Wellness

How to start being healthy?

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        There's two kinds of people concerning health: the extremely healthy ones -they workout, care about health and know how to eat clean, do yoga/stretching/meditation, they don’t drink alcohol, don't smoke...- and the ones who aren’t healthy at all -they don’t workout or very rarely, eat out almost every day and drink alcohol several times a week, don’t care how to eat healthy or don’t have much nutritional information...-. It’s a bit cliché but almost always true! I find rather rare the people who are in the middle, also because I noticed some people in the second category actually care for their health but don’t know where to start and are afraid to have to commit to very strict rules.

 

        I had a roommate who've always had a great metabolism all her teenage, therefore never cared much about how food would affect her size. And suddenly as she was in her 20s she wasn’t happy that she started gaining weight (nothing wrong about not being the fittest! If you’re happy and feel good that way it's perfect :) I'm just telling you about this one story). So what did she do? She went to buy “healthy food” that she doesn’t love as an effort to work on her health at the grocery store: roasted salted nuts and all made porridge with chocolate milk... see the problem? She ate foods that she didn't like because she thought she was making an effort but obviously, these foods aren't healthy or good to make you fit, so all she was doing was frustrating herself! We hear “nuts” and “porridge” are healthy, but if we don’t know why, we WILL make the wrong choices at the grocery store. It’s important to educate yourself when it comes to nutrition so you know you can actually have pleasure eating healthy (pizza’s aren’t that bad, even when they’re not cauliflower crusted, as long as you care about the toppings -you know cheese and meats aren’t the best- or how often you eat them) and that you don’t have to buy the so-called “diet” foods that you don’t really like AND aren’t working.

        Some people would say this is obvious but honestly, I see so many people that lack basic info on foods that I think it's important to help them know the basis -where to start- for a healthy life! Not everyone was born with parents who could teach them that ;).

 
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         HEALTHY DOESN'T NECESSARILY MEAN SKINNY

 

        Coming back at the example of nuts: why are they healthy? They contain lots of good fats and extremely necessary nutrients (potassium, magnesium, vitamins, iron, calcium, ...) but the downside of it, is that they also contain so many calories (just a little less than oil, which is pure fat), which is great if you want to gain weight in a healthy way (I have many friends who are naturally very thin and try to gain weight eating a lot of fast foods and candies... Which doesn't work because they get sick of it, and it gives them poor skin condition most of the time). But if your goal is to lose weight, maybe you want to limit the nuts a little (don't completely erase them from your diet, remember the nutrients they have).

        As another example, fresh fruit juices are great and bring loads of vitamins quickly, but as I wrote in my article “juices vs smoothies”, you don’t have the fibers in it to help slow down the absorption of sugar... No problem at all if you don’t care (although it can mess with your blood sugar levels and so your energy) but again, if your goal is to lose a few pounds and that you think drinking juices will help you do that, maybe simply switch for fresh fruits or smoothies, where there are fibers to help fill fuller and slow the sugar absorption. There's no need to quit on natural sugar, it satisfies your sweet tooth and fruits aren't very high in calories, just be careful with the way you eat them :).

        Same goes for olive oil and other oils, agave syrup, coconut products, granola and granola bars, peanut butter, ...

 

        So remember: people can be healthy without being skinny (so don’t judge too quickly), and depending if your goal is to simply improve your health, or lose or gain weight, there is not just one answer and you might want to make adjustments to your own diet.

 
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        PLANT-BASED UNPROCESSED FOODS AS A PRIORITY

 

        Instead of searching for “low fat”, “low sugar”, or removing all the carbs from your diet while still eating highly processed “diet foods”, you might want to go back to a simpler way of eating. Because your body needs nutrients and vitamins, and the more processed the less of these you have in it (maybe you've heard of the term "empty calories", which is when you eat something that doesn't bring anything necessary to your body). Always have fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, and find ways to cook them that pleases you without wasting all the benefits (maybe try not to deep fry them every day haha). Also include basic plant-based foods in your diet that will help you feel full in a healthy way: rice, sweet potatoes, potatoes, beans, chickpea, lentils, ... These unprocessed foods should be your staples if you want to change your health, then of course, it's up to you to make it delicious in a way that is still good for you :), like chickpea curry with rice, lentil dahl with sweet potato, whole grain pasta with homemade tomato sauce, ... there are quite a few options to play with!

        Of course, not everyone has time to cook after a whole day working, so don't feel guilty about not being able to eat fresh produces every day. But for example take a look at the amount of sodium in a jar of pasta sauce you can buy at the supermarket: there’s often way too much salt, while if you simply make your own with simple ingredients (garlic, olive oil, tomatoes, onions, ... and a dash of salt and pepper) you’ll never reach that amount of salt. Sometimes it’s also a lot cheaper to make it yourself, and it doesn't take too much time in that case!

        So think about it when you buy all made foods: could you make it yourself? Is there ingredients in it that are unhealthy and you could avoid using if you made it yourself?

