Keeping Keto at Disney World

mk_crystalprerover_20170201_7938321358Last week we took Isak and met my parents at Disney World for the week.  We go every January near the end and celebrate Isak’s birthday early.  It is literally my favorite week of the year.  This year, I had lots of people ask me if we were breaking our food rules for the trip.  Nope, not at all!  It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, I’m not going to lie.  Not because there were so many temptations, because at this point, temptations aren’t really a “thing” anymore.  Yay keto–cravings disappear.  It wasn’t the easiest thing to do because literally, 95% of the food found at Disney contains grains or sugar, which we avoid.  There was one night at Epcot where we each had a quarter of a gluten-free roll.  It was really good as far as gluten-free goes…but most of that stuff feels like wet sawdust in my mouth, so the texture wasn’t appealing.

The thing about staying keto at Disney is that you have to implement some preparation and research.  I did not find any acceptable snacks on the menus of any of the restaurants beforehand when I was researching, so I knew that we were going to have to keep easily portable snacks.  Also, there isn’t much in the way of breakfast food (that isn’t ridiculously overpriced), so we knew we were going to keep a bunch of compliant stuff in the fridge at the resort.  Typically I don’t eat breakfast because of the intermittent fasting (though as of this week I’ve flipped my fast over, but that’s for a later post), but when we’re walking 10-15 miles a day in the parks, I eat more often.

For the fridge and pantry in the resort, we kept: pre-cooked bacon, black forest ham, cream cheese, french onion dip, string cheese, pork rinds, and pepperoni.  If you haven’t tried pork rinds with french onion dip, you’re missing out.  Try it now.  For portable park snacks, my only requirement was that they didn’t need to be kept chilled.  I didn’t want to carry a cooler pack in the park.  We carried macadamia nuts.  Lots and lots of macadamia nuts.  I also kept a few Atkins bars in the bag, and for Isak we had single bags of nut/dried fruit mix.

Now for the fun part…the meals!

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Neither of us could remember where the turkey legs were sold at Magic Kingdom, but after asking 900 cast members, we finally got the right location: the tavern in Adventureland, across from Pirates of the Caribbean.  This was our first stop as soon as we got to the park.  Usually we fly in and wait until the following day to go to the parks; however, we were able to snag an extra day, so JR and I went as soon as we got off the Magic Express and got Isak situated in the resort with Gammy and GrandDan.  We split one turkey leg between the two of us and dipped it in a few packets of mayo.  Everything tastes better at Disney, you know.

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Breakfast on official day one: steamed heavy cream with sugar-free vanilla syrup from Starbucks at Epcot.  This is Isak’s favorite drink.  He calls it “warm chocolate,” no matter what sugar-free flavor it is.  The vanilla though…it tastes like hot-off-the-stove vanilla custard filling.  It’s delicious.  That and a handful of cashews kept him going until lunch.

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This one was my favorite table-service meal of the trip (and yes, I left the handful of fried wonton skins on–they weren’t enough to kick me out of ketosis and Epcot is always where we walk the most).  This is the Beijing Roast Duck Salad from Nine Dragons in China, in the World Showcase at Epcot.  One alteration had to be made: the hoisin sauce dressing was out because, well, hoisin sauce.  Instead, they gave me a small pitcher of the potsticker sauce, which was to die for.  Seriously, my favorite meal of the week.

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In The Seas, at Epcot, there is a restaurant called Coral Reef.  Honestly, we go here for the experience because you’re basically eating inside a giant aquarium.  In my opinion, the food is decent, but it’s not the best food ever.  I got the grilled New York strip steak with double veg instead of veg and mashed potatoes.  We had them bring out extra butter because it wasn’t nearly fatty enough.  This is where the gluten-free rolls were.  Like I said, as far as gluten-free rolls go, those were pretty good, especially when slathered with butter.  If you’re looking for that option, definitely hit up Coral Reef.  JR got the heirloom tomato salad thing here.  I gave him half of my steak and we pretty much ate off of each other’s plates.

