Just got back from a week-long Ashtanga training in Austin, Texas. Got to study with David Swenson and his wife Shelley Washington. David wrote the book on Ashtanga yoga that we used in my 200-hour training. It was an honor and privilege to spend time with him. David brings an amazing depth of knowledge and a delightful sense of humor to his teaching.
There were nearly 50 students in our class. I walked in not knowing a single person and left with several special friends. Yoga has a funny way of doing that. One night a group of us went to Casa De Luz for dinner. It’s a macrobiotic, vegan, gluten-free, seasonal, locally-sourced, organic restaurant. I’ve never been anywhere like it. Not far from downtown Austin, but it feels like it’s a world away.
For a flat $12 price (tip included), you are given whatever is being served that night. The meal always includes soup, salad and a generous plate of food. On that plate, you will find beans, greens, grains, fermented vegetables and something special for that night. Our something special was a soft taco filled with vegetables and avocado. Herbal tea is included with your meal.
The tables are communal, encouraging people to sit together and enjoy a meal in this zen-like atmosphere. Casa De Luz means lighthouse or house of light and it does feel like this beacon of enlightenment. And the kitchen is open encouraging dialogue and interaction with the people who lovingly prepare this food. If you want seconds, you just walk up to the kitchen and ask.
The beans I had that night were topped with this super tasty sunflower cheese. So I bought a Casa De Luz cookbook and came home and made it. Could not be easier. Soak sunflower seeds and blend them with vinegar, water and garlic. You can use it as a condiment over grains, enchiladas, beans, pasta, greens, whatever. I put some on top of butternut squash soup and it was out of this world.
Casa De Luz Sun Cheese
Adapted from Casa De Luz Community Cookbook
1 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 Tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp ume plum vinegar
1-1 1/2 cups filtered water
Place seeds in bowl and cover with water. Soak 4-6 hours or overnight.
Rub seeds between hands to loosen skins, Skins will float to the top of the water. Pour out the skins and soaking water. Rinse seeds and repeat this process to remove more skins if needed.
Blend seeds, garlic, lemon juice, ume vinegar, and 1 cup water in a high powered blender until smooth. Add more water for a thinner consistency.