 
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        WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABELS

 

        When you do buy processed food -because there are good processed foods! Like oats for example, or canned beans- take a look at the label. Here are the few things to look for when you start your health journey (there’s more to look at, but these are the priorities in my opinion).

  •  There must be as little names you don’t understand as possible. You know, the scientific names you don’t really know what they mean? Well let’s try to stay away from them if you can. For example, I sometimes used canned chickpeas instead or dry ones because I'm in a rush, and when I read the ingredients on the can at wholefoods, some only had chickpeas, water and salt, while others had "calcium chloride" in it. So keep it as short as possible, if it's not necessary, I don't buy it :).
  • If there is salt and/or sugar (note that most of the names finishing in “ose” have sugar - glucose, dextrose, fructose, ...) in the three first names on the ingredient list, it’s not a good sign (unless you're buying salt lol): the ingredients are classified by quantity, so the higher the name, the more percentage of it is in your product. I personally never buy any food that has added sugar in it, except if it's a particular cheat day (if I use ketchup for example). The reason is that I believe sugar is addictive (a few experiences proved it) and since I've quit added sugar I don't really crave it anymore. I also feel that natural sugars in fruits and dried fruits is way enough for my taste (since I've stopped eating added sugar, even from agave syrup and other health foods, I can taste it better, and some foods I used to love taste way too sweet for me now).
  • Sodium: the problem with sodium is that it's often hiding in your everyday food (example: breakfast cereals) because it's a good preservative. Therefore, in general if you eat less processed foods you'll also reduce your intake of sodium, but if you want an indication of how much sodium is too much sodium for a food, here's what I found: it has to contain less than 140milligrams of sodium per serving (number from USDA's recommendations), or from 300mg to 120mg per 100g of food (120 is best obviously). Note that I don't count my grams and milligrams and all these numbers, as I say eating healthy shouldn't be complicated and if you simply reduce processed foods you should be ok :) but it's a good indication to start and understand. But don't panic, it's easy!

 

 
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        DON’T FEEL FRUSTRATED!

 

        It's important to indulge a little sometimes! If you’re unhappy with what you eat, are you really healthy? Mental health is also very important!

        It’s all about balance, remember you can't be perfect! As long as you’re making better choices everyday and that you’re informed about what you eat, you can of course drink wine with your friends and have a little fast-food sometimes, after all we only live once ;)!

 

 
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Simple foods: Summer Rolls

 

        I don't think you're ever going to see complicated recipes on The French Glow. I like to share simple foods because not everyone is able to cook for hours, especially me as I am still learning about cooking and how not to ruin every meal I try to make haha! But also because I want to show that eating healthy isn't complicated if you don't want it to be.

        Summer rolls are my favorite at the moment, perfect for the summer as it's fresh and simple to make, eat and digest. I like mixes of flavors so that's why I love sushi rolls/sandwiches/vegan burgers/currys... Because you can have lots of different flavors in just one bite. What I also like with summer rolls is that it looks rather beautiful, and to me, the pleasure of the eyes reinforces the pleasure of the taste!

 

 

Recipe

This isn't MY personal recipe (I didn't invent it) but it's the one I love to make :)

For the Dipping sauce

 

  • 1-2 table spoons of peanut butter (chose one that has only peanuts as ingredients!)
  • Warm water (depending how you want the consistency to be)
  • Lime juice (optional)
  • Sriracha (depending how spicy you like it)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 table spoon soy sauce

For the summer Rolls

To make about 4 summer rolls

  • Rice paper (usually found in the Asian section of your supermarket)
  • 4-8 big lettuce leafs
  • 1/2 a cucumber
  • 2 medium carrots
  • Rice noodles (optional)
  • Tofu
  • Mint

And you can add mango and avocado which I didn't add today but that I love to use!

 

        Cut the cucumber and carrots (and mango and avocado) in thin long slices. Cut the tofu in thin slices and cook on a pan with a little bit of olive oil while you cook the noodles. When the tofu and noodles are ready, start making the rolls with 1 or 2 lettuce leafs for each roll and a bit of everything else you prepared (make sure not to put too much noodles to be able to test everything), add fresh mint and roll! You can cut them like I did as I find it easier to eat. For the dressing, simply mix everything slowly until it has the right consistency. Et voilà. It's really quick and simple to make!

 

 

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Find motivation with positivity

 

        When you observe your past actions, you may notice that your most productive moments are often generated by negative forces like fear (of losing an opportunity/of starvation/of someone else/of death), panic (the famous last minute productivity) or a sad life changing event. So, in general, you worked the hardest during the darkest moments of your life, for the simple reason that in these moments you often have no choice but to work your ass off.

 

     But what happens when your goal isn't urgent?

