Do Me A Favor?

C&Z Reader Survey

I’ve been writing Chocolate & Zucchini for 12 1/2 years (I know!) and I have to say my idea bucket is just as full as it was on day one.

But of course all I do is for you, and to help me bring you the most value, I would be very interested to hear what you think, whether you’re a long-time reader or a fresh new friend.

If you have 5 minutes to spare, will you take this short reader survey? I’ve tried to keep the questions easy and fun. ^^

I am most grateful for your time and insights, and thank you in advance for helping me build a better C&Z!


I Heart My Web Designer

I Heart My Web Designer

Running a website like Chocolate & Zucchini isn’t a fire-and-forget operation: ever since I did my big redesign (and major switch to the WordPress blogging platform) a couple of years ago, I’ve kept busy behind the scenes, tweaking things and adding features to improve your experience and the site’s performance.

I’m not doing this alone, fortunately: I am lucky enough to work with the amazing cre8d design agency for my site design and development. Cre8d is a brother-and-sister team (which I think is super sweet): Rachel Cunliffe handles the creative side, while Stephen Merriman takes care of the technical implementation. And I can’t speak too highly of them. Their professionalism, their informed advice, their fresh outlook, their responsiveness: it just feels amazing to have them on my side.

I thought I would offer this review of cre8d because I know many of you have a blog of your own, and it’s often in the wee months of the year that we feel an irresistible itch to change things up, whether it’s a mega overhaul or just a fresh coat of paint. Or maybe you’re just wanting to start a blog (yay, you!) and you want a personalized WordPress theme that will help you stand out.

But it’s hard to find web designers who are both talented and reliable at a reasonable rate, and I feel like I’ve struck gold with the cre8d team.

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Spiced Pilau Rice with Beets

Easy Spiced Beet Pilau

When I returned to Paris after two years of fabulous eats in California, one of the things I missed the most was good Indian food. Since India produces excellent engineers, many of them end up working for Silicon Valley companies, and we made friends with one of them who was kind enough to invite us to dinner now and then. His wife, a fine cook with no work visa, would then spend the day cooking for us, to our collective delight and eternal gratitude.

The memory of those meals has made me particularly fond of family-style Indian cooking, the kind you can practice at home without too much complication, and without chasing a million ingredients around the La Chapelle neighborhood*. This may be paradoxical, but I find these dishes particularly welcome in colder months — probably because of the warmth of their flavors and the richness of their spices, as evidenced by today’s recipe.

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Snapchat and Facebook Live for Food Bloggers: 5 Reasons to Get Started

Facebook Live and Snapchat

I’ve been having so much fun with Snapchat and Facebook Live that I wanted to report back on my experience. If you’re a food blogger too, this should help you decide whether these new platforms are for you; and if you’re a reader of food blogs, you’ll learn what’s in it for you!

Wait, what’s Snapchat?

Snapchat is a smartphone application* that was originally used by teens to exchange photos, short videos, and text messages that disappeared as soon as the recipient had viewed them.

The app has gradually gained features, and as it did, attracted a wider following with more grownups. The most significant change is the possibility of adding your photos and videos to your public “story”, which lives for just 24 hours before disappearing. Any snapchatters who adds you (I’m clotildenet!) can then view your daily story, get a feel for what you’ve been up to, and send a quick comment if they want to.

The general aesthetic of Snapchat is very unpolished, and the tone is light and fun. On your images and videos you can add text captions, emoticons, and very basic drawings made with the fat tip of your finger on your tiny screen. The idea is not to worry about lighting and the perfect frame, nor is it to labor for hours over prettification and curation. The idea is to just shoot and share, shoot and share, knowing it will live for just 24 hours** so if you’re not 100% happy with what you put out, well, tomorrow’s another day.

The result is a marvelously refreshing social media platform that is undemanding and unthreatening, through which to share daily nothings and just be yourself. (I enjoyed this related article.)

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Immune-Boosting Green Smoothie Bowl

Green Smoothie Bowls for Winter

You are looking at my current breakfast bliss. Green smoothie bowls have become a favorite of mine, and starting my days with these nutritious, delicious, energy-filled bowls shines a bright winter sunlight on my mornings.

Surely you’ve heard about green smoothies and how they’re taking the Internet world by storm. The idea is to add greens and various superfoods to your fruit smoothies to make them extra good for you, and to give you a headstart on your daily consumption of fresh produce. Beyond the inherent nutritional benefits of the green smoothie, aficionados report a halo effect that steers them toward healthier food choices throughout the day.

I was very tempted to get on board, but I’ve always been more inclined to eat my calories than drink them, so I could never quite warm up to the green smoothie. That is, until I discovered the concept of the green smoothie bowl, wherein you give it a thicker consistency so you can eat it with a spoon and — perhaps more important — sprinkle on all kinds of goodies for added texture.

How to build a green smoothie bowl

There are endless ways you can make a green smoothie bowl, but I typically build mine like this, with an emphasis on immune-boosting ingredients:

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