An allergy-friendly version of a classic Eastern European dessert and snack perfect for celebrations.
“Healthy” and “juice shop” may not be the first things that come to your mind when you think of the Paris food scene (probably more like bread, butter, cheese, wine…). But not even the stubborn French food industry has escaped from the health craze that has swept through the US. Several good and very cute places have popped up across the city with a few focused specifically on gluten-free goods or vegan fare. While the standard American diet certainly isn’t low-cal or low-fat, it is generally less rich than French cuisine, so being able to grab a juice or acai bowl for lunch to give your palette/stomach a break is a welcome option, in my opinion.
And also, you know, you gotta balance out all the overeating and wine drinking so that you don’t come home 15 pounds heavier…
Some of these places are more grab and go in style and therefore not as easy to have dishes altered to fit your specific dietary needs. With that said, I’ve been able to find at least one juice and one salad/snack at each that works for me which is a pretty good indicator for other people. The few that are sit-down were willing to change dishes where possible, you just have to ask!
I love this little restaurant in pretty much every way: the iced matcha is the best I’ve found in Paris; the salads are perfectly dressed and large enough to make a full meal out of; the pastries, though I can’t eat them, look ridiculous; it’s close to a lot of my favorite shops, and it’s perfectly decorated. If you didn’t know any better you might think this place is in Southern California…until you remember it fills all floors of a tiny, super old Parisian building with details that you just don’t find in the US. If I ever open a casual restaurant, it will look like this place.
Around lunchtime it can get pretty busy but I’ve never run across an issue finding seating. You order at the counter on the ground floor, get a number and they bring your food to you once it’s ready, let’s say a 10-15 minute wait. When you’re finished, you bring your number back to the counter and pay.
The fare is veggie heavy with a mix of salads, sandwiches and some plates like risotto or salmon. There are nuts in a lot of the dishes but they can be left off if requested. To complement your meal you can get a freshly made juice, coffee, matcha or even wine (just one glass is still healthy, right?). While I’ve never been for breakfast, they seem to have an awesome menu with more substantial items than your typical French breakfast. It’s probably worth trying out.
(Not to be confused with another restaurant chain named Marcel, same pronunciation, which is surprisingly American in the sporting-event-grub kind of way.)
Judy, cantine qualitarienne
Judy is a full blown restaurant with a tiny little coffee bar if you must have something to go. Thankfully, they take reservations, which I highly recommend, because they seem to always be packed. It’s easy to figure out why: the Aussie inspired menu is on point, the airy and bright decor is inviting, and the location is hot.
We stopped in for lunch on our last trip, unplanned, but were still seated within 15 minutes. I had an almond milk matcha and an açaí bowl, Scott had some sort of noddle dish that would have killed me (and a glass of wine, naturally). The food was all amazing. My only disappointment: I REALLY wanted one of their juices and a slice of the vegan banana bread but they were all out! Ugh, I was so SAD. Advice for next time: go early.
The thing that was really wonderful was their attention to my allergies. There were a few dishes I was considering but couldn’t be altered or would have to be altered in such a way that wouldn’t have made them worth eating. They offered me other options and took their time even though they were getting completely slammed.
The motto of this little shop in the 2nd is “eat smart.” It’s more along the lines of what we think of as a juice shop in the US with freshly made juices, smoothies and some prepared salads and food items. The menu changes seasonally and focuses on providing nutritional value based on different types of sports activity: bodybuilding (heavy protein), cardio (higher carbs), and detox (low cal).
When we were there they had just added an acai bowl, one of my favorite snacks, to the menu. If I walk by somewhere that serves acai I must have it, even if I’m not hungry. So we stopped in to indulge my acai needs and check the place out. The staff was really friendly and helpful and the food all looked delicious. It’s definitely a place I’d go back to grab a quick snack.
Located in the heart of the city, close to the Ritz, Le Meurice and luxury shopping, Maisie is probably the most fashionable juice shop in town, literally and figuratively. They have several cold-pressed juices, breakfast, lunch and snack items all available for take-away or to eat in their sunny cafe.
