All posts in November 2014

  • Navigating the silly season.

    Bonjour,

    I can’t believe I just had my first Christmas function and we are not even in December yet. The silly season is officially on and with it comes the risk of having our diet totally off track for a few weeks at least if not until the end of January…

    The silly season is officially open! Enjoy!

    The silly season is officially open! Enjoy!

    Navigating the festive season without putting on too many kilos is always a challenge but it is critical: many studies show that the kilos that we put on during the holiday season are the hardest to lose. 95% of the time, they stay there on our belly or hips and add up every year. So it’s wise to think ahead and have a strategy ready. Many of my private clients ask me for a customised plan to help them stay healthy while having fun over the summer holiday. Their plan will of course vary according to how hard they play and how discipled they are with their diet and lifestyle.

    However here are 6 tips that we can all follow…

    SILLY SEASON 1: it’s all about hydration.

    Make your own super vitamin water: delicious -with no nasties!

    Make your own super vitamin water: delicious -with no nasties!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

       I am a big fan of  ‘harm minimisation’ approaches as they work while most radical deprivation options will inevitably fail or leave you frustrated and make you eat-binge eventually. The first harm minimisation tip is an obvious yet essential one: stay hydrated! Heat and alcohol consumption mean that you need to be even more mindful of getting enough water. And I’m not talking about a few glasses a day. I’m talking about 2 litres at least depending on how much alcohol you drink and how much exposed to the heat and sun you are.

    For each standard alcohol drink, you are likely to urinate 100ml more than you drink, leading to dehydration. So take any opportunity to have more water every day. Drink water first thing in the morning and last thing before going to bed. If you find plain water too boring, make your own multi-vitamin water by simply adding fruit like berries, lemons, oranges. Avoid sweetened pre-made drinks (like ice teas, energy drinks, sport drinks loaded with sugar). Reduce your coffee intake and instead drink heaps of green tea or herbal infusions (mint is very cooling for the body) throughout the day. Choosing fruits with high water and low sugar content like strawberries, melon or watermelon can also be a good way of increasing your water intake.

    SILLY SEASON 2: Alkalise! 

    Our diet during the Christmas season is highly acidic due to huge intake of meat, sugar and alcohol: it promotes inflammation, depletes your immune system, makes you feel tired, damages your skin and makes you inevitably put on weight! And we don’t want that! So it’s important to alkalise our body. Here is one quick fix: mix 3 tbs organic apple cider vinegar (acidic taste but alkalising food!) with 1 tbs honey in warm water and drink at least 3 times a day (you can do the same with lemon juice).  

    You know I personally don’t like green juices but I also have some when I need a quick alkalising fix. Cucumber + spinach + lemon + ginger + coconut milk is my favourite.

    SILLY SEASON 3: Red wine

    If you’re not ready to cut your alcohol intake down during the holiday season, it is then a good idea to look at the ‘healthiest’ options. Red wine is definitely one of them. Full of nutrients, great to thin the blood, packed with phyto-nutrients, powerful antioxidants that protect the artery walls from free radicals, it is a heart healthy food. Experts analysed the death rates associated with moderate intakes of red wine, beer and spirits and found that wine increased longevity while beer had no effects and spirits decreased longevity. Please enjoy red wine always, always, always with food (the full taste of wine reveals itself only when paired with the right food) and always, always, always in moderation! Find out more about why red wine is good for you on my blog post HERE.

    The best seafood with a view

    The best seafood with a view. I took this photo on the Ile de Re on the Atlantic coast last June.

    SILLY SEASON 4: Everything from the sea

    Fish and seafood instead of meat are definitely the best choices for your Xmas feast. White fish is a very easy to digest source of protein and minerals, fatty fish like sardine and ocean trout bring the best omega-3 and shell fish boosts libido and reproduction health – no bad for summer!

    If you haven’t tried it yet, please look at my shellfish bisque recipe on my blog post HERE: this very traditional French recipe is a winner and will impress your guests.

    Caviar is also a fantastic healthy food: it will give you a great dose of Vit B12 and omega-3, with anti-inflammatory properties you need to fight modern lifestyle diseases including overweight.

     

    SILLY SEASON 5: Lemon and ginger

    Grab plenty of (organic) lemons and a lot of fresh ginger, your 2 new best friends to cleanse your liver and recover from any hangover in no time. Wash and cut 3 lemons in 6 to 8 pieces and put all pieces (including skin, zest, flesh) in a pot. Add 1.5 litres of filtered water and bring to the boil. Store it in the fridge (with the lemon pieces still in the water). Drink warm first thing in the morning and throughout the day. If you don’t like lemons, blend some ginger. Then extract the juice and put it in a cup of hot water with some raw honey.

