For many people, dietary restrictions and limited menu options can kill the fun of dining out with friends and family. Often, despite a business’ best efforts to be mindful of their customers’ health, the slightest exposure to food allergens can turn a party into a bowel nightmare.
Oak Harbor resident Jackielynn Larsen wanted people with dietary restrictions like herself to enjoy the experience of eating out with no stress. After working 30 years as an insurance agent, Larsen decided to rebrand herself as a restaurant owner and opened Cosmic Veggies, a safe haven for celiacs, vegans, people who are soy or lactose intolerant and anyone who craves healthy and organic food.
“It’s the only place on the island that has healthy food where they don’t actually have to question what they’re eating,” she said. “It’s so nice to hear people thank me for opening this up here.”
The first Cosmic Veggies was opened in Anacortes by Elizabeth Weaver, who developed the recipes with the help of Kim Blair, a certified nutritionist and raw chef. Larsen, who at the time was Weaver’s insurance agent, was such a fan of the business that she decided to become Cosmic Veggie’s first franchisee.
The business is located in downtown Oak Harbor, next to Frasers Gourmet Hideaway. The building — once an esthetician’s studio — offers a cozy atmosphere with its home-like structure, which includes an indoor space with tables and a couch and an outside space with a patio and garden where customers can relax under the sun with their pet or have fun throwing a toy axe at a target.
Customers can choose from a sizeable menu that includes smoothies, salads, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, soups, snacks and juices, with the possibility to customize their order to better suit their taste and needs. For example, customers can ask for more protein in their smoothies.
According to Larsen, the chocolate monkey smoothie — a blend of bananas, peanut butter, chocolate protein and coconut — and falafel wrap — made with flat bread, falafel, roasted onion and red peppers, sprouts, spring mix, hummus, avocado and vegan ranch dressing — are ahead of the popularity competition among customers.
For those who are curious or skeptical about plant-based alternatives to animal products, Cosmic Veggies offers items such as the chickpea “tuna,” or Larsen’s favorite, the buffalo “chicken” salad — where breaded cauliflowers replace the chicken.
Customers can also order five-day detox meal plans, or juice cleanses. By choosing the meal plan, customers will receive a food package for five days to help restore energy levels and reset eating habits. The juice cleanses come in packages ranging from six to 42 bottles of organic, cold-pressed juices.
Oak Harbor’s Cosmic Veggies had its soft opening on June 16, but Larsen plans to host a grand opening eventually. Furthermore, she said she wants to get a liquor license to provide gluten free ciders and beers.