Today my social media feeds are full of tributes to Kate Spade, the handbag and fashion designer, who has reportedly killed herself at the age of 55. I feel so sad that someone could be in a place where taking their own life is a viable option: I have nothing but empathy in this situation. A 13 year old daughter is left behind, which is something I can’t begin to unpack. My heart goes out to her friends and family.Read More
I know that I usually reserve this space for Paris-based expats - but today I'm trying something a little different. Zoe, a French/American food stylist, reached out to me via Instagram to tell me about her new recipe book "Healthy and Beautiful". I'd been a @joybyzoe follower since her San Francisco days and therefore accepted her lunch invitation without a second thought!
The book not only looks great - thanks to Zoe's appreciable food styling and Blaise's photographic skills - it also provides helpful info and inspiring recipes for those looking to inject some nutrients and vitamins into their diet! Within this pastel delight, you will find nourishing main dishes, nutritious drinks and natural beauty remedies (my personal favourite).
Get to know a little more about Zoe below : )Read More
Welcome to a new LouLou meets - the final one for 2014. Heidi first came to my attention when she liked some of my photos on Instagram a few months ago. I was immediately a fan of her feed and loved discovering her lovely blog, Apples under my Bed, which features recipes interlaced with stories from Heidi's life. It isn't just the visual element that I appreciate chez Heidi: she is also a great storyteller and evidently very passionate about food, which seems to have connected her with a diverse cooking community. After experiencing some issues with my diet this year, and discovering that staying off wheat as much as possible helps with both my weight and my physical well-being, I'm looking for more creative and exciting ways to eat as healthily as possible most of the time - Heidi's blog fits the bill and I was so happy when she agreed to be part of the series. Get comfy and let me introduce you to Heidi.
Hi Heidi, could you explain briefly the story behind your blog name?
Hi, Lou! It’s lovely to meet you and be featured on your site. My blog name comes from my habit as a young child to eat apples in bed while reading. I’d lay there at night, munching and turning pages ravenously, before disposing of the apple cores under my bed! One day my mother found the scene (luckily not too long after my habit begun) and directed me to the bin. The name just came to me one day.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in Melbourne?
I am a Dietitian who sees clients in a private practice setting outside of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula. Our clinic has a garden and I rent the room from my parents who are psychologists. It’s a really lovely work space and I feel very lucky to get to do what I do, helping clients make healthy food and lifestyle choices, and to learn how to cook and enjoy nutritious whole foods.
How would you describe the Australian food scene? I imagine it to be really different to the European food scene, where dieting is frowned upon but health is not necessarily considered a priority.
The food scene in Melbourne is really vibrant! We have so many wonderful places to eat – from high-end dining (like Attica or Vue De Monde) to wonderful casual spots serving incredible fried chicken, souvlaki, ramen and pho. We are a country of many cultures and the food scene reflects that. One quintessential Melbourne thing is brunch! We have the best coffee and do eggs and doughnuts like no-where else in the world. We’re a talented and passionate bunch of foodies, that’s for sure. Across Australia, more and more health-centred cafes/restaurants serving raw foods and smoothies are popping up, which is great and caters to those wanting to eat less processed or more nutritious food. Just as popular are places to get good burgers (including the classic Aussie “burger with the lot”, which contains pineapple, egg, beetroot and bacon!)
The diet industry is a huge business these days. We can easily find so much information about how to be healthy and slim. What is your personal food philosophy when it comes to being healthy?
I am all about real, whole food. I eat very little overly processed or highly refined foods and always make sure I eat heaps of vegetables every day. I am a big supporter of shopping local and sustainably. I support a biodynamic farm in my area and we get a weekly vegetable box from them. In fact I recently spent 8 months farming one day a week there to further my knowledge of “farm to plate”. Getting to know your food, your producers, and not just mindlessly consuming is important to me. If you’re focusing on this practice, eating real whole foods and not wasting, then you don’t even need to think about fad diets or any of that crazy business.
What advice / encouragement would you offer to someone who is scared of getting into the kitchen and cooking?
Be fearless! If you’re just starting out (or wanting to further your skills), begin by reading recipe books like novels, taking note of techniques and the way these seasoned authors speak about food and cooking. I adore Marcella Hazan’s books and Jamie Oliver has some great ones too. Then try it yourself, with all your ingredients ready (mise en place is really helpful for stress -free cooking)! Also, I believe that the first time you try a recipe it is good to follow the instructions explicitly. The next time around you can tinker things to suit your tastes with a bit more confidence. Lastly, follow Julia Child’s advice – “In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude”.
How do you manage to keep costs low when cooking with healthier ingredients (which tend to be a bit more expensive than regular ingredients).