    SILLY SEASON 6: Champagne, sacre bleu!
    I had to finish with Champagne, French of course, THE celebratory and festive wine of choice. Quite low in calories (relatively ‘safe’ for your waistline), quality Champagne doesn’t trigger headaches – and we like that! If you want to enjoy its full flavour, don’t drink it with foods that neutralise it such asparagus, artichokes and chocolate. Remember: drink in moderation and always choose quality over quantity. More on why I LOVE Champagne on my blog post HERE.

     

    Subscribe to The Good Life France magazine, it's free!

    Subscribe to The Good Life France magazine, it’s free!

    Finally this might not help you survive the silly season but if you love Christmas, France and French food, you will love this new e-magazine, The Good Life France. I’m very proud to be one of the main contributors to this new magazine published by The  Good Life France, super popular blog, followed by hundreds of thousands France-lovers in Australia, New Zealand, UK… You can read it and subscribe for FREE here: http://joom.ag/lskb

    YOUR TURN NOW. Any tips about the silly season you would like to share with us?

    Have a fabulous start of the silly season!

    Yves 

     

  • Fruit: Yes or No?

    Bonjour,

    Summer is around the corner… Such a nice feeling… Summer is also the fruit season. From berries, cherries, mangoes to peaches and watermelon, the choice is endless.

    We’ve heard many times that “Fruits are super good for you” or “Have as many fruits as you can” or even “Eat fruit to lose weight”… 

    Well, think twice…My take on this is a bit more moderate.

    fruitsDid you know that fruits are rich in fructose, the type of sugar we want to avoid for good health? They weaken digestion if over-consumed, can cause digestive fermentation when eaten with other foods and tend to promote damp and cold in the body according to Asian medicine traditions. The problem is, many people end up eating way too much fruit – i.e. way too much sugar –  in particular kids. 

    But don’t get me wrong: fruits contain far too many beneficial nutrients to be avoided all together if you want good health. There are even critical for good health and will always be a great option compared to processed foods and most of animal foods. Fruits are packed with fibre so fructose is dramatically reduced when digested. Which is not the case with fruit juices! So please stay away from the fruit juices crazy diets: you actually have much more sugar than when you eat the whole fruit. Many juices are made with several pieces of fruit: they are real sugar bombs!

    With my private clients, I always look at their health condition and goals first to assess what quantity is good for each of them. So as always one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to nutrition.One or 2 pieces MAX a day is usually enough.  

    If you want to lose weight, it is usually better to limit your fruit intake while increasing the amount of vegetable, in particular your leafy greens.  I would also recommend to always choose low GI fruits over those with a high sugar content such as bananas. 

    HERE ARE MY TOP 3 (because I LOVE them and because of their health benefits):

    Blueberries... Everyday!

    Blueberries… Everyday!

    • Blueberries.

    Extremely rich in antioxidants, they are low in sugar, tonify the kidneys and the liver, and positively affect cardiovascular health: a recent study showed that having berries 3 times a week considerably reduces the risk of heart attacks for women. Enjoy while they are in season. But remember that once cooked or cut, the level of antioxidants drops so eat them raw. You can even find organic blueberries for the same price as the conventional ones at the moment! Frozen organic berries is also a good option when not in season.

    So beautiful...

    So beautiful…

    • Cherries

    What a wonderful fruit! One of the better food sources of Vit E, very high in fibre and Vit C, true antioxidants powerhouse, this is the perfect heart food, as suggested by its beautiful shape. Cherries can also play a role in helping the body ward off cancer and other serious conditions due to the accumulation of free radicals.

    Cherries are in full season now so enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. It can be an original addition to your Christmas (did I say Christmas already?) meals whether you use them in salads, with lamb or simply as dessert. However even if cherries are 80% water, they are quite high in sugar. So just like everything, apply this key French Paradox principle: quality (organic and local) over quantity!

    • Strawberries

    To Marguerite my great grandmother, strawberries meant the arrival of spring and warmer days but also a great digestion help for her clients: full of insoluble fibre, they help you get rid of constipation.

    The best are at your local farmers market.

    The best are at your local farmers market.

    Strawberries (when not sliced or cooked and still with their green caps) are also one of the best antioxidant powerhouses, which makes them a great ally to reduce risk of cancer, heart disease, and infection. By fighting free radicals, strawberries also promote brain health by preventing age-related cognitive declines.

    However please always buy organic: strawberries belongs to the ‘Dirty Dozens’, i.e. the 12 fruits most contaminated with cancer-causing pesticides. So hit your local food market and choose pesticide-free, local, bold red delicious strawberries  

     

    What about you? What is your favourite fruit?

    Bon appétit!

    Yves

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  • It’s all in the dressing!

    Bonjour,

    Salad dressing, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, BBQ sauce, oil sprays… We use dressing and sauces at each meal everyday. Small quantities each time but at EVERY meal, EVERY single day. So if you have the wrong dressing/sauce, even if your diet is the best on earth, it will harm your health. It also can be the reason why you can’t lose these last stubborn kilos – in particular if you choose the so-called ‘light’ sauces/dressings!

