Eye on L.A. explores the city for yummy plant-based foods

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Eye on L.A. takes a look at all the different options around L.A. for yummy plant-based foods, including cocktails and desserts.

If you want to eat a little healthier without sacrificing flavor, try a plant-based diet. And don't worry, that doesn't mean you have to throw out meat and cheese. Just add more fruits, vegetables, and nuts to your diet for a re-energized way of eating. This week, we're taking a look at all the different options around Los Angeles for yummy plant-based foods, including cocktails and desserts!

Crossroads doesn't look like your typical vegan restaurant. In fact, most people don't even make the connection that the menu is plant-based. The chefs here consider it a challenge to make plant-based meals that don't taste like they're missing something. Now you can make all your favorites at home with Crossroads the cookbook by acclaimed chef and owner, Tal Ronnen.

On the top of our plant-based diet shopping list? Walnuts! They add a nutritional punch to foods, since they're a great source of protein, omega 3 fatty acids, and are known to help reduce cholesterol. You can check out more essentials to a plant-based diet and recipes at http://www.walnuts.org/.

Walnuts are packed with so much flavor and nutrients that they were originally considered a "royal food" of ancient Persia. Now almost 100% of the walnuts consumed in the United States come from California. Walnuts are so full of nutrients, crucial for a healthy lifestyle that you'd be nuts not to try them.

Industriel is serving up farm fresh dishes with a walnutty twist right in the middle of Downtown L.A. Industriel has a modern chic dcor that's almost as Instagram-worthy as their 4-hour smoked potatoes with sun dried tomato and walnut aioli.

The walnuts on top of Wokcano's Honey Walnut Shrimp aren't just ordinary walnuts. These little bits of goodness go through a 6-hour honey glazing process, complete with special spices until they become almost like candy. You can't get walnuts like this anywhere else.

Darwin Manahan, the bartender at Cliff's Edge, whipped up some extra special walnut cocktails including a to-die-for walnut manhattan and a virgin roasted walnut horchata that's perfect for the whole family or you can add an extra zing to it for adults.

Roasted Walnut Horchata Recipe
Yields 4 Quarts
8 quarts Container
12 quart- 16 quart Pot
Baking Sheet
Large Strainer
Measuring Cup

Dry Ingredients:
8 cups Jasmine Rice
8 cups Walnuts
4 Cinnamon Sticks (Regular or Mexican)
16 pieces of Cloves
16 pieces of All Spice Berries
8 pieces of Green Cardamom Pods

Sweet Ingredients:
14 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk (1 can)
2 cups Brown Sugar
2 cups half and half

Roast all the dry ingredients on a baking sheet at 450 degrees on top rack for 10 minutes or until brown. Let cool down. Next, add 4.5 quarts water. In a blender, blend all ingredients together. Tip: Blend about 1.25 quarts of water at a time with about 4 cups of the horchata mix. Do not fill blender to top, the air will cause it to overflow.
Place all ingredients into an 8 quart container with lid and then put in refrigerator and leave for no less than 24 hours. (You can leave it up to 3 days.)
NEXT DAY: Fine strain the horchata water into a 12-16 quart pot. Then stir in the sweet ingredients and bring everything to a boil for about two minutes while constantly stirring.
You can serve it warm or let it cool to room temperature and serve over ice. Store your horchata in the fridge. The mixture keeps for approximately two weeks.

Mia Wasilevich, along with husband, famed forager, Pascal Baudar, offers classes and workshops in foraging and cooking with locally-harvested plants, herbs and spices. You can find a classic Nocino recipe below, or explore other recipes featuring locally foraged ingredients in Pascal's book, "The New Wildcrafted Cuisine." For info on Mia and Pascal's classes and workshops visit: http://urbanoutdoorskills.com/

Yields about 5 cups
Nocino is made from green, unripened walnuts. The season for green walnuts is in May. After that, the walnut shell begins to form inside and it's too late. You should be able to easily slice through the green walnut.

30 green walnuts (Double that if you're using native black walnuts)
2 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
1-inch piece of vanilla bean
Zest of one lemon, cut into strips using a vegetable peeler
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 liter vodka

Wash walnuts and slice them in half. Put walnuts and the rest of the ingredients into a large, sealable jar and stir. Put your jar in a sunny place for 40 days. Once every ten days, agitate the jar by inverting it a time or two. After 40 days, strain the contents of the jar and funnel the liqueur into a sealable bottle or jar. Put the jar in a cool, dark place and forget about it! Forager and chef, Mia Wasilevich recommends leaving it alone for at least 6 months to a year, or longer to let the alcohols balance out and the flavors mellow a bit. Once it's ready, enjoy and experiment with it! The liqueur will keep indefinitely without refrigeration.

There are a couple of different walnut inspired pastries at Baklava Land but the house specialty is-- you guessed it-- the Lebanese style baklava! You can have it with almost any kind of nut you like, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, almonds, you choose. What makes is special is the light homemade syrup they drizzle on top.

Art's Bakery is serving up a new yummy twist on the traditional Armenian pastry, nazook. The raisin apple walnut roll is a delicious bite of sweet flavors with a flakey, crunchy crust that melts in your mouth.

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