I recently spent several weeks meeting the challenge of eating healthy in hotels around Atlanta, Georgia. Now I’m in Denver, Colorado for at least a few weeks.
I have minimal space in my luggage (See my post about all of my belongings are in one suitcase), but the following important items are small and lightweight enough for me to bring.
Food & Drink Ware:
- Filtering water bottle
- Kitchen knife
- Nested food containers and cutting board
I would like to replace some of those items with non-plastic versions, but for now I will use what I already own.
- Packets of miso soup mix
- Bag of ready-to-eat carrots
- Bag of flaxseed
- Nutritional yeast
- Fresh, organic fruit
I spent my first several days in downtown Denver, then moved to the Tech Center. Both of my hotels have a refrigerator, and my second hotel includes free shuttle service within a 5-mile radius (helpful for grocery shopping). Overall, I have been able to eat a healthy whole food, plant-based diet on a reasonable budget. Following are my food choices so far:
Day 1 – Tuesday
I stayed at a Hampton Inn in downtown Denver. Hampton hotels always include a free breakfast. It’s fairly low quality, but I can eat it for a few days. I fixed myself a bowl of oatmeal with fruit. I was happy to see they had strawberries, although unfortunately today was the only day of the week they had them. (The rest of the week they had yucky looking mixed melon and pineapple instead.) Each morning I also drank a cup of hot green tea and lots of water.
I recently turned in American Express points for a gift certificate for The Cheesecake Factory. I chose the Cheesecake Factory because I had read that there were many vegan options there, especially if you make simple replacements in their standard menu items. I chose the Thai lettuce wraps with mushrooms instead of meat. Delicious! I didn’t eat the sauces because I doubt they were made in a healthy way, but the fresh veggies provided plenty of nice flavor. I ordered a kale and quinoa salad to-go. The Thai lettuce wraps were so filling that for dinner I only wanted miso soup and some nuts back in the room.
Day 2 – Wednesday
I ate my bowl of free hotel oatmeal with fruit. For both lunch and dinner I ate the kale and quinoa salad that I had purchased yesterday from The Cheesecake Factory. I added flaxseed for extra Omega-3’s, and nutitional yeast for Vitamin B12.
I enjoyed carrots and some fresh fruit as snacks in the room.
Day 3 – Thursday
Hotel oatmeal and fruit. As I walked around downtown Denver today, I picked up a Tuscan bean salad (with avocado instead of cheese) from the near-by Green Fine Salad Company. Their emphasis is on whole, fresh, mostly organic food — great! My salad was so large that I split it into two meals: lunch and dinner. I added flaxseed and nutritional yeast, along with some pumpkin seeds for extra iron and flavor. I chose not to use their oil-based dressing, and instead I mashed the avocado and pumpkin seeds throughout the salad. Yum!
I enjoyed the last of the fresh fruit I brought with me. I also had a miso soup with my remaining salad in the evening.
Day 4 – Friday
Yep, hotel oatmeal and fruit again. Today I made use of a favorite app/website called Happy Cow, which is a vegetarian dining guide. It helped me find a nearby eco-friendly all-vegan restaurant in downtown Denver called Watercourse Foods. I greatly enjoyed the atmosphere as well as their black bean and sweet potato street tacos. I would definitely like to go back and try more items from their awesome menu.
Afterwards, I stopped by a little downtown market called Marczyk Fine Foods where I picked up a nice selection of veggies to make salads. I took advantage of the fact that I have a fridge in my room, and I made myself a lovely salad for dinner.
Day 5 – Saturday
I was starting to get bored with the standard hotel breakfast, but, well, it’s free and the oatmeal is by far the healthiest item. I still had a small portion of oatmeal, but I also ate a few seasoned potatoes this morning. They were tasty, but I would have much preferred them without all the oil. For lunch, I made myself another salad in the room.
For dinner, I headed over to Chipotle. Fun story…
I had been wanting to try Chipotle because I appreciate their fighting against the atrocities of the food industry (See their awesome commercial), and I had read that they have some nice vegan options. I told the line cook that this was my first time at Chipotle and asked for her guidance with creating a vegan meal. Not only was she helpful in explaining my options, but the chef in the back came over and shared his thoughts too. They helped me build the perfect scrumptious vegan burrito. Then when I went to pay for it, the cashier said “Since this was your first time here, we would like to buy your meal. Welcome to Chipolte!” I enjoyed my awesome FREE burrito, and Chipotle definitely made a new loyal fan!
Day 6 – Sunday (Moving Hotels Day)
Yep, hotel oatmeal and fruit again. I am looking forward to hopefully more breakfast options at my next hotel. For lunch, I prepared one last salad in the room. Then I moved to a hotel in the Denver Tech Center. I ordered the Miso Soy Rice entree from Zink Kitchen + Bar. It was yummy, although with my changed taste buds, it was also too salty.
Day 7 – Monday
My new hotel has higher quality oatmeal (I assume steel cut instead of instant) and a lovely variety of fruit, including fresh strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, oranges, bananas, and melons. Their seasoned potatoes are also delicious, and the kitchen staff made them with minimal oil for me. The hotel also includes a free shuttle service within 5 miles, so I used it to pick up some groceries at Sprouts Farmers Market. I bought veggies for salads in the room for the rest of the week. I also bought hummus (to dip veggies in) and soup.
My favorite purchase was a cup-a-black bean quinoa salad. I read the ingredients at the store and was quite impressed. Of course I prefer to eat fresh food, but hotel living has its limitations. It wasn’t until I was back in my hotel room that I realized the brand was by one of the main doctors I follow: Dr. John McDougall. I googled the Right Foods brand and learned that he has a line of meals and soups that are whole food plant-based and eco-friendly, and they are perfect for hotel living! I am pleased to see I could also purchase his products on Amazon.
Since it is Christmas week, the hotel shuttle service and some of the local restaurants closed starting Tuesday, but my groceries provided plenty of satiating and healthy meals for my second week in Denver.
So far so good… I am having success eating healthy in hotel rooms while continually learning about new options and ideas.