I’d love to cook and eat like Gwyneth Paltrow. She’s. Just. So. Healthy. Paltrow’s new cookbook with Julia Turshen, It’s All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great, conforms to an elimination diet (no coffee, alcohol, dairy, sugar, shellfish, deep-water fish, wheat, soy, or processed food).

For my test run, I chose a recipe from the book’s “Sweet Tooth” section. Some questions pondered while shopping at Whole Foods. Where can I find quinoa flakes? (Oatmeal section.) Can one grind flaxseeds oneself, or must they be purchased? (Probably purchase them.) What distinguishes good-quality maple syrup from Trader Joe’s maple syrup? (No idea.) What is fine sea salt as opposed to Trader Joe’s sea salt? (Still no idea.) Brown rice syrup, where are you? (Near the agave.) I wound up spending $23 on specialty ingredients, and the cost of the ingredients is my main gripe about the book. I used apricots and walnuts, as much Trader Joe’s maple syrup as I had left (half of the specified amount), and tripled the amount of brown rice syrup to make up the difference in sweetness/stickiness. I lined a muffin tin and set a timer.

And then things went awry. To quote my boyfriend, this kind of food requires getting the texture perfect, because otherwise you’ll just think about the missing butter, sugar, egg, flour. I imagine the results should be chewy and soft. My bars were in the oven perhaps five minutes too long, and fused to the paper liners, so after cooling, we could only eat the center and bits we salvaged from the paper. Maybe it was the brown rice syrup, maybe I should have checked at the 20-minute mark.

All I know is some paper was consumed, and the next morning, the bars were rock-solid and had to be microwaved to make them teeth-friendly. (Several PW staffers gamely tried them anyway and declared the results to be tasty). Still, I intend to make the bars again, partly because I don’t know what else to do with these ingredients, and partly because I’m not giving up on GP.

Bummer Bars

It’s All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen

1 ½ cups quinoa flakes

¼ cup ground flaxseeds

A pinch of fine sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup good-quality maple syrup

2 tablespoons brown rice syrup

½ cup chopped prunes or apricots

½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a brownie pan (we use a 9 x 11-inch dish that’s 2 inches high) with parchment paper or line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and pour the mixture into the brownie pan, or evenly divide it among the muffin cups. Pack the mixture down with a rubber spatula. Bake for ½ hour, or until the bars have firmed up and are golden brown. Let cool before removing from the pan or muffin cups. If you used a brownie pan, use the parchment to lift the bar out of the pan, and cut into rectangles. Serve right away or store in an airtight container.