I grew up in the 1970s as a plump kid in Paris, which as you might imagine, was considered a disgrace. My skinny mother was constantly trying an extraordinary number of mainly American diets. I remember names like Scarsdale, Mayo, the grapefruit diet, one based on chocolate-flavored drinks, and another that required eating six boiled eggs a day! During my high school years, she went on a mission to help me lose 15 pounds, but nothing seemed to work. At 16, she put me on an “only-carrots-and-gruyère-for-a–week” plan. I loved carrots and gruyère, but on the fourth day, I fainted in the classroom. Waking up in the nurse’s office, I swore I would never go on a diet again.
I am now 53 and live here in the States. My husband, our two children and I moved from Paris to Chapel Hill, NC in 2007. I love to eat, can’t resist the sight of a crunchy baguette (especially with butter and cheese on top.) I love cooking and hosting French dinners where friends top off hours of heated debate with a little schnapps before hitting the road. And, I am skinny! A few weeks ago, a 65-year-old female friend emailed me: “How is it possible that we ate so well last night at your house, drank wine, had chocolate mousse, and today I feel so good!”
Well, there is no magic involved. Two years ago, I went through the whole menopausal package: hot flashes, insomnia and muffin top included. I had to tweak my eating habits. I created and tried tons of new recipes, and they worked, and I’m ready to share what I’ve learned! Ready? Then, let’s cook!
RECIPE #1: VELOUTE OF CARROTS WITH ORANGE AND GINGER
Did you know that Marilyn Monroe ate a raw carrot a day with her dinner as a beauty tip? Carrots contain a unique fiber that aids detox and hormone balance. They can help end menstrual cramping and swollen breasts. They also contain Vitamin A Complex and Vitamin C Complex. As for ginger, it has long been used to treat nausea, but its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties mean it also has the ability to provide relief from hot flashes.
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 6 portions
- 2 pounds of carrots
- 3 juicy oranges
- 2 inches of fresh ginger
- 2 medium size onions
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 spoons of olive oil
- 8 cups of vegetable broth (or water if you dont like broth)
- salt, pepper, cilantro (to taste)
What to Do:
- Peel the carrots. Cut them into big pieces.
- Peel the ginger and cut it in small pieces
- Peel and slice garlic and onions
- Take the zest (the upper part of the skin) of an orange (with a peeler)
- Squeeze the three oranges
- In a large casserole, pour a little olive oil and sauté garlic, onions, and ginger for five minutes.
- Add carrots, orange zest, orange juice, broth, salt, and pepper. Cover.
- Let boil for 25 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
- Let the preparation cool down a little while because you don’t want to ruin your food processor.
- Mix all the ingredients until your velouté looks smooth and creamy even though there is no cream here. Add water if too thick.
- Serve it hot with fresh cilantro on top if you like it, or along with croutons or multigrain crackers.
Géraldine Smith, a Parisian born in 1965, worked as a special correspondent in Africa before she became editor-in-chief of cultural magazine Epok. Married to an American academic and writer, she currently lives with her family in North Carolina.