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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 16, 2019

                How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

                How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

                You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

                We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

                The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

                Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

                1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

                Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

                For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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                • (1) Research
                • (2) Deciding the topic
                • (3) Creating the outline
                • (4) Drafting the content
                • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
                • (6) Revision
                • (7) etc.

                Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

                2. Change Your Environment

                Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

                One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

                3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

                Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

                Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

                My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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                Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

                4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

                If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

                Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

                I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

                5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

                I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

                Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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                As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

                6. Get a Buddy

                Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

                I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

                7. Tell Others About Your Goals

                This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

                For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

                8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

                What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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                9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

                If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

                Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

                10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

                Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

                Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

                11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

                At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

                Reality check:

                I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

                More About Procrastination

                Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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