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.

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.

Wonky Chili (Whole30 without Dairy Toppings, Primal with Dairy Toppings)

Wonky Chili

I’ve been going through the refrigerator this week, using up what we have so that I can get a new crop of food in the upcoming weeks.  That means that basically toward the end of the week, we were down to the slim pickings when it came to the meat.  What did I have thawed today?  Chicken thighs (which I’m making tomorrow) and ground, hot Italian sausage.  I have about 300 cans of tomatoes in their various forms (as always), a handful of staples (salsa verde, onions, etc), and my newest fun thing: the ingredients of a couple TRY THE WORLD BOXES.  Have you heard of them?  It’s one of the box subscription services where you pay for a subscription and every two months you get a box of food from a specific country.  I’ve received two boxes so far: Marrakesh and Paris.  In the Marrakesh box, one of the items was a jar of kefta rub.  Traditionally, this is used in, well, kefta.  Kefta is the name for Moroccan meatballs (and they are delicious).  But I wanted chili tonight…so I added the kefta rub to the Italian sausage as I was cooking it.  DELICIOUS!

Kefta Rub

For the record, if you can’t get your hands on a jar of kefta spice blend, it contains a mixture of cumin, paprika, morita pepper, mint, coriander, cilantro, and cinnamon.  I’m not sure what ratio they’re in; however, from the smell of the spices, it seems heavy on the cumin and paprika…so mix it at will!

Wonky Chili (Whole 30 without the Dairy Toppings, Primal with the Dairy Toppings)

Serves 4-6

1 pound ground meat (I used hot Italian sausage)

2 Tbsp kefta rub

42 oz diced tomatoes

1 large onion, chopped

16 oz salsa verde

4 oz diced green chile

 

1.- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground meat while crumbling.  When the meat starts to brown, add in the kefta spices and continue cooking until fully browned, stirring frequently.

2.- Add meat to the bottom of the slow cooker.  Top meat with onion, tomatoes, salsa verde, and green chile.  Stir, cover, and cook on low for 4-5 hours (or on high for 2-3 hours).  Top with your favorite chili toppings.

Chicken Fajita Chili (Primal with the Dairy; Whole30 Compliant without)

Chicken Fajita Chili

 

It’s been in the 40s here for last week, so soup is on the menu a couple times this week.  I know, for most of you around the country, the 40s would be a heat wave compared to the weather that you’re experiencing!  Here in San Antonio, it seems as though the winter coats come on after it drops below 80, so 40 here is positively frigid haha!  It’s good that this recipe fell this week though, because for most of you, it’ll be warming to your frozen bones.  JR (the husband) really likes this one.  Even Isak (the almost-3-year-old) ate about half of his.  Yes, up until he was a little under 2 1/2, he was an awesome eater.  I guess I’m lucky that we never had the throw-all-the-food-on-the-floor phase or the one-eat-apples-or-peas phase when he was a baby.  That being said, we’re now going through the mostly-want-to-eat-macaroni-or-chicken-nuggets phase.  Ahhhh, toddler independence!  I’ve come up with every idea I can think of to make food *look* or *taste* like chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese, and I’ve had about 50% success with that.  The other thing that occasionally works is giving something a pirate treasure type name.  Last night with the soup, that’s exactly what we did: gold doubloon treasure chest soup.  Boom, he ate half of his bowl.  Victory!

If you use dairy garnishes, this is primal (shredded cheese, sour cream, etc).  If you forgo the dairy, the whole shebang is Whole30 compliant.  Shazam!  Options!  You’re welcome!  As an additional bonus, this is a slow-cooker recipe, so it’s minimal work for maximum taste.

Chicken Fajita Chili

Serves 3-4

1 Tbsp Kerrygold butter (or other fat of choice)

2-3 pounds chicken breasts, cut in 1/4″ slices

2 lg onions, cut in 1/4″ slices and again in half

3 lg red peppers, seeded and cut in 1/4 slices

2 28-oz cans diced tomatoes

1/4 C chili powder

1 Tbsp cumin

2 tsp coriander

2 tsp oregano

2 tsp salt

Garnishes: shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, lime wedges, cilantro

 

1.- Coat slow-cooker bowl with a thin coat of coconut oil, kerrygold, or ELT olive oil.  In large skillet, heat fat over medium high heat.  Add chicken and cook until lightly browned (this took me about 5 minutes per batch–don’t overcrowd the pan or you’ll be steaming the meat, not browning it).

2.- In slow cooker, layer onions, peppers, and cooked chicken.  In a large bowl, mix together tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, and salt.  Pour tomato mixture over chicken.  Cover and cook on low for 6 hours (or you can do high for 3 hours–I like to use the low temperature because it really mixes the flavors better).

3.- Serve with what ever garnishes you want.  If you’re looking for suggestions, we did (in this order): soup, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole.  SO GOOD!