I don’t think I’ve ever shared it before, but my very first teaching job included one class of high school French 1. Admittedly, my French was extremely poor, but I would study hard each night for my lessons so that I always stayed one step ahead of the students. It was tremendously rewarding to take them from nothing to some basic French over the course of a year.
Well, eight years in China pushed every bit of French right out of my brain. Even when I try to speak French, it comes out as Mandarin. Obviously the “Mandarin files” wrote over the old “French files” in the brain. (Has that experience happened to any of you? You try to mentally access a foreign language and you come up with the wrong one?)
That background is simply to explain why I was so eager to try out Chef Alain Braux’s cookbook Healthy French Cuisine for Less Than $10/Day. I remember learning about the European style of eating and cooking. It was always intriguing but so vastly different from the American South’s way that I couldn’t really appreciate it. Fruit for dessert? Fish and seafood several times a week? Soup before each meal? No way!
Well, after eight years in China, my tastes in food have changed so much that I now am ready for some “Frenchie food” as my family calls it. The author of the book is Chef Alain, a French chef who lives in Texas. His cookbook blends the best of traditional French food with modern nutrition. The result is a kitchen reference that inspires and instructs.
Unlike most cookbooks that are primarily recipes, about half of Healthy French Cuisine for Less Than $10/Day is devoted to a discussion of nutrition, buying food in season, money saving tips, and cooking techniques. The premise of the cookbook is that buying fresh foods in season is not only healthy but frugal. Absolutely!
I learned this truth in China where most of our foods were locally grown. That means they were supremely fresh, very affordable, and highly nutritious. Since returning to America, I have chosen to buy most of my fruits and vegetables at a produce store where the selections include local and seasonal foods.
The recipes are divided into winter, spring, summer, and fall with dishes that feature the foods of each season. Of course, you can skip around and cook the summer dishes in the winter if you choose, but the ingredients will likely cost more and will not be as healthy as using the produce that is in season at the time.
The recipes are frugal but elegant. Here are some examples.
Maple-Chili Glazed Pork
As you can see, the ingredients are things you normally would have on hand, but the combination of flavors made for a unique meal. At Chef’s suggestion, I sauteed frozen green beans in the sauce leftover from the chops. It was delicious! My husband gave this two thumbs up. (Sprite did not eat with us that night.)
Shrimp with Ginger and Lime
I admit that Sprite adores shrimp and my husband is not crazy about it. They both liked this recipe as much as I expected. Hubs said it was good, but didn’t ask for seconds. Sprite devoured all that was left in the pan.
Fire Roasted Tomato Soup
I have never liked tomato soup. And now I know why — all I had ever experienced was Campbells canned tomato soup. Chef Alain’s tomato soup is amazing. I have discovered that I do like tomato soup when it is made from scratch.
As you can see, this recipe takes the shortcut of using canned tomatoes. It’s easy, and the payoff is huge with a homemade soup that is full of nourishing vitamins.
Here is Sprite taste testing the salmon and leek wraps pictured at the top of this post. (I had never used phylo dough until making this recipe. It was fun to try something totally new.)
Chef Alain’s cookbook has reinforced my commitment to eat frugal and healthy foods in season.
You can find Chef Alain at Healthy Chef Recipes where he offers a free ebook for signing up to receive his latest post updates. He’s also at Twitter @ChefAlain.
Who will like this book
1. Cooks with a modest amount of cooking experience
Although Chef Alain discusses some basic cooking techniques, the recipes assume an certain level of expertise in the kitchen. There are no diagrams to help you understand exactly how to fold the phylo dough to make a wrap, for example. There are no photos of the finished dishes, so you need to use your imagination to envision how the completed recipe will turn out.
2. Cooks who want to try new ingredients
I didn’t find the ingredients to be terrible strange, but there are a handful of recipes that call for something I’ve never heard of or don’t have on hand. Personally, I enjoy hunting for a new ingredient and trying it out in a new dish.
3. Cooks who are looking for gluten-free options.
Almost every singe recipe in the book has adaptations for making it gluten free and casein free (GFCF).
4. Cooks who want encouragement to shop frugally and cook healthy
Chef Alain’s healthy eating philosophy is the basis for all the recipes, so they all reinforce thrifty and nutritious cooking habits.
More By Chef Alain
My friend Rachel at Finding Joy has reviewed another cookbook by Chef Alain, Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food: A Practical Guide. She, too, is giving away a copy a cookbook, so be sure to visit her review for a chance to win the gluten free guide. Her post is called The Awesome Gluten Free Cookbook Review and Giveaway.
