April 1st

We are just a few months away from summer and it feels like that time of the year again: time to get IN SHAPE! And I am ready to jump on the bandwagon.

The truth is, for the past two years, exercise hasn’t been easy for me, and I admit, I haven’t made the necessary effort to make it past the physical hurdle facing me – more on that in a later post. I’ve tried to start being regular again but have found it difficult, always trying to push too hard, too fast and hurting myself, or going off track and giving up in some way.

Anyway, I have decided to give it another shot: starting today, I will be reintroducing exercise into my daily routine by doing Blogilates’ Flat Abs Challenge, Butt Lift Challenge, Thigh Slimming Challenge and Sleek Arms Challenge simultaneously.

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30 Day Flat Abs Challenge

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30 Day Butt Lift Challenge

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30 Day Sleek Arms Challenge

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30 Day Thigh Slimming Challenge

I love Blogilates’ Cassey Ho: she is so motivating and fun, and makes it easy to enjoy exercise! Her videos have been such a life-saver to me in the past when I felt like exercising at home.

My intent is to tone up and work on getting stronger and fitter, along with reintroducing regular low-impact cardio like swimming. I believe if I start doing this regularly I can start doing medium to high impact sports like running again. Fingers crossed (and sports shoes laced 😉 ).

What’s your fit for summer routine?

Lentil, courgette and carrot salad

Spending the weekend in Bordeaux with one of my best friends, another healthy Frenchie, was one of the most restful experiences I’ve had in a while. It definitely helps that I’m on holiday for the next few weeks (score!), but I think another reason is that my friend Laurène did almost all the cooking.

Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking, but it was nice to eat to someone else’s food for a while and take a step back from the stove. Especially when that someone else is as interested in healthy cooking and living as you are and prepares the most delicious recipes. This salad is mainly her creation, and came at exactly the right moment.

Indeed, on Sunday afternoon, Laurène and I went to a bikram yoga class (yoga in a room heated to 40°), which was both amazing and a KILLER! Afterwards, we were absolutely starving, hungry for something both filling and healthy. Laurène’s solution? Lentils, raw carrots and courgettes and a tangy, dijon mustard dressing. With, of course, a soft-boiled egg on top. Lentils are a good source of protein, finer and carbohydrates, which we really needed after that session, and keeping the vegetables raw added some much-needed freshness after that boiling class. Not only was it delicious, but it felt like the perfect post-workout meal.

Try it out for yourselves!

Serves 2

Ingredients:

150g tinned green or Puy lentils or 100g dry lentils

1 medium courgette, washed and peeled

2 medium carrot, washed and peeled

2 eggs

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

Olive oil

Apple cider vinegar

Salt

Pepper

1. If using dry lentils, rinse and drain. Over medium high-heat, bring pot of water and lentils to the boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. When tender, take of the heat, strain and set aside.

 2. If using cooked, tinned lentils, drain water, rinse and set aside.

3. Using a vegetable peeler, make thin ribbons out of the courgette and carrots. This may take a little while, depending on how much you’re making, but make sure you keep the ribbons thin. Set aside.

4. In a pot, bring some water to the boil. Turn heat down and softly drop eggs in with a spoon. Set timer to four minutes to make soft-boiled eggs. When the time is up, take eggs out of the water with a slotted spoon and shell them. Set aside.

5. While eggs are cooking, make the dressing by mixing 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper.

6. Place lentils into a large salad bowl with courgette and carrot ribbons and mix in the dressing. Plate salad in individual plates and top each portion with a soft-boiled egg.

7. Enjoy as is, or like me, with a slice of bread to soak up the yolk! Yum 🙂

Tea discoveries of the week – Palais des Thés

IMG_3421During my weekend in Bordeaux, I probably spent almost an hour in the Palais des Thés tea shop located Cours de l’Intendance, in the centre of this lovely French town. Now, as I may have mentioned, I’m a bit tea fan, especially the blends made by French tea houses, and this place was like a dream.

Massive pots of tea everywhere, which they pull out for you to smell.

Smaller pots with little samples in front you can take a whiff of too.

