Gwyneth Paltrow’s Former In-House Chefs and Founders of Organic Pharmer Give Us Their Secrets to Clean Eating

Organic Pharmer team

Lee and Darleen Gross of Organic Pharmer; Image: Courtesy

It’s not easy to look like Gwyneth Paltrow. She may have teamed up with the notoriously carb- and fat-loving chef Mario Batali, but if there’s one thing the actress is not, it’s lax about her diet. Fittingly, she enlists help to make sure her meals are nutrient dense. Now, two of her former in-house chefs have teamed up with a renowned doctor to bring the meals Gwyneth loves to the masses (or at least the masses willing to spend $9.75 for a juice). In other words, looking like Gwyneth may have just gotten a little bit easier.

Called Organic Pharmer, the grab-and-go health food eatery and delivery service is co-owned by functional medicine specialist Dr. Susan Blum and chefs Lee and Darleen Gross. It offers organic juices, protein shakes, smoothies, salads, soups, cleanses and healthy side dishes, all of which are free of gluten, dairy, soy, corn and egg. All items follow principles of functional medicine, which according to Blum, means that “every ingredient has a medical reason for being there and contains nutrients that help your body work better.”

We spoke to the Grosses to find out more about macrobiotics and how these foods and cleanses are different from the laundry list of others available.


Image: Courtesy

theFashionSpot: Can you tell us a little bit about your backgrounds?

Lee and Darleen Gross: We are classically trained chefs [Darleen a pastry chef] and we both went on to study macrobiotics. We have opened restaurants in L.A. and New York and worked as private chefs and have contributed to cookbooks.

tFS: How did you connect with Gwyneth Paltrow?

LG and DG: We were studying macrobiotics at the Kushi Institute when a call came that she was seeking a personal chef. Lee went down to NYC to interview and was making lunch for Gwyneth and Madonna the very next day. I joined him a few weeks later.

tFS: What does being a personal chef entail?

LG and DG: Having a good understanding of your client’s preferences, planning meals, keeping the kitchen stocked, being adaptable to new environments (if travel is involved) and being very flexible because a dinner for two to three could turn into five to six at a moment’s notice!

tFS: How did Organic Pharmer come about?

LG and DG: Organic Pharmer is the brainchild of functional medicine doctor Susan Blum. In her practice, she recommends that her patients remove gluten, soy, corn, dairy and eggs in order to eliminate potential allergens that may contribute to their health issues. Dr. Blum wanted to make it easy for her patients and everyone else who wants to follow the principles of functional medicine and eat the cleanest way possible and with that, Organic Pharmer was born!

tFS: What exactly is functional food? 

LG and DG: Functional food incorporates ingredients that support specific health/healing needs and excludes foods that can cause symptoms, such as inflammation, poor digestion and fatigue.

tFS: Can you walk us through your average food day?

LG and DG: We eat with the understanding of how to maintain balance physically, mentally and emotionally. A typical day includes:

  • Breakfast: Miso soup, a soft-cooked whole grain and lightly cooked green vegetables or fruit.
  • Lunch: A whole grain, a variety of steamed or simmered veggies, a protein (beans, tofu or tempeh), a raw pickle (for probiotics) and a condiment (like a dressing or seasoning).
  • Dinner: Very similar to lunch with fish as the protein a few times a week; hot tea is usually taken after meals.

Image: Courtesy


tFS: What do you say to people who have a hard time eating healthy?

LG and DG: People will only have a hard time eating healthy until they change their daily eating habits, which will help to change the way they feel and how food tastes. People who eat processed foods regularly are accustomed to having severely manipulated (usually artificial) flavors. These flavors will coat your tongue and make it difficult to taste and enjoy the flavor of food in its natural state (like raw fruits & veggies) or gently cooked (not fried) and lightly seasoned. Try your best to stop eating processed foods and read labels! Only buy things with real food ingredients, reduce the amounts of sugar and salt you consume. Our very favorite tip is to cook your own food. You will learn to respect and appreciate it more and as a result you will be more conscious of what you are putting in your body.  



Image: Courtesy

tFS: What is your best healthy food tip?

LG and DG: Buy your produce fresh, often and process it minimally to get the best of the flavor and nutrition.

tFS: Which food myth drives you nuts?

LG and DG: Eating fat makes you fat.

tFS: If there’s one food you try to eat every day it’s…

LG and DG: A variety of fresh veggies.

tFS: Food aside, Organic Pharmer offers juice cleanses, which are very controversial. What do you say to people who think they basically entail paying a lot of money to starve?

LG and DG: Our juice cleanses follow the standards of functional medicine and are based on three fundamental principles. Each drink is clean (meaning low in sugar, no added chemicals or dyes and all ingredients certified organic or locally sourced organic). Each drink has a functional purpose; all of the nutrients in each juice will help the body work better. We add an herbal infusion to each juice to enhance its purpose and increase the effectiveness of the cleanse. Each cleanse has all the nutrients your liver needs to clear toxins out of your body. This means that they contain enough fat and protein (an area where many other cleanses fall short) in addition to potent antioxidants, vitamins and minerals naturally present in vegetable and fruit juices.

tFS: Can you suggest a recipe to help curb sugar cravings?

LG and DG: Sweet Vegetable Broth is a traditional macrobiotic remedy to help regulate blood sugar. Choose an assortment of sweet vegetables like hard orange squash (like butternut), onion, green cabbage, carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips and rutabaga. Chop very fine (can be done in food processor) and use 3:1 ratio of water to vegetables (for every cup of veggies use 3 cups water). Put veggies and cold filtered water in pot and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Next, strain and cool. The mixture can be kept in the fridge for up to one week. Drink 8 oz. of this warm in the afternoon when you would generally have a “sugar-crash.”

tFS: What about cheat days? Are they OK?

LG and DG: Yes, cheat days are OK but it’s never OK to gorge yourself on processed foods or candy because it’s a cheat day. You’ll just end up regretting it.