Saturday, August 27, 2011

Yo, Omgirl ! Downward Digitty Dog!

I’m an Omgirl from New Jersey, yo! Yes, I do indeed realize I’m from the suburbs and I go to yoga on a regular basis. OK fine, I’ll take the “yo” out, that may have been too much, but I am now officially a lifelong Omgirl, aka a fan of the très chic yoga-inspired clothing line. I immediately fell in love with Omgirl when I heard the name – I always love a good pun as you may have noticed. I know Omgirl clothes are supposed to be for yoga, but I’ve actually been wearing them all day long. Omgirl describes itself as “unique blend of urban chic and West Coast sensibility.” Just like me! Yes, again, I know I’m from New Jersey, but I think that in a past life I was a Californian yogini meditating all day and eating hemp seeds (see previous post). It makes sense that clothing that is perfect for yoga would also be perfect for everyday. Both need to be comfortable and easy to move in, but also look good. Enter, Omgirl! All of their tops are long so they won’t move up your back when you’re doing your 10th downward dog in that vinyasa flow sequence and formfitting so they stay pinned to your body even when your body is flying off the mat. The clothes are great to wear at home or at om (sorry, I can’t resist). Check out Omgirl’s site at or, if you’re in Paris, make sure to stop into Yoga Concept.

Yoga Concept is a brand new shop in NoMa (“North Marais” and now my official ‘hood) that has opened literally across the street from Chez Lafleur. I noticed it only recently – it was like a beacon of light shining down upon the rue de Turenne shedding the divine light from above into the divine light in me, Namaste. (Actually, I think it’s more like a daily friendly reminder to get my butt out of bed and head over to yoga class, but I’ll leave you with the more spiritual image – it’s much more beautiful than me in pretty much any yoga position.)
The everything-yoga concept store brings modern urban yoga to the streets of Paris (and did I mention in THE BEST neighborhood? But I’m not biased.) Pop in for a chat with the adorable American in Paris (we’re ubiquitous in these parts, what can I say?) Pamela Levy who has brought yoga-inspired chic from across the Atlantic. Levy makes sure to select only the brands she loves most based on both quality and company ethics.

Once you’ve got your yoga mat and attire walk, step or jump over to l’Atelier Marais, a fab yoga studio just around the corner on the rue Charlot. From relaxing yet surprisingly energizing Hatha classes with Ingy to more physical Vinyasa yoga with an Eastern vibe with Judith, l’Atelier boasts a variety of classes at all times of day and night with an eclectic mix of knowledgeable instructors.

If you’re across the Atlantic and in New Jersey, head to Yoga Montclair, an Anusara studio run by the lovely Omni Kitts Ferrara and featuring some great teachers too, all with their own unique teaching styles from fashionista-turned-yogini Julissa to the motivating and philosophically physical (I just invented that description, but I find it incredibly fitting for a yoga instructor) Hillary to the vivacious yet gentle Julie. Everyone, from the staff to the yoginis (and select yogis, though it’s true the men are few and far between) is very open and friendly and the studio will be moving and expanding from Upper Montclair to a new location at the end of September. Check out their site for more info:

By the way, a “yogini” refers to any girl who practices yoga. I love it. It sounds like some sort of Indian pasta dish. “I’ll have the yogini, please.” Perhaps served with a pigeon pose? Anyway, for all of you yoginis out there wherever you are, Omgirl garb is divine. Feel free to Namaste in the clothes all day and night long. It may not bring your immediate spiritual lightness of being, but it will keep your movements lights for sure and keep you looking outside like the goddesses you are inside. Come on now, inhale, all of you with me now…Ooooooooooooooooom(girl). NAMASTE. Perhaps my Tibetan monk friends will soon be wearing Omgirl’s clothing too? (See video below for some anytime zen.)

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Voilà a clip from a TV show the NRJ channel did about moi - très fun!


The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Raw Food Detox

I’d like to preface this post by saying that I am not a complete idiot. I am also not going on a raw food detox anytime soon. That said, I’d like to tell you about a new book called The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Raw Food Detox by Adam Graham.

