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NUTRITIONAADVICE WITH HUGUETTE
a new journey starts here....
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To salt or not to salt?

   
In my practice, I always try to tell my clients to get rid of refined and added sugar. as you know, it’s been proven by now that they are dangerous for our health and that the least we have the better. Of course, I am not talking about fruits which are loaded with vitamins, minerals and water! And let’s be honest, we still need some sweetness in our lives!

For a change today I want to write about sodium and salt.

Last weekend we went to Philadelphia and dined in this very nice Mediterranean restaurant (the Mediterranean diet is my favorite). We had plenty of fish which were beautifully cooked with a lot of spices and therefore supposedly a lot of flavors, unfortunately every dish was way too salty to the point I could not enjoy the taste of the fleshy fish! I have to say that I had not had this feeling for a long long time!

When I cook with herbs and spices I hardly put any salt so I guess the same way my taste buds don’t like it when it’s too sweet they are probably not used to salty dishes anymore either!

I always try to discourage my clients to eat processed foods, & cured meats, but I think I need to emphasise more about the bad effects of too much salt/sodium has on our health.

It is true that we do need a certain amount of sodium to keep our body’s fluid balance and to maintain our blood pressure but we also have to be careful of not getting too much sodium which has been linked to high blood pressure, higher risks of stroke, heart and kidney diseases.

The World Health Organisation strongly recommends less than 5g of salt per day which is under a teaspoon*.

We can find sodium naturally in milk, meat and shellfish. But unfortunately also in almost all processed foods like bacon, ham and salami, cheese and salty snacks foods, cereal products, packaged bread, bouillon, stock cubes, soy sauces & sodium glutamate.  And that’s not all, to trick our taste buds sugar is added to packaged food so we don’t suspect there is sodium in it!

So what shall we do? First choose real foods such as vegetables and fruit, whole grain products, milk and yogurt,  unseasoned meat, poultry, fish, seafood and tofu, unsalted nuts and natural nut butters, dried beans, peas and lentils.  Secondly when buying packaged foods, watch out the percentage of sodium 5% or less is little 15% or more is too much!

Some numbers:
For an adult the daily recommended dose of sodium is between 1500mg to 2200mg, we consume an average of 3400mg/day!

Check this out:
  • Raw or steamed salmon contains 110mg of sodium for a 100g serving.
  • Smoked salmon: 1,880mg
  • Plain peanuts: 2mg
  • Dry roasted peanuts: 790mg

  • Bacon: 1,500mg
  • Beef: topside roast and lean: 48mg
  • Chick peas: dried and boiled: 5mg
  • Chick peas, canned and drained: 220 mg

So if you are used to salty dishes, train your taste buds to less salty foods, it might take time but after a while you’ll start to appreciate the food, herbs and spices. Oh one more thing, I know there are a lot of fancy salts out there like Himalayan, fleur de sel, and celtic sea salts, keep in mind that they still contain a fair amount of sodium.  Refined and processed salts on the other hand also contain chemicals.

* note that 5g of salt contain 2g of sodium.
   

We're On Vacation! 

   
   
At last we’re on vacation! The perfect time to refill our batteries and to get some ‘me-time’. Here are a few tips, or let’s say reminders, to use without moderation!

First of all, hydrate! Drink water, water and more water, with or without bubbles, it doesn’t matter! Add a lemon slice, some fresh mint or some berries to make it more glamorous! Don’t laugh, water can be sexy too!

Get energized with vegetables! Raw or grilled, skewered or in a juice, mix the colors and create a beautiful rainbow that will bring you the vitamins and minerals you need.

Eat cherries! The season is really short, so take advantage and eat plenty. Cherries are delicious and also loaded with potassium, vitamin C and melatonin. If you can, buy them organic!

Move around and exercise! You’re at the beach or near a swimming pool? Take advantage and do some laps. You don’t like swimming? Put your sneakers on and go for a run! And if these options are not for you, be bold and go out dancing! Dancing is exercise too!!!