         Many people get stuck with their small goals like lose/gain weight, change a habit or a diet, start exercising or run a marathon... For example, I recently stopped smoking. I have to say I wasn't a huge smoker (2-3 cigarettes a day, sometimes more, and a lot more if I was partying) but still, smoking is smoking and in my head I knew it was temporary, "I'll stop one day" I thought "but not today". Another thing about me is that my mom is an Oncologist so I know all the ugly truth about cancer, but it's funny how it wasn't enough to make me stop: nothing was imminent so I always pushed it to later. Until I decided to stop for a different reason: I wanted to run faster.

     Motivation with positivity

        I read before about this positive approach that focuses on what are the potential positive outcomes if you change instead of the potential negative ones if you don't. Instead of thinking you want to lose/gain weight because you find yourself unhealthy/not beautiful enough at the moment, think of how healthy you will become and the confidence you will have. If you just started exercising and you compare yourself to others thinking you aren't fast enough/good enough and that's why you should work harder, it can be less motivating than if you think of how far you will go/how strong you can become compared to where you started (in general try to never compare yourself with others path, we come from different places and have different bodies/minds).

So when I finally stopped smoking, instead of thinking that I had to stop to not die some day, to not smell like cigarettes, to not age my skin too quickly etc... Well I started thinking the other way; this time it was to be able to sprint faster at Barry's Bootcamp as I already made progresses but felt like I would feel so much stronger if I stopped... And I was right! After 2 weeks without touching a cigarette, I already could sprint 0.5 mph more than before! I also wanted to feel healthier in my everyday life and keep my money for better things. And because of that, the few moments when I craved like a cigarette it was so much easier than before to make the right decision.

It's subtle because sometimes it's just turning a sentence the other way ("I will have a better skin if I change" instead of "I have to change because my skin is/will be bad" which is technically the same thing but it rings a different bell in your mind) but more than the saying it's the positive thinking and how you see the situation. I don't know if that will work for you, but I know it works for me because I am tired to always think of the bad things that can happen to me as a motivation force. I just want to be surrounded by more positivity in general in my life.

     Thinking positively doesn't mean closing your eyes

        Of course, you also have to face the negative things in life because nothing good comes from closing your eyes to the truth. As another example is how I decided to eat vegan and what made me change -the horrible videos and the truth about climate change opened my eyes- but it doesn't have to be your motivation force! Because in the end what made me really go vegan is all the delicious meals I tried and how I felt healthier and how my skin got better (I already had good skin but some friends told me the last 2 years my pores went smaller which is when I started a plant based diet). So, maybe in the end it's a mix of both: be clear about your situation, but use all the positive things that can happen to you as a motivation.

 

 Pictures shot by Patrick Xiong

Pictures shot by Patrick Xiong

 

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What to eat after a workout

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     Why is it important to eat something after you worked out?

        When you workout, you use your glycogen storage for fuel -that's why if you push yourself to the maximum you can feel a bit dizzy and like your muscles don't respond to you anymore- and some of the proteins in your muscle get broken down. Just after working out you need to refill this glycogen storage and repair you muscle for better recovery and be able to workout more often. You also need to rehydrate yourself after sweating.

     What do you need and when do you need it?

         The above means you mostly need carbs to restore glycogen and proteins for muscle growth. It should be within 30-45mn after your workout for maximum effect and it is best to limit fats just after working out: some studies show that fats slow down the absorption of the nutrients you need fast after working out (some others say that even if it slows it down, the digestion is still effective and it doesn't affect the benefits of the carbs and proteins, and some people also need some fats to satisfy their hunger more, so adding healthy fats is up to you, but it isn't the most important at that moment).

 

        Here is what I personally eat after a workout and other options for you:

 

     If I am in a hurry - Protein smoothies

 

          Base:

  • 2 bananas
  • A scoop of plant-based protein powder (I use Vega - French Vanilla shake)
  • A cup of plant-based milk.

Bananas are recommended by many professionals for a post workout meal because they are a great source of healthy carbs, potassium, and fibers that slow down the absorption of sugar. With the protein powder you get your easy to digest and complete proteins that also contains many minerals and vitamin to help you recover even better.

        What you can add for extra hydration:

  • Orange/mango/pineapple juice will also bring you Vitamin C and extra sweetness
  • You can also use coconut water instead of the plant based milk to rehydrate with super low calories.

        What you can add for healthy fats:

  • 1 tbsp of organic peanut/almond butter
  • Some coconut oil
  • Hemp seeds (that are easier to absorb when ground)

If you have enough time you can also make a nice smoothie bowl with all the toppings and healthy granola (I plan on giving you a recipe that isn't full of sugar soon here).

        What you can add for extra taste and fun:

  • All the fruits you want
  • You can also make a nice acai smoothie with an unsweetened acai pack and some tropical fruits
  • You can add some dates for a sweeter taste

But in general I would say to limit syrups and sugars because you don't want to ruin all the benefits of your workout, but the important part is to have some pleasure and not see health as an annoying thing ;)!

