chocolate coconut granola

Friday, June 20, 2014

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.

My peripheral vision was killing me so I turned my attention back to my sandwich and took a few bites. Just then, Puffy leaned down to pet her service dog, a little weasel with brown eye gunk who didn't seem to be servicing much more than the restaurant's floor. Bandana clocked this.
"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." 
"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:

You're welcome.

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.

strawberry yogurt pancakes

Friday, June 6, 2014

Guys! It's National Donut Day! And I just heard that Krispy Kreme is giving away FREE DONUTS! Here's how I look at this awesome opportunity: if you opt for pancakes today instead, you're taking the high, healthy road. (No matter that pancakes are also basically fried pieces of dough.) These puppies even have real strawberries and yogurt so you get extra healthy points!

If anyone needs more healthy points it's me. I've been doing some serious carb/sugar loading lately. I even had a dream last night that I was in a fancy bakery. I was in my sweaty workout clothes, perusing the store, when the owner came up to me. She had a bag in her hand.
"I'd love to give you this bag of fresh cookies," she said, "but on one condition." 
"Okay," I said, intrigued. She ushered me over to an unmarked door and opened it to reveal a full spa bathroom. In the bakery.
"You need to take a shower," she said, "And if you do, I'll give you the cookies." She set them down next to the sink.
"Sounds like a deal!" I said. Then I waited for her to beat it before grabbing the cookies and leaving without holding up my end of the bargain. 


That I need to shower more frequently? That I'm a liar? That I can have my (pan)cake and eat it (a donut) too?

You guys ponder this while I head over to Krispy Kreme.

Strawberry Yogurt Pancakes
makes about 12 3" cakes
inspired by Smitten Kitchen

These super fluffy little cakes are super delicious. And the yogurt is a perfect substitute for buttermilk. Who has buttermilk lying around anyway? I prefer non-Greek yogurt for this recipe but you can absolutely use it. It'll just give your cakes a bit more zippy tang.

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 T sugar
1 T plus 1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
2 T milk, maybe 1-2 T more--see note below
4 T butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 t lemon zest
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 heaping cup sliced strawberries
extra butter or coconut oil for the pan
maple syrup for serving

In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients: flours, sugar, baking powder, salt. Whisk well to combine. In a separate, medium bowl, whisk the eggs and then add the yogurt, mixing well. Whisk in 2T milk, butter, lemon zest, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until just combined, taking care not to over mix. (If you used Greek yogurt, the batter may feel a little thick. Add 1-2T more milk to loosen it up a bit.)

Preheat a cast-iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 1-2 teaspoons oil or butter to the hot pan and ladle about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake, spacing them out slightly. Press a few sliced berries into each pancake, flattening the cakes out a little as you do this. Cook a few minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary and flip when golden brown on the bottom. Cook 3-4 minutes more on the other side. Serve immediately with maple syrup or keep warm on a rack in a 200F oven.


P.S. Orange Is The New Black season two is released today!! Celebrate with some orange food:)
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