All posts in May 2014

  • My gluten-free month (part 1)

    Bonjour,

    What should I eat? “It’s simple. Go gluten-free” seems to be the mantra of some nutritionists and celebrity chefs as the answer to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancers, and other diet-related diseases. 

    Just like some of my clients, you also might be tempted to say no to gluten… But first of all what is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in certain grains, including wheat, rye, barley and spelt. It gives elasticity and volume to bread, cakes, brioches, pasta, pizza. It is also widely used in the food industry to a point that it is very difficult to find processed foods that don’t contain gluten (dairy or ice creams included!). Back in the 70s, Robert Atkins led the way in the war against grains with his popular Atkins Diet. 2 new best sellers, Wheat Belly by William Davis and Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, push it even further and make gluten the No.1 enemy of our plates. Not to mention the Paleo diet craze, which bans all types on grains.

    bread

    Gluten-free bread? Me? No way!

    I know the power of foods and how some can create health and heal while others can cause diseases. A few people including some of my clients told me that cutting gluten out of their diet seem to heal their abdominal discomfort, muscle and joint pain, skin rash, digestion issues, fatigue and even depression. I constantly experiment with foods and nutrition as part of my job. And I love challenges! Even if I very rarely recommend a gluten-free diet to my clients (gluten-free doesn’t get along well with the French Paradox theory!), I wanted to know if it would have any positive impact on my health and well-being. 

    A huge challenge for me as it meant I had to give up on bread… I honestly was in panic mode: no bread, really? Wait a minute, no bread? No bread at all? How will I cope without my organic wholemeal bread from the Grumpy Baker, my favourite bakery in Sydney… Yes I know, when it comes to real good food, I’m a bit crazy: I drive a few kilometres every weekend to Vaucluse to get my bread. No gluten also means no croissants either, by the way… Oh God! Noooooo! Then I remembered that I took on an even more impossible challenge when I decided not to eat bananas for a year even though it was at that time my favourite fruit. If I could cope with no bananas for 12 months, I certainly could manage a month with no gluten!

    The challenge was definitely worth it. Here are the first 5 things I learnt and an amusing video (I’m sure it will make you smile!):

    1- It’s a fantastic conversation starter. As soon as I said that I was off gluten, every one had a say. Clients and friends who know how much I love bread were in total shock: Not you! Are you mad? However some people were surprisingly very supportive as they were genuinely convinced that gluten was very bad: Awesome! Good on you! I should do the same! Gwyneth does it too… Welcome to the Paleo tribe!

    2- Gluten? Uh… Well… (Blank – Silence). When I asked them why gluten was so bad and what gluten was, no one was able to give me a clear answer. It looked a little bit like this video. I’m sure it will make your day just like it did mine! Watch the video HERE. 

    3- More energy? Yes. I think I have more energy and did not feel tired despite my crazy hours. But whether it came from being off gluten or from loading my diet with even more green vegetables and gluten-free grains to feel fuller, I’m not sure.  This high level of energy could also have come from the excitement of working on new projects. Stay tuned.

    (Re) Discover ancient gluten-free grains...

    (Re) Discover ancient gluten-free grains…

    4- I had a blast with gluten-free grains! The challenge was to find whole gluten-free grains… Actually the choice is endless. I already was a big fan of quinoa and amaranth and discovered millet (quick tip: millet needs to be roasted first), corn and chestnut flours. Buckwheat (even if it doesn’t sound like it, buckwheat doesn’t contain wheat and therefore doesn’t contain gluten) brought me a great surprise: I found the best French buckwheat crepes made at my local farmer’s market. I also happily rediscovered polenta and couscous: so yummy, rich and satisfying. Try these 2 fabulous recipes of polenta (see below), a very popular dish in the South East of France, in particular in Nice, capital city of the French Riviera.

    5- Gluten-free products: Yuk! The food industry very quickly jumped on the $$$ gluten-free business: they developed a range of so-called ‘healthy’ gluten-free products but actually replaced gluten by even nastier ingredients… Salt, sugar, binding agents, artificial emulsifiers, bad fats… Stay away from these products… unless they are pure gems like Mary’s Crackers…

    More on these yummy nutritious super healthy crackers and whether my gluten-free diet had an impact on my weight… next week!

    And you?  What is your experience with or without gluten?

    Please leave your comment below and share this article. I would love to hear from you.

    Bon appétit,

    Yves

    2 DELICIOUS RECIPES

    Polenta is easy to prepare and very versatile. Once you have made some soft polenta, you can then use it to make to-die-for polenta chips or simply enjoy it chargrilled. Always choose organic to avoid GMO corn. Try these fabulous super easy recipes of polenta, a very popular dish in the south east of France, in particular in Nice, capital city of the French Riviera. Your guests and your kids will LOVE them!

    Soft polenta with crème fraiche

    Ingredients for 4: 1 liter of filtered water (you can also use organic chicken broth instead for a stronger flavour and a very nutritious dish), 250 grms of instant polenta, 2 large tablespoons of butter, 1 cup of grated Parmesan, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    Bring the water to boil in a large pan. Slowly stream in the polenta, whisking continuously. Once mixed, continue to stir over the heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add the butter, parmesan, salt and pepper. You can add some water for the right consistency. Add a splash of organic crème fraiche (optional but fantastic for the taste but also to add good bacteria) and serve.

    Black and green olives and dried tomatoes polenta chips (backed in olive oil or duck fat)

    Black and green olives and dried tomatoes polenta chips (backed in olive oil or duck fat)

    Back and green olives and dried tomatoes polenta chips

    Ingredients: soft polenta for 4, dried tomatoes, black and green olives, olive oil (or duck fat, fabulous taste!), lemon juice, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper

    Mix your soft polenta (see first recipe) with a cup of chopped olives and dried tomatoes. Pour into a baking dish and refrigerate for 1 hour.

    Cut the polenta in 1 to 2 cm large / 5 cm long fingers. Put the fingers into a buttered baking tray and brush them with olive oil or duck fat. Add some sea salt. Place in a pre-heated oven (220) for 15 to 20 minutes, turn and cook for another 15 minutes until crisp. You can add a dash of lemon juice.

    Now, close your eyes… Yes, you are in Nice, on the French Riviera!

    Nice, French Riviera

  • black mountain

    Sweeping vistas, marching woodlands, tumbling streams and incredible clifftops unfold as you wind your way along 400 miles of mountain roads.
    read more