09 January 2009

French Friday #2

How did you all do on your first week being French?  Did any of you try the leek soup weekend?  For me, I admit I was not perfect.  I ate mindlessly and too much more than once.  However if I focus on the positives, I realize that it wasn't a total failure.

Positive changes I made this week:
1.  I drank at least 8 glasses of water a day
2.  Less than 8 oz. soda the whole week
3.  I ate at regular times
4.  I ate breakfast every day

Now that the snow and ice have melted (hooray!) my goals this week are:
1.  Going for a 20 minute walk each day.
2.  Eating slowly, savor every bite
3.  Don't stock my offenders at home
4.  Eat two daily servings of plain yogurt a day.  (For a recipe and directions, look here)

I am going to keep my goals small this week in order to be successful.  I realize that I didn't have specific goals last week so when I first started writing this post I felt I had failed miserably all week.  It was when I started thinking of the positive changes I made that I realized it wasn't all bad.  One step at a time right?

So how did you like Chapters 4-6?  Isn't Mireille Guiliano a great food writer?  The way she speaks about fresh melons, tomatoes and strawberries makes your mouth water doesn't it?  But I am getting ahead of myself.

Chapter 4:  The Tales of the Three C's

In this chapter, Mireille highlights three women whom she has known in her life that have struggled with their weight.  She highlights their specific offenders.  For one, it was too much convenience food, for another, too much sugar, and for the third, mindless and emotional eating.  Did you see yourself in any of these women?  Maybe a little bit in each one?  

The first woman, Camille, had a habit of drinking a bottle of beer every night before she went to sleep.  It was a habit she had picked up in college, but when questioned, didn't truly enjoy the ritual.  What old eating habits are you holding onto?  Are you truly enjoying them?  When I first found French Women Don't Get Fat, I was eating dessert every night.  Was I truly enjoying it?  No, I would often just eat anything sweet.  I weaned myself off this habit by drinking a hot citron presse when I would usually have dessert.  The ritual of having something was satisfied and I slept better for not having that sugar before bed.  After a week or so, I didn't crave the dessert anymore.

Caroline, the second woman, was a sugar fiend.  Can you see yourself in her?  What did you think of Mireille's trick of savoring two bites of dessert and passing it to someone else?  I could never see myself doing this, but it all boils down to the quality of the dessert.  If it is a richly flavored chocolate dessert made with cocoa of high percentage, I feel satisfied with just two bites.  If it is an inferior dessert, I do not feel satisfied with just two bites.  Quality in everything!

I identify with Connie the most, but I have a feeling, most stay at home moms do.  She learned to shop from her mother who did her grocery shopping at the supermarket and made it a twice monthly affair.  Mireille wants us to shop every couple of days but seriously, I think I'm going to have to work around this one.  When you're toting antsy children with you to the supermarket, you do what needs to be done.  I do think though that if you plan your meals and stay away from the convenience foods, you can still live somewhat French.  Connie, was single however, and really took to being able to shop for her food at the market in the morning and plan her meals on a daily basis.

1.  Can you see yourself modifying any of your bad habits using the French tricks Mireille taught these women?  Which specific ones?

Chapter 5:  Il Faut des Rites

In this chapter, Mireille writes about the rituals of the table.  French women take their meal times seriously.  There is no eating in front of the T.V., no reading the paper while you're eating, no eating at the counter.  French women know how to serve their meals in courses, plated in the middle of exquisite plates.  They put their food on real plates, use real napkins, and real silverware.  When I first discovered this book, this is the chapter I loved the most and which has sadly fallen by the wayside for me.  I loved plating my food on nice plates.  I served myself courses and ate them in their individual dishes.  I didn't mind the extra plates as I have a dishwasher and it was easy to pop them in.  French women do not serve their whole dinner on one big plate.  I need to get back to this again.  It just made the whole meal seem so special.

