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Guests enjoy healthy cooking, communal dining at Casa de Luz

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Built on the idea that food is medicine, North Park's Casa de Luz, an entirely vegan, plant-based, macrobiotic communal eatery and nonprofit cooking school, is now open and aiming to keep the community healthy.

Guests can choose to dine on their own, or experience communal dining, where people are served a predetermined whole food, plant-based menu of fresh fare. At the upstairs cooking school, guests are educated on proper nourishment for optimum health and taught how to recreate dishes at home. The constant exploration for health is Casa's guiding principle.

"We built Casa de Luz so the community can be healthy," said Eduardo "Wayo" Longoria, owner of the locale, whose dad by the same name opened the original Austin location 25 years ago.

Wayo Longoria was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 10 years ago but has been able to maintain his health, functioning at a high level with few flare-ups. He attributes his success to his diet, which adheres to strict guidelines for precise portions of vegetables, legumes and whole grains.

UCSD's Center for Integrative Medicine has partnered with Casa de Luz, which will host classes for the school's Natural Healing & Cooking Program. The university's first eight-class series, launched by cancer expert Dr. Gordon Saxe, who has studied the effects of macrobiotics on cancer patients, begins June 3.

The concept of the restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner is unique: Guests choose one item from a selection of salads, followed by one of two freshly made soups, and then have the option to dine on the main course ó a balanced dish comprised of whole grains, legumes, vegetables and herbs. The menu changes each meal, highlighted by whole, unprocessed foods, rather than mock meats typically found on vegan menus.

For information, visit casadeluz.org.

The Grand Del Mar was recognized as "Recycler of the Year" at the city of San Diego's annual Waste Reduction and Recycling Awards program last month for its ongoing recycling and waste collection efforts. The awards pay tribute to companies with innovative programs that help divert waste and extend the life of the city-owned Miramar Landfill.

The resort's recycling program was developed in cooperation with Waste Management as well as Urban Corps, a local nonprofit providing opportunities in the fields of conservation, recycling and community service for young adults.

Each week, the Grand Del Mar produces 7,000 pounds of compost ó using up to four tons of leftover food scraps. At The Greenery composting facility, located at the Miramar Landfill, the scraps are processed into a compost used to improve soil texture and increase water-holding capacity.

Baskin-Robbins is offering San Diego residents the exclusive scoop on how to own a Baskin-Robbins franchise. The company is expanding in Southern California with plans to add more than 15 new restaurants over the next several years throughout the San Diego metro area. There are currently 467 Baskin-Robbins restaurants in California.

Company executives will host a "Becoming a Baskin-Robbins Franchisee" seminar on Wednesday, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Buca di Beppo (10749 Westview Parkway, 92126).

Register with Scott Mellon at scott.mellon@dunkinbrands.com.

The Gaslamp Quarter invites San Diego residents and visitors to enjoy its inaugural Gaslamp Music & Art Festival on May 26 from 1 to 9 p.m. where more than 25 Gaslamp Quarter venues will offer live entertainment, dining and interactive art demonstrations.

The free celebration includes an eclectic collection of national, regional and local bands, everything from Latin jazz to Irish rock, rockabilly to flamenco and reggae to acoustic. Many of the participating locations are 21 and up only, though several locations will offer entertainment and attractions for all.

For a list of participating venues and more information, visit gaslamp.org.

At its second annual Tourism Summit on Tuesday, Visit Oceanside Conference and Visitors Bureau named its first scholarship recipient and recognized key industry partners with awards for hospitality partner of the year, tourism partner of the year and volunteer of the year.

Francois Thonnard was named the first recipient of Visit Oceanside's $1,000 student scholarship, which is funded by the Tourism Marketing District for Oceanside. Thonnard, a student of MiraCosta College's hospitality department, was recognized for his academic achievements and his volunteer service at the California Welcome Center in Oceanside.

Michele Bragalone, director of sales of Western Pacific Region for Wyndham Oceanside Pier Resort, was honored with the Hospitality Partner of the Year Award; Capt. Tom Aguigui of the Oceanside Police Department was given the Tourism Partner of the Year Award for his work in building a stronger partnership between the Oceanside Police Department and the visitor industry. Additionally, Pamela Andrus received Volunteer of the Year Award for her many hours of service to the California Welcome Center Oceanside.


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