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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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…


…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.


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.


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.

Pumpkin Chai Mug Cake (Keto)


I’ve tried quite a few grain-free cake-type desserts that all turn out like the consistency of a sweet pile of scrambled eggs.  Well, either that or a super dry scone-brick.  This is light and fluffy (at least while it’s hot–it hasn’t made it long enough to hit the cold stage, so I don’t know what it’s like then).  It’s a little more wet than traditional cake, but it’s not like eating pumpkin eggs.  It packs a wallop of a nutritional punch, and would likely be a great breakfast if you paired it with some bacon!

Unlike many keto or paleo/primal desserts, this is nut-free and coconut-free.  If you want to make this primal or paleo, you can.  You would replace the sweetener with honey or maple syrup–I don’t know the measurements of that replacement, and it would significantly alter the sugar content, but you could do it.

This is nutritionally dense enough that I can’t eat one whole serving by myself, so you might want to find someone to share this with.  Once they smell it, people should be lining up to apply for that position.

Pumpkin Chai Mug Cake (Keto)

1 serving

Nutrition: Calories (282), Total Fat (19 g), Saturated Fat (3.2 g), Total Carbs (12.8 g), Fiber (8.7 g), Net Carbs (4.1 g), Sugar (1.4 g), Protein (18.2 g)

1/4 C flax meal

1/2 tsp baking powder

3 tsp stevia

1/2 tsp cinnamon

pinch of cardamom

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

3 Tbsp pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

1 egg

small pinch of sea salt

1.- In small bowl, whisk egg and pumpkin.  Add in all dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.

2.- Pour into mug.  For shorter/wider mugs, microwave for 1:45-2:00.  For taller/thinner mugs, microwave for 2:00-2:30.

3.- To put on a plate, run a knife around the edge to loosen.  Flip the mug over onto a plate.  The cake will be steaming when it first comes out.  If you don’t want your whipped cream to slide right off, let it cool for a couple minutes.

Frittata (Primal–Whole30 Compliant without Cheese)


Raise your hand if you don’t know the difference between a quiche and a frittata.  It’s okay, until last year I didn’t know the difference either.  If you were to look at a typical quiche and a typical frittata, the obvious difference would be that a quiche has a crust.  Then enters the crustless quiche.  Well darn, that busts that obvious difference.  Let me break it down for you:

A quiche is a custard base with whatever add-ins you include: ham, cheese, vegetables, whatever.  That means, a lot of cream or half & half with a few eggs make up the base.  A frittata, on the other hand, is all about the eggs.  Some people add up to a half cup of cream, but it’s pretty much all eggs plus the add-ins.  So there ya have it!  Quiche vs. frittata really boils down to cream vs. eggs.  Simple enough, right?

The other difference is that more often than not, a frittata is started on the stove and finished in the oven, whereas a quiche is put into a pie plate and cooked completely in the oven.  That isn’t necessarily what differentiates them on a large scale, but that is a notable difference.  In this recipe, I’m listing what I put into our frittata, but know that you can put whatever you want into it (within reason…you can’t put chocolate cake and chicken wings into it).


Serves 4-5

12 eggs

1/2 C diced onion

2 cloves minced garlic

1 C sliced mushrooms

1 C shredded (or diced) potatoes

1/2 pound cubed ham

1/2 C shredded carrots

1/2 C coconut milk (full fat from a can) or heavy cream

1 C shredded gruyere (or another cheese)–eliminate if making Whole30 compliant

salt and pepper

1/2 tsp thyme

pinch nutmeg

1/2 tsp basil

1 Tbsp Kerrygold


1.- Preheat oven to 375. Melt Kerrygold in medium oven-proof skillet over medium heat (I use a well-seasoned cast iron skillet for this).  Once hot, add onions and ham.  When onions start to get soft, add in garlic and mushrooms and mix until mushrooms start to soften.

2.- Add in potatoes and cook until potatoes start to brown (quick tip: you can use frozen hash browns for this part) and are getting tender.  Toss in the carrots for a minute or two.  Add in salt, pepper, and thyme to preference.

