Summer is back, and so are some of your favorites.

Summer is here and we’re ready to enjoy the long days and bountiful produce with the return of some favorite seasonal dishes and a couple new creations from our chefs.

Roasted Vegetable Farro Cold Side
This cold side is one of my favorite new additions to our seasonal menu items. Farro is an ancient wheat grain that has been eaten for thousands of years in many cultures. We commonly find it in Mediterranean, North African and Middle Eastern cuisines. This hearty whole grain is a great source of protein, fiber and iron, which makes it the perfect base for an array of sweet summer peppers, lightly roasted corn, fresh grape tomatoes, raw green onions and roasted red onions.

We cook the farro al dente so it has a perfect firm texture with just a little bite. The sweet peppers and melty roasted onions balance with the nuttiness of the farro, while the corn and grape tomatoes add a burst of freshness that is met with our bright chipotle lime vinaigrette. The chipotle adds just a hint of spice while the fresh lime juice makes all the flavors pop. I’ve enjoyed eating this side with our oven baked salmon, but it would make a great accompaniment to any of our proteins or even added to our Caesar salad!


Watermelon Pineapple Mint Basil

Our replenishers are the perfect way to refresh during the warm summer weather. Every year I anxiously await watermelon season and the return of our popular Watermelon Pineapple Mint Basil replenisher. We hand cut juicy watermelons and blend them with fresh mint, basil, pineapple, a splash of lime juice and a pinch of salt. The sweet watermelon is an excellent way to hydrate and is perfectly balanced by the light acidity of the pineapple and lime. The herbs add a beautiful aroma and freshness to this drink that have me addicted. This replenisher has the bonus of being loaded with antioxidants, lycopene, fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C! This has to be one of my all-time favorites, delicious and nutritious!

Orange Turmeric Aloe Ginger

This summer we are debuting the Orange Turmeric Aloe Ginger replenisher. Our chefs were inspired by the exploding juice trend to create this energizing and healthy drink. We puree whole peeled oranges with pure aloe juice, raw ginger, turmeric and agave. The flavor is a beautiful mixture of slightly sweet orange with a bite of spice from the ginger and turmeric. The whole oranges make this drink unique by giving it a velvety body and maintaining the vitamin C, fiber and potassium. The aloe and ginger both aid with digestion and the turmeric has anti-inflammatory benefits making this a functional food, that goes beyond basic nutrition.

Roasted Corn and Poblano Soup

As a chef I love creating recipes that are specific to a season. It means that the ingredients are unique to that time of the year and ensure that the final product will be the best it can be. Corn and peppers are at the peak of freshness during the summer months and inspired me to craft this soup in our flagship location in Del Mar, California. It has become a guest favorite that we look forward to highlighting during the season. We start by husking fresh corn, roast it on high heat and then cut off the kernels. The cobs are kept to make a corn stock used as the base of the soup. We then sauté organic carrots, onions, celery and garlic until they are just beginning to tenderize. We add organic potatoes, the corn stock, roasted corn and herbs. We gently simmer everything together and then partially puree the soup to create a creamy thickness without the addition of dairy or gluten. We then stir in roasted poblano peppers, raw cilantro and fresh lime juice at the end. The sweet summer corn is balanced by the creamy potato and rich – mildly spicy poblano pepper. By adding the cilantro and lime juice at the end of the cooking process we preserve the brightness of both ingredients and give this soup a clean finish. We garnish the soup with chopped cilantro and a drizzle of lime sour cream. If you want to keep it vegan we will be happy to omit the sour cream garnish.

Mango Habanero BBQ Ribs

Our famous ribs are back for the summer with a luscious mango habanero bbq sauce and our grilled pineapple mango salsa! We marinate the no added hormone, and antibiotic and GMO free pork ribs in our thirteen-spice mix with sesame, garlic and ginger. We then slow cook the ribs overnight until they are almost falling off the bone and finish them on our grill. They get glazed with house made mango habanero bbq sauce that is made with tamari, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, a hint of brown sugar and a splash of rice wine vinegar. The bbq sauce has a beautiful velvety texture that coats the juicy ribs perfectly and adds a nice lightly sweet, salty and spicy kick. Our grilled pineapple mango salsa cuts the richness of the ribs and pairs perfectly with the bbq sauce. This is truly an Urban Plates signature and great for your summer gatherings.

