Five Awesome Stocking Stuffers for Seriously Anyone

By: Lauren Neuschel

 1. Creek House Vegan Chocolate Truffle Collection: Have you ever tried these uh-mazing vegan truffles? They are literally addicting, and come in a ton of cool flavors…chili mango, dark espresso, luscious raspberry, and coconut, to be exact. Vegan AND gourmet!


Native Foods uses this photo courtesy of:

Continue reading

Greening up Games: Let’s crush the candy, plant some produce

By Sammy Caiola

Native Foods Cafe


Candy Crush Saga is ruining our kids.


If you’re one of the half billion people who have installed the ultra-addictive game app since its 2012 release- don’t feel bad.

It’s not your fault that the most downloaded app of 2013 happens to revolve around lemon drops, chiclets and jelly beans and features a guide character named Mr. Toffee. It’s also not your fault that its addicting methodology has people playing for so many hours a day that they’re developing “candy crush shoulder.”

The blame here lies with the developer, a British company called King, which makes about $1 million a day on this ultra-colorful, sticky-sweet phone game. Would it have been so hard to create Veggie Crush instead?

Truth is, people don’t really care what bits and pieces they’re shifting around on the screen, so long as they go “poof!” once they’re properly aligned. And so long as they can rack up more “poof” points than they’re friends on Facebook, they’ll be satisfied.


Native Foods Café uses this image courtesy of


So why not switch things around in the name of our health? Instead of the red jelly beans, throw in a bright red tomatoes. Sub the lemon drops with golden beets and the green chiclets with heads of lettuce. And those chocolate disco-ball looking things? Let’s try an extra fancy veggie, like an artichoke heart. Instead of Mr. Toffee, let’s bring in Farmer Joe, who I’m sure has bushels of insight on how to rack up the points and climb the Veggie Crush rankings. 

If we could nix the entire Candyland theme in favor of greener pastures, would kids still go crazy for the concept? History says yes. The most popular Facebook game in 2009 was Farmville 2- a competitive app in which players acquired points by growing and selling crops.


Native Foods Café uses this image courtesy of


Kids will get hooked on whatever you put in front of them. Mom bloggers everywhere are complaining about how their kids are continually asking for candy, more so now that the bonbon bonanza has gone viral. Perhaps if the interface were just altered a little, America wouldn’t have such a nagging sweet tooth.


On the upside, King seems to have gotten the memo and has already come out with “Papa Pear Saga”, a brand new game for iPhone, Android and Facebook that features a bouncy tropical protagonist named Papa Pear. Apparently hazelnuts and “crazy chillies” also show up in the 100-level journey that brings players through the Fruity Forest and the Great Pyramids.


Native Foods Café uses this image courtesy of


We’re back on the right track. Parents: see if you can’t get your kids hooked on Papa Pear Saga instead of Candy Crush. Or take it to the next level, and see if you can’t get them outside for a while. 

Elephants Escape from Circus Like A Real Life Jumanji

by Kelly Behr

Remember this movie with Robin Williams about a board game gone array? 




Well something a little less dramatic happened right outside my hometown of St. Louis, MO. The event occurred when the Moolah circus was in town last week. Below is the story from ABC news. 




This brings up the obvious issue of the circus itself. I remember attending the circus as a kid. You marvel at seeing large majestic creatures doing tricks you never thought were possible. Here you see clowns riding small bikes, elephants balancing on balls and tigers jumping through hoops. As a child you munch on your popcorn and peanuts and never give thought to how this might not be the best life for these animals. Touring from town to town in small cramped spaces in a total unnatural environment, forced to do tricks for our entertainment or risk punishment is not the picture the circus industry wants to paint. But sadly, the circus is not a joyous place for the animals involved. 

I am sure everyone who has visited a Native Foods has noticed we love elephants and we have them all over our restaurant. Our elephant has become one of our mascots. He is seen surfing in Encinitas, riding a bike to the farmer's market in Costa Mesa, canoeing in Denver and is even at the World's Fair in Hyde Park. We use the elephant as an example that you can be big and strong by eating a plant based diet, after all they are the world's largest vegan. 


