You will be pleased to know that cooking a French feast doesn't always mean a day spent in the kitchen knocking up sauces using copious quantities of butter, flour, eggs and cream. Sophie Van Tiggelen's new book, Simple French Paleo, is testament to that fact. Each one of her 90 recipes (all suitable for the elimination phase of the Autoimmune Protocol) is simple to make, doesn't involve clearing the diary for and comprises only a short list of ingredients, most of them readily available in your local grocer's shop with just a few perhaps needing a mail order mission. She has covered all the usual chapters with recipes for Appetizers, Salads, Vegetables, Meat, Seafood, Desserts and Drinks, Basics and the soup lovers amongst you (of which I know there are many) will be delighted to hear she has devoted a whole section to those too.
Since getting my copy of Simple French Paleo I have been happily transported back to many a memorable holiday spent in France thanks to her Creamy Liver Paté (a perfect version for hesitant organ meat peeps btw) and Brandade Express with Cauliflower Purée (aka cod with garlic mash), and have thoroughly enjoyed them both. Anyone who follows me on Instagram will know I’m a sucker for Rillettes (coarse pork paté) so I’ll be giving that one a try for sure, but I’m also bookmarking Vichyssoise (chilled soup), Chicken Blanquette (chicken and gravy), Baked Cod with Black Olive Tapenade, Seared Scallops with Persillade (minced garlic and parsley in olive oil), Layered Raspberry Crèpe Cake and Sophie’s Signature Pear Cake amongst others. (See the full list of recipes here.)
Sophie's book is a beauty. As well as her tempting recipes, I really like that the chapter openers are styled in the fashion of the menu you'll find in a traditional French bistro and I'm in love with the Provençal-style illustrations and old fonts that have been used. In keeping with the theme, the book is interspersed with photographs of lavender fields, market produce and quaint village scenes taken on balmy days that will make you want to book your seat on the next flight out to Marseille. Then there's her friendly writing style and genuinely supportive nature that comes across loud and clear, as well as her enthusiasm and encouragement in wanting the reader to achieve optimal health whilst staying true to the AIP. She points out that, in order to truly succeed neither 70/30, nor 80/20 will get you the results you're hoping for. If you're after the big prize you're best off making that 100% commitment - but that's fine because with Sophie's guidance it is all highly achievable.
Sophie starts her book with brief but concise information as to why the AIP works for those with autoimmune disease, herself being the perfect example since she put her own Hashimoto's into remission through the protocol. She supplies charts of foods to include, those to be avoided and a third list of what's best eaten in moderation. And because the AIP is not a forever diet, Sophie discusses the four phases of reintroduction and finally the maintenance phase, which is your own personalised diet once you have eliminated symptoms and worked out which foods trigger your inflammation. Also included in the book is a quick steaming tutorial, a how-to guide for setting up your own AIP pantry and a word about the importance of lifestyle choices.
In short and excuse my French 😉 Sophie has clearly worked her derrière off for this latest AIP resource - and my goodness it doesn't half show!
So, as is always the case with my nosy nature, I asked Sophie to join me in a Q&A!
Welcome Sophie, what brought you to the Autoimmune Protocol and when?
I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease in 2009 and that completely derailed my life. I suffered from debilitating symptoms ranging from anxiety and insomnia to brain fog and swollen thyroid. I was desperate to find a way to “fix myself” when I discovered the Autoimmune Protocol. As soon as I started AIP, my health started to improve until I was able to put my autoimmune disease into remission.
Can you explain the symptoms of your autoimmune disease and whether you still get any of them now?
At my worst, I was unable to function as a normal person. I was suffering from incapacitating insomnia and was unable to work. Basic household tasks, like grocery shopping, preparing meals, caring for my children, all became impossible. I was exhausted all the time. Fortunately, with the Autoimmune Protocol and the help of my functional medicine practitioner, I am now feeling healthy and full of energy once again. I am stronger and fitter than I was ten years ago. Most importantly, I now have a positive outlook on life and look forward to the future with joy and anticipation.
What were your favourite foods/drinks pre-AIP and what are they now?