 

        Other options if you don't have a lot of time are:

  • Hummus with whole grain pita and veggies
  • Homemade oatmeal with bananas and protein powder

 

 

 

     If I have more time - Macro bowls

 Vegan burger, greens, avo and pico de gallo...  add healthy carbs  like sweet potatoes, potatoes, grains, multi-grain bread, ... To this meal  to make it a healthy macro bowl  :)

Vegan burger, greens, avo and pico de gallo... add healthy carbs like sweet potatoes, potatoes, grains, multi-grain bread, ... To this meal to make it a healthy macro bowl :)

 

        You can read my article about macro bowls here. They are a great lunch or dinner option after working out: they are filling and satisfying when you probably are very hungry after pushing yourself, so you don't eat something that would ruin all your efforts because of frustration; they have a great carbs/proteins/fats ratio that will give you what you exactly need for recovery. The only problem is that it can take a little time to cook it, so I recommend to prepare it before your workout to have the maximum benefits and not have to wait before eating.

 

        Other good options if you have enough time are:

  • Wholegrain toast with avocado, grilled tofu and sprouts
  • Healthy quinoa salad
  • Rice and beans (use spices for taste!)
  • Lentil and sweet potato stew

 

 

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Pear and Banana Pancakes

 

Would you believe me if I told you I never made pancakes before ? It's not one of my new year's resolutions, but I decided to cook more during 2017, because there are so many plant based recipes to explore and it's far from being complicated. I was craving for pancakes this weekend and wanted to find a healthy vegan version of it. I crossed different recipes and adjusted with my favorite ingredients so I was afraid of the result, but I have to admit I am pretty proud of my first attempt !

 

 

Preparation time : 5mn. Cooking time : 10-15mn.

For the raspberry chia compote

  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1-2 tablespoon maple syrup

For the pancakes

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup plant based milk
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 pear
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional : a pinch of cinnamon and ginger

Mix the oats and and put them in a large bowl with the baking powder and the spices. Mix the milk, pear and banana together, add the maple syrup and vanilla extract and mix again. Add slowly the liquid preparation to the dry ingredients and stir well. Put the raspberries and the water in a saucepan and let it cook. When it's hot, take it off the stove and add the maple syrup and the chia seeds. Let it cool down while you cook your pancakes with a non sticky pan. Eat while still warm and tender !

 

New Year's Detox

Why A detox?

There is no wonder why detoxes are popular; the toxins from pollution, heavy processed foods and chemicals are everywhere in our lives. Usually, our liver, kidneys, lymphatic system and digestive system do the flushing process, but only up to a point and too many toxins make it hard for the body to eliminate. If like many people during the holidays you ate more heavy foods and alcohol, you might feel like you need to put your counter back to zero. A detox makes your body focus on assimilating the nutrients it needs and healing, and helps to feel more energized, have a better skin and mental clarity.

Detox doesn't mean deprivation

You want to eat natural foods with fibers and water that are easy to digest to cleanse your organism and rest your digestive system. So obviously no refined sugars and greasy foods but it doesn't mean you have to eat small. You should eat until you're not feeling hungry anymore, but slowly and take your time to chew. It has to stay a relaxing moment and not a negative experience. Some people like to do a juice cleanse but others might feel pretty tired afterward which can be counterproductive.

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The 7 day detox plan

This classic detox focuses on only fresh fruits and vegetables the 3 first days and then reintroduces slowly all food types not to stress your organism, and continue detoxing slowly. If the original plan seems too harsh for you or if you are not on vacations and need more energy, you can also simply chose to only eat like the 5, 6 and 7 days for a week: fruits and veggies but also grains, legumes and a healthy source of fat, cooked healthily. Please note that I am not a doctor and that I choose to follow a plant-based diet, so feel free to adapt the plan depending on your needs and medical conditions. After that week, go back to a "normal" way of eating, but the best is to keep up with as many unprocessed foods as possible and include foods high in fibers, which are good to fight heart diseases and increase your general health.

Start every day with the famous glass of warm water and lemon juice as it helps to boost the immune system and cleanse the liver. And try to drink around 2-3L of water and herbal tea a day (maybe more if you exercise a lot) because liquids are an important part of the flushing process. Also add as many herbs, sprouts, and spices (such as coriander, mint, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, ...) as you want to adjust to your taste. Of course, choosing organic products is important as pesticides are toxins.

  • Day 1&2:

Eat only fresh fruits in abundance. You can also make smoothies and include leafy greens, as long as you don't add nuts or milk. Fruits are full of fibers and vitamins and very easy to digest. If you want to only drink fresh juices the first day, remember to include more vegetables than fruits to your juices to keep a stable blood sugar level, since you remove the fibers (that help digest slower) when you juice.

  • Day 3:

Eat fresh fruits in the morning and make raw salads with vegetables and leafy greens for lunch and dinner. If raw vegetables are harder to digest for you, then go ahead and steam, boil or grill them in the oven without adding unhealthy fats. Eating raw helps to keep all the vitamins intact, but listen to your body and do what is the most comfortable for you.

