Okay, so maybe the French don’t do everything better. Or maybe they do. Bottom line, I I’ve got a delicious, healthy coq au vin I wanted to share with you today. It’s easy, tastes super authentic, and taps into some traditional French cuisine flavors that just about everyone loves. Oh, and did I mention it’s healthy?
I also wanted to talk a little about French health culture and why exactly the French are as healthy as they are. Personally, I love learning about different cultures, and I truly believe food is the door to culture. Today’s post also highlights some of these cultural characteristics that make French food so good (and good for you).
Why The French Don’t Get Fat
Surely you’ve heard about this conundrum before. French women are notorious for drinking loads of wine, smoking cartons of cigarettes, and still manage to have better health than American women. What gives, right?
I’m not the first one to talk about this phenomenon. Google “French women don’t get fat,” and you’ll find over 1.7 million results! So yeah, there are a ton of opinions out there, and I’m not the first to talk about European culture and how it impacts health. Some argue that the French healthcare system is one reason why France and other European countries are so healthy I also want to take a moment to ensure I’m not stereotyping or generalizing here. But after reading a lot of books, blogs, and other material, there are several key components in French health culture that keep their population healthy:
- Plant-based foods→Sure, many traditional French dishes have cream, wine, and butter. But you know what else shines in their cuisine? Fruits and vegetables. Many traditional French dishes are very plant-based. These dishes focus on keeping fruits and vegetables simple and letting these ingredients shine on their own. You can easily adopt this attitude into your own eating habits. Like, do you really need to make a condensed soup green bean casserole? Or are steamed haricot verts with a splash of olive oil and lemon just as good?
- They don’t treat exercise like a chore→ If you love to go to the gym like me, great! And if not, that’s also great too. French women don’t treat exercise as punishment. They work activity into their daily lives, not stressing the small stuff like how many steps they took in a given day or what their FitBit says. If you don’t like structured physical activity, this doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t be active. Maybe you like hiking or walking in your neighborhood. Maybe yoga, Pilates, or barre classes are more your thing than lifting weights with a bunch of gym rats. Don’t let others judge you for your exercise habits, and, better yet, don’t judge yourself.
- Actually enjoying food→ I’ve worked with many clients over the years that straight up don’t enjoy what they’re eating. And honestly it does make me upset from time to time. We might not be able to binge on donuts and ice cream all day every day, but we should still enjoy our food. French women, I think, have really picked up on this. As a culture, the French savor their meals and meal times. They’re not in a rush. They aren’t eating at their desks while they answer emails. I’ll admit I’m guilty of this and still struggle to break this bad habit. But I think that’s what makes me human!
- Herbs and other healthy ingredients enhance flavor→ French cuisine might not be loaded with curry powders and chili, but there is definitely a unique flavor to this food. The French love using Herb de Provence, for instance, and you’ll find some of that in today’s recipe. Today’s healthy coq au vin also uses red wine, which is known not only to enhance flavor, but also for its heart health benefits. Personally, I think herbs and spices are some of the most undervalued healthy ingredients out there. Every day there’s more evidence highlighting the medicinal benefits of these herbs. Don’t be shy of doing more research and incorporating more of these products into your diet.
- Their attitude to health is just different→ This might not be my most glamorous distinction, but in general I’ve noticed European culture is so much more relaxed when it comes to health. Working with a trainer or meal prepping aren’t always on their minds, and it seems to pay off. I’m not saying don’t be conscious of your health, because for a lot of clients it’s the absence of consciousness that got them into bad habits and health behaviors. Put simply, their attitude towards health is very different. They see taking care of themselves as something that enhances their wellbeing, not something to get stressed out about. The takeaway here is to not beat yourself up all the time with diet, exercise, and other healthy lifestyle practices. You aren’t a saint if you eat clean all day, and you’re by no means a murderer if you ate some cake after dinner.
How My Coq Au Vin Is Healthy
I did a lot of research before I tried making this. Coq au vin is that kind of stew that everyone’s mother makes just a tad different. So there were a ton of recipes out there for me to choose from!
Traditional coq au vin uses bacon, butter, flour, and even brandy or cognac. I wanted a dish that I could regularly eat and not save for only special occasions. I also wanted something that utilized more healthy ingredients. So here are a few of my modifications:
- I added bone broth for calcium and collagen building factors.
- I discarded the bacon and making a rue with flour or butter.
- I added a little tomato paste instead to help naturally thicken the sauce and add more vitamin C. Not very traditional, but tastes amazing!
- I made sure to incorporate plenty of vegetables, in this case, onions, garlic, carrots, and mushrooms.
- I used about 1/3 a bottle of wine. Not so much as to add excessive calories, but enough to put the ‘vin’ in coq au vin.
- I made sure I used adequate amounts of herbs and spices in this dish, for herbs like lavender, thyme, and parsley are known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
Overall, this was a healthy and delicious dish. It’s a great choice to make on a Saturday or Sunday night. This way, you’ll have leftovers for the entire week.
Hope you all enjoy this recipe and happy eats! Comment below and let me know how your coq au vin turned out 🙂