IMG_3420Now, you know me, resisting tea is not my strong suit. I wanted to taste every tea in the store, if not simply buy the entire store! Which I would if I could – or at least build a room just like it in my house, with shelves on every wall and each of them full of massive pots of tea, like a wine cellar, but for tea – anybody else with me?

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The walls of my tea cellar would look a little something like this

Anyway, as a good, self-respecting tea addict, I bought three different types of loose leaf tea, which I am so excited to share with you guys! They’re all quite fresh and absolutely perfect for spring and summer:

Tea n°1: Thé du Hammam

IMG_3450This tea is a blend of Chinese green tea with a touch of rose, date, orange blossom and red berries, inspired from a Turkish recipe. I knew I had to try this tea as soon as I took a whiff of its sweet fragrance. It is fresh, delicate and well-balanced, and absolutely perfect as an afternoon tea, post-lunch, when you feel like have a touch of sweetness.

Infuse for 3 minutes with warm (70°-75°C), not boiling, water – this would bring out bitterness in the tea.

Tea n°2: Thé des Songes Blanc (white tea)

IMG_3455This delicate white tea is going to be one of my highlights of spring: its light flavour also incorporates orange blossom, rose and red berries, as the tea above, but doesn’t have the same sweetness. Hints of strawberry and safflower petals make it a very enjoyable drink, which I’ll be drink both warm and iced, on lazy afternoons when I truly have time to enjoy it.

Infuse for 5 to 7 minutes in warm to boiling water (up to 95°C) for best results.

Tea n°3: Jardin Suspendu

IMG_3452This last tea isn’t actually a tea per se: its an infusion bringing together apple and orange, flowers and a hint of mango and bergamot. You wouldn’t believe how heavenly this blend smells, and it tastes even better! I can’t wait to infuse this as an iced tea on a warm summer’s eve!

Infuse 4 to 5 minutes in warm to boiling water (up to 95°C) for a warm infusion, or for 40 minutes in cold water for an iced version.

IMG_3429Oh, and look how beautiful these reusable tea canisters are! These metallic canister are especially designed to store tea and have a double lid, making them even more effective. I couldn’t resist getting these Japanese textile and kimono print-inspired Washi boxes: the paper they’re covered in comes straight from Kyoto, and reminded me of origami paper, which I am a bit obsessed with these days.

If you’re interested in checking out this brand and these teas further, here’s a link to the Palais des Thés website, and more specifically to the different teas I’ve showcased in this post:

Thé du Hammam                    Thé des Songes Blanc                    Jardin Suspendu

My healthy eating inspirations

I thought it was time to share the cookbooks I get a lot of my cooking inspiration from. I keep referring to them in my blog posts (when I use them, that is) and I owe both them and you a little book review 😉

I think that learning to cook is a lifelong process, and taking inspiration from different sources is a great way of stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. These five cookbooks have all, in their own way, motivated me to try something different, cook in a different way and change my eating habits for the better – hope they inspire you in the same way!

So, without further ado, here’s my top 5 healthy eating inspirations:

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The Art of Eating WellJasminIMG_3289e and Melissa Hemsley 

One of my main inspirations these days, and the first one I open when I have no idea what to have for dinner. Everything in this book is wholesome, from the ethos to the recipes. I love the way these girls eat, using healthy, hearty ingredients, back-to-your-roots cooking and providing down-to-earth advice on how to cook, plan your meals in advance, and be healthy whilst getting the most nutrition out of your food. I love everything about this cookbook and the principles it follows: a great read!

IMG_3287I Quit SugarSarah Wilson

This is the first book I read that turned me towards sugar-free eating. It’s a great starting point for this type of life change: it’s to the point, easy to understand, and offers some great advice on how to get started with a step-by-step 8-week detox program and a tasty collection of sugar-free recipes. I really enjoyed reading this book and referred back to it a lot when I first began to eat sugar-free.

IMG_2068I particularly liked these little easily-remembered  tips, which you find dotted across the book and make going sugar-free way easier! This particular piece of advice was particularly interesting when it came to buying any type of processed food in store.

