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.


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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.


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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. 

Vegan Recipe: Shake ‘n Bake Tofu

by Cassie Younger

One of the hardest things about becoming vegan is recreating the meals of my childhood memories I tend to crave as comfort food. As a middle class kid growing up in the suburbs, this included things like Hamburger Helper, Kraft Mac and Cheese and Shake n Bake chicken.  (Perhaps obviously, my family was not a part of the “clean food” movement.)

So when my roommates’ grandma died and we inherited her entire pantry, I was pretty excited upon finding a box of Shake n Bake mix. Although I couldn’t pronounce a lot of the ingredients and part of me was repulsed by the pre-packaged processed-ness of it all, the other half of me thought this would be hella delicious on some tofu. Turns out, it was.   



12 oz. (or more) extra firm tofu, pressed and sliced

½ c vegan Ranch

1 packet Shake n Bake Coating Mix

You don’t need to follow the instructions on the Shake n Bake box so carefully, as tofu is much easier to cook than chicken. Slather the tofu in ranch, dip it in the coating, and bake it at 400 degrees, for 25-30 minutes, until it’s crispy and beginning to brown. The amount of coating per packet also went a long way; I probably could’ve covered two packages of tofu with it.

I paired mine with a side of steamed kale to try and balance out the meal nutritionally, but mashed potatoes and a can of green beans might be more appropriate.


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

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


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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



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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



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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).



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.


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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


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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!


Coloring for the Little Vegans!

by Mandi Meek 

Native Foods Cafe


One of the coolest things about working at Native Foods is
meeting all of the great quirky people of Boulder. I absolutely adore the regulars
and know many of them by name. The little ones always impress me by how
adventurous and brave they are to try new foods. I can only hope that one day
my little munchkins will do the same, but I definitely was a picky eater in
need of constant entertainment – sorry mom!

Healthy-cheap-meals-for-picky-eaters4Native Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this photo courtesy of Empower Network.


Seeing all the happy little faces makes me smile and miss my
baby cousins. As artists, they enjoy a good coloring book. So after work
yesterday, I decided to look online for a vegan themed coloring book or pages to
send to them – it’s all about the subtle messaging, no? My findings weren’t
very impressive, and most pages seemed to be themed around vegetarianism and a
vegan Thanksgiving.

Regardless, inspiration struck as I was poking around
online. I sat down with a drawing pad of my own and drew up some vegan coloring
pages to send the kids. They were such a great hit. So, I decided I would share
them with y’all. Check ‘em out below!


Mama's Little Nugget Coloring Page

The largest vegan on earth coloring page

Pretty neat, eh? It’s the perfect thing to print out and
take with you next time your kiddos are in the mood for a cheesy quesadilla or
chicken nuggets – don’t forget the markers!


Native foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan restaurant, vegan coloring book

Chicago Public School Day

by Chef Kendall Huff 

Native Foods Cafe


Recently I had the pleasure to work with 4 little new
friends on spreading the plant- based love.  I was invited to be the mascot and assistant for one of
Native Foods biggest fans! A few local schools in the city planned a healthy
cook-off against each other to express the importance of eating healthier.  It was right up my alley!

Little Chef's
Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan recipe, vegan chili recipe, vegan chili


After a few meetings of eating and getting to know what each
team member liked to eat/cook and why, we decided to rock out a Seitan Chili
served over a bed of warm quinoa noodles. 
And they made the recipe!

Chef 1Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan recipe, vegan chili recipe, vegan chili

We tested and sampled a few chilies before we
could all decide on our flavor and consistency. And yes, these little Chefs’
knew exactly what they wanted.  No
garlic and lots of beans!!

Chef 2Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan recipe, vegan chili recipe, vegan chili


We kept our flavors simple and our ingredients fresh, the
best way to cook. Not only were the kids excited about the great recipe they
had created, but they also got to individually talk about the nutritional value
and vitamins in each piece of the recipe.

Chef 3Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan recipe, vegan chili recipe, vegan chili

They made quinoa so exciting it was
inspirational. Not only was I super proud and thrilled to be apart of this, but
I also got to hang out with the most creative and inspiring little Chefs I
have ever met!

Chef 4Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan recipe, vegan chili recipe, vegan chili


Thank you Team Alcott!!  


Team PhotoNative Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan recipe, vegan chili recipe, vegan chili

And here is the recipe:



each small onion, diced

(28oz) can diced tomatoes with juice

(15oz) can white beans, drained

(15oz) can red beans (kidney beans), with liquid

(15 oz) can black beans, drained

garlic powder

chili powder

Tablespoon onion powder                       

cups ground seitan


boxes quinoa elbow noodles



Sour cream (optional)



what the team did:


1- In a larger soup pot, on medium heat,
add oil, onions. Cook for 3 to  
4 minutes. It will start to smell yummy!!

2- Add white, red, black beans, diced
tomatoes, seitan and spices. Stir all goodies together.

 3- Cook for 10 minutes on medium heat, then turn the heat
down to low and cover. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes.  Don’t
forget to set a timer!!