Finally, get some sleep! It’s time to have a good night’s sleep. If you’re lucky enough to stay in a quiet place, relish every night! If you have little ones, take turns with your other half so you both can refill your batteries.   
   
​ 

Kind of Easy Ways to Reduce Your Sugar Consumption 

   
Here are a few tips to reduce your sugar consumption, and I’m NOT talking about sugars naturally present in fruits, vegetables, milk or dairy products. 

You don’t need to go cold turkey, but keep these tips in mind and try to go one step at a time. And remember: sugar addiction does exist. We find it hard to wean ourselves from it but with some motivation it is possible! And I promise you'll feel much better at the end of your journey. 

1. Don’t be tempted by buying products on sale in bulk, because you'll end up consuming more! Unless the sale is on tomatoes or apples! Let me know when it happens! 

2. Check the list of ingredients and make sure sugar is not one of the top three items listed. Also, learn how to recognize the other names used to describe sugar. (Send me an email and I’ll give you the list, you’ll be shocked!)

3. Go for whole & non-refined foods to avoid added hidden sugars. Don’t be fooled by the packaging! It may look like an healthy option but, is it really?

4. Avoid soft drinks and fruit juices, since they spike your sugar levels and your energy will drain just as quickly. Try licorice or cinnamon teas as a substitute.

5. Get rid of the sugar in your coffee or tea, and try to reduce your alcohol consumption.

6. Cut back on pasta, bread and rice. Have some whole grains instead, they will maintain your blood sugar levels and you’ll feel satisfy for much longer! Or you can go crazy on vegetables, they have carbs too! 

7. Rediscover real food. 

Reducing our consumption of sugars may be hard at first but with motivation we can make it. Let's keep treats for special occasions. 
   

 Avocado

Avocado is one of my favorite foods. It has a nice and soft texture. You can use it as a dip, on a toast or as a chocolate mousse. The choice of spices or herbs you can liven it up with is limitless. Personally I love it smashed with coriander, salt and pepper or on a toast with cumin & a pinch of salt. It is also nice with some turmeric & pepper. My handsome husband loves it with some chili flakes. Vegans also use avocados to make chocolate mousse (send me a message if you want the recipe).
So why all the fuss about avocado? First, you don’t get any empty calories with avocado and in my world that’s all that matters. It is very high in fibers and healthy fats, and remember: healthy fats don’t make you fat!
It has some protein and contains vitamin K, C & B, some folate & potassium. You also get small amounts of magnesium, iron & zinc.
One warning though, if you have irritable bowel syndrome it might cause some discomfort and in that case you might want to give avocados a pass.

 Oats

   
People assume that every morning I have croissants for breakfast because I am French, but I have to say that living overseas for more than 20 years helped me realise that breakfast should be more than just bread and jam! Don’t get me wrong: I do enjoy the occasional pain au chocolat.
However, if I want to be able to last all morning I need something more filling and nutritious, so I have oats instead! 

I am not a big fan of porridge, so I have bircher muesli, (picture above) which is oats soaked overnight in apple juice. In the morning I add a scoop of yogurt, some berries and nuts. And I can assure you: I never feel hungry until lunch time! 

Oats are a beautiful and highly nutritious food, a good source of fiber, protein and they are loaded with vitamins and minerals including phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc and folate. They are low in calories  and they are believed to lower LDL cholesterol levels.

Thanks to their fiber content oats are excellent for your bowel movement and will certainly improve your gut health. If you have diabetes, be mindful of the portion since oats are a carbohydrate! 

Besides porridge and bircher, you can also make pancakes, your own home-made granola or special treats with oats.
   

Sunchoke  or Jerusalem artichoke 

   
Sunchoke is a beautiful winter vegetable that has  recently made a come back and you’ve probably seen it on the menu in many restaurants.
Let me tell you why it is worth bringing it back to our plates.
Sunchoke is a great prebiotic and will help balance your gut flora. 
It is rich in potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc and selenium. It also contains A, B and E vitamins. It is a good diuretic and can help regulating your bowel movements. 
You can use sunchoke raw, thinly cut in a salad or cooked slightly stir fried. Like potatoes, you can also add sunchokes to stews and soups, or cook them in the oven.  Enjoy! 
   