The book is meant for anyone – idiots or geniuses, raw foodists or cheeseburger mongers alike – looking to eat better, feel better and look better. I think everyone can relate to that, oui ?

I’m sure you’ve been hearing about and reading about health foods everywhere you turn. After just a few weeks in the US for the summer, I was saturated with “eat this, not that!” advice in the newspaper, magazines and on TV. If I actually listened to every one of them, I’d be eating… well, nothing, since even the health experts seem to contradict themselves most of the time. While a raw food diet is actually less of a diet and more of a lifestyle choice and it’s certainly not for everyone, gradually integrating more and more raw foods into one’s diet is absolutely a healthy choice for everyone. In his book, Graham makes raw food seem less a chore and more a creative and delicious way to get your greens. The book is divided into five parts that give you the basics of going raw, a step-by-step guide to getting started, several recipes, how raw food can be medicinal and nutritious then how to maintain the detox at home on your own. Graham goes into the scientific explanations of why raw is better, but, unlike many raw guides, doesn’t judge his readers. If you’re licking your lips from your cheeseburger and fries while perusing the pages, Graham would be happy you’re even listening instead of lecturing you on why the dead cow in your stomach is the end of the world. Plus, the recipes don’t use very esoteric, hard-to-find ingredients or require hard labor and specialized technology. So many raw recipes list hundreds of ingredients and require soaking, sprouting, dehydrating and crazy dancing (not really, but my poor attempts at them have resulted in such). Graham’s recipes are all simple, yet flavorful and offer alternatives if you don’t happen to have certain ingredients on hand, which I always like in a cookbook. Or, if you do decide to go all raw, Graham makes sure to include a chapter on “Raw food detox and social challenges” and how to remain raw despite pressures from society, family and friends. Graham also outlines a sample 15-day plan to have an idea of how to incorporate the recipes into a daily meal plan and make sure you’re getting enough calories throughout the day, not often easy with raw foods. Plus, the recipe names are all very creative and witty such as his “Portobello Bella Bella,” “G-Man’s Coconut Soup,” “Monkey King” smoothie, “Virgin Mary” juice or “Broccoli Rawdorf Salad.” This is more than just a cookbook and it’s a timeless book than can be consulted anytime – whether for a quick raw recipe idea or daily health tips.
If the words kombucha, lactobacillus acidophilus, ayurveda, centrifuge juicers, biogenics, catabolism, biophotons or exitotoxins scare you, then this book is for you. And if they don’t, then the book is also a great way to learn more. It’s a completely non-idiotic Idiot’s Guide to Raw Food Detox… or just eating very delicious food that just happens to be good for you. Bon appétit !

Monday, August 22, 2011

Top 10 Things I Love About … Canyon Ranch

Dear reality,
You suck. I’m moving to Canyon Ranch forever.

I would have loved to have written this blog FROM Canyon Ranch, but, Mesdames et Messieurs, there was no time. The Canyon Ranch day is so action-packed, that there was barely enough time to stop and eat or smell the roses (literally, they have flowers all over the property). In the “action” category, however, I do include a visit to the steam room, massage and restorative yoga class… yes, life is rough at Canyon Ranch. Life at Canyon Ranch is not, in fact, life. It is instead a wonderful escape from life. Canyon Ranch boasts locations across America – in Tucson and in Miami, but I opted for the East Coast version in Lenox, Massachusetts. The self-described “healthy escape in the Berkshires” is an all-inclusive spa in picturesque New England complete with an endless list of indoor and outdoor activities, cultural breaks and health programs. Unlike many spas in the US, Canyon Ranch mixes Eastern and Western medicines and integrates untraditional health values from India, China and across the globe. I must admit that, before I arrived, I expected Canyon Ranch to be a large spa complete with women walking around in robes with green face masks and people lounging around in arm chairs on grassy knolls. In fact, Canyon Ranch in Lenox is anything but that (though I admit to enjoying a brisk walk along the grass in my robe after a facial, please don’t judge.) I visited the location with my parents and, though we are all different ages with different health concerns and likes and dislikes, we all found ways to keep busy there, while finding time to enjoy each other’s company too. I have decided that I am retiring and moving to Canyon Ranch, so au revoir to Lafleurdeparis blog. Just kidding, I may need to invent a billion-dollar app for the iphone before I can do that so, until then, I’ll share with you my favorite parts of this petit escape in the Berkshires.

