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.

Artichoke Dip Chicken (Keto and Primal)

Keto Artichoke Chicken

One of my favorite things in the world is artichoke dip…but a specific artichoke dip from a local place here called Cerroni’s Purple Garlic.  I don’t know what it is about it (though I think they may have recently changed their recipe), but it has this great flavor, texture, and the way they serve it is great!  First, it is generally still bubbling when they bring it out.  Like…for 10 minutes after it gets to your table.  They serve it with a basket of toasted bread.  It’s all I want to eat when we go there.  If I could, I would make it my entire meal.  Alas, I found out they use flour in it, so I can’t even get it and eat it without the bread (yes, it’s good enough to just eat with a spoon).  At one point a few weeks ago, I started trying to replicate it, and though I’ve gotten close, I’m not a dead ringer yet.  That being said, artichoke dip with fried chicken is DELIGHTFUL.

There are two ways that I cook this, and I’ll let you decide which way you make it: chicken on top, or chicken on bottom.  If you cook the chicken on top, the skin retains that great crisp that you work hard to get in the pan, prior to baking.  BUT…if you pile the artichoke dip on top of the chicken, it really keeps the chicken moist and the flavor soaks in.  It’s good both ways, so try it both ways and see how you like it.  This is also one of those meals that usually holds me over for 15-20 hours before I eat again, depending on what I ate prior to this.

Artichoke Dip Chicken

Serves 4

4 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)

1/2 C sour cream

1/2 C mayonnaise (homemade is the best)

8 oz soft cream cheese

1 C grated Parmesan

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1.- Heat iron skillet to medium.  Salt and pepper the skin of the chicken.  Put chicken in the pan and fry it for 10-15 minutes per side (until they are almost cooked through and the skin is crisp).

2.- In medium bowl, use mixer to mix sour cream, mayonnaise, cream cheese, garlic, and Parmesan until smooth.  Add in salt and pepper to taste.  Fold in the artichoke hearts.

3.- Heat oven to 350.  If cooking chicken on bottom, place chicken in the bottom of am 8×8 glass baking dish.  Cover with artichoke dip.  If cooking chicken on top, spread the artichoke dip on bottom of 8×8 glass baking dish and place the chicken on top.  I grated a little Parmesan over the chicken skin at this point.

4.- Put dish in oven, uncovered, and bake for 30-40 minutes (until dip is starting to bubble).  Take out and enjoy!

Nutrition (per serving):  Calories: 596; Carbs: 12 g; Fiber: 3 g; Net Carbs: 9 g; Fat: 48 g; Protein: 32 g; Sugar: 4 g

 

Seriously Amazing Pizza (Primal and Keto)

Keto Pizza

Okay, even though pizza is not my favorite food (I’m blaming my mom–she ate pizza all the time when she was pregnant with me), I still occasionally miss it.  Plus, I can put anything on a pizza and Isak will suck it down.  Spinach, liver, tin cans, whatever.  But now that we’ve gone beyond a basic primal diet and moved into a fully keto diet (we are both now fully fat adapted–woohoo!), pizza is pretty much off the table.

That is, until I found a recipe for this crust.  You know how any sort of gluten-free pizza crust is basically just full of sadness and despair?  Am I the only one who thinks that?  They typically use rice flour, which is just gross, and nowhere near the consistency of real flour.  They always just…fall apart.  I’m not going to lie: this is not the same consistency of a regular filled-with-delicious-gluten crust.  It is, however, practically the consistency of a thin crust, AND you can hold it just like a slice of pizza.  It doesn’t turn into pizza-flavored baby food (that’s a conversation I had at Isak’s dance school today about trying multiple types of cauliflower crust).

So what’s it made out of?  Cheese.  Yep, the base of it is cheese.  I got this from EAT FAT LOSE FAT and played around with it until I found a flavor that I liked.  Side bar: If you just make the crust of the pizza, you can cut it into rectangles with a pizza wheel and make lovely bread sticks.  Game changer.

Seriously Amazing Pizza (Primal and Keto)

Serves 2-3

6 oz shredded mozzarella (you can also mix in cheddar)

2 T full-fat cream cheese (for those of you who aren’t doing keto, the full-fat part is important)

4 Tbsp grated Parmesan (Fresh grated–come on, people.  We aren’t animals)

1/3 C + 1T cashew (or almond) flour

2 Tbsp psyllium husk powder (you can get this in most “health food” stores, and some regular grocery stores–this gives it the texture of bread)

1 egg

1 Tbsp Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1.- Heat oven to 450 (the original says to heat to “broil.”  Our broiler isn’t super reliable, so 450 is fine).  Put the shredded mozz into a medium bowl and heat in microwave until melted, but not browned.  This took me about three or four 30-second zaps.  It will be like cheese-flavored Gak when you get done.

2.- Let it cool for a minute or two and then dump everything else in the bowl.  Sprinkle the psyllium evenly or it gets clumpy.  Put on your gloves (you guys all have cooking gloves, right?) and start doing your Mixing Dough dance.  You don’t have one?  Maybe that’s just me.  Weird.  It will be super mushy and sticky.

