Casa de Luz

Going Vegan for Your Health

Going vegan for the animals is certainly admirable. I know many who have transitioned to veganism for this very reason! But without a healthy you, you’re no good to the animals.

You won’t be able to fight the good fight. Champion the causes necessary. Be an activist. 

This is why I was excited to stumble across, Casa de Luz.  It truly was a stumble.  A recommendation in fact. Otherwise, I likely would have never discovered this hidden gem.

Especially considering my Vegan Eats Near Me search typically starts with typing into Google ‘vegan restaurants in [insert cool city]’.  That fact alone would have caused me to miss out on this integrated community.

Because Casa de Luz is not a restaurant.  It is a community. A value they proudly share and boldly exhibit day in and day out.

Nourishing and Delicious

Aside from the community aspect, which you’ll see highlighted in the video and I’ll dive into it in a bit, the food is delicious!

Yet, not delicious in the ‘typical’ sense of the word.  It’s not loaded with sugar. Drenched in fat. Or Smothered in cheese. Bummer, I know.

It’s “organic, gluten-free, refined oil & sugar-free, wholesome food”.  At first blush, this doesn’t sound exciting.  Believe me, I get it.

Until you get there.  You grab a tray. You get your first course and select a beverage. You’re handed your main dish and you take a seat at one of the community tables.

You look down at your meal. It’s colorful, it’s hearty and it’s nourishing. You take your first bite and you genuinely find an appreciation for how fresh it is. 

You take a quick peek up and see the team in the kitchen working diligently to safely and cleanly cultivate the fresh food you are currently eating. 

You look back down at your plate and continue eating.  You can’t help but be grateful. And then it hits you: this meal is in fact delicious. 

Because what could be more fulfilling than nourishing one’s body? Not to mention the flavors are unique and tasty.  From the three nut butter (which oh my goodness I could have licked off the plate.. and maybe I did, don’t judge me) to the freshly steamed kale and handmade corn tortillas (say what?!).

All elements are perfectly paired together.  If you’re a real foodie you know this matters.  You can’t just pair garlic bread with enchiladas. No, you need tortillas or jalapeno cornbread with your enchiladas. 

It matters.

The Big Life

Just as much as the foundation Casa de Luz was founded upon, macrobiotics, matter.  The term comes from the Greek; “macro” means great or big, and “bios” means life.

The macrobiotic approach to diet emphasizes whole grains and fresh vegetables. For the most part, it avoids meat, dairy foods, and processed foods. The goal is to provide the body with essential nutrients so that it can function efficiently without loading it with toxins or excesses that must be eliminated or stored. [1]

An approach, Wayo, a true servant leader and owner of Casa de Luz, describes in the video.  

In the video, you can feel his passion for not just the founding principles but the team who surrounds him and helps uphold these principles. 

One of the biggest principles, or values, shared by all here is community.  But not just working together but eating together.  Breaking bread together.

Using this as an opportunity to forge friendships, foster thoughtful conversations, and share laughs. 

A true community experience, indeed.  One that you just might miss if you blinked.

Tucked away right in the middle of Austin’s bustling downtown district. Between Austin City Limits, Lady Bird Lake, and Cesar Chavez is a beautiful vegan oasis. 

An oasis, that you must visit. Bring friends and/or family.  Or don’t and meet new people instead! Enjoy the laid-back community vibes, delicious food, and experience the taste of true health! 

Want to learn more about the Macrobiotic Principles? Check it out here.

References

  1. https://ohsawamacrobiotics.com/gomf-home/what-is-macrobiotics

Making fluffy rice can be tricky. Here is a cooking chart adapted from The Cook’s Book to help you make the perfect pot of rice every time.

