I’ll call it a “Learning Opportunity.” Ironically, it happened within minutes of my telling my husband, “thinking about gluten free eating is challenging for me right now. I know what is vegan, what to look for, what I can eat, but gluten free does not come naturally at all.” I’m told that it gets better. Even the Gluten-Free Vegan which my sweet son and daughter-in-law gave me for my birthday, described me perfectly, standing in front of the refrigerator with the door open, just looking inside. But, I digress.
In the week since I’ve started my Gluten Free Experiment, I’ve actually done pretty well. I’ve tried zucchini pasta, I had a tempeh burger on gluten free bread, I eliminated the tortillas for my tofu burrito (I also tried rice tortillas when I made the leftovers). I’ve eaten more vegetables, skipped bread, except an occasional slice of gluten free toast. I’ve skipped my morning cereal, replacing it with a healthy smoothie.
But then we went on the road. We traveled to Las Vegas where Alan announced the Really Big Free Marathon on Saturday. We stayed in Lake Las Vegas, which is about a half hour from Vegas, and at least 10 miles from most restaurants, though there is a small village with a variety of cuisines surrounding the hotel. None were vegan or vegetarian.
I did quite well the first day. I brought snacks, including that burrito. For dinner we didn’t want to drive all the way in to Las Vegas, so we found a PF Changs, which clearly marks their menus where they are vegetarian and gluten free (most of their vegetarian food is vegan). We also found a Whole Foods and picked up some food for the next morning, including peanut butter, fruit, and smoothies. The problem was, it wasn’t enough.
After a very long morning on the day of the race (arrived at 5 am, the last runner came across the finish at about 2:30 pm), Alan and I had finished off all of our snacks and were tired and hungry. It was close to 4:00 when we finally found the Subway (yeah, but it was a no-brainer and that’s what we needed). I had a pretty good spinach salad, so I was full and still gluten free.
As dinner approached, Alan and I agreed that we were too tired to follow the original plan, which was to go to the Mint Bistro in Las Vegas. The drive was at least 30 minutes in each direction, plus traffic and that just didn’t sound appealing. In fact, driving anywhere didn’t sound appealing. Instead, we decided to take a stroll around the village by our hotel, read menus and see what we could find.
It was on this walk that I said to Alan the words in the opening paragraph. We walked, we looked at a few menus, then finally, passing a little pizza joint, I said, let’s just go here. We can order a veggie pizza without cheese. It’s easy, we can take it back to our room. Fine.
Then, as I sat waiting for my pizza, a little light bulb went on over my head. Um, pizza crust=wheat=gluten. Oops. Like I said, my brain is just not attuned to this yet.
If you are wondering, yes, I ate the pizza, yes, it was delicious, yes, I felt just a little bit guilty. I did not, however, have the leftover piece for breakfast the next morning. I decided to get back on track.
So, that’s the latest update on my gluten free experiment. I’m pretty happy about where I am with it right now. I think I still need to add more veggies (big salad for dinner tonight). I still feel hungry a lot of the time because I don’t have a go-to snack or small meal.
On a brighter note, Alan and I spent two nights in Lake Las Vegas at the Aston Montelago Village Resort. While it is about 20 miles outside of Las Vegas, it was a lovely place to stay. We had a great one bedroom suite at a fraction of the cost of a similar room in Vegas, plus it was quite and relaxing and, well, just nice. That may not be what you’re looking for when you go to Las Vegas, but it was perfect for us.
As befits Las Vegas, Lake Las Vegas is a strange combination of Mediterranean architecture and desert landscaping.
We finish with a Whole Foods fail. On the way out of town, we decided to skip Vegas altogether so that we could get on the road for our four hour drive. Instead we opted to stop at Whole Foods again, pick up some lunch and snacks for the drive, then head on home.
Alan laughs at me when I get excited about going to Whole Foods. It is kind of like vegan grocery heaven and since we don’t have one in the desert, it is a rare opportunity for me. As we wandered around the prepared food section, I studied all the options, checking out the vegan and gluten free choices.
I finally decided on ordering the Tofu Scramble. I had a choice of four veggies and I chose onions, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and spinach, along with vegan cheese. When we ordered I was asked if I wanted turmeric. I said yes, thinking that a dash of the spice improves both the flavor and the color of the tofu scramble. We were told our order would be ready in 10 minutes.
After 30 minutes, our order was finally ready. There was no charge for either order, because of the ridiculously long wait. Even so, I was tempted to return my scramble because someone had a heavy hand with the turmeric. A very heavy hand.
So much that I couldn’t even eat it. I was too tired to deal with taking it back, so I went back to the salad bar to search for a few vegan, gluten free selections. A rare Whole Foods fail. This almost made up for it all, though:
So, I’ve rambled on long enough. All in all, a fun weekend. One goof up on the gluten free trail, but I got right back on track. Next weekend we’re traveling to Malibu where Alan is announcing the Malibu Marathon. I know that I need a better plan before we go. Something to work on.
How was your weekend? Any events, travel or generally fun stuff you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it!