Mother Nature’s Playground

By Sammy Caiola

Native Foods Cafe

There’s a fine, fine line between admiring nature and abusing it. It’s a line that Yosemite National Park straddled last week as it contemplated banning a wide variety of recreational activities in Yosemite Valley in order to protect lands. The eventual compromise and the conversation that led up to it raise a number of questions about the way humans currently approach the outdoors, and I’d like to briefly delve into some of them here.

Last year, the park released plans to prohibit dozens of recreational activities in order to restore natural conditions along the Merced River. The decision was met with outrage from citizens and members of Congress, who argued that visitors had the right to enjoy the park through activities like biking and kayaking.


Native Foods Café uses this image courtesy of


On Friday, the park released a new 3,000-page plan that accommodates many recreational concerns but still makes notable changes.  People can still rent bikes and rafts along the Merced, but those rental stations will be located further down the river. A number of swimming pools that were originally slated for removal will be saved and nearly 200 campsites will be added to the park, but a 1920’’s-era ice rink will be moved away from the river, and the west end of the valley will not be developed, despite earlier motions to do so.

Yosemite, an 1,200 square mile sprawl of scenic wilderness, is the third most visited national park in the United States and is distinctive in its dense pine patches and steep waterfalls. Under the new plan, the number of visitors to the valley will be limited to 18,000 per day, and 21,000 per day during peak times in an effort to ease congestion.


Native Foods Café uses this image courtesy of


Personally, I think this is a really good decision and I’m proud of park officials for taking a stand. To me, the thing that makes nature so beautiful is its separation from the human world. It is an expansive and sacred thing that predates us and deserves our respect. Having spent a few months exploring New Zealand, a far less populated country with much more raw land, I have a constant need for wilderness that is quiet and pure. In America, that is rarely the case.

On too many occasions I’ve embarked on a hiking trail only to realize it’s been paved for my ease and convenience. Too many overlooks have been spoiled by the sounds of cyclists and kayakers below. As much as I understand that everyone needs a fix of outdoor activity, we need to space it out in a way that doesn’t ruin it for everyone. Not to mention the irrevocable damage that mass human presence does to the land.

It’s my hope that other national parks will follow Yosemite’s lead in keeping as much land as possible reserved for viewing purposes only and preventing developers from turning public lands into tourist traps. No matter how many people take interest in a national park, it should never feel like a resort. It’s a wilderness. Let’s not tame all of it for our own selfish purposes.


Is your city feeling green?

By, Chef Kendall Huff 

Native Foods Cafe 


Native Foods Cafe uses this image courtesy of


Even though the EPA hasn’t officially made a list of criteria for ranking US cities , there are a several things that they do look at to determine a city's "greenness".  These include air and water quality, efficient recycling, waste management, amount of LEED certified buildings, acres of land devoted to green space and access to services like buying organic, local and clean. So who is looking the greenest thus far??

#10- Austin , Texas

Austin contains 206 parks, 12 preserves, 26 greenbelts and more than 50 miles of trails. Austin Energy hopes to be carbon neutral by 2020.


Native Foods uses this image courtesy of


#9- Chicago, Il

Chicago’s Green Roof Program has more than 2.5 million square feet of city roofs that support plant life. With that, 500,000 new trees have been planted.


#8- Seattle, Washington

More than 20 public buildings are LEED-certified or under construction to be so very soon. Sustainable Ballard, a green neighborhood group, offers ongoing programs about how to live with nature.



#7- Berkeley, CA

Not only is this a great city to find great local, fresh food, but is also known as the leader in clean technology for wind, power, solar power, biofuels and hydropower. 

#6- Cambridge, Massachusetts

In 2002, the city implemented a major climate protection plan and today most vehicles are fueled by B20 biodiesel or electricity. All construction and renovations must meet LEED standards. AND…  ”Compost that Stuff” collects organic waste from homes, restaurants, bars and hotels.

Native Foods uses this image courtesy of

#5- Eugene, Oregon

Aka the Emerald City has been working on being green since 1960. In 2008, the Emerald Express ( a hybrid public transportation system) won a Sustainable Transport award.

#4- Oakland, CA

This port is full of organic local grub, has the cleanest tap water, the country’s oldest wildlife refuge and hydrogen powered public transportation. And it gets 17 % of its energy from renewable sources.

