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Make Your Summer Spicy!
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I don't have very many rules of life and the ones I do have are mostly common sense.
I'm kind to children and animals, I eat my leafy green vegetables and I don't spit
in the wind (or anywhere else for that matter). Perhaps my biggest rule of life,
however, is that I always seize the opportunity to travel. It is this rule that I
have tried hardest to impress upon my usually unimpressionable fourteen year old son,
Nicholas. With our trip to Denver, I believe he now sees the value in travel and
Our trip to Denver was planned well in advance. It would be two or three days of
business and an equal number of days spent enjoying the area. Because he was
raised in Colorado, my business partner and good friend would serve as tour guide.
By the time we arrived at the airport in Denver, we had to hurry to check-in at our
hotel and then it was on to our Friday evening plans — Cirque du Soleil and dinner.
We arrived a bit late for Cirque which was set up in tremendous blue and yellow circus
tents. I have been impressed each time I have been fortunate enough to attend
a Cirque du Soleil show and this time was no exception. From clown acts to dancing to
balancing, juggling and acrobatics, the audience was mesmerized
throughout the two hour extravaganza.
Following the circus, we made our way to dinner at Morton's Steakhouse in Denver — a low
carb haven! Morton's first opened in Chicago in the 1970s. Since then,
they have earned their reputation of delivering large portions of USDA Prime beef. They
also serve fresh seafood, chicken and lamb. I started my meal with a
delicious salad with homemade ranch dressing. I had the filet mignon (medium-rare, of
course) with Bearnaise sauce and asparagus with Hollandaise sauce. The
food was prepared wonderfully and service was impeccable. My dining companions all had
varying items from the menu, but what I noticed is that nearly everything
on our table was low carb fare. In fact, unless you indulge in the bread at the beginning
of the meal or potatoes with your dinner, you cannot go too far off track at
Morton's. Until dessert, that is.
Two desserts were brought to our table with enough spoons and small plates so the five
of us could share. Lemon souffle and Godiva cake. The Godiva cake, I've
had in the distant past and knew that I should stay far away from that or risk eating
too much of a bad thing and having cravings for more. Lemon souffle, though, I'd
never tried, and I must admit that I do love lemon! I had one small bite and set the
spoon aside. It was good, but it was also very sweet — much too rich for my new
and improved taste buds.
While I will not have even a small taste of my trigger foods I do allow myself an
occasional nibble of new foods that cannot be in my local area. If I do not think
I will be able to stop at just one or two bites (for example, that Godiva cake), I avoid
temptation altogether rather than risk going off plan completely.
While in the Denver area, we stayed at the Westin Hotel in Westminster, Colorado.
The hotel lobby was very impressive. Done in leather and wood, its open space
design was made to look like a large modern lodge. There were many small conversation
areas set up in the lobby and there was a cozy fireplace. The lobby was
crowded and a bit loud at times, but comfortable enough that we spent time there nearly
every evening. Our room was also very comfortable as is the case with
most Westin Hotels that I've visited.
Unfortunately, I did not check the room service
menu before leaving home. Upon inspection, I realized that it would be very
difficult to have anything other than breakfast delivered to the room. There was no
low carb section in the menu and the rather limited selection of meals from the
lunch and dinner menu would have to be greatly modified to meet my needs. Luckily, I
was not planning to spend much time in the room.
Sunday brunch at the hotel's restaurant, O's, was a stark comparison to the room
service menu. The restaurant was well lit and uncrowded, tables were large and
seats were roomy. And the food was a low carbers feast. All of the usual brunch
items were there — bacon, sausage and eggs. There was also a salad bar, a tray
of fine deli selections, wonderful cheeses, fresh fruit, chicken and shrimp. Omelets
could be ordered from the server and were delivered hot and delicious. Eggs
Benedict (a personal favorite) were available for the taking. Service was good,
friendly and fast; I definitely recommend trying O's for brunch if you are ever in the
Dining At 14,000 Feet:
On one of our free days, our personal tour guide led Nicholas and me to Pike's Peak.