Strawberry Vanilla Layer Cake

Our pastry chef loves strawberry shortcake, probably because she grew up eating it every summer made with the strawberries from her grandfather’s garden. The Urban Plates strawberry vanilla cake was inspired by this childhood favorite and has become a favorite of many guests. Our cake is composed of four fluffy angel food cake layers filled with vanilla bean pastry cream, lightly sweetened whipped cream, house made strawberry jam and fresh sliced strawberries. We leave it unfrosted so you can see all the delicious layers and bright red strawberries. This cake is the perfect summer treat, not too sweet or rich. We offer our cakes by the slice and whole in case you feel like sharing!

I hope you are having a great start to summer and we look forward to sharing our new summer menu with you.



Chef Jen

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Sourdough Starter and Homemade Sourdough Bread

Just like any other Portuguese person, I absolutely love bread and especially stone baked with a dark almost burnt thick crust. For so many years I did not realize how privileged I was, having a wood-fired oven at home and being able to bake homemade bread […]

Tandoori Paneer Tikka at Home

The nice warm weather in the UK at the moment invites for a barbecue outside in the garden, but this paneer tikka recipe can also be made using a traditional oven if you don’t have a tandoori or a barbecue grill. Paneer tikka is usually […]

3 Decadent Vegan Dark Chocolate Snack Bars Recipes

This early May bank holiday weekend I went on a full on dark chocolate bars frenzy! Not to worry, we are still health conscious over here, all of this 3 decadent vegan chocolate snack bars recipes have all of the dark chocolate goodness without any refined […]

Urban Plates Adds 13th Location

Urban Plates Adds 13th Location
Bringing Chef-Inspired, Made-From-Scratch Meals to Woodland Hills

Grand Opening Activities Raise Funds to Benefit Valley Food Bank


WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. – Feb. 5, 2018 – Urban Plates – the fine fast-casual restaurant concept combining the freshness and variety of a food marketplace with fine-dining culinary integrity – announces the opening of its 13th restaurant location
today Monday, Feb. 5, at 21857 Ventura Blvd. in Woodland Hills, California. With an emphasis on serving the highest quality menu options at an affordable price, Urban Plates empowers guests to make good food choices for themselves and their families. Crafting 100% scratch-made food on-premise daily, Urban Plates thoughtfully sources every ingredient, including fresh local produce, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and sustainably sourced seafood.

“At Urban Plates, we take no shortcuts to provide delicious and nourishing choices for lunch and dinner, and we’re thrilled to bring the concept to Woodland Hills,” said Urban Plates Executive Chef Jim Cannon. “Our ‘seeing is believing’ approach allows guests to choose craveable good food and feel good about it. We forge one-to-one relationships with our guests through a commitment to food education and memorable experiences.”

Urban Plates’ vibrant, line-style layout presents engaging chefs at each station serving complete plates, hand-tossed salads, hand-carved sandwiches, hot and cold sides, composed bowls, and made-from-scratch desserts. Beverages include housemade natural juice Replenishers, Kombucha on tap, and regional craft beers and wines.

With each new restaurant opening, Urban Plates strives to support local communities through charitable contributions. UP Woodland Hills has partnered with the non-profit Valley Food Bank in Pacoima, Ca., which serves more than 180,000 people in need in the San Fernando Valley. Urban Plates will provide Valley Food Bank with 100% of donations collected during grand opening events. Every Urban Plates location features warm, rustic indoor-outdoor dining space, comfortable seating and communal tables for couples, families and groups. Take-out ordering and catering are available online and by phone, with local delivery via DoorDash.