  • Day 4:

Follow the same plan for the morning and lunch, but add cooked vegetables and a portion of cooked grains to your dinner. You can choose quinoa, steel cut oatmeal or brown rice. Grains are a great source of carbohydrates and help to feel full without being too heavy on the stomach.

  • Day 5:

This time you want to introduce a healthy source of proteins to your dinner, such as beans, chickpeas or lentils. Full of iron, fibers and antioxidants, beans help you feel full longer while nourishing your body.

  • Day 6&7:

The last two days you still want to eat really clean but add also healthy fats to your diet: avocado, seeds, and nuts (raw and unsalted !). They are important for the skin, brain and heart function as well as the immune system. Note that for some people, mixing fruits and fats makes it hard to digest as these two types of food digest at a different speed. The best would be to eat your fresh fruits always before the fats. You should also add fermented foods to your diet or take probiotics as it's essential for a good digestive health.

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Winter drinks

It's starting to be colder and colder in New York, and one of the ways to cope with the cold weather is to drink lots of hot tea to keep warm inside. But sometimes it's nice to try something a little bit more original than just tea. I recently discovered two very simple recipes (you really don't need much time or many ingredients) which are different from the usual winter tea or hot chocolate.

Turmeric Latte

Also called golden milk, this drink is very comforting and its taste isn't too strong at all. Turmeric is famous for being a strong anti-inflammatory ingredient, and for helping to flush out toxins, so it's perfect when you feel weak and cold and you need a warm, sweet drink.

What you need :

  • 2 cups of your favorite plant based milk
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder (which should be organic, for it keep all its properties)
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • Agave syrup

Warm up the milk and add the spices before boiling. Then add the agave syrup to adjust to your taste, and enjoy. You can also add, depending on your taste : ginger, cardamom, and black pepper. You can also make it stronger adding more turmeric, mine is pretty "light", as you can see in the pictures, because I wanted a subtle taste.

 

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Ginger Latte

This drink has a stronger taste, so I feel it's better to drink it when you are a little bit sick and you want a stronger boost to relieve your nose and throat. Ginger is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and to lower the risks of infections. You can also infuse your tea in it for a great morning winter drink.

What you need :

  • 3 tbsp of ginger juice (better freshly made)
  • 2 cups of plant based milk
  • Agave syrup

Like for the turmeric latte, simply warm up the milk, and add the ginger juice before boiling. Add agave syrup (or any other sweetener you like) until it's adjusted to your taste.

High Carb Low Fat

As I mentioned it before, I tend to eat a high carb low fat (HCLF) diet. I don't really believe in being too strict regarding food, and of course I don't measure exactly my macro proportion, but this is the way of eating that makes me feel best energy wise and health wise. I don't think it's the only way to eat healthy at all, I have friends following a high fat and low carb diet who are really happy about it. But I really wanted to talk about HCLF because it took me some time to find my balance and I think it's important to talk about how carbs are important for the body and that they aren't bad for you.

What is HCLF ?

So as you probably guessed, this diet is supposed to include more carbs than fats and proteins. A good ratio should be around 80% of carbs, 10% of proteins and 10% of fats (and obviously including greens), but some people go towards 90-5-5. It is also important to get enough calories so you reach a correct amount of fats and proteins which are necessary to stay healthy. It's about giving your body the amount it needs in proteins (generally to be healthy the human body needs 1g of proteins per Kg of body weight) and fats (healthy fats are very important for many body and mind functions, a good level of hormones, and also skin, nails and hair), and eat greens, and unprocessed carbs in abundance (if you only eat processed foods, it won't make you feel good nor be healthy even following a HCLF routine).

Why did I chose this way of eating ?

I used to think a high carb diet would make anyone fat and that it wasn't really necessary to eat carbs because they don't bring you anything. Because if I looked around me, the low carbs meals and diets were way more "popular", and everyone spreads the word that carbs are somehow bad for you. But when I read about a plant based and high carb low fat way of eating, it made me want to try it because it seemed that it would be more satisfying as generally carb foods are less calorie dense than fat food (just compare 100g of nuts and 100g of fruits, or even rice for example). I also have a lot more energy after eating carbs than after eating fats, that tends to take a lot longer to digest and feels heavier on the stomach. For me it's the way of eating that brings together health, satisfaction and wellbeing. I obviously don't eat HCLF every single day, but I generally don't feel as good when I don't. This way of eating isn't for everybody and some people can't eat larger quantities, therefore to have enough nutrients they must eat more calorie dense foods, some people will also feel better eating a higher percentage of fats. I think it's about finding what makes you feel good in your own body and skin.

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Why Carbs won't make you fat

Let's get a little precise here as you need to understand what are carbs and what happens when you eat them. Carbs are the most essential source of energy for your cells (especially brain cells !), they will use other substances for fuel only in case of carb deprivation. Most of it will be metabolized (broken) into glucose and used right away by the cells as it's the nutrients they need. Note that carbs in lower glycemic food are broken into glucose molecules more slowly so it provides a more regular source of energy for the cells. The extra glucose available is stored as glycogen so it can be used anytime when you need energy. The only reason why one gets fat eating many carbs is by staying sedentary and also by eating big amounts of higher glycemic food, as the storage for glycogen is limited and the rest will be changed into fat (I could write more about this and also the role of insulin but let's stay simple for now).