Rising 14,110 feet above sea level, the summit was reached by horse and
mule by earlier travelers — we decided to drive. The day was hazy and it was impossible
to see the peak through the clouds. Portions of the drive were sunny and we
were blessed with the most amazing views I have ever seen. It is easy to understand that
"America the Beautiful" was inspired by the views from here. The weather
worsened as we inched our way higher into the sky and once into the clouds, I could see
barely 20 feet in front of the car — driving at 12,000 feet without guardrails
was definitely a new experience.
I did not feel the effects of the altitude while in the car, but my friend warned me
several times to go slowly when we got out at the summit. Even with these warnings,
I was not prepared for feeling so lightheaded and dizzy. We had started out on empty
stomachs and it was definitely past lunchtime when we reached the top.
Hoping food would help me feel better, we decided to grab a snack at the cafe.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza and french fries were all available. The self-serve area
had a couple of salads and some containers of yogurt. I opted for a burger minus
the bun and a bottle of water.
While eating, an announcement came that the weather had worsened and the park rangers
were coming up to escort vehicles down the mountain. By the time we
finished our meal, it was snowing outside! Children were playing gleefully and more
than one parent was looking a bit concerned.
Before we left for the long trip down the mountain, I visited the gift shop and found
the perfect pin for my collection. It reads, "Real Women Don't Need Guardrails."
Garden of Gods:
That same day, we visited Garden of the Gods which is located in Colorado Springs.
I literally gasped as we drove into the park and saw the beautiful red sandstone
formations. Since it is so close to Pike's Peak, I would have to say that no trip
to the region is complete without stopping at Garden of the Gods. Hiking trails and
picnic areas are available.
Also, Garden of the Gods Trading Post is the largest trading post in Colorado. Besides
the usual tourist gifts of keychains and mugs, you will also find Native
American paintings and Navajo rugs. And while it was near closing time, food is
available in the large cafe. It is here that I was able to find plenty of low carb
snacks to sustain me for the remainder of my stay in Colorado.
As avid readers, Nicholas and I are always on the lookout for bookstores. While driving near
a residential area, we spotted our favorite large bookstore. After paying
for our books, we accidentally exited through the wrong doors and found ourselves
staring face-to-face with Red Robin.
For those not in the know, Red Robin is a gourmet hamburger restaurant. They have scant else
on their impressive menu — at least that I noticed. The burgers are
huge with a variety of toppings. They have a "protein style" burger that is wrapped in lettuce,
but the truth is they will wrap any of their burgers and substitute a small
tossed salad for french fries. Great food, reasonable cost and low carb. Nicholas and I went
there twice during our trip.
Buca di Beppo:
Italian food conjures up visions of pasta for most people. And it did for me, too, until a trip
to Buca di Beppo. The smell of garlic and olive oil was heavy in the air as
we entered the restaurant on a particularly stormy night. I was concerned. Pizza, pasta, garlic
bread — I was going to be in big trouble! The decor was homey and
comfortable and there was a chalkboard of daily specials. Just beneath the specials in brightly
colored chalk was the proclamation that Buca di Beppo has 18 low
carb items on their menu.
Unfortunately, the waiter could only point to a few of those dishes. Fortunately, one of those
was the shrimp scampi. I was presented with a very large platter of
good-sized shrimp resting gently in a sauce of butter and garlic with just a hint of lemon.
Add in a side of vegetables and I had a meal that would make anyone (low
carbing or not) envious.
Service was good and friendly. I'd only suggest checking out the menu online before heading
to the restaurant so you know in advance which items are low carb.
Even though this trip was combined with business, I have to say that our visit to Denver
was the best vacation I have had in years. It was a relaxing time with friends
and family in a setting that simply could not be more stunning. And when I returned home
and stepped on the scale, I found that I had lost two pounds!
I'm off to my favorite destination next week — San Francisco. I found a great deal on
Until next time, travel healthy!
Christine Witt is a mother and gift store owner in upstate New York. She enjoys photography
and, of course, travel.
Copyright © August 2004 Christine Witt and Low Carb Luxury