I Think….Therefore I Cook….

Chef Susen A. Hunter

Native Foods Cafe


People often ask me how I come up with recipes so I thought I would take a minute to explain the “process” for me.   The explanation is that there is NO process.  I can find inspiration in a variety of ways –  from tweaking an existing recipe or using a “new” spice, to having a visual in my head and trying to create it, or even just thinking ”what if I…..”.   I LOVE the “what if” game!

There is nothing I find more refreshing than having 3-5 days with nothing do to but be creative in the kitchen.  I may start out with tweaking a recipe only to think of additional new recipes or methods that I want to try.  Or, I may have a theme in mind and try to brainstorm new ways to present foods/flavor profiles that represent that theme. 

I love it when I’m creating new foods and I have a few friends available to try what I’m making…then I don’t have to constantly eat/taste everything myself!!!  I love getting instant feedback during the creation process because it helps me narrow down the precise amounts of ingredients – most usually the spices and salt content. 

I try never to google any of my ideas before I try them….that way I know my recipes are original and I haven’t been subliminally influenced by some other recipe.  Overall, I rely on my decades of cooking/baking/creating experience to guide me in my inspiration. 

I can tell you that as a chef, there is a great feeling of accomplishment when hundreds of people have tried your food and have responded positively.  That, for me, is why I love doing cooking demos for the public…that sense that I shared a unique recipe and the members of the audience love enough to go home and make it.  How cool is that?

Here is a recent creation!




1 C of Black Forbidden Rice – Steamed/cooked according to instructions

1 C of Black Beans from can – rinsed/drained

1 C of Black Lentils – Steamed/cooked according to instructions

1 TSP Better Than Bullion Vegetable base dissolved in 8 oz water

1 TSP Adobo seasoning

½ TSP Chipotle seasoning +/- by taste

1 C of baked sweet potato – cubed

½ C carrot – diced fine

¼ C orange pepper – diced fine

Vegan Butter- approx. 1 TBS

Pinch of garlic powder, pinch of onion powder, pinch of sea salt


In a large skillet over medium heat, add the water/veggie base and adobo and chipotle seasoning.  Stir and add in the rice, beans, and lentils stirring to get the flavoring distributed evenly.

In a separate skillet, melt the butter over low heat and toss in the sweet potato, carrot and pepper.  Sprinkle with onion powder, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt.  Stir gently over low heat for about 3minutes then gently fold into the beans/rice/lentils in the larger skillet.  Serve with a dollop of chipotle mayo.


Optional — Carve orange peppers into Jack-O-Lanterns, rub with EVOO, and stuff with pilaf.  Place in covered baking dish and bake in oven on 350⁰ for about 25 minutes



Vegan Recipe: Rum Point Fruit Fry

By Chef Susen A. Hunter

Native Foods Cafe

This recipe is one of my favorite vegan comfort food desserts.  I first created it whilst living near the beach at Rum Point on Grand Cayman Island.  I didn’t have plantains for my breakfast, so I friend up some bananas instead and threw in some fresh pineapple for good measure.  The resulting breakfast treat morphed into a dessert over time.  It’s really yummy and warm fruit is especially good on a cold, windy day.  The taste takes me right back to the tropics….


Rum Point Fruit Fry


2 bananas sliced

½ cup pineapple chopped

2 TBSP +/- Coconut oil

1 TBSP +/- Vegan butter

Agave nectar to taste

Cinnamon- just a dash – nutmeg also works

2 teaspoons dark rum

Vegan granola and/or ice cream


Heat oil and butter on medium heat and add all ingredients…. Stir until caramelized and when it “dries” up.  Squeeze a little lime juice

Sprinkle with shredded coconut chopped and serve with granola and/or coconut ice cream

Yield —  approx. 2 servings

There are over 300 different species of Agave plants that grow in the Central America region from the top of South America to the southern United States.  Natives called the naturally occurring liquid in this succulent “aguamiel” which means “honey water”.   This substance can be reduced down to form agave syrup or fermented to become tequila.  Centuries ago, agave syrup was used by the Aztecs as a healing salve for wounds, infections, and skin irritations.  

