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Spinach Mushroom and Cranberry Quinoa

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving hanging out with your family and friends! We’re having another magical mystical morning today. The sun is shining through the trees, giving the canyon a warm backlit pinkish glow. It’s been a quiet weekend. During the holidays L.A. takes on a small town feel: quiet streets and a chilled out vibe. Every year I ask myself, “why can’t L.A. always be like this?”Ah, the price you pay for living in Southern California. Los Angeles has everything: the magestic Pacific Ocean, the crystal snow of Big Bear and Lake Arowhead, to the dry, flat heat of Palms Springs and the Mohave Desert. Amid so much natural beauty, you have to smile, share the love, and pass it on. When it comes to holiday eating, I like to carve out my own path. In my own humble opinion, the surprise of something new on the table is just that much more interesting. By following my nose, nature nudges me into what flows to the table. Don’t get me wrong, I love the usual pumpkin pie, stuffing, gravy, green beans, and the like, but it can be refreshing to try something new.  Spinach Mushroom Cranberry Quinoa [...]

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Aduki Bean and Squash Soup

What a blissful morning. Storm clouds have rolled into Laurel Canyon about an hour ago, and raindrops are now dancing on the palm leaves. In our lush back yard, the plants are reaching for the sky, standing at attention, and drinking in the much needed moisture. The boys left early for an indoor car show, so I get to play at home: Cooking, writing, and reading for the next few hours. The soup is simmering on the stove while I tap away on the computer, taking sips from my unconventional cup of Earl Grey: organic soy milk, sweetened with brown rice syrup and a dash of raw honey. Just call me The Nutty Progressive. Today’s recipe is soothing and sweet. If you are unfamiliar with the aduki bean, they are small, red, ovals of protein goodness. Aduki Bean and Squash Soup is perfect for cool weather, and hearty enough to eat on it’s own. If you’ve ever had a Chinese Red Bean Cake pastry, they are made with the same delicious beans. I was immediately hooked the first time I tried these pastries in a tiny shop off Tottenham Court Road in London’s Chinatown. There’s something about the smooth sweetness of Aduki [...]

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My Life in the Sunshine

Hey there! No recipes or recommendations this week, just photos from my life in Laurel Canyon. Feel free to click on the images for a larger view. See you next Sunday! Afternoon delight Birds in paradise A room with a view Our local restaurant Pace (Pace means “peace” in Italian) Happy trails Peace palms Best coffee in town Fab ‘n Funky  Canyon hipster Laurel Canyon Community group photo  From the guy in the yellow shirt, count 5 people up, then make a right to find Jake, Toby, and I (I’m wearing a panama hat). Take it easy!

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Sweet Cheeks Baby Cheesecake

Looking for an alternative to the usual sugar-laden cakes, cookies, and pastries served at kid’s parties? We all shrug and think, “well, my kids only have sweets at Halloween, birthday parties, and Christmas,” Once they start school, there’s a birthday almost every week, and even though there’s no candy in your house, it’s readily available everywhere else. How can you let your kids enjoy sweets without making them feel deprived, or better yet, making you feel like a tyrant? It’s all about appealing choices. You may have to take a detour to your local health food store, but fruit juice sweetened cookies, yogurts, and fruit pops are well worth the trip, You will notice a surge in their focus, a drop in wiry energy, and better sleep patterns. You may also become a little less acquainted with your kid’s dentist. Nice one. Sweet Cheeks Baby Cheesecake is dairy-free, wheat-free, and has no artificial sweeteners. It’s also easier to throw together than it looks. Don’t be fooled by the placement of a few strawberries and blueberries on top of the cake. All you need  is time to soak the nuts (making them more digestible), whizz everything in a blender or Magi mix, and chilling time for the cake. Oh, and you’ll need to slice up some fruit. How simple is that? Feel free to play [...]

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Banana Cake

My old friend Jason Sugars posted on my my Facebook wall this week, requesting Banana Cake, just like his Grandma used to make. I don’t know about you, but that’s a hard act to follow. Almost anything our Grandparents do for us is wrapped in a golden glow of love and affection. Well, almost everything. Remember Christmas Fruit Cake? My Grandmother Dell, God bless her, used to proudly serve us slices of her notorious Christmas Fruit Cake every holiday season, and my sister and I would shudder at the sight of it. You know the kind I’m talking about: Red, green, and yellow cherries, with so many raisins you’d break the dense slice apart, desperately searching for any sign of cake? To be fair, it was store bought, and back in the day, and it was kicking around every house in the ‘hood. Thankfully, we also enjoyed Banana Cake….all year ’round. Phew! Instead of trying to live up to Grandma’s recipe, I inspired myself by thinking about Jason. He has the most beautiful spirit, and exuding pure sunshine. Making the cake, I couldn’t help myself; I had to make a smile out of the banana slices. Every time we bump into each [...]

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