Nine Healthy French Recipes

With a few simple swaps its possible to eat French food and still be healthy.

Paris photo via Shutterstock

Paris photo via Shutterstock

French cuisine gets a bad rap for being full of butter and calories. But there’s more to French cooking than buttery croissants and duck confit. French cooking also involves fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and lean meats like chicken. To take a traditional French dinner and make it healthy, it’s just a matter of simple omissions and substituting. Lose the butter and use healthy oils like olive or grape seed. Swap out heavy cream for reduced fat milk or Greek yogurt. Simple swaps will allow you to enjoy a great cuisine without leaving your healthy lifestyle in the dust.

1. French Onion Soup
via Cooking Light

This recipe includes instructions for making homemade beef broth. Making your own broth is an easy way to control sodium levels and cuts down on prepackaged items (plus it freezes well). If there’s no time, there are great low sodium and organic options for store-bought beef broth. To cut down calories, leave out the butter, top with reduced fat cheese and try using multi grain bread instead of the baguette. We also add splash of sherry cooking wine to deglaze the pot after the onions have fully caramelized.

2. Classic French Omelet
via Cooking Light

A simple, plain omelet served with a side salad is a classic French bistro menu item. Top this omelet with sautéed mushrooms, grilled salmon or roasted asparagus for added flavor and color. You can use cooking spray instead of the teaspoon of butter, but be sure to use a nonstick pan.

3. Tuna au Poivre with Lemon-Caper Lentils

The traditional steak frites gets a makeover with lean tuna and protein-packed lentils. For an added hit of lemon flavor add one or two teaspoons of aromatic lemon zest to the lentils while they cook. When buying tuna steaks, ask the butcher to clean and portion the fish to save yourself a step when prepping the ingredients.

4. Vegetable Soup With Basil Paste
via Whole Lifestyle Nutrition

Don’t let the ingredients list of this recipe discourage you. You can mix and match your favorite vegetables or use what’s looking good at the market that day and the recipe will be just as delicious. Pistou is similar to pesto, so substituting in pesto will give the same flavor.

5. Coq au Vin
via Pardon my Crumbs

Coq au vin, chicken cooked in red wine, is a French classic. Normally the recipes involves bacon, skin on chicken and an extra long cooking time. By adding in plenty of vegetables and lightly coating the chicken with whole wheat flour, this recipe is just as rich as the original and only a fraction of the calories.

6. Ratatouille
via Everyday Health

This recipe is a side dish of sautéed vegetables in a light tomato sauce. Traditionally the dish uses eggplant, zucchini, onion, and squash however adding in vegetables like corn kernels or dark greens like kale would be good, too. If you want to make this the center of a dish, top with shredded chicken.

7. Beef Bourguignon
via Dr. Gourmet

Here’s a meal for the first crisp fall night of the year. Slow cooked in wine and low sodium broth, the meat will absorb the flavors and become very tender. Add in hearty vegetables like cremini or button mushrooms and you have a cold weather classic to save for winter. This is a meal that will taste better the next day. Re-heat gently on the stove and add in a splash of broth for extra moisture.

8. Grilled Halibut Nicoise Salad
via Eating Well

Nicoise salad is generally made with tuna in oil and is topped with a creamy mustard vinaigrette. This recipe uses grilled halibut, piles on the green beans and grapes, and cuts back on the potatoes. Make this hearty salad for dinner or as a brunch entrée.

9. Scallops a la Provencal
via Self magazine

Scallops taste rich but are low in calories and high in healthy omegas. This recipe pairs baked scallops with roasted tomatoes and garlic for a summery preparation. If you aren’t an arugula fan, you can always substitute spinach.