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You can’t really tell what this is from the picture, as is frequently the case when making keto alterations, but this is a bacon cheeseburger from Cosmic Ray’s in Magic Kingdom.  They have a topping bar there where we added the mushrooms, onions, and (not pictured) some garlic ranch dressing.  It was a pretty good burger.  JR and I split the burger and…

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…the Greek salad, from the same place.  It was a pretty rockin’ Greek salad, in case you were wondering.  The chicken looks huge, but really it’s just pounded out thin.  The feta wasn’t as good as the stuff we get from Ali Baba; however, it was a decent substitute (and let’s be honest, if you don’t have a refined palate for Middle Eastern food, you won’t notice the difference).  We also put the garlic ranch on this salad.  Yeah, I really liked it.

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This was an Italian sausage without the bun from whatever that sausage company is at Disney Springs (what used to be called Downtown Disney).  The sausage was our least favorite thing of the trip.  It was just “meh.”  Those pickles were awesome though.  Seriously awesome.

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This is actually one of the meals we had at the airport in Atlanta on the way back to San Antonio.  I forget what the place was called, but it’s similar to a Chipotle-type deal.  It was a steak burrito bowl.  Why do deconstructed foods always look like a pile of stomach contents?  Regardless, it was tasty.

I didn’t remember to take pictures of all the food we ate in the parks, so here are the other items we had that I can remember:

Chili Cheese Coney without the bun from that Casey’s hot dog place on Main Street in Magic Kingdom (a delicious addition to our curbside seating for the Festival of Fantasy parade!)

Caesar salad with salmon at the Prime Time Diner in Hollywood Studios.  This restaurant was so fun!  The staff is a hoot and the decor is hilarious.  The salad was great.

If you have any questions about going keto-friendly at Disney, feel free to ask me!  Before going, I spent an hour on the phone with one of their dietary people, who helped me navigate all of the menus in order to find compliant food that wasn’t all burger-without-a-bun situations.  But really, if you’re only going to try one thing from this list, get the salad from Nine Dragons.  You won’t be disappointed.

Avocado Chicken Bombs (Keto)

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A friend and I went out to dinner recently at Chuy’s and discovered something delicious: the stuffed avocado.  Or, at least the version of it that I had them make for me.  It’s typically breaded in panko and fried that way; however, I can’t have panko and they can’t fry it without.  The chef came out to talk to me and we worked out a similar dish, and I thought I would mess around with it once I got home.  The other thing that is like crack at Chuy’s is their jalapeno ranch dressing.  Duh.  Anyone who has been there knows that.

With the same friend coming over to our house for dinner a couple weeks later, that was the perfect time to come up with a similar recipe, try to replicate the dressing, and then unveil the final product at dinner.  This was waaaaaaay better than what they came up with at Chuy’s, so I’m pretty happy about it.  You could make this with a plethora of different layers, but I’ll list it the way I made it last weekend.  Try it–you won’t be sorry!

Avocado Chicken Bombs (Keto)

Serves 4

Nutrition for Avocado Chicken Bombs: Calories (597), Fat (54.2 g), Saturated Fat (10.6 g), Carbs (17.3 g), Fiber (13.5 g), Sugar (1.3 g), Net Carbs (3.8 g), Protein (17.8 g)

Nutrition for Jalapeno Ranch: Calories (101), Fat (10.7 g), Saturated Fat (2.7 g), Carbs (0.7 g), Fiber (0.3 g), Sugar (0.6 g), Net Carbs (0.4 g), Protein (0.2 g)

Chicken

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1/2 C olive oil

2 Tbsp chili powder

2 Tbsp lime juice

2 Tbsp sugar-free maple syrup

2 Tbsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp black pepper

1.- Mix everything but chicken together.

2.- Cut chicken into small strips or chunks.  Put in resealable plastic bag and cover with marinade.  Mix around and allow to marinate for at least four hours.

3.- Heat skillet to medium high.  When pan is hot, add chicken in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.  Fry until cooked through and transfer to baking dish.  When all chicken is cooked, cover baking dish and put in 300′ oven for 20-30 minutes.

4.- Assemble into avocado chicken bomb.

Jalapeno Ranch

1 C mayonnaise

1/3 C buttermilk made from heavy cream

1/3 C sour cream

4 oz can chopped jalapenos

4 oz can chopped green chiles

1/3 C cilantro

1 oz ranch seasoning

1/2 tsp minced garlic

1.- Whiz everything in a blender and enjoy.