A lot of the items contain nuts or nut milk of some sort so you have to make sure you are carefully reading the ingredients for everything. We stopped by the morning they reopened after summer holidays and luckily had the place all to ourselves. I ordered a juice and a slice of vegan banana bread. The juice was perfect but the vegan banana bread left a lot to be desired. That said, since it’s so close to the hotels we always stay at, it’s definitely a top place on my list for juice. Next time we’ll go later in the day and try some of their lunch options. (Their instagram looks so good!)
Wild & the Moon
Yet another place I love…partially because it’s a great spot to grab a drink and hang out, partially because they have an owl as a logo. Yep, I’m that easily won over. We accidentally came upon this place a few years ago as we were walking through the neighborhood to another coffee shop. Scott pointed out the owl which then lead me to pose for a photo and go inside (obviously). Some things happen for a reason.
The menu here is really interesting and varied. There are cold-pressed juices, smoothies, coffee drinks, salads, pastries, salads, bowls, desserts, and it’s all plant-based and gluten free. If you’re allergic to tree nuts, this is not the place for you, sadly. I always get their matcha latte which is made with spirulina and their homemade almond milk because it is so, so good (some of the staff make it better than others, just like any coffee shop). I’ve also tried a few juices and the acai bowl which were all excellent. The vibe is very Brooklyn (I think yelp says it is “hipster” HAHAHA) with communal tables and lots of greenery.
This is also one of the rare few places where I’ve seen people working on laptops during the day. (Working at a cafe is still not a widely acceptable thing in Paris unless it is a specific coworking cafe.) I think they have WiFi but I used my phone as a hotspot when I was there last.
Great news for those in the NYC area: they are opening a location in the city soon so you can try out all their delicious creations without having to head to Europe (or Dubai, where their second location is). I can’t wait for it!
Holybelly is an all-day breakfast joint in Canal Saint-Martin heavy on the American/Canadian vibes with lots of pancakes and egg dishes. Many things can be made gluten-free but not dairy- or egg-free.
I met a girlfriend here for lunch before walking around the neighborhood to do some shopping (there are a lot of good outlet stores in Canal Saint-Martin) and sight-seeing. Since we were both avoiding most of the menu, we got their vegan chia pudding with fresh fruit which was shockingly amazing. I don’t know what they did to this chia pudding but it was so much creamier and tastier than any I’ve ever had before. If you can eat the rest of the menu, everyone I know says it is the best breakfast in the city. Because of that there is usually a line out the door (no reservations!) but it does move pretty quickly.
Juicerie is another US style juice shop serving cold-pressed juices and small snacks like acai bowls and healthy pastries and lunch options like soups, salads and sandwiches. Everything is freshly made from seasonal ingredients sourced from local producers. The shop is located on a quiet little side street close to the Palais Garnier, and therefore both Printemps and Galeries Lafayette department stores (always got shopping on my mind…).
Because we had enjoyed a particularly large, rich meal the night before, both Scott and I couldn’t handle much more than a juice for breakfast. I went for a beet forward option and he went with citrusy turmeric juice. Both were really good and the perfect, lite way to start the day.
We’ve been to a few other juice shops and healthy spots around the city worth looking into on your next trip. I either don’t have photos or the photos are outdated, so I’ll just list them below.
- Juice It – which may now be called JuiceLab
- Juice Lab – I’ve been to the one in Cannes, but not any of the Paris locations. Excellent acai bowl!
- Love Juice Bar
- Bob’s Juice Bar
- Maison Bon
- Season – they now serve my favorite brand of matcha, Panatea!
- La Petit Flottes – great spot for takeaway and little gifts
If you have other healthy spots you like in Paris, let us know in the comments!
One of my favorite summer time foods is squash blossoms. They aren’t in season for very long and they can be very finicky, but damn are they delicious. When I start to see them pop up in the farmers market I tend to go overboard and put them in just about everything.