1 The Tata Harper facial

My skin just called to say she’s (yes, my skin is sensitive and delicate – it’s clearly female) quite happy with Canyon Ranch as well. I enjoyed an all-new treatment at “The Ranch” (that’s insider slang for Canyon Ranch Resort Lenox, by the way as I noticed that all of the staff referred to it that way) – the Tata Harper facial. Tata Harper is an all-natural cosmetics line. It’s like throwing a salad into your face. A delicious and wonderful-smelling salad that is. My skin feels like a baby’s butt. An ORGANIC baby’s butt at that. Tata’s (yes, Tata Harper is in fact a real person, farmer and chemist) non-toxic skincare line was researched and grown on her 1,200-acre farm in Vermont where she uses 100% natural ingredients like Narcissus bulbs, Witch Hazel, Gotu Kola and Neroli. What? You haven’t heard of those ingredients? Don’t worry, neither have I, but I can confirm that we should all remember their names because they work wonders on the skin. Plus, there’s a cheat sheet for all of the ingredients and their healing properties on Tata Harper’s website My skin was so smooth when I left the facial that when I put my head onto my pillow, I slipped and fell out of bed. (Not really, but I hope that image made a few of you laugh. It worked for me.) The Tata Harper facial at Canyon Ranch uses several products from the body and facial line and also includes paraffin wax on the hands and a massage of the head, neck, shoulders and arms. I was impressed by my esthetician’s vast knowledge of all things related to my epidermis and felt like I was in good hands (good thing because my hands were coated in wax and surrounded by thick plastic gloves – I looked like cookie monster at a wax museum.) What’s great is that all of the products aren’t just for fancy facials – they were designed for everyday use by everyday women. Well, wealthier everyday women because the products aren’t cheap, but they are pretty much the same price of similar high-end cosmetic products and, considering they are also completely organic and natural, makes them an even better deal. I particularly liked the rebuilding moisturizer, the resurfacing mask and the hydrating floral essence which is like a breath of fresh air sprayed to the face any time of day and available in a small enough container to keep in your purse anytime. TH also makes a great body lotion and oil plus roll-on essential oils for stress, irritability and bedtime aid which, if we all had help with our stress, irritability and sleep, we’d be absolutely gorgeous, right? Great idea, Tata. So “Tata” for now, I am applying some roll-on bedtime treatment oils and a resurfacing mask before I head to sleep to dream about another Canyon Ranch Tata Harper facial.

2 The staff
The Canyon Ranch staff are friendly without being didactic or overbearing.
From ayurveda, yoga or yamuna foot fitness with Mark to a work-out or yoga with Faith or Lori to a talk from the wise Dr Cindy Geyer all the way up to CR Lenox’ top dog, the smiley and accessible Reggie Cooper, the staff at CR really complete the experience. No one hovers over you, but they are always attentive. While Canyon Ranch may be a hot destination spot for real celebrities, everyone is made to feel like a celebrity when they go there. Everyone is a VIP (Very Important Paying customer, that is). Want a private yoga session tailored to your Ayurvedic dosha (if you don’t know what that is, you obviously need a trip to Canyon Ranch) or some herbs for your Chinese ying or yang? Your wish is their command.

