WHAT IS IT: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop 3-Day Food Cleanse
WHO TRIED IT: Catherine Kast, PEOPLE writer/reporter
WHY SHE DID IT: Pure curiosity
When I first spotted the Goop Winter Detox in my Gmail inbox (there, I just admitted to subscribing to Goop), I got excited. Whenever Gwyneth Paltrow posts anything involving food, the internet goes wild, and so did I. I started typing emails to my friends about trying the detox, writing things in all caps that “BRING ON THE BROTH” among other craziness. But really, this detox is not as insane as it’s made out to be (there’s even meat and salt in it for Pete’s sake!).
Planning your meals in advance really does make you feel in control of your life. It’s totally calming to know exactly what you’re going to eat and when you’re going to eat it. Plus, doing this detox made me cook salmon, which is not something I usually pick up for a weeknight meal. I also feel like I’ve learned how to be slightly more adventurous with my smoothies. Aside from a few key ingredients, everything else is widely available and not super-expensive. I got the tea and the Chlorophyll at GNC, which added up to around $16. You can get spirulina at a health food store like the Vitamin Shoppe, but a colleague of mine already had some in her office. Everything else I could find at my grocery store — lemons, broth, anchovies, greens, carrots, parsnips, salmon and chicken.
If you do this during the week, it’s going to be really hard to achieve the “warming” element of this detox because you won’t be able to warm the almond milk for the chocolate smoothie, for example, or eat fresh, hot soup or just-roasted veggies. I had it set in my mind that microwaving would not be “detox-friendly,” as Gwyneth says. Just to be sure, I typed “Does Gwyneth believe in microwaving” into my Google search bar before I remembered that I am a sane human being with the ability to make decisions for myself. So, after reading some articles about microwaving not depleting nutrients, I decided to nuke some of my dishes.
One of the tougher elements for me was not putting anything really into your stomach until 10 a.m. The menu suggests having a cup of room-temperature water with lemon “upon rising,” which is a surprisingly refreshing way to start the day, followed by a cup of herbal tea an hour later. You can’t put anything of substance into your body until 10 a.m., which is around the same time we have our morning meeting at the office.
Additionally, Goop suggests that dinner is to be at 6 p.m, and I’m at work every day until at least that time, so I’d typically go about 3-4 hours between each day’s afternoon snack and dinner.
Here is my experience trying Gwyneth’s 3-day plan:
DAY 1: The first morning’s Chai Gingerbread smoothie contained brewed rooibos chai tea, allspice, cinnamon, ground ginger, coconut milk or almond (I had coconut on hand so I used that), almond butter, some stevia, and some gluten-free protein powder. The protein powder was key for this, because I wasn’t going to eat anything until lunch at 1:30 pm. Turns out this smoothie was great, and since it is so gingery, it does take a longer time to drink than a normal smoothie made with a nut milk and fruit.
Lunch on Day 1 was chickpea soup. It consisted of 1 cup of dried chickpeas which I left in my apartment in a bowl of water to soak all day. They were boiled in 6 cups of water with an onion and a quick pour of olive oil. Once they cooked for a couple of hours, I added the juice of three lemons. Yes, three. The recipe description says this makes the broth taste “bright.”No. This was one of the most tasteless and weird things I’ve consumed recently. Not only was my broth not clear, despite my best efforts to remove the film from the top of the soup as it was cooking, but I couldn’t even finish one mason jar of the liquid. I ate only the chickpeas with as little broth as possible. I stirred some raw spinach from the office salad bar into the broth hoping I could get it down, which didn’t work too well. When I got home I attacked the remaining sad sad soup, and drained and rinsed the chickpeas. I plan on making them into hummus. Creamy, not “detox-friendly” hummus.
The good thing about the soup being horrible was it made me not want to eat anything for a while. I drank some tea and water and went to meetings and drank some more water until around 3 p.m., when I decided to eat my allotted afternoon snack of warm walnut-lentil pate. Again, this was NOT warm, and it’s hard to make a brown mound of cold pate appetizing. You won’t see a picture from me even though I put it in a cute little red Pirex. And despite Goop’s photograph of the pate spread on some kind of magical gluten free crackers, that serving suggestion is not mentioned in the recipe. I ate my pate cold and with a spoon. It was tolerable. I promised myself I would wise up and get healthy crackers for Day 3, when the pate would strike my snack time again.