Menu prices start at: $12.50 for a Plated Meal with two sides and grilled rustic bread; $9.50 for Hand-Tossed Salads and Hand-Carved Sandwiches; and $10 for new chef-crafted Bowls. Kids’ Meals start at $7.50. The Woodland Hills’ hours of operation are: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. For additional information on Urban Plates, please visit

Urban Plates is a fine fast-casual restaurant concept combining the freshness and variety of a food marketplace with fine-dining culinary integrity. Founders and industry veterans Saad Nadhir and John Zagara opened the first Urban Plates in San Diego in 2011 with a passion for serving nourishing food that makes you feel good. Urban Plates provides fresh, made-from-scratch plated meals, entrée salads, handcarved sandwiches, hot and chilled sides, seasonal soups and braises, as well as natural juice Replenishers and desserts. The company’s fundamental philosophy to invest in food quality is behind thoughtful sourcing, which includes grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, sustainably sourced seafood and more. Every menu item is prepared on-premise daily at each of the company’s 13 California locations, including Aliso Viejo, Brea, Carlsbad, Del Mar, Dublin, Irvine, La Jolla, Pasadena, Playa Vista, Pleasant Hill, Thousand Oaks, Tustin and Woodland Hills.

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Urban Plates Spring Menu Launch

Spring has sprung, the weather is brightening and the chefs at Urban Plates have put together a Spring Menu that will lift your spirits and carry you cheering out of Winter!

We are thrilled to introduce a unique selection of brand new dishes and delighted to bring back some fan favorites that you’ve been asking for. Our Spring seasonal offerings continue our tradition of introducing menu items that reflect our commitment to serving high-quality dishes at affordable prices. We want to empower our guests to eat the way that fits them and their families, and that means keeping things exciting and fresh – so prepare your tastebuds for a Spring menu that delivers plenty of both!


Miso Barramundi Sea Bass

Miso Barramundi Sea BassBarramundi is a sea bass native to Australia and the Indo-Pacific region, and is often referred to as “Asian Sea Bass.” The word “barramundi” is Aboriginal for “large-scaled silver fish” and this lean protein source is a mild but flavorful white fish perfect for spring plates. And while it has only half the calories of salmon, barramundi provides surprisingly healthy levels of Omega-3 fatty acids.

What’s more, if you like miso, you’ll love this sustainably-harvested sea bass, which is marinated for 8-hours in our signature sauce, then baked and topped with our house-made, dairy-free Sesame Ginger Lemongrass Sauce.

And while all of our sides are made to complement this protein, we recommend pairing it with organic white rice, organic brown rice, asparagus or our new Harissa Cauliflower (introduction below).

Thai Shrimp Salad

Thai Shrimp SaladOur new Thai Shrimp Salad is a light, crunchy tossed salad hearty enough to satisfy even the largest of appetites. We start by marinating large skewered shrimp in garlic, lemongrass, ginger and sesame oil, and then cooking them to fluffy perfection.

To build the salad, we mix our UP lettuce blend with organic tomatoes, scallions, cucumber, daikon, red bell pepper, and pickled shiitake mushrooms. We top it off with glass noodles, cilantro, and crispy wontons, then drizzle that medley with green siracha sauce and scratch-made Miso Lemongrass Mint Dressing. And for the finishing touch, we garnish your dish with those skewers of plump, juicy shrimp for a culinary experience your taste buds will never forget.

Chickpea and Kale Soup

Chickpea and Kale SoupOur Chickpea and Kale Soup is an excellent choice for those with uncompromising dietary demands. Full of flavor and gluten-free, this mouthwatering dish is also dairy-free, and vegan. We combined cooked chickpeas, black kale, vegetable stock, coconut milk, and a unique blend of savory spices to make this refreshing soup a first choice, even on warm spring days.