3 Sondra Rose

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… I swear, Sondra Rose is, in fact Superwoman disguised as a 74 year-old philanthropist from Long Island. Rose was just named Woman of the Year by the Long Island Leukemia and Lymphoma Society earlier this year and continues to fight for a cause very close to her heart. She started this fundraising program when her close friend's first grandchild was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at just 11 months old. She raised $200,000 for DRIF and JDRF between 2000 and 2008. Rose’s grandson was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2008 and Rose hasn’t stopped campaigning for funding to research the disease. Rose has raised more than $180,000 for LLS and also raises money for the Children's Cancer Fund and Diabetes Research Institute Foundation. Meanwhile, Rose has been on the move. She’s walked 10 half-marathons, will enter in the New York Marathon this year, has completed a 30-mile bike ride and hiked in the Smoky Mountains and the Grand Canyon. Every time I ran into Rose at Canyon Ranch, she was finishing one activity and heading to another, always stopping of course for a friendly conversation with everyone she met along the way. The modest Rose expects nothing in return for her efforts, only to see her grandson’s smiling face and help other children with similar ailments. Rose is also a role model for anyone who wants to kick their health into high gear even when they think it’s too late in the game. “You’re never too old to change your life,” Rose says. Rose is also known as the “Spa Maven” and organizes trips to Canyon Ranch (and also Miraval and Mii amo spas in Arizona) at reduced rates, as long as you donate to her charity. Everyone wins, most importantly, the children who will benefit from your donations. If you’re interested, check out the Spa Maven site:

4 Yoga for Athletes
Yes, I, Rebecca Leffler, completed a class (actually two) with the title “for athletes.” (Stop laughing, I can hear you.) Canyon Ranch’s “yoga for athletes” is neither for yogis nor for athletes, and, at the same time, designed for both groups. Huh? Did I do too many downward dogs and headstands you may be wondering? This class challenges both yogis and athletes alike and is a great way to move those most hard-to-stretch muscles.

5 Unlimited food
Yes, I’m American – I get excited about the idea of all-you-can-eat dining. It’s in my genes. At Canyon Ranch, all of the meals are included and, while there is a daily and nightly salad bar buffet-style, feel free to order anything you’d like off of the sit-down menu. Don’t like the night’s dinner options? Make up your own. Or if you DO like the night’s dinner options, feel free to order 17 portions. (You’ll even be able to add up the calories – the calorie count is listed on the menu for each item.) No judgement. The portion sizes are so small that you may indeed need 17 portions to satiate your appetite after 10 hours of aerobics, paddleboarding, hiking and pilates, but it’s fun to have the freedom to try several things at once.

6 The Inhalation room
Don’t worry, everything you inhale in this room is indeed legal, though it does leave you feeling quite euphoric and, if you stay too long, a bit lightheaded and dizzy. The inhalation room is like a steam room, only better and features eucalyptus spray that is great for the sinuses. I wanted to stay forever.

7 Trying things I’ve never done before
“It’s not like you go there and languish. There are just numerous options every day. And then when you want to relax you have the spa. It’s all just there for you basically.” – Dad Leffler
I went for a 7-mile bike ride along the country roads and into the quaint town of Lenox, mastered Tai Chi, did a pilates workout and learned about longevity and digestive health, all before lunch. The possibilities really are endless.

8 The Train concert at Tanglewood
Marry Me, Train! Sorry, I meant, Marry Me BY Train – it’s a great song. Though I confess that after seeing their concert at Tanglewood, I would say “I Do” to this rock band trio. Patrick Monahan has such an incredible energy and he and the group livened up the stage and the large audience from start to finish, even coming back at the end for an encore. The band played all of their familiar favorites like “Hey, Soul Sister,” “Save Me, San Francisco” and “Marry Me,” but also added in some old classics from Blondie and Rihanna. Tanglewood is an absolutely beautiful setting and the night of the concert was sunny and beautiful. Large crowds gathered outside on the vast lawn – people of all ages from elderly couples to small children running around. Many people brought picnic dinners and sat in lounge chairs drinking wine. Others opted for seats inside of the main concert tent near the stage. The New England outdoor setting combined with the addictive music made for a high-energy and enjoyable evening. The best part? Canyon Ranch provides transportation to and from the Tanglewood lawn complete with lounge chairs, blankets, bug spray and, if you want, a picnic dinner. While I was sad for the show to end, Train reminded us that “This Aint Goodbye.” I hope to see them again soon!

