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Almost Vegan in Las Vegas

May 31, 2012

The winner of my Practically Raw giveaway is Aimee Douglass.
Thank you to all who entered!

Betcha didn’t know that I went to Las Vegas last week, did ya? That’s because I kept it quiet. Matt had a work conference to attend there, so I decided to go with him. It was a VERY short trip – just 2 days – and the only reason I tagged along is that with Matt’s work paying for his travel, lodgings, and food, and my airline vouchers paying for my flight, it was an almost completely free trip! I’ve been under a lot of stress recently, and honestly, I just wanted to go and enjoy the short vacation and not feel pressured to blog about it. I never even whipped out my real camera; I only took Instagram photos the whole time. (You can follow me on Instagram at almostveganchef!) But what can I say, I am a blogger at heart, and I just HAVE to share with you all the yummy stuff we ate while we were there, though I won’t be going into much detail.

Let me also say that my diet HAS changed over the past few weeks, though I haven’t had the time or energy to share it with you yet. Basically, the elimination diet did nothing for me, so I’m back to eating limited quantities of fruits, nuts, and beans, plus everything I was eating before. I’m still not supposed to eat grains or soy, or drink alcohol, but I did have a little of each on this trip, and I’m not going to dwell on it. K?

Onward! We left Kansas City on Monday morning.

I’d packed plenty of raw treats for the trip, so we never went hungry.

Our first meal was at Red Velvet CafΓ© in the Fashion Show Mall. Matt had a vegan taco salad with rice, beans, veggies, seasoned vegan “meat,” vegan cheese, lettuce, salsa, and avocado.

I had spiced hummus with heirloom baby tomatoes, artichokes, and red pepper flakes, served with – get this – gluten-free pita bread! I ate half for lunch and saved the other half to eat for dinner while Matt was working at his conference. It was an early night, since we’d been up since 5am Las Vegas time.

The next morning, we got room service for breakfast. (Thank goodness for Matt’s liberal per diem.) He had steel-cut oatmeal with raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon, and sliced bananas, and I had a bowl of fresh fruit.

After that, we walked down to the strip and waited in a looong line to get discounted tickets to the show we wanted to see that night.

For lunch, we trekked out to the all-vegan Pura Vida Bakery & Bystro. Matt ate the The Latin ’Tude: a Southwest fusion burrito filled with black beans, refried beans, soyrizo, tofu scramble, vegan cheese, avocado, veggies, onions, garlic, cilantro, tomatoes, and roasted organic potatoes with poblano peppers.

I got gluten-free nachos with tons of beans (kidney, black, and pinto), onions, peppers, and spicy tomato sauce. (I asked for no cheese, even though it was vegan.) This portion was huge; I saved half of it for breakfast the next morning.

We shared a papaya-banana smoothie (made with coconut milk) for dessert.

Matt worked at his conference for the rest of the afternoon, and when he returned, we got all dolled up to go out for dinner and a show.

Ready for trouble. πŸ˜‰ I always feel like a MySpacer taking photos of myself like this, but hey, it was the first time in quite a long time I actually put on makeup.

For dinner, we headed to Mint Indian Bistro. They have an impressive array of menus available to accommodate different diets, including vegan and gluten-free vegetarian. We called ahead to see if we could get a gluten-free vegan prix fixe dinner for two, and they said sure. Excitement! They even knew who we were as soon as we walked in the door.

They started us off with pappadum with two dipping sauces (mint and tamarind). We also decided to live a little and take advantage of the alcoholic vegan lassis (made with soy yogurt!) they had available. I broke my current no-soy and no-alcohol “rules” with a lychee rum lassi, and Matt had a green apple vodka lassi. These were amazing!

The next course was veggie pakora…

…followed by a spicy tomato soup.

Then came the motherload. There was too much gluten-free vegan awesomeness here for me to even keep track of, but I think it was (from top) chana palak (chickpeas and creamy spinach), a thin lentil dal, a spicy mixed-veggie curry, a coconut-creamy mixed-veggie curry, aloo gobi (cauliflower and potatoes), basmati rice, and in the center, buckwheat roti.

Holy mother of crap, this platter dropped our jaws. With the exception of the buckwheat roti (which was kind of eh), everything was superb.

Our feast ended with tiny “shots” of mango kulfi, which is sort of like a creamy granita. Given the 100-degree heat outside, this chilly treat was much appreciated.

That evening, we went to see the show Absinthe at Caesar’s Palace. It was a delightful evening of raunchy and irreverent comedy, risquΓ© feats of physical endurance, and general debauchery. In other words, right up our alley. We loved it.