Native Foods Cafe: Glendale, CO

We take our love for elephants and animals in general one step further. We are committed to supporting groups who advocate for animal welfare. One of the groups we have worked with over the years is PAWS.

PAWS or The Performing Animal Welfare Society captive wildlife sanctuary is a place where abandoned, abused, or retired performing animals and victims of the exotic animal trade can live in peace and dignity. For more than twenty years PAWS has been at the forefront of efforts to rescue and provide appropriate, humane sanctuary for animals who have been the victims of the exotic and performing animal trades. PAWS investigates reports of abused performing and exotic animals, documents cruelty and assists in investigations and prosecutions by regulatory agencies to alleviate the suffering of captive wildlife.


Native Foods uses this image courtesy of

We like to see elephants enjoying life like in the above photograph, with PAWS founder Pat Derby who was a former Hollywood animal trainer.
Circuses have gotten a bad rap over the years, but they rightfully should. Animals are wonderful creatures that we can learn from and about. However, there are many different ways to expose our children to these wonderful creatures, not just showing them doing silly tricks that do nothing to represent their species. 

In the Spotlight: John Salley

By Kelly Behr

Native Foods Cafe


Former NBA star John Salley is best known for his basketball career by being the first ever NBA player to play on three different championship winning teams in three years and his time as a talk show host for the Best Damn Sports Show. What you might not know about John Salley is that he is an avid vegan. By that, I mean that he now focuses his time on teaching people how to eat better and all the benefits associated with a plant-based diet. 

We are fortunate that John is such a fan and supporter of Native Foods. He has spoken at our district conference and has participated in events educating children on the importance of healthy eating for Native Foods. 

As such an advocate of health we thought he would be the perfect “In the Spotlight” guest for February, heart-health month! 

1.)  What inspired you to become vegan?

 My health. At 27 years old I was feeling miserable, I was not playing to the best of my ability and my cholesterol was at a whopping 274. I was playing in Detroit and my doctor at the time simply said, you need to change what you eat.


2.)  How long have you been eating a vegan diet?

 Well I like to say I have been a lying vegetarian since 1991 but I became a real true vegan 6 ½ years ago. I felt like anything from an animal just wasn’t good for me.


3.)  Do you feel like this choice affected your athletic ability at all?

Definitely. It made me a better, more aware and conscious player, it honestly changed my life.


4.)  What is some advice you give to a person who is new to the vegan diet?

I tell them to go to my website, and go through the 22 day starter kit. I also tell them whenever they feel hungry to drink more water and walk, that’s my main advice, keep drinking the water.

Native Foods uses this image courtesy of

5.) What are some of your favorite foods to make at home? 

Kale and massaged kale salad. I remember a time when kale was not anything more than a garnished used for seafood displays, now everyone is eating kale. 

6.) You are so fortunate to be in a position to be able to speak out about the vegan lifestyle, what is the most important message you try and portray? 

I tell people they just need to change the way they think about food. It is not giving up anything it is just changing how you view the food. I say if it comes from a vine or a tree or the ground it is okay to eat and good for your body. I ask people if they would eat a dead animal they saw on the street? And follow p by saying if you wouldn’t eat it then, don’t eat it from the supermarket. 

I talk to a lot of kids. I never want to make it harder on them or come across as “preachy” kids do not respond to that. I tell them ways to incorporate new foods in their diets and to educate them on the benefits not focus on the negative. It’s a lot for a kid to think about, like if they had to tell their grandma they can’t eat her recipes anymore and things like that.

7.) How do you spend your free time now? 

I spend it by teaching health and wellness, I love it. 

8.) Any books you reccomend for vegan newbies? 

Skinny Bitch

9.)  What is your favorite Native Foods item?

The Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger.  It has a nostalgic factor for me as it was the first thing I ever ate from Native Foods and I was blown away at just how good it tasted. 

19. Oklahoma Bacon Cheesburger

John Salley keeps himself pretty busy with being a wellness advocate, having a vegan wine line and staying up to date with the lastest health information. You can see  what he has been up to on his website, Pour yourself a glass of Vegan Vine and take a peak. 

Basketball and….broccoli?

