At a time when Americans were desperate to try any fad diet (ie. Atkins, South Beach), author Mireille Guiliano introduced the US and most of the Western world to a new concept – weight-loss and healthy living à la Française. In her 2005 best-selling book, French Women Don’t Get Fat, Guiliano describes how the French eat deliciously rich food yet manage to stay thin and healthy – a diet plan, no; a paradox, yes.
Five years and two subsequent books later, Guiliano has delighted readers once more with an addition to the French Women series – The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook. That’s right, anyone who enjoyed Guiliano’s recipes from French Women Don’t Get Fat or French Women for All Seasons, is sure to love her new cookbook, dedicated to easy, healthy, and affordable recipes, most with a French or Mediterranean flair.
Not Your Mother’s Cookbook
Last week, I spoke with Guiliano to get her thoughts on the new book as well as the French lifestyle.
“Since my first book, I’ve met many readers who wanted more recipes that are fast, easy, and affordable,” she said. And it was during these conversations where she also learned why people were having weight problems. Americans’ issues with weight, she explained, have a lot to do with the lack of connection people have with the food they are eating. “People don’t really cook, and even those who do, don’t cook enough.” To control weight issues, she suggests people need to be aware of what they are eating, connecting with both the food they eat and the people they eat with.
Unlike most modern cookbooks, Guiliano’s book doesn’t include glossy photos of perfectly prepared dishes. Instead, Guiliano opted to keep the same anecdotal style of her previous book, providing breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes – sans photos but with plenty of textual flavor. The cookbook includes more than 150 new recipes that incorporate fresh and seasonal ingredients. Many of the recipes were created by Guiliano, while others are adapted from friends. However, you’ll only find a handful of authentic family recipes in this book for one main reason. “Classic French family recipes are more difficult to prepare,” she added.
But Guiliano went on to explain that healthy French cooking doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult to prepare. In fact, many of the recipes in her book take just a few minutes to prepare, including the chicken dish she prepared on the Today Show.
10 Things You May Not Know About Mireille Guiliano
Among the 10 either/or questions, I asked Mireille to choose which best describes her. Her answers are in bold:
- Coffee or tea?
- Morning person or night owl? Both
- Red or white wine?
- Sparkling or still water?
- Print or electronic books?
- Beach vacation or skiing?
- Chocolate dessert or fruit dessert? It depends, but she’d really prefer one piece of pure chocolate
- Regular or Greek yogurt? Neither, she prefers to make her own with just milk and cultures
- Mac or PC?
- Skirts or trousers?
Stocking Your French Pantry
Plus, most Americans already have many of the classic French food staples in their pantry that can be turned into wonderful French dishes. And, if you’re not sure what to stock in your pantry to make these French-inspired meals, Guiliano’s book includes a thorough list of French food musts to keep on-hand, including:
- Butter (but not too much, only a little for flavor)
- Lemon juice
- Fresh herbs and spices
Is it Just a French Diet Fad?
Like many others who are tired of reading about fad diets, I have embraced Guiliano’s French way of eating for many years. However, I’ve often wondered how long this trend in French eating will last. Recent reports have shown that obesity rates in France are on the rise and that the French have gained an average of 7 pounds in the last 12 years.
Mireille sadly admits that, although France still has the lowest rate of obesity in Europe, the French government has recognized that waistlines are growing. She explained that the globalization of the country has introduced many pre-packaged and processed foods (high in calories, salt, etc) that were, for years, unheard of in France. “The French are not used to reading food labels,” she said. And, if you’re not paying attention to food labels on processed foods, you’re weight is likely to rise.
She also explained that France is a melting pot of people and cultures from all over the world. “Many living in France come from countries where nutrition was poor and people didn’t and still don’t understand what it means to eat healthy.”
Despite reports about obesity rates in France, the US and many other countries continue to follow Guiliano’s French principles of eating for health and for pleasure. And, with the introduction of a new cookbook with easy French recipes (sorry Julia), we may just see Americans cooking more, dieting less, and losing weight in the process.