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.

Beef Kafta, Tabbouleh, and Batata Harra (Whole30 Compliant)

Beef Kafta

I’ve been reconnecting with my Lebanese roots through cuisine recently…and I think I’m going to continue at least through the end of the year.  Many of the dishes are already close to (if not fully) W30, paleo, or primal.  Well, at least half of them are.  Thirty percent of them are just hovering on the border (as in, they are entirely primal other than beans or lentils, or something like that).  The remaining 20 percent of them include hot, delicious, steaming loaves of pita bread.  To. Die. For.  I will eventually be making some, but I won’t include it as a main item on these blogs.  I’m really kind of teetering on the beans though: I mean, the husband is allergic to pretty much all beans except for maybe three types…so they will never be a “staple” in our household.  I’m thinking the occasional  inclusion of them isn’t a game-changer, but we’ll see.  I’m planning on a bean salad this week, so if I blow up after eating it, I’ll know I can’t include those anymore!  😛

Anyway, I’m still looking for the perfect Lebanese cookbook to use on my cooking journey.  I have a few in mind, but I want to look at a few of them at the store before I commit to one.  Besides Lebanese cooking, I also recently got a Turkish cookbook and a Moroccan cookbook.  All three countries have almost identical food, so that’s somewhat interesting.  A word on Lebanese food (or Middle Eastern food in general): if you don’t like the flavors of parsley, lemon, seven-spices, and natural yogurt, there is a lot of Middle Eastern food that you either (a) won’t like, or (b) will need to develop a taste for.  Just dropping that here as a warning!

Beef Kafta (Whole30 Compliant)

Serves 4

1 pound ground beef

1/4 C chopped parsley

1/4 C chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 Tbsp Aleppo pepper

1/2 tsp Lebanese 7-spices (or allspice)

1 1/4 tsp dried mint

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 small onion, finely diced (liquid pressed out)

salt and pepper

 

1.- In a large bowl, mix beef, parsley, tomatoes, aleppo, 7-spices, mint, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, onions, salt, and pepper.  Use your hands to mix thoroughly.

2.- At this point you can either form them into small logs and grill them on small skewers, or form them into small meatballs and bake or pan-fry them.

 

Tabbouleh, minus Bulgur (Whole30 Compliant)

Serves 4-6

1 C chopped parsley

1/2 C chopped mint

1/2 C chopped onion

4 Roma tomatoes, diced

1/4 C fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

 

1.- This one is easy.  Put everything in a bowl and mix it well.

 

Batata Harra (Whole30 Compliant)

Serves 4-6

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut in a 1/2″ dice

1 1/2 + 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp sea salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 tsp cumin

3/4 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne (less if you don’t like a little kick to your food)

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 C chopped cilantro

 

1.- Preheat oven to 450.  Peel potatoes and cut into a 1/2″ dice.  Toss them in a large bowl with 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp sea salt.  Toss to coat evenly and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Roast 40-45 minutes.  For even roasting, flip potatoes after 20-25 minutes–but this isn’t absolutely necessary if you forget about it or don’t have time.

2.- During the last 10 minutes of roasting, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and minced garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from heat and add cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper.  Stir together.

3.- In large bowl, toss potatoes with olive oil and garlic mixture.  Coat potatoes evenly.  After coated, mix in cilantro and serve immediately.  Caution: these potatoes are like crack.  You might want to make enough to have leftovers for a few days.

 

Greek Salad (Primal–or Whole30 Compliant without the feta)

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I’ve been struggling to come up with some new stuff lately–partially because I’ve been super busy, and partially because I haven’t been as motivated to create.  I’ve been comfortable just repeating a bunch of recipes.  I mean, normally I have a few nights a week of existing recipes and a few nights a week of new stuff…I just haven’t felt like it.  Then, this weekend, I got a hankering (yes, hankering) for the food of my people: Mediterranean!  Well, it started specifically with Lebanese food and then branched out to Greek and other Middle Eastern.  This is a hard food to make primal-compliant…but I’m going to try the best I can.  That being said, there are certain things that I won’t change (e.g. I won’t eliminate the bulgur in tabbouleh…that’s just sacrilegious).

So if you have any favorite Mediterranean dishes that you’re looking for new ways to make, comment below and I’ll see what I can do!  Until then, my first recipe I tackled was a traditional Greek salad.  Sidebar: I don’t like olives, but this was traditionally be served with Kalamata olives.  But really, it hit. the. spot.  McYumYums!

 

Greek Salad (Primal–Whole30 Compliant without the Feta)

Dressing:

1/4 C chopped parsley

1/4 C chopped dill

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp oregano

salt and pepper

Salad:

6 C chopped or shredded Romaine lettuce

3 C diced tomatoes

1 C thin-sliced red onion

1 cucumber, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced

1 C (about 4 oz or so) crumbled feta

1.- Add all dressing ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until well-combined.

2.- Add all salad ingredients to a large bowl.  Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine.

 

This would be delicious with some grilled lamb or some chicken shish tawook!

 

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.