The first time I ate squash blossoms was at a restaurant in New York City. They were stuffed with a ricotta and herb mix then fried to a perfect golden brown. It was one of those bites of food that makes your eyes bulge open and your arms flail around while still having a mouth full of food as you attempt to make everyone understand just how good it is. Every bite thereafter was the more normal eyes closed, chew slowly, enjoy the incredible flavor as long as possible while shooing away every hand trying to get a piece. For awhile, before my food allergies got worse and multiplied, I would order them everywhere I saw them. Last year I had maybe the most insane version that was stuffed with ricotta, mint, lemon and drizzled with honey at a small tapas bar in London called Twist. We ordered 3 plates of it…for 4 people. This dish is such a rockstar that it is still on their menu over a year later.
More recently, I had an entirely allergy friendly version at Table 22 in Cannes, France, that reminded me how much I love these delicate flowers. I had given them up since they are best stuffed with cheese and other goodies I can’t eat (isn’t everything best that way?) and rarely appear otherwise on menus. But after eating this tower of lightly battered and fried squash blossoms at Table 22 I decided I would have to recreate the dish at home.
For me, cleaning squash blossoms is very annoying. The petals are so delicate you have to be extremely gentle which in turn means more time devoted to prep work. All blossoms, regardless of their gender, need their stamen removed (it’s not edible!). Since female flowers are connected directly to squash, the rest is edible, so you just have to check for bugs, rinse off dirt and remove the stamen. Male flowers, however, grow separately and their stems are not edible. You need to clean them just as a female flower but you also need to pop off the stem OR remember not to eat it after you’ve cooked it. I find it is much easier to cook them with stem on so I just eat down to where the stem begins and discard the inedible part. I do like to remove the little green leaf-like pieces around the base of the flower, though.
Since squash blossoms are flowers and, by the time you see them in the market, have been picked off their life source, they need to be used immediately. If you buy them, I suggest cooking them the same day. If you are growing them, obviously pick them right before you are going to prepare them. If life gets in the way, I’ve found you can wash and dry them then put them in a ziplock with a paper towel to absorb extra moisture for a day. They will wilt a little but they won’t be bad.
But back to cleaning the blossoms. Really check thoroughly for bugs, like two or three times. The petals are the perfect hiding place and they will cling to them. I like to soak the blossoms in a bowl of cold water then run a very gentle stream of water over each one to help release any remaining dirt and wash away the bugs that clung on for their life while soaking. I always end up finding at least one more bug. You also want to get the blossoms as dry as possible so lay them out on a paper towel and let them air dry for an hour or two. Once they are dry you can gently pull the petals apart to remove the stamen in the center.
Now we’re ready to cook! Be prepared: you will not want to share any of your fried squash blossoms so you may want to double this recipe if you are planning a meal for more than just yourself…. Anyway, all you need is some flour, salt, seltzer water and coconut oil. Yes, it’s that simple. The plain tempura batter really lets the flavor of the squash blossoms shine while the coconut oil gives a clean fry without any heavy oil aftertaste like olive oil. Plus, if you use coconut oil it means it’s healthy right? Healthy fried food? Ok, maybe not but let’s just pretend because I want to eat these every night of the week.
Combine the flour and salt into medium bowl then add in seltzer and gently stir together. Be careful not to over mix: you want the batter to look chunky, similar to pancake batter.
Next heat up your coconut oil in a deep cast iron pot or dutch oven over medium heat. You want the oil to be between 1/4in and 1/2in deep. The actual amount of oil needed will vary depending on your pot so don’t bother with measurements, just eyeball it. Once the oil is hot enough (when a drop of the batter sizzles), carefully dip a squash blossom in the batter to coat it. To avoid getting batter inside the petals, gently twist them together before dipping.
Place the battered squash blossom gently into the oil. Repeat with two or three more blossoms at a time, however many can comfortably fit without crowding. After 2-3 minutes, flip the blossoms using tongs and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until both sides are golden brown.
