Atlantis Veg-antures

IMG_1206.jpgAs still a semi-new vegan, travel is something I get a little anxious about food-wise. Atlantis has an option to call the chef’s office 2 weeks ahead of time to let them know of any dietary needs but I figured vegan is something that is getting common enough that they can make things work and I was right! With thousands of people milling around the resort each day, they did a better job accomadating me than the restaurants we went to in Florida which is saying something. I wanted to write a blog post about the vegan finds that I ate while in Atlantis and the restaurants we went to so that it may help anyone else who wants vegan travel advice.

Tip #1: I always look at menus before I go anywhere to see my options/how I can edit something to work. In this case, they have so many restaurants on property that I looked at the website to find as many menus as I could and wrote down a few restaurants that looked like they would be good options. You’ll have to make reservations far in advance.

Tip #2: Keep things simple. At home I try to make something different every night with different ingredients, but when away just get something that will fill you up and fits in your lifestyle. Of course you want to enjoy delicious and new things on vaca, and that happened, but sometimes it’s just a matter of what can work.

Tip #3: Tell the waiter or restaurant beforehand so they can help guide you in ordering something that can work for you. Most of the time they can come up with a solution to make an item vegan or create something new.

Tip #4: Don’t stress about it! At home you can eat exactly how you want and that’s your choice. I for one haven’t been eating oil when I cook at home, but I knew eating out at restaurants I was bound to eat oil in most everything I ordered. I asked a few places to go light on oil or asked if it could be made without it, and other times you just have to do it and know that it’s temporary and you can go back to eating exactly how you want when you get home. I didn’t want that to ruin my vacation!

We got to Atlantis late Wednesday night and we were ready to have something quick for dinner when we arrived. Most places were already closed, but we found Olives was still open so that’s where we went. I ordered a flatbread pizza with marinara and whatever veggies the chef wanted to add. The waitress asked the chef if it could be done and they said it could, and it was good! They added lots of spinach, chopped asparagus, garlic, and mushrooms. However, the Goombay Smash was not the drink I remembered and was way too sugary for my taste!

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This was my typical breakfast for the few mornings we were there. We went back to Olives to have breakfast since we didn’t want to wait in a mile long line for Poseidon’s Table buffet. They had a big menu, but everything had meat and dairy so I ordered the Continental Breakfast with wheat toast and this beautiful fruit plate and a cup of hot tea. I put raspberry jelly on my toast and it kept me full til lunch!

The first day we explored the resort and found an awesome pool called The Coral Pool with a swim up bar and a DJ. We got the last chairs available and so we didn’t want to move, so we ordered lunch by the pool. Josh and I got the black bean burger topped with guacamole and vegetable chips. It was alright, nothing amazing but it kept us satisfied. Sorry, some food pictures did not get taken before I chowed down, but I tried to remember!

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For dinner we went to Cafe D’Angelo for Italian. It was a really nice restaurant and as a starter they brought out fresh bruschetta and focaccia. YUM! I asked if they could make a dish with whole wheat penne, marinara, and vegetables and they did. It was filled with different varieties of mushrooms, broccolini, spinach, and peppers. It was one of the best things I ate there. IMG_1319.jpg

The next day we ate breakfast at Olives again so I had the same thing, then took a long walk around the property. It’s so well maintained, tropical, and gorgeous. There’s something to see wherever you are so it’s a lot to take in. It’s relaxing, but there’s also a ton to do if you want to stay busy.  We ate, took walks, went to the pool and beach, and did the casino thing at night.

That day for lunch we went to the Lagoon Bar and Grill that is located by the pool and I had a grilled vegetable sandwich and added avocado and mustard. I had some chips and a side salad with it. Again, it was okay, so we figured the lunches just weren’t going to match the nice places we went for dinner but it kept us full. IMG_1290.jpg

We went to Chopstix for dinner and the service was awful. We had edamame, vegetable dumplings (my TJ’s ones are better), but the wok-fired tofu udon was really good. I ordered it without the oyster sauce and they made a soy based sauce for it instead. IMG_1332.jpg

The next morning I wanted something different for breakfast so we tried Poseidon’s Table buffet. Luckily the line was short and it was a huge buffet with a lot to offer. I got a piece of raisin seed toast with jelly, grits (made with water), fruit, and home fries topped with spinach, mushrooms, and onions with guac and salsa.