 Pomegranate


You still have a bit of time to enjoy pomegranate before it’s out of season, so make the most of it!

Pomegranate is a super food loaded with antioxidants and it may also have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Research* shows that pomegranate may be good for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, oxidative stress and hyperglycemia. Finally, pomegranate anti inflammatory activity in the digestive tract may help to get rid of some types of bacteria such as candida.

Pomegranate is a good source of fibers, potassium, vitamin C & K, magnesium, and calcium. It contains choline (important for liver and brain function). It is rich in polyphenols which have antioxidative and preservative activities.

You can add pomegranate to your salads, sprinkle it on top of hummus, mix it with your roasted vegetables or just eat it as is.

If you’re trying to cut your consumption of refine sugar, try pomegranate since it’s a sweet healthy option.

However please be aware of pomegranate juices available in stores as they may contain added sugar.

*https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4007340/

A few words of advice to go through the festivities
December 2016

   
As you know, nutrition and real food are my true passions

I always try to convince my clients, friends and family that good health starts with a healthy diet and some lifestyle changes: eating better, sleeping better and exercising more. We need to make the time to connect, or reconnect, with family and friends, and this is easily done around a nice healthy meal. 

Thanksgiving is behind us but Christmas is at our doorstep. We all know it is the time of the year when we indulge ourselves to excess with festivities and food, and why not? It is part of life, and here is some advice on how to approach the holiday season. 

While you’re on vacation, start your day with a cup of hot water flavored with half a squeezed lemon. This will stimulate your liver and release digestive enzymes. 

Pick one meal during the day where you will be healthy, my guess would be breakfast or lunch! In general, try to avoid fried foods and instead take advantage of the season. It’s the time to binge on low-calorie seafood such as oysters, crabs & lobsters*! I know they’re pricey but it’s not Christmas every day! They’re a great source of proteins, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. 

You know you’re going to consume more alcohol, so drink a lot of water during the day. Coffee and tea are fine too (without sugar) but avoid sodas; that should be non-negotiable.

If you know the meal is going to last a while, as they often do in France, try to avoid snacks and if you can’t help it then go for the vegetables sticks and healthy dips rather than peanuts and potato chips.  Also, try not to go for seconds and check the size of your portions.

Last but not least, you’re on vacation so you do have more me-time. Be active and go out for a walk with your family and friends. When you are back, have a nice cup of coffee or tea, and grab a mix of seeds and nuts as a healthy snack. In short, leave room in your tummy for the nice dinner that is waiting for you! 

* oysters (B12 & iron, zinc), crab (B12, magnesium, B6), lobster (B12, B6, magnesium, zinc) 
   

Halloween November 2016

Halloween is supposed to be spooky and fun. Scary outfits, houses decorated with ghosts, vampires and zombies. Skeletons coming out of coffins from nowhere. I should love it, I’ve always enjoyed horror movies. Well guess what? I don’t!
I do enjoy the costumes and the make up though! I actually spent one hour last night applying vampire make up on my daughters and their friends. It was fun!

It’s the trick or treat that I have trouble with because no one bothers doing a trick anymore. It is all about the treats: sugar, sugar, sugar and more sugar. (I am talking about refined sugars of course).

As you’ve all experienced, children leave with a huge empty bag and they bring it back home full of sweets that I did not even knew existed. Half of it goes to the bin, because even THEY don’t like them. The rest lands in a box and … who knows? It’s Halloween, anything can happen!
I should not have to apologise for the fact that I have some issues with a day that revolves around the distribution and consumption of pure refined sugars when we know that chronic diseases linked to an excess of sugar are rampant.

I guess you could argue that it is only once a year. If only it were true! What about all the birthday parties, Easter & Christmas?