Type of RiceBest ForSpecial PreparationBest Cooking Method and Approximate Times
LONG GRAIN White and brownPilafs, salads, stuffings, stir-fries  Can be toastedBoiling: 20 mins (white), 30 – 40 mins (brown); steam: 20 mins (white), 30 -35 mins (brown)
Basmati (white and brown)Spicy Indian dishesSoak for 30 mins, can be toastedBoil: 20 – 25 mins; boil: 20 mins (white), 40 mins (brown)
SHORT GRAIN RisottoClassic risottosCan be toastedRisotto: 20 – 25 mins
PaellaPaella, other Spanish rice dishesCan be toastedPaella; 20 -25 mins
ASIAN Chinese blackSweet and savory dishes, stuffingsSoak overnightBoil: 30 -40 mins
Glutinous (sticky)Sweet and savory dishes, rice dumplingsSoak for 4 hours minimumBoil: (rice cooker): 20 mins; steam:15-20 mins
Jasmine (Thai aromatic)Spicy Thai dishes, congees, stir frieswashBoil: (rice cooker): 25 mins; steam:20-25 mins
SushiSushi, sweet sisheswashBoil: (rice cooker): 20 mins; steam:15-20 mins
SPECIALIST Red or Camargue, Himalayan redStuffings, salads, pilafs, stir-friesSoak for 1 hourBoil: 40 -60 mins
WildStuffings, pilafs, salads Boil: 40 -60 mins

Like a Chicken with its Head Cut Off

Bad metaphor but follow me here. Have you ever experienced having to drive to multiple grocery stores just to get the ingredients you need for your favorite vegan dinner recipes? Walmart doesn’t carry your favorite vegan mushroom stroganoff so you have to go to Target. But Target doesn’t carry your favorite vegan pasta so you have to drive to Whole Foods. But Whole Foods doesn’t have the gluten free flour you need for cooking your vegan pasta dishes from scratch so you have to check out Natural Grocers.

Sound familiar?

While the vegan movement is certainly gaining momentum there’s still a lag in getting what we need conveniently. This may certainly leave you running around feeling quite disoriented. Not to mention frustrated. Believe me, growing up in the South it’s already challenging enough to transition to a vegan diet. Then, as luck would have it, you find your favorite vegan brand one day and get so excited. Only to be quite disappointed at the lack of availability or easy access when looking to repurchase.

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

Right as the pandemic hit, Denton, Texas welcomed a breath of fresh air: Mashup Market. Basically, a gourmet grocery store for vegans. Seriously. You can find everything from lavender limoncello desserts to one of the best vegan lasagna frozen options you can buy.

Cherie, Mashup Market’s owner, describes being fed up with the tiring vegan scavenger hunt as well. Which turned out to be why she opened Mashup’s doors. A place for vegans (and non vegans alike) to find their favorite vegan brands under one roof.

But here’s the best thing, she took it a step further. She’s chosen to promote up and coming vegan brands. You know, the brand you discover randomly somewhere and think to yourself, “how is this not mainstream yet”? The brand that’s so good, you kinda want to keep it a secret so you won’t have to experience it flying off the shelves before you get to it!

I think all vegan foodies feel me on this. Yes, the vegan food movement is exploding right now but it doesn’t necessarily mean good options are landing on the scene. So when you do find a brand you love you may be tempted to stock pile it.

Thankfully, with Mashup Market’s two Denton locations, you don’t have to! Trust me, she’s got all your favorites stocked. Here’s a list of a few you may know and love. And if you don’t know them just yet, be sure to drop by the store to check them out because did I mention samples are available?? More on that later.

A Few of Your Favorite Things

Boneless Butcher Boneless Ribz

Looking to venture beyond the typical meat alternatives (…see what I did there..)? You won’t have to venture far when visiting Mashup because they are home to one of Dallas’s top meat alternative brands, Boneless Butcher. A Dallas favorite looking to help make the world a greener place one meal at a time. From vegan steaks, boneless ribz and cheddar bratz they’ve got your cravings covered.

