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Cristina Cuomo | Photo: Ditte Isager | May 20, 2013
She’s got a smash-hit film franchise, a best-actress Oscar, a top-selling cookbook, a can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it body and a wish-I-had-one-like-him husband. Oh, and she’s the World’s Most Beautiful Woman. If there’s an area of life where Gwyneth Paltrow can’t fly high—really high—we sure don’t know what it is.
Until now, the idea of a 40-year-old woman being named People magazine’s World’s Most Beautiful seemed unlikely at best and crazy talk at worst. Until, of course, Gwyneth Paltrow came along and got it done.
One of our generation’s most celebrated actresses and multifaceted personalities, Paltrow has worked hard for the life she has. The trained thespian started summer stock at age 5 alongside her actress mother, Blythe Danner; by the time she was 26, she’d won an Academy Award for Shakespeare in Love. Today, at 40, she’s still box-office gold, starring in Marvel’s mega powerhouse Iron Man series, for which she works out three hours a day with fitness guru Tracy Anderson to stay fit—and that’s on top of the healthy eating and cleansing regimen she committed herself to a decade ago. She also runs and writes her own blog, Goop, where she shares life lessons and posts recipes as well as diaries of her discoveries from around the globe. She even sings, taking on every genre from country to hip-hop, her favorite—clearly marriage to Coldplay frontman Chris Martin hasn’t changed her taste in music. Today, at an age that often pushes an actress’ career from the mountaintop to the sharp downward slope, Paltrow is enjoying more success than ever. Granted, being named People’s prettiest came with some censure—but Sunset Boulevard’s nostalgia-mired Norma Desmond, Paltrow will never be.
When I first met Paltrow, she was Brad Pitt’s sprightly 20-something live-in girlfriend. I was impressed by one story Pitt told me, about a time during the filming of the movie Seven, when she raced past him on a California highway in her Jeep, her blond hair blowing in the wind and a sparkle in her eye—her signal that the race was on. Pitt laughed out loud at her vim and vigor, a man in love with a woman in love with life.
Paltrow’s still in love with life—she just tempers her passion with a little more care and caution now that she’s the mother of two: Apple, 9, and Moses, 7.
Her steadfast drive—to achieve, to be happy, to live well—Paltrow attributes to the support she always got from her family; in fact, she’s still so close to her mom that she built her a house on her and Martin’s Amagansett property, which is lined with apple trees and has its own freestanding gym. Paltrow’s late father, director Bruce Paltrow, to whom she was extremely close, isn’t forgotten either—the actress carries the urn containing his ashes with her as she travels from home to home, from London to New York City to Amagansett to Spain.
It was her father’s illness that precipitated Paltrow’s interest in healthier eating, and led her to write her first cookbook, My Father’s Daughter. Her latest compilation, The New York Times best-seller It’s All Good, which she put together with foodie friend Julia Turshen and the help of several doctors, is full of healthy menu ideas, all sugar-free and low- or no-gluten, along with vegan, kid-friendly and elimination-diet recommendations. It’s a fresh and inspiring collection of recipes that are “delicious, but just that little bit healthier for those of us who want to feel better,” Paltrow tells me.
Herewith, some insight from the beauty behind the book, plus our Paltrow recipe picks for seasonal Hamptons summertime feasting—kids welcome.
What ignited your passion for healthy eating?
I began to consider the effects of food when my father was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998. I started to research anti-cancer diets in hopes that he would try to hit it from all angles. I went totally macrobiotic for a couple of years to try to get him on board. He was more interested in hot dogs and Mallomars, so I never really got him on board. When I got pregnant with my daughter, I went back to ice cream and whatever I wanted. Now I’m all about balance. The impetus for the book was really getting my family a bit more healthy. My son has eczema and is allergic to gluten, so I really created this cookbook for him. I’m amazed by how many people have come up to me to thank me for the book. There are so many of us who are intolerant to gluten, and they should not have to compromise on flavor or comfort food!
What do you say to people who are hesitant, like your father was, to take specific foods out of their diet?
That it’s not about taking foods out. It’s about being mindful about what you are putting in. Good whole foods are the way we have eaten for generations. It’s amazing how good you feel when you just cut out the processed stuff.
Julia Turshen, your co-author, writes that she’s never met anyone who loves food as much as you. Where does that love come from?
I have always loved food, I was raised by a foodie. I love to cook and eat. My father was obsessed with good food and he passed it on to me.
Would you say you’re healthier now than you were in your 20s and 30s?
I have had swings into healthier periods and more pleasurable periods throughout my life. Now I try to have both at the same time.
What advice would you give the younger you?
Not to worry so much; to ease up on myself; that everything happened for a reason; to embrace the obstacles… it’s all part of the soul curriculum.
What’s the secret to balancing exercise, food and rest?
Find what works for you. I think it’s important to move a little every day. If you don’t have time for a full workout, do what you can—walk to work, take the stairs. Above all, don’t beat yourself up. We’re all trying to do so much. Ease up on yourself and do what’s in front of you to the best of your ability.
What food could you eat year-round?
What are a few must-have dishes for the summer season?
For the summer I like lighter fare. The salads and aguas frescas from the book are perfect for a summer lunch.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Wine and cheese.
And what about your children, Apple and Moses? Do they eat as healthy as you do?
Kids are kids and I never want them to feel like they are missing out. I try to keep it clean for them at home, but we compromise. At least there is gluten-free mac and cheese.
You’ve now authored four cookbooks [the first, Spain… A Culinary Road Trip, was co-authored with Mario Batali] What are some of your personal favorite cookbooks?
Plenty and Jerusalem; all of the River Café books [by Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray]; all of Ina Garten’s of course.
The Hamptons has a bountiful selection of fresh food. Is your cooking style different here than it is in NYC?
We’re lucky to live during the summer in all of the abundance of an old farming community. I cook and eat out of my garden every day. There or the farm stand. It is my idea of heaven.
I know you love music, and of course are married to a music man. What are your favorite tunes to cook and dine to?
Complete this sentence: To me it isn’t summer without...
You’ve been coming to the Hamptons for years. What are some of your favorite memories?
My high school friends usually come out to Amagansett in the summer. We eat and laugh and drink too much and all end up in the hot tub. It’s the best.