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.

Country-Style Pork Ribs and Carrot Slaw (Whole30 Compliant)

Country Style Ribs and Carrot Slaw

This is the first pork that we’ve tried from our new farmers at HANSON FAMILY FARM.  Look at that white fat!  So good.  I actually cut some of that fat off before eating, saved it, and rendered it for a couple other dinners that we had last week.  The pork fat with a couple of the soups that I’ve made was AH-MAY-ZING!  For these ribs (which we got four packages of them, so expect to see a few rib recipes over the next month or so), I used a dry rub and roasted them on a low temp for a couple hours.  By the time we ate them, the meat was literally falling off the bone.  I’m thinking of trying these with my rigged-up sous vide system, but we’ll see.  If it works out correctly, you’ll see more of the sous vide sometime this weekend.

The carrot slaw was an afterthought for this meal; however, it is officially my FAVORITE slaw I’ve ever put together.  Fortunately for you, I remembered to write everything down as I was doing it this time.  I tend to start throwing things in while thinking, “oh, I’ll remember to write that down.”  Yeah, you know the drill: I ALWAYS FORGET.  Oh well.  Seriously, go out and make this slaw tonight.  I could eat it all day long.  There’s a little honey in the slaw, and honestly, I can’t remember the specifics on if you can use honey at all during a Whole 3o.  There’s only a little in there though, so if you don’t want to use it, just omit it.

Country Style Pork Ribs

2-3 pounds country style pork ribs

1 tsp marjoram

1 tsp fennel

1 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp dried cilantro

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp anise seed

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp ground mustard

salt and pepper


1.- Preheat oven to 250.  Line a baking sheet with foil and top sheet with a wire rack.

2.- Mix all spices in a small bowl.  If they are chunky, work them a little with a mortar and pestle to give them a finer grind.  Adjust the levels if you need to–start with smaller amounts of any spices you’re wary of.  A general rule of thumb is:

If you don’t like the way it smells, you won’t like the way it tastes

3.- Salt and pepper the ribs on both sides.  If you want to avoid red-orange fingers, use gloves to work the spice rub into all sides of the ribs.  Place them on the wire rack and bake in the oven for 2 hours.  Let them rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Carrot Slaw

1/2 C coarsely chopped nuts (I used macademia, but you could also use walnuts, pecans, cashews, or pistachios)

1 pound grated carrots (don’t pay attention to what mine look like…I was working on my knife skills)

3 Tbsp olive oil or avocado oil

zest and juice of 1 lemon

zest and juice of one tangerine (or clementine or whatever you want to call them)–if you don’t have this, use about 1/2 tsp orange zest and 2-3 Tbsp of juice from the orange

1-2 Tbsp raw honey

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 C dried cranberries (or you could use raisins)

5 scallions, sliced thin (white and green)

2-3 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley (or 1-2 tsp dried parsley)

salt and pepper


1.- Put chopped nuts on a baking sheet (or in a pie dish) and put them in an oven to toast (250 degrees for 20 minutes or 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes).

2.- In small bowl, whisk oil, lemon juice, tangerine juice, lemon zest, tangerine zest, raw honey, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.

3.- In medium bowl, toss carrots, scallions, cranberries, and parsley.  Pour the dressing over the carrot mixture and toss well.  Let set in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes so veg can soak up the dressing.

4.- Toss with toasted nuts and serve immediately.

Pumpkin Spice “Granola” (Paleo)

Pumpkin-Spice Granola

I’ve been messing with this granola for three days, and I think I finally have it where I want it.  What did I find out?  Without using some oats or glue, there was no amount of smooshing that turned these into granola bars.  If you use oats in yours, you can likely get them to stick together better…but the lack of oats and the extreme humidity in San Antonio was working against me.  No skin off my back though…I just finished cooking it and tossed it in a bag.  Eat it anywhere, problem solved!

This is a pretty wet recipe, so unless you live in the desert (Santa Fe friends, perk up!), this probably won’t get crunchy.  This is relatively soft, but not mushy like oatmeal.  Oh…and it’s totally addictive.  Our house has smelled like pumpkin pie for the last three days, and I can’t complain.  Just wait until we get back and I use this as a topping for cooked apples!

Pumpkin Spice “Granola”

1/2 C raw honey

1/2 C Kerrygold (or coconut oil)

1/4 C nut butter (I used Sunflower butter)

1/3 C pureed pumpkin

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cloves

pinch of salt

2 C shredded unsweetened coconut

1 C sliced almonds

1 C chopped walnuts or pecans

1 C chopped macadamia nuts

1/2 C dried cranberries or raisins

1.- Preheat oven to 300.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2.- In large pot, melt honey, butter, and nut butter over low heat.  Stir until combined, add pumpkin, and mix well.  When everything is integrated, remove from heat.

3.- Stir in vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt.  Add all dry ingredients and stir until dry is coated with wet.  If it still seems too wet, add in more coconut and/or nuts until desired consistency is reached.  If it’s too wet, it’ll be a little soggy…so it’s better than it’s a bit too dry.

4.- Pour in single layer on baking sheet.  Bake…okay, I baked this twice, and it was in a deeper pan…so I’ll say just bake it.  Every 10-15 minutes, use a spatula to flip it and move it around.  When it gets to the desired doneness, take it out.  Simple as that.  I think mine baked for a total of about 45 minutes, but again, my pans were different because I tried to do bars first.

5.- Store in airtight container for 1 week, or freeze for up to a year.

* Tip: WATCH the nuts.  They will burn if you cook it too long and/or too hot.  If they’re starting to burn, turn the oven temp down to 275.