#3- Boston, Mass

The goal here is “Green by 2015” by replacing taxi cabs with hybrid cars, recycle trash to powder homes, use more solar panels and electric motorcycles. They also have a Down2Earth program that educates residents about how to live more sustainably.


Boston Seal Green-1


Native Foods uses this image courtesy of



#2- San Francisco, CA

San Fran has an innovative recycling program with an artist-in-residence at the recycling facility. The artist uses his work to inspire residents to recycle and conserve. It is also the city to ban plastic grocery bags. 

#1- Portland, Oregon

The most bike-able city in the US having over 200 miles dedicated to bike lanes. They also pride themselves in DIY sources like gardening, making beers, clothes and vegan treats!!

Jones_1Native Foods uses this image courtesy of


Glasgow Going Hogless? Hogwash!

by Sammy Caiola

Native Foods Cafe


We all know that the
Brits like to make outrageous claims about their superiority. Like how they’ve
got the most sophisticated fashion taste, or the wittiest comedic style, or the
greatest athletes or the fanciest weddings. Well I say that’s rubbish. The only
thing those redcoats every trumped us at was good old rock n’ roll (I’d trade
Bieber for Beatles any day). But now they’re claiming they’ve got better vegan
food? I won’t stand for it.

Paul_mccartney_veg_adNative Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this photo courtesy of PETA.

A recent article in The Guardian reports that Glasgow, U.K. is one of the easiest cities to be vegan in. Glasgow is the
largest city in Scotland and the third largest city in the United Kingdom. I
don’t know about you, but when I think about faire from that corner of the
world, I’m envisioning buttered crumpets, mince pies, fish ‘n’ chips and
cornish game hen. Not exactly a vegan’s paradise. But, according to vegan
authorities on location, the trend is changing thanks to the swarms of young,
health-conscious intellectuals attending the University of Glasgow each year.
Apparently their good habits are infecting the whole city (and maybe the whole

But if being a
college town is all you need to be a vegan hot-spot, then I have some global
game-changers that will put the Scots to shame. No more scouring the guidebooks
for plant-based bistros or performing elaborate gestures to communicate “no
meat” to the guy at the crepe stand. Vacationing vegans; just  book your
next flight to one of the locales on my short list, and you’ll be happy as a
clam in Israel (shellfish isn’t in high demand there).

*Fair warning: This
is the stuff of daydreams. I’ve never actually been to most of these places.

1. Bangkok, Thailand

Like most Asian
cuisine, Thai food is absolutely delicious and rarely incorporates dairy. This
country is better known for sticky rice, crunchy vegetables, marinated tofu and
winning combinations of melt-in-your-mouth Thai spices. In Bangkok, the nation’s
capital, you’ll find street vendors with steaming carts of vegan sum tham
(papaya salad) and pad thai, and even mall food courts have vegan options.
Happy Cow lists 130 vegan/ vegetarian restaurants in its Healthy Eating Guide. Aroy!


Native Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this image courtesy of

2. Portland (OR),
United States

Everybody knows that
Portland is the American mecca for devout hipsters, so of course it’s got vegan
options. And not just vegan food either. Walk around stumptown for just one day
and you’ll find vegan bike shops, tattoo parlors, personal trainers and grocery
stores. Not to mention Portland’s known for its efficient land use and
extensive transportation system. Rated number two of Peta’s “Most Vegan-Friendly Cities in the U.S.” (after Austin TX, but I won’t send
you there for vacation), this is a perfect road trip destination. PLUS there’s
a Native Foods there, so stop in for lunch while you’re sightseeing!

Native Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this image courtesy of Fox News

3. Basically
Anywhere, India

Worldly vegan
bloggers can’t seem to decide what the best vegan city in India is, so I’m just
going to recommend the whole country. The birthplace of gandhi, India is
notorious for its beautiful scenery, colorful clothing and cheap food. Avoiding
dairy is a breeze there, with all of the focus on nutritious grains (millet,
rice) and healthy proteins (lentils, moong beans, chickpeas). Many people in
India are vegetarian or vegan just by nature of what’s available. Just be sure
to double check that the creamy curry is vegan! 