How I Layered the Avocado Chicken Bomb, from Bottom Up

1.- Avocado

2.- Chicken

3.-Shredded Cheese

4.- Table Cream

5.- Pico de gallo

6.- Jalapeno Ranch

7.- Crumbled Bacon

8.- Queso Fresco

 

BLT and then Some (Primal and Keto)

BLT

On Saturday, it will be eight months since I quit smoking.  In those eight months, my food choices went to hell and I gained almost 30 pounds.  The obvious fix to that is to hit another few months of strict primal, right?  Well this time, I’m also integrating a close-to-keto component.  Technically, keto is considered, what, under 20 grams of net carbs per day?  My carbs have been in the 20-35 range most days…so I’m close, but not in it to the letter.  Anyway, it’s hard, but I’ve lost almost 20 pounds in not-quite three weeks.

I felt like a BLT today.  I’m not big on sandwiches, but I love BLTs and club sandwiches.  Obviously bread is out (even most of the paleo versions of “bread”), so I chose to put everything in a romaine heart boat.  Really, the possibilities are limitless, but today it was all about the BLT.  For reference: to make this Whole30 compliant, eliminate the cheese.

BLT and then Some (Primal and Keto)

Serves 2-3

1 romaine heart, washed and leaves separated

1 pound of bacon

2 roma tomatoes

1 avocado, sliced

Extra sharp white cheddar, cut in small chunks

 

1.- Cook the bacon to your liking.

2.- Layer everything in the lettuce.

3.- Stuff your face.

Squashy Enchiladas (Primal)

Enchilada Bowl

I love enchiladas.  Technically, my favorite enchiladas to get are just plain cheese enchiladas.  I kinda hate the ones with meat in them.  One of my best friends and I used to go down to Little Mexico in Kansas City and eat at this place called EL PUEBLITO.  I have ONLY ever ordered one thing there.  I tend to do that with Mexican restaurants.  I find one thing and never order anything else.  At El Pueblito, I would order Enchiladas Mexicanas con Queso.  Never anything else.  My friend would occasionally mix it up and get flautas, but I never strayed.  The thing that made it AMAZING was their sauce, the chihuahua cheese, and the heaps of queso fresco on top.  It was like crack.  Oh, and did I tell you that seemed to have never-ending hours?  I can’t tell you how many times we went there in the middle of the night.

Anyway, I haven’t had many enchiladas lately because since I’ve gone away from corn, if I try to add it in occasionally, it usually makes my stomach hurt for a few hours after I eat.  This seems to happen more with corn starch than with whole corn, but it’s still not comfortable.  Anyway, I saw one of those videos that was showing you how to make fake “enchiladas,” but in a bowl of spaghetti squash (full disclaimer: this was the first time I tried spaghetti squash–it is delicious, but unlike some people tell you, it is NOT a substitute for spaghetti noodles unless you have never tried spaghetti).  I tweaked the recipe a bit and made it primal…but this is what I came up with.  It’s not a complete replacement for El Pueblito (but that does not matter, because I am living in San Antonio now…so when we go back to KC, I just suck it up and eat the corn tortillas), but the flavor profile is ALL THERE!

Squashy Enchiladas

Serves 2-4

1 spaghetti squash

2 tsp olive oil

Salt, to taste

1+ C enchilada sauce (In small saucepan, add a little olive oil and saute 2 minced garlic cloves for a few seconds.  Add 2 Tbsp chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, 1 1/3 C tomato sauce, 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 3/4 C chicken broth, and salt and pepper.  Simmer 10-ish minutes and set aside until needed)

1 C whatever Mexican cheese blend you want to use (I used a mixture of chihuahua, jack, and cheddar)

Queso Fresco, chopped scallions, olives, avocado, chopped peppers, chopped cilantro, and whatever other toppings you want to put on top

1.- Oven to 400.  Put spaghetti squash on paper towel in microwave and heat for two minutes to soften.  Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and soft part in the middle.  Brush all of the exposed fleshy area (not the outer rind–just the inner part you’ll eat) with olive oil.  Liberally salt.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the squash halves upside down on the pan.  That is, so the fleshy part you’ll eat is facing DOWN.  Bake about 45 minutes.

