Paris Favorites

Paris Collage

Piggy-backing on a work trip to Milan, I took the opportunity to spend a few days in Paris – my first time ever to this enchanting city. Over the span of three days, I was able to visit so many memorable museums, monuments, and parks: The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, The Musee d’Orsay, Napoleon’s Tomb, Sainte-Chapelle, Monmarte, the Latin Quarter, Ile Saint-Louis, Sacre Coeur, Place des Voges, Tuileries Garden, Jardin du Luxembourg, Notre Dame, Champs-Elysees, and more…

However, the food experiences in particular were especially memorable. Here are a few highlights from the trip:

La Cuisine Paris French Market Cooking Class

French Market Cooking Class at La Cuisine Paris // To satisfy all of my French gastronome fantasies and channel my inner Julia Child, I could not leave Paris without taking a cooking class. I settled on La Cuisine Paris after David Lebovitz suggested it in the New York Times. The class began with a walking tour of historic French markets, where a Parisian chef worked with our intimate class of eight to come up with a dinner menu based on the seasonal ingredients.

We then made our way to the cooking school, where we worked together to prepare the meal, absorbing tidbits of French culinary wisdom along the way. On the menu was Magret de Canard, Sauce a la Figue (duck with fig sauce), Oeuf Cocotte (creamy egg casserole), and Crème Caramel (a custard-like dish with caramel), which of course, were accompanied by a cheese platter (Comte, Camembert, and a creamy goat cheese), sliced baguettes from a local boulangerie, and a generous serving of white wine. The magic of the evening carried all the way over to the dinner table, where we enjoyed the fruits of our labor in a charming dining room overlooking the dreamy Siene river.

Merci in Paris

Lunch at Merci // After spotting the dreamy red Fiat and handsome wall of bookshelves on Instagram several months ago, a visit to Merci got upgraded to the top of my Paris wishlist. Merci is a large store selling trendy home goods, decor, and clothing, and is great for picking out souvenirs. But the deceptively large building also houses three charming cafes. We ate in the Merci Canteen, a bright and airy dining room that features a healthy, vegetable-forward menu (see top two photos). There is also a used book cafe (bottom left photo) and a cinema cafe.

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Dinner at Piroutte // The grainy photos don’t do this place justice. This dinner was arguably one of the very best meals of my entire life. We made a reservation online about 2 or 3 weeks in advance, after seeing the positive reviews on Paris by Mouth (so grateful for online reservations when dining internationally!)  Every dish we ordered was superb (the 3 course tasting menu ran for 42 euro), and the elegant yet rustic dining room was absolutely charming.

Other can’t-miss food experiences in Paris were the warm crepes (the ham-cheese-egg combo became a breakfast ritual, as little croissants can’t tide me over in the morning) and the ice cream from Une Glace a Paris.

Other Paris Tips

  • Youtube is Your Friend: I never took art history in college, but I certainly didn’t want to wonder through one of the greatest art collections in the world without appreciating what I was looking at. A few days before visiting the Louvre, we watched a BBC documentary special called “Treasures of the Louvre” on YouTube (a little over an hour long). It was such a great look at the museum, that we took a similar approach for the Musee d’Orsay. And yes, there was a mandatory Midnight in Paris viewing before we left the states.
  • Get a Museum Pass: If you’re planning on visiting multiple museums or attractions (and why wouldn’t you?) be sure to pick up a museum pass. It allows you to cut the line at the Louvre and a few other museums, which is worth the price alone.
  • Google Maps: At the risk of sounding technology dependent, I am so grateful that I was able to use Google Maps on my phone. Directions aren’t my strong suit, and throwing a foreign language into the mix certainly doesn’t help. If you’re able to swallow the upfront cost of getting a temporary international data plan (I used AT&T Passport Silver: $60 for 300MB), it will make your trip so much less stressful. (Note: for a data-free map option: I recommend City Maps 2Go Pro, which runs for $4.99 in the App store). Google Maps was also great for trip planning, as I was able to create a custom map with different colored pins for different categories (restaurants, attractions, etc) and create layers within the map (one for each day, with the capability to map out a route between attractions). To learn more about custom Google Maps, see this tutorial.

What are your Paris favorites?

– Kelly

My Favorite Healthier Menu Items Around Boston

Wondering how a registered dietitian navigates the Boston casual dining scene? When eating out, it helps to have a few go-to healthy menu items in mind–dishes that are loaded with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. See below for 5 of my current favorite nutritious menu options around town!

Healthy Menu Items in Boston: Museli from Tatte

Muesli from Tatte Bakery ($9 bowl pictured, or $6 cup): Unsweetened whipped Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, black sesame seeds, sliced almonds, pumpkin & sunflower seeds, oats, and a drizzle of honey

Healthy Menu Items in Boston: Grilled Veggie Whole Wheat Burrito from Annas Taqueria

Grilled Veggie Burrito from Anna’s Taqueria ($6.85): I choose the whole wheat tortilla (whole wheat is the first ingredient!) and fill it with black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, lettuce, and grilled veggies (an impressive mix of bell peppers, broccoli, zucchini, corn, and green beans). That’s it. No meat, no cheese, no problem!

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Sweet Potato Sandwich from Crema Cafe ($6.95): Toasted whole grain bread filled with sweet potato, granny smith apple, hummus, sprouts, avocado, and sherry vinaigrette. Great for sharing!