Cantaloupe Pineapple Mango Replenisher

Cantaloupe Pineapple Mango ReplenisherWhile we wave goodbye to our Pomegranate Cranberry Apple Replenisher from the Winter menu, we welcome a new fruity beverage aboard. We use fresh organic chunks of Cantaloupe, Pineapple, and Mango and combine them with Organic Apple Juice to create a vibrant, vegan beverage free of gluten and dairy.


Harissa Cauliflower

We like to think we started the Harissa trend, and to celebrate that pioneering spirit, we are bringing this hot side dish back for the Spring lineup.

Commonly used in popular Moroccan cuisine, Harissa is a Tunisian Chile Paste made of dried chiles, olive oil, and garlic. We’re adding this bold sauce to pan-roasted cauliflower and zucchini, to spice up your spring time!

Coconut Lemon Cake

Coconut Lemon CakeWe are temporarily retiring our winter Fresh Apple Layer Cake and replacing it with a resounding favorite of Urban Plates regulars – our Coconut Lemon Cake!

This delicious made-from scratch dessert is made of coconut cake layers, lemon curd, coconut cream filling, lemon frosting, and is covered in toasted coconut. The cliff notes on this cake is simple: lots of lemon, lots of coconut.

We take great pride in offering our guests a rotating menu of delicious, seasonal dishes that shake up routines and open minds (and palates) to new and exciting culinary adventures. Enjoy our new seasonal Spring menu selections!



Chef Jim

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Lamb Osso Bucco for Spring

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. It is the awakening of all the plant life surrounding us, an indicator of warmer weather and longer days filled with more sunlight. With the spring bloom comes a bounty of fresh new produce and I look forward to the burst of greenery available after the winter months.

I lived in Italy for a year traveling from the south to the north working in small restaurants, wineries, with cheesemakers and in bakeries. I had the opportunity to start my culinary adventure in March when lamb are abundant and often prepared for family gatherings and holidays. I had not eaten much lamb before traveling to Italy that spring, but I quickly grew to love the flavor, tenderness and unique cuts I tried in the many different preparations. Every year as spring approaches I look forward to preparing lamb and fall back on some of the recipes I recorded during that exciting adventure.

In preparation for spring at Urban Plates, I wanted to use lamb as the center of our newest limited time dish. After carefully sourcing a sustainably raised grass-fed lamb and testing many cuts I landed on the shank, also known as “osso bucco” in Italian preparations. The inspiration for an osso bucco dish came from working in a small family owned restaurant in northern Italy where they slow cooked lamb in a wood fired oven with stock and spring vegetables.

Our Lamb Osso Bucco is made with a classic red wine sauce reduction infused with organic carrots, onion, celery, thyme, oregano, rosemary, lemon and bay leaf. Once the sauce has only a hint of acidity and the herbs have bloomed, we combine the bone-in lamb with our scratch-made chicken stock and the wine reduction sauce. We then slow cook everything overnight until the lamb is spoon tender and almost falling off the bone. This slow and careful, yet simple preparation make this a hearty and delicious braise with a light bodied sauce. The Osso Bucco is served with our scratch-made mashed potatoes and topped with a mint gremolata – an Italian herb sauce made from fresh raw mint, lemon zest, garlic and a hint of spices. This bright green sauce adds a refreshing aspect to the whole dish and pairs perfectly with the earthy lamb.

I hope you enjoy this beautiful offering as a limited time addition to our menu at an affordable price for you and your family. Perhaps it can become your new tradition for the spring!



Chef Jen

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Are We Rinsing With Mouthwash Long Enough?

Commercial mouthwashes are used for various purposes including getting rid of bad breath, plaque, gingivitis, etc. The American Dental Association provides a very detailed write-up on mouthwash. You may be able to get a similar benefit from a saltwater and hydrogen peroxide solutions. Many dentists state that you only need to brush and floss to support a healthy mouth.

What I have always wondered though is, assuming there is some benefit from using mouthwash, am I getting any benefit from them? The reason I question this is because the recommended rinse duration on most mouthwashes range from 30 seconds to one minute. I think I rinse for maybe 20 seconds at best. Do you rinse for one minute?