By, Kelly Behr

Native Foods Cafe

One of the many benefits of being a growing restaurant is the opportunity we have to educate people on healthy options and how fun healthy eating really can be.

A few weeks ago we were so fortunate to have former NBA star John Salley come and talk to a group of high school teenagers at our Culver City location. We had a great turnout on the patio! 

Native Foods Cafe, Culver City

These kids were there to learn how to incorporate fruits and vegetables in their diets in an easy and cost effective way. We all know fast food is cheap where a whole meal  can be less expensive than going to the grocery store and making something yourself, plus kids see the value of spending a dollar on a fast food sandwich and not on a head of broccoli. It is really a tough sell with fast food  sandwiches being advertised everywhere for a dollar at mega chains.

Native Foods’ goal was to change their perception of all health food being costly and tasteless by showing the kids what foods you can buy for around a dollar that turn into a nutritious meal. 

We treated them to some of Native Foods while they were listening to John speak so they could have a taste of some plant based food items and that healthy food can taste good too!




The kids were also sent home with healthy recipes including some of the ingredients so they could make them at home. Each student was given a spaghetti squash, some of Native’s own marinara sauce and broccoli to create a healthy pasta dish that they might not have ever had before. 



They were  all very receptive and excited about being there and even more excited to hear John speak. He is such a great proponent of healthy eating and a person the kids can really look up to.




5 Reasons to Vegan, Holiday Gift Guide

By, Sammy Caiola

Native Foods Cafe

Christmas shopping is tricky for everyone- and it’s even trickier if you’re shopping for vegans. Whether you’re in search of the perfect cruelty-free makeup kit or a dairy-free box of chocolate, we know a secret that will help you check off your list in no time. The Vegan Cuts Holiday Gift Guide is an awesome resource for all sorts of eco and animal-friendly holiday gifts, from lip balms and body butters to healthy snacks.

The website separates products into six different categories, including “under $25”, “stocking stuffers” and “kiddos.” The interface is chic and navigable, and you can browse all of the pages in less than 25 minutes. Add another 15 minutes for online ordering and you’ll still have gotten all your shopping done for less time than it takes to check out at Target. It cuts down on time and waste without skipping an ounce of holiday spirit. And these gifts aren’t just for vegans- they’ll look great under anyone’s tree!

Note: I’m personally lost when it comes to beauty products or accessories, but there’s lots of that if you’re looking for it. For this roundup, I decided to pick out the quirkiest, most unique products—the ones I’d most likely buy for myself.


1. Ecojarz drink top and straw kit


Native Foods Cafe uses this image courtesy of

Who says jars are just for food storage? These stainless steel lids and straws will help you turn any tomato sauce or nut butter jar into a portable beverage vessel. Just clean out a jar, and top it with a lid and straw, which are dishwasher safe and perfect for on-the-go slurping. 

*Upgrade this gift with a few packets of Vega protein smoothie mix. Completely plant-based and non-GMO and they only take a minute to make!

2.) Produce Lovers Tote


Native Foods Cafe uses this image courtesy of

This adorable woven cloth bag features a happy avocado declaring “I’m GOOD fat!”. Friends can bring it to the grocery store or use it to carry schoolbooks, as long as they’re ready to tout the veggie love loud and proud.

*Upgrade this gift by filling the bag with yummy produce-inspired snacks, like kale chips and dried fruits.

3. Vegan Cuts Beauty Box



Native Foods Cafe uses this image courtesy of


If you’ve been waiting for the vegan spin on Birch Box- today’s your day. For $70, send your vegan beauty guru a monthly supply of cruelty-free pampering supplies. With different products every month, it’s the gift that just keeps giving.

*Alternative: Vegan Cuts has also assembled a Snack Box, so you can send monthly vegan foodie offerings instead.


4. Fur and feathers board game



Native Foods Cafe uses this image courtesy of


This animal-friendly board game is perfect for kids or for vegan friends with little ones. The game helps children foster compassion for animals by asking them about animal factoids and letting them make choices about adopting animals from shelters and ordering animal-friendly dishes in cafes.


*Upgrade this gift by making it part of a Board Game Pack. Wrap it up in a nice basket with other family favorites (Jenga and Scrabble would be my picks).


