5 reasons to cook from home

I am not the cook of the year, but I do have a taste for homemade recipes.

It reminds me of the moments I spent with my mom and siblings in the kitchen, preparing dishes and desserts for special occasions.

My actual struggle is to find a way to use wisely my time: I don’t have a lot of free hours to cook very sophisticated meals every week. But I like to cook because it has a lot of advantages.

Here are the 5 most important reasons to prepare home food:

  • You have more control on the amount of sugar, fat and extra chemicals that you put in. The biggest issue with industrial food is that despite what brands try to make us believe, we never really know what’s inside. Even if it looks fresh and clean, when you start looking at the labels and see the number of additional components it makes you dizzy. FYI, it’s always better to buy products that don’t have more than 3 or 4 ingredients, with industrial and organic food (we can be fooled by organic brands too, don’t forget their point is to sell).

  • You save money, a significant amount of money. Take a couple of minutes and write down in a piece of paper your weekly or monthly food expenses. You are going to quickly realize how much not cooking home can actually cost you. There are the food carts not really optimal (when you go to the supermarket without a list or a general idea of your meals), all the food deliveries you can get at night and during the weekends (thanks UberEATS), the restaurants or takes out at lunch time in the office… When we spend all that money little by little every day, we don’t realize how much it is. It’s a good time to re think your budget, spend more on quality food on your local supermarket and maybe choose 2 days in the week to eat out in a very good restaurant. This way, you gain quality on your food and your wallet.
  • You save time later on: I do my food prep of the week on Sunday, depending on the recipes it can take me between one and three hours. It allows me to then, save time every day, I only have to heat up my dish in the micro wave or the oven. It’s also a way to save energy: you know when you come home, you are hungry, and you scratch your head in front of the refrigerator and you end up ordering a delivery… That’s another benefit of meal prep.
  •  You explore and experiment new recipes! I have my classic recipes, the ones I do quickly because I know them by memory. But I can get bored, I need diversity, so I regularly try new recipes, or I try to change a few things on my classic ones. Sometimes just another vegetable or spice can change the taste. Because my budget is limited and I don’t want to spend 4 hours on the kitchen, I usually stick to recipes with between 3 and 5 ingredients.
  • You create a moment of sharing and making memories with your loved ones. As I said, when I was a kid and a young teenager, it was always an amazing time to be with my mom or grandmother, cut vegetables or having my hands on flour preparing some cakes. Now these moments are rarer as I live abroad but I get to spend time in the kitchen with my boyfriend and his family. It’s a super cool way to bond and learn new things about each other cultures.  

As for my experience, cooking at home it’s a saver of both time and money. Also, it allows you to enjoy quality food at home and when you eat out. 

Why you should make smoothies

If you live in a rich society you are probably experiencing the same daily rush as I am.

You know the “get up, exercise/do yoga/do meditation (or a combo of the 3), work, eat properly, read and go to bed” ?

How the hell in all of this are we supposed to find time to do a good grocery shopping, cook properly and take time to actually sit and enjoy our meals ?

Since I left Europe the amount of time I spend eating has significantly reduced. I usually have my lunch in 15 minutes, 30 minutes for dinner when I am lucky.

I know it’s terrible for the digestion and I should take time to eat more consciously but…hey ! I eat healthy first, let’s take this thing step by step. 

I am always looking for ways to improve my meal prep and make my life easier. Preparing a smoothie has come to one of the best options. I usually prepare a mix of several fruits, or fruits and vegetables and for after my training, I love my combo banana-protein powder.

7 reasons to make smoothies more often:

  1. The most obvious one: it taste good
  2. It helps you keep regular meals during the day with a busy schedule
  3. It allows to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables (generally we don’t have enough)
  4. It boost your protein intake (which also tend to lack of quantity and/or quality)
  5. It helps fight the cravings
  6. It boost your metabolism
  7. Depending on your ingredients it keeps you awake in the morning or help you to sleep

Let’s be honest here: my smoothies never look as good as the one in this picture. I don’t take time to make them pretty for pictures. My goal is to prepare smoothies that are tasteful and with a big amount of nutrients. If it’s pretty, it’s a bonus.

Food in the US

In July it will be two years that I left France. I knew I would grow and learn a lot coming to North America. But one thing for sure, I knew I would never find the same quality of food. And even if I prepared myself as much as I could to deal with it, it’s still hard to accept it.

It’s a little bit like when you are going to do a hard workout session, you know it, you think “I will just push myself through it”… but when you are in the middle of it you think “noooope it’s too much, I think I could, but I can’t”.