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I Quit Sugar for Life, Sarah Wilson

Meanwhile, this second cookbook by Sarah Wilson gives handy tips and shares delicious recipes for those who want extra guidance to continue their sugar-free journey after the initial “detox” phase. I used this second cookbook less than the first, but was happy for the extra advice! The recipes are well-thought out, with a “3 Ways With…” category great for those of us not yet well-versed in sustainable, no-waste cooking and using up ALL of your ingredients. Definitely a good read after the first installation.

IMG_3283 The Guilt-free Gourmet, Jordan and Jessica Bourke

I bought this book a few month ago and absolutely loved it! I personally don’t cook without dairy or gluten as a general rule, but was curious about the sugar-free aspect the recipes offered (and although I eat both dairy products and gluten, I don’t believe a dish has to include either to be delicious). I wasn’t disappointed! The recipes are well-presented, easy to make and very appetising. Also, every recipe includes a little note about the star ingredient and its main therapeutic qualities, a detail I absolutely love! I especially like the Comfort Food and Foods from Afar categories of the book, which inspired me to make Bibimbap and healthier version of family classic, like Sweet Potato Dauphinoise.

One small downside: I don’t really like using Agave syrup, and this is the sugar replacement used in this book’s recipes. However, it’s easy to substitute agave with Rice Malt Syrup, so this is a bit of a non-issue, really.

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Deliciously EllaElla Woodward

I love the inspiration for this cookbook:  Ella Woodward’s diet is entirely plant-based and revolves around her quest to manage her health through her diet.  I’m all for therapeutic recipes, and all of Deliciously Ella’s creations are like this – Zucchini Noodles with Minted Avocado Sauce,   Sweet Potato Cakes,  a billion delicious salad recipes…

The one downside, for me? Entirely plant-based  cooking. I’m not sure I could make it through the week without dairy products: I am French, after all! The love of yoghurt, cream and cheese was instilled in me very young! 😉


On a good friend’s advice, I am currently looking at Honestly Healthy and Honestly Healthy for Life, two cookbooks based on eating an alkaline diet – that is to say, focused mainly on non acid-forming foods or foods with a pH greater than 7 (otherwise called alkalising foods). This makes most of their recipes plant-based, with some exceptions. Definitely worth a look from what I can see.

Have any of you used these cookbooks? What did you think of them?

Asparagus with homemade French mayonnaise

Truth be told, I’m not the biggest fan of mayonnaise (especially store-bought), but when I saw Dana from I Got Cake use a similar technique to make a dressing to her amazing-looking Caesar Salad the other day, I was reminded of this easy recipe from my childhood. I remember making this while my mother and grandmother bustled around the kitchen in our Normandy home, preparing lunch and dinner for ten or more people every day. As such, I guess this simple homemade mayonnaise recipe reminds me of my childhood, family and my burgeoning love of cooking.

The mayonnaise recipe couldn’t be simpler and really tastes 100x better than any mayonnaise you can get ready made in a supermarket. It can be used in much the same way (even in sandwiches, if you’re a fan), but I remember it most used three ways at home: with freshly-boiled asparagus, steamed artichoke leaves and steamed whelks and prawns – our Normandy home being close to the seaside, fresh seafood was often on the menu, with fresh bread, rock salt and this mayonnaise.

Interesting old French wives’ tale: this mayonnaise won’t take if it’s made by a pregnant  woman, according to my grandmother. Indeed, if a pregnant woman tries to make this mayonnaise, it will apparently split. I’ve never been able to test this old wives’ tale, but if you are expecting, beware!

Side note: this mayonnaise keeps for about a day or two in the fridge, but is best when at its freshest!

 

Ingredients:

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 egg yolk

125 ml oil

1 dash apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

Salt

Pepper

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1. In a small bowl, whisk together dijon mustard and the egg yolk. Lightly salt and pepper.