My daughters came back home, very proud, and handed me a packet of organic, non GMOs lollies with real fruit juice and no high-fructose corn syrup. All organic ingredients but still pure sugar. The beauty of marketing!

I am aware that kids need to have some lollies, it is part of their childhood but it should be with some kind of limits, don’t you think?
Anyway, enough with my party spoiler state of mind. Let me give you a few pieces of advice for next year or for the next big party:
Ask your children to drink water, and only water to stay hydrated and to avoid a terrible headache. If they can avoid sugary drinks that’s already a very good start.

Prepare a good healthy meal for when they come back home so they can replenish their batteries with nutrient dense foods. (Remember all the sugar they had will make them feel high at first but their energy levels will drop quickly). What about a nice vegetable soup or some lentils and carrots?
And don’t forget: exercise will help them burn off the empty calories!

Last week I shared a healthy treat recipe with you, next week I will share a couple more so you can have some ‘healthier’ alternatives for kids’ parties.
And if you feel like watching a nice educational movie with your family, go on Itunes and rent ‘That sugar film’ for $0.99cents . It’s really good. We watched it at home last week so the whole family is conscious about the impact of sugar on our bodies. I believe in education, so I am sure it will have an effect, eventually.

How To boost Your Immune System.
October 2016 

It’s this time of the year where everyone seems to get easily tired or catch a cold. I try my best to get my family to pick up the right habits so our immune system is strong enough to fight colds and the flu… or recover quickly if we end up catching them! 

The immune system is our body’s natural defense system so we need to take good care of it. Daily exercise, sufficient sleep, low stress levels and healthy eating are the four pillars to keep our immune system strong. 

I advise you to exercise every day, or at least to go out for a walk. Don’t sit at home or stay in front of your computer all day long. As for me, I try to go the gym 5 times a week and then I walk a fair bit, something that comes naturally in New York!

Your eating habits need to be even healthier in the cold season: try to avoid processed foods and refined sugar because microbes feed on it, and focus on nutrient dense foods (Ok, you can indulge yourself once in a while!)

So what kind of foods?

Probiotics: found in kefir, raw cheese, yogurt, apple cider vinegar, kombucha (fermented black tea), kimchi and sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) and miso paste (fermented beans) are great to make sure your gut is populated with the right kind of bugs that will protect you.

Fruits and vegetables: add a variety of colors to your dishes so you get as many phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals as possible. They will help you stay strong too! Dark green, red, yellow and orange, fruits and vegetables such as berries, citrus fruits, kiwis, apples, red grapes, kale, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, shiitake mushrooms will give you plenty of nutrients that will help you maintain a healthy stress response. 

Zinc plays a paramount role in our immune system. It helps to create and activate white blood cells involved in the immune response. This trace mineral is needed for the body’s defensive system to work properly. Another good reason to binge on oysters! And if you don’t like oysters, you should know that meat, eggs, pumpkin seeds, spinach and nuts are rich in zinc too! 

We all know citrus fruits for their vitamin C content, but keep in mind that kale, spinach, broccoli, pepper and chili pepper also contains large amount of vitamin C, if not more!

My bottom line message would be, one more time, to eat as healthy as possible. So put aside refined and processed foods, don’t get empty calories and focus instead on calories that will nourish your cells and help your immune system to fight off the coming winter!

A booster tea that I often make at home: lemon, fresh ginger & turmeric… yummy!
   

