Thursday, January 27, 2011

Actually Healthy Alternatives to Carb Comforts

According to the latest research (and a lot of the books I've been reading, like "The Primal Blueprint" and "Why We Get Fat"), the most likely culprit for obesity and related health problems is carbohydrates.

Unfortunately for those of us trying to get healthy, some of the foods that are highest in carbohydrates are also the foods that are staples of the western diet - bread, rice, and potatoes. If you're anything like me, you grew up on that stuff and can't imagine a life without them. But listen, here's the thing: most of the time that you're eating them, they're just an accessory - it's a holding device for our toppings, it's a convenient scooping device for our tips, it's an absorbing texture for our sauces. It doesn't make sense to consume excessive, unhealthy carbohydrates if they're just there as an accessory.

Thankfully, clever people out there have figured out *actually* healthy alternatives for those accessories, like "cauliflower rice" and "zucchini bread." You can find the recipes for many of the alternatives online, but I discovered them through my new favorite cookbook, Jane Kennedy's "OMG! I can eat that?" I'm making my way through the cookbook now, and thought I would share some of what I've tried so far. Since not all of you will get the cookbook, I've linked each alternative to a similar recipe online. Try them out - you might not like all of them, but atleast you'll be aware that there are less carbalicious options out there for your favorite foods.

If you like... Then try:
Rice Cauliflower Rice
I whip up a batch whenever I've made curry, like the beef/pumpkin one shown here, or my new favorite, Coconut Shrimp Curry.
Mashed Potatoes Cauliflower Mash
I like to eat it with pan-fried steak and asparagus; it's a great texture complement.
Potato Chips Zucchini Chips
I make this as an afternoon snack, and dip them in homemade aioli on the side.
Pizza Crust Zucchini Pizza Crust
We piled our "crusts" high with yummy veggie and meat toppings.
Pita Bread Zucchini Pita
I used the same pizza crust recipe to make pitas for some Lamb Souvlaki.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New for Google Shared Spaces: Improved Interface, Inbox, Chrome Extension, & Embedding

Since launching Google Shared Spaces in Labs less than a month ago, we've been making fast iterations on the app - pushing an average of one new release each day.

We purposefully launched Shared Spaces with the bare minimum set of features, so that we could listen to users and developers about what features they most want and need in order to benefit from this app, then implement the most desired features.

Here's a rundown of the improvements we've made - try them out and let us know what you think!

Better, Resizeable Interface

We worked with Cameron Adams, the user interface designer behind Google Wave and cool projects like VisibleTweets, to come up with a sleeker interface for Shared Spaces. We also drew a lot of inspiration from EtherPad, a similar tool for real-time textual collaboration.

Besides subtle style changes, the new interface moves the chat to the right-hand side and adds a full screen button, so users can work on wider width gadgets like the popular ConceptDraw MindWave mind mapping tool.

(For those of you who hadn't seen it, here's a screenshot of the old interface.)


We launched with no way of keeping track of your spaces, figuring users could bookmark the ones they were interested in, a la Etherpad. But users (rightly) didn't want to have to worry about keeping track of their space URLs, they wanted to have a list of all their spaces in one place.

At the same time as the interface redesign, we added a universal header with your login information and a "My Spaces" link. That takes you to a list of your most recently modified spaces, with the option to view all of them and the ability to hide any of them. We know it's not a full-featured inbox like GMail's, but we think it's a sufficient way for users to manage their spaces while we build out other features.

Chrome Extension

Personally, I love to use Chrome extensions as a way to keep tabs on what's happening in my favorite communication tools without actually having to open them in a new window - Twitter, GMail, Wave, etc.

So, we created a Chrome extension that both gives you a mini view of the gallery for quick space creation and a list of your most recently modified spaces. When someone modifies a space that you're on, the extension badge changes to let you know.


We live in a web where everyone, from developers to users, want to be able to mash their favorite products together. Our users asked us for the ability to embed their spaces in their webpages, on their Google Sites, and in iGoogle.

For the typical case of embedding on a webpage, we launched an embed wizard that lets you tick some options and then generate a JavaScript code snippet (similar to Google Web Elements). For the Google properties (where JavaScript isn't allowed, but gadgets are), we automatically generate a gadget for each space, and we give users the URL of the gadget that they can then insert in their site or dashboard. For either method, users can click "Embed" in the space to get started.