We walked through the forum shops at Caesar’s Palace for a bit, then ended our night with dairy-free sorbetto (sugar-free blueberry and guava) at the Venetian.

The next day, I finished up our leftover food while Matt worked his last shift, then sat in the food court at the Venetian all day reading. Finally, just before we needed to leave for the airport, I got to see the chica I’d been waiting the whole trip to hook up with: Lori! She actually works for Matt’s company now (albeit across the country), so we knew she’d be at the conference. We had SUCH a blast hanging out in San Fran in February that we were determined, despite her busy schedule, to find at least half an hour to sit and chat. It was right down to the wire, but we succeeded. Love this girl!

After that, we headed to the airport and flew home.

Ok, so much for not going into detail. I couldn’t resist!
It was a fun and refreshing (and delicious) little trip to Sin City.

I posted these photos and more on Instagram, so be sure to follow me at almostveganchef if you have an account!

P.S. – Every time I go to type “Las Vegas,” I end up typing “Las Vegan.” Yep.

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50 Comments leave one →
  1. Maurice Ottey permalink
    May 31, 2012 1:26 pm

    Hi Amber – Thanks for the info on places to eat in Vegas. I live here and didn’t know they existed. I shall try them !!

    • May 31, 2012 1:29 pm

      You bet! We also heard a lot about Ronald’s Doughnuts (they have vegan, but no GF, doughnuts) and Go Raw Cafe (which I REALLY wanted to visit, but it was too far away!).

  2. May 31, 2012 1:55 pm

    love all the food pics! looks so delicious!

  3. Maurice Ottey permalink
    May 31, 2012 1:56 pm

    Go Raw is nice. You’ll love Rod and his staff. Maybe next time you are in Vegas!

  4. May 31, 2012 2:11 pm

    wow those are some great looking eats — and your’re so beautiful! thanks for sharing your vegas adventures!

  5. bitt permalink
    May 31, 2012 2:46 pm

    I’ll take one of everything please! I love Indian. Papadums are so good.

    So sorry the elimination diet didn’t work. I appreciate your addressing the diet on here, although I am sure it’s frustrating. Seems like you are still GF? I am glad to have another GF buddy even though I am sure you miss gluten. I am sorry you didn’t get anything out of the elimination diet, but maybe you have more of an appreciation for what you can eat now? I know I do when I can add something back in, it’s like a huge gift. I am glad you don’t have to get more restrictive. I am all for diet helping health, but I feel sometimes there is a wall you hit and diet isn’t always the only solution to every health problem.

    Never been to Vegas (almost typed an N there at the end too) but you make it look appealing and filled with delicious food. It’s always fun to tag along on those business trips and free or almost free trips are great too. I have been blessed with a few of those lately. Sometimes when you really need something in life it comes to you.

    I was secretly hoping maybe you guys would have a wild bachelor/ette thing there but I guess that one drink was enough wildness for now.

    • May 31, 2012 3:32 pm

      In a way, I’m not surprised it didn’t work. I really think it’s my screwed-up metabolism and history of undereating/overexercising that fueled the problem, not my diet. (“Diet” as in, the foods I eat, not “dieting.”) I do have to remain gluten-free, though – in fact, we just got my Cyrex labs back yesterday (they took over 2 months to process them). We had a gluten array done, and I tested positive for 4 types of gluten-related antibodies, including a transglutaminase antibody (which my doctor says is an indication that I COULD develop full-blown celiac disease someday if I’m not careful). I did NOT test positive for alpha-gliadin antibodies, interestingly enough, so if someone had only tested that, we’d have no idea. I’m told I’ll need to officially be gluten-free for the rest of my life. Some part of me is still holding on to the idea that since I’ don’t have celiac, maybe I can have small amounts again someday…but that’s probably just wishful thinking. 😦

      Hehe, I wish we’d been able to get wilder than we did. πŸ˜‰ Next time…

  6. May 31, 2012 3:26 pm

    Las Vegan – love it. Good to know I could eat so well if I ever make it there. Every once in awhile I get an urge to go. Glad you guys got away for a little fun!!!

  7. May 31, 2012 4:29 pm

    This food looks amazing and you sure do look beautiful miss Amber πŸ˜‰

  8. May 31, 2012 8:07 pm

    I love the Mint Bistro! We ate there last time we were in Vegas. One of the fun parts of being a blogger is that you can look beck at your posts for reminders. We had the vegan sampler and I described it as the kind of delicious that makes you moan in pleasure. And speaking of misplaced ‘n’s, I called my post “Las Vega(n)s Weekend. Your post makes me want to go back!