Coffee or not coffee? sept 2016

Today I wanted to write about the pros of coffee because we hear too much about the cons and to be honest I’m quite addicted to coffee myself!
I seldom make coffee at home. It’s my excuse to go to my favorite joint three blocks away and to enjoy my extra hot flat white or my cortado while reading the New York Times.  Small pleasures are the best aren’t they? Actually I even make the trip when it’s snow day!   
So I did a bit of research. I actually could not find a lot of cons in the literature when it came to caffeine in coffee unless you’re in your 60’s, on some medication or in a hyper cortisol state (then, obviously it’s better to check with your doctor).
So if you like coffee and want to stop feeling guilty about drinking it, this post is definitely for you!
In the early 90’s, coffee was considered really unhealthy partly because it was associated with smoking cigarettes. Now, we have a culture around drinking good quality coffee, festivals to promote coffee types, celebrities like Hugh Jackman open their own cafes in Manhattan to make sure they would  get the best coffee. By the way, did you know that the best barista is Australian?​

So let me tell you a few facts about caffeine and coffee;
A daily intake of up to four cups of coffee is not harmful and it improves concentration and reduces fatigue.
Studies show that coffee increases fat burning and  lowers blood sugar. It also improves cognitive performance and might have beneficial effects on working memory. 
When you feel like you need a coffee in the morning in order to get going, it is because caffeine impacts our mood by acting on serotonin and dopamine in the brain.

Research shows that drinking coffee may help to burn the fat out of your liver. It is also a bowel stimulant, so if you are constipated you could use coffee as a laxative.

Athletes regularly use it as an ergogenic aid, they find they perform better if they have a cup of coffee. 

Last but not least, Cochrane data collection and analysis show that a mug of coffee added to a dose of analgesics such as paracetamol or ibuprofen will increase pain relief, especially in the treatment of some headaches.
So here you are, enjoy your cup of coffee! But please don’t get me wrong caffeine in coffee or green tea should NOT be mixed up with caffeine in soft or energy drinks that are loaded with sugar.

Food waste August 2016

Summer in New York City is great: hot weather, fewer people rushing around and more terraces to grab a coffee or a salad. But what I find really pleasant is how easy it is to escape the skyscrapers and the constant noise. By train or car, it only takes 40 minutes to find yourself surrounded by trees and nature.
Last weekend our friends invited us to their rental summer house in Salt Point, a haven of peace: picture yourself sitting on the deck, looking across the creek at a few cows slowly munching on grass while some geese are flying by. Pretty cool, isn’t it? Besides a very tasty picnic in a beautiful park, some kayaking in a lake and a beautiful dinner cooked by our hosts, we also went to the local farm market in Rhinebeck. 

As you may guess, I bought plenty of irregularly shaped, locally grown fruits and vegetables to bring back home. 

Seeing imperfect fruits and vegetables was really refreshing! They did not all have the same caliber or the same shine. It reminded me of an upsetting article I read a few weeks ago in The Guardian* regarding wasted food in the USA. Wasted, not because it’s rotten but because it does not conform to some crazy criteria of what food should look like: if its shape and color is not perfect, then straight to the bin! 

Just like we ask girls and women to have a perfect figure and perfect, smooth and unwrinkled skin, we are also applying cosmetic standards to the food we eat…sorry for the comparison!

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, only 3% of wasted food in the US is sent for composting. The rest goes to landfill where it rots and the greenhouse gases it generates end up contributing to climate change.
When 2014 was declared ‘the year against food waste’ by the European Union, a major French supermarket took the initiative to sell ‘inglorious or ugly fruits and vegetables’. It was a success. https://vimeo.com/98441820. Moreover, legislators approved a law that forbids supermarkets to throw away or intentionally spoil unsold food **.  

Here in the US, supermarkets such as Wholefoods are also taking up the challenge to sell imperfect fresh products.
Food Cowboy is an association founded by Roger Gordon that helps reducing food waste. Check out their website http://foodcowboy.com
Imperfect Produce is a website where you can order ‘ugly veggies and fruits’. Unfortunately it does not deliver everywhere yet! www.imperfectproduce.com
So next time you go shopping, see if you unconsciously dismiss an apple because it is not shiny enough or a tomato because it’s not perfectly round! Keep in mind that a superficial deviation from our arbitrary criteria of food beauty does not mean that it’s not going to be juicy or tasty! 

*https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/13/us-food-waste-ugly-fruit-vegetables-perfect?CMP=share_btn_link
** https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/04/french-law-forbids-food-waste-by-supermarkets?CMP=share_btn_link

Colombia July 2016


I hope you are all doing well and having a great summer.