The aguamiel reduction results in a syrup that can range from light to dark without having any overpowering taste other than “sweet”.  Because of its neutrality, agave syrup has become popular in cooking, baking, and as a drink sweetener.   Although gram for gram agave has more calories than regular sugar, it is sweeter so less is needed resulting in less calories overall. 

Always buy Organic Agave Syrup to be certain that it has no added sugars or high fructose corn syrup.

(((Photos below — all mine))))


Foul-mouthed Vegans!

By Lauren Neuschel

Native Foods Cafe 


Pic 1

The vegan duo behind the completely crass but undeniably entertaining health food blog, Thug Kitchen, is coming out with some offline reading – a cookbook – under the same name “Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F – – k.” The pair, who cook up, write, and photograph their own healthy vegan creations are putting their own take on your typical cookbook…swear words! A lot of them. Warning: not the right holiday gift for your boss or Grandma.

Pic 2

The book is set to launch in early October, but even in vegan cooking, there’s controversy. After the authors recently revealed themselves as the tag-team behind Thug Kitchen, they were hit with uproar in the form of protests nationwide. As a white couple from Hollywood, the loose use of “thug” has become an issue for many. Is calling their book “thug kitchen” racist? Expected to tour the Bay area before the launch of their cookbook, the couple have since canceled all appearances in the area due to the protests. Those against the book and both its title and profanity, call themselves ethical vegans, according to SF Weekly and feel that “neither these authors nor this store should benefit or profit from this hurtful work.” Booksellers have found themselves caught in the crossfire.

Still, many are huge supporters of the book and its writers. Gwyneth Paltrow, author of Goop, is singing their praises and helping launch their book. And even with the uproar, it’s hard to take issue with how much press they’ve brought to vegan cooking and their hip blog. It’s definitely a go-to read, and as the blog reads, you should “Sign the f – – k up.”

A Sweet Ending to the Thanksgiving Cooking Demos

By, Kelly Behr

Native Foods Cafe

Chef Kendall has been all over the country meeting people in Portland then off to California and finally Colorado to visit Boulder and end her cooking tour at our newest restaurant in Glendale. She was getting everyone everywhere pumped for a vegan thanksgiving. Of course the prizes and samples she was handing out didn't hurt either! 



The final recipe the chefs demonstrated at each cooking demo was a crowd pleasing Caramel Apple Cheesecake. 




Here is the recipe for you to make this delicious dessert at home! 


Thank you everyone for making these cooking demos such a great success! 

Po-TAY-to, Po-TA-to

By, Chef Alex Placencia

Native Foods Cafe

I recently got an invitation from the U.S. Potato Board to attend a 3 day seminar at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa, CA.  What an amazing experience to be surrounded by the beauty of wine country but also to be back in the classroom with my peers, learning, brainstorming and creating with an amazing vegetable and America’s number 1 side dish, the potato.  

Photo 2
Native Foods Cafe, a vegan restaurant 


It’s safe to say most of us love potatoes and most of us also tend to feel some guilt after consuming them.  Potatoes have received a bad reputation for being starchy and full of carbs; but I am here with some good news and flattering facts about potatoes. One medium 5.3 ounce potato with the skin on has ZERO fat, cholesterol, and sodium.  On top of that, a potato contains twice as much potassium as a banana; they are rich in vitamin C, and a great source of fiber.  As if that was not enough, potatoes are vegan and naturally gluten free.  This seminar renewed my love for potatoes and awakened my excitement to create with them.  Here are just a few of the creations we came up with at the seminar.


 Torta espanola drizzled with Serrano crema

Photo 3

My creation on behalf of Native Foods was the Purple Pig, baked scalloped potatoes with pico de gallo, guacamole and chipotle aioli. 

Purple Pig
Native Foods Cafe, a vegan restaurant

Finally a Summer Squash potato gnocchi salad with green beans, acorn squash, and lemon vinaigrette.

Summer Squash Salad
Native Foods Cafe, a vegan restaurant. 



A Very Native Thanksgiving, Recipes Continued!

By, Native Foods Cafe

This past weekend Chef Kendall hit three locations in California to share delicious recipes with the West Coast. 

She had packed houses in Encinitas, Tustin and Westwood. People were eager to get the holiday season started by learning how to create two vegan thanksgiving side dishes and one delectable dessert. 

ImageNative Foods Cafe, a vegan restaurant. 


