Fitting Las Vegas into a Healthy Lifestyle

While I know many of my readers are waiting for the rest of my Italy recaps, I had to throw in a post on this past weekend’s very short trip to Las Vegas! Since it’s National Nutrition Month, and the theme is to Put Your Best Fork Forward, I really wanted to highlight that your social life is part of your health, and never something you should feel guilty about.
Far too many people experience feelings of shame or guilt after social functions, or avoid the social experience in an attempt to avoid an uncontrollable situation with food. There are many areas of wellness, including {but not limited to} physical, emotional, occupational, environmental, and social. Without exciting social experiences with loved ones and friends, we are left feeling a sense of loneliness due to lack of social stimulation and lack of satisfying food. When social situations are approached the wrong way though, being present at them may actually create extra stress in our already stressful lives. Why? Dieting mentalities. Since I was a dietetic intern through my practice today, clients express feeling the need to deprive themselves before social functions only to eat and drink everything available once they are there. This leaves them feeling physically uncomfortable either in the present moment, or the next day, and therefore feeling shame or guilt for what they had done. This is often followed up with more restriction and a pattern of small binges followed by extensive starvation or excessive-exercise based purges.
While it can take a while to come to peace with food it is possible for everyone! Controlling drinking may be another animal, but most can enjoy that without going overboard, too. You CAN enjoy a night out, weekend away, or even extended vacation without restriction before, during or after the experience. By not restricting at all though, you also have to be in tune with your feelings of fullness and the after-effects of your food and beverage intake. If you are left feeling absolutely miserable from a food and/or alcohol induced hangover the day after, you should reflect on those experiences the next time you’re in a similar situation. This may help you to enjoy your whole social experience, not only the food part, much more in the present and future. Here’s how I was able to do that in just over 48 hours in the city of temptation itself… Las Vegas.
Even though I knew I would be eating a late dinner Friday night (8 PM Vegas time was 11 PM east coast time), I didn’t deprive myself that day. That morning I had eaten a normal, balanced breakfast consisting of a vegetable omelet ½ an english muffin topped with Kite Hill dairy-free cream cheese and a side of blueberries. Isnacked on a RxBar (the perfect real food balance of protein, carbs & fat) before my last hour long class. Just before my flight, I ate a late lunch that I packed that morning. I had cooked kale, red pepper and zucchini noodles that were sitting in the fridge needing to be eaten, and topped them with leftover lentils, chickpeas, and Annie’s Lite Goddess dressing. I was still a tad hungry once I got on the plane and had the banana I packed too. Since I was on the plane over 5 hours, it was time for another snack just before landing, so I had the apple I packed plus enlightened crisps. Feeling satisfied but not over-full, I got off the plane, hopped in a cab to the Cosmopolitan (highly recommend), and met Cait and Kristen for our weekend of fun!
We had made reservations at Scarpetta, Scott Conant’s restaurant, that happened to be in our hotel. While the drinks were a tad pricier than I’d like, the gingery cocktail I ordered was amazing. Once they brought bread to the table I had just started to feel hungry, so it was perfect timing. This was one of the best bread baskets I’d had. In addition to fresh, fluffy Italian bread, there were small squares of rosemary focaccia, and small pieces of Stromboli (which I skipped). The whipped butter was a perfect compliment. We had an order of Brussels Sprouts sans guanciale to share. I don’t think I’ve ever found a Brussels sprout I didn’t like! My entrée was the grilled branzino, served with roasted sunchokes and abalone mushrooms. The portion was very generous and I felt awful leaving a bit on the plate, unable to take the leftovers since I wasn’t home!
Thanks to RD friend Kim’s connections, we were on the guest list for Omnia night club, but it was still a bit early (these places open at 10:30 here) so we walked around in the Bellagio for a bit and admired the fountains before being told we could have free entry to Hyde and free drinks. With the pricey-ness of Vegas, we thought it was worth exploring and we could turn around and leave in a minute if we wanted! Note to all females traveling to this city: if you’re dressed up and walking around, a promoter will probably tell you that you can get into any club for free or at a discount. Use your judgement! We spent a short amount of time in Hyde admiring the views and the Bellagio fountains, while enjoying the music the DJ chose.

From there we headed to Omnia which was completely and totally different! I am happy we checked it out and experienced what a “real” club is like, but after the speakers basically made our hearts beat out of our chests in the main area, we decided it was time to call it a night! Really cool atmosphere if techno music is your thing and you’re with a group that wants to go in on a table in the balcony area!
We woke up without alarms on Saturday morning with no real plans for the day. While we could have gotten a more “real food” based breakfast somewhere on the strip, Cabo Wabo cantina had good reviews and the location was perfect as we were able to eat outside on a beautiful 75 degree day. I was super happy with my veggie filled omelet that I ordered with salsa verde and green chiles that I saw on another omelet. The whole grain bread wasn’t bad, either. I skipped the potatoes on my plate as they were a generic fried potato that just doesn’t do it for my palate. I always prefer roasted potatoes or a fresh potato hashbrown. We paired our brunch with coffee and a blood orange mimosa to round things out. Plus plenty of water of course!

After walking by the Bellagio to see the fountains during the day, and then down and through the Venetian and back, we headed to the Cosmopolitan gym (yes, you can workout after having a mimosa at brunch). It was absolutely gorgeous and outfitted with the newest Technogym machines (both cardio and weights), plus free weights, kettlebells, balance balls, and even a boxing bag. It is safe to say it is the nicest hotel gym I have used (and I’ve had some nice one’s at a few Westin’s & Hyatts) but also the most under-utilized! We were the only ones in the massive space when we arrived and were happy to see another 5 in there by the time we left. Thanks to the fact that I always pack snacks (usually before I pack clothes), we had some RxBars and enlightened crisps post-workout with perfect timing to digest and get ready to eat 3ish hours later for dinner.

