Since I began blogging about my vegetarian lifestyle, I have mainly written about restaurants in the DFW area. I have turned into what some call a locavore, one who primarily eats and shops at local businesses, or eats food that was grown or made within a certain radius of their home town. It is a movement designed to decrease your carbon footprint and become a more sustainable consumer.
Abilene, Texas, is a relatively small town (in comparison to DFW) and gave my friends quite some trouble finding vegetarian-friendly places to eat when they decided to first make this lifestyle change. They would constantly have to make trips home to Fort Worth to stock up on vegetarian essentials, a huge inconvenience to them since Abilene is about 2 and a half hours away. Luckily, they stumbled upon an Abilene gem: the Natural Food Center.
At first glance, the simple colors of the store front don't suggest the Natural Food Center may have anything special to offer. However, this simple store-and-restaurant offers a wide selection of vegetarian essentials, as well as a cafe side where you can order for lunch or dinner. They have a rotating menu which offers vegetarian options daily-- a surprising find in the 'Lene.
I jumped at the chance to try something, but had a tought time deciding between the Curried Quinoa, Vegetarian Frito Pie, or the homemade Veggie Burger. Eventually I settled on the Vegetarian Frito Pie, since I had had little to no chances to try a vegetarian chili since giving up meat. I paired it with a Blue Sky Natural Orange Cream soda from a cold case in the store, which was also awesome since I have tried hard to give up products containing HFCS. Needless to say, it was delicious! The chili was a great substitute to the ones I used to eat (though it still isn't the same as having one made by Mom), and the melted cheese on top was the perfect way to top of an old favorite.
After eating, I took to perusing the ailes of the Natural Food Center. They offered multiple types of flour, soy products, LARA bars, drinks, tofu and other things that aren't typically found at a grocery store. They also offered great vegan and natural beauty products, among them being the Nature's Gate line (which I am currenly using and LOVE). Beyond the shampoos, they had a wide selection of natural deodorants, skin care products, and oral mouthcare products. If you are looking for a guilt-free place to shop in Abilene, the Natural Food Center is the place to go, and I cannot wait til I can pay another visit to this store.