“Eat it … it’s good fat!”
This is what I heard from my petite grandmother for the first 30 years of my life. But I was terrified about gaining weight every time I visited her! Eight years ago, I had a partner who was vegetarian and I followed the same diet for a few years. My grandmother thought I was crazy.
She was from southwest France, in a region called Les Landes. Cooking was her way to express her love, and every time I’m preparing meals in the kitchen I feel like she is there with me.
French cuisine made my grandmother a healthy woman.
My grandmother ate a traditional French diet all her life, and she prepared meals for her family with the same traditional diet. She was very healthy – she was as solid as a rock. She also never had any diseases associated with diet.
What was the magical component of my grandmother’s diet?
The secret is duck. Duck is the French regional specialty (as well as pork), and my grandma cooked with a lot of duck fat. (In case you’re wondering, french fries fried in duck fat is the best thing you will ever taste!)
Meat was always the central piece of any meal she created. She loved to prepare “poule au pot,” a chicken stew made using a whole chicken that was left to cook in a pot with vegetables for many hours. Some of the other recipes she cooked for us were: “morue aux patates” (cod fish with potatoes), “boudin noir” (blood sausage), roasted lamb, white beans with carrots, lentils with sausages, and of course duck confits.
Have you ever heard of the French paradox?
My grandmother’s diet illustrates a paradoxical observation that French people have low incidents of coronary heart disease, while having a diet rich in saturated fats. Whether saturated fats are linked to an increased of heart disease is a very popular debate nowadays. I encourage you to read this article about the latest research on the subject of fat and heart disease.
What is good fat?
Our bodies are dependent on fat. Because our cells require fat to produce hormones and to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, fat is very necessary in our bodies. We cannot function without fats in our diets, but not all fats are created equal.
Throughout history, humans have always consumed animal fats. In the modern world most animals raised for consumption are not treated humanely. They are fed a GMO-corn diet and pumped full of antibiotics, and this meat is not healthy for us to eat. Pesticides and antibiotics end up in our bodies disrupting our endocrine system, and lead to disease. If you choose to eat animal meat (or dairy for that matter) in the US, then it’s paramount to choose pasture-raised and even pasture-finished meats. Although these meats are more expensive, for the sake of your health and the environment it’s worth the extra money.
Most importantly, vegetable oils are not healthy fats. Corn, soybean, sesame, cottonseed, and canola oil are especially bad. Traditional diets never used these types of over-processed oils in the past. The only vegetable oils that your body will recognize is olive oil.
As my grandmother taught me: eat good fat.
Choose good, high-quality fats, and cook complete nutritious meals at home like my grandmother used to do. Sit down and enjoy your French dinner recipes with the whole family. It’s what my grandmother would do, and grandma knows best!