We’ve just come back from Cartagena and Tayrona national park in Colombia where we had a wonderful time, and guess what? Fresh and wonderful food too!
Whenever we travel, having good food is always part of the treat. It is paramount to discovering a new culture, new dishes and flavors. Well, it is part of the experience of traveling, is it not?
I was amazed to see the quantity of excellent restaurants in Cartagena. We only stayed there for four days and I wished we had stayed longer just to try a few more restaurants on our list. If you ever go there drop me an email and I’ll make sure to share our list of top 5 restaurants.
While we were traveling, I realized that Colombia could be a paradise for people with gluten sensitivity or with celiac disease: forget about bread, pizza and pasta: in Colombia you eat arepas (corn pancakes filled with cheese or eggs) and patacones, (a side dish made with green plantains, a type of banana you find in Caribbean cuisine) almost every day. Rice replaces bread, and coconut rice is a traditional side dish that goes very well with fish.
We ate a lot of fresh seafood, it was pure bliss! My favorite fish dish is the ceviche, where raw slices are marinated in a really tasty sauce. Even though it is originally a Peruvian dish, ceviche is found everywhere. After tasting a few different styles you eventually find your favorite. As for me, I love the simple version with lime juice, coriander and thinly sliced onions – divine!
Last but not least: fruits, some many fresh fruits that you buy in the street, fruit sorbets and popsicles (paletas) and ice cream (paletas) as well as fruit juices (watch out because Colombians often add sugar so you need to ask: sin azucar por favor!). Even the sweets are made from fresh fruits, without any artificial flavors. My favorite fruits were pineapples, watermelon, papaya and mango.
In the street, you can also buy coconut water and drink it directly from the coconut. This is a must in order to stay hydrated and maintain electrolytes levels such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride in the body, especially when it’s 95 degrees and 95% humidity!
The only downside of Colombian cuisine was the lack of vegetables. We did miss our greens and so we binged on salads and veggies on our return!

Water for Hydration July 2016

Summer is here at last! 
No more excuses, go out for a walk, for a run, for sightseeing or people watching, take some fresh air! The list of things to do in New York is endless. But before you leave home don’t forget your bottle of water (try to avoid plastic bottles).
Yes, today’s post is about hydration.
We all know that drinking water is essential to staying alive, but do we drink enough of it?
Our body has water in every cell, tissue and organ. Water helps nutrients move, get rid of waste. It keeps our temperature at the right level, lubricates and cushion joints, keeps our skin moisturised and guess what? It can even help us lose weight.
As for myself, I like to picture my cells plump like a raisin instead of shrunk like a sultana.
Through our diet we can obtain water from two sources: 
beverages: water is obviously the best source to get hydrated but herbal teas are great too. Fruit juices have a high sugar content so you may want to get easy on those. Caffeinated beverages on the other hand are counter productive since they have a diuretic effect, so have a glass of water with your coffee.

solid food: nearly all food contains some water with fruits and vegetables on top of the list.
The amount of water we need on a daily basis depends on:
our age (infants and elderly people need more water).
our weight (heavier people need more water).
our health (for instance if you have diabetes or kidney disease: don’t forget that the kidneys play a key role in regulating fluid balance and they function much better if they have enough water.
the environment: we need more water under extreme weather conditions.
Also, it is important to note that when you exercise you need to hydrate every 20 to 30 minutes especially in hot and humid conditions.
If you are constipated, your urine has a dark yellow color, or your mouth feels dry you might already be dehydrated. Migraines and cramps could also be a sign that you need to drink more water. My advice: don’t wait to be thirsty to drink water!
It is recommended to drink 8 glasses of water a day, so I always start my day with a big glass of water with the juice of a squeezed lemon. Already I feel great!
During the day, I like to add a slice of lemon, cucumber or some fresh mint into my water, it makes it more fun and looks great.
On a hot day, I may even put some frozen raspberries in my glass.  Why not try some fruit infused water with cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes, peaches or pineapple?
Enjoy your water and have a great Summer!
   

