I had a lovely, sunny hour to kill between auditions yesterday and decided to treat myself to lunch outside since it was such a glorious day. The restaurant I chose had a lively and full patio and my sandwich and I parked at the only open spot: smack next to a table of two women having the most LA of LA conversations. Look, I am an LA woman and I cop to having LA conversations about gluten and psychics, but I do it with a full-on awareness of how LA I'm being (here's hoping).
The one who held court was brunette. She was tall and willowy and wore a straw cowboy hat. A bandana was tied around her neck and she had lots of beads on her person. Her blonde companion was petite. She leaned forward on her miniature elbows and her small frame was engulfed in a billowy, puffy shirt. Between them sat a cheese plate that they picked at. Which surprised me because dairy.
"I find myself barefoot a lot in my house and around my garden," Bandana said. "I find it really helps me connect to the earth."Puffy Shirt folded her legs underneath her on the chair. She squinted thoughtfully at her companion and gave a slow nod.
"I'm sure it's because of my heritage," said Bandana.
"What's your heritage?" asked Puffy.
"'What isn't my heritage?' is a better question."Bandana launched into a several-minute soliloquy about the copious Indian tribes she had a percentage in. Choctaw Nation was dropped multiple times. She then moved on to pontificate about her Great Great Grandfather's connection to other native peoples. Puffy never interjected, she just let Bandana go on and on. I actually half-expected Puffy to have nodded off, but when I snuck a glance, she seemed as riveted as me. Although possibly for different reasons.
"You have to meet Mr. Adzuki Bean," said Bandana.
"Who's that?" Puffy asked.I was hoping it was one of her ancestors.
"My dog," said Bandana as she swiped her phone, finding the right photo to share.
"Aw, he is adorable."Puffy leaned in to get a better look.
"He's just a tiny little chihuahua but he has a giant spirit," said Bandana, fingering her beads.
"I can see that."Huh?
"He's been here before," said Bandana, evenly.
"Oh, to [super delicious gourmet LA lunch spot]?" Puffy asked.Bandana chucked ever so slightly.
"No. He's been on this planet before. He's an old soul."Puffy looked genuinely interested. She stood corrected.
"His eyes are the color of topaz."
"They sure are."Obviously, I could've sat there all day but my sandwich was gone and I had to go pretend to need psoriasis medicine at my next audition. But I will say this:
How about a super-LA snack, coated in a superfood? It's like, so LA. Bonus: legend has it, granola was a staple of the Choctaw Nation.*
Chocolate Coconut Granola
yields about 7 cups
This is great on plain yogurt, ice cream, or just eaten by the fistfuls. Feel free to tinker with the amount of maple syrup if you like it more or less sweet. And you really can use any nuts you like, these are just my faves.
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut
2/3 cup sliced or chopped almonds
2/3 cup walnut pieces (these can be halved or chopped)
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t kosher salt
1/3 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup maple syrup (or honey)
1 t vanilla
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
Preheat oven to 300F. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, coconut, nuts, cinnamon and salt. Mix well and set aside. In a small saucepan over low heat, add the oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Melt together and stir well. Add the cacao and whisk until incorporated. Pour this wet mixture over the dry ingredients and stir stir stir until well mixed. Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 60-70 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until toasty and golden. Cool on the baking sheet.
*I lied. But here are some actual traditional Choctaw recipes if you're feeling inspired.