2. While continually whisking, pour oil into mustard-yolk mixture little by little.

3. Whisk in vinegar or lemon juice, then salt and pepper to taste.

4. Enjoy – I personally dip asparagus spears or the edible end of artichoke leaves in the mayonnaise before eating them.

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Bordeaux-bound blogger

As I write this, I am sitting in an alcove in a London bar called The Big Chill House. It’s 6:30 PM and the place is getting more and more packed, the air dense and the music and conversations LOUD.  You’d think I’d have trouble concentrating in a place like this, but I am surprisingly finding it very easy to slip into my own little bubble to type this. Writing this for you guys almost feels like having an intimate conversation with friends, which I’ve got to say suits this place to a T.

I’m meeting a friend for drinks and dinner at 7 (and unlike me I got here way too early) before I fly off to Bordeaux very early in the morning. I absolutely cannot wait to get back to the homeland tomorrow morning – granted, I won’t be making a stop in my home city of Paris, but I will be seeing family (both the kind you choose and the one you don’t 😉 ).

The first thing I’ll do when I get there? Buy a fresh croissant. I am definitely skipping the airplane breakfast and saving myself for a bite of that sweet, buttery goodness. Because, let’s be honest, no-one makes these like the French. I’ve tried them in the U.S., the U.K., Indonesia…but it doesn’t taste the same. Must be something in the air.

I’m especially looking forward to spending time with my paternal grandmother: she’s from Réunion Island, a French island in the Indian Ocean, off Madagascar, so her cooking takes a lot of inspiration from her youth there. Her no-fuss, southern French cooking is definitely going to be one of the high points of my trip: well, that and filling up on peace and quiet, a bit of sun, good books and some long-forgotten family recipes.

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Anyway, I can’t wait to rediscover Bordeaux and share it all with you guys; I keep hearing the most amazing things about this place but haven’t been there for years so it’ll be a real rediscovery!

Any place you fellow world travellers would like me to check out for you? Comment at the bottom of the post!

The Healthy Frenchie’s one month anniversary

The Healthie Frenchie is officially one-month old! 

Starting this blog was a long-time coming and I must say, I am having a great time writing posts and tweaking recipes for you guys! I can only hope that you enjoy reading my posts as much as I enjoy working on them. 🙂

I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to every single one of you for reading, commenting, following, and overall making me feel really special ^^ I hope you keep coming around for more!

– Raphaëlle

Sugar-free breakfast granola

These past few weeks, I’ve often felt like eating cereal and muesli. I’m not sure why this is, because I rarely eat that kinds of foodstuff. Perhaps it’s because my housemates often have cereal in the cupboards and eat it for breakfast or as a snack, or maybe I’ve seen too many ads on television – who knows?

The fact of the matter is, however, that if you eat mainly sugar-free and are paying attention to the amount of added sugar in your food, buying cereal in a supermarket is close to impossible. I’ve taken strolls down the cereal aisle many a time, and few if any of the cereals I’ve seen have less than 15g of sugar per 100g serving, which basically adds up to almost 2 teaspoons of sugar per portion (the boxes recommend 40g servings, but who really respects those, huh?).

I quickly realised that, to satisfy my cereal craving, I’d have to make my own. I hence decided to make my own granola, cutting out the unnecessary sugars found in honey and dried fruit. Inspired by I Quit Sugar’s recipe for Coco-nutty granola, I made my own sugar-free homemade coconut and mixed nut granola, using, well, no sweetener. I decided to eat it in Greek yoghurt, which I eat without sugar anyway and adds a good source of protein to any breakfast or snack.

The result? Delicious – exotic coconut, crunchy oats, chia seeds and nuts, all mixing beautifully with the rich, greek yoghurt. I am totally bowled over by this recipe and will be keeping freshly-made granola in my cupboard from now on!

PS. I’m alright with the no-sugar version, especially with the sweet cinnamon and coconut, but you can add a sweetener, to taste, if you wish: rice malt syrup would be my choice, but honey would work just as well.

5 servings

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of rolled oats

1 cup of roughly chopped nuts (I used brazil nuts, hazelnuts and almonds)

1 cup of desiccated coconut

3 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted

1 tablespoon of chia seeds

1 tsp of cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 130°.

2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

3. Cover a baking tray with baking parchment. Put the granola mix on the baking sheet and spread the mixture out evenly.

4. Cook for 20 minutes in the oven, turning mixture halfway through cooking time so it cooks evenly.

Here's my mix halfway through cooking - should be a bit darker and more golden when finished.