Chapter 6:  The Season and the Seasonings

Mireille talks about the importance of eating seasonally in order to enjoy food at the height of its flavor.  She makes my mouth water as she describes the perfect summer tomato.  It's true.  When we eat fruits and vegetables at their best, they alone seem like feasts.  French women eat many more fruits and vegetables than American women and their waistlines are the better for it.  The question is though, in the dead of winter, how can we incorporate this idea into our menus?  For me, I have been eating clementines, bananas and prunes for fruit.  For vegetables, I have been eating frozen veggies.  I justify that frozen veggies taste better this time of year than the "fresh" ones because they were picked during the summer when they were ripe and then frozen rather than being picked unripe and shipped halfway around the world.  I do find winter very hard though.  By March, I find myself drooling over the photos of fresh peaches in Rick Stein's French Odyssey and the tomato tarts in My French Kitchen and dreaming of the first fresh vegetable to arrive once the growing season starts.

Homework for this week:
1.  Set small goals for yourself.  Imagine tailoring your diet as Mireille talks about tailoring a fine Chanel suit.  (Don't you feel more French already?)
2.  Eat at least one meal a day at home and treat yourself like you are at the finest French restaurant.  Plate your meal on a nice plate, eat sitting down, chew slowly.

Not too much to ask huh?  Whenever we are re-training ourselves we must go slowly.  Remember, this is not about deprivation, but about finding pleasure in eating and in rituals and in this way we will feel completely satisfied and pampered with less.  We will be discussing chapters 7 and 8 next Friday.  Until then, bonne chance!


Bob said...

Heh, well I can eat sitting down, but not at a table. Our apartment is too small for a proper eating table. But since we are having company (who we've known forever, so they don't care about us not having a dining room) we will be plating and being a little fancy. Great post. :)

Chef E said...

Positive changes I made this week:
1. I drank at least 8 glasses of water a day
2. Less alcohol, or none
3. I ate at regular times, and lightly
4. I ate breakfast every day; I stuck with this

I adore this, and love following it...it does make a difference eating seasonally...no salt, flavor blast with seasonings.

lisaiscooking said...

I love the importance placed on the meal by French tradition. I'm guilty of eating in front of the tv, but the food is always appreciated more without distractions.

Aggie said...

I love that you are discussing this book! I read it a few years back...and admit I tried to eat the leek soup, but didn't last me very long. I do appreciate the way the French eat.

Thanks for the add on Foodbuzz!

Lori said...

Thanks for the add on Foodbuzz. I'm just catching up on your blog, but I'm excited to see you are reviewing this book. I read it a couple years ago and found so much valuable info in it. One of my favorites by far. I'm enjoying your recap.

Juliet said...

I love the list of positive changes for the week. That is so nice to have that. :) Positive self-talking as I think Dr. Phil might say. :)

Sunny said...

Yay for French Fridays! I need to work on eating my breakfast at the table. I usually eat breakfast while watching the news or on the computer. Thanks for all the reminders.

ChefBliss.com said...

Thanks for finding me on FoodBuzz and the comment on my blog. I love your blog and am inspired!! I've always been curious about this book and I can't read more of your blog!! Just reading this post made me hungry and I realize I am late for lunch so I will be back!! :)

♥Reeni said...

Mindless eating is one of my worst habits. This week I worked on drinking more water and my exercise routine. Not only did I use my treadmill I did some yoga after almost a year away from it. I didn't do the leek soup but I did make a vegetable soup and ate that for three or four days for lunch. I am proud to say I am down three pounds. This week I am going to work on my portion control, enjoying my food more, and eating slower. Thanks so much!!!

Vij said...

Thanks for answering my query Joie! I shall keep u posted about the status of my application.
One quick ques: Do we need to describe about the ingredients of each n every dish I am referring to in a my proposal? or can I jus mention abou the list in the menu.
Sorry I am pretty confused about it.

rookie cookie said...

I totally know my offenders. It is actually sitting right next to me. Nutella. Gotta get rid of it.

Another great food read: "In Defense Of Food" by Michael Pollan.

Foodycat said...

I remember in the film Amelie how nice it was to see her cook a plate of pasta and sitting to eat it - even though she lived alone. No microwave meal in front of the TV.

Tangled Noodle said...

Thanks for sharing this book with us! It's great to learn about and adapt aspects of other's foodways to help us healthily enjoy food and life.