9 Tai Chi / meditation
Din boo. Sui boo. Ma boo. Gun boo. Huh? Boo who?
I may not yet be a Master of the ancient Chinese martial art of Tai Chi, but I’m hooked. I tested out the “outdoor morning tai chi” class at Canyon Ranch and it was such a perfect way to start the day. The added bonus was the lovely morning summer weather, but the de-stress and strength training factors can be accessed at any time in any season. While the poses sound like a jungle scene – “pouncing tiger” or “high horse” or “crane” – they are extremely therapeutic and relaxing, while also muscle-building. Just call me Master Lafleur.

10 Trail bars
Almond butter and brown rice syrup hold puffed rice and millet together with quinoa flakes, dried cherries, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds for an energizing, protein-packed snack known as the Canyon Ranch Trail Bar. Even I may be persuaded to go hiking if I can pack these addictive trail bars. Did I mention that 7-mile bike ride? I think I’m ready for the Tour de France. Pass the trail bars!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I can't stop Bragging !

Now I don’t mean to Bragg, but… well, I’ve been Bragging quite a bit this summer. Don’t worry, my head hasn’t exploded. I’m talking about Bragg live food products from the Bragg family. The company will soon be celebrating its 100th anniversary and it’s no wonder they’ve been around for so long since the products leave much to Bragg about (it just doesn’t get old, does it ?)
I’ll admit that I was skeptical at first – their olive oil isn’t in a fancy container like most of the "top" olive oils I find in Paris and elsewhere and their packaging looks like it’s out of a 1940s magazine ad (but a very cool, vintage 1940s magazine ad at that). And then, I tasted the products. Oh là là! Not only are all of their products extremely healthy, but they actually TASTE great.
Their extra virgin olive oil has found its way into pretty much every meal I’ve made this summer and their nutritional yeast is packed with cheesy flavor and nutritional benefits to boot. The olive oil and apple cider vinegars make for an easy vinaigrette on their own, or try Bragg's own salad dressing creations with creative combos like ginger and sesame, Hawaiian or "Braggberry."
The liquid aminos give traditional soy sauce a run for its money and are unique on the health market. The liquid aminos are at every Canyon Ranch spa on the salad bar and I’ve noticed have become an indispensable part of healthy recipes for bloggers and cookbook authors all over North America.
The company was founded by Paul Bragg, a pioneer in health food in America, and today Bragg's company is run by his daughter Patricia. The Bragg family motto is “You are what you eat, drink, breathe, think, say and do.” (Not to be confused with the Leffler family motto of: “Eat, drink, breathe, think, say and do… a lot.”)
Patricia Bragg is a nutritionist and author known for her how-to books helping people to adopt her “Bragg Healthy Lifestyle” and philosophy. She’s worked with some top talents like Clint Eastwood, The Beach Boys, Jack Lalanne, Metropolitan Opera stars and even Olympic athletes. (But who’s Bragging?) I’m such a fan! (Of the Bragg product line, that is, though I’ll admit to the occasional rendition of “Surfin’ USA” in the shower.) Bragg makes a great apple cider vinegar and even some creative apple cider vinegar-based beverages for your own at-home drinkable detox. And table salt was SO last season – Bragg’s organic sprinkle seasoning is the new way to dress (your salads and meals, that is, not yourself – I don’t recommend dousing yourself in a garlic, ginger, onion and other herb mixture, you may not be very popular). The salt-free flavorful herb combo adds sodium-free savor to any dish.
Bragg also blogs so after you read your FAVORITE blog (cough cough), make sure to click on theirs:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Totally Nuts!

Whenever anyone asks me what I miss most about America, my first response is always “peanut butter.” Sorry, Mom and Dad, but you’re just not as creamy and American. Plus, you come to visit me at least once a year, while peanut butter has been doing a terrible job of visiting France. Like an obnoxious American tourist, it stands out in a crowd and the French find it abhorrent. After living in la France for seven years, peanut butter has become my Proust Madeleine, if you will. One bite and my childhoods eating fluffernutter sandwiches at summer camp (my French friends nearly faint when I tell them what’s actually in one of those) or peanut butter and jelly at school all flash before my eyes.

