Local resident to appear at Los Angeles Times Festival of Books with The Supernatural Kids Cookbook

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Jamie Oliver launched a “food revolution.” Oprah Winfrey adopted what she calls a “veganish” diet. Alice Waters pioneered a new way of eating and thinking with her call for sustainable and local harvesting. And Michelle Obama planted an enviable garden on the White House grounds, firmly establishing the First Lady as part of this deep bench of high profile and influential heavy hitters that collectively admonish what has become a fast food nation.

This is the second book by Nancy Mehagian. The first was her acclaimed culinary memoir, Siren's Feast.

Yet long before Jamie, Oprah, Alice and First Lady Michelle espoused the virtues of healthy and mindful eating, Studio City epicurean Nancy Mehagian in 1977 created a little collection of vegetarian recipes for the junior set, in an effort to inspire her then five year old daughter to develop an appetite for natural fare.

“I wanted to pass on the tradition of cooking healthy food,” says Mehagian. “I’ve always felt that if children get a taste of natural foods early enough, they will know the difference between junk food and real food. Back in the 70s there were studies being done connecting food additives and hyperactivity. I would love all children to get a healthy start in life.”

Author and Epicurean, Nancy Mehagian.

Nearly twenty five years after she wrote her first cookbook, Mehagian (author of the award winning culinary memoir Siren’s Feast) got busy in the kitchen, updating favorite dishes from the days when she owned the first vegetarian restaurant on the island of Ibiza and borrowing from her extensive travels and a lifetime of entertaining to create The Supernatural Kids Cookbook, a collection of seventy recipes for junior chefs (and kids of all ages.) Sweet Potato Chips, Mexiquinoa Salad, Vegetable Pudding, Yankee Noodle Casserole, Curried Sweet Carrots and even a healthy biscuit for dogs are included in the contemporary collection, illustrated by New York artist Alexandra Conn. “The cookbook tempts eyes just as the recipe tempts palates” says top amazon reviewer Gail Cooke.

Nancy and her cooking kids.

The book, published by former LA Weekly publisher Judith Proffer under her valley based Huqua Press imprint, embraces what Oprah dubbed a “veganish” philosophy. Some recipes call for cheese and eggs and there is even a broiled fish and healthy chicken tender recipe. Fruits, nuts, whole grains, vegetables, beans, raw sugar, whole wheat flour and Farmer’s Market fare are mainstays in the book that introduces children to gomasio (sea salt), blue corn, ginger root and jicama while recipes for beet soup, baked acorn squash and sautéed brussel sprouts attempt to expand and tempt the junior palate. “The greatest challenge in getting children to eat healthier food is to make that food delicious and available and have healthy alternatives to the foods they love,” says Mehagian. Her Sultan’s Pizza, whole wheat spaghetti, vegetarian chili and grilled cheese are all kid pleasing without the fats or additives you find in their packaged counterparts.

Bridget Fonda, a fan of Nancy’s oatmeal cookie recipe and mother to a young son, wrote the foreword. “Her cookbook is inspired,” says Fonda. “Giving kids simple tools to feel comfortable in the kitchen and create food that enriches them can’t help but spread into other areas of their lives.”

Raspberry clafouti

Mehagian will be signing copies of her book at the Abril Armenian Bookstore Booth (#137) at the Los Angeles Times Festival of books this Sunday. It’s fitting that the signing connects her with her rich Armenian heritage. “My first food hero was my mother Florence, who was renowned for her cooking and thought nothing of preparing a feast for 500 people for a fund-raiser.” (A recipe for Swedish pancakes, a childhood favorite, is part of her collection.)

A portion of the proceeds from the sales of the book benefits Jeff Bridges’ End Hunger Network (endhunger.com).

Nancy Mehagian will appear on Sunday May 1 at 11 a.m. at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the USC campus. The Supernatural Kids Cookbook is available at Green and Greener, 4838 Laurel Canyon in Valley Village and at Ahm and Garden 13365 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks as well as amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. For more information visit www.supernaturalkidscookbook.com.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.