There are tons of mouthwashes out there so it can be a challenge to pick the right one for you. I found the following information for various brands of mouthwash:

Mouthwash Brand Rinse Duration (seconds) Alcohol Free? Ratings
Ranker Faveable Bestlisto Tenbestreview Bestseekers
Listerine 30 No 1 1 4.5 6
Crest 30 to 60 Yes 7 4 8 8 5
Scope 30 No 2 2
Colgate-Palmolive 30 Yes 3 3 4
Oral-B 30 No 4 4
Biotene 30 Yes 6 2 6 6 2
Cepacol 30 No 9 7
ACT 30 Yes 5 3.5 5 6.5 1
Sensodyne 60 Yes 8 9
Dr Katz 30 Yes 10
Corsodyl 60 Yes 11 10
Tantum Verde 30 No 12
BreathRx 30 Yes 13 9
Daily Rinse 60 Yes 14
Dentyl PH 30 Yes 15
Sarakan 20 Yes 16
Astring-O-Sol 20 No 17
Lavoris 30 No 18
Rembrandt 60 Yes 19 4
Gengigel 60 to 120 Yes 20
Oral Essentials 60 Yes 5 8
TheraBreath 30 Yes 3 11 10
CloSYS 60 Yes 5 3
Jason Natural 20 to 30 Yes 1
PerioBrite 30 to 60 Yes 7
SmartMouth 30 Yes 9
Tom’s of Maine 60 Yes 11

Based on the above, you may not be getting the full effectiveness of the mouthwash you are using if you are not rinsing for the prescribed about of time. I guess we have to tough it out folks and increase our mouthwash rinsing time . Good luck with that!

Sapiosexual is a New Dating Term. Is it a Real Thing?

I was reading a profile of someone and they said they were sapiosexual. I thought, “Say what”? I wondered, is that being attracted to sappy people? My curiosity was piqued so I had to look up the word. From the Collins Dictionary the definition of sapiosexual is: “One who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature; behavior of becoming attracted to or aroused by intelligence and its use. Sapiosexual is a neologism word (recently constructed word) that has come into common usage; especially on social networking sites where some people are self-identifying as sapiosexual. Origins: From Latin root sapien, wise or intelligent, and Latin sexualis, relating to the sexes”.

Now I am thinking, great, there is hope for me after all! I like to think of myself as intelligent. I have a master’s degree, I read books; I can walk and chew gum at the same time. I’m in like Flynn!

Sapiosexual is a relatively new term being used. Dating sites such as OkCupid have even added it as a new gender and sexuality option. But is sapiosexual a real thing? There have always been people who have been attracted to intelligent people. Sapiosexual is really not a sexual orientation term. For example, being sapiosexual doesn’t mean you would be attracted to intelligent people of all sexes. If you are heterosexual, bisexual, or whatever; you would still be those things if you were sapiosexual.

My take on this is that a sapiosexual values intelligence so much that almost nothing else matters, whereas non-sapiosexuals may value intelligence but they value other things also (looks, humor, body shape, etc.). In the real world there are probably different levels of sapiosexual. That is, at the top of the sapiosexual pyramid, intelligence is the only thing that matters and at the minimum level are sapiosexuals who value intelligence at a defined minimum threshold:


In the above chart the different regions are defined as follows:

  • In region A people are more attracted to “other things” than they are to intelligence and thus, they are not sapiosexual
  • In region B people are more attracted to intelligence than they are to other things but they may or may not be sapiosexual
  • In region C people are more attracted to intelligence than they are to other things as in region B. The difference is than in region C the draw to intelligence is above a predefined level (in our case we are assuming this level is 60%). Therefore if you are in region C you are a sapiosexual.

It would be interesting to design a questionnaire to determine what the minimum threshold would need to be for people to be considered sapiosexual. What do you think that percentage is? Are you a sapiosexual? Let me know in the comments section!