As I get older (and yes, I do indeed have a rapidly approaching birthday, please don’t remind me), like any lifelong love, my affections for peanut butter have changed. Now, like an adultering Frenchman, I have been forced to share my love for peanut butter with several other forms of nut butters. Almond butter is perhaps the most ubiquitous of nut butters, following its dear cousin peanut, of course, and my go-to nut butter. While several of the French brands aren’t bad – Jean Hervé is my current French fave – they just don’t compare to the US. Enter, Artisana. Artisana makes a wide variety of nut butters and, the best part? They’re all raw. This means, that they’re not only healthier, but also keep all of the original almond’s flavors intact, which makes for a delectable treat. I spread it on a banana and sprinkle with hemp seeds (seriously, get me into a 12-step hemp program fast) or add it to smoothies or oatmeal. And, as if the Artisanal founders thought only of me when creating their product line
(OK, they may also have been thinking of the thousands of schoolchildren and busy adults across the country who may also be saved from such an ingenious creation), Artisana sells their nut butters in individual serving packets, perfect for those of us on the go. (Can you think of anything more chic than squeezing almond butter onto a cracker during a fancy movie premiere? Just watch me.) Their tahini is the best I’ve ever had and makes for an incredible addition to salad dressing, baked goods or sauces, or just spread on toasted bread with some honey – yum. Their single serving packets span pretty much every nut you can think of, your crazy Aunt not included: think pecan, walnut, coconut, cashew, almond, cacao, macadamia and cashini (just what it sounds like, the delicious offspring of cashews and tahini). They are the perfect snack for any time of day on any kind of bed (fruit, rice cake, fresh French bread from the boulangerie if you’re as lucky as me to live down the street from one or a bagel if you’re even luckier than me and live in close proximity to a NY bagel shop) or just squeeze directly from packet to mouth, why not ? It’s healthy, I promise.
If you dare, and have the time, I do suggest my current homemade favorite, a roasted hazelnut butter from my favorite food blog, My New Roots. Check it out (and make sure to read the intro – after you make it, you’ll want to take Sarah and me out on a date, or just send me some homemade hazelnut butter, that works too):
And if you are a French customs official reading this blog, then I’d just like to officially state on record that there are NOT any jars or packets of nut butter in my suitcase for my NY-Paris flight.

Hemp me, I'm addicted!

My name is Rebecca Leffler and I’m a hempaholic.
It’s true. I confess. It’s only been a few weeks now, but I can’t get enough cannabis.
At 4:20 pm every day, I … no just kidding of course, I munch on hemp all day long, there’s really no set time.
While hemp seeds may be très hard to find in France, they are ubiquitous in these parts (and by “these parts” I of course mean America, not necessarily specific to New Jersey, unless of course the “Garden State” moniker refers to mass cannabis farming?)
I love sprinkling hemp seeds on just about anything to add crunch, flavor, protein and nutrients and I am a fan of hemp protein powder in my smoothies for some added bulk. So, in sum, you can sprinkle hemp, smoothie hemp…and smoke hemp I imagine, but I don’t recommend in seed or protein powder form, they’re too delicious to waste.
I’m currently enjoying Nutiva's hemp seeds on just about anything. Nutiva's seeds are Canadian, so it’s only natural that I’d like them. Like most other Canadians, Nutiva's hemp seeds are subtle yet robust, healthy and make me smile. Most American states can’t legally grow hemp and its still not legal on a federal level, so we have to rely on our Canadian friends to supply us with our stash. Crazy, eh? Get some Canuck cannabis asap – it’s smokin’ good. Hemp seeds are known as hemp hearts in Canada and rightfully so – my heart beats for those white and green little sprinklings of love. Omega-oodness gracious, this stuff rocks. And, fact of the day: The Declaration of Independence draft was written on paper made out of hemp. Thomas Jefferson himself grew hemp. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all hemp is created equal… Actually, not true. Make sure you get your hemp from a reliable source, preferably organic. Check out:
Unfortunately, I still can’t find hemp seeds in Paris – the French government says adultery is OK, but healthy hemp seeds a menace to society – I may have to go on strike. (Or feel free to mail me a few bags, shhh I won’t tell Sarkozy.)