5. Sprout Kit



Native Foods Cafe uses this image courtesy of


For the amateur horticulturist, this sprout kit provides all the essentials for growing your own lentils, mung beans and chickpeas. It’s easy pea-sy! Also makes a great gift for kids.


*Upgrade it with some mixed wild rice from Whole Foods or a helpful spice like cumin, so the sprouted beans can eventually be used in a meal.

No time to order online? No worries. There’s plenty of vegan gift options that you can run out and get day-of. You’ll find fun Cherrybrook Kitchen baking mixes at your local Whole Foods as well as a station where you can grind natural peanut or almond butter, which makes a great gift. Also, PETA says that Ghirardelli hot chocolate is vegan! (Or at least the double chocolate, mocha, hazelnut and white mocha varieties).



5 Reasons to Vegan this Week

By, Kelly Behr

Native Foods Cafe

1.) Trader Joe’s coconut milk ice cream

This particular ice cream is my go to when I want a little evening treat. The coconut gives it a nice creamy consistency and it doesn’t take on the nuttier flavors like some of the brands that use almond milk. And to really top if off, throw in some vegan chocolate chips!


Native Foods Café uses this image
courtesy of


Live Clean Baby lotion 

This baby lotion is 100% plant
based and fragrance free. My whole life I have gravitated to baby lotions to
use myself, there is something about them that makes my skin feel softer and
the formula is usually more gentle. I found this brand on a recent trip to
Walgreens as I needed some more lotion to pack for a trip I was heading on….
and I might have just found a new favorite.


Moisturizing baby lotion

Native Foods Café uses this image
courtesy of



Candy Corn Dots


Since it is officially Halloween
this week I was thinking about all the vegan candy options. Unfortunately candy
corn is not of the vegan variety but DOTS makes a candy corn flavor. DOTS to
the candy corn rescue! We listed a lot of different vegan candies on our table
tents this month but in case you missed them you can find a full list of vegan
friendly candy at  We also had a blog last week about lots of
candy alternatives to keeping Halloween fun but keeping the sugar consumption
in check!




Native Foods Cafe uses this image courtesy of 

Lace-up boots by Mossimo

These little boots have stood the test of time and have
logged a lot of miles and pass both my style and comfort tests. In Chicago we
do a lot of walking and these boots are, well, made for walking and that's just what they’ll do. Aside from fitting into the lyrics of a Nancy Sinatra
song they are also made of all man made materials, aka vegan.  They are available both online and in Target


Native Foods Café uses this image courtesy of


JR Watkins Dish Soap

I LOVE lavender so anything I can
get with the lavender scent makes me happy. This includes home care products
because having an apartment that smells like a field of lavender is the kind of
apartment I want to come home to every night. Lucky for me JR Watkins, a
company that uses all plant-based formulas, offers most of their products with
lavender edition. But, do not worry if you are not gaga for lavender there are
plenty of other natural scents to keep your dishes happy.


Native Foods uses this image courtesy of 





Native Foods Cafe, Vegan, Vegan Restaurant, Vegan Shoes, Vegan Products

Has Halloween gotten too sweet?

By, Sammy Caiola

Native Foods Cafe


Halloween has always been my all-time favorite
holiday. I’ve got so many fond memories of sewing handmade costumes with my
mom, carving jack-o-lanterns with my dad and running around the neighborhood
with my friends in a desperate search for candy.

The only downside is that it isn’t exactly the
healthiest holiday. The average American consumes 1.9 POUNDS of chocolate on
Halloween, which is a huge chunk of the 10-12 pounds of chocolate that the
average American eats in a given year. Now that’s scary. And if you thought the
fast pace of trick-or-treating might balance out the extravagant eating, you’re
living in a fantasy. about 5 miles of walking over the course of two hours
would burn a little over 400 calories- that’s the equivalent of about 5 ½ fun
size bars. Your child will need a lot more physical activity than a brisk
evening stroll to attempt to undo Halloween’s damage.