Pan’s Mushroom Jerky

This Shark Tank winner is a must have grocery list item. Owner, Michael Pan, journeyed to Malaysia to reconnect with his roots and culture. Ultimately, leading him to uncover a family recipe that would turn into a fast growing plant based business.

Rooted Vegan Cuisine’s Lasagna

If there’s one thing I love it’s Italian food. The second thing I love is cooking. Can you guess what the third thing is? Showing you how to cook vegan food! But even I would skip the the simmering pasta sauce, layers of veggies and sink full of dishes for this vegan lasagna on a weeknight. My only “bad” review is I had to wait 45 minutes for it to heat in the oven.. darn!

Uncle Otis’s Earthly Goodness Vegan Ice Cream

Yes, I’m all for saving the animals, the planet and putting my health first. But, missing out on milkshakes and ice cream sundaes has been a blow. Especially, in this Texas heat. Thank goodness for Uncle Otis! Uncle Otis’s Earthly Goodness Vegan Ice Cream tastes just like any traditional marble slab creamery ice cream you can imagine. With flavors like peanut butter brownie and purple yam cheesecake, I think it’s safe to say vegan or non-vegans are sure to love this cold treat.

Frankly Good Nutty Oatmeal Texas Brittle

Now, if you want something sweet but not cold this is it. This brittle is perfect for snacking with a sweet tooth. Almost too perfect. So perfect, in fact, that you may look up and you’ve finished the bag. Not too sweet and doesn’t get stuck in your teeth. The perfect sweet snack, indeed!

Jada Brands Plant Based Chick’n Mix

This brand launched in November 2020, on Shark Tank. Cherie’s keen eye for great up and coming vegan brands came in handy even as the brand was turned down on the show. She saw opportunity in their plant based mixes and quickly brought them on board. As she mentions in the video this has quickly become a customer favorite and a new item for you to check out on your next grocery run.

What Are You Waiting For

Now that you have a good grocery list going, it’s time to stop in and discover your own favorites. Because did I mention there are samples available?! Yep, you’ll find your next favorite vegan brand when you stop in and grab a sample.

There are so many great products I don’t have time to mention. Plus, if you’re a real foodie, part of the fun is the adventure and discovering your own unique treats. I’m just happy to be your guide on the journey!

#HappyFoodDanceGuaranteed

The Great Transition

OK, let’s face it, transitioning to veganism after being raised in a meat-dominated society like the South can be HARD!  But it doesn’t mean it’s Impossible (…get it?).

It just means you’ll need to get creative.  Learn how to veganize your favorite meals (download the Color Palete app for help with that), stay far, far away from any and all What-a-Burgers (seriously, take the back roads okay? Trust me on this), and if all else fails, find you a local vegan restaurant and CAMP OUT!

Otherwise, you’ll be hungry. And I’m not talking about just regular hunger, I mean HANGRY. 

Because here’s the thing, when you first transition, you have to learn how to stay full without meat protein. And unless you’ve been used to replacing protein with beans and tofu, you’ll have to learn what you like and don’t like. And that’s just simple trial and error, honey.

Believe me when I say in the beginning, the errors can be ROUGH. I mean rough, like it’s Summer 2020, 50 days into Coronavirus lockdown, you’re on your last roll of toilet paper and all stores within a 50-mile radius are sold out rough.  

Let Me Help

You don’t want to go back there. I don’t want you to go back there. So, let me help you out, new vegan friend. Here’s how:

  1. Download the Color Palete App and learn how to cook great vegan meals
  2. Join me on my Vegan Eats Near Me adventures and learn about local vegan eats
  3. Both 1 & 2 (let me save you time, friend, THIS is the answer)

Our First Adventure

Let’s jump right into our adventures, starting in Austin, Texas.  Whether you’re a new vegan living in the Weird City or you’re just passing through, Citizen Eatery has to be added to your must-try list. This musician-owned plant-based restaurant has been around for almost five years.  Nestled in one of Austin’s most eclectic neighborhoods: North Loop. 