So, if you exercise regularly, don't worry about getting fat under a HCLF diet. Remember that you need to feed your cells, so eat unprocessed carbs and exercise, this is the key.

 Recipe for this one  here

Recipe for this one here

How to keep cool during summer

90°F (32°C) and above is the average temperature during summer in NYC, and I know we're not the only ones to suffer from the summer heat. I do love summer and the sun, but if I don't have a pool to cool down next to me at any minute, I can become unproductive and feel a little dizzy.

So how to cool down for a while ? I tried cold showers, and it feels great for a short time but the feeling doesn't last long enough for me, and air conditioning is nice, but ecologically-wise we know we can do better. The thing that really works for me is banana "ice cream" and frozen smoothie bowls. Why is it better than classic ice cream ? Because as it isn't loaded with sugar and preservatives, and it's full of natural ingredients (if you make it right), you can really eat a full bowl of it ! And believe me, you do end up shaking and covered in goosebumps. After that, the heat feels necessary and not "too much" anymore, and personally, depending on how much I have, this feeling lasts a good half an hour (even more if I'm indoors and I can't warm up quickly).

I tried different simple combinations that change from the classic banana and plant based milk. If you want more of the cold effect, try and top your bowl with frozen berries. When I do so my lips turn blue, which goes away quickly in the sun (but don't do it during winter - I'm speaking from experience).

 

Mango matcha "nicecream"

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Ingredients :

  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1/2 cup plant based milk
  • 2 teaspoon of matcha powder (adjust to your taste)

 

Coffee "nicecream"

Toppings :

  • 1 kiwi
  • Pumpkin seeds

Ingredients :

  • 3 frozen bananas
  • 1/4 cup plant based milk
  • 1 expresso (or 1/4 cup of coffee, as strong as you like)

 

Simple Acai Bowl

Toppings :

  • 2 dried figs
  • flaked almonds
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Ingredients :

  • 1 pack of frozen acai
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries

Toppings :

  • 2-3 tbsp granola
  • Fresh strawberries
  • You can add some tahini if you like
 

Macro bowls

One of my favorite healthy restaurants in NYC is Souen East Village, and if I don't order one of their soups, I always take their macro plate. At first I wasn't really thinking about what "macro" meant except that it was healthy, and that I loved it. But after seeing so many beautiful pictures of "macro bowls" on Instagram I wanted to know more about it.

So, what's a macro bowl ? It's simply the name that you put on a perfect balanced meal : a combination of grains, different vegetables (cooked and/or raw), a protein source (that can be tofu, beans, ...), a small source of healthy fats and often you'll add a fermented food to your plate for the health or your digestion. So why do you call it a "macro" bowl ? Simply because with this healthy combination you will get all the macronutrients that your body needs (carbohydrates, proteins and fats).

I put together 2 different examples of macro bowls.

Smoked tofu noodle bowl

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Preparation time : less than 5mn. Cooking time : 20mn.

For the dressing :

  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbspoon lemon juice

For the bowl :

  • 100g (weighted raw) buckwheat noodles
  • 3 carrots
  • 6 green asparagus
  • Green beans (added after the picture)
  • A small amount of sauerkraut
  • `1/2 sheet of seaweed
  • 100g smoked tofu

I steamed the vegetables, boiled the noodles and grilled the tofu in a non stick pan with no added oil. Then I simply put all the ingredients together in a bowl and added the tahini dressing. Very very very simple. I used to say I was a bad cook because I was too lazy to prepare healthy food, and I associated healthy eating with boring or hard to prepare meals. I realize now that it is so much more easy, simple and yummy than I thought !

Here you have the grains from the noodles, the proteins from the tofu (I don't really eat tofu often to be honest, but I love the smoked taste of this one once in a while), and the healthy fats from the dressing. I was wondering if the sauerkraut (which is the fermented ingredient) would taste weird in association with the rest of the bowl, since I always associated it with the super heavy sausage meal, but it goes really well with the smoked tofu !

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Curried lentil bowl

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Preparation time : 10mn. Cooking time : 45mn.

Ingredients :

  • 50g (weighted raw) quinoa
  • 50g (weighted raw) your choice of rice
  • About 50g uncooked lentils
  • A medium piece of pumpkin
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 2-3 florets of broccoli (added after the picture)
  • 2-3 tomatoes
  • 1 tea spoon of oil
  • 1 shallot (or garlic if you prefer)
  • 1cm of freshly chopped ginger
  • 1 pinch of paprika
  • 1 pinch of cumin
  • 1 pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 pinch of chili (optional)
  • Fresh coriander (as much as you want !!)