Native Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this image courtesy of

4. New Zealand

I can tell you from
firsthand experience that New Zealand is an AWESOME place to be vegan. The
whole country is green! And I don’t just mean the rolling emerald hillsides
(though those are great). New Zealand’s government and its people love their
land and are completely committed to keeping it healthy. There are mountains
and wide open valleys and clear waters everywhere you turn. And when it comes
to food, there’s no shortage of organic veggies and unique starches like
kumara, which is a sweet potato grown by the indigenous Maori people. Not to
mention that you can hang out with sea lions and kia birds in their natural
habitat. It’s an animal-lover’s paradise!

New Zealand

Me with a sea lion in New Zealand!


Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan restaurant, vegan cities

Roman Cat Love!

by Chef Kendall Huff

Native Foods Cafe


Native Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this photo courtesy of Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images.


I recently had the privilege of traveling to Rome for a
little Italian fun in the sun and on my sight seeing travels; I came across a
cat sanctuary right in the heart of the city. Already overwhelmed by the hundreds
of free-roaming cats in Europe, I was simply amazed at this one place in
particular –Torre Argentina.


Native Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this photo courtesy of the Telegraph.


Within the ruins of the Roman columns, there are tons of cats
napping, stretching and playing about. To see these felines just steps from the
Colosseum was such a treat.  Recently some people were up in arms about the sanctuary being located on top of a local historic site, but many people shot it down saying cats have lived there among the Romans for a long, long time… since the days of the gladiators and before… 


Native Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this photo courtesy of Softpedia.


Just under the stairway lies a shelter that is open 7 days a
week that has volunteers from different countries that come in the feed and
look after all cats. And I’m talking about kittens, healthy cats and poor sick
little babies too. They turn down no catheads at this sanctuary. With a clinic
and vet on the scene, they are giving life back to those cats that have had a
difficult start on the streets of Italy.


Another great thing that these cat lovers are doing is
allowing adoptions throughout the world. You can adopt a new
member for your family in any country! Here is just a cute little clip on
Guidonia, a cute little guy that was recently adopted in Finland.




Check out the Roman Cats website and all the cats available for adoption!



Native Foods Cafe, vegan restaurant, vegan food, vegan, Roman Cats, cats in Italy

Top Three Vegan Books of the Week

by Chef Kendall Huff

Native Foods Cafe


Everyday Raw Detox by Meredith Baird with Matthew Kenney


Raw DetoxNative Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan restaurant, vegan recipes, vegan books


Every now and again I feel like my body needs to detox. This
usually happens in the Springtime. After being cooped up all winter in the
Chicagoland, of course you may feel like ridding your body of some radicals. I
came across this wonderful book at my local bookstore and fell in love. Not
only does this detox book has juices and tonics to help flush out your system,
it also has a large section in the back with delicious desserts like sorbets
and mousses that are easy to make at home.



Vegan Sandwiches
Save the Day!
  by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes


Sandos Save the DayNative Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan restaurant, vegan recipes, vegan books


This book just straight up rocks! Not only is it an
inspirational book to read and sponge ideas off of, but it makes a wide range
of sandwiches. There are some easier Panini-like options, breakfast pancake
sandwiches followed by bean and nut burgers that are fantastic. It’s s great
book to have around for picnic and BBQ season this year.


The 30-Minute
Vegan’s Taste of  Europe
  by Mark Reinfeld


Euro VeganNative Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan restaurant, vegan recipes, vegan books


This book intrigued me initially for my European trip that
I’m taking.  But after reading it
and studying up on its recipes and comparing them to the recipes I’ve received
from French, Italian and Spanish influenced chefs, I must say this book is a great
find! There is a recipe for vegan flan that is just amazing. It’s so wonderful
to have a treasure like this available for us here in the
states to be able to recreate those magical moments we had overseas.


Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan restaurant, vegan recipes, vegan books

Save that Skin

by Chef Kendall Huff

Native Foods Cafe


534124_10151376921513483_1920094980_nNative Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this image courtesy of Gizmodo.


The sun is in full force this time of year my friends!! So
don’t forget to protect that skin of yours from harsh UV rays. There are many
ways to keep your skin healthy and protected this summer. Here are a few
options that are made with natural & non-toxic ingredients.


1. Goddess Garden

This brand of Natural Sunscreen comes in many different
forms. For example, there is one for kids, in spray form and lotion form. It is all-natural, sheer and not greasy.


