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7 Secrets From a French Kitchen You’ve Been Wanting To Know

7 Secrets From a French Kitchen You’ve Been Wanting To Know

Ah the French! Effortlessly chic, enviably nonchalant and so very fit and healthy. The French may not have a reputation for being the friendliest of nations, but they sure can cook! Their cuisine is so famous, steeped in history and super healthy that it’s even been given UNESCO world heritage status. What’s the secret to their success? This article breaks down the seven “secrets” to French cooking that you too can put into practice in your very own cuisine!

1. Eat as fresh and as natural as possible.

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    With their rich, agricultural history, France is obsessed with using natural, fresh ingredients. The idea of microwave-meals and other pre-prepared, processed foods has never really caught on, as people take great pride in preparing food from scratch, no matter how busy they are. A weekly trip to the local fruit and vegetable market is an almost sacred tradition among the older generations, and most people prefer to buy their produce from a market than from a supermarket chain or grocery store. By buying the freshest and most organic food you can afford, you are sure of everything you’re putting in your body, cutting down your risk of disease and imbalances caused by the hormones and additives found in most processed foods today.

    2. Local and seasonal is always best.

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      The French seem to have an innate sense of what foods grow at different times of the year. I remember once using frozen raspberries to bake raspberry tart for my in-laws one December- it was met with looks of disbelief and I was told “you must be the only woman in the whole of France to bake with raspberries in the winter!”. French eating is governed by the seasons, and traditions have been built around the availability of certain foods at certain points in the year. But this is not just for quaint, old tradition’s sake – it’s a major money saver. Buying produce in season when it is at its cheapest can save you a lot on your weekly grocery shopping. Buying local is also more cost effective, better for the environment and a great support to local industry and agriculture.

      3. Let your ingredients be your seasoning.

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        French recipes don’t often call for a lot of salt or seasoning. They seem to know instinctively which ingredients to combine for complementary flavors: seafood with lemon, red meat with mustard, potatoes with hard cheese… the list goes on! To rely on your ingredients to flavor your dishes, you first need to learn how best to cook them to retain as much taste and flavor as possible. The French are big fans of steaming, grilling and braising- all healthy, fat-free ways to prepare delicious french meals.

        4. Fat is your friend!

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          Authentic French recipes will seldom require food to be prepared in olive oil or other “healthier” oils. The French love their butter, and they don’t skimp on the full fat milk or cream either! Many vegetable side dishes are even fried in lardons- very thin strips of bacon fat! And yet they have some of the lowest rates of heart disease and cholesterol in Europe! How is this possible? Fresh, organic dairy and other fat products are healthy (just as healthy as olive oil, which loses its health properties as soon as it’s heated up) as long as they are consumed in moderation, not more than three or four times a week, and not heated for prolonged periods of time.

          5. Waste not… want not!

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            Native Americans used every part of the buffalo- the French use every part of the carrot. French recipes have an ingenious way of finding a use for every part of the food- even the parts we usually throw away. Whether for seasoning and flavor (poultry or meat bones, the leaves of some vegetables) or as ingredients in their own right, such as carrot leaf soup. The French don’t like to waste food, and save themselves time and money by not doing so.

            6. Every meal is a celebration!

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              The idea of grabbing a quick bite to eat is completely alien here in France. You will never see a French person eating on the run. In fact, between the hours of 12:30 pm and 2:30 p most businesses shut down, shops close, pharmacies put up their “back soon” signs as the working world as we know it grinds to a halt. EVERYTHING shuts down for lunch. For the French, every meal is a celebration, the highlight of the day, and should be treated accordingly. Time should be taken to enjoy each part of the meal, accompanied by a drink of choice, whether wine, beer or water. The food, company and conversation should be savored. From childhood, the French are taught that food is a pleasurable and integral part of life, and therefore develop healthier eating habits as they grow up.

              7. Everything in moderation.

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                In France, they don’t believe in deprivation. In fact, even some food allergies and intolerance are met with disbelief! The french enjoy their treats- buttery pastries, cakes and tarts, cheese after every meal, chocolate and desserts, and they still are some of the thinnest on the European continent. How do they do it?The key is: everything in moderation. A French lady will allow herself a macaroon but not two, children are allowed dessert but only after a healthy meal, the business world wakes up to a croissant every morning, but won’t eat anything else until lunch. By allowing yourself to slowly savor and enjoy your food, you too will learn how to tell when your body is full, and not fall into the trap of overindulging in unhealthy treats!

                French cuisine has long been the envy of the rest of the world. But now you know some of their “secrets”, you too can enjoy healthy and delicious food à la française in your very own kitchen!

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                Bon appétit!

                Featured photo credit: Thinkstock Photos via thinkstockphotos.co.uk

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                Last Updated on January 17, 2019

                8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

                8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

                In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

                Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

                Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

                Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

                Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

                The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

                There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

                How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

                According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

                Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

                Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

                The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

                Listen carefully:

                We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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                The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

                Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

                8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

                There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

                Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

                1. Pray Daily

                You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

                When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

                Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

                Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

                2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

                A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

                By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

                Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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                If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

                This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

                How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

                3. Smile Often

                Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

                Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

                Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

                The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

                4. Organize Your Working Desk

                A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

                When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

                Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

                Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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                5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

                I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

                Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

                What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

                6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

                God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

                I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

                I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

                7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

                You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

                How do you do that? This is my formula:

                First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

                If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

                If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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                If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

                Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

                8. Go Exercise

                Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

                The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

                You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

                12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

                The Bottom Line

                It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

                It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

                Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

                More Resources About Mindfulness

                Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

                Reference

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