For lunch we wanted to stay by the pool so we had a late salad. I ordered the grilled veggie chopped salad without cheese and got balsamic.

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Good thing I got a light lunch before the best dinner of the week, or month..maybe year. Nobu is definitely well-known for a reason. We saved it for the last night and I’m so glad we did! It was so delicious and there was so much variety on the menu. I could order many items right off the menu and everything we got was fabulous. I got a cup of miso soup for my appetizer and then shared the mushroom sizzle plate, which was a pile of different kinds of mushrooms on a hot skillet tossed in a citrus soy sauce and topped with few grilled asparagus. It was packed with flavor and cooked to perfection.

I also got the hot dish of mixed vegetables in a garlic sauce and added tofu. It was beautiful and really tasty. Josh usually doesn’t enjoy tofu, but he really loved this dish. IMG_1417.jpg

It’s all served family style, so everyone can get what they want and everyone can try it out. For sushi, my family ordered the kinds they wanted and I got the vegetable roll. It was my least favorite item that I ordered because of the herb that was inside and we couldn’t tell what it was. I was disappointed because they’re known for their sushi, but everyone else LOVED theirs. I was already full from all of the other yummy things I ordered, so no big deal there. Overall, it was all of our favorite out of the restaurants we went to there.IMG_1420.jpg

This morning before we left we went to the buffet at Poseidon’s Table again because it’s SO much fast than Olives. We didn’t have time to waste before our car came, so it was a good way to get in and out. I had fruit, toast, and grits then had to say goodbye to a beautiful place!

After my frustration with my food during my last vacation, this proved to be a success. I was happy I could stay on track pretty easily and everyone was helpful. The service there is on Bahamas time (very slow) but the people are so nice and it’s an amazing place to stay. Hope everyone had a relaxing spring break! Back to reality tomorrow!

Now we’re home and even though I was tired I wanted to eat something homemade and healthy. I made lentils and rice with mushrooms in the rice cooker because it’s really easy and quick prep, but comforting and hearty. I decided I needed more veggies so I stirred in a few cups of baby spinach right as the rice was done so that it wilted right in. I also added a little more veggie stock so it was a little creamier than I usually make it.

A Vegan at the Beach

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We had a relaxing week at the beach filled with reading, tanning/burning, taking Louis on walks, getting a couples massage, eating in and out, and watching sunset from the top deck. The beach is so relaxing to me and I love escaping life to come down here and just watch the ocean with my morning tea. No morning dolphin watch this time though because the waves were huge! We’re about to leave to come home, but I’m so thankful we have a place to come when we need a reset and need to relax because no where is more relaxing to me than the beach.

We went out to eat typically once a day for lunch or dinner, and while taking Louis on a walk through Seaside I found one vegan place (Raw and Juicy) and bought a local brewed kombucha that was tasty. There’s also a bakery less than a mile away that had gluten-free and vegan options so we went there for a muffin one morning and we were pleasantly surprised.

WARNING: RANT STARTING– I was anxious to eat out this much in a week because 1. I was worried about finding vegan options and 2. that I wouldn’t be following HCLF no oil because restaurants put oil on everything. I was willing to handle that once a day because I was so excited for the experience of eating out and getting a break from cooking 6 nights a week. The first meal we had for lunch when we got here was at a restaurant close by and I had ahi tuna with a cabbage asian type salad.