When the time goes off, remove the lid, CAREFULLY!! Watch out for that

**If you like your Chili a little
thicker, add ¼ cup of flour or Tapioca Starch (For those Gluten Free Kids out
there) and stir it in.  Continue to
cook for 5 more minutes and delicious!! It’s time to eat!!


Health Points to Note:


Fresh Garlic-

The ‘Stinky Rose”- It
is a natural antibiotic and helps protect the body. A free and tasty bodyguard!



Black Beans-

Are high in fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins.  When eaten with brown rice, they are a
complete protein!!



Kidney Beans-

Are packed with Vitamin K, which is used to feed and
strengthen our nervous system, heart and bones! They also help prevent those
after school sugar rushes…Hint hint Moms!!



The Power Protein!! 
1 cup contains 9 grams of protein. Great substitute for eggs, meat and
dairy!  Try it in noodle forms, in
granola bars or steamed. Any way and you’ll feel like a Power House!!



“Wheat Meat”

Speaking of Power House, seitan will supply you with the
same amount of protein per oz as a sirloin steak. But comes without the
saturated fats and cholesterol! And has WAY less the calories!


Tofutti Cream Cheese-

Made from soybean oil and tofu. This sour cream has less fat
and still contains that creaminess needed for chili!!


Quinoa Noodles-

All GMO Free!! And they are gluten
free!!! Who could ask for anything more??



 Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan recipe, vegan chili recipe, vegan chili

5 Reasons to Vegan this Week!

by Holladay Allen

Native Foods Cafe


1. Cleos!  The new chocolate peanut butter cups from Go Max Go Foods… They already make some outstanding vegan candy bars that are sure to please any sweet, gooey, chocolately, candy craving… and now peanut butter cups!  Thanks guys, we really appreciate it.


2.  VegNews Vacations!  With destinations like Thailand, India, Mexico and beyond… there is somewhere for everyone.  Explore a new country and its delectable vegan cuisine with Joe and Colleen from VegNews.  I am totally saving for that trip to India so I can finally see the Rat Temple that Chef Tanya always talks about.  And check out the VegNews magazine as well for the latest and greatest in the world of vegan.


3.  Earth Balance Coconut Spread.  This has officially replaced all butter and oil in my kitchen.  I LOVE it.  It is pretty much like coconut oil with salt and a lil' easier to spread.



4. This amazing tote from Food Fight.  Enough said.  Leave the lambs alone.  Oh, and Food Fight is an amazing all-vegan grocery store in Portland.  Can't wait for Native Foods Cafe in Portland! 


5.  Cool Kids… that are Vegan!  We've met so many this week and they all rule.  They rule hardcore.




In the Spotlight: Cathy Liss from Agua Caliente Elementary School

by Holladay Allen

Native Foods Cafe

Cathy Liss is a long time Native Foodie and friend.  She also runs the Organic Garden Project at Agua Caliente Elementary School in Coachella Valley.  She is awesome.  Here is the full interview from the In the Spotlight section of the Native Foods Newsletter.

Cathy Liss harvesting lettuceThis Liss Lettuce Farm at Agua Caliente!



Where are you from?  Born in Los Angeles at the original Cedars of Lebanon Hospital 

What is your sign?  Aquarius, the water bearer.  I loved SCUBA and oceanography in my youth.

If you were to come back as an animal what would you LIKE it to be? A bottle-nosed dolphin— I really want to know the secrets of the deep ocean.

If you were to come back as an animal what do you THINK it would be?  Possibly an owl…I enjoy the visual perspective and really take in my physical surroundings.  

Mrs. Liss Composting with HeadstartTeaching composting with Headstart .

Do you have any pets? If so, what kind and what are their names? I have a senior rescue blind Schnauzer with three legs and diabetes—Fergus is the most loving, people-oriented animal.  I also have an 11 year old rescue cat named Pete who is extremely mischievous, determined, and stubborn..!!  I just found homes for my rosy boa and my tarantula.  They’ve gone on to other lives.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why? Any smallcommunity with an ocean near by.  I truly LOVE the desert and its flora and fauna, but I do miss the easy access of the ocean.

What is your favorite current menu item at Native Foods Café? Hard to choose…!!  I love the wraps, bowls, quinoa, Native Cheese, Boogie Bars;  I’ve taken classes and brought my two adult sons and my mother.  We’re longtime fans from way back at M.T. Plate.

What is your favorite dessert? Key Lime Parfait (from the cookbook) and Boogie Bars (also in the cookbook!)

Mrs. Liss and students eating citrus

Fresh citrus from the garden!


What is your favorite part of working with the kids and the organic garden project at Agua Caliente? It is just soo amazing to watch kids explore the beds and discover how to dig for potatoes or carrots or green and purple beans.  We rinse them and eat them on the spot.  The preschool Headstart students picked fresh lettuces and radishes every day for over a month and made salad for their snacks.  I watched how they move seedlings that were interspersed to locate radish shoots; then they gently moved soil to see how large the radishes were before they harvested.  They were so talented at finding the big, ready ones….

