If you were to ask Rebecca Leffler (writer, journalist, and author of Très Green, Très Clean, Très Chic: Eat (and Live!) the New French Way with Plant-Based Gluten-Free Recipes for Every Season), she’d tell you that “having to choose between pleasure and health is so last season.” Her book proves it with more than 150 healthy, seasonal, and plant-based recipes; DIY beauty tips; positive playlists; and fully illustrated yoga routines for everything from digestion to self-confidence. You’re guaranteed to feel good, enjoy life, and look fabulous when you start living the new French way.
When we think green and clean, avocado is one of the first foods that come to mind. We asked Rebecca about this super-nutritious fruit, and here’s what she had to say:
So, I couldn’t help but notice that avocado made it onto your list of “best friend foods.” Why?
I have several “best friend foods” in the book and in my life, but, as I announce officially in the book, avocado is the true love of my culinary life.
It’s delicious and nutritious — I’ll spare you the boring scientific details, but, in sum, it will make your skin glow (vitamin E), turn you into a genius (OK, maybe not, but the omega 3 fatty acids are incredible brain food), make you really strong (protein!), and get you pregnant (well, avocado has a lot of folate, so if you are pregnant, this is an extra bonus).
It also has a creamy, “buttery” consistency that makes it a great replacement for mayo or butter or cream in sauces. Plus, you can use it in sweet or savory meals (it’s just as comfortable mashed with Mexican spices and onions as it is laying on a bed of chocolate). It’s technically a fruit, but lives its life as a vegetable. Hey, it has a bit of an identity crisis, but since it’s like a celebrity and only makes a brief cameo once you open it, it’s great to use it in creative ways. No avocado left behind!
What are a few creative ways we can use avocado?
When it comes to avocado, I find that the “simple but elegant” approach is usually best. It’s such a delicious and nutritious food on its own, so making a simple avocado tartine (eating it with just a drizzle of lemon juice or spices on toast) or added to a salad is always a great option. I always compare eating to fashion — an avocado is like the perfect pair of jeans: all it needs is a nice blouse and some cool heels and you’re good to go. One of my favorite snacks is half an avocado filled with a splash of lemon juice and 1 to 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds.
If you want to dress it up, my all-time favorite way to eat avocado is… avocado chocolate mousse! It’s so easy and so incredibly creamy and flavorful. There’s a basic recipe in the book, but I also like to experiment with different spices, nut milks, or fruit, depending on the season. Mint essential oil is an amazing addition to this too.
Avocado is also great in smoothies as an alternative to bananas for those watching their (natural) sugar intake. I love it blended and added to pasta for a creamy sauce. It’s the quickest meal ever, and so satisfying — just blend avocado, lemon juice, olive oil, optional garlic clove, salt, and pepper (cayenne if you’re brave) in a blender — or even just mash with a fork — then pour the sauce over pasta. Top it off with your favorite herbs if you have them on hand; otherwise, even a sprinkle of herbes de Provence or dried thyme or oregano are magic. I’m all about green to-go, and this is excellent as a desk lunch, at a picnic, or while traveling. I also love avocado to add creaminess and texture to blended soups — so refreshing when it gets warm outside.
I love that your book takes a holistic approach to living well. What are some non-food ways we can use (and benefit from) avocados?
Like many foods, avocado’s health benefits inside the body are also beneficial on the body.
It hydrates the skin and can make your hair shiny. Once you get used to rubbing a mashed green fruit on your face, you’ll find it’s magical. The oleic acid will make skin softer and glowing and the protein in avocado can help to nourish the hair from the roots to the ends.
Mix with spirulina and rub on your face for a hydrating, antioxidant-infused mask, or rub into your hair with some coconut oil — another favorite beauty food extraordinaire. If you can eat it, it’s probably great for your skin and body too.
Beauty tips, positive playlists, yoga routines; tell us a little more about your book and how to use it.
Having to choose between pleasure and health is so last seasonEveryone loves to quote the old adage “you are what you eat,” but it should be “you are how you eat.” It’s great that green eating is becoming more ubiquitous — as juice bars pop up all over major cities and cabbage has taken on kale-ebrity status — but so many people are focusing so much on what they’re eating without looking at the whole picture. Eating kale salads and drinking juice is great, but not if it’s going to stress you out or if you have to hold your nose when consuming it. The book is designed to meet readers where they are in their health journeys. If you don’t speak fluent chia seed and hate kale, there are so many recipes for you. Or, if you are a raw vegan enthusiast with a passion for green juice, you’ll find something that speaks to you, too.
I also wanted to have fun with some of the lessons of traditional French cuisine. French cuisine is known — and rightly so — for its amazing breads, pastries, and, of course, crèmes de la crème, but there is actually a lot we can learn from the French approach to eating. Eating seasonally and in moderation, taking time to enjoy our food, sharing meals with friends and loved ones, and looking at food as something to be savored instead of as punishment. I also think that many people in the health world tend to take things a bit too seriously, so one of my goals with this book is to get people to lighten up their meals… and their lives. There are “positive playlists” with songs in every chapter, yoga tips, and beauty recipes to make blending greens or chopping vegetables much more fun… and très chic, of course.The book is very easy to use. I start with basic must-have recipes, then accessorize by season. There are also recipes and tips from experts from across the world — you can do yoga with Tara Stiles or Elena Brower, make a dish with a fancy French chef like Alain Passard or Thierry Marx, get beauty tips from Tata Harper or Rose-Marie Swift, and even turn your home into a wellness paradise thanks to Paul Scialla from Delos Living. It’s like bringing these people home with you every day. (I wish I could fit them all into my kitchen or my pocket, so this is the next best thing!)
I love that in France, many readers have told me that they take “me” — aka the book — with them to the grocery store and it’s like having their best friend there to coach them through their shopping trip. It can be so overwhelming to start eating healthy, so the aim with this book was to make it easy and fun. Whether you’re more of a steak frites or cauliflower steak person, there is something for everyone.
Anything else we should know about Très Green, Très Clean, Très Chic?
No avocados were harmed in the making of this book.
Oh and if you read it, you’ll be healthy, happy, beautiful, and a little bit French. Doesn’t that sound great?
For more about Rebecca or her book, visit her site, LaFleurParisNY. Très Green, Très Clean, Très Chic: Eat (and Live!) the New French Way with Plant-Based Gluten-Free Recipes for Every Season is available wherever books are sold.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.