Confession: I had a migraine (non-detox related, I promise) on the first night, so I was unable to create the kabocha squash stuffed with quinoa and an anchoiade. That’s fine because I don’t have the suggested “large mortar and pestle” and I can’t pronounce the word “anchoiade.”
DAY 2: The migraine also completely threw me off to get it together to make the smoothie for the next morning, so I had a green juice and a smoothie made with coconut and kale from Juice Generation instead. I figured that wouldn’t make Gwyneth too mad, right?
Today’s lunch was a carrot soup made with equal parts carrots that had been roasted in olive oil and carrots that had been par-boiled in broth with onions (boiling onions seems to be a theme in this program) and then blended. I took a mason jar of the stuff to work and yes, microwaved it for 30 seconds before digging in. I couldn’t add the swig of olive oil that is recommended because I didn’t have any at my desk, go figure. This soup is totally fine, and quite good with salt and pepper. I had lots of leftovers (the recipe made four Gwyneth-sized servings) and had the soup for lunch post-detox and mixed in a little pesto. Delish.
That afternoon’s 4 p.m. snack was a handful of “mixed nuts and seeds.” I had some raw pumpkin seeds, almonds and walnuts. Good thing “a handful” isn’t a concrete measurement. Good thing my hands resembled Incredible Hulk hands that day because I was pretty hungry.
This is important: Day 2’s dinner was delightful. Since I bought all my groceries in advance I wanted to use up the salmon first, and swapped day 2 and day 3’s dinners. I made the salmon poached in coconut milk and vegetable broth with lemon grass. This sounds harder than it is; it took only about 15 minutes to make. Once the salmon is poached, you remove it from the liquid and put it over some “dark winter greens,” which for me was some escarole and collard greens. You add a couple of anchovies to the coconut milk sauce, mash them against the side of the pan so they dissolve, and reduce the whole thing for a few minutes until thick. Then you pour some of the sauce over the salmon and greens. I found that just pouring the sauce over the greens didn’t wilt them enough for my taste, so after I finished my plate I added some more to the sauce for a couple of minutes, then I ate all the sauce and greens with a spoon. No really, it was that good.
DAY 3: I decided to forgo the suggested Day 3 smoothie, which contained broth and avocado, miso and almond or coconut milk. Call me crazy, but I just figured that I couldn’t handle anything savory, lukewarm and yellow for my first meal of the day. Plus, I’d missed out on the delicious sounding Peppermint Hot Chocolate from the day before. Turns out this hot chocolate smoothie is insanely delicious. It’s almond milk, coconut cream from a can, mint liquid chlorohyll (stay with me), raw cacao, pink Himalayan sea salt, spirulina, almond butter, stevia and chocolate protein powder. Since I was at the office at the 10 a.m. suggested serving time, I wasn’t able to warm the milk “gently on the stovetop.” Turns out it didn’t matter. It tasted like a chocolate milkshake, except it was green. Goop’s photo shows something that looks like real, dark hot chocolate. The one I made in my office was green. [see video below].
Lunch was roasted root veggies (carrots, parsnips and beets) and a miso-balsamic dressing over some greens. This was a satisfying meal. Her recipe says that 2 lbs. of mixed root vegetables “makes 4,” so I assumed that meant 4 servings and used a little more than a quarter pound of veggies.
I managed to find some raw flax crackers and had my walnut-lentil pate on those this afternoon. Again, this stuff is not super visually appealing, but really not so bad.
The last night’s dinner was Pan-Steamed Chicken and Broccoli, which Goop says is “a clean version of a Chinese take-out favorite.” This was totally a reasonable meal . I feel like I’d even made this before and not considered it to be super healthy or clean. The hard thing about this was not serving it over any kind of grain. I gave my husband some of this and put it over quinoa. He said it tasted “healthy,” which I think is a good thing.
VERDICT: It was hard to not join the troops for lunch around the office, or to indulge in any of the treats that sometimes get sent our way. I feel like this three-day detox boosted my willpower, but three days isn’t long enough to change habits, like eating breakfast before I go to work or lose a measurable amount of weight while eating albeit small meals. I did feel satisfied at the end of the day, and felt light and refreshed when I woke up in the morning. I’m truly not ashamed to say that I’m glad to have added liquid chlorophyll into my fridge, and spirulina in my pantry. It turns out this was not a horrible way to spend three days of eating.