What inspired you to become a teacher? I just always loved to learn, loved the challenge of discovery and watching how children absorbed knowledge and the thrill of mastery of some new skill.

What is your favorite thing about living in the desert? I am forever in awe of the desert flora—it’s complexity, stamina, and its  brilliant, yet  fleeting bloom.  I also adore spiders, snakes, and birds so desert is the perfect environment for me.

What is your favorite vegetable? Eggplant, kale, okra.

  MissLissClassEatingVeggiesCarrots rule the school!!!


Clara in Veganland: The Interview

by Holladay Allen

Native Foods Cafe Tribe Member

Have you checked out our latest newsletter?  If not, you should!  It is chocked full of facts, fun stuff, and recipes from our secret stash.  In our February Newsletter, we featured 13-year-old blogger, vegan cupcake baker, and lovely lady Clara Polito.  Her and her mom Colleen swung by Westwood for a leisurely lunch with me and some delicious pizzas and I really got to pick Clara's super-smart brain. Unfortunately, we could only fit so much on the printed newsletter so I wanted to share the entire interview with you guys.


Where are you from?  Moorpark, CA

What is your sign?  Pisces

What inspired you to become vegan?  I’ve been vegetarian my whole life.  A couple of years ago, I read about how eating eggs and dairy really wasn’t vegetarian at all.  The baby cows are taken away from their mothers and it is terrible… that just really struck me and I decided to become vegan.

What inspired you to start your blog?  Originally, my blog was mostly about fashion and music.  But when I became vegan in 2009, I started focusing more on vegan issues.  Ideas for my blog come from my monthly playlist of music, politics, and the news in general.

How old were you when you started baking?  I have always baked my entire life.  When I was younger, I mostly used boxed mixes… But when I became vegan , I started baking from scratch and found it to be just as easy!

What is you favorite cupcake flavor?  Neopolitan, Tiramisu, and Ding-Dongs!

If you were to come back as an animal what would you LIKE it to be? A Grizzly Bear

If you were to come back as an animal what do you THINK it would be?  Probably a Pig!  I love pigs… and I am kind of messy, I like to eat a lot, and I can be moody.

Do you have any pets?  Yes! Dogs: Rosa, Juan Pablo, Luna, and Liberty

What do you want to be when you “grow-up”?  Journalist, Filmmaker, Record Label Owner, Head of the Native Foods Café Baking Department

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?  Brooklyn, NY

What is your favorite menu item at Native Foods Café?  Chicken Run Ranch Burger

What is your favorite dessert?  Definitely the Pumpkin Pie during the holidays.

What are your favorite bands?  No Age, Best Coast, La Sera & Radiohead

What was your first concert ever?  Gwen Stefani


Check out Clara’s website: and order some of these crazy delcious cupcakes!

Hello Daddy, Hello Mom…. I'm your ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb flavored cupcake!

and her blog:

Stay tuned Chef Tanya Petrovna and Clara Polito interviewing each other… It's gonna be a hoot!

And just cuz Clara likes No Age so much and Dean from No Age has been a long time friend of Native Foods… here is one of their videos.  Enjoy!


Top Six Things To Have In Your Kitchen Cupboards!

I had a great night last night in Anaheim Hills at the Fairmont School speaking at their Chalktalk series. Families, great staff, some Natives and some future Natives were in the crowd.

We discussed healthy eating tips and we realized it's not what your kitchen can do for you, it's what you can do in your kitchen. These six things I thought everyone with kids (and without) should have in their arsenal and always close at hand to keep eating well a simple task.
1. Oatmeal-Quick for a snack, a great breakfast with some berries and walnuts for you and the kids.
Dsc04113_thumb  Boogie Bars at Native Foods Cafe.

2. Legumes-These are lentils, garbanzos, black and red beans. Keeps your engine on. You can use to make ethnically diverse dishes. Think Mexican black beans, East Indian Lentils, Middle Eastern garbanzos, etc.
Oooohhh garbanzos… in the new Italian Wedding Salad on the Native Foods Cafe Winter Menu.

3. Dark Leafy Greens-Steam them, saute them, chop them in salads, add them to your cooked beans for a hearty soup.
Stir-fried-kale-1024x816It is easy to have a love affair with kale… just ask Gandhi or the Greek Gyro, on the menu at Native Foods Cafe.

4. Fresh Berries- an easy to eat fruit, kids can snack on them and they go good in the oatmeal.
BerriesFresh blueberries top the decadent Native Cheesecake…

5. Avocados-The California wonderfood. Slice them, spread them, guac them.
AvocadoOh avocade… you are so creamy and dreamy.  I'd add you to just about anything…

6. Olive oil-Ready to make a fresh easy salad dressing or saute some onions and garlic for a flavor base for your grains, legumes, veggies and soups.
  Olive_oilOlive oil makes a great hair conditioner too!

Chalk one up for healthy kids and parents!