Oh that Gwyneth – she’s the celebrity we all love to have a love/hate relationship with. She’s so talented, so pretty, has such great taste, and can even cook! Often times though, she’s just a wee bit out of touch, and has some pretty strong opinions when it comes to food. After all, who can forget the time she said she’d rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a can? But as much as we all at times find her insufferable, the truth of the matter is she is damn inspiring. At 40 she’s starring in blockbuster movies, publishing best selling books, and even though she doesn’t personally know it, she’s gotten me to look at, think about, and consume food in a whole new way. Pretentious or not, I’m appreciative of the motivation she gave me through her book, It’s All Good. Here are the top 10 ways Gwyneth has changed my life, as it relates to personal health (and safety).
Raw Honey Makes The Perfect Simple Syrup For Cocktails 1 of 10
Gwyneth has a few recipes in her book, It's All Good, for agua frescas, refreshing and healthy water based fruit drinks that are meant to hydrate in a non-toxic way. The base of each agua fresca is a fantastic raw honey simple syrup which adds sweetness without the use of plain table sugar. Raw honey is well known for its nutritional benefits and is a better sweetener, overall, than granulated sugar. How could I resist then, taking that simple syrup, and using it to make a healthier twist on some of my favorite cocktails, including margaritas and mojitos? Thanks Gwyneth! You just helped me get my drink on with less guilt!
To make your own raw honey simple syrup, add 3/4 raw honey to 2 cups of warm water and stir until dissolved. Store in the fridge for up to 3-4 weeks.
Maple Syrup Is Magic! 2 of 10
So it turns out that Buddy the Elf was on to something with his intense love of maple syrup! The stuff is amazing, and while still a sweetener to be used sparingly, holds more nutritional benefits than regular granulated sugar. It's easy to see why Gwyneth would then become a fan too, and now she has me hooked. I use it in my morning coffee, in my oatmeal, to make my favorite quinoa granola, in cookies and other baked goods, and of course on pancakes and waffles. We use it so often now that I've started sourcing it online to save money.
Thanks Gwyneth for opening my eyes to the beauty of real maple syrup, and just how sweet it can be.
A $10 Box Of Salt Is Crazy, But Crazy Good 3 of 10
I was out running errands with my mom when I came across a $10 box of Maldon's salt in a local spice shop. I had been searching in vain at our local grocery store for the special salt, because it was supposedly the key ingredient for Gwyneth's Almond Butter cookies. Turns out the grocery store doesn't carry it because they'd probably have to keep it behind lock and key, the stuff is so stupid expensive! My mother proceeded to roll her eyes at me so hard I thought they'd roll out of her head, but you know what? That salt is fabulous! It's shaped into tiny little pyramids that burst with flavor on the tip of your tongue. It's such a prized possession in our house, I only use it for very special recipes and occasions.
Although I do feel like a crazy person buying a $10 box of salt, I have to say Gwyneth has good taste, because for a salt lover like me, it's the creme de la creme.
Who Knew, Steamed Fish Doesn’t Taste Like A Soggy Towel 4 of 10
When I made a vow to try and cook as many recipes in Gwynnie's cookbook as possible, I was extremely hesitant about her steamed fish. It sounded like the stuff of seafood nightmares, and was sure the fish would come out flavorless and limp as a soggy towel. I was also sure no one in my family would eat the stuff.
Who knew it would end up tasting so darn good though. Duh, Gwyneth knew, that's who. Gwyneth always knows. Steamed fish is now my go-to method of preparation, and is by far the easiest and healthiest way to cook fish I've ever come across.
A Paper Towel Is The Secret To Perfectly Cooked Grains 5 of 10
For years I've suffered through soggy brown rice and bland quinoa, only to be rescued by our golden girl, Gwyneth. I could kiss her after learning her super easy and foolproof method for getting perfectly cooked grains, including rice and quinoa, every time - a paper towel. All you need to do is place a paper towel between the pot and the lid when the batch is done cooking, and let it sit there for a few minutes to absorb all that steam. Then fluff as usual and serve. Best damn quinoa you'll ever have, I guarantee it.
Thanks for helping me get my husband to actually like quinoa, Gwyneth.
Soak Your Almonds and Nuts People! 6 of 10
So Gwyneth didn't invent this or anything, but she brought it to my attention so I'll give her credit for that. Apparently you're always supposed to soak your nuts and seeds to aid in digestibility and to help your body soak up the most nutrients from the wonder food. They also taste better when you do, giving them a slightly sweet flavor.
To soak your nuts and seeds, all you do is place them in a bowl of water and let them soak overnight, or for a few hours. Then dump the water and let them dry on a towel. Enjoy in good health!
Drink Your Veggies and Do It Yourself 7 of 10
I had been a fan of green juice for quite some time, but I was dragging my feet on making the leap into juicing at home. Gwyneth's easy and uncomplicated recipes pushed me to get a juicer of my own though, and the rest is history. I now juice on a daily basis, and have got the whole family hooked, especially the baby, saving myself a boat load of cash in the process.
Tracy Anderson Type Workouts Work 8 of 10
Gwyneth's legs have got to be her most talked about physical asset, and with good reason. The girl's got gams for days, in large part due to workouts led by her trainer Tracy Anderson. Her workouts aim to target and tone the smallest muscles of the body, helping to strengthen, lengthen, and lean out all your other larger muscles. While I certainly can't afford Tracy Anderson, nor did I have much interest in trying to workout solo at home to her DVDs, I did join a similar type of group workout studio and have indeed seen tremendous results. My legs have never looked better or felt stronger, even after 3 kids. There's something to be said about that!
Vegan Meals Can Be Good 9 of 10
While the Goopster isn't vegan or even vegetarian, many of the recipes in her book are vegan by way of the elimination of animal ingredients such as dairy and chicken/beef stock. For years I've said that I could never be a vegetarian and I'd rather eat my own shoe before I'd eat a vegan dish, but it turns out that many of favorite meals are naturally vegan, without even trying, or by tweaking an ingredient here or there, can easily be made vegan. Take traditional minestrone soup. By switching out chicken stock for veggie stock, boom, you've got yourself a vegan meal. Or by subbing olive oil for butter in your granola, bam, vegan granola. So while I still maintain that "meat" substitutes are all together nasty, I can still enjoy plenty of vegan meals without feeling like I'm sacrificing real animal products for fakes.
Safety First – Especially on that Vespa! 10 of 10
Lastly, I'd like to thank Gwyneth for reminding me that one can never be too safe when operating a motorized two-wheeled vehicle, because one never knows when a school bus will sneak up out of the blue, and almost crash into you! (Sorry Gwynnie!) So with this in mind, always, and I mean always, wear a helmet.
Thanks for changing my life in 2013, in more ways than one, Gwyneth!
photo credit: Matt Smith/Getty Images Europe