Native Foods Cafe uses this image courtesy of


The other option is to do less damage in the
first place. While you don’t want to prevent your child from enjoying Halloween
like everyone else (I know if I was the only kid not allowed to have candy I’d
be furious), you can talk to him or her about healthy moderation. Explain to
your child the sugar and fat content of processed candy and what those things
can do to his or her body. Feed your child a full, nutritious, Halloween-themed
meal before the trick-or-treating adventure so they aren’t itching to guzzle
down the sweets before they even hit the collection bag.


Also urge to your child that just because he or
she collected the candy, it does not all have to be eaten. Leftover Halloween
candy can be donated to the troops or to local nursing home or food bank. You
can put out a bowl in the office or encourage your child to save it for the
pinata at his or her next birthday party. You can incorporate it into gifts for
friends or teachers, or use it as decoration in a pretty bowl. Also, there are tons of adorable
you can make with leftover candy, like gumdrop
wreaths or lollipop bouquets. 


Native Foods Cafe uses this image courtesy of Jenni Swenson.


If you’re heading a family of vegans, you’ll
inevitably need to have some cruelty-free candy around the house for your child
and their friends. You could even buy the vegan candy in bulk and hand it out
to trick-or-treaters! Vegnews has a very comprehensive list of vegan candy, but my favorite
vegan candy companies are Sweet & Sara and Allison’s Gourmet. Also there are some commercial, non-organic candies that are
actually vegan too!


-Airheads (select flavors)

-Jolly Ranchers hard candy

-Mary Janes

-Newman’s Own Licorice Twists

-Pez Candy

-Skittles (select flavors)


-Sour Patch

-Swedish Fish


Native Foods uses this image courtesy of


Or, if you want to avoid the candy situation
entirely (probably a smart move), there are some healthy alternatives to give
to trick-or-treaters. You and your child can shop for and prepare these
together while learning how dessert can actually be healthy and still taste
great. You may want to stay away from fresh fruit and produce or homemade
treats, as many parents will throw them out. But here’s a short list of
pre-packaged healthy snacks that kids will enjoy:


-single serving pretzels,popcorn or crackers

-dried fruit (mango, banana chips, candied

-granola bars

-sugar free gum

-pumpkin or sunflower seeds

-dark chocolate bites

-juice boxes (look for low sugar, high Vitamin


On another note, I also found lots of ideas for
non-candy Halloween giveaways:

-temporary tattoos

-pencils and other school supplies


-fake fangs or bug rings

-glow sticks

-small toys

-marbles or bouncy balls


Happy Haunting!


Get Out and Do Something! Part 2

by Sammy Caiola


Native Community Days continues today and here is some info on how to get involved with today's non-profit beneficiaries!

NCD FB 0713

Wednesday August 7th


Los Angeles, Orange
County, Palm Springs:
UCLA UniCamp

This university-affiliated non-profit is actually a beautiful
outdoor summer camp where children from underserved neighborhoods can enjoy
nature and learn leadership skills. The 1,000 low-income students who attend
each summer are mentored by 350 UCLA student leaders. The program involves
recreational activities and general confidence-boosting, team-building fun. You
have to be a UCLA student to actually be a mentor, but you can help out with
their fundraisers or deliver much-needed supplies like construction paper and
candle wax. Read about it here.




San Diego: Sean
O’Shea Foundation

Yoga, nutrition and positive thinking are the biggest themes at
this non-profit, which is dedicated to improving the mental and physical
wellness of youth ages 8-18. They run an educational yoga and nutrition program
that they bring everywhere from public schools to juvenile facilities. They
teach yoga at hospitals and at pregnant teen centers, working to build positive
self-image and encourage a life of balance and fulfillment. Sound like your
style? Help them with event planning and grant writing or, if qualified, teach
a workshop of your own. Check it out.



Chicago: Working In
The Schools

Love to read? Help WITS in its mission to increase literacy
throughout Chicago with one-on-one tutoring and mentoring. Bond with an at-risk
youth while helping him or her with reading skills. They serve 2500 students
throughout 27 elementary schools, and their volunteer base includes college
students and retirees alike. Apply to be a part of it here.



Portland: Oregon Wild

This statewide non-profit works toward the conversation of
roadless land—something, as I’m sure you all agree—this country needs a little
more of. By writing and fighting for legislation that protects natural land,
they’ve already saved more than 1.7 million acres of wilderness. If you want to
help preserve your state’s natural beauty, you can join or lead a free hike,
which raises awareness about what’s being threatened. You can also help out around
the office or at fundraising events. Read more here.