  9. May 31, 2012 10:09 pm

    Ha ha, Viva Las Vegan! Sounds like a fun trip, even tho you didn’t take me up on my suggestion to elope. πŸ™‚ You two are so adorable!

  10. June 1, 2012 12:55 am

    This post makes me joyful all through my heart. So proud of you for allowing yourself a break from, well, everything. I’ve been life-overwhelmed myself lately but have been thinking of you muchly. Also, Game of Thrones (books) are awesome. It’s so nice to find fantasy that is actually written well! xoxo

    • June 1, 2012 10:40 am

      Been thinking of you to, m’dear. When do we book your flights here?
      GoT is addicting! Only fantasy I’ve ever enjoyed. πŸ™‚

  11. June 2, 2012 12:49 am

    Love that last shot of you! The Indian food looks so fabulous, and so do the wraps. I hope you’re feeling better and very happy that you enjoyed your trip (and didn’t worry too much about a little alcohol).

  12. June 4, 2012 12:48 am

    So glad you got to get away! And SOOOO happy you relaxed and took a break from your restrictive diet. Sometimes the ‘diets’ themselves can cause more stress, added cortisol, etc…you get the picture. πŸ˜‰ My point of view is only YOU know what works for you body…and you listened to your body. πŸ™‚ You look very pretty and happy…good sign.

  13. June 4, 2012 12:11 pm

    Wow, what an impressive spread! You deserved to let lose a bit and enjoy yourself on your trip. No guilt allowed!

  14. Tara permalink
    June 4, 2012 7:52 pm

    Those lassis look awesome!!! I’d break my diet for those, too! I can’t have alcohol either : ( Actually I can’t have much of anything due to acid reflux– no fun! Your trip looks like a blast. I think that being really happy and relaxed for a few days is the most healing thing you can do for yourself. And you look so stunning!! : )

    • June 4, 2012 8:08 pm

      Totally agree about the relaxation, Tara – and the lassis! πŸ˜‰ I feel ya on the “can’t have much of anything” diet.

  15. June 6, 2012 7:48 pm

    Hugs, big hugs, my dear. I’m so glad you could escape for a little bit and have some fun, in spite of everything.

  16. Sue permalink
    June 7, 2012 8:44 am

    Hi Amber,

    I really appreciate your honesty in how the elimination diet did not work for you (Sorry to hear that.). Everything in moderation. Glad you were able to stick to your diet while in LV.

    Thanks for sharing your experience and those pictures.

  17. June 8, 2012 3:06 pm

    Amber, you guys always go on such fun trips and have the BEST eats! love it!

  18. June 8, 2012 11:32 pm

    sounds like a super awesome trip. i love that indian platter!

  19. June 9, 2012 10:21 am

    What a gorgeous Thali combo … and lovely photography!

  20. June 9, 2012 11:59 pm

    Oh man that food looks outrageous!

    And you go girl. You have to take advantage of those free trips.

    And you gave that diet a good run. I’m so impressed with your dedication. That was quite restrictive. You are listening to your body. Good for you!

    Thinking of your sweet girl.

    Hugs,
    -Amber

  21. Alane permalink
    June 10, 2012 4:21 pm

    Hi Amber,
    So glad you enjoyed your trip to Vegas. I’m a local and a relatively new vegan, so I’ve been exploring the options. Red Velvet and Pura Vida are definitely favorites, but I haven’t yet made it to Mint – gotta put that on the top of the list. Go Raw is awesome! Being a local, I was unable to resist a t-shirt I found on Amazon not long ago – that iconic Las Vegas welcome sign printed with Las Vegan.
    I hope that you can find a dietary key to feeling better.
    Alane

  22. June 15, 2012 1:28 pm

    I’ve never been to Vegas before, but my parents have. Sounds like a blast. You’re looking happy and healthy again in those photos. Hope you are doing well.

  23. June 17, 2012 9:28 pm

    That Red Velvet CafΓ© place looks amazing!
    I love Vegas – I have only been there once and had a blast! the indian restaurant you went to looks ridiculous! i googled how to make some of this stuff. i’m glad you had fun!!

  24. June 18, 2012 3:39 pm

    Las Vegas really looks like fun. I used to say that I wasn’t interested in going, but the older I get the more inclined I am to take a trip. Maybe I will one of these days. πŸ™‚

  25. June 26, 2012 7:36 pm

    I’ve been to Vegas a number of times but never venture far from the strip, so I haven’t been able to check out Pura Vida or Mint, they both look great! And you look great too!

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