Pleasure, health… and weight.

Bonjour,

After Brittany, Provence and Paris (If you missed the first part of my trip, find out more here), my 50-Shades-of-Green Tour de France took me to two very special places… Two very green places where delicious, real, local, whole French foods are celebrated every day. Two very special places very close to my heart that perfectly embody the health benefits of the French Paradox…

18 to 20 June: Aurillac

Marguerite's house.

Marguerite’s house… She knew to make the most how to French foods.

Marguerite uber-green organic garden

Marguerite uber-green garden

Like every year, I went back to Aurillac to reconnect with my healing food heritage. Aurillac, where I grew up,

The famous Salers

The famous Salers, the happiest cows

100% organic from Marguerite’s garden

is the capital city of one of the oldest French cheeses, Le Cantal. It’s also home to nurturing and healing, traditional slow-cooked dishes made with fresh whole French foods. Aurillac is in le Cantal, an area called ‘the Green Country’ due to its pristine nature (green fields and green mountains) where the Salers, the famous local cows (some are exported to Australia) live, eat and produce a wonderful milk. No wonder why you can get the best cheese, butter and crème fraiche.

I spent 3 days in Aurillac where all my family lives to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday. What a feast! In particular these incredible choux a la crème (little cakes filled with Chantilly…). And many other little pleasures: fresh cherries picked in Marguerite my great grandmother’s garden, fresh eggs from hens living freely in the greenest pastures, the best lamb from the neighbours’ field… Reconnecting here with my family heritage, in this house where Marguerite, my guide, was a popular cook and health practitioner in the 1920s means a lot to me.

 

21 June to 5 July: Ile de Ré

Green Ile de Ré with so many delicious French foods!

The best clams

The best clams

The best oysters

The best oysters

The best seafood with a view

The best seafood with a view

I spent all my summers on this tiny island off the Atlantic coast since I was 10. I have not missed one single summer ever since, even now that I live in Australia. The court of Henri IV loved staying in the Ile de Ré. There is a ‘je-ne-sais-quoi’ there. Everything is beautiful, quiet and peaceful. 12 whites villages and gorgeous little houses. All shutters and doors have to be green (by law). Time seems to have stopped here. You eat the best French foods… the best strawberries (called Marais des Bois), the best unrefined sea salt, the best oysters, the best salted caramel, the best clams. We fished more than 10 kgs of clams at low tide and cooked them in many different ways: simply with some local white wine produced on the island, onions and olive oil, with freshly made pasta, or even stuffed with bacon.

I also could not help making my own ‘bisque’. Marguerite my great grandmother used to love her ‘bisque’. The bisque is this very delicate French soup you make by using shells of shellfish (Marguerite used crayfish as she did not have access to seafood in Le Cantal). The bisque is not only a delicious soup dish but it is also highly nutritious and light. Once you make one, you will never, ever again throw away all the leftover shells you get when you eat crabs, lobsters, or even prawns. Omega-3 brain food, vitamins A, D and B vitamins, zinc, copper, chromium and anti-cancer selenium… The list of benefits is endless for this very luxurious, indulgent, festive yet super healthy dish. It may seem daunting but it is quite simple to make. Give it a go,  your guests will be hugely impressed!

The best Bisque (mine!) with so many super delicious French foods!

The best Bisque (mine!)

Shellfish Bisque

Ingredients: For 500 grs of shell, you will need 200 grs red onions, 250 gr tomatoes puree, 1 leek, 1 celery stick, 1 or 2 cups of white wine (I sometimes use French Champagne!), 1,5 of filtered water (or fish stock even better), 4 tsp of fish sauce, a lot of pepper (cayenne is good), bay leaf, olive oil and crème fraiche.

Directions: Cook the onions with olive oil until soft. Add the shells and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. In a pot, put all water or fish stock, add all sliced vegetables, shells with onions, tomato puree, Champagne, fish sauce and simmer for 20 to 30mn. Put everything into a blender and then into a strainer (to avoid any remaining small bits of shell). Serve hot with some crème fraiche and fresh dill or parsley on top. Freeze some and you will always have a light nutritious dinner very handy when you don’t have the time to cook.

 

Now I know you’re dying to know: did I put on weight after 4 weeks of so many delicious French foods?

Honestly? No, I did not…  How come, as I did eat a bit too much, had wine and indulged in desserts every day?  Well it all comes down to the unique truth: I ate real food… 80% of my meals were home-cooked with fresh, local, whole food.. and love. I also walked, cycled and swam a lot. Each day was about celebrating, enjoying every single minute, being present in the moment. Each meal was beautiful and sacred. No guilt. Pure joy. Bliss. As you know, ‘Real Food + Pleasure + Positive attitude to Food = Health’ is my motto, based on the benefits of the French Paradox. It definitely works… Would you like to try?

As usual, please take action now. Go to the fish market, get some shellfish, keep the shells and make my delicious Bisque…

Or call me if you want to know more about my motto and how you could enjoy its benefits too. It’s your turn!

Bon appétit!

Yves

 

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