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Finding Good Greens Is like a Needle in a Haystack in the City that Never Sleeps

By Ritamarie Loscalzo


Last week I attended a seminar in Las Vegas.  I’m really enjoyed the seminar, but my feelings about Las Vegas are…let’s just say not so favorable.   Las Vegas lifestyle is the antithesis of my own and that  in which I  teach and coach about.  I was surrounded by gambling, smoking and drinking.  Food choices were very limited.  I didn’t rent a car, so I was limited to whatever was in walking distance.  Fortunately I brought a raw foods green powder and chlorella tablets, along with living foods fillers —  nuts, seeds, raisins and leftover pizza crusts from last weeks’ dehydration class.

Unfortunately, those foods were meant as fillers…snacks in class, and I’ve had to eat more than usual from my “stash” and I ran out out.

I wish I had followed my own advice about creating a travel food kit.  Then I would have been munching on delicious dehydrated crackers, dulse,  and nori sheets and getting my greens throughout the day.  Usually when I travel,  bring a blender, request a refrigerator,  and stock up on greens and fruit at the grocery store upon arrival.

This time, I knew I’d be in the city without a car, and on a tight enough schedule that getting to the grocery store was not going to happen.  So I left the blender behind and decided that the green powders would fill in for my daily smoothies and I’d be able to get plenty of salad and fruit at the breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets.

What I wasn’t counting on was the Vegas mentality.  Not to knock anyone’s lifestyle, but I should have realized that the average visitor to Vegas is not the eco-conscious, health conscious, fitness conscious person that I’m used to encountering when I travel.

They actually allow smoking in the hotel lobbies here!   I’m just not used to seeing people openly smoking in a public building any more…thanks goodness!  It was an eye opener (and a nose stuffer!).

The buffet food at my hotel, the Golden Nugget, brought me back in time.  I was expecting something along the lines of the Alaskan Cruise I was on a few years back…lots of fresh salads and veggies, fruits along with the expected assortment of cooked meat dishes.  The Golden Nougat Buffet was filled with creamy casseroles and very heavy, energy zapping dishes.  The salad area had iceberg lettuce, Caesar salad and a few bananas and oranges.

I looked at the line, the price tag and the food and decided that I’d prefer to spend a few dollars and no wait and go to the store and buy some fruit instead. The cashier at the souvenir shop where I became a regular,  buying water, oranges and bananas, recommended a nearby hotel restaurant with a “good” salad bar.  (for the record, I’ve eaten more bananas in the last 3 days than I usually eat in 3 months.)

After waiting in line for 15 minutes to get access to the salad bar (my mouth was watering by now, as I envisioned a huge salad with lots of crunchy veggies,perhaps topped with some guacamole), I was disappointed to find lots of potato salad, cole slaw, macaroni salad, deviled eggs and a huge assortment of good old American picnic food, and a small bowl of mixed greens.  The mixed greens were iceberg lettuce tossed with a bit of romaine and some shredded carrots.  There was also a bowl of cherry tomatoes, some celery sticks and carrot sticks.

Ok…better than nothing..and it was only $5.95!  Seeing nothing but creamy dressings, I asked for some olive oil and lemon slices to top my salad, and was met with a very friendly young waiter who called my honey and sweetie and told me the lemon slices were doable, but he wasn’t sure they had any olive oil.  He  returned to my table a few minutes later, excited that he had “found” some, and I ate as much as I could of the salad and made my way back to my hotel.

As I walked towards my room, I noticed that there was a sushi restaurant in my hotel lobby, and my mind played a word association game as I saw the sign.  Sea weed salad was the word that popped into my mind.  I checked the menu and sure enough there it was, almost at the top of the menu, right below mixed greens with ginger dressing.

After asking a few questions about ingredients, I decided that they were both “safe” to eat and ordered the two salads.  Dinner number 2 was much more satisfying than dinner number 1.

Why do I tell you all of this?  Well, I have managed to find enough food without resorting to eating things that are not good for me.  I’ve even managed to eat completely raw while here.  While my taste buds could use a little excitement, my nutrition has been pretty good.  And I looked forward all day to the sea weed salad and ginger greens again for dinner on my last night.

On Sunday, I had a wonderful end to my culinary fiasco.     There was a raw food restaurant about 3 miles from the airport, and I had plenty of free time between the end of the class and my flight home.  As I entered the cafe, I felt like the proverbial kid in a candy store!   My banana orange diet came to a close and I feasted on green smoothie, kale salad, and calzones made with a flax crust, macadamia ricotta and lots of greens.  I was in heaven!  Not only was the food delicious, but I felt so nourished and energetic afterward, in spite of having a short sleep the night before.

Moral of the story:  While it is possible to survive on a raw food diet, even in a Las Vegas casino,  it’s better to be prepared so that you’re not tempted to abandon your healthy habits while traveling and risk starting down the slippery slope.

While it wasn’t a culinary success, my trip was a pleasant and very rewarding investment of time.  I managed to eat healthfully while away and didn’t ruin my trip with excuses.  Had I resorted to eating whatever was available, using the excuse “But there’s nothing healthy around”, I could be struggling right now with food cravings and frustraton with my weight gain.

For details about maintaining a healthy diet while travelling, read my article, Travelling on a Raw Foods Diet published in a 2008 edition of Purely Delicious Magazine.

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1 Comment

  1. Ali on May 3, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    We are going to Vegas soon, what was the name of the raw foods rest. close to the airport?

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