Remove the blossoms and place on a paper towel lined cooling rack. Repeat these steps until all of your squash blossoms are fried. Sprinkle the blossoms with some sea salt and fresh ground pepper (optional) and serve immediately or transfer to a baking sheet and place in a 200F oven to stay warm until it’s time to eat. (Or eat them as you cook, like I do!)
- 10-12 squash blossoms
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 10 oz seltzer (plain)
- coconut oil
- Clean and remove the stamen from each squash blossom.
- Mix together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Gently stir in seltzer until batter resembles pancake mix (a little bit chunky).
- Heat ¼in to ½in coconut oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, dip a squash blossom into the batter, let excess run off then gently place into the hot oil. Repeat with a few more blossoms until the dutch oven is comfortably full.
- Fry for 2-3 minutes then flip with tongs and fry the other side for another 2-3 minutes, until golden brown.
- Remove from oil and place on a paper towel lined wire rack to cool.
- Repeat until all squash blossoms are fried.
- Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.
Let me know if you’ve tried this recipe! Comment below or post a photo to instagram and tag me @champagneandfrites!
Over the next few months I’m going to talk about my personal enemy number one, the kryptonite to my Super(wo)man, the Mojo Jojo to my Bubbles: Yeast.
Yeast is really where my food allergy story starts (kinda funny since yeast isn’t a food). While I’ve had several food allergies since a young age, my entire outlook and behavior towards them changed dramatically in 2012 when my allergist finally solved my health puzzle.
After more than a year worth of increasingly horrible stomach pains, gastro issues, lethargy, joint pains and general discomfort, I made appointments to see my primary care doctor and my allergist. In my mind, I had one of two problems: I was slowly dying of some horrible disease or I had developed new food allergies. (I’m not dramatic at all…….)
My primary care doctor did some blood work and sent me to the GI who insisted I have a colonoscopy to check for issues like ulcerative colitis, bleeding, tumors, etc. I set it up for the following week, drank the massive jug of nastiness they give you to clear out your system (only a few months later a much better tasting and easier drink came out and I’m still angry about it), quickly nodded off as an unexpectedly handsome doctor was gearing up to examine my colon, and woke up an hour later loopy as hell to be told I have a beautiful colon with no problems. I’m pretty sure the whole thing was a ploy to make more $$. Anyway, with that done and no issues, I knew that allergies had to be the problem.
My allergist did the standard skin prick test on my back as a starting point, knowing that whatever was going on would probably require more testing. I hadn’t had my allergies tested in at least 5 years so there was a good chance they had changed and I was unknowingly eating something(s) my body was rejecting. While I don’t find allergy skin tests to be painful, I do find them to be extremely annoying. The little pricks almost tickle in some places and the burning, itching sensation that immediately follows and gets progressively worse as you sit there, unmoving for 15-20 minutes, really gnaws at your psyche.
Body: ITCHY BACK, ITCHY BACK, IT’S ON FIRE, ITCH IT
Mind: Don’t move a muscle or this test could get screwed up and you’ll have to do it again.
Body: JUST ITCH IT ALREADY OR I’M GOING TO HAVE A MELTDOWN
Mind: Deep breaths, only a few minutes left.
Mind: OH F*$@K, 13 more minutes to wait.
And so it goes on until finally the doctor comes back in and, if your allergies are as severe as mine, calmly states how badly you’ve reacted to basically everything and that after measuring all 72 pricks they will apply some steroid cream to help lessen the itch. But the issue is, that cream really does nothing if you have reactions like mine, so your best bet is to hurry home, take a Benadryl and pass out until the next day. THIS is what I’m talking about…
For most people, the hives will go away within a few hours. For me, they last anywhere from 3-7 days, depending on the severity. It’s amazing. I digress.
