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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 September 18, 2020

                7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

                7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

                Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

                Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

                1. Exercise Daily

                It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

                If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

                Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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                If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

                2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

                Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

                One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

                This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

                3. Acknowledge Your Limits

                Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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                Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

                Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

                4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

                Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

                The basic nutritional advice includes:

                • Eat unprocessed foods
                • Eat more veggies
                • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
                • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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                Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

                  5. Watch Out for Travel

                  Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

                  This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

                  If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

                  6. Start Slow

                  Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

                  If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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                  7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

                  Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

                  My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

                  If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

                  I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

                  Final Thoughts

                  Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

                  Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

                  More Tips on Getting in Shape

                  Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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