When transitioning to vegan, we said we would still eat fish sometimes because we liked it the best, thought it was the best of the worst for us, and it made going out to eat easier because there was still options we could order without making it difficult. We ate a lot of fish in the first few months, and then I stopped really cooking it at home. If we went out to sushi or if we went out I would order it because it was available and I liked it. Then one day the taste of the fish on my sushi didn’t give me the same joy, it made me gag. I think my taste was changing to the point that any fleshy texture wasn’t doing it for me anymore so I haven’t been eating fish lately. I didn’t feel great about eating that tuna for lunch, and then I came home to read while laying out and read about fish in Starch Solution. Fish are being taken from the ocean faster than they can reproduce and we’re about to have a shortage on sea life. I’ve always been a big fan of the ocean, and don’t really want to do anything to mess it up if I don’t have to. I read that fish is filled with the contaminants that pollute the ocean like chemicals and plastic, and mercury is something you don’t want inside your body. Fish still has a significant amount of cholesterol so if you’re trying to get your cholesterol down without taking medication, fish won’t help. Also, the things they feed farm-raised fish are pretty nasty. The more I researched, the less I felt like I needed to eat fish. Do I like it? Yes. Do I need it to survive? No. Was it going to make me healthy? No. Josh still wants to eat it, and he can order it when we go out, he just knows that I don’t really want to partake in it now.

The rest of the week when we went out, I tried to find vegan options on the menu and it was challenging. I had to ask the waitress’s if they could make things vegan and they always had to go ask their chef then come back to me then ask their chef and come back to me. It was a hassle, and it was mildly embarrassing. There was butter in the bread, there was butter on the mushrooms and onions, there was chicken stock in the pasta salad, there was butter in the rice…etc. Pretty much butter in everything. For one dinner, edamame was the only vegan option on the menu, so I asked if they could make a veggie roll and they did, so that’s what I had for dinner. I got a vegetable sandwich for lunch on an Italian herb roll (only one without butter) without mushrooms and onions and it was great. For dinner last night we went out and I was going to get a Spanish rice bowl with veggies, easy enough right? No, butter in all of the rice options… they said I could have a salad or a bowl of veggies. Oh, just what I wanted with a margarita! We went back and forth until I asked if they could use the roasted veggies and make tacos with the corn tortillas on the menu. We finally came up with a solution, but it’s a process. I apologized for the inconvenience, and she said “oh no problem, we get asked all the time!” If they do, why isn’t there one vegan option on the menu? I felt frustrated because why aren’t there any options anywhere I go, and embarrassed because I feel like my Uncle Kirk trying to special order and cause a scene. It wasn’t enjoyable, and I’d rather just cook at home so I can avoid that situation. Could I have just said I’m fine with the butter in things? I could have, Josh is okay about dealing with that but I don’t want to. I don’t want to eat things that I normally don’t eat. I don’t want to eat dairy if I don’t eat dairy. I don’t want to pick meat out of baked beans to make it easier for someone else if it’s against what I eat.

I’ve been vegan for 8 months and the more research I do, the better I feel about my decision. The research I find pushes me to try harder and pushes me to do better than I currently am doing. The joy I’m getting now isn’t from a big steak or pizza, it’s from knowing that I’m doing everything I can do to put food in my body that will benefit instead of hurt me. That I’m not hurting any animals in the process, because once you see that process it’s heartbreaking and I really enjoy what I’m eating. Also, that I’m doing what I can to help the environment. I shouldn’t have to see people roll their eyes at me, tell me I’m crazy or I’ve gone too far, or react like I’m doing something negative to them. I’m only doing what I think is the best thing, it’s not like I’m joining a gang and getting neck tattoos. If they don’t want to hear what I’ve learned, then they don’t have to ask. Most people don’t want to hear that what they’re eating isn’t healthy or it’s hurting something else so they can keep eating what they want, so they don’t want me telling them when I’m only trying to help. If people want information from me about being vegan and it’s benefits, then I hope I can be a role model and example. If they want to make fun of me for it, then go ahead, look like an uneducated idiot. I’m over people judging me for something that I’ve become passionate about, and I enjoy.  It did make me more anxious to eat out on our upcoming vacations, but I guess I’ll just have to be the annoying one trying to find something at restaurants now, and I have to be okay with that. END RANT

Other than those feelings coming up that I’m glad I can get off my chest, it was a great trip. I’m glad I packed food and came prepared because it did help to be able to have choices to eat at home. Now Josh is telling me we have to start packing up and heading out, so unfortunately we have to go home. I could get used to blogging with this view though! Hope everyone is having a good week!IMG_0651.jpgIMG_0693.jpgIMG_0690.jpgIMG_0673.jpgIMG_0641.jpg