2.- Let it cool a bit (maybe 5-10 minutes) and then use a fork to flake the squash.  It’ll come away from the sides, easily flaking into strands that look like pasta.  Put about 1/2-3/4 of a cup of enchilada sauce into each bowl, on top of the flaked squash.  Cover with your cheese blend and put them back in the oven for another 15 or so minutes.  When it comes out, top with scallions, cilantro, LOTS of queso fresco, and any other toppings that sound good.  Serve immediately and take pictures of your sauce-covered drunken-on-enchilada-goodness face.  Yep, they’re that good.

 

Chicken Fajita Bowl (Primal with Dairy Toppings, Whole30 Compliant without)

Chicken Fajita Bowl

This is one of my favorite types of meals because there are an unlimited number of items you can add to it.  And bonus points: it all goes in the slow cooker!  That being said, it’s not really one that you can leave all day while at work, unless you choose a meat other than boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  I don’t normally use those cuts of meat, but they’re easier for the shredding in this recipe, so I chose the easier route.

For toppings, you can add whatever really.  We generally eat a primal diet, so I shredded a little cheese and added a spoonful of sour cream.  Other toppings I’ve used with this are: green onions, red onions, avocados, chopped tomatoes, bacon, pico de gallo, cilantro, pineapple, etc.  Feel free to add whatever sounds good to you in the moment!

A word about the fajita seasoning: I make my own and store it in a baby food jar.  I throw together something along the lines of this:

3 Tbsp chili powder

2 Tbsp salt

2 Tbsp paprika

1 Tbsp onion powder

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1 tsp cayenne

1 Tbsp cumin

Chicken Fajita Bowl (primal with dairy toppings, Whole30 compliant without)

Serves 3-4

1/4 C Kerrygold butter

3 green bell peppers, sliced

3 red bell peppers, sliced

2 large yellow onions, sliced

4 chicken breasts

3 Tbsp fajita seasoning

1/2 C salsa

 

1.- Turn slow cooker on low.  Add butter to the bottom of the bowl.

2.- Layer green peppers, onion, red peppers, and finally chicken on top.  Sprinkle seasoning over top and pour in salsa.

3.- Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Shred chicken, mix with vegetables, and serve with desired toppings.

Sriracha Lime Chicken Salad (Paleo)

Sriracha Lime Chicken Salad

If you can’t tell, this past week we had almost a full week of salads on our plates.  There were great prices on a lot of the fresh produce, so I went a little salad-crazy.  Well, that and it was super easy to chop everything last weekend (when I did the grocery shopping), put it in airtight containers in the refrigerator, and just scoop some out for each meal.  It doesn’t get much easier than that.  That is, unless there were a house elf around here somewhere to do my prep (and cooking) for me!

If you haven’t started making your own PALEO SRIRACHA yet, you should do so immediately.  It’s more flavorful than the bottled stuff–plus it doesn’t have all the junk ingredients contained in the stuff from the store.  That is what I used for this recipe.  I’ll tell you this: if you don’t want a lot of heat on the chicken, decrease the amount of sriracha and add some extra lime juice or honey.  This turned out pretty hot, but according to Isak (the 3 year old), when asked if it was too spicy for him…

“Mommy, it’s delicious spicy in the mouth!”

Sriracha Lime Chicken Salad (Paleo)

Serves 2-4

Chicken

1 pound chicken tenderloins

2-3 Tbsp sriracha (less if you don’t want as much heat)

1 frozen lime, grated (yes, grate the WHOLE lime, peel and all)

1 lime, juiced

3 Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

salt and pepper

Salad

4 C chopped lettuce

6 pineapple slices

1 C grape tomatoes, cut in quarters

1/2 C diced red onion

1 avocado, sliced (I forgot to put it on last night)

Dressing

1/4 C olive oil

1/4 C apple cider vinegar

2 limes, juice and zest

1 Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

salt and pepper

 

1.- Whisk sriracha, grated lime, lime juice, honey, cilantro, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Pour into a ziploc bag with chicken and close.  Squeeze to coat chicken and put in refrigerator to let marinate for at least two hours.

2.- Heat skillet over medium-high heat and add a little fat (maybe a tsp–just enough to slick the cooking surface).  Add chicken to skillet and cook until cooked through (about 5-7 minutes per side).  Remove to tented plate and set aside.

3.- Add pineapple to pan and cook 4-5 minutes per side.  While cooking, whisk together dressing ingredients.  Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat.

4.- Assemble on a plate with salad on bottom, then pineapple rings, then chicken.  Garnish with cilantro if wanted.