Nutrition Articles

Dining Out: French Cuisine

Restaurant-Specific Strategies

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Characteristics:

With rich textures and flavors—especially in desserts and sauces—these dishes are often high in fat, but are usually served in smaller portions. Lighter “Nouvelle Cuisine” options are sometimes offered.
Common Ingredients:

Lots of cheese and heavy cream sauces—bread & cheese, cheese slices, melted cheese, au gratin—it’s everywhere! Salads are often plentiful on French menus, but butter and cream are also common ingredients.
Hidden Dangers:
  • Avoid creamy sauces like hollandaise, bernaise, béchamel, beurre blanc, veloutee and mornay, which are all very high in fat.
  • Watch for these words:
    • Au Berre (with butter)
    • Au Gratin (with cheese)
    • En Croute (wrapped in pastry)
    • Graisse (fat or greased)
  • French Onion Soup comes covered in bread and cheese and packs nearly 400 calories and 20 grams of fat. It’s also very high in sodium.
  • Escargot is usually smothered in a garlic butter sauce. Just three ounces carries 450 calories and 25 grams of fat.
  • Just 2 ounces of Goose or Duck Liver Pate has 260 calories and 20g fat.
  • Roasted Duck Breast: 1,500 calories, 25g fat
  • Quiche Lorraine: 817 calories
  • Cassoulet: 640 calories
  • Steak Frites: 1,546 calories, 66g fat
  • Brandade de Morue (salt cod and potato puree): 1,316 calories, 75g fat
  • Steak Bernaise: 1,744 calories, 132g fat


Healthy Finds:
  • Cuisine Minceur (“cuisine of slimness”) dishes are made simply with health and nutrition in mind.
  • Look for these words:
    • Au Fines Herbs (coated with herbs)
    • Au Jus (pan juices)
    • Au Natural (plainly cooked)
    • Poached
    • Rotisserie
    • En Papillote (steamed in paper envelope)
  • Quenelles (steamed fish dumplings)
  • Pot-Au-Feu (stewed chicken)
  • Coq-Au-Vin (chicken in wine)
  • Steamed Mussels
  • 1 cup of Bouillabaisse (fish soup): 150 calories and less than 10g fat
  • Coquilles St. Jacques: 264 calories, 12g fat
  • Halibut Amandine: 383 calories
  • Artichoke Vinaigrette: 230 calories, 18g fat

The Big Tip:

Asking for sauces on the side may offend the chef. It may be best to simply avoid the creamier sauces altogether.
Substitution Ideas

Try This Skip That
Chicken Duck
Poached Fruit  Chocolate Mousse
Red Wine Blush or White Wine
Ratatouille  Pate Ratatouille
 French Bread Croissants
Bordelaise Sauce Hollandaise Sauce
Flambeed Cherries Crème Caramel

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Member Comments

  • FRENCHFROG2
    This post is misleading and badly written. Next time you write in a language you don't know please double check your spelling.
  • GOODI2SHOOZ
    These "helpful hints" are ridiculous! The French eat the so-called "fattening foods" on a daily basis, but in smaller portions, and they they walk if off. The French do not "diet" or eat "diet foods" but their rate of obesity and heart disease is miniscule compared to our diet crazy country. Do not avoid ANY well prepared, fresh food, enjoy it in moderation, along with a less sedentary life
  • who eats 2oz of pate?! half an ounce at most! small Portions are what allow us to eat wonderful things like French Cuisine.
  • You say to drink red wine in preference to white or blush wine - why? The calories are typically similar. As others have pointed out, there's some quesitonable advice here.
  • I don't know how you calculate the calories, or maybe these are some dishes sold in the US with the "French label" on it or your portions are out of portions. But the calories are inaccurate or at least vague without the proportions, and some facts on the recipe.

    Here are a few examples on recipes you can find on French boards including nutritional informations:
    Magret de canard (roasted duck) is for 2 persons 678 kcal (350 g for 2) for the highest
    Quiche Lorraine according how you make it is about 273 to 459 for 1 serving, even on American website I found servings around 400 kcal (where did you find yours?)
    Raw "Coquilles St. Jacques" (scallop) are 77 kcal for 100g -but noone eats them raw, and there are not of recipes, with wine, with cream, cheese,...

    I don't see why Crème caramel has to be baned. It's a question of wise choices. When I go at the restaurant, I plan my dishes accordingly -if I had a richer main dish, I'll skip the dessert, but if my main dish was light, I'll go for a crème caramel ou a mousse au chocolat. (Please note that our dessert proportions are liliputian in comparison with yours, and in "real restaurants" they're homemade, not processed desserts.)
  • I love to watch PBS-TV with Jacque Pippin cooking French Food and Julia Childs.

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