Had the weather been nicer, we likely would have been out by the pools, but apparently, 75 degree days aren’t enough for the Cosmos outdoor pools to be open in early March since the nights are so cold. We started to get ready early so we could walk around a bit more before dinner.
We stopped at The Chandelier for a drink before dinner. I had visited Vegas one other time for one night at the end of a long Cali trip, and Tim and I had stopped here then, too. Despite it not being a new experience it was still a perfectly beautiful place to spend a half hour before eating (I had the rose). The top area was packed so we found some cushy seats in the mid-level area.
Dinner reservations had been made at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. based on recommendations Kristen had gotten from multiple individuals. While the menu doesn’t have many plant-based options, those that are have been perfectly created! The food was amazing, but the reason to choose this restaurant over others it the entertainment experience. Even with an earlier dinner (around 6:45) due to our concert at 9, they put on a great show. There are multiple rooms here, each with a different feel. In ours, we had a band playing mostly jazz music, with the piano standing out the most as a woman with a great voice sang and walked around the rooms interacting with guests. At two separate times during our dinner, an amazing tap dancer came out and tapped around the room, on tables and on the piano. A man in a silver suit came out and entertained the crowd with his abstract body movements (sort of like a fluid robotic style), and a break-dancer was the focal point at one other time.

For food, we shared the unbelievably fresh and fluffy brioche rolls that came out in the mini cast iron pan they were baked in, accompanied by fresh sprigs of thyme and a whipped butter (side note: why do any restaurants serve the butter not whipped?). We shared brussels sprouts again {#everydayimbrusselin} and I ordered the shrimp cocktail that came with whipped avocado and was topped with a lime foam. I also had the artichoke salad that also included frisee, sliced fingerlings, and finely sliced truffles. Cait and Kristen shared beef stroganoff (not noodle based) as well as two small freshly made pasta dishes, one with pork and the other with duck. While their options aren’t my personal preference (minus the fresh pasta part), they were extremely happy with their selections. We highly recommend this dining experience!
We headed to the Axis Planet Hollywood for the main event… Backstreet Boys Larger Than Life! Caitlin and I, as well as our other best childhood friends, grew up big BSB fans, but hadn’t been to a Backstreet concert together since 2002. 15 years later, it was time! The show was all we could have hoped for {except the choice of singing what is probably their least popular song – Darlin’ – from the 1995 album} and we had all the happy endorphins and emotions pouring through reminding us of our child/early teenage years. We had so much fun that we decided to stop next door at Chateau nightclub for their after-party. Even without it being the official Backstreet Party, this place was way more our speed than our experience at Omnia. It was open air on a “rooftop” {really, an in-between level of the Eiffel Tower replica there}, so it was not claustrophobic. Additionally, the DJ played pop & hip-hop music we’d grown up listening and dancing to, which for us, is way more fun than the techno vibes at the bigger clubs. We were responsible and, even though BSB was still up and partying, headed back to the hotel before 2 (which is 5 AM east coast time and I am impressed with myself!).

After a solid night of sleep, we headed down to The Juice Standard for breakfast. You know I’m not into juicing, but they also had smoothies and toasts! While I can’t remember it’s official name on the menu, I ordered a seeded toast. It was toasted, covered in house-made cashew butter (super whipped texture), toasted again, and topped with hemp seeds, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds, and finished with a drizzle of raw honey. This was one of the best toasts I have ever had and after Instagram comments and texts from friends and clients, I’m thinking of getting a #ToastTuesday series up soon! I had originally told myself I wouldn’t have any caffeine Sunday so that I’d sleep on the plane, but where else was I going to get a Cacao Cashew Mocha? I had a decent night of sleep anyway, and this beverage made with simply their house-made cashew milk, raw cacao and espresso was to die for. I can’t wait to recreate both of these soon!

At the airport, I realized my snacks probably weren’t going to be enough to hold me over until I arrived in Philly so I searched McCarran’s airport dining options. Not so exciting. I decided Moe’s was the best option and headed to concourse A to pick up a vegetarian burrito bowl. Atop the rice and black beans I had small scoops of pico de gallo, a Mexican corn salad, fresh jalapenos x 2, pickled jalapenos, onion, cilantro, and their spicy salsa.  Halfway through the flight, it may not have been warm anymore, but it was really tasty and kept me satisfied til dinner time.

I hope this post is living proof that you can hit the jackpot without gambling in a short trip to Vegas. Cheers to you enjoying your experiences, nourishing your body, and having NO guilt or regrets!

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  1. What a fun weekend and I love how you totally prove healthy living isn’t impossible in Vegas. I hope it was at least worth experiencing Omnia…totally crazy, right?! It blows my mind that people pay (A LOT) to get in there and then continue drinking. I really only liked the balcony area!

  2. It sounds like you had so much fun! Love DOCG at the Cosmopolitan for a nice dinner that won’t completely break the bank. My husband and I visit Las Vegas usually twice a year and have found so many cool places off the strip for adventures, like hiking in Red Rock! But, my fave place in Vegas to visit is Frankie’s Tiki Room in the arts district.

    1. I SO wish we had find for hiking Red Rock but it was a super quick trip!! Love your recommendations, thanks for sharing, especially since a lot of these places really can add up in cost!