I pre-heat the oven at 200°C (390°F). Then I start with the lentil curry because it needs to cook a little while : I put the oil, the ginger and the shallot in a pan and cook it for about 1-2mn. I add all the spices and stir, after that I add the tomatoes. After I stir again a little bit more, I add about 1 cup of water, the broccoli florets and the lentils. I lower the heat and let it cook for a little bit, stiring from time to time. I cook the pumpkin in the oven for about 35-40mn (it's important to check the texture often because the cooking time depends on how thick it is). I sometimes microwave for 3-5mn the pumpkins/sweet potatoes before putting them in the oven to reduce the cooking time by half. I also cook the quinoa and the rice and simply put everything in my bowl, adding the spinach and the avocado. Et voilà ! I also added loads or coriander after the picture !

 

This is my idea of a perfect dinner simply because it makes me satisfied while nourishing my body with only good things. Some diets recommend to lower your intake of carbohydrates, or even remove them all together, while it's recommended to have your carbohydrates giving you the largest amount of your energy. I believe that instead of cutting out your carbs or any category of food, it's healthier to learn how to eat a balanced diet made from mostly unprocessed foods.

Juices VS Smoothies

About 2 years ago I was kind of obsessed with juices and wanted to start almost all my days with a great vitamin-energy packed juice. Today, I am more into smoothies than juices and I only drink once in a while. Why is that ? Well, during that time I read and educated myself more about food in general, especially about fibers and sugar absorption. Both juicing and blending have their pros and cons, but I saw that smoothies were more adapted to what I like and want. Here are the main differences between them :

Smoothies

Blending pulverizes the whole fruits and vegetables into a smoothie.

  • You keep the fibers which help keeping your digestive system healthy.
  • It makes the sugar absorption slower and more even.
  • It still makes the digestion and absorption of nutrients quicker than entire fruits or vegetables since the fiber is broken apart.
  • It keeps you full longer than a juice.
  • Some nutrients may be harder to absorb and stay in the fibers.
  • For the same amount of fruits and veggies, a smoothie will have a bigger volume so you tend to have fewer servings of fruits/veggies in a smoothie and fewer nutrients.

Juices

Juicing removes the pulp/fibers and keeps the nutrients and the water.

  • Removing the fibers makes it a lot faster to digest and helps absorbing all the nutrients.
  • You can juice a big quantity of vegetables and have all the nutrients from them in only one juice and therefore absorb all the vitamins that you would have not eaten otherwise.
  • It gives some rest to the digestive system.
  • The sugar from fruits is absorbed also very quickly since the fibers are removed.
  • If you juice mostly fruits it can give you unstable sugar levels and all the side effects that come with it such as mood/energy swings.
  • You can get hungry again faster.

 

In both cases it's important to drink it quickly after it's made because the vitamins will disappear quickly. It's also important to use the right appliances to make them : if you want to make juices, it's better to use a juice extractor than a centrifugal juicer that will make vitamins disappear because of the heat. In the end, it's up to you. It's more about educating yourself about what you eat and know what food can be better for what reason. I think juices are great if you do green juices with a lot of veggies (so not too much sugar), if you need a big vitamin boost or a deep detox and rest your body/digestive system with a cleanse (but I'm not so much into juice cleanses, since they can be restrictive, it all depends on how it is done and for how long). Also simply if you prefer juices to smoothies, life is short so drink what you love ! I'm personally more into smoothies now because they are more filling while still packing many nutrients. Also because I can add healthy fats such as flaxseeds, nuts or avocado, and protein powders or plant based milks, which you can't juice.

I generally make only fruit smoothies with my favorite fruits, because I always have fruits at home and I don't plan my meals well in advance, but sometimes I'll adapt the recipe depending on what I need : energy boost to start a long day or exercise, refreshing but light if I only want the good taste without the calories, anti-inflammatory or detox... I have here 4 different examples of smoothies that are great to try depending on what you need.

Green detox

I like this kind of green smoothie if I have a hungover, for example. It's detoxing, the very watery fruits are hydrating and it brings all the good nutrients. Pineapple and kiwi are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants that are great for the immune system, which may be a little fragile after drinking alcohol.

  • 2 cups spinach (or your favorite leafy green)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 green apple
  • 2 kiwis
  • 1 cup fresh chopped pineapple
  • You could add 1/4 avocado to for the healthy fats and a smooth texture

It's funny because I found the taste quite good, not too sweet and a little acid, but without the taste of spinach. But I made my mom try it and she wasn't fond of it. I think it's also because my taste changed slightly since I started eating healthier : I crave less sugary taste except for fruits, for example. If it isn't your case, you can always add natural healthy sweeteners to your smoothies such as ripe bananas, dates, agave syrup, maple syrup... And remember not to force yourself to eat/drink something that you really don't like just because it is supposed to be healthy. There are healthy alternatives for everyone's taste !