Goddess Garden Products


2. Jason

This company offers loads of natural and organic products
but the Sport Natural Sunscreen SPF 45 will definitely come in handy this summer.



3. Alba Botanica

Soothing green tea and an SPF of 45 make for a nice combo in Alba's Natural Hawaiian Sunscreen. Oh, and none of the following is included: Animal Testing, Artificial Colors, Parabens, Phthalates, Oxybenzone, PABA, Nano-technology, Vitamin A, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Myreth Sulfate…. nice!



4.  Zinc Sunscreen by Elemental Herbs

The key ingredients to this sunscreen are organic green
tea, rose hip, jojoba and olive oil. If that wasn’t enough, this product is
also 100% GMO free, safe for kids and the coral reefs, PABA free
hypo-allergenic and Paraben free.

Zinc Sunscreen


Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan restaurant, vegan food, vegan sunscreen, vegan beauty products 

The Etsy Vegan Bag Round-up

by Holladay Allen

Native Foods Cafe


Summer is here.  World travel is upon us.  You need some cool gear to traipse
around in.  Let’s do this. This
week's Etsy Vegan Bag Round-up:


The 80's Faux Leather Weekender with Elephant Print from BTMVintage

(this is vintage, so there is only 1 in stock!)

Faux Leather Weekender

The Ombre Shoulder Tote by CheriDemeter



Fly to the moon and back with this convertible Vegan Gold Backpack!  by estelladesign




Forget getting lost.  Let your bag guide you with the Map Tote by leyyabags



The Nautical Tote by byMART




Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan restaurant, vegan fashion, vegan bags, vegan handbag, vegan etsy bags

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

by Arabella Watters

Native Foods Cafe


I grew up in a household of animal
lovers, there’s no disputing that. As a child, my weekends were filled with
trips to the zoo and aquarium, as well as adventures traipsing around the Santa
Ynez Mountains (the name of the range that slope ups quietly behind my home in
Santa Barbara, California) looking for whatever species of bird or butterfly I
had pinpointed as exciting from whatever wildlife guidebook I was obsessed with
that week. My parents were absolutely nuts about whale watching. Despite my sometimes-jaded
perspective at the ripe old age of twenty, I have to say that there’s something
about that rush of watching the dolphins bump intimately against the bow of the
boat in the thousands or the otherworldliness of a humpback whale rising out of
the sea that gets me. My childhood was relatively inundated with a very hands on
education about animals.

Petting cowNative Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this photo courtesy of Woodstock Sanctuary.

 It wasn’t really a surprise to me when my Dad and stepmom
decided right about the time that I was starting high school that they wanted
to become vegans. For both environmental reasons and animal rights activism,
our home, became a full-fledged shrine to kale, tempeh sausages, quinoa, and a
variety of mildy spiced curry tagines. Cream-based soup and cream cheese
frosting both became persona non gratis.

All that being said, now that you know
a little bit about me and my past both as an animal lover and a quasi-by-association-vegan
it would make sense for me to introduce one of my favorite animal organizations
that I think is completely worth every second of the day I spend distracting
myself on their website.

BunniesNative Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this photo courtesy of Woodstock Sanctuary.

 The Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, located just a it’s name
would suggest right outside of Woodstock, NY was started by couple Jenny Brown
and Doug Abel in late 2004. The sanctuary rescues hundreds of animals from abuse
and slaughter and gives them a home, hopefully either to eventually be adopted
out or simply to live our their lives in peace. I don’t think any of the animals
are complaining about the large open spaces, grassy pastures, and unconditional
love and nurturing they receive at Woodstock.

CowNative Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this photo courtesy of Woodstock Sanctuary.

My mom turned me onto the sanctuary
about a year ago, and I have to say, its one of my goals to visit it sometime
before I graduate from college. The sanctuary is home to over 200 cows,
chickens, pigs, rabbits, goats, sheep, turkeys, duck, and geese and plays host
to a a multitude of vegan friendly events such as the Sanctuary
in the City Benefit on April 30 cohosted by Alexander Gray Associates. Open to the
public and always looking for volunteers, the sanctuary radiates a warm,
unadulterated love for animals, as well as a fierce dedication to their rights.
Also, if you have any inclination towards cute animal pics, the photos of the
farm residents on the sanctuary’s website,
including Ashton the sheep, Stanley the pig, and Binky and Bella the rabbits will
make productivity relatively impossible. I also find myself wanting to adopt
every single animal on the farm, which despite being tempting, is a little unreasonable
since I’m currently residing in a 12×12 college dorm. Check out the site and
all the ways it lets you help all the awesome creatures who live on the sanctuary.
I guarantee, it will make your day.


Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan restaurant, animal sanctuary, Woodstock Sanctuary

Win a Trip to our Grand Opening in San Diego!

by Native Foods Cafe


Win a Trip to San Diego

Win a Trip to our Grand Opening in
San Diego!

TO ENTER, create a video telling us about your favorite menu item at Native Foods Café and post it on our Facebook Wall!  Creativity counts and weirdness is totally embraced.

Grand Prize wins airfare for two,
hotel, spending cash, a Pirate’s Adventure on the San Diego Bay and tickets to
the Grand Opening VIP party!

25 runners-up will win one of the

Weekly Lunch at Native Foods Café for
an entire year

Native Foods Party Platter for 10

$10 or $25 gift card

Native Foods Cookbook

Native Foods Artist Series Tote Grab

Contest ends Monday, January 21st at 12pm PST.

Check the Facebook Events Page for full details!

Grand Prize Winner must be
available for travel January 25-27. 

This contest is in no way affiliated
with or endorsed by Facebook. 

All winning videos must be submitted to
Native Foods Café in order to claim prize.


Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan restaurant, Facebook Contest, Native Foods Facebook, Win a Trip to San Diego 


LT Organic Farm in Iowa

by Holladay Allen

Native Foods Cafe

About this time last year, I was trekking across the good ol’ US of A en route to Chicago from LA.  Nearing the end of the trip, we were headed down I-80 through Iowa planning to take a detour and head to Des Moines in search of a vegan lunch.  Just as I was mapping out the directions, we passed one of those blue road signs listing the gas stations, food and lodging in the area.  How peculiar… there was an organic farm listed under FOOD named LT Organic Farm.  We were most definitely intrigued, but also a little skeptical and weirded out.  I mean, in a modern-day utopia, every road sign would list organic farms and bio-diesel gas stations (that are really simple tiny shacks where you just go and fill up your sweet 70s Mercedes with French fry fuel then head across the road to lunch at the organic farm) as the only road side relief options….  one day.  But these days, the first things that popped in my mind were (1) cults and (2) a long slow horror movie death in an old barn (perhaps at the hands of a cult). 



This was so far from the truth…. this place was down right magical.

After we pulled up to the quaint little farm and farmhouse, we walked in and were immediately greeted by a young gentleman.  We explained that we were looking for some lunch and he said that would not be a problem at all, but it would take about 30 minutes for them to prepare.  They make everything from scratch, and offered one special for the day, it was available vegan, or non-vegan (they do serve meat).  Each special was $18.95.  He said we were welcome to wander around and we could either eat inside at the huge community style dining table or outside on the farm.  We opted for the latter as it was just so lovely outside.  While we waited, there was also a very cute little gift shop to peruse filled with lots of local art and jewelry.



When the food it arrived, it was just wonderful.  So fresh, and delicious, and filling. There were beans and rice with fresh greens and some sort of falafel like balls and bitter melon (which was more sweet than bitter) and everything was perfectly seasoned.  I loved it.



This place has a pretty cool background too.  The owners L.T. Bhramdat and his wife, Ahilia, a couple with a background in healthcare, moved their family from Chicago to the outskirts of Waukee, IA in 2000.  “We saw so many people suffering and dying in Chicago and witnessed the destruction that people in this country have done to their own bodies," L.T. Bhramdat said. "We felt compelled to move our children to a place where we could raise them in the best health possible, and start giving back to our community with our knowledge.” (Waukee Patch)

For a modest yearly fee, LT Organic Farm offers weekly CSA produce baskets of seasonal foods from the farm, preventative medicine counseling plus weekly classes on how to prepare nutritious meals with the items provided that week.  So amazing!  If you are driving through Iowa you definitely need to make a stop here for some delicious food and a great experience.


Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan restaurants, organic farms, CSA, LT organic farm