Lay Off Me, I’m Starving! My Week on the GOOP Diet

I have never had to apologize to so many people in so few days as I did the week I tried Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP detox diet.

I don’t even remember why I decided to do the cleanse anyway. I’m not an unhealthy eater, but working in fashion had probably made me a little neurotic about my indulgent habits and full-fat allowances; and along the same lines as my decision to make Phish Food ice cream from scratch, I think I just wanted to see if it could be done. Plus, unlike most juice cleanses, which don’t allow you to chew a single solid thing for a week, Gwyneth’s detox involved real chicken, fish, fruits, and vegetables. There were actual lunches and dinners. I could totally handle it!

carrot-miso dressing
On Monday, the first night of the detox, I showed up at Irene’s doorstep grumbling both mentally and physically. The plan was to roast a whole fish: olive oil, salt, pepper, lemons, and herbs were allowed on the GOOP diet, even though I was already cheating by eating fish on my first night of the cleanse instead of waiting until the fourth night, and adding a serving of quinoa on the side—grains weren’t on the menu plan until day seven. (Day Seven? Really, GP?)

But after a morning of sipping coconut water in a futile attempt to kill my hunger, an afternoon of carefully rationed-out vegetables and pumpkin seeds was like throwing pennies down a well. I could almost hear the echo as the seeds fell into the empty cavern of my stomach. Poor Irene made the fatal mistake of offering me the usual post-work, take-the-edge-off glass of Riesling. “I CAN’T HAVE ANY WINE!” I exploded, like Chris Farley when you try to take his french fries away.

You can imagine how well the detox diet went from there. By Wednesday, the prospect of eating a hot breakfast of oatmeal with almond milk was enough to keep me going after two days of smoothies and lukewarm lemon water; by Friday, my resolve—and patience for tiny portions of miso soup—was crumbling faster than a piece of forbidden cornbread. An unexpected half day of work left me free in the city with a paycheck burning a hole in my pocket and a desire for a big plate of real food burning a hole in my gut. A bowl of mac and cheese ended the cleanse two days early.

carrot-miso dressing
I discovered two things from my week of deprivation. One: I really, truly, honestly like juicing. I can’t drink juice as my only sustenance, but I do love it. Two: the GOOP diet’s carrot-ginger salad dressing really is, as Gwyneth called it, “the jam!” Sharp and tangy, it reminded me of childhood trips to the hibachi bar (as exotic as we got in the hinterlands of Pittsburgh back in the day) and made the prospect of daily lunch salads almost bearable.

I’ve adapted the dressing to be even more pungent and punchy with the help of scallions and miso. Never cooked with miso? It’s a fermented soybean paste typically used in Japanese cuisine that’s basically the taste definition of umami: savory with hints of sweet and salt, adding just a little tickle and oomph to boost the flavors of sauces, marinades, dressings, or whatever condiment you’re working with.

Usually found in the prepared dips and spreads section of the supermarket (near the hummus and guacamole), miso comes in a few different varieties based on how long it’s been aged and whether it’s been blended with barley or rice. Start with the sweet or mellow white versions for this recipe and experiment with using it in other recipes—add a spoonful to your next batch of chicken soup or a dab to a steak marinade. Miso keeps forever in the fridge, so you’ve got time to play.

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  1. says

    Oh, man, Casey, you made me laugh this morning. Nothing like a true story of HANGRY to get you going. I’m not really into the whole cleansing thing, but if a delicious salad dressing like this comes out of it, then I say, “Awesome!”.

  2. Irene Kopitov says

    Its true. You were a very cranky hungry person. But this dressing looks fab. Any ideas how one could pull it off without a food processor? I’m stuck in the UK without my gadgets!!

    • Casey BarberCasey Barber says

      Irene, if you have any other gadget that can puree carrot strips – a strong carafe or immersion blender? – you can make the dressing. But you need something that’s going to pulverize the carrot, and I’m not sure anyone (even Chris Farley) has the Hulk-like strength to chop them fine enough by hand.

      The fish we ate that night was still so satisfying, even without the wine!

    • Casey BarberCasey Barber says

      Amy, I use unseasoned rice vinegar in my version, but if you prefer seasoned, then use whatever floats your boat!

  3. Cook says

    “Cleanses” and juice diets are a sad joke and, if taken for more than a day or two can be dangerous. Those who use them have simply been had by some marketing machine. If you’rer already smart and careful about your food, you simply do not need them. Don’t believe everything that you read and please, try not to be a fool.

  4. says

    Well, one good thing came out of your failed-cleanse. This salad dressing sounds divine. Gotta try it! Your story reminds me of this past Sunday, when I had to prep for a colonoscopy (ugh) and discovered that juices are pretty good and can tame an appetite. I was especially surprised to see how many apples went into one glass when I decided to take my pathetic self to Robeks and treat myself to fresh apple juice. (I stopped counting at seven.)

    • Casey BarberCasey Barber says

      Sheryl, just wait – if you’re now on the juice bandwagon, I’ve got a book giveaway on deck that’s right up your alley… coming soon!

  5. says

    I don’t know why I shy away from cleanses. Maybe it’s my attachment to food, or the fact I work in the food business…Maybe it’s just my head getting in the way of me just DOING IT. I don’t know. Regardless, I totally related to your story and loved every word of it. Makes me think that it’s just important to do the best that you can! Even if it involves quinoa early!

    • Casey BarberCasey Barber says

      Agreed, Brooke! I think it’s all about being mindful of what you’re shoving into your mouth – and making sure you’re balancing what you put in there. My biggest issue with the cleanse, in the end, was that I couldn’t have my soup with my fish, or my salad with my chicken. The portions were so measly that they weren’t giving me that sense of well-rounded satisfaction.

  6. says

    I don`t consider myself an unhealthy eater either, I rarely eat processed food. I cannot imagine going on a cleanse, when I start to get hungry I really angry. Although I must admit I did just take up running because the thought of drinking or eating less was so repulsive that running was the only logical option.