Chef Kendall demonstrated a tasty vegan stuffing made with pears and almonds. See below for recipe. 

The mix of pears, celery and onions 




  IMG_0018It It isn't a Native Foods Cooking demo without samples!  


Image-3Native Foods Cafe, a vegan restaurant 

Thanks to everyone who attended these demos and stay tuned next week as we have a sweet final recipe to share.  

A Very Native Thanksgiving Cooking Demo

By, Kelly Behr

Native Foods Cafe

It is that time of year to give thanks and over here at Native Foods Cafe we are in full Thanksgiving mode. We have been traveling around the country to our various locations to host, A Very Native Thanksgiving Cooking Demo and sharing delicious side dish recipes. Because the sides are the best part anyway, right? Chef Alex was in the Chicago loop last weekend while Chef Kendall was in Portland whipping up some thanksgiving goodies. 



1385865_10152002721005909_376045543_nNative Foods Cafe, a vegan restaurant 


The first dish the chefs demonstrated was a tasty Wild Mushroom and Potato Gratin. See below for the recipe!





1385843_10152002718075909_54506437_n-1Chef Alex shows the crowd the finished product. 


Chef Kendall will be in California this weekend at our Encinitas, Tustin and Westwood locations. Check back for more great Thanksgiving recipes from these demos!

A Wicked Native Foods Cooking Demo

By, Kelly Behr

Native Foods Cafe


We were cooking up some bone chilling recipes last Saturday
at our Chicago loop that are store perfect for any Halloween party or gathering for all
your closest ghouls and gals. 


Native Foods Cafe, a vegan restaurant, vegan food, vegan recipes


Chef Kendall Huff dished out some spooky Putrid Pumpkin
Pate, a Spaghetti Squashed Brain Salad, Candy Corn Punch and a Dirt Cake for
dessert, all while being in full costume. 
Recipes below. 


Native Foods Cafe, a vegan restaurant, vegan food, vegan recipes




Be sure to check your emails for the latest cooking demos
coming to a city near you and join us for fun, prizes and food….lots of vegan


Native Foods Cafe, a vegan restaurant, vegan food, vegan recipes





We Survived the MANIA…

 by Kelly Behr

Native Foods Cafe

We did it! Another Chicago Veganmania under our belts. We are excited to be able to participate in this event each year and feed lots of hungry vegans and non vegans alike! 




We served up two delicious dishes, our Rockin Morrocan Bowl and debuted the Southwest Chipotle
Chop, one of our new fall menu items, for the first time. 


Native Foods Café, Chicago
Vegan presents yummy vegan food


The Native Food tribe members were busy rockin out the bowls and
salads all day long to people who came as far as the East and West Coasts to check out Chicago's Veganmania. And the message was clear, you want more Native Foods Cafes in your
neighborhoods; we hear you and we
promise we are working hard on our expansion plan.



The last act of the day at Veganmania was the Native Food’s
cooking demo.  Chef
Kendall Huff, who just happened to make the program cover, had a large crowd
gather to watch her demonstrate three recipes for fall. And if people were not
full of vegan food already she offered samples of every item she made.  RECIPES COMING TOMORROW!!!









Nafe Foods Cafe, vegan restaurant, vegan food, vegan recipes 

Native Foods Gold Sponsor at Veganmania 2013



Chicago…It is time for Veganmania! Native Foods is proud to be a Gold Sponsor this year. This event continues to bring awareness to the vegan world by showcasing vegan food, products and influential people in the vegan community. 

FOOD is the word of the day, so come hungry, we mean it! We will be previewing one of our new fall menu items, the Southwest Chipotle Chop along with one of our tasty earthbowls, the Rockin' Moroccan, a favorite amongst fellow plant eaters. 

Make sure to sick around because at 4 pm Native Foods Cafe's Executive Chef, Kendall Huff, will be doing one of her, very entertaining, cooking demos. She will be showing attendees how to create 3 stellar vegan dishes and offering samples of each.

Chef Kendall

Chef Kendall Huff of Native Foods Cafe, a vegan restaurant

*Chef Kendall hard at work on a piece of seitan. 


We hope to see all our Native Food friends and familiar faces at the event. 

*For more information on the event you can visit the event's official webpage at: http://chicagoveganmania.com