3.- Get out your silpat (or greased parchment paper, whatever) and flatten it with your hands until it’s the size you want.  It’ll make a 10-12″ round.  Don’t make it so thin that there are holes.

4.- Cook in the oven for about 5-10 minutes.  You want it to be browned.  Take it out, flip the crust over, and cook another 5 minutes.  Take it out and put on your toppings.  I used about 2 Tbsp of plain tomato sauce, more mozz, pepperoni, mushrooms, basil, and oregano.  Put whatever you want.  Cook it another 5-10 minutes.  Let it cool about 5-ish minutes before cutting it.

Seriously, you will not regret making this pizza.  Go buy the stuff now.

 

Frittata (Primal–Whole30 Compliant without Cheese)

Frittata

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).

Frittata

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.

 

Flank Steak (Technically Primal)

Flank Steak

If you guys don’t have a T-FAL OPTIGRILL yet, you are seriously missing out.  It’s similar to a George Foreman in that it’s an indoor press grill with a drain tray.  How is it different?  Push the power button, push the button that corresponds with the type of meat or food you’re cooking (so in this case: beef), then push start.  The grill will preheat and beep to let you know that it’s ready to use.  Open the grill, put in your meat, and close the grill.  You can clearly see from the color cycle where your meat is in the cook process…and it beeps at each doneness interval on the way up.  Perfectly cooked meat every time!  No, they’re not paying me to say this…but if they would like to pay me, I’ll talk about them all the time, HA!

I had some flank steak that I marinated in yogurt and spices…and…YUM.  I served it with small baked potatoes (with a little salt and Kerrygold), sliced Honey Crisp apples, and small slices of raw milk  yogurt cheese.  Oh. My. God. Apples + cheese = cooking WIN.

Primal Flank Steak

1-2 pounds flank steak

1 C plain yogurt

1 Tbsp cumin

1 Tbsp chili powder

2 tsp coriander

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp oregano

1 tsp lemon juice

salt and pepper

1.- Salt and pepper flank steak.  In medium bowl, mix yogurt, lemon juice, and all spices.  Place flank steak in a resealable plastic bag and add yogurt.  Seal bag and massage yogurt into meat to coat.  Put in refrigerator for at least an hour, up to two days.

2.- Preheat grill (or skillet) to medium-high heat (side note: if you are using the Optigrill, your choice of meat determines your heat level for you…so your meat type is the only button you push for that process).  Grill meat until desired doneness is reached.  If you’re using the Optigrill, it takes about 90 seconds to reach medium rare…so I’m guessing in a regular skillet, it would take about 90 seconds to 2 minutes per side.

Twice-Baked Breakfast (Primal)

Twice-Baked Breakfast

I don’t make white potatoes very often, but I was really in the mood for a baked potato when I went grocery shopping this week.  When I started washing the potato yesterday, I decided that what I really wanted was a twice-baked potato…and an egg…and bacon.  Okay, I was pretty hungry.  Not surprisingly, this was the only meal I had yesterday LOL!  You know how many paleo and primal experts talk about how the more fat you eat, the longer you stay satisfied?  Yeah, I’ve reached that point.  Can’t say it sucks–I have a lot more free time when I’m not chained to the kitchen.

And I mean that in an “I normally cook all freaking day” way, not in an “I’m a woman, therefor I stay in the kitchen where the menfolk have chained me” kind of way.

Just wanted to clear that up.

Twice-Baked Breakfast

Serves 4

2 baking potatoes

3 slices of bacon, cooked to crispy and reserve drippings

2 Tbsp Kerrygold butter

1/2 C shredded cheese

1 Tbsp heavy cream

1 scallion, sliced thin

1/2 tsp parsley

salt and pepper

2 eggs

 

1.- Preheat oven to 375.  Line baking sheet.  Use fork to pierce potatoes in 6-7 spots and put on microwave-safe plate.  Cook potatoes in microwave (about 8-10 minutes, depending on potato size).

2.- Cut one slice of bacon in half.  Roughly chop the other two slices of bacon and set aside.

3.- Cut about 1/4″ off the top of each potato.  Scoop the flesh into a bowl, leaving about a 1/4″ shell (give or take).  Add Kerrygold and 1 Tbsp of reserved bacon drippings to the bowl and mash the potato flesh.  Stir in cheese, scallions, chopped bacon, parsley, salt, and pepper.

4.- Using a little more salt and pepper, season the inside of the potato shells.  Lightly brush the outside of the potato skins with remaining reserved bacon drippings.  Divide the mashed potato filling between the two shells, being careful not to overfill.  Press a spoon down the length of the potato, creating as large of a well as possible.  Put potatoes on lined baking sheet.

5.- Inside each well, crack and egg.  It’s okay if the egg overflows a little.  Bake 20-25 minutes (until egg whites set and desired doneness is reached).  Season with salt and pepper, and serve topped with scallions and half of a bacon slice.