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A low-calorie style of cooking, cuisine minceur was created by French chef Michel Guérard. The cooking style focuses on recreating traditional French dishes in lighter, often more healthful ways. Cuisine minceur dishes have been praised for both tasting superior to regular French cuisine, as well as for remaining authentic to the style of cooking.
While many traditional French meals leave the diner with an uncomfortable heavy, over-filled feeling after eating, cuisine minceur dishes avoid this effect. Instead, they offer less calories and less cholesterol, while still providing full flavor. For this reason, his cooking style is known as cuisine minceur, or the cuisine of slimness.
During the 1970s, chef Guérard joined his wife, Christine Barthelemy, in renovating a spa resort. During the renovation, Guérard developed his style of cooking to complement the health consciousness nature of the spa. Guérard, an ex-pastry chef, was able to reduce meals containing 3,000 calories or more to just 500 calories while still retaining their flavor. According to Guérard, a dieter can release up to five pounds (two and one-half kilograms) per week by eating his cuisine.
Cuisine minceur is built upon the Nouvelle style of cooking. Prior to Guérard's invention, other chefs had developed the Nouvelle style, which focused on simple, fresh foods. Guérard decided to take this style a step further in the direction of a healthy lifestyle, updating traditional Nouvelle cuisine dishes by drastically slashing the amount of calories they contained.
Like Nouvelle cuisine, Guérard's cooking adaptations are very simple. The use of fat in his dishes is kept to a minimum. Many dishes eschew fat completely. Easy substitutions, such halving the use of an ingredient from one-half to one-quarter, are also made for high-calorie ingredients. These simple concepts, without detracting from the food's flavors, made Guérard's cooking style very popular in the Western world.
At the heart of Gerrard's cooking style is the removal of cream. He experimented with yogurt, frontage blanc, and many other substitutes. He finally discovered a desirable replacement for cream: a mixture of dry, nonfat frontage blanc with a mixture of pureed vegetables, such as leeks, mushrooms, and carrots. This mixture provided the same velvety texture and taste of cream sauce without the large amount of calories. Gerrard also found substitutions for mayonnaise, butter, and many other high-caloric ingredients.
One of Gerrard's most famous cuisine minceur dishes is crab salad with grapefruit. Other low-calorie recipes of the chef's that are well-liked include Aubergine Caviar, veal, and various fresh soups. A drawback of Guérard's style, however, is the practice of discarding some foods used in preparation of other foods in order to lower their caloric value. This practice is considered wasteful by some people.