Anyone who thinks Las Vegas, NV is only about gambling, drinking, and carb-filled buffets doesn’t live here. Since moving CarbSmart to Las Vegas this year, I’ve found an amazing city and surrounding area with over 2 million people, most of them originally from other parts of the country. I’ve also found every type of restaurant imaginable and every culture and social group represented with their own festival, parade, or special event. I don’t always find low carb meals at these events but i know how to make my own.
On Sunday, my friend Lou-Ann and I rode our scooters to the 41st Annual Las Vegas Greek Food Festival hosted by St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church and the Las Vegas Greek Community. The Church is situated on a 10 acre campus highlighted by a world-famous beautiful Byzantine Church located at 5300 El Camino Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89118.
Like any typical festival there were tons of booths selling everything from jewelry, artwork, religious artifacts, and of course, Greek baked goods. Most of the items were over-priced but it was great to see a large amount of vendors that were either Greek or that supported the Greek community all in one place. I didn’t buy any of the Greek baked goods but Lou-Ann (not a low carber) brought home some baklava, loukoumathes, and assorted cookies.
The Church Tour
One of the highlights of the day was the tour of the church and the presentation by Father John Hondros about the Greek Orthodox faith. He explained what Orthodox Christians believe and showed the similarity and differences to those of other Christian traditions. He discussed the faith’s history and long-standing ties to the local community. The Byzantine Church was beautiful, well maintained and everyone there made us feel welcome no matter what our faith was.
To learn more about the Greek Orthodox faith please visit the Church web site.
Now On To The FoodEvery traditional Greek food was available from the many food booths. Everything from roast lamb, Grecian chicken, feta cheese & Kalamata olives, dolmathes (beef, rice and spices mixed and rolled in tender grape leaves), spanakopita (spinach, feta cheese, eggs and herbs stuffed in a buttery crust, Greek salad, breaded calamari, gyro, souvlaki (marinated and grilled pork or chicken kabob), loukoumathes (deep fried light dough balls drenched with honey and cinnamon), baklava (layers of dough, nuts, honey and spices), koulourakia (butter twist cookies), and bogatsa (dough filled with custard, bated and topped with powdered sugar). It all sounds and looked delicious but obviously not everything was low carb.
Andrew’s Awesome Low Carb Greek Meal
So it was up to me to create my own low carb meal. I had to assemble this from a couple booths but it was worth it. Here is my Low Carb Greek Meal:
- Large Greek Salad $8.00 – I bought a standard large Greek salad which contained romaine lettuce, tomato wedges, cucumber slices, red onion, Kalamata olives, feta cheese and a greek dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.
- Feta Cheese and Kalamata Olives $4.00 – You can just never have enough feta cheese, can you? I added a serving of feta cheese and Kalamata olives and mixed it into the salad.
- 6 Strips of Roasted Lamb $10.00 – It was possible to get Roasted Lamb or Grecian Chicken as part of a Gyro (pronounced Yee-ro) but of course I don’t eat pita bread. So I asked them for 6 strips of lamb to add to my salad.
- Hummus and Pita Slices $4.00 – Obviously the least low carb part of the meal. First, I did not eat the pita bread. I did have the hummus which is a mix of chickpeas, ground hulled sesame seeds and olive oil. Hummus, whether homemade or store-bought is not strictly low carb because of the carb count of the chickpeas but it is still low enough in smaller quantities like a teaspoon or two.
So by combining all the ingredients into the salad plate (except for the hummus which I used to dip bites of roasted lamb into) I had a Greek feast which I was able to share for $26.00. Everything was fresh, well prepared and delicious. Could I have made it at home for less money? Of course I could – and I will, but while out with a friend, I had a great meal and I supported a great community. (Coming soon will be my homemade Greek salad recipe). What more could I have wanted – a great day, a great organization, and of course a great meal.
Any time you go to a restaurant, festival or special event, as low carbers, we can’t expect that everything served is going to follow our low carb, diabetic-friendly or Paleo lifestyle. It’s up to us to find options that are being presented that fit into our lifestyle and make them work for us without sacrificing our health, beliefs or blood sugar levels. It’s up to us to stay on our chosen paths.
To learn more about St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church’s ministries and activities please visit their Community and Education Center web page.
How do you adapt to restaurants and special events you go to? Let us know in the comments section below.