To start, I spend less on vegetables by supporting my local vegetable farm, which is so much cheaper (and better quality!) than buying from the stores. I then focus on legumes and grains as a base of my meals. I love whole grains like freekeh, quinoa, etc but also love pasta and rice (wild rice in particular). Fish is a favourite of mine but I try to go for smaller, sustainably sourced fish (preferably local, we have great mussels in our area) and tend to rely on anchovies and sardines for flavour and nourishment (and these are very cheap). Meat or poultry is perhaps a once a week purchase, which helps keep costs down and is in line with my environmental intention. I also make 95% of my meals instead of eating out, which is a healthy, wallet-friendly habit. Also, never underestimate the value of a fried egg to make a meal wonderful.
What culinary adventure would you like to experience in your lifetime?
I would LOVE to go to India and eat as authentically local as possible. I’ve travelled a lot, but India is a place I am yet to taste.
You have 24 hours left in Melbourne (purely hypothetical) before you move away. What would you do to say good-bye to the city?
I would wake early, as I always do, and have an awesome breakfast at one of our many amazing cafes, starting with our world-famous coffee. I’d then stroll the gardens around the city and wander the top, “Paris end” of Collins street before walking around Fitzroy and grabbing a bit to eat with friends and a gelato. Drinks would start early at one of our super cool city bars, maybe heading to a rooftop along Fitzroy and then dinner at one of our great restaurants (don’t make me choose). See? It’s all about the food.
One thing on your bucket list?
To have a house in Sicily and visit yearly to eat all the tomatoes and pasta con le sarde I can manage.
I’ve been listening to the BBC4 Desert Island Disc podcasts recently. So, in the very unlikely scenario of you being sent to a desert island, please tell us:
- the book you’d choose to take with you; Matilda, by Roald Dahl, because it was my favourite as a child and covers many themes so I feel it would keep me interested each time I read it. Though perhaps Life of Pi is a more appropriate choice.
- one luxury item; my husband
- one piece of music; one my brother wrote
- one social media application you would like to keep: Instagram, for sure.
Quick Fire questions
Favourite Parks and Rec character? How’d you know that’s my favourite show?!! Don’t make me choose. Leslie, it has to be Leslie. No, wait, what about Ron? Leslie. Oh, man, this is not a quick fire answer.
Favourite Instagram account? @rachelaliceroddy
Favourite recipe? Spaghetti alle vongole. And for every day, my middle-eastern inspired abundance bowl.
Favourite city? Sorry, have to list a few: Rome, Ortigia, NYC, Melbourne
Favourite yoga pose? Tree pose.
Favourite beauty product? Coconut oil. It’s my most favourite body moisturiser.
Thanks for reading! Enjoy the holidays and see you in 2015,
JB and I recently bought these hi-tech weighing scales, which not only tell us how many kilos we are carrying but additionally measure our BMI, heart rate and fat percentage. Modern technology, I salute you. We’ve both decided we’d like to drop 5 kilos each, and have given ourselves until the beginning of October to achieve this. My reaction however when JB first mentioned weighing scales was mostly fear and panic. Has anybody else ever had that? It got me thinking about some of the struggles I’ve had whilst trying to accept my appearance and weight.
My self-esteem issues started as a young girl and have followed me through adolescence into adulthood:
- I was 11 years old and stood outside the English classroom with my classmates. The conversation got round to celebrity lookalikes: my best friend at the time was compared to Ulrika Jonsson, the perky Swedish television presenter with blonde hair and a lovely tan, whereas I was told that my lookalike was Maureen from driving school. I was distraught and had to fight back the tears. On top of the humiliation of the physical comparison, Maureen failed her driving test about twenty times so my future didn't look very bright if I was to take 11-year-old Richard Elsworth seriously.
- When I hit middle school, I noticed how slim the majority of my peers were at the Saturday music school I went to in London. My flabby thighs, my pale skin and the fact that I could definitely “pinch more than an inch” made me feel unattractive, so I decided to do something about it. For about 18 months, I drastically reduced meal portions and yes I did drop some weight, but not as much as I’d hoped for: I certainly didn’t become skinny, or happier and I believe that on a psychological level an unhealthy cycle was set in motion. This discontent with my weight continued throughout 6th form, and I don’t think I am the only one with this type of experience of growing up. Music school was so small that we were practically living in a fish-bowl, therefore everything was magnified, including the fact that the opposite sex was clearly not attracted to me. This fact was rammed home by a (female) classmate who once said to me “You’ll never be the type of girl who attracts a guy with your looks.” Maybe she didn’t mean it in a negative way but I interpreted it as “You’re not pretty”. Gulp.
- At university, I actually did the opposite of most students – I lost weight and stayed active. I went to the gym 5-6 times a week. I ate 3 square meals a day and I felt great without obsessing about calories in versus calories out. When I moved to France, I was somewhere between a healthy 55 and 57 kilograms. I was therefore pretty happy with my body and my looks. But as soon as I became unhappy with no job and no friends, I began comfort eating and gained rather a lot of weight.