I hear you, yes, if I am not happy I should just shup up and go home. But it’s only fair to be comparing everything from your home country when you live abroad.
North America has a lot of good things, but the quality of the food is not one of them.

After a year in Québec and now almost a year in Miami, here is my perspective:

  • Yes, you can eat organic food and there is plenty of it. And it is as expensive as it is in France. On this, both our countries suck. You want to eat healthy fresh non-GMO foods? You have to triple your food budget. It’s a hard choice for me (I buy some food organic some not), I can’t imagine the struggle for families with children.
  • The diversity is not there yet. I don’t know if it’s a specific parameter from Florida because it’s a very sunny tropical weather, but here we have the same food all year long. In France we have specific vegetables and fruits for each season, which makes the cooking fun and you never get bored. Since I am in Miami, no matter what, it’s always the same products season after season.
  • The size of certain packages of food is huge. It’s not usual to see 3 liters sodas bottles or “family size” bags of breads or chips. American people have the same physiology than European but the sizes of the products are way bigger. I guess it’s part of the obesity problem.
  • The fresh markets where you can find local products from your area are not so common. It’s surprising because Miami is the door to Latin America so I thought it would be easier to find products from America and the south of the continent. But I also learned that is not really in American culture to cook all the time. You buy food that is already prepared or you eat outside. So there is no real need or demand for fresh local market products.
  • In Montreal in particular, the vegetarian and vegan communities are huge and still growing. They offer a wide range of products and restaurants but I haven’t seen that in Miami a lot. The main culture here is Latina and they aren’t big fan of vegetarian foods. I like it because it gives me more options to eat something different. But it’s the same issue than with organic food, to me the prices are sometimes (and I insist sometimes) ridiculous. Charge people 7 $ for a vegan muffin is outrageous, sorry. With these 7 $ I buy the ingredients and I make 6 vegan muffins. So no, I am not falling for that.
  • The absence of cheese. This is a hard one for me French lady. I love my cheese on a good bread and in America they just make weird block of gouda cheese-thing. All the others are imported products (most of them from France and Italy) that off course cost a fortune. Once again I get it, if it’s importation it’s normal that is more expensive, but still ridiculous to pay 8 $ for 60g of brie. My family and friends thought that living in America I would get fat, the truth is I am losing weight because I eat less cheese.
  • The least but not less important: what’s with the chocolate with stuff inside? In France you have dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate. The ones you eat just like that and the ones you use to cook pastries. You have some brands that offer chocolate with pieces of fruit or nuts inside but it’s not the majority of the offer. But here, even in Wholefoods the majority of the chocolates have stuff inside! Whyyyyyyyy ? I am ordering my Milka online.. thank you Amazon.

To be fair the situation is not as bad as we paint it in Europe. But it’s true that the products contain way more chemical products, especially sugar. You add that to bigger sizes packages and a lack of cuisine knowledge … people eat too much fat, too much outside and have bigger health problems.

I know French people we can be pretty arrogant with our food and our cuisine. But I have to say that in the defense of American people, the organic food is so expensive here that it’s affordable for a small part of the population. I can’t eat organic 100% of the time and I don’t have a lot of expenses, so for a whole family, it’s impossible.

I think we will solve a lot of health issues and will start to cook more when the basic healthy products will be available at reasonable prices.

Why you should eat protein

It doesn’t matter if you are an omnivore, a vegan or a selective vegetarian, you have probably heard lately that proteins are important. Even more if you are practicing sport at a regular level.

Before telling you the benefits of eating proteins, maybe we should back up a little bit.

Proteins are essential for your body for various reasons:

  • The synthesis of the muscles
  • The defense of the organism (with the production of antibodies)
  • The transport of various elements in the blood

How does it work? When you eat a protein, your body transform them in amino acids, little chemical elements, who will turn themselves … in protein again.   

The first benefit that you have when you eat one is, they provide you the sensation of being full. Eat enough protein and you won’t be snacking shit. Or less, at least.

I am not a nutritionist so I am not going to provide you a complete meal plan. But according to my experience it’s kind of easy to have a bit of protein at every meal:

  • I have eggs at breakfast
  • I eat chicken or turkey at lunch
  • My protein shake is in my gym back as a post workout
  • I have fish at dinner

We all have different needs and tastes but what’s important to know is that there is protein in not only meats but also cereals like quinoa, rice, milk, yogurt and cheese. So, you really have a lot of different options at your disposition.

What also works or me when I am hungry between meals is to have a snack with protein on it, like a Greek yogurt.  

We tend to have the majority of our protein intake by the end of the day but it’s not ideal. As we said before, protein is a source of energy so it’s better to have them along the day.

Bon appétit

Breakfast or not breakfast …

I think that our generation has heard so many different myths about food that we don’t really know how to eat anymore.

