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Low carb diet/restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

USA
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Low carb diet/restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

I have an unusual request. Due to a variety of health reasons, my diet is severely restricted to a no-carb, vegetarian foods: no breads, pastas, rice, quinoa, potatoes, fruits, etc. Even under the best of circumstances, it tends to be hard to find things when I go out to eat. But I would presume that away from urban centers, it will be especially difficult. So, I'm hoping to stock up on supplies wherever I can find them along the Calgary->Banff->Jasper->Banff->Calgary circuit.

I'd appreciate any tips on suitable restaurants and grocery stores, keeping in mind that access to cooking facilities will be limited.

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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1. Re: Low carb diet/restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

There is a Nutters bulk & health food store here in Jasper. Vegetarian meals are widely available in restaurants (it's pretty mainstream these days) as are GF items (gluten free, although I know that gluten free doesn't necessarily mean no/low carb). Grocery stores in Banff and Jasper are not terribly large (Calgary and Canmore have larger stores with better selection), but carry a wide enough range to suit the local population and the thousands of visitors in the area. It's not really clear to me what specific "supplies" you are looking for, so some more detailed info might be helpful, in order to give you more than just generic information. In general, groceries and restaurant meals are more expensive here in Canada than in the US, and probably even more so for specialty items.

Calgary, Canada
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2. Re: Low carb diet/restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

So if you're eating vegetarian food and no carbohydrates, are you on an all-fat/oil diet? Or do you also eat eggs and dairy? It would be helpful if you could say exactly what you can eat, since your diet seems to be extremely limited.

USA
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3. Re: Low carb diet/restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

krp329, Country_Wife, thanks for your quick responses. What I can eat: vegetables (lots of them), eggs, cheese, yogurt, nuts and, yes, good fats from oils like olive, coconut oil and butter. I can also eat beans & lentils in moderation. As you can see, it's quite limited. The Nutters store in Jasper sounds good.

Salad places work well for me, although by salad I don't mean the commonly available North American variety which is 90% lettuce and 10% a few other token vegetables. I mean real, hearty salads, with 'real' vegetables. :)

Calgary, Canada
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for Calgary
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4. Re: Low carb diet/restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

In Calgary, you could try Community Natural Foods and Planet Organic for groceries. The Coup is a vegan restaurant just north of downtown, there is also Buddha's Veggie which is Chinese food with vegetarian and carnivorous menus.

Calgary, Canada
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5. Re: Low carb diet/restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

Hello,

I agree with many of the suggestions below. I highly recommend stocking up on snacks and groceries in Calgary at Community Natural Foods. They have an excellent variety of products, many of which do not require refrigeration. Other options are Amaranth Whole Foods and Planet Organic. I also find the Canadian Superstores to have a nice selection. I like to stock up on Larabars, which are basically dates, coconut, nuts, and some fruit depending on the ones you buy.

In Calgary, the Coup is an amazing restaurant. There are also other places to eat, Community Natural Foods has an awesome lunch salad bar and hot food cafeteria. Voodoo Lounge has a gluten free menu, and Joey's in Eau Claire also has a gluten free and vegetarian menu--just ask them as it is not on their regular menu. Buddha's Veggie is also great, alothough you may find it hard to get gluten free there. The Blue Star Diner in the Bridgeland neighbourhood of Calgary has vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options. And just down the street at Luke's Drug Mart there is a treasure trove of groceries in the basement.

I am not familiar with the options in Banff or Jasper, but in Canmore there are some good veggie friendly choices-Crazyweed, Elita, Tavern 1883.

Hope this is helpful :)

Banff, Canada
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for Banff, Banff National Park
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6. Re: Low carb diet/restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

Nourish in Banff has a vast array of vegetarian and vegan options, and it's really good! 200 block of Bear Street. In the same block, the WildFlour bakery caters for a variety of dietary restrictions -- there's something there for every diet.

Calgary, Canada
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7. Re: Low carb diet/restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

One other thought: Calgary Greek fast-food chain Opa! always has fresh, traditional Greek salad in plentiful supply: big chunks of tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and cucumbers, topped with feta cheese and a decorative kalamata olive. Not a shred of lettuce. They used to offer fava bean souvlaki skewers too, but I don't think they do any more. But shrimp and salmon souvlaki are available, if you can eat fish & shellfish.

Edited: 17 August 2014, 21:48
USA
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8. Re: Low carb diet/restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

It turned out to be harder than I'd hoped, especially out there in the wilderness, which is where you are most of the day. But that was partly due to my not being innovative enough. Survived for several days on salads, nuts, cheese & yogurt. You can only go so long on salads without craving flavored, cooked food. But eventually I ended up at a Nutters (in Canmore) before closing time (open 9am-7pm). You have to look, but they have some low-carb soups, soy products & Indian curries. They also have several interesting non-low-carb noodles for those who're interested. In hindsight, interleaving some of these in my meal-plan would have made things a bit better.

Post script: it is only when you travel do you realize how sugar/carb filled the food that's easily available is: pastries, sandwiches, sugared drinks, sugared yogurts, potatoes, etc. No wonder there's an insulin resistance epidemic in the (Western) world, with many not even realizing they have this condition.

Calgary, Canada
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for Canadian Rockies
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9. Re: Low carb diet/restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

Chipping in late, but a few comments that might help other posters or future posters...

Dietary restrictions aside, carbohydrates are a necessity for many of us who are in the mountains hiking, climbing etc and don't have such dietary restrictions. Especially in the winter, my problem is more about getting enough calories. I went through a lot of peanut M&Ms during the ice climbing season! But yes, things tend to be well over-sweetened or full of simple carbs that don't do much good. For instance, I struggle to find unsweetened or even lightly sweetened dried fruits for my climbing nut mixes.

That said, I do climb/hike with people who can't eat gluten, so have observed some tricks for eating when you can't do most carbs (other than rice and quinoa). But we tend to cook for ourselves and there's only so much you can eat that is cooked when you aren't in a place with restaurants or cooking facilities - sounds like you did a pretty good job of the realistic options.

If you have some cooking facilities - staying at a hostel can help in this regard - veggie smoothies are one way to go (I've seen them with avocado as a base, for instance) to get more of a variety. In the summer, there are plenty of veggies available at the supermarket (in Canmore) or one of the many farmer's markets (there's one in Canmore, I believe on in Banff and many around Calgary and Edmonton), and you can chop them up to munch on.... 0Carrots and sugar snap peas are great for munchies...

Another option is to make an omelet in the morning with cheese and veggies and have the leftovers for lunch. For longer trips you might want to consider finding a place that can custom or semi custom make dehydrated meals (or get your own dehydrator). You can very successfully dehydrate (and rehydrate) all sorts of veggies as well as curries and stews. They can be done either as meals that take a while to rehydrate or ground up a bit for 'boil in a bag' that only need boiling water & a few minutes to cook.

If you want more cooked foods, another option is the CommuniTea Cafe in Canmore, which caters more heavily to vegetarian or gluten free diets.

it's also worth keeping your eyes out for microwaves. I've found that it's not unheard of for cafeteria style places or big food courts at places like ski resorts to have a microwave available for customer use. Or you can be very polite and ask if they have one you can use... Then you can reheat or heat simple meals - if you find a restaurant with good options, get a doggy bag and have the rest for lunch the next day.

10. Re: Low carb diet/restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

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