A vacation to Vegas is something that many of us dream of; the glamour of the casinos, the dazzling lights of the strip and buffets piled so high it’s almost precarious form just part of the appeal. The big problem with Vegas is that the old adage ‘everything in moderation’ seems to go out the window the second you step off the plane. Restaurants are producing steadily more and more ridiculous culinary feats, whether it’s all you can eat fried chicken wings and litres of blue cheese sauce, or a whole baguette stuffed with pasta and cheese; dishes like this certainly aren’t making us any healthier. So if you’re letting yourself have all the fun you want elsewhere, one thing you can afford to be sensible with is the food you eat.
For those who are longtime subscribers to a healthy diet it can be pretty easy to spot the hidden calories in a restaurant menu, but for those who are only just embarking on a lifestyle change things like this can be a minefield. In much the same way, frequent visitors to Vegas will tell you the same thing about the games in their famous casinos. The old saying that poker is a game that takes ‘only a minute to learn but a lifetime to master’ could not be more true. The fundamentals of the game are fairly simple to apply but there are further elements that settle the mechanics of the game. Try to think of healthy eating in the same way – like a game. If you’re going to have to hit the buffet with your friends, then try to avoid ‘going all in’, instead opting for the fresh vegetables that are lower in calories but will keep you full for longer. Similarly, spotting the bluffers is another trick you’ll have to become familiar with; although salads appear healthy, calories hide in creamy salad dressings and crunchy croutons. If you approach your healthy diet as strategically as you would a game of poker, then you’re bound to see yourself succeed.
El Dorado Cantina
One great place that’s just off the Strip is the El Dorado Cantina. This restaurant, like many other Mexican restaurants in Vegas, focuses on fresh Mexican fare, with a menu that boasts exclusively antibiotic-, pesticide- and steroid-free produce. The owner spent months and months visiting farms before deciding on exactly where to buy his produce, so you can guarantee that it’s some of the best around. Adventurous eaters should try the chapulines, spicy seasoned grasshoppers that are delectably crunchy and also super high in protein whilst being low in fat – perfect for building lean muscle. If you’re not into the idea of bugs for breakfast then there are also plenty of other dishes to choose from, with a zingy ceviche taco being one of the standout choices.
Caption: Although tacos feel naughty, they can be really healthy as El Dorado Cantina proves
If you’re holidaying with someone who is determined to eat big then it can be annoying that one of you will always have to compromise on your ideal meal for the other. SkinnyFATS is a brilliant solution to this problem, as the menu is literally divided in half, with one side promoting a clean, green, healthy diet and the other allowing those who fancy something naughty to really pig out. The best news though, is that even the healthy side has some ingenious twists on naughty favourites. Cauliflower in buffalo sauce comes in at well under 600 calories and has all the delicious spice of buffalo wings, without the killer calorie tag. Even the naughty side has some not too disgraceful options, including a truly divine salad with thinly sliced filet mignon and creamy goats cheese sat atop a bed of soft pear, walnut and spinach. Remember, on many menus in Vegas this might just be one of the healthiest options, so even if you do opt for something from ‘the dark side’ remember that you could be doing far, far worse!
In this modern world that’s obsessed with eating clean, superfoods and juicing everything that will stay still for long enough, it’s easy to forget that sometimes the way your mother used to do things is in fact the best way. After all, mother knows best! And that’s exactly the idea that Daily Kitchen have taken forward. This restaurant uses carefully sourced ingredients and makes hearty, healthy family style meals. If you’re travelling in a group then be sure to try out one of their ‘family meals’; a particularly delicious centrepiece is a whole roasted chicken, which comes served with two big platters of healthy sides. Eating in this way is not only a more natural way to share a meal, but also ensures that those with big appetites can help themselves to as much as they’d like, whilst those who are being a little more careful don’t feel obliged to clear off an enormous plate of food. Just as an end note, if you are one of those modern clean eaters, then the bone broth here is absolutely delicious and certainly wouldn’t look out of place in the pages of a new paleo cookbook.
The Protein Source Kitchen
For all of the body builders out there, the Protein Source Kitchen is a godsend. In addition to, as the name suggests, having a focus on lean, healthy protein, the menu also offers a calorie count for every dish they serve alongside the grams of protein in each dish. This makes it so easy, not only to make sure you’re fuelling your body with something healthy and delicious, but also to make sure you’re hitting your calorie targets and your macros. Salads and wraps make up a large proportion of the menu and feature fresh crunchy vegetables, wild caught meats and fish and always complex carbs to keep you fuller for longer. Of course, if you’re feeling like something a little bit naughty then there are options for that too. The protein waffle towers are to die for; a stack of whole wheat protein enriched waffles, with egg whites (or whole eggs, your choice), a juicy homemade turkey sausage, a grating of cheddar and some jam or sugar free syrup. It sounds like the most indulgent meal in the world – and it is, it’s just good for you too.