Boulder: Teens, Inc.

In a 7,000-square foot center in Nederland, a teen could be
exercising, cooking a meal or playing an instrument, all thanks to the hard
work of Teens, Inc, a non-profit who has run a free and successful youth center
since 2000. The center is open 24/5 to kids ages 11-21 and provides a safe
recreational space as well as mentoring and tutoring opportunities. Since its
establishment, the local juvenile crime rate has decreased, as have the
drop-out numbers at Nederland High School. Help these youth become stronger
leaders and smarter adults by teaching a workshop or just spending an afternoon
getting to know participants. Learn how here.



Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan restaurant, Native Community Days



Oh Baby: Ecofriendly Diapering

by Mandi Meek

Native Foods Cafe


Moms and dads are the superheroes of their kids lives – well
at least until they’re teens – and it’s essential to instill a sense of
eco-responsibility in the future generation. So, we need to tackle one of the
biggest trash producers around – diapers and diapering. I rounded up the
diapering essentials and found ecofriendly, natural alternatives for those
inclined to start their kiddo’s life in the green.


DIY Re-usable Baby
Wipes (keeps mold free for at least 2 weeks)

Native Foods vegan restaurant uses this image courtesy of Inhabitots.

36 baby washcloths (usually sold in a pack of 12)

or 9×9 squares of flannel/cotton
with hemmed edges

1¼ c of water (boiled)

¼ T all natural soap (preferably baby soap!)

2-3 T of vinegar (to fight mold and extra clean)

Container – reuse a disposable wipe container or a mason

First, boil your water – you want
to end up with a cup and a quarter at the end so maybe start with a cup and a
half. Let the water cool and add your soap and vinegar – stir. Next, layer your
wipes into the container and pour the liquid solution of them. Close the
container and give it a few shakes to coat the wipes. Before use you may need
to wring the wipes just a tad or use the extra moisture to give baby a quick
sponge bath for his arms and tummy before changing.


So, I actually make these for
myself and add about 1 T of bleach and use them around the house when needed –
works like a charm. You could also cut a roll of paper towel in half or thirds
pull out the center and make disposable wipes for on-the-go.


DIY Natural Hand Sanitizer


DIY Natural hand sanitizer


1cup of aloe vera gel

½ TBSP of witch hazel

10 drops of lavender essential


Combine ingredients in a bowl whisk
or beat together. Transfer to an empty container or bottle.


Here’s something you’ll want to
have – especially for diaper changes on-the-go! I’ve been using this for a
while now because I have sensitive skin. The aloe vera gel gives the
consistency of conventional hand sanitizer while the witch hazel and lavender
sanitize. Versions of this recipe have been floating around the web for awhile,
but this is my tried and true version.


How about an all-natural, DIY and homemade diaper rash crème?

Here’s a link to a homemade
diaper rash crème recipe from Penniless Parenting.  I believe this will work because I’ve made a similar crème for an eczema rash
awhile back that used the same ingredients. Tea tree oil is a great antibacterial
ingredient, which is important in a diaper rash crème; at least that’s what Mom
told me.


And to wrap it up, a collection of cloth diaper shops that can be found

So the verdict is out and cloth
diapers are not only better for the planet, but better for your wallet too! Like
anything reusable, cost is going to be expensive up front, but you won’t have
to buy diapers again so it should pay off. I’ve poked around on and
came up with a few different shops that offer great diaper options.


If you want all-in-one organic
diapers, I recommend FancyCloth:


If you want organic hemp/cotton
soakers with cool cotton covers, I recommend NEETClothDiapers:


If you want a huge selection of
cute fabrics, I recommend CheekyBunz:


And lastly if you want a one-stop
shop for everything ecofriendly mommy and baby might need, I recommend


Thought I would also throw this
in since it made me chuckle!

 Lacto Vegan Onesie by VoltNein


Good luck with the eco-diapering,
babymamas and babydaddies!


Native Foods Cafe, vegan food, vegan, vegan restaurant, vegan babycare