We have been told to never skip breakfast, have it big, eat less at lunch and then super light at dinner, not eat between meals and then yes you can have snacks, have various milk product every day and now no milk is evil, have bread have pasta have rice and now no have gluten free products only !

The food lobbies are doing an incredible job with their marketing. We go to demonize food and then have them too much. We eat all the time and then we fast. We go from industrial prepared meals to full organic products or vegan diet without seeing a doctor and having a check up to see what’s actually going on in our bodies.

People I am telling you, we are nuts.

I am not a dietician, nor a doctor so today I will speak only from my experience.

When I was a kid I could have easily a breakfast with no issue. Then when I was 10 years old, I started to get sick every morning, I would puke before leaving home or just arriving at school. I didn’t know what the problem could be and was so ashamed I didn’t tell my parents. There, I stopped having breakfast for more 12 years.

Turns out I found out recently it’s the milk in my hot chocolate that I wasn’t digesting well. I today have a glass of chocolate almond milk because I love it !

I started to have breakfast again when I was 23… recovering from anorexia so it was not possible to skip a meal, I had to gain weight again.

There, I have tried different options: cereals, granola, Greek yogurt, bread with jam, tea, orange juice, turkey, fruits, eggs, protein pancakes, smoothies…

It took me a while to adjust the quantity, the food my body liked in the morning and what was enough to help me hold on until lunch (but I still need a snack during the day).

Today I am at a point of balance that works well for me: I have two whole eggs (I know not only whites), home-made bowl of chocolate granola and a green tea.

I have another green tea and an apple during the morning before my lunch, so I am not tempted by crap.

For years I repeated I was okay with the fact of not having breakfast. Truth I wasn’t: I was feeling exhausted all morning, it was extremely hard to concentrate at school and then at work, I was eating sugary snacks all morning and eating way too much at lunch to compensate.

So, in my opinion, in terms of energy yes, you need to have breakfast. If you don’t have appetite when you wake up well then have your food with you in your bag to have it in the bus or when you get to work.

Finally, in terms of fat loss I don’t fucking know. Some people say you have to eat it in the morning to lose weight, some others not. This is a debate that only trial can settle. I would suggest you give it a try for 3 weeks and see what happens: 3 weeks without it and 3 weeks with it. Check out your weight in the balance, the way you feel in your clothes, your look in the mirror, your digestion, your appetite and your mood!

Most of us are not nice persons when we are hungry. Before getting upset with your man/kid/coworker you might want to ask yourself if you should have a piece of food.

Quick reminder: skipping the breakfast doesn’t give you a pass to eat crap later during the day. If you do so, we need to start from the beginning and talk about caloric deficit, energy level and basic metabolism.

If you do need us to talk about these subjects let me know.

The rice question

I always have been a huge pasta eater, I think it’s the ingredient I have been eating the most when I was a child and then a teenager. With my sport practice I have tried a lot of new recipes where I replaced pasta by rice and decided to dig up some informations about rice and actually understand the benefits.

Apparently there are more than 40 000 different sorts of rice.. we aren’t going to talk about all of them today !

Generally in our society we consume 3 kinds of rice :

– Brown rice : it doesn’t have anymore its outside enveloppe but still has the sprout and bran. There are the most important parts because it’s where the minerals are. The bran makes it harder to conserve so it has to be eaten quickly.

– White rice: it doesn’t have the sprout and bran so you can keep it longer in the kitchen but it has way less minerals on it.

– “Steamed” rice: it’s cooked with the bran and then, cut and dried with an industrial process . It gets the minerals and vitamins inside the rice seed. His natural nutritional properties are higher than the white rice but lower than the brown.

The healthiest one is the brown rice. A rice that isn’t going through a process of refining conserve all its B Vitamins, fibers, magnesium, phosphore and potassium. 60 % of them are lost for the white rice !

But the white rice has less phytic acid: its a molecule that prevent the assimiliation of some of the rice nutrients. So would be it the same result to eat bronwn or white rice ?

In terms of calories, there are pretty similar :

– 200g of white rice = 270 calories

– 200g of brown rice = 312 calories

Where the brown rice “wins” again, is that it also has a lower glycemic index : 50; What does it means ? That it will help you better regulate your hunger and sleepiness after a meal, or limit a weight intake influenced by insulin secretions.

Finally it also has a lot of fibers and … we really need more of these babies these days !

Personnally, I eat it with almost all vegetables, fish, turkey, chicken, in salad cold or hot, with spices or not. There are so many ways to cook it I don’t where to start !

So know you have a better idea of what you can look for next time you are in your supermarket !