Citizen Eatery sits right off Burnet Road.  A street known for its thrift shops, boutiques, locally-owned restaurants, and more. As of the writing of this post, this part of the city still holds an authentic Austin vibe. 

And when I say vibe, I do mean vibe. I don’t want to give away all my secrets but there’s a local boutique located on the same street serving fresh baked cookies and champagne. Now, if that’s not a vibe I don’t know what is.

THAT’S exactly the type of vibe you’ll find in this North Austin neighborhood. So, it’s only right to check out this local vegan hot spot which has been around for over five years. But just as Austin has experienced an evolution over the years so has Citizen Eatery. 

Local Vegan Eats

Originally a vegetarian restaurant. Citizen Eatery has evolved to become a 100% vegan restaurant focused on making and serving you the best food possible.  From fresh, garden-fare salads to meaty, meatless burgers, you’ll find everything you need at one of Austin’s top-rated vegan restaurants. 

Citizen Eatery, founded by Mike and Aimee Moyer, started as a dream.  The health-conscious couple wanted to be able to serve families quick, healthy plant-based meals. So, they put their dream in motion and in November 2016 opened Citizen Eatery. I had a chance to catch up with one of the co-owners, Mike.  

During our discussion, I asked for one thing he would share about Citizen Eatery with others, it was gratitude.  He shared he was so grateful to the Citizen Eatery community of customers. Those who have taken the time to visit during and after the pandemic. 

Luckily for us, I believe this gratitude manifests beautifully: GREAT FOOD. And if I must say so myself, Aimee and Michael Moyers’ commitment to serving vegan breakfast all day along (#WINNING) while also grilling some of the best vegan burgers in the city is more than appreciated. 

So appreciated in fact, that this go-to vegan restaurant is not only sought after for those hangover brunch moments (*ahem* late night/early morning on Sixth Street?) but for their seasonal farm-to-table menu items and deliciously shareable appetizers… I certainly could have indulged more in their Southern Style Fried Mushrooms served with house espresso BBQ sauce. 

What To Order

Which leads me to the good part: what should you order while you’re there? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with four of the most popular, top-rated dishes on the menu.

The Citizen Burger, is a no-brainer. In a state where BBQ and Burgers rule, you really can’t go wrong with this option. House-made with one of Austin’s signature peppers: the Hatch green chili. You can rest assured you’re getting your authentic Austin “fix” with this juicy hand-held burger.

Chik’n Tacos.  The city of Texas may be known for BBQ and Burgers but Austin is known for Tacos and Queso. And trust me, Citizen Eatery does not disappoint here.  Comfort is taken to another level with these tacos and they’re topped with creamy coleslaw and a spicy aioli dressing.  Texas comfort, indeed. 

Next up is their Chorizo Omelette. This always breakfast menu item is a TexMex brunch favorite. Packed with smoky chorizo “sausage” and topped with a tangy salse verde sauce, creamy avocado, and flavor-rich garlic aioli. The perfect Sunday Funday option or weekday meal.

Last but certainly not least, the Citizen Scramble, another always breakfast favorite. You’ll be served with JUST Eggs, cheddar cheeze, crimini mushrooms, potatoes, sweet onions, and kale scrambled to perfection with a side of sourdough toast. Don’t worry, I’ll reply for you: yes, please. 

This doesn’t even scratch the surface.  Between their delicious featured specials, garden fresh salads, and one-of-a-kind burgers you’re well on your way to satisfying whatever vegan food craving you may have. 

Happy Food Dance Guaranteed

So, whether you’re looking for a place to dine in with family and friends, or you’re in search of a bike-friendly neighborhood spot, or maybe you’re simply looking for a good meal and a full bar, Citizen Eatery is your spot.  With their laid-back authentic ATX vibe and great vegan eats you can’t wrong.  Don’t worry, I’ll be there hitting the happy food dance with you in spirit.