Get the Gwyneth glow in time for Christmas! SARAH VINE embarks on the Hollywood star's beauty detox (...and surprisingly she says it really works) 

  • Sarah Vine said: 'I'm not a Gwyneth fan. Too shiny, too blonde, too skinny' 
  • But the columnist embarked on the Hollywood star's beauty detox 
  • To her surprise she says it worked and she has received positive comments  

To be perfectly honest, Gwyneth Paltrow is probably the last person I'd look to for advice on festive season over-indulgence.

I'm not a Gwyneth fan. Too shiny, too blonde, too skinny. And just, well, so annoyingly functional.

I mean, what kind of a person grows up as Hollywood royalty (her father was Bruce Paltrow, a director and producer, her mother a successful TV and film actress) and doesn't end up having at least one prolonged stay at The Priory?

To be perfectly honest, Gwyneth Paltrow is probably the last person I'd look to for advice on festive season over-indulgence

That said, I fully admit that my hostility towards her is a) irrational, and b) borne entirely out of jealousy. Paltrow is the sort of person I always longed to be, the kind of sweet, girl-next-door blonde that men adore and women revere, the sort who looks just lovely wafting through a cornfield in a pretty summer dress.

Even more annoyingly, she's sharp as well as beautiful. She can act. She has a good business brain on her. She knows her own worth (and how many women can say that about themselves?). When she started her 'superblog' Goop back in 2008, however, I thought she might at last have taken a wrong turn. It was unintentionally hilarious.

She appeared to have very little self-knowledge, sharing her impossibly lavish lifestyle with no trace of humility, clearly so entranced by her own fabulousness it never occurred to her that the world wouldn't feel similarly.

The pretentiousness was off the scale. 'When I pass a flowering zucchini plant in a garden, my heart skips a beat,' she once wrote. 'I'd rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a can,' she told Jonathan Ross.

At one point she became very vocal about the cognitive properties of water, citing the 'research' of one Dr Emoto (who published his 'findings' in a coffee table book).

Emoto placed labels that said things such as 'I Love You' or 'Peace' on vials of polluted water, and after 24 hours, they produced gleaming, perfectly hexagonal crystals,' she told Goop readers. The world roared with laughter.

But the truth is, as much as we loved to loathe our girl, we kept coming back for more.

Traffic to the site grew steadily and in 2013 Businessweek conceded that 'its appeal begins to wash over you like the warm ocean off Santa Barbara, and after a while you stop laughing at those $935 leather-and-gunmetal pants from Rag & Bone. Instead, you want to own them.'

That sentiment pretty much encapsulated my experience with this new book of hers, Goop Clean Beauty. Although Paltrow has expressed a desire to step back from the brand in the near future and pays many tributes to her 'team', her fingerprints are all over this.

And, much as I wanted to rebel against it, I can't tell a lie: it's a bloody good beauty and general health guide.

So determined was I to give Paltrow a fair hearing that I decided the best way to test her advice was to embark on her beauty detox, which comprises the biggest chapter in the book and promised to give me a 'palpable glow'.

Highly improbable, but I thought I would give it a go anyway.

I'm not a Gwyneth fan. Too shiny, too blonde, too skinny. And just, well, so annoyingly functional

I began by familiarising myself with Gwyneth's list of banned substances. In no particular order: caffeine, alcohol, dairy, eggs, beef, pork, shellfish, raw fish, gluten, soy, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, oranges, bananas, corn, white rice, added sugar or peanuts.

Basically anything you ever want to eat.

Madder still was the shopping list. I like to think of myself as a woman of the world, but I had never heard of half the ingredients, let alone seen them on the shelves at my local supermarket.

Wholegrain teff flour, wakame, bonito flakes, coconut sugar, white miso paste, snow peas, scallions, kimchi, chipotle powder, tamari, dashi, kohlrabi. An awful lot of cavolo nero (a fashionable Italian cabbage, it turns out).

Once I had worked out that snow peas and scallions were just American for sugar snaps and spring onions, however, I was surprised at how easily I got hold of most of these ingredients. All but one was available on Ocado, and that I picked up easily at the local health shop.

The recipes themselves are simple to knock together, and surprisingly tasty. I found myself supplementing many of them with roasted sweet potatoes (not on the banned list) just to add a bit of bulk.