RED refresh

I actually realize it looks like one smoothie I wrote about in the past. I think it's because I love raspberries so much and that I like to keep food simple. I also think organic berries should be often present in a healthy diet because of all the great nutrients they have. This one is really easy to digest as it only contains fruits and leafy greens (mixing fats and fruits can be hard to digest for some people), hydrating and good to cool down during summer. It's also full of antioxidants thanks to the berries.

  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water

Again, you may want to add more ingredients for a sweeter taste if you crave something more sugary while having the refreshing taste of berries. What I like in this smoothie is that it's super light so it's great as a little snack.

Vitamin C power

This one is a great concentrate of anti-inflammatory and vitamins, great if you're sick or if you want a little boost.

  • The juice of 4-5 carrots
  • 1 big orange (or 2 small)
  • 1 small piece of ginger
  • 1 small tea spoon of turmeric powder

The beta-carotene from the carrots is great when it comes to skin, but I also think the taste goes great with oranges. I chose to take only the juice from the carrots because they have a lot of fibers. And I don't think it's a vegetable that is good for smoothies. It's obviously better if you juice it yourself right before, if you can. The orange is loaded with vitamin C which gives the little energy boost we all need instead of taking supplements. The ginger and turmeric have great anti-inflammatory properties, actually turmeric is well known to be one of the best natural anti-inflammatory ingredients. Warning : it may taste weird for you at first because the ginger is really strong and the turmeric is a spice. I kind of like to try "weird taste" food, but if it's not your case you can try and adjust the taste taking out/adding ingredients. Start with a good orange-carrot juice/smoothie that many people love, and later you can try adding ginger and turmeric.

Healthy nutty energy

Good if you need energy for a longer time, if you want something that tastes less fruity and more sweet, to get some healthy fats for your skin, if you don't eat enough proteins or if you want to build more muscle.

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup plant based milk
  • 1 scoop vegan protein powder
  • 1 tbsp almond butter (or your choice of nut butter)
  • 1 tea spoon cocoa powder

I talked about the benefits of bananas here. The protein powder (I used Pulsin brown rice powder) isn't necessary if you don't want to build more muscle and if you eat a balanced diet, but for example there are days when I'll eat less food providing proteins because I feel like something else and it can be useful. I feel like it brings a little earthy taste that I kind of like. Almond butter is my favorite nut butter because I find it less thick. It's very important to choose a healthy nut butter : the less ingredients, the better. I chose one (french brand Jean Hervé because I am in France right now) with only complete almonds and it's perfect. Nut butter will give you healthy fats, and different important nutrients that you don't find in fruits, one of them is zinc that is a very important nutrient for a healthy skin, and also a little bit of proteins. I like the little spoon of cocoa powder because it makes the whole thing taste more like a dessert, but if you don't like this is optional. I find the taste super sweet like this without adding any other sweet ingredients because I always use very ripe bananas.

 

Sushi Inspired Bowl

I don't want to share long, complicated recipes in The French Glow. Not that I don't like it, but I'm not really good at cooking complicated stuff and I'm more into everyday-cooking. I'd also like to show that eating healthy isn't too complicated, nor boring. So today I wanted to write about the one thing I love to prepare on weekends : sushi bowl.

Why not rolls ? The answer is simplicity ! I actually never thought of making sushi bowls before, thinking the only way to make plant based sushi was to make cute little rolls and I was way too lazy to do that. I like to cook/prepare things that don't need much space. So when I saw pictures of sushi bowls on Pinterest and Tumblr, I felt silly for not thinking about it earlier. It is just perfect ! Simple but delicious, filling but not making you feel like you have to take a nap afterwards.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sushi rice (you can prepare it with rice vinegar if you want but I think even without it's yummy)
  • 1/4 cucumber
  • 1,5 small carrots
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 handful Shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup edamame (I cooked it and prepared it in advance)
  • 1/2 sheet of seaweed

I added after the pictures :

  • Sesame
  • Marinated ginger
  • Reduced sodium soy sauce

This meal is nutrient filling ! The avocado (which contains so many good vitamins and nutrients such as Vitamin K, C, B5, Folate, Potassium, antioxidants, ...) and sesame seeds (copper, manganese, calcium, ...) bring the necessary healthy fats which are good for you and your skin. The cucumber has B vitamins and is hydrating and if you take organic ones, keep the skin as it contains vitamin C. The carrots are loaded with fibers and beta-carotene (again, your skin will thank you, but also your eyes). You have your proteins with edamame, and rice brings carbs which are literally life as it's energy. I am trying to eat "high carb low fat" (I will probably write about it in a bit), as it's what makes me feel the best in my body, so I believe in the power of rice, and that carbs don't make you fat, but it's all about finding your own balance. The seaweed is very high in minerals and is also anti-inflammatory, and I think it brings the whole "sushi taste" to the meal.

This is how I like to make it. Simple. But you can actually put whatever you love in that bowl, replacing the edamame with tofu, or using marinated veggies, radish, ... Enjoy your meal !