Giveaway Rules (contest is closed)
Chef Alain has allowed me to choose one winner who will receive a copy of Healthy French Cuisine for Less Than $10/Day. You must be 18 or older,have a USA mailing address and an email address to win this giveaway. I’ll select a winner on November 30. You will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email before another winner is chosen. Please leave a comment here to enter. Tell me which one of Chef Alain’s recipes you would like to try. (Remember to visit Healthy Chef Recipes for more of his food.)
For an additional entry, tweet this contest post and include @ChefAlain in your tweet.
Suggested Tweet: Win Frugal French Cooking by @ChefAlain. ADD LINK here @jimmiescollage
Link to the tweet here for the second entry. (Click on the date or time of the tweet to get its permalink.)
In exchange for my honest review, I received a free copy of Healthy French Cuisine for Less Than $10/Day and was compensated for my time to use the cookbook, to write this review and to host the giveaway. This post expresses my own truthful opinion about the cookbook.
Chef Keem says
Your dishes look beautiful, Jimmie. And the book looks like a “must-have”. Thanks for this thorough review. 🙂
I think I’d try out the flourless chocolate cake or that yummy looking cheesecake I saw on his site.
All the recipes you have pictured look wonderful, but I think I would most like to try the maple-chili pork. My husband teaches French, so I would love to try some of these recipes. 🙂 We spent two summers in China and found ourselves trying to speak French when people couldn’t understand us.
Mmm… I love French cooking, and I love inexpensive. So this is right up my alley 🙂 I’d like to try his southern France-style meatloaf – it sounds delicious.
I would love to try that tomato soup recipe! It just looks so good! Thanks for the oppportunity to win his cookbook!
That flourless chocolate cake looks divine!
The tomato soup caught my attention immediatly and the salmon looks fantastic! I would be happy to try these recipes! Happy Thanksgiving to you.
rachel of finding joy sent me here.i so want the gluten free book.i don’t have celiac desease but i have ankylosing spondylitis an auto immune form of arthritis[this is where your spine/bones fuse together to make one bone]being careful of what i eat is very immportant.now that i found your pg i have asked for your blogs to go to my e-mail so i can read your everyday and i shared this on facebook.i don’t have a cellphone so i don’t have twitter so i am unable to post there.i so want this.thank you!
My mouth is watering over the Fire Roasted Tomato soup!!!!
WordGirl AKA Shannon says
I’m very interested in this cookbook. I’m hesitant about French cooking for two primary reasons: cost and health. This cookbook addresses both, which makes me intrigued to check it out.
Becky M. says
Wow, I’d try anything! My husband would love the salmon leek wrap!!!
Becky M. says
Looks yummy! You should post the recipe for the dark chocolate truffles 🙂
For some reason, I assumed that phyllo dough was off limits for a gluten-free diet, so with great delight, I look forward to trying out the salmon and leek wrap! Wrapping the rich salmon and leeks in the dough would add variety to our favorite fish. Thank you!
Tomato soup most certainly. My hubby was recently telling me about a delicious tomato soup he had eaten. I don’t like it — except I have only ever tried the canned stuff… you can see where this is going.
Yes! I have had that same foreign language access fail! I blurted out some Spanish in a little German pastry shop. So embarrassing.
that’s so funny bc i have been wanting to make tomato soup from scratch. every year the commercials for campbell’s come on and it makes me want to try it when i already know that it is completely disgusting. your soup up there looks divine!
when i took russian in college, it was a mess in my head. i would go from english to spanish to russian… not the best combination, comrade! and now we’re learning latin (which is not too bad), but it is making me wonder how insane my brain will be when we start japanese.
ps that rosetta stone commercial on tv where the lady speaks mandarin… have you seen it? what is she saying and does it sound right? just curious. 🙂
Wow! That tomato soup looks so good!
We are big pork chop fans in this family, so the maple chili glazed pork sounds like a really good one to try. All the recipes looks fantastic! Thanks for all the time you devote to this blog, it’s wonderfully useful to us all!
The cranberry walnut scones sound delicious!
I’m going to try his Sweet Potato Soup With Carrots And Carrot Greens. Not many recipes use the greens and I really like them, so have to try this.
I tweeted about your contest: https://twitter.com/#!/teslaca/status/140036051531079680
This looks awesome! I hope I win!
Yes, please, this sounds a great idea!
Darla Douglas says
I have never eaten or cooked anything French that I am aware of, I would love to try the soup,it looks awesome.I love soups of all kinds
Lori Pierce says
I would try the maple chili glazed pork and the tomato soup! I hope I win.
Diana G says
I’d love to try the sable dough. I’ve been looking for a GF recipe for this. thanks.
I would try the maple chili glazed pork