But things such as her chocolate milkshake smoothie (made with cacao, almond milk and avocado), her creamy morning porridge and her grain bowls were properly delicious and very satisfying.

I found too that her ideas were remarkably clear and adaptable. After I had grasped the basic principles, it was easy to start making up my own recipes.

For example, I managed to concoct a fantastic turkey broth using white miso paste, cavolo nero, spring onions and some leftover meat from her turkey burgers.


Eating organic gives your body a lighter detox load but it can be difficult to find, and afford, an entirely organic stock of produce. 

So start with the ‘dirty dozen’ — the most popular fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide contamination — and worry less about choosing organic for the ‘clean 15’, which studies show absorb minimal pesticides and fertilisers. 

The dirty dozen











Cherry tomatoes


The clean 15












Honeydew melon


Cantaloupe melon


To be fair, my husband grated half a block of Parmesan on it and ate it with crusty white bread and butter — but the principle was sound.

The key thing about this sort of food is that it triggers none of the usual salt/fat/sugar pleasure sensors. So it feels a little, well, empty at first. But your tastebuds soon get used to the new textures and sensations, helped by the variety of flavours on offer.

In fact, I rather enjoyed my little detox journey, not least because it seemed to work.

The more of this stuff I consumed, the less of the other stuff I craved. And people kept telling me how nice I looked. One even mentioned the g-word (glow), although they didn't specify whether it was 'palpable' or otherwise.

There were only two real difficulties: coffee and alcohol. I didn't even bother giving up the former; I cut down substantially on the latter, but not entirely — it is Christmas after all.

Even so, I looked better and felt more energised.

I've also taken quite a bit away from the book. Quite a few of these new techniques have made their way into my everyday cooking.

The turkey burgers are a huge hit with the children, who, frankly, would be horrified if they knew how healthy they were. And the discovery of coconut sugar and white miso has been a revelation.

As for the chocolate milkshake smoothie... well, it's a hit both as a breakfast staple and tarted up with a few chopped nuts and chilled for a post-supper dessert.

In short, damn you, Gwyneth Paltrow, damn you.


Terrifically Tempting Turkey burgers

Easy to make, and satisfying enough for non-detoxing friends and husbands.

Serves 1-2

  • ¼ cup packed kimchi, with the liquid squeezed out
  • 2 large spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced (or grated)
  • ½ pound ground dark turkey meat
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • 4 baby gem lettuce leaves
  • Thinly sliced red onion, to taste
  • ½ large or 1 small avocado, sliced

Place the kimchi and spring onions in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the tamari, carrot, garlic and turkey. Use your hands to mix well, then divide into 4 equal patties. You can make these up to 1 day in advance and refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.

To cook, heat a grill pan over mediumhigh heat. Brush the pan with oil and grill the burgers for about 3 minutes per side, or until very firm to the touch.

Serve the burgers on baby gem lettuce leaves with red onion and avocado.


Chocolate smoothie milkshake

This taste like a chocolate milkshake but is detox-friendly and actually very good for you.

It’s perfect to drink in the morning after a workout or as a sweet treat after a light dinner.

Serves 1

  • 240ml (half a pint) almond milk
  • 1/8 large avocado
  • 2 pitted dates
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 2 teaspoons cacao powder
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 2 to 4 ice cubes, optional

Mix ingredients in a powerful blender and blitz until smooth.


Porridge with blueberries

This warming porridge, made creamy with almond and coconut milk, is packed with calcium, protein and fibre thanks to oats and teff flour (a traditional gluten-free Ethiopian grain). Blueberries and ground cinnamon are a good antioxidant-rich combo, but feel free to play around with other ‘clean’ toppings.

Serves 2

  • ½ cup almond milk
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • Pinch salt
  • 2/3 cup oats
  • ¼ cup whole-grain teff
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Ground cinnamon

Combine 1 cup water, the almond and coconut milk, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Add oats and teff, stir to combine. Turn the heat down to a low simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until the oats are cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Stir in the coconut oil and top with blueberries and cinnamon.

Adapted by Louise Atkinson from Goop Clean Beauty by The Editors of Goop, published by Sphere on December 29 at £20. ©

Goop Inc 2016. To order a copy at £16 (offer valid until January 2 2017, P&P free), visit or call 0844 571 0640.

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