Heirloom Meals: Savoring Yesterday's Traditions Today

Saturday January 09, 2016

Carole's Cookbook Picks:
French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano

French Women Don't Get Fat


We have an image of French women being perpetually stylish, perfectly-coiffed and svelte, wearing a petite boatneck tee paired with a cropped skinny-leg pant. What is the secret to maintaining such proportions, when American women can’t seem to succeed at any one of the many diets they take on? In French Women Don’t Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano breaks through the French paradox, explaining that it is not a trendy refusal to eat carbs or a strict plan consisting of protein alone that amounts to a sustainable lifestyle. It is the continued practice of eating for pleasure, albeit in moderation, which allows French women to revel in life’s indulgences and enjoy a healthy physique.

Mireille’s own struggles with weight gain as a French teenager studying abroad in the United States revealed the central issues of hefty portion size and automatized eating as the blame for American women’s unhealthy relationship with food. To start the weight-loss process and initiate the track towards healthy behaviors, Mireille suggests her recipe for Magical Leek Soup, a broth made simply of boiling leeks in water which one drinks several times throughout the day for 48 hours. She relies on this soup for immediate results after particularly indulgent periods throughout the year.

Another trick is homemade yogurt, which Mireille loves including with breakfast or as a light snack or dessert. She praises the millions of bacteria in yogurt which promote healthy digestion and suggests pairing with a bit of honey, cinnamon, or fresh berries to make it more palatable than eating on its own. Mireille, however, prefers it plain, loving the tart, creamy combination that brings pleasure to every bite. She gives two recipes, one with a yogurt maker and one without. The latter involves just two ingredients, simply adding the heated milk to a starter, leaving the mixture to set in a warm place overnight, and refrigerating for another 8 hours before serving.

When you have overcome these slightly more challenging weeks, Mireille gives recipes that are truly indulgent in their flavor, though still adhering to the rule of manageable portion sizes. The Chocolate-Espresso Faux Soufflé retains its namesake’s style and flair, but is simpler in preparation so that you can serve it for entertaining without fear that the soufflé will fall. Relying on the intense flavors of dark chocolate and espresso alone, there is no need for added sugar, making this a surprisingly light and delectable treat.

Combining her not-so-strict eating plan with frequent but basic exercise (I’m not talking sweating it out on the treadmill!) gives her readers peace and freedom in their approach to leading a practical lifestyle. She uncovers the mystery behind the French woman’s build, making it clear that it is not luck but the occasional indulgences which bring them happiness and health.