BTW, please check out my latest blog post b/c you've been tagged! 8-)

bearbee said...

Thanks for this sharing, really good!!

I've set a small goal for myself : )

Abigail said...

This sounds like a wonderful book! I remember one time eating an out-of-season rare strawberry at a restaurant here in Japan, and then feeling sad that I hadn't savored it and couldn't even remember the flavor. I need to savor more...

Oh, I do eat plain yogurt every day. I love it! I got that addiction from my grandma. :)

Kat said...

I love how you have taken this book to bits and are trying it out and finding what works best for you, makes me want to do the same thing. I also have this book, but I haven't yet properly read it, have just looked at the recipes to see if anything was interesting.
But your way sounds so much more fun :)
Oh - please let me know how your Napoleon turns out :)

Lynnylu said...

Great post. You've encouraged me-I must get the book.

Deb said...

I'm going out today to pick up a copy of this book, hopefully I can find it locally.

Sounds like you are doing great making slow changes. Thats the way to do it to make it stick.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Sylvie said...

I really applaud your goal to eat more vegetables. While frozen veggies are convenient, there are lots of good fresh - and hopefully local - vegetable you can find even in winter. But using local seasonal ingredients, you eat a greater diversity of vegetable and tie yourself back - a little - to the seasons. Good things at this time of the year include winter squash so versatile from soup, to stew, to gratin; sweet potatoes; carrots; celeriac; parsnip; kales and its many different colorful shade; Swiss Chard of which both the stems and the leaves are edible; hardy salad greens such as arugula, winter lettuce etc. For a more complete list see here.

I try to eat local and seasonally, and that's why I developed that list. Hope it can help.


Brownies for Dinner said...

Positive changes I made this week:
1. Started a food journal
2. Increased water intake (though not to 8 glasses yet)
3. Added small movements to my day (20 minutes of easy yoga in the morning)

I did eat mindlessly a few days (especially this weekend) and let myself get way too hungry a couple times as well. These are the things I want to work on this week :)

I didn't do the leek soup this week, but I did increase my fruit and vegetable intake. This made such a big difference in how I felt... I don't feel as bloated and heavy when I'm eating fresh foods like this (seems like a no-brainer but such an easy habit to lose during the holidays with so many treats around).

I love this, btw. It's a lot more fun and motivating to go through this with others. Thanks :)

MaryBeth said...

Those all sound like great goals we all should be working on. Thanks for visiting my little site. Hope to see you soon my friend.

mikky said...

thanks for sharing... after all the foods last holidays, we definitely need this... :)

Navita said...

ur blog is a haven of delish recipes....glad i stumbled upon it.

couldn't be happier to say "hi".

Katherine Aucoin said...

I'm guilty of the mindless eating. I will say that we do not eat in front of the television. We sit down together every night. I am enjoying your discussion on this book.

Robin Sue said...

I am a little behind in reading but will catch up for sure. I saw the leek weekend and chickened out. I am so afraid of dropping my blood sugar and getting nauseated, wimp! I know! I think I will work on eating breakfast and drinking more water this week. I have to start slowly!

www.recipemashups.com/ said...

Thanks for an inspiring post! I haven't read the book yet, but I'm now adding it to my list. I just reviewed a few other food and cooking books on my blog, but need to add something motivating like this!

joanna said...

good job this week!! i still want to try this leek soup!! my grocery store doesn't have organic leeks though so i'll have to make a special trip to whole foods for some. did it taste good??

Tartelette said...

Found your blog through Haley's (Buff Chickpea). I am French (born and raised) and I just wanted to ad that without having read the book, I kno I always lose weight when I go home on vacay. Proper meals, light dinners, no snacking, even my mom's rich dishes don't get to my hips!
Keep it up, you are doing great and are cute as a button!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

You mentioned the book My French Kitchen -
When we were in France dining at the Bistrot de Paradou (one of Patricia Well's favorite bistros) we met Fran Warde, one of authors of My French Kitchen, promoting her new book. She was very intereting - from England - and we visited for quite a while.
I enjoy your French Fridays and will continue to follow along.