Global Wellness Day June 2016 

Last Saturday, Global Wellness Day was celebrated in 86 countries, a day dedicated to wellbeing and healthy lifestyle.
How great is that?

It started a few years ago in Turkey and spread all over the world. Now you know that the second Saturday of June is all about ‘living well’.
The GWD slogan is “one day can change your whole life”. How? Well, by making sustainable changes which can definitely improve your quality of life and your wellbeing:
Eat well: whole natural, unrefined, unprocessed, local, organic and seasonal foods.

Exercise: add some activity to your daily routine, walking, biking, fitness, yoga….

Rest & sleep: get your beauty sleep every night, you’ll feel restore and energised. 

Connect with other people: have dinner with your friends and/or your family. 

Avoid toxins and polluted environments: start by not using plastic bottles or containers. 

Reduce exposure to pesticides and herbicides:  buy organic food as often as possible (see my previous post on organic food).

Be positive: good vibes bring good energy around you.
So please try to make some changes to have a better and healthier life, starting today!
   

Herbs & Spices June 2016


When I talk to my clients I am often amazed by their infatuation with bouillon cubes. If you’re reading this post, I hope that by the end of it you will want to banish them from your pantry, or at least try the healthier alternative I’m going to describe! 
   
I am aware that these little cubes give a lot of flavor to all your dishes, but have you ever read the ingredient list? Let me enlighten you: in the non-organic version, the 3 primary ingredients are salt, monosodium glutamate (aka MSG, an artificial flavor enhancer) and hydrogenated oil (aka trans fats) - all proven to be nasty for our health. If you buy the organic version, the first ingredient is sea salt, followed by palm oil and yeast extract which is another type of flavor enhancer. To be honest, I am not sure I like the organic cubes better! And down the list of ingredients you sometimes can even find some sort of sugar! 
Do you still want to use them?
Now let me tell you about my healthy & easy alternative! Well, try herbs and spices for instance! You can also use salt as long as you control its quantity and quality. 
In my tiny, tiny kitchen (and when I say tiny I mean tiny), one full shelf of my pantry is dedicated to spices and dried herbs. Actually, I cannot picture myself cooking without them. They’re my heroes, they’re the ones who give so much flavor to my dishes, they’re the ones who undoubtedly deserve all the praise when one of my dishes is tasty! And I am sure the Chef Ottolenghi would agree with me! (Check him out if you don’t know who he is!).
So, herbs and spices: you can find them dried, in powder or fresh and yes they all do magic! 

As you probably know, these leaves and powders have been used for centuries in various cultures, whether for medicinal purposes or simply to enhance flavours of foods. 
   
More research is being done to find out about their potential health benefits: they may actually have powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and/or anti-microbial properties. What we know for sure, though, is that they are loaded with vitamins and minerals and, last but not least, they are real flavor enhancers. For people with hypertension they’re also a great substitute for salt.
So transform yourself into a magician and use a bit of spice to give a little ‘je ne sais quoi’ to your dishes. Instead of your little bouillon cubes, try nutmeg on cauliflower or zucchinis, cumin on meat, thyme and oregano on tomatoes, tarragon and star anise on roasted vegetables. Sage goes very well with stews, turmeric with rice or eggs, fresh mint and dill in your green salad. Personally, I also like to put a pinch of chilli flakes and cumin on my avocado. And what about cloves and rosemary with roasted lamb? Put some bay leaves in your soups, together with thyme, an onion and some good quality salt & pepper. Add cinnamon to spice up your cooked apple. Be creative and experiment with new combinations. And please don’t hesitate to drop me an email and share your findings. 
It might take a bit of time to forget about these little cubes but once your taste buds have warmed up to real flavors, I promise you’ll never want to go back!