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Salad from Sweetgreen (approx. $8.50-$10.50) I almost always go for the seasonal salads, but I also LOVE the Hummus Tahina and the Wild Child (with chickpeas)… and basically the whole menu!

Whole Wheat French Toast from The Paramount

Whole Wheat French Toast with Fruit from The Paramount Beacon Hill ($11): This is one of the few places that I have been able to find whole wheat French toast. Unfortunately, it was recently taken off the menu (to make room for new lunch specials), but the staff informed me that I will always be able to order it because they keep the whole wheat bread stocked for turkey sandwiches. So go ahead and ask for it, even if it’s not listed!

Do you know of any delicious, Boston area restaurant meals that are loaded with nourishing ingredients? Do tell! Also, for more of my food adventures, don’t forget to follow along on Instagram (@kellytoupsrd)!

– Kelly

Antibiotic-Free Meat: Why to Care and Where to Find it

The Meat We Eat: Forum on Industrial Animal FarmingLast April, I attended a forum on industrial animal farming at Harvard Law School. Needless to say, this was not the type of conference that will make you walk away craving a hamburger. Experts spoke to the many concerns about the livestock industry, including animal welfare, greenhouse gas emissions, and the quantity of food available. However, antibiotic overuse in livestock (a suspected contributor of antibiotic resistance) was perhaps the most concerning issue.

Antibiotic resistance is dangerous because it can make normally harmless bacterial infections, such as bladder infections, deadly. This is because if the antibiotic fails, the bacteria can move into the bloodstream, causing sepsis. Hospitals are also seeing an increasing number of “superbugs” (such as MRSA), which are dangerous infections that are resistant to many common antibiotics.

Scientists generally agree that antibiotic resistance is fueled by the overuse of antibiotics. For example, taking antibiotics to treat a viral infection, such as the flu, is not only ineffective, but can actually lead to the promotion of these superbugs. However, it is a lesser-known fact that an estimated 70% of antibiotics are actually used on farms, both to promote growth using less feed, and to prevent disease from spreading in the confined conditions of industrial livestock operations. (Note: Putting antibiotics in livestock feed is banned in the EU, but not in the US.)

Chickens at Olivia in Austin

At Olivia, a farm-to-table restaurant in Austin, TX, chickens are raised sustainably on site, undoubtedly without antibiotics

For this reason, many public health experts are urging the livestock industry to significantly cut antibiotic use. Until then, however, many consumers are seeking out meat raised without antibiotics. After all, antibiotic resistant bacteria can transfer from livestock to humans through food, particularly in raw or undercooked meat (see this recent Frontline episode to learn more). In response to these concerns, six of the largest US school districts (in LA, NYC, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, and Orlando) announced last month that they are switching to antibiotic-free chicken, a huge step for both food system reformers and child nutrition advocates.

Where to find antibiotic-free meat:

Beans and fish are my preferred protein sources, but I like a warm rotisserie chicken as much as the next girl. Here are a few of my favorite spots to get antibiotic-free meat and poultry from:

  • WHOLE FOODS MARKET: All antibiotic use is prohibited in all meat and poultry sold at Whole Foods. To learn more about the quality standards of the meat sold at Whole Foods, including the 5-step animal welfare rating system, see here.
  •  CHIPOTLE: All antibiotic use is prohibited in all pork and chicken sold at Chipotle (except in special circumstances, in which they will inform customers).  A recent press release from Chipotle states that all meat is antibiotic free, yet the beef page on their website doesn’t describe a stance on antibiotic use in beef.
  • PANERA BREAD: In 2014, 91% of pork received no antibiotics, 100% of chicken in sandwiches and salads received no antibiotics (same for all hen eggs that supply shell and hard boiled eggs), and “nearly all” of the roasted turkey received no antibiotics. This year, Panera Bread intends to meet or exceed these standards. Again, there are no statistics on antibiotic use in beef, although impressively, 80% of beef was grass fed in 2014.

Where do you find antibiotic-free meat?

– Kelly

Food Adventures in Seattle

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This past weekend, I visited one of my college roommates in Seattle. I had only been to the west coast once before (San Fransisco), so I was eager to spend time with my roomie and explore the Seattle food scene (see her weekend recap here).

Sarah was thoughtful enough to take me to sustainable restaurants including Local 360 (get the PB&J bon bons- just do it!), Homegrown, and my personal favorite, the Volunteer Park Cafe. We also hit up Tom Douglas’s Brave Horse Tavern and Bluebird Ice Cream.  Below are some of my favorite food adventures from the weekend…

Pike Place Market

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^^While Sarah ran into the office for a few hours, I leisurely explored Pike Place Market. It was even better than I expected, and believe me, I had high expectations!

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^^ Fresh flowers as far as the eye can see!

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^^Fruits and vegetables galore!

Queen Anne Community Garden

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^^Quite the hidden gem, and one of my favorite spots from the trip

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^^Check out the beautiful bloom on the artichoke!

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^^Wild blackberries were EVERYWHERE! Not just in the community garden, but growing all over city.

Theo Chocolate Tour

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^^ I LOVE field trips and food related tours! The Theo tour very much reminded me of the Taza Chocolate tour.

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^^ Fair trade, organic chocolate. My 4 favorite words 😉

Other highlights from the weekend included a jog around the waterfront, an outdoor movie at the Seattle Center (Le Mis) and of course, a given if you know Sarah, a themed party. Have you ever been to Seattle?

– Kelly