    Here’s an easy guide to help you navigate the confusing world of dressings and other sauces.

    SAY NO TO:

    • All ready-to-use dressings/sauces: full of colourants, pro-inflammatory vegetable oils, MSG, preservatives and sugar.
    • All ‘light’ sauces/dressings: they removed the fat and put more sugar and other nasties instead. Not good at all. I’ve even seen ‘light’ olive oil. What on earth is that?
    • All oil sprays: very often full of additives and nasties.
    • All soy sauces: all GMO and full of MSG. 

     

    THE BEST OPTIONS, inspired by the French traditional diet:

    Processed, ready-to-use dressings and sauces (I’ll say it again, full of colourants, pro-inflammatory vegetable oils, MSG, GMO, preservatives and sugar) have never been very popular in France. The simple idea of putting sugar in dressings or sauces is totally foreign to the French cuisine. It simply sounds DISGUSTING for many French. Making better choices helps them stay slim and healthy: they eat less sugar and pro-inflammatory refined oils – both at the root of most modern lifestyle diseases: weight issues, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s, allergies, cancer…

    At home, make your own. So simple, so good. You know what you put in them, you are in control. Only great produce (and if you can organic):

    • Onion and parsley, 2 great ingredients for a perfect dressing

      Onion and parsley, 2 great ingredients for a perfect dressing

      Olive oil. Choose the best as it will reveal all its flavours when used in dressings: extra virgin, cold pressed and organic.

    • Apple cider vinegar ideally, otherwise, balsamic vinegar (higher in sugar though)
    • Lemon juice: instead or in addition to vinegar
    • Dijon mustard: only the real French one – “Maille”, as shown on the picture. Most of the other brands are full of sugar.
    • Onions and garlic (more on garlic here)
    • Fresh herbs: mint, basil, parsley, coriander, dill…
    • Natural sea salt and pepper (more on salt here)

    Here are 3 inspiring recipes, very popular in France:

    There is only one REAL mustard: MAILLE!

    There is only one REAL mustard: MAILLE!

    1- Salad dressing

    • Ingredients: 3 cups olive oil, 2 shallots minced, 3 tsp Dijon mustard (French brand Maille is the best – there is NO sugar – simply real mustard!), 1 cup (more or less depending of your taste) of apple cider vinegar, 1 garlic clove minced, sea salt and pepper. All quantities can vary according to taste, in particular vinegar. I tend to put more Dijon Mustard…
    • Directions: put all ingredients (except for the vinegar) in a bowl and whisk. Pour the vinegar slowly and taste occasionally to see if there’s enough vinegar.
    • Tip: make a batch in advance and store in a glass jar/bottle in the fridge for 3 weeks at least. Shake before serving.

    2- Mayonnaise

    • Ingredients: 2 organic egg yolks, 1 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tbs Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/2 pepper, 2 tbs lemon juice
    • Directions: combine the egg yolks, salt, pepper, mustard and lemon juice in a ceramic or steel bowl (plastic or glass would ruin your mayonnaise!). Whisk until smooth. You can also use a blender but always with a a ceramic or steel container. Very slowly while whisking, add the oil, but just a little bit. When the mixture starts to cling to the slides of the bowl, then and only add the remaining oil in a very slow stream. Do not stop whisking until you get the right mixture. You can store your mayonnaise up to 3 days in the fridge.

    3- Pesto

    Once you’ve tried this recipe from Bondi Harvest, you will NEVER EVER buy pesto again!

     

    FOR YOUR BBQ:

    Ditch all processed sauces, NOW.

    Simply put in 4 different bowls: 

    • Dijon Mustard
    • Your home-made mayonnaise
    • Tahini 
    • Tomatoes paste mixed with some filtered water + salt, pepper and olive oil

     

    WHEN DINING OUT:

    It’s a bit challenging as we never know what they use… until we ask!

    • If you don’t want to take any risk, ask them not to put any dressing in the salad and ask them to bring you some olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice on the side. If they can’t do it, it’s clearly a sign of a- terrible bad service b- appalling food quality.
    • When it comes to the sauces, well, this can be tricky. You can ask not to have any sauce but it’s a bit sad. If it’s a good restaurant, have the sauce and enjoy but try not to go overboard.
    • Thai restaurants use a lot of sugar, Chinese restaurants a lot of MSG, and most of restaurants use very bad refined oils such as canola, cotton seed or undefined vegetable oils – as I saw yesterday in my favourite Japanese restaurants!
    • Do not have any ‘mayonnaise’ in a take-away sandwich, EVER. 

     

    If you say no to all processed sauces/dressings (including the ‘light’ ones) and swap for healthier (and so much tastier!) choices just like the French, it will go a long way towards a slimmer and healthier you! And much quicker than you think.

    So now it’s your turn! Try one or all of the 3 recipes I just gave you and tell me what you think!

    Bon appetit!

    Yves

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