Thursday, 2 September 2010

French Women Don't Get Fat: Quinoa Almonds Hazelnuts and Honey

I picked up French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guilianono yesterday. The title's intriguing and I liked the look of the book. I'm usually drawn to cookery books with lots of images, but this one was quite different. The pages were matt not shiny. There weren't many images and those that were in the book weren't glossy photographs but little subtly painted ones. A bit like the kind you get on tins of butter biscuits from Normandy or Brittany....A bit folksy.

Once inside the book I found the contents interesting too. A quick scan-read revealed that the secret to eating and not getting fat seems to be eating breakfast! Having three substantial meals with protein, carbohydrate and fat in each of them. So your body doesn't crave any lacking vitamins or minerals and make you eat between meals. Which makes sense really.

One breakfast dish that stood out was Quinoa with hazelnuts, almonds and honey. Seasoned with a pinch of salt, a squeeze of lemon juice and the addition of butter and milk.

I love oatmeal porridge for breakfast. It's real comfort food as my maternal grandfather used to make it for me, sweetened with syrup or sprinkled with brown sugar. Hopefully the oats counteracted any syrupy badness. Grandad used to make it in the porringer. It was a beige double boiler. The oats would cook in the little pan that fitted happily into another one holding water. They were cooked perfectly and never burned, so no nasty pan to clean up. I never seem to be able to cook porridge oats without them sticking to the pan. However much I stand and stir. I remember mum burning dozens of pans making porridge.

So the idea of using quinoa which is so easy to cook as an alternative, instantly got my attention. I had a go this morning. I cooked one portion of quinoa according to the instructions on the packet (this may vary according the grain you buy). Which is basically placing the required amount in a pan pouring over a measured amount of cold water, bringing to the boil and then cooking for thirty minutes. Then you just add all your flavourings.

We had some sweetened dried apricots, a gift from Iran which 'A' had left soaking overnight in water to extract a sweet nectar and reconstitute the fruits. I used some of this nectar instead of water so didn't require any honey to sweeten the porridge. We had some coated almonds and tiny cob nuts from the garden which I also chopped and added along with some of the apricots. It didn't add any milk, butter or salt.

It was lovely. But for me nothing will ever be a substitute for oatmeal porridge. Every time I eat it I remember my grandmother telling me when I was a tiny little thing that I should eat it all up because it "would stick to my bones!"

PS. I have to add a postscript to this. Silly me. I've been looking for a double porridge pan for years. In every kitchen equipment shop in the UK and any other country we've travelled to, without any luck. I've looked on the internet with the same bad luck. That was until writing this post today. I remembered that the pan was called a porringer, did a google search and there they all were. Hurray.....I think that's two more things for my birthday present list French Women Don't Get Fat and a porringer! .......Or I might just borrow it from the library


  1. Isn't writing a wonderful thing? It helps us to remember all sorts of embedded things like 'porringers'. I've seen that book in bookshop and I believe there is actually a more traditional style cookbook available too so I might check it out.

  2. Yes it's almost therapeutical! I find it so cathartic.

    You've got me wondering now which book I actually looked at. A good excuse to go back for another check. I've also just heard about 'Why Japanese Women Don't Get Old Or Fat' apparently written in a similar vein about a Japanese woman who went to live in the US and when she returned to Japan was told she'd put on weight. As soon as she returned to her old way of eating in Japan including rice etc she automatically lost weight.