Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/5/2010 (2660 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Mireille Guiliano says it's a shame that her book French Women Don't Get Fat always ends up in a book store's diet section. In her view, it is chronically misfiled.
"It's the ultimate non-diet book, because diets give you a prescription. Do this, don't do that, eat this, don't eat that! In France we eat everything but we have a different approach to food," she says. "The main thing is it is based on pleasures which are totally lost in the American way of eating."
So to remedy the loss of pleasure in eating, and to meet the demands of her legions of fans, Guiliano has just released The French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook (Atria Books, $32), a cookbook that demonstrates in practical culinary terms Madame's philosophy of her "three P's". And that means no denial. And no guilt.
"So you can have everything, but it is looking at what I call the three 'P's' -- pleasures, portion and plan -- but the plan is very personal. Your life is very different than mine in what you like to eat compared to what I like to eat and how you cook, so it is a kind of a template to guide you about how to change."
Why French Women Don't Get Fat: Le Summation
Guiliano's advice really comes down to cultivating a more refined life overall, a decidedly feminine approach (in the very best sense of the word) where paying attention to one's food, movement and attitude will pay off not only in a more satisfying life, but a lovelier one as well.
Here are a few of the key points of her three P's philosophy:
The pleasures come from eating and savouring what you truly love and enjoying the manner in which it is eaten, from taking the time to sit down, to sharing it with good company. This is balanced with portion, by eating slowly enough to recognize when you are full, not overfull. And using your head to determine what constitutes enough of something a little more decadent versus against something lighter.
"It's proven that it takes your brain 20 minutes to know that you're full and most people eat (a meal in) between six and 12 minutes. So it's wasted calories (if you eat too fast)," she says.
The planning comes from looking ahead and thinking about including a quality balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat, as well as allowing yourself to compensate (not punish) for an indulgence earlier in the day or the evening before.
"You could never punish a French person! I give the example of when we go out for dinner; you never discuss your weight problems, calories or diet. But everyone will have a glass of champagne, a red wine, some bread, some dessert, some cheese. But guess what? The next morning, we don't have two croissants for breakfast! So there is that kind of balance to the week and we don't obsess about it," she says. "We do obsess about food but we don't have a bad relationship with food. I think in the Anglo-Saxon world you tend to make food the enemy. It amuses me when I read about 'guilty pleasures.' Pleasure should not be guilty."
How do you balance indulgence with compensation? First of all, enjoy the indulgence. The compensation should come after the indulgence (so you are not tempted to starve yourself and then over-indulge.) To lose weight, make the compensations just slightly more than the indulgences.
"It's a system based on you eat what you're going to spend, and if you eat more than what you spend, you get fat. Getting healthy is not as complicated as you might think."
Eat three times a day and include carbohydrates, protein and healthy fat at every meal.
"Carbs are very important, and what happens when you eliminate them is your mind, and your metabolism will punish you and you will binge."
Sit down to eat.
Drink that water. Don't just carry it around.
Find opportunities to walk everywhere you can. Make it part of your day and not just a dedicated exercise time (which is harder to maintain).
"You don't need to go to a gym. Very few French women would go and pay money to use those machines, because they walk everywhere.
"I say start with two or three things that are easy for you, like the water, like the walk, like the yogurt, and build it up. I often get letters from women who say, 'I can't believe I am only doing three things and I am melting down.' Well of course!"
You can visit Guiliano's websites at www.mireilleguiliano.com and www.frenchwomendontgetfat.com. In the meantime, here are three recipes very much in the Gallic spirit of doing a little bit to get a good result.
"I want to entice people to cook -- and that's why my recipes are easy and fast and you can't fail them. They are quick and affordable and delicious. Because even if you only begin by cooking on the weekend, or once a week, it will make a difference, and your kids and spouse will notice it. And then little by little, the lifestyle will get into it and, wow, what a difference!"
Miracle breakfast cream
A friend of Guiliano's alters this recipe by substituting a half a squeezed orange (with pulp) for the honey and lemon, and some ground whole rolled oats for the cereal. It is very tasty also.
90 to 125 ml (4 to 6 tbsp, about 1/2 cup) plain yogurt
5 ml (1 tsp) flaxseed oil
15 to 30 ml (1 to 2 tbsp) lemon juice (organic preferably)
5 ml (1 tsp) honey
30 ml (2 tbsp) finely ground cereal (with zero sugar such as Post Shredded Wheat)
10 ml (2 tsp) finely ground walnuts
Put the yogurt in a bowl and add the oil. Mix well. Add the lemon juice and mix well. Add the honey and mix well. (It is important to add each ingredient one at a time and mix well to obtain a homogeneous preparation)
Finely grind the cereal and walnuts (you can use a small food processor).
Add to the yogurt mixture and mix well. Serve at once.
Time saver: You can do a week's worth of grinding cereal/nuts mixture and keep it refrigerated so in the morning it will take just a few instants to mix the yogurt with the oil (you will not taste the oil in the final creamy blend), add the lemon juice, honey, and your daily dose of cereal/nut mixture. Et voila! Serves 1.
Asparagus with yogurt dressing
500 g (1 pound) asparagus, trimmed
125 ml (1/2 cup) coarsely chopped fresh basil
175 ml (3/4 cup) 2 per cent Greek-style yogurt
Salt and freshly ground pepper
30 ml (2 tbsp) unsalted butter
15 ml (1 tbsp) hazelnut oil
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the asparagus for 1 minute. Drain and reserve 4 spears. Place the remaining asparagus in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
When chilled, drain and pat dry. Finely chop the reserved 4 asparagus spears and place in a medium bowl. Add the basil and yogurt and stir to combine. Season to taste and reserve.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the blanched asparagus and sauté until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Season to taste, drizzle with hazelnut oil, and place in a serving dish. Spoon the yogurt dressing over the asparagus and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Chicken au Champagne
4 chicken breasts (with skin and bone)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Chervil, tarragon or thyme (optional)
250 ml (1 cup) Champagne (Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut recommended)
1 shallot, quartered
Cooked brown rice for serving
Place the chicken breasts in a roasting pan and season them.
Pour 125 ml (1/2 cup) of the Champagne over the breasts. Make a slit in each breast and insert a piece of shallot.
Place the pan under the broiler, skin side down, for 3 minutes, until the skin is nicely browned. Turn and broil the other side for 5 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the broiler, baste with the pan juices, and add the remaining 125 ml (1/2 cup) Champagne. Add additional herb, if using.
Adjust the oven temperature to 240C (475F) and bake the chicken for 30 minutes, basting once or twice. Serve over brown rice. Pour the cooking juices from the chicken over the meat and rice. Serve the remainder of the bottle of Champagne (about 6 glasses) with the meal. Serves 4.