So, where does this pressure come from? Do these thoughts make me a shallow individual? Am I the only one to feel this way (this article strongly suggests I’m not alone)?? Well, quite simply, the pressure to look good and be the perfect weight is coming at us from every angle: in women’s’ magazines, on Instagram, in film and television, beauty advertisements, blogs, and so on. Both men and women are constantly presented with images which have been enhanced and thus our idea of what is healthy seems to have become rather warped.
Do you know Vagenda Magazine? I recently read this article called "On Bikini Body Bullshit" and I was nodding my head in agreement from start to finish. There are so many female magazines out there, the majority of which go to great lengths to inform you how you can get your body bikini ready for the beach, or the summer scent you must buy: it has become so deeply engrained in our conscience to fix our "imperfections" instead of accepting them as who we are and embracing diversity. If you happen to have small breasts, don't worry, there's Wonderbra (or surgery) to give the ladies a boost. If you don't tan naturally, fear not because there are a mind-boggling amount of fake tans out there to use. Thanks, because it is always good to have options, but I'd really like to spend a bit more time being me, with my pale pins and average-sized boobs (and spare tyre).
Similarly, I feel like the blogging bubble has only contributed to the pressure on teenagers and young women to attain a certain lifestyle and look a certain way. There are a lot of amazing bloggers out there, who make their money through hard work and talent, so I do not want to discredit them. However, some bloggers just aren’t honest with their readers. Most people work hard and save up for a holiday, a deposit for a flat or that designer bag. And back here in the real world, no-one can get away with eating burgers and drinking cocktails most days of the week yet somehow stay oh-so-slim with glossy hair and a glowing complexion. You may be able to Photoshop photos of yourself on your blog, but at some point when one of your readers sees the real (lovely) you on the street, the game is up. I understand where the pressure comes from, but to go to such lengths to portray oneself as ZOMG so flawless keeps perpetuating the myth that we must be perfect at all times. On the other end of the spectrum, please don’t start a healthy eating and fitness blog when in reality you’re battling with an eating disorder. Step away from the internet and get the help and love that you need. I’m a 28 year old woman and can be tricked momentarily into believing this stuff is real and feeling temporarily bad about myself. So I can’t imagine the damage these false messages do to young, impressionable girls, who haven’t yet understood that what you see isn’t necessarily what you get.
As this guest blogger featured on Caitlin Moran’s website says: EAT THE CAKE. This is the sound advice I am going to be following in order to drop the weight whilst frequently telling myself I'm fabulous just the way I am. Why don't you join me? Because whether you're slim or curvy, tan or pale, big boobs or small boobs, life is too short to be hung up on what you don't have. Celebrate all that you do have!
Earlier this month, I boarded a Thalys train headed to Amsterdam for a weekend away with Flora. The main purpose of our trip was to unite for the Nike 10k “We own the night” - a tiny little race which you may not have heard much about (haha) - but it was also an opportunity to rediscover the city, spend some time together and have a break from our respective cities: me Paris, Flora London.
All the conversations we had over the weekend helped me realise how important it is for us to look after ourselves: not only on a physical level but also on a mental level. Doing what makes us happy has an overall positive effect on our health. Surrounding ourselves with people who make us happy has an overall positive effect on our health. I realised for example that my inconsiderate office-mate / work colleague has a negative effect on me (on a daily basis) and that I dread the idea of having to collaborate with her in the future. I realised that I’m a sensitive person, who has a physical reaction to stress or upsetting situations. By opening myself up to Flora and sharing how I sometimes feel, I was finally able to understand that being sensitive shouldn’t carry the negative connotations that we are fed through the media and society. This article focuses on hyper-sensitivity especially, which I’m not sure I’m in a position to diagnose myself with, but I can say without any doubt that I lean towards the more sensitive side of the scale.
For the past few months, I’ve been experiencing some very minor health issues that I have never had to deal with before. Not to make any of you jealous out there, but I don’t even suffer from seasonal colds. Yet whenever JB goes on holiday or leaves Paris for a few days, he always always always develops a cold. I respect that his body shows him a sign that he needs to slow down and get some rest. Me? My shoulders tend to fall just below my ears these days and I honestly can’t tell you how long that has been going on. The things that I worry about, consciously and sub-consciously, now cause my stomach to be incredibly sensitive and even led to a phase of panic attacks back in February. I started some orthodontic treatment 6 months ago without thinking of the potential consequences this could have on my body.
So what’s the message here? Amsterdam helped me to reassess my lifestyle. The hustle and bustle of a big city might not necessarily be a good idea in the long term for JB and I. And that’s OK. Amsterdam reminded me of the more holistic approach to health. Therefore with no immediate plans to leave Paris, what can I do to stay healthy and sane in the city?
Thank you Amsterdam, for not only did you provide Flora and I with beautiful weather and delicious food and drink – qualities that I consider essential for a weekend away – but the spirit of your city also made me remember the importance of being at ease in my own skin.
And Flora wrote an excellent piece on what running means to her, inspired by our Amsterdam 10k, if you’d like to check that out.
I'd love to hear how you take care of yourself in a big city with a stressful job.