Pura Vida Bakery & Bystro chef and owner Mayra Trabulse has one goal: to create compassionate cuisine with a level of flavor that reflects her diverse cultural background. As she shared with Katherine Fernelius of Vegas Seven, Mayra is half Lebanese and half Cuban, and was born and raised in Mexico City. After moving to Las Vegas and attending community college, Mayra found herself unfulfilled. She decided to relocate to Florida, where she began to explore the politics of eating and her own relationship with food. She founded a catering business and became a private vegan chef before returning once more to Las Vegas to share her signature Caribbean- and Southwest-inspired dishes with Nevadans.
Mayra incorporated the Spanish phrase "pura vida" into the moniker of her eatery because it's a greeting or a farewell that can signify a sense of community and enjoying life slowly. That's exactly what she wants diners to feel at the restaurant, where she uses local, organic, fair-trade ingredients and incorporates macrobiotic, Ayurvedic, and raw-food principles in her low-temperature cooking. Mayra enhances her creations with unrefined oils and sweeteners and grinds whole spices for maximum flavor. Boasting a designated gluten-free area of her kitchen, she can cater to most any dietary restriction—Vanessa Meier of The Green Girl Next Door blog described how Mayra composed custom, on-the-fly dishes that were "beautiful and clearly prepared with so much love" for her and her husband.
And Meier isn't the only critic to take note of the blossoming restaurant: it earned Las Vegas Weekly’s 2012 Best Vegan Eating award and was named the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Dining Pick of the Week in October 2012. Mayra and her team also cater special events and bake custom vegan wedding cakes for couples being married by an Elvis wearing faux-blue-suede shoes.
With more than 700 locations, Jamba Juice proves to the masses that nutrition can be speedy and delicious. Since the beginning, the company’s product philosophy has revolved around choosing whole fruits and other natural ingredients over artificial flavorings, sweeteners, and preservatives. The menu is completely free of high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats, and it offers additional accommodations for vegan and gluten-free diets.
This naturalistic approach is fully realized in Jamba Juice's selection of smoothies. Made with 100% fruit juice, sherbet, and frozen yogurt, the frosty delights range from all-fruit smoothies such as peach perfection and strawberry whirl to more indulgent creamy treats, including peanut butter moo'd, an enticing blend of peanut butter, bananas, nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt, and milk chocolate.
For those with heartier appetites, steel-cut oats steep in soymilk before being enhanced with toppings such as apples, cinnamon, and brown-sugar crumble. The lunch hour presents protein-packed mini wraps, toasted bistro sandwiches and California Flatbreads that pack only about 320–420 calories each.
It was 1978. A college dropout and a failed medical-school applicant had just brought together their combined life savings to rent an old gas station. Their plan was to resurrect the empty station and open their own restaurant. Their specialty—ice cream. So begins the story of legendary entrepreneurs Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who are better known across the globe as Ben & Jerry. Their small, old-fashioned ice-cream parlor eventually became a Burlington, Vermont, favorite, and before long, shops popped up all over the United States and in 25 other countries. Their brand easily attracted customers—homemade ice cream churned from wholesome, natural ingredients and blended into creative flavors. Some of their popular scoops include Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, and Coffee Caramel Buzz. Since infusing their first rich and creamy batches of ice cream with natural chunks of fruit, nuts, candies, and cookies, Ben & Jerry's has also operated with a commitment to improve the quality of life locally, nationally, and internationally. The company practices sustainable food production and business practices that respect the earth and environment. Ben & Jerry’s cartons are made from FSC-certified paper, which comes from forests that are managed for the protection of wildlife, and waste from its plants generates energy to power farms. The company works tirelessly to reduce its carbon emissions; it strongly encourages customers to eat their ice cream in the darkest dark.
If you ask a child to draw the meaning of Christmas, there’s a good chance it would look something like Rocket Fizz. A step into Rocket Fizz is a step back in time—into a wonderland of old-fashioned candies and sodas that appear to be straight out of a kid’s imagination or a sugar factory’s family tree. The progeny of cofounders Rob Powells and Ryan Morgan, the shops—which have been mentioned on The Price is Right and endorsed by celebrities such as Snooki from Jersey Shore—burst with thousands of soda pops and candies.
Rob and Ryan created their own brand of pure-cane-sugar Rocket Fizz sodas, which tickle tongues in flavors such as banana nut, cherry cola, and apple jalapeño. Lester’s Fixins and Melba’s Fixins sodas—named for Ryan’s grandparents—offer sweet tastes of apple-pie soda or key-lime soda and adventurous flavors such as bacon soda and sweet-corn soda. Candy bars include classics such as Rocky Road, Bit-O-Honey, and Sky Bars, and bite-size candies include favorites such as Nerds, Milk Duds, and peanut-butter cookie-dough bites. Each shop also stocks nostalgic items, such as movie and music posters, gag gifts, and popular Jones sodas.
Elixir Organic Cafe expertly crafts its housemade fare with 95% organic ingredients, including succulent meats free from hormones, nitrates, and artificial preservatives. A dozen burger designs bedeck nine types of patties—enough for each player on a baseball team to pad his glove with a different kind of patty—including turkey, eggplant, and grass-fed beef. The eatery tailor-makes its meals to satisfy a range of appetites, from those of strict meat eaters to those of faithful vegans and gluten-free dieters. More than 10 sandwiches come in hot, cold, and panini form, further solidifying Elixir's reputation for a culinary range as wide as a piece of taffy stuck to two racecars traveling in opposite directions. Expert bakers churn out an array of decadent desserts, such as cherry-dotted black-forest cake and vegan and gluten-free carrot cake. The cafe's multigrain pancakes and eggs benedicts make for a wholesome breakfast, and creamy smoothies and fresh-pressed vegetable and fruit juices packed with vitamins wash down the nutrient-rich dishes.
The self-serve yogurt stations and the smorgasbord of toppings at Poppy’s Frozen Yogurt grant aspiring dessert designers mastery over their frozen fates. Mix and match a rotating selection of eight yogurt flavors, including Reese’s peanut butter, very-berry sorbet, cheesecake, and classic chocolate, or other options free of sugar, dairy, and despair. The toppings bar features more than 40 fixings to ornament mouthwatering masterpieces with fresh fruit, chopped candies, and nuts. Breakfast cereals, such as Fruity Pebbles and Cap’n Crunch, transform sweet treats into a nutritional, well-balanced breakfast to fuel a taxing day of paper filing and participating in roller-chair derbies. Since price is determined by weight ($0.34 per ounce), think carefully before cloaking a creamy concoction with candy-coated uranium marbles.