Organic or not organic? May 2016 


My clients often ask me whether they should buy organic or not. Of course, my initial response is: buy fresh organic products as often as possible. But I know that for many households it is not that easy, so in this post I will focus on the products where it makes the most sense to go organic.

Research shows that consuming organic products reduces contamination from pesticides and therefore possible inflammation that may lead to stress in our body.

Research* also shows that children can clear their bodies from pesticides after 5 days of using organic products!
There are some foods that I always buy organic because I know that they are extremely contaminated, either with pesticides, contaminants, antibiotics or hormones. Since I cannot control what I and my family eat at school or at work (after all that’s life) I can be a tiny bit controlling regarding what I put in our plates at home!

So here is my advice:

Vegetables and fruits: I follow the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. EWG is a a treasure trove of information regarding environmental and human health protection. Please visit their website: https://www.ewg.org/

EWG has just released their 2016 lists – the “dirty dozen” and the “clean fifteen”. What is it?

The dirty dozen: are the fruits and vegetables that have been treated with an astounding amount of pesticides. So if you need to choose when to buy organic, the 12 following should be the ones! Strawberries are at the top of the list, followed by apples, nectarines, peaches, celery, grapes, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.

The clean fifteen on the other hand are the ones that have been found to be safer to eat non organic: avocados, corn*, pineapples, cabbage, sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwi, eggplant, honeydew, grapefruit, cantaloupe and cauliflower. (* I would still buy organic corn since they’re often GMO).​

Meat: We don’t eat a lot of red meat at home but when we do it is always 100% grass fed meat, without antibiotics nor hormones. 100% grass fed cows are loaded with good nutrients including omega 3 and vitamin E – and they also taste great! If you buy non grass fed organic meat it means that it had been raised on organic corn which does not have the same nutritional benefits. My philosophy is: eat less, but of better quality. Please avoid industrial meat!

Poultry: If you can buy a free range chicken from a local farmer that would be the best. If not, choose organic, free range, antibiotics and hormones free poultry. Never buy industrial chickens! My advice for eggs is the same.

Dairy: I always buy organic plain yogurt and butter from 100% grass fed cows so I know they don’t contain any hormones or antibiotics.

Fish: I try to buy wild or organic fish, although I prefer wild fish to farmed fish.  You have probably seen those terrible documentaries about farmed fish, haven’t you? Keep in mind that farmed fish are usually treated with antibiotics, hormones, synthetic pigments and/or parasiticides.

The websites cleanfish.com and http://www.seafoodwatch.org/ are really useful if you want to find out more about the sustainability and quality of different types of fish. Again, go for quality over quantity and frequency.

Now, what about organic packaged foods? Here you need to check the ingredients.  Organic does not always mean healthy because what you get might still be loaded with sugar or salt. So don’t assume that a packet of biscuits is healthy because it is organic and free of additives and preservatives, so keep this option as a treat.
*See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1367841/

Fibers April 2016

Fibres are essential to our diet but they can only be found in plant foods. We need 15 to 20g of fibers per day. Yes, another excellent reason to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables!
Foods high in fibers tend to be low in fat and low in glycemic index (GI), which means that they do not raise blood glucose as much as a high GI food, and therefore appropriate for a weight loss program.
There are two types of fibers, soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fibers are found in fruits, vegetables but also in some cereals and legumes. They are good for lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and for maintaining our good cholesterol (HDL). They also help to have a good transit, so no more constipation!

Insoluble fibers are found in wholegrain foods, the skins of fruits and vegetables, nuts and dried beans. They are fermented by bacteria and protect the gut wall. They are also very good to prevent constipation.

If you have some trouble digesting legumes and beans, soak them in cold water for a few hours before cooking: why not before going to bed at night or as you leave home in the morning?

To increase your fiber intake you can add dried peas, beans, lentils to your soups, salads or stews. Another way to increase your fiber intake is to switch to whole grains and brown rice and replace processed cereals with wholegrain cereals, oats, linseed and barley, for instance.
You can also snack on hummus, vegetables sticks, nuts and seeds.