After examining the results, my allergist decided to do a more intense panel on molds, which I had reacted to the worst. Because this was a custom skin test, not a standard prick test, full blown needles were used. Now, I don’t have any issue with needles or shots, but this involved getting 18 “shots” in an extremely short period of time, and any sane person would start to sweat at that idea. I had two control shots in my right arm and 16 different types of mold and fungus shots in my left arm. While I reacted to all of them pretty badly, my worst was to yeast. (Lucky for you guys, I can’t find the lovely picture of this test.)
I was sent home 45 minutes later, after an observation period to ensure I wouldn’t go into anaphylaxis, with a new diet regime that excluded yeast from my diet entirely and limited the amount of sugar and carbs I could eat. I had mixed feelings: I was happy to have the answer to my health problems and I was entirely defeated by the intensity of this new diet that removed pretty much all of the foods I loved.
So, it’s been five years since I had a slice of real pizza, a sandwich, a freshly baked croissant, truffles shaved on top of my pasta, beef bourguignon (or any other delicious dish that uses mushrooms in the base), a hamburger with bun like a normal person, and so many other things. At first it was really difficult. Watching people eat bread from the bread basket at dinner or strangers eating a slice of pizza on the street made me want to cry with jealousy. I was still at a point where I could taste what they were eating even though I wasn’t eating it. But now I can smell the yeast in bread and pizza and it grosses me out. The whiff of a truffle being shaved at the table three tables down from mine makes me want to gag. I not only have forgotten what these things taste like entirely, but the smell of them doesn’t even appeal to me.
That’s not to say I don’t miss these foods, though. I miss the convenience and ease of pizza or a sandwich on the go. I miss the accessibility of food options when I’m traveling or at an event. I miss not having to constantly worry about what I’m going to eat and if I should eat before I go to brunch.
Whenever I’m in a particularly nostalgic mood or just craving carbs, I’ll make my yeast-free flatbread. Before my dairy allergy popped up last year, this recipe was not vegan and I never would have thought to change it. With a few easy substitutions, it is now dairy-free and vegan. Honestly, I think it tastes better than it did before!
Sometimes I’ll eat it plain while it’s still warm. Other times I’ll dress it up with hummus and veggies, almond butter and jelly, mayo-free chicken salad, or banana and honey with chia seeds sprinkled on top. It’s really the perfect base for any number of toppings. Best of all, it’s extremely easy to make and only has a four ingredients: flour, salt, olive oil and non-dairy milk.
To start, mix together the flour and salt, then add in the oil and non-dairy milk. Stir everything together until well combined and a dough forms.
Sprinkle a work surface with flour then knead the dough roughly 10 times, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky. Wrap it in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
If you’d like larger flatbreads (as pictured here), cut the dough into four even pieces. For smaller flatbreads, cut the dough into eight even pieces. Roll each piece into a ball then roll them out on a floured surface until they are roughly 1/8in thick. The shape really doesn’t matter unless you really want circles or squares for something specific. Just make sure that the shape and size will fit into whatever pan you plan to use.
Heat a little bit of olive oil in a shallow pan over medium heat. Once hot, place a flatbread in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until air pockets start to form and the base turns golden brown.
Transfer each flatbread directly to a clean tea towel and wrap up to keep warm and to keep from becoming hardened. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 5 days. I’d recommend reheating the flatbread before eating to get the best flavor.
- 2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- ½ tsp salt
- 3½ Tbsp olive oil
- ¾ cup non-dairy milk
- oil for cooking
- Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add in olive oil and non-dairy milk then stir to combine until a dough forms.
- Transfer dough to a floured work surface and knead 10 times, adding more flour if the dough is sticky. Then wrap in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Unwrap the dough and cut into 4 even pieces for large flatbreads or 8 even pieces for small flatbreads. Roll each into a ball then, using a rolling pin, roll out into circles approximately ⅛in thick.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add in one flatbread and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until air pockets form and the bottom is browned.
- Remove from skillet and wrap in a clean tea towel to help maintain warmth and to keep soft while you cook the rest. Serve immediately or store for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Let me know if you’ve tried this recipe! Comment below or post a photo to instagram with the tag #champagneandfrites.