Here’s my mix halfway through cooking – should be a bit darker and more golden when finished.

5. Take out of the oven and let cool. This granola can be eaten as soon as it has cooled or be kept for up to two weeks in the cupboard.

6. Enjoy!

Sweet potato dauphinoise

My mother often made Gratin Dauphinois for us when I was a child, as a hearty side dish to some delicious meaty Sunday main. I looked forward to this very much, and still do, as I absolutely adore this warm and creamy potato gratin, the bottom potatoes melting in my mouth, the cheesy top having gotten crunchy and crispy under the grill and the nutmeg adding its distinctive nutty aroma.

I still make it myself, sometimes simply because I’m in the mood for it or if I cook for a large enough number of people, as it is a very satisfying dish which to be honest doesn’t really take that much preparation time. However, I’ve played around with it a little to make it a bit healthier: my main trick is to use sweet potatoes as well as classic, white potatoes, which gives this old French classic a new twist – as well as a higher dose in vitamin A and a lower calorie count.

In any case, this dish really is a wonderful side dish and scrummy comfort food, perfect for Sunday lunch, dinner party or a cosy Sunday evening. A must-try!

Serves 3

Ingredients:

2 sweet potatoes, washed and peeled

2 potatoes, washed and peeled

150 ml crème fraiche or double cream

1 tsp of nutmeg

Salt

Pepper

50g cheese (English cheddar or French comté, for example), grated

1. Preheat oven to 180° celsius.

2. Chop potato and sweet potato into even slices, not too thick. Wash the starch off the potatoes, then put them in a bowl with the crème fraiche or double cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix them well, covering all slices evenly.

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3. Take an ovenproof dish and butter the sides. Layer alternate slices of potato and sweet potato inside the dish, covering with the rest of the cream. Place the grated cheese on top of the potatoes.

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4. Put the dish in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces the potatoes and the top is well gratiné (browned in the oven).

5. Serve as a side dish or as a main with a side salad or vegetables on the side.

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6. Enjoy!IMG_3356

Tea discoveries of the week

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I’m very curious about different genres and types of tea and often can’t resist buying new varieties of tea I find stocked in my local health store. If you’re looking for a new tea to try out, here are my latest tea purchases:

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Clipper Organic White Tea

I haven’t really been drinking white tea for long, but I am most definitely a convert – its light and refreshing flavour is something I’ve never tasted in tea before. Unlike many black teas, white tea is very subtle, with a somewhat flowery taste, and best enjoyed on its own.

I’ve started drinking it when I come home from work (that or green tea), to unwind, as I find it very soothing and its low caffeine content is perfect for a late cup of tea.

I found it in my local Asda supermarket, believe it or not, so I don’t think it would be hard to find. Here it is online all the same, or at least almost the same one I bought, with less tea bags.

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Pukka Supreme Matcha Green Tea

I’ve had matcha tea before, but often find the taste a little bitter for my liking, especially types which are already bagged rather than their powdered counterparts. This one  I decided to try because I’ve come to enjoy Pukka teas and wanted to test the waters. I wasn’t disappointed.

The very distinct, strong Matcha flavour was present, but pleasant, and in no way overpoweringly bitter.  Be careful to use hot rather than boiling water to infuse this tea, as boiling water will only exarcerbate the bitterness of green tea.

Here’s where you can find it online – I found mine at my local health store, in Rugby (UK), and there’s a chance it could be stocked at Wholefoods in London for example.

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Clipper Organic Apple and Ginger Infusion

I love this Clipper infusion and it’s becoming my go-to when I feel sluggish in the middle of the afternoon. I’ve always loved Apple tea, ever since I had it in Istanbul when I was six, but the addition of ginger here adds a real zing to this drink which I find both delicious and energising! Despite being an apple infusion, it isn’t overpoweringly sweet or tart – I would say it’s just right. A real find and truly enjoyable cuppa.

I found it in my local health store once again, but I know they stock it in Wholefoods, in London, and I believe I’ve found it at Tesco’s as well! Here‘s where to get it online just in case.