Before AIP, I consumed a lot of refined and processed carbs, laden with gluten and sugar. I was overfed, overweight, and sorely undernourished! I had no idea that everything I put into my body had the power to make me healthy or sick. Some examples of foods I used to enjoy are bread, cookies, cakes, candies, and pizza. Now I know better. I understand that my body needs real food and nutrients in order to fight disease and be healthy. I purposefully choose to eat the most nutrient-dense and anti-inflammatory food I can find. These include a vast array of fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and seafood. I also drink bone broth regularly and my favorite super-food is chicken liver pâté.
Which recipe are you most proud of in Simple French Paleo and why?
I love all the recipes in Simple French Paleo because they all remind me that simple, honest food is at the heart of life. But the ones I put the most work into are the dessert recipes. The ingredients at our disposal to bake are limited (no gluten, no wheat, no nuts, no seeds, no dairy, no eggs, no butter) and that makes our work in the kitchen more difficult! The French crèpes and my signature pear cake both required many attempts before I was satisfied with the result. While AIP treats should be consumed only on special occasions, I think that it is important to have options for celebrations so we don’t feel too deprived.
What interests you when you're not thinking about the AIP and how do you balance everything?
AIP is at the center of my life! I started the Autoimmune Protocol (including the lifestyle recommendations like stress management, taking care of my sleep, and exercising regularly) way before I started blogging. So the Autoimmune Protocol is really the way I live, everyday. The way I balance everything (family life, taking care of my health, my work as a full time blogger and author, my social life …) is by knowing where my priorities are. I know that if my health goes down the drain, nothing else will hold up in my life. So I make my health a priority
What do you do to relax and are you any good at it?
Relaxation is definitely a big part of my health routine. I am good at it when I truly commit to my daily practice! I always have something going on in my life with family and work, so it is my responsibility to make time for myself and manage my stress. Relaxation for me can be 20 minutes spent, undisturbed, in a quiet place, or it can be an hour spent gardening. These are my two favorite relaxation techniques at the moment. But I have tried many other relaxation techniques over the years, including yoga, massages, guided meditation, relaxation response, candle meditation … do not hesitate to switch it up to avoid getting bored or frustrated.
What would your last supper be, Simple French Paleo-style?
My last supper, Simple French Paleo-style would be a lamb roast with my no nightshade ratatouille and a simple salad on the side. For the dessert, if I still have room, I would savor a citrus ice-cream!
Meatballs with Nomato Sauce © Sophie Van Tiggelen
meatballs with nomato sauce (from Simple French Paleo by Sophie Van Tiggelen)
You can still enjoy the traditional favorite of meatballs and sauce even if you have to avoid tomatoes! This clever "Nomato" sauce will make you believe you are eating the real deal. Definitely a favorite with the kids!
extra virgin olive oil for greasing the dish
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground bison
1, 4-ounce can mushrooms, drained (about 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley + extra for garnish
2 cloves garlic, minced
1+1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 nomato sauce (recipe to follow)
Heat oven to 350F. Set the rack in the middle of the oven. Grease the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil. Using your hands, combine the meat, mushrooms, parsley, garlic and sea salt in a large bowl. Continuing to use your hands, scoop out 1/3-cup-sized portions of meat mixture and form into meatballs. Place meatballs in the baking dish. Bake until meat is browned and cooked through, about 35 minutes. Serve meatballs with a generous dollop of nomato sauce and a garnish of fresh parsley.
(makes 2 cups)
1, 15-ounce can butternut squash purée (about 1+1/2 cups)
2 medium cooked beets (about 1/2 lb), roughly chopped
1+1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1+1/2 tsp coconut aminos
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp fine sea salt
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Mix until smooth and creamy, about 20 seconds. Check seasoning and adjust salt to taste. Store in a glass container in the refrigerator and warm as needed before serving.
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY: Sophie is kindly offering one of you lucky readers the chance to have your own pdf copy of her cookbook. All you need to do is leave me a comment, telling me why you need this book in your life. If you sign up (don't forget to confirm) for my newsletter (or have done so already), you get yourself an extra chance but make sure you leave a second comment to that effect. The giveaway is open to everybody and a winner will be chosen at random and contacted by email. In the meantime, if you would like to buy your own now, click here for a print copy, click here for the pdf version. Giveaway ends midnight PST on Sunday June 12th. Good luck everyone! [GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED - thanks for entering.]
Disclaimer: Sophie gifted me a pdf copy of Simple French Paleo. It was my choice to review the book and all thoughts are entirely my own.