible waste, so I returned it.
Despite this little setback I was determined to try a green juice and Gwyneth’s recipe is actually fairly straightforward.
You probably already have ginger, lemon and apple in your fridge but you may need to pop out for the kale and fresh mint.
I chopped and put all the ingredients into my Vita-Mix, including the cup of water Gwyneth helpfully suggested adding if like me you don’t have an actual juicer, and blended it all together.
I then spent about twenty minutes putting the green gunge through a sive so that only the juice was left.
I pushed it through with a big flat spoon to get the most juice I could from the ingredients so I wouldn’t have the same horrifying waste of fruit and vegetables I had with the juicer.
And you know what? I really liked it. It was light and clean and had a bit of a kick from the ginger.
Despite the ordeal that was ‘the making of this juice without a juicer’ I had it quite often for a while. And I’m pretty certain having one of these a day helped me get rid of a cold in five days because it has all the stuff you need to boost your immune system.
I may even invest in a juicer so I can make more of them.
Beet, Carrot, Apple and Ginger Juice
After my success with the green juice I was keen to get cracking with the beet juice. I really like beetroot and thought this would be delicious.
My whole blending, siving method did not work quite so well this time and the juice came out a little too thick.
It had a really strong taste of beetroot and was almost undrinkable.
It was also a little more fiddly to put together as it had more ingredients and beetroot is generally a pain as you have to go around cleaning everything up immediately before it goes pink!
Nevertheless I am going to give this one another try. Maybe with my future juicer. As the ingredients are all good and it should be yummier than it was.
Almond Butter Cookies with Maldon Salt
I threw these cookies together one Saturday afternoon when I wasn’t doing anything.
I had all the ingredients in the house (even though it calls for rather a lot of Almond Butter) so I made them quickly and easily.
The only drawback is that the price per cookie, once you’ve totted up how much of each VERY expensive ingredient you’ve used, is really quite a lot.
Almond butter and maple syrup in particular are really expensive and this recipe requires quite a lot of them.
The texture of the cookies is not quite the same as a normal cookie, it’s crumblier and doughier, but still really nice and quite satisfying, even if you only have one.
It definitely satisfies a sweet craving when you’re trying to avoid processed sugar, wheat flour or dairy.
To my horror my boyfriend ate loads of them, which let’s be honest, is a complete waste of extortionate health food ingredients as he would just as happily have gorged himself on digestives or oreos with all their refined sugar, butter and flour.
All in all I thought these were great.
Banana Ice Cream with Sweet and Salty Roasted Almonds
A recipe for a quick, easy, healthy ice cream is definitely an excellent idea from Gwyneth.
Sometimes you just feel like a cool sweet scoop of ice cream but normal prepackaged ice creams are so full of refined sugar, milk and additives that they’re really not worth having. Not on a regular basis anyway.
I found this recipe really easy to follow. The only slight hassle is freezing the bananas beforehand – which means you have to predict your ice cream craving about a day in advance to really get that banana properly frozen.
Or you could simply leave some sliced banana in the freezer at all times for ice cream emergencies.
My main piece of advice with this recipe would be to take the bananas out of the freezer when you’ve done everything else. Take the bananas out LAST.
Add all the other ingredients to the mixer and sort out your roasted almonds BEFORE you blend the ice cream. Otherwise your banana slices will defrost before you blend it and you’ll end up with runny ice cream. I learned this the hard way.
When it works this recipe is really delicious. It makes sweet, smooth ice cream, that’s dairy free as it uses almond milk and free of refined sugar as it has maple syrup instead.
The roasted almonds are an absolute revelation. Add a little maple syrup and a little salt and you have an incredibly yummy crunchy addition to the ice cream.
There are still a ton of recipes I want to try from the book, like the Buttermilk Waffles, Salmon with Lee’s Sriracha & Lime and Stir Fried Brown Rice with Nori & Black Sesame but I unfortunately have to wait until I own a waffle maker, figure out what Sriracha is and can buy Nori from a health food shop without balking at the price.
A lot of the ingredients in this book are pretty obscure actually, and really quite expensive. So I limit myself to trying a couple a month or I would blow my monthly food budget on a few recipes.
It’s a really lovely idea for a cookbook though. There’s a lot to try in it and it really is all pretty good for you.