A couple of weeks before I started with Healthy Way to Cook, I took a trip to London and Paris with my family. In both cities we stayed in apartments with kitchens, so we prepared most of our own meals. With my impending job as a healthy food writer on my mind, I was very aware of the types and quality of food we bought, always making sure we chose the healthiest options available.
In Paris, our apartment was around the corner from Monoprix, a local supermarket chain. On our first visit there, my sister Danielle and I were immediately reminded of an episode of one of our favorite [cancelled] shows, HBO’s Flight of the Conchords, where Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement (who play slightly exaggerated versions of themselves) sing an absolutely ridiculous song in awful pseudo-French called “Foux du Fafa.” In one scene, they take a voyage à la supermarché—a trip to the grocery store—and announce each item in French before tossing it into their cart (see 1:12 in the video below).
Danielle and I are silly—like really stupidly silly—so we took advantage of the fact that we were in a real French supermarket (which, other than the specific brands, really didn’t feel that different from food shopping at home) and went to find each of the foods Bret and Jemaine buy in the video. But of course, we couldn’t stop there…we had to recreate this scene through a hideous photo montage, much to the amusement (or maybe horror) of our friends who saw them on Facebook. When I looked in our basket, I realized that we’d actually compiled a pretty healthy collection of groceries. Here’s why the Conchords got it right:
Grapefruit has been called one of the world’s healthiest foods, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a great source of vitamins A, B5/B9 and C for improved vision, metabolism, brain, heart and muscle function, and immune system. Grapefruit also contains lycopene and limonoids for reduced cancer risk and pectin fiber to lower LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels. It’s low in calories, too—just about 70 calories for a whole grapefruit! (source)
Like grapefruit, pineapple is loaded with vitamins and minerals. It’s especially good for coughs and colds since it contains bromelain, a natural cough suppressant and decongestant. Pineapple has anti-inflammatory qualities and can help strengthen bones, as well as improve eyesight, gum health and digestion. (source)
We all know orange juice packs a lot of vitamin C, but drinking that daily glass of OJ in the morning can also prevent inflammation, decrease LDL cholesterol, and improve your blood pressure. Fresh-squeezed is always best (“from concentrate” juices contain a lot of extra sugar and preservatives), make sure you pay attention to the labels in the store. (source)
Red meat gets a bad rap because it contains saturated fat, which is associated with heart disease and other health issues. The truth is, having that steak or hamburger every once in a while isn’t really the worst thing for you. Not only is it protein-rich, but it’s one of the best sources of iron and other minerals like potassium, calcium, zinc and magnesium. B-complex vitamins and vitamins D, E and K are also found in beef. If you choose lean cuts and eat it in moderation, beef can be a healthy part of your diet. (source)
Okay, so maybe this one is a little off the mark because store-bought soups really aren’t great for you—the added sodium and preservatives in most canned soup make DIY versions much healthier. You can make homemade soups really work for you by adding fresh vegetables, herbs and spices for tons of health benefits.
This French cheese has a relatively high fat and sodium content, but cheese in general can have considerable health benefits. Its high calcium content means stronger bones, healthier heart, muscles and nervous system, and prevention of osteoporosis. Other nutrients include phosphorous, riboflavin, vitamins A and B12, and zinc. Cheese is also a good source of dairy protein, which may help control weight and reduce blood pressure. (source)
Fatty fish like salmon, trout, sardines, and tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote better heart and brain health by lowering blood pressure and reducing your risk of neurological diseases and heart attacks/strokes. It’s a great source of high-quality protein, riboflavin, vitamin D, and important minerals like iron and zinc. And yes, I’m sure they realized that Jacques Cousteau is not the actual French word for fish. (source)
If they had said whole wheat or multigrain bread, I would have been totally on board with this. Bread products made with whole grains keep you fuller longer, reduce your risk of cardiovascular and metabolic problems, and of course, make a healthy delivery device for all kinds of delicious sandwich toppings. Because the grains are left intact, they’re also an excellent source of fiber. (source)
Have you ever been inspired to try or purchase food by a TV show? (Cooking shows don’t count!)