Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Denver, CO Trip

Last week, I went to Denver, CO for a conference for school. After a week of not really cooking, I am very much looking forward to getting back into the kitchen, so you can bet that some real recipes will be posted soon.

My trip to Denver was great. The conference was an awesome experience, and in the evenings I had a lot of fun. I didn't get to do touristy things with the limited amount of time, except for maybe shopping on 16th street mall. Going into this trip, I really wanted to minimize spending on food, as it can get quite expensive to eat out at every meal. I prepared well, bringing cereal, protein powder, and healthy banana cranberry oat bars, to cover breakfast and snacks.

Without doing any previous research on good restaurants in the city, we did pretty well at finding good food, with only urbanspoon by our side. Here is a summary of some of the places I experienced:

1. Chipotle Mexican Grill
This was very close to our hotel, and on the night I arrived it was very convenient and fast. I hadn't eaten in 7+ hours (not my style) so I was in no mood for waiting long for food. I got a vegetarian burrito which was amazing! Maybe my fondness for this burrito was masked by starvation mode, but I'd say it was on the higher end of the burrito scale. My only complaint was that it wasn't grilled or heated once assembled, but I am sure I could have asked for that. Another problem, which didn't bother me, again because of my extreme hunger, was the presence of cilantro (my least favourite herb) in both the guacamole and the salsa. It wasn't as strong as it could have been so it didn't bother me too much. Turns out, this is a huge chain and there is one in Toronto, so I am sure I will visit Chipotle again.

The first lunch in Denver we were kind of bombarded with options. There was this madgreens place, voted best healthy lunch, numerous delis, tons of pizzarias, and a wide variety of cafes. We took a look inside Jason's Deli, which seemed busy, as a sandwich sounded like a good option. Jenna (who was with me on all these dining experiences) spotted a salad bar in the distance. Upon further investigation, we learned it was about 8 bucks for an all-you-can eat salad bar lunch. This salad bar had everything! It had all the vegetables you would expect, organic spring mix, cottage cheese, feta cheese, artichokes, eggs, a variety of nuts, croutons, and crackers. In addition, dessert was included, with chocolate mouse, yogurt and fruit, brownies and granola. It was a match made in heaven for us, which was a heavy dose of veggies with a lot of good protein options. We liked this place so much we went the second day, after informing numerous people of this incredible find.
My round 1 of 2 plate.

2. Tamayo
The second night there was an event being hosted courtesy of PINES (professionals in nutrition of exercise and sport). There was some free food, and drinks for sale. It was an authentic style kind of upper scale Mexican restaurant, which I would love to try again. For the event there were finger-food type items, so I would love to actually order an entree there. I honestly couldn't tell you what I had to eat, but it was really good. They also had in house made tortilla chips with fresh salsa and guacamole.

4. Mici
This place was found by searching for a pizza place close to the conference center. They had a great lunch special, which I think was 8 dollars, for a salad and a piece of gourmet pizza. This wasn't your average pizza joint. I ordered the Giardino slice which had sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, garlic, roasted red pepper, spinach, artichoke hearts, and zucchini on it. For the salad I chose the Insalata della Cassa which was mixed greens, grapes, walnuts, gorgonzola cheese,  and balsamic dressing. It was a really good last meal in Denver, and I am glad we chose this place out of the seemingly 50+ other pizza joints in the area.

Since this was the American College of Sport Medicine annual meeting, the exhibit consisted of some nutritional supplement companies, like solae, EAS, powerbar, gatorade etc. This lead me to collect a fair amount of protein/energy bars, protein shakes, and even a protein pudding (what is next?!). While this did help  a lot in keeping me content between meals and during my long connecting flights, I am a little sick of protein products. They have lost all of the excitement in trying a new product.

Now that I am back in my kitchen I am excited to try out some new ideas I have, and recipes I have come across. I just have to get by the barrier of turning on the oven with the arrival of the summer heat. I hope to share some new recipes soon.

By the way, my tomato plants were being taken care of by my housemate Megan, and as a result have grown a crazy amount! I swear, I turn away for a minute and they grow another centimetre. I am glad they are doing well after a little bit of a rough start (being dug up by an unknown animal).

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