Thank you for visiting us! The OC Locavore blog is about finding ways to grocery shop, cook, eat, drink, and dine out in Orange County, California, in ways that are healthy for both you and the environment. We invite you to join us in our quest to "think globally and eat locally."

Monday, March 3, 2014

Homemade Granola Bars

These are a terrific snack - the teenager gives two thumbs up.

3 1/2 C. Granola (see below for our delicious homemade version)
1/2 C. chopped macadamia nuts
1/4 C. organic light corn syrup (we like Wholesome Sweeteners brand) or simple syrup
2 Tbl. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. Tahitian Vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract

Line an 8x8 pan with parchment or wax paper, up and over the sides, to make removal easy.

Combine granola with chopped macadamias in a large bowl.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the mixture foams, and cook another 10 seconds.  Immediately pour over the dry mixture and stir thoroughly.


Scoop mixture into prepared pan, and press firmly with greased hands or a piece of wax paper.

Cover and place in refrigerator for a few hours to firm.

Cut into bars, using a sharp knife.  Wrap individually in parchment paper.   May be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week. 


This is amazing granola - and so simple to make.

3 C. old-fashioned rolled oats - we like Bob's Red Mill Organic
2/3 C. shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 C. wheat germ
2/3 C. sliced blanched almonds
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4  C. organic light corn syrup or simple syrup
1 Tbl. pure maple syrup
1/2 C unrefined virgin coconut oil (may substitute organic canola or safflower oil)
1 1/4 tsp. high-quality vanilla extract (we love Nielsen-Massey Tahitian Vanilla)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Generously grease a 10x15 inch jellyroll pan, using oil rather than butter or shortening. 

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine corn syrup, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla extract; warm over medium heat while stirring constantly.  Once the mixture foams, remove from heat and immediately add to the dry ingredients. 

 Mix thoroughly, and spread in the prepared jellyroll pan. 

Bake 30-40 minutes, stirring thoroughly every 10 minutes.  Granola is done when very lightly browned; careful not to overcook!

Let cool, and store in an airtight container.  Delicious as a snack, cereal, over yogurt (personal favorite!) or as the base for incredible homemade granola bars.

Friday, January 17, 2014

You and the PLU

We've previously posted our support for the labeling of GMO foods, which would require labeling of genetically engineered foods.  Despite the narrow defeats of recent ballot measures in California and Washington State, the movement continues to gain traction across the country. We are closely following the initiatives in other states as well as at the federal level, but in the meantime, here's some info that you can use right now.  It turns out that the little "PLU" (price look-up) labels on fruits and veggies, used in markets for check out and inventory control, contain information that is actually useful to the consumer. 

All 4-digit codes are for conventionally raised produce.  Five-digit codes are the same 4-digit codes, with an additional number added to the front.  If the first number is a 9, then you know it is organic.  So, for example, in the case of a large naval orange, the conventionally raised orange would be coded 4012.  Code 94012 is an organic Valencia orange. These codes also apply to herbs, nuts, and products sold in bulk.

An interesting development to watch is Whole Foods addition to PLU codes.  They have started identifying fair trade items by adding a 6 in front of the PLU, making an organically grown, fair trade item a 6-digit PLU.  However,  this is not an industry standard at this point.  

We were very excited to learn that there is also an indicator for genetically modified food, indicated by an 8 in front of the 4-digit code.  However, because the labeling is voluntary, your chances of finding a PLU code of 8 is about the same as finding agribusiness support for GMO labeling.   

So in the meantime, do your research and pay attention to labels. 

For more information, check out:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Our New CSA

Despite a longer drive for pickup, we've changed our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to the wonderful South Coast Farms in San Juan Capistrano. We love so many things about this place - the beautiful bushel baskets of fresh local fruits and veggies (and sometimes, even flowers!); the wide variety of offerings; the friendly staff; and its location next door to The Ecology Center. And best of all, they are 100% certified organic.  

We participate in the bi-weekly program, and so every other Wednesday we make the trek to the farm to pick up our basket.  Yesterday's bounty was Chard, Red Leaf Lettuce, Cilantro, Yellow Onion, Navel Oranges, , Pink Lady Apples, Arugula, Turnips, Parsley, Beets, Black Kale, Collard Greens, Romaine Lettuce, Potatoes, Kiwi, Grapefruit, Carrots, Pears and Spinach.  Not bad for the middle of winter!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Good news on the GMO labeling fight!

We've posted previously on the "Just Label It" campaign in California, which unfortunately lost by a slim margin in 2012.  The good news on that front was the groundswell it created, prompting other states to push for labeling.  It's a rocky battle, but the trend is clear - people want transparency in the foods they eat.

One recent victory was General Mills' decision to remove genetically modified ingredients from Cheerios.  While the company's website goes to great lengths in espousing the safety of GMOs, they recognize that "some consumers remain uncomfortable with GMOs" and therefore they have chosen to ensure that Cheerios will be GMO-free.

Further, while they continue to oppose state-by-state labeling laws, they support nationally standardized labeling of non-GMO products in the U.S.  Very good news, indeed.

You can read more about the story here. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

French baguettes in Orange County!

Did you hear our whoops of joy a couple of weeks ago?  We have found what we consider to be - by far - THE BEST baguettes to be found in Orange County.  Chewy and tasty inside, with a satisfying crunch to the crust, we find ourselves looking for any reason at all to justify the drive to Costa Mesa so that "gee, while we're in the neighborhood..." we can pick up another one of these gems.  You can find them at Surfas Culinary District, recently opened in the South Coast Collection (SOCO) in Costa Mesa. 

While you're in Surfas, good luck escaping with just the baguette - this is a playground for anyone who loves to cook (or eat, for that matter!).  There are terrific cheeses, olive oils, and balsamic vinegars to sample before you buy; many interesting and unusual jams, condiments, and flours; plus a whole range of unique cooking and baking ingredients.  Oh, and did we mention the chef's equipment and serving items?  This is a store that (like its parent store in Culver City) serves the restaurant and catering industry, so you can even pick up a chef jacket and some chef pants while you're there.

SOCO has some other very cool stores, and a farmer's market every Saturday.  We will fill you in on these in a future post.  In the meantime, enjoy those baguettes - but be sure to leave one for us!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Stir-Fried Calamari

Much lighter and more flavorful than the typical fried version, this delicious appetizer could not be easier to make.  And at around $8 per pound at Santa Monica Seafood in Costa Mesa (our go-to seafood store), it's a bargain for a dish that works for even the most special occasions.  Best cooked in a wok; but a heavy saute pan will also work.

1 pound squid tubes and tentacles
kesulu spice*
1/4 C. peanut oil

Slice the tubes horizontally into 1/8" slices, forming rings. 

Season with kesulu or other spices. 

Heat the wok over high heat until very hot; pour in half the peanut oil around and down the sides of the wok.  Let the oil heat until shimmering.  Add half the squid to the wok all at once, and stir frequently to cook uniformly.  Cooks in about two minutes - be careful not to overcook!

Serve at once, and prepare the second batch in the same way.  Best enjoyed hot off the wok, with your diners served right at the counter.

* kesulu is our house blend spice, which we'll be selling soon on this website.  In the meantime, your combo of red pepper flakes or other chili powders will work.