Staying healthy and vegetarian at Disney World

Mandi Geoff Hollywood
My husband and I just got back from 8 days at Walt Disney World in Florida. We had a great trip!

Something that was very important for me was staying healthy while away. If I was going to indulge, I wanted to make sure it was worth it, not just eating out of excess. It’s tricky in an environment like an amusement park but overall, I’m very happy with the balance that I found.

At home I’m vegan and gluten-free but I fell off the wagon while we were away. C’est la vie. Back in the saddle again now that I’m home.

Morning Smoothies
This is the first time that I’ve ever traveled with a Magic Bullet and I’ll never go on a trip without one again. It was awesome! We were staying at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and I was able to have groceries delivered directly to the hotel from www.GardenGrocer.com in Orlando. This worked out perfectly! I brought my own Sun Warrior Vanilla protein powder and a blend of some superfoods which I used to supplement my green smoothies with the groceries I bought. For 8 days of smoothies for 2 people, an ideal order would be 2 packages of pre-washed baby spinach, 3 containers of fresh blueberries, 3 containers of fresh strawberries and 16 bananas. (I also ordered apples and celery for snacks and cereal and almond milk for my husband. I just had my usual smoothie for breakfast and that was the important thing.)

Geoff Big Thunder SMSalad “Jazz” Packs
I packed several ziplocks to make my favourite “Jazz” packs for when I got stuck eating any small or unsubstantial salads. I really recommend keeping a jazz pack in your purse or bag in general. It relieves a lot of pressure when you’re trying to pick a restaurant with someone who isn’t as health conscious as you are. Even if you have a pretty lousy salad, topped with your favourite nuts, seeds, dried fruit, eggplant bacon, nori, nutritional yeast, etc. you can turn mediocre into delicious.

Jogging Gear

Though we were already walking a lot all day long at the parks, it felt really good to go for a short run around the lake at our resort to start the day. It was only 13 minutes to run around the lake before Geoff woke up, but it was definitely worth packing my workout wear for the bit of exercise but mostly for the fresh air.

Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Liberty Square Market, Magic Kingdom (beside the President’s) – Market Stand

Hands down, the best kept secret in any of the parks is the Roasted Sweet Potato for just $3.29 at the Liberty Square Market beside the President’s show. They’re completely hidden other than a small sign which I saw at the last minute. They were hidden somewhere behind the counter but when I asked the cast member brought out a giant, perfectly roasted sweet potato. Butter comes on the side so skip it if you want to stay vegan, a little salt and pepper and voila! The best deal and tastiest healthy snack or meal around the parks.

Cosmic Ray’s – Tomorrowland –  Magic Kindom – Quick Service (Bay 3)

I had the Greek Salad ($7.99) at Cosmic Ray’s. The good thing about the food at Cosmic Ray’s is that they have a toppings bar so you can bulk up your salad, and I also added a jazz pack for this one. It became quite a huge salad with my jazz pack and the experience was made thoroughly enjoyable when we grabbed a seat near Sonny Eclipse to watch his show. Loved the character entertainment. I’m surprised there isn’t more of that sort of thing at the restaurants around the parks.

Be Our Guest – Fantasyland – Magic Kingdom – Mid-Service at lunch, Full Table Service at dinner

Quinoa Salad Be Our GuestReservations for dinner at the new restaurant below Belle’s castle in Fantasyland need to be made months in advance. It’s brand new, quite special and extremely popular. Dinner it’s a full service restaurant but at lunch it’s reservation-free for mid-service (you order but then they bring the food to your table) so if you’re willing to line up, you can experience the terrific ambience and also food that’s actually quite a good value. Though we had our smoothies at home, on the spur of the moment we decided to line up at 10am to have “brunch” right when they opened at 10:30am so that we could experience the new digs. It was worth the 30 minute wait to have a peak in there. I had the vegan Quinoa Salad – with green beens, potatoes, olives, roasted bell peppers and tomatoes $9.99. After ordering it at the front, they use a homing device to find you wherever you’ve decided to sit. There are 3 halls and we opted for the West Wing which is the creepy room where the rose is on display. It was very fun and my salad was quite good for a $10 Disney meal.

Near Magic Kingdom

Kona Cafe – Polynesian Resort – Table Service

Kona SaladA short monorail ride away, you can opt for a more peaceful lunch at one of the 3 area resorts. We stopped at the Kona Cafe for lunch on the only day that it rained. The atmosphere in the actual cafe is nothing special but it was nice to look around the Polynesian. I had the Kona Salad – mixed greens, blue cheese, fresh fruit, red onions, smoked almonds with a citrus vinaigrette $8.49. It was a nice salad, but appetizer size. It was nice enough that I didn’t add a jazz pack and it’s a good salad to have on a day when you might want a bigger dinner or an afternoon snack.

Disney’s Epcot

Best Salad Sunshine Seasons Beet Goat Cheese Epcot LandSunshine Seasons – The Land – Future World – Epcot – Quick Service

The best salad at Disney World. People talk about it all over the internet. It’s fresh, hearty, reasonably priced and delicious! Not only is this a fabulous salad at Disney World, it’s an outstanding salad in “the real world” too. If you’re vegan you can have them skip the goat cheese and give you more beets or extra walnuts. It’s listed as Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese Salad – with Honey Sherry dressing $7.89 but it’s also served with tons of delicious candied walnuts and a flat bread. If you only eat one salad your entire visit, this should be the one.

Coral Reef – Living Seas – Epcot

For my birthday lunch we went to the Coral Reef for the atmosphere more than for the food. I don’t understand how people can watch all the beautiful fish swimming in the aquarium… while they’re eating them! I asked them if they could make an entree size version of the appetizer salad so they doubled it for me (and the price): Field Greens and Endive Salad – with pears, goat cheese, spiced walnuts, and cranberry vinaigrette $8.49. The only problem with asking for an entree size version of this salad was that they gave me an extra ball of goat cheese which was delicious but boy, what a lot of dairy.

Vegan Red Thai Noodles Coral ReefThis is where it’s worth mentioning that my husband had the vegan Red Curry Vegetable and Noodle