3.- In a large bowl, whisk 12 eggs.  Whisk in the cream.  Add cheese, some salt, pepper, and thyme.  Mix in nutmeg and basil.  Pour over everything in the skillet and allow to cook.

4.- Cook on the stove until the “crust” of the eggs forms and the eggs just begin to set.  Transfer pan to oven and bake 20-30 minutes.  You want the middle to just barely be set, but still a bit jiggly.  Remove, cut into slices, and serve immediately.


Salisbury Steak (Whole30 Compliant)

Salisbury Steak

One of my favorite things to eat as a child was salisbury steak.  Of course the only time I ate it was either at school for lunch or in a TV dinner.  Sometime during college, I learned how to make it, but surprisingly I never made it that often.  I heard it mentioned last week and decided that I would make a Paleo version of the recipe.  It is seriously good.  Like…I made this last Wednesday night for dinner and then made it again on Friday for lunch when one of my friends came over.

The portobello mushrooms in the gravy really add another layer of depth.  Regular button mushrooms are fine; however, baby bellas will make all the difference.  If you don’t use coconut milk (or don’t want to open a can just for a tablespoon), you can also use heavy cream, or just leave that part out.  The milk/cream cuts the spicy bite of the pepper, so if you leave out the cream, cut back a bit on the pepper.  Additionally, I use cashew meal in this because I had a bag open but my almond meal wasn’t open yet.  You can use whatever nut meal you want to use–the texture and taste shouldn’t be affected by using almond, pecan, pistachio, or whatever nut meal.

Finally: this recipe calls for 73-80% lean ground beef.  Do not try to go leaner than this.  Don’t get some 85-95% lean beef…because then you will get all mad when they turn out like hockey pucks and you’ll leave me comments that say, “Lauren, you said these were good, but they’re nasty!”  If you get anything leaner, these will turn out like dry, ground beef and onion flavored dog treats.  But don’t give them to your dog…the onion could kill them.

Salisbury Steak (Whole30 Compliant)

Serves 3-4

1 pound ground beef (73-80% lean)

1/3 C finely diced onion

1 egg

1/2 C cashew meal

1 tsp black pepper (divided)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground mustard

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 pound sliced baby bella mushrooms

2 C beef broth

1 Tbsp coconut milk (or heavy cream–heavy cream is not Whole30 compliant)

2 tsp arrowroot starch


1.- Preheat oven to 350.  In large bowl, combine ground beef, onion, egg, cashew meal, salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, ground mustard, and onion powder.

2.- Form meat into 3-4 patties.  Line baking sheet with foil and spray or grease very lightly.  Put beef patties on baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.

3.- In a saucepan on medium high heat, add broth, mushrooms, and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer for 20 minutes.  Leave the lid on for 5-6 minutes, but then remove the lid for the remainder of the simmering.  Add 1 Tbsp coconut milk and allow broth to return to a simmer.  Remove about 1/2 C of hot liquid to a small bowl.  Whisk in arrowroot starch until broken up and well-combined.  Return that liquid to the sauce pan and mix well, stirring until it thickens.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

4.- Broil steaks for 2-3 minutes.  Serve topped with gravy.

Tuna Croquettes (Whole30 Compliant)

Tuna Cakes

I love salmon cakes.  I would make them all the time, but JR and Isak would get tired of them.  I felt like having them yesterday, but I didn’t have any salmon…so I decided to throw some together by using tuna.  Surprisingly, when put into a croquette form, tuna and salmon taste practically identical.  If I had blindfolded JR, had him take a bite, and asked him what he was eating, he would have said “salmon cakes,” hands down.

This time, instead of using sweet potato and almond flour as a binder, I decided on using regular white potato instead.  The consistency was FANTASTIC, so I may just continue to use that all the time in the future.  I have also started making HOMEMADE MAYO with an immersion blender.  Game.  Changer.  Homemade mayo was a game changer in the first place…but add an immersion blender, and s*%t just got REAL!  Here is the beauty of using your stick blender for mayo:

1.- Put all ingredients in the blender cup.

2.- Turn on the blender for about 45 seconds.

3.- Mayo is ready.

No more 10 minutes of arms falling off from a slow trickle of oil!  Whiz and done!

Oh, and PS: for those of you with children, these are a GREAT way to hide vegetables–go nuts and add whatever veg you want!

Tuna Croquettes (Whole30 Compliant)

Makes 12 croquettes (serves 4-6)

12 oz can tuna, drained and flaked

1 C mashed potato

1/3 C diced carrots

1/3 C diced celery

1/4 C finely chopped green onions

1 T chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

1 tsp Old Bay seasoning

1 1/2 tsp dried dill

1/8 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp ground mustard

1 egg

1/2 tsp hot sauce

salt and pepper to taste

1.- Preheat oven to 425.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease with coconut oil. Wash, peel, and cut 1 medium to large potato or 2 small potatoes.  Put in saucepan, cover with cold water, and cook until soft.  Drain, mash, and put in large bowl.

2.- To potatoes, add carrots, celery, green onions, parsley, Old Bay, dill, paprika, and ground mustard.  Stir well until all spices are thoroughly distributed.

3.- Mix in hot sauce.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Mix in egg and tuna.

4.- Chill tuna mixture for 30 minutes.  (If you don’t have time to chill, you can just continue on; however, the chilling process makes the cakes a bit easier to make)  Using a 1/3 C measure, spoon tuna mixture in and lightly press down.  Don’t pack the cup too tightly.  Flip the cup over and tap it on the baking sheet to release the cake.  Repeat this until the tuna mixture is gone.

5.- Place in the oven for 20 minutes.  Remove tray, flip croquettes over, and return to oven for another 10-15 minutes.

For the aioli I served on top, I mixed 1 C of homemade mayo with 1 Tbsp dried dill, 1 tsp dried chives, 1 tsp of dried parsley, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, and a splash of unsweetened almond milk to thin it just a bit.  Stir it well and add salt and pepper to taste.

Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cake (Paleo)

Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cake Slice

I found this recipe on THE MERRYMAKER SISTERS blog.  If you haven’t been there, they have a LOT of great stuff.  I changed the recipe just slightly (because of what I had on hand, not because I didn’t think I’d like the original)…but the final result was super yummy, no matter what I changed.  The consistency is very similar to a flourless chocolate cake.  In the original recipe they cover the dry cake in raspberries and then drizzle the berries with the ganache.  I thought the cake might turn out a little dry (just because my experience with paleo cake-type desserts is that many of them turn out dry), so I covered the whole cake in the ganache and then set the raspberries on top.  You can use as many raspberries as you want–I used all of them that I had on hand.

So go out, get everything, and get to baking!  Trust me on this one…it doesn’t taste paleo at all.

Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cake (Paleo)


2 C raspberries

1 C coconut sugar

1 C almond flour (or almond meal–but almond meal will give it a slightly grainy texture)

1/3 C cocoa

1/3 C hot water

10 Tbsp butter, cut in cubes

1 tsp vanilla

100 g dark chocolate baking bar (I used a 70% cacao bar)

4 eggs, separated


100 g dark chocolate baking bar

1 C coconut cream


1.- Preheat oven to 340.  Line an 8″ round cake pan with wax paper (grease pan with shortening, then put down wax paper–cut to size, and then grease over the paper again with shortening).

2.- In a large bowl, mix cocoa powder and hot water until smooth.

3.- In double boiler, melt 100 g chocolate bar and butter together until smooth.  Remove from heat.

4.- Add this to large mixing bowl along with coconut sugar, almond flour, vanilla, and egg yolks.  Stir until well-combined.

5.- Whip egg whites to soft peaks.  Fold into chocolate mixture carefully until mixed through.  Pour into pan and bake 55-65 minutes.  Cool 15 minutes and turn out.

6.- For ganache: combine 100 g chocolate bar and coconut cream in a saucepan on low heat.  Stir until smooth.  Pour ganache over cake, spreading occasionally to evenly cover.  Arrange raspberries on top of cake.

Italian Chicken Fingers (Whole30 Compliant)

Chicken Strips

Isak will be turning 3 at the end of February.  What do 2-year olds love?  Chicken nuggets.  He currently thinks that chicken strips are just giant chicken nuggets (let’s face it, they are).  I’ve tried a bunch of chicken strip recipes within the paleo genre…and none of them live up to his standards.  Of course I can’t just grill chicken and cut it into nugget-sized pieces, because those pieces are not chicken nuggets.  Obviously.  Who knew?  Anyway, I made these tonight for JR’s and my dinner (Isak had already eaten–JR and I didn’t eat until 9).  Of course Isak ended up eating four or five pieces of my chicken…so I’m going to assume that they pass the toddler-test.

I took all of the recipes I’d used before, put together the common types of ingredients, changed the starch, added my favorite chicken-y spices, and this was born!  Trust…they are DELISH.  Side note: if you don’t have both cashew and almond flour, you can use one cup of either one of them.

Italian Chicken Fingers (Whole30 Compliant)

2 pounds chicken tenderloins (or breasts cut into strips)

1/2 C cashew flour

1/2 C almond meal

3 Tbsp tapioca starch

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp Italian seasoning (or a mixture of oregano, basil, parsley, and whatever other Italian spices/herbs you like)

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp paprika

2 eggs, whisked

1/4 C coconut oil


1.- Heat coconut oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Let heat through for at least 4-5 minutes.

2.- In shallow bowl, mix almond flour, cashew flour, tapioca starch, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, black pepper, salt, and paprika until well-combined.  In a second shallow bowl, whisk eggs.  Dip each piece of chicken in the eggs and then dredge in the flour mixture.

3.- When oil is hot, cook chicken strips for 4-5 minutes on each side (or until internal temp reaches 165).  Remove from pan and try not to eat them all on the way to the table.


Pork Chops and Poached Eggs (Whole30 Compliant)

Pork Chop and Poached Eggs

Those of you who talk to me regularly about food have likely heard me talk about the one egg-cook that I can’t seem to successfully complete: the poached egg.  I have wasted no fewer than a couple dozen eggs over the last year or so trying every Pinterest tip to producing the perfect poached egg.  Unfailingly, just about every time it has broken in the water (which, for future reference, produces this weird, amorphous not-quite-scrambled boiled egg creature).  Today, however, I NAILED IT!  I got home from a shopping job and opened the refrigerator to figure out what I wanted for lunch.  I had some pork chops that needed to be used, but didn’t want them alone (and didn’t want to spend three hours prepping lunch).  What does meat always sound good with?  A poached egg so I can cut through it and make that lovely, velvety sauce.

The pork chops were a simple prep: salt, pepper, and ground mustard.  I decided not to over-think the egg and just do the most simple process I could think of for it: Water + Salt + Egg.  No vinegar, no lemon juice, no weird equations and timing for swirling…just cook the damn thing.

Pork Chops and Poached Eggs (Whole30 Compliant)

Serves 1

1-1″ thick pork chop

3/4 tsp salt, divided

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp ground mustard

1 egg

2 tsp Kerrygold, ghee, olive oil, or coconut oil


1.- Season each side of the pork chop with salt (1/4 tsp between the two sides), ground black pepper, and ground mustard.

2.- In skillet over medium-high heat, melt Kerrygold.  When fat is hot, add pork chop.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side (internal temperature should be 145).  Remove to plate and top with poached egg.

3.- For the egg: Fill a saucepan with 4-5″ of water and 1/2 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil and turn heat down to medium.  Crack egg into a small bowl.

4.- Using a small spoon, stir the water in a circular motion, just enough to get the water swirling a little.  Carefully pour the egg into the middle of the pan.  Let cook for three minutes.  Gently remove egg with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.  Place egg on top of pork chop and dig in!