What To Do Instead of a Detox: A Gentler Way to Start The Year

We’re just a couple of days into January, and already you are being assailed by messages of diet this and detox that.

And certainly, you will feel the pull. Who wouldn’t? It’s everywhere, and you feel a little food-ed out from the holiday celebrations. But. There is more than one way to handle this feeling, and I’d like to offer an alternative to self-punishment.

Instead of diving head first into group guilt, self-loathing, shame, restrictive eating, imaginative cleanses, and the inevitable backlash they breed, consider directing these vast (VAST!) amounts of time and energy and brain juice toward making peace with food and with your body.

It’s revolutionary.

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French Holiday Recipes

Gorgeous stove photo courtesy of La Cornue.

Christmas is just a few days away (not to stress you out or anything) and I was shocked to realize that, in fourteen years of Chocolate & Zucchini, I have never offered an actual post outlining how to host a French holiday meal.

So whether you’re seeking to add a little Frenchness to your holiday celebrations, attending your first bona fide French holiday meal this year, or even hosting one (gah!), let me break things down for you, and suggest some winning French holiday recipes.

Christmas and the New Year

French families get together for a Christmas Eve dinner (le réveillon de Noël), and often there’s a second meal for Christmas Day lunch (not breakfast or brunch), either with the same cast or with a different part of the family.

Christmas is largely celebrated in the home; most restaurants are closed that night for staff members to celebrate with their own family. It is considered an intimate occasion reserved for family members and close family friends, so if you are a guest from outside the family, it’s a big deal. Presents are opened either after dinner on Christmas Eve, or in the morning on Christmas Day.

The French New Year’s Eve (le réveillon du Nouvel An) is often celebrated with friends rather than with family, and it is more of a grown-up occasion. If there are small children, they will be tucked into bed early or allowed to collapse on some couch, but the party is not about them. (Sorry kids.)

Some people go out to dinner on New Year’s Eve, but I don’t know who they are and I wouldn’t want to go with them. In my circle, we are more likely to have a special dinner at someone’s house, and possibly go out later, or just push the furniture and party at home*.

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Mexican Chocolate Discs

Mexican Chocolate Discs

You have no idea how excited I am about this.

What I have for you today is a recipe for Mexican chocolate discs that you can make at home in 15 minutes, wrap up, and give to your friends and family members this holiday season to gain their eternal admiration, love, and gratitude. Not a bad return on your investment, right?

If you’re not familiar with Mexican chocolate discs, let me explain. They are round pucks of coarsely milled chocolate flavored with a little cinnamon, wrapped up in paper, that you buy in stacks.

The official way to use these chocolate discs is to break them up into sections — conveniently marked on top of the discs — and melt them in water for hot chocolate, using a little corn starch for thickening. You can sprinkle a little more ground cinnamon over your cup, and ideally you will serve these steaming cups of champurrado with freshly fried churros, because YOLO.

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Coconut Milk: 10 Irresistible Ways To Use It

10 Irresistible Ways to Use Coconut Milk

This post is made possible by the support of La Maison du Coco. More info below!

My pantry doesn’t feel quite right if I don’t have a stack of coconut milk cans handy. I find a million and one uses for them, and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you today.

A cornerstone of Southeast Asian cuisines, coconut milk is the liquid that is pressed from the grated flesh of a fresh, ripe coconut. (It is different from coconut water, which is the clear liquid that’s in the center of young, green coconuts.) And for those of us who don’t live where coconuts grow, coconut milk is mostly available canned.

And once you have a couple of cans stacked up in your kitchen cabinets, what do you do with them? Here are 10 delicious things to do with coconut milk.

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Best of November

Rue Audran

How did your November turn out?

Mine has been a little bit of a blur. 2017 has been a year of planting seeds for me, and some of them have sprouted and grown a little sooner and with more vitality than even I anticipated. All of a sudden I have a whole garden of young things to tend to. It’s a good problem to have, certainly, but add to that two small children — including one who’s not sleeping all that well — and you have to manage your mind even more carefully.

I remind myself that overwhelm is not a function of how long one’s to-do list is; overwhelm comes from not knowing what to do first. So I work on keeping that to-do list realistic, yes, but also maintaining clarity on what my priorities are. Does that resonate with you in any way? (If it does, have you already received my 3 Secrets of Productivity?)

Anyway. Amidst said blur, here are the things that brought me delight:

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