March 23, 2008

What Happens in Vegas... Shows In Your Tummy

Two nights in Las Vegas provided plenty of blogging material.

My observations, below:

Despite the recent influx of celebrity chefs and three star restaurants, there isn't a single high-scale, fine dining vegetarian restaurant on the entire Strip.

What gives?

I'm afraid business executives and consumers are still under the inaccurate assumption that healthy dining and delicious meals are mutually exclusive.

As a result, diners who do not eat meat have to basically rely on pasta dishes. Zzzzzz....

All my restaurant experiences, while delicious, left me asking, "where's the fiber?"

Whole grains are completely absent from most menus, as are beans and legumes.

I am not asking for steakhouses to be shut down or the plethora of French restaurants to "de-fatten" their menus.

What I do want to know, though, is where are the options for healthy upscale eating?

I understand being on vacation and wanting to enjoy a rich, decadent meal, but after two or three of those, your body starts begging for some mercy.

Think everything is big in Texas? Wait until you hit the Vegas Strip!

At the Paris hotel, you can get alcoholic drinks in an Eiffel-tower shaped 32 ounce glass. Over at the Luxor, 52 ounce daiquiris are on the menu.

People do order them. I saw at least fifty people on one given night walking around the Strip with these huge drinks in hand -- most were more than halfway finished.

FYI -- a 32 ounce daiquiri contains 1,800 calories. The 52 ounce? 2,900.

And then there's the buffets. I am not a big fan of them, as I often find that quantity trumps quality.

I was up for some nutrition research, though, so off I went to The Palms for lunch one day.

Of the forty different dishes, not a single one contained a whole grain.

The salad bar's only truly nutritious offerings were chickpeas and kidney beans.

To my surprise -- and disappointment -- the salad bar did not offer carrots, bell peppers, broccoli florets, canned tuna, grilled chicken breast, avocado, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, beets, asparagus, or anything to help diners construct a healthy and tasty salad.

It did, however, manage to provide croutons, bacon, cheese, iceberg lettuce, and pickles. Yum????

Fried foods, rich sauces, and refined carbohydrates made up the bulk of the remaining offerings. Vegetables were mostly drowned in butter or cream or covered in a deep fried shell.

Dessert consisted pies (some sugar free), cakes, brownies, and ice cream.

Fruit, you ask? There was literally one basket with three apples and two bananas.

The Venetian has a healthy restaurant (all dishes are low in saturated fat, high in fiber, high on fruit and vegetable content, and contain little or no added sugars) tucked away in its spa, meaning it is exclusively for guests of that hotel.

Why not move it to the general restaurant area and open it up to the general public?

While I'm at on the topic of hotels: why do guests have to pony up extra money -- up to $20 or $30 -- to utilize a hotel's gym?

Really. Why are people being deterred from exercising?

Anyway, a big thank you to the folks who make Lara, Clif Nectar, and Flavor & Fiber bars. My intestinal tract couldn't have made it in Vegas without you.

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