Simply Savor: "Go French" for the New Year

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Instead of trying out a new fad diet or a brutal boot camp regiment this New Year's, why not try something new, something savory?
Savoring each moment and enjoying a delicious life is the motto of Mireille Guiliano's best-selling book French Women Don't Get Fat. In her memoir laden with anecdotes and delicious recipes, Guiliano reveals the ultimate secret of how French women stay slim without sacrificing some of their favorite foods including chocolate, cheese and fresh pastries. How is it that French women can eat two three-course meals with wine daily but still manage to maintain a healthy body weight?
According to Guiliano, French women aren't work out maniacs. They don't spend their time trying to compensate for yesterday's overeating. French women aren't calorie counters either. If you go to a restaurant in France, you won't find Weight Watcher points next to each entrée.
French women don't eat salads as meals. In fact, French food often is wonderful because it is so rich. How sad would French cuisine be if you removed all of the delicious and rich foods they so enjoy? No buerre blanc, no cafe au lait, no creme brulee?

The difference between French women and American women, the secret that Guiliano shares with her readers is simple -- enjoyed moderation. This may sound like an oxymoron, but that's becuase her definition of moderation is different than most. Moderation isn't skipping out on dessert because you had an enormous cheeseburger for dinner. No, according to Guiliano, "Less is more...a single piece of fine dark chocolate can be as enjoyable as a dozen Snickers bars."

The portions that the French eat are much smaller than those enjoyed by Americans. In fact, I would say that a serving of salmon at Chez Clement in Paris was about 1/3 the size of that served in American restaurants. This certainly didn't make it taste any less delicious; in fact, the feeling of being comfortably full rather than stuffed after eating out in Paris was refreshing. 

How else do French women abide by this "less is more" motto? How can you be more French this new year?

French women don't eat fast food. They don't eat in their cars or in front of the TV. They eat in open-air cafes and enjoy the sights and smells around them without distraction. 

Go French: Take Guiliano's advice when she says, "Think about what you are eating, smelling and savoring every bite. Describe to yourself the flavors and textures in your mouth."

The French don't grocery shop at BJ's or Wal-Mart. French women go to the market for their food, and they only purchase what they need for meals for that day and possibly the next. They don't keep large quantities of food around that could be tempting for snacking or overeating.

Go French: Visit your local farmer's market and purchase some fresh fruits and veggies. Don't stock up on food that you don't need, and don't be afraid to try new things! My recommendation for healthy, well-priced food? Trader Joe's

Check out Guiliano's site for excerpts from her book, delicious recipes and cooking videos. She also offers a Web-based French Women Don't Get Fat program where you can take a "How French are your eating habits quiz?" and subscribe to a weekly newsletter, receive daily meal plans, healthy recipes and grocery lists.

Here is one of her recipes for your dining pleasure. I wish you a safe, happy and savory New Year! 
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Serves 8

I always prefer this cake the next day. It’s a perfect, rich dessert for cool weather. There is no need to refrigerate it -- just cover loosely with waxed paper and keep it in a cool place. If refrigerated, make sure to take it out at least 2 hours before serving.

8 ounces dark chocolate
8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for buttering pan
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
¼ cup Grand Marnier or orange-flavored liqueur
6 tablespoons cornstarch

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Brush a 4-cup ring mold or a 9-inch springform pan with butter.

3. Chop the chocolate and melt it in a bowl set above a simmering pan of water. Remove and let cool. While the chocolate is cooling, cream the butter in a mixing bowl.

4. Pour the cooled, melted chocolate into the mixing bowl with the butter and beat for 2 minutes. The mixture should be thick. Set aside.

5. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Start adding the sugar, beating at high speed, until the eggs are thick and very pale yellow (6 to 8 minutes). Both the egg-sugar and chocolate butter mixtures should have a similar consistency.

6. Beat the chocolate-butter mixture into the egg-sugar mixture and add the Grand Marnier. Beat another minute to mix. Sift the cornstarch into the batter and gently fold in.

7. Pour the batter into the prepared mold. Tap the mold on the counter to level and cover with buttered waxed paper. Put the mold in a baking dish and fill the dish with near-boiling water, almost up to the top of the mold. Put the baking dish with the mold in the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool. Turn upside down on a serving platter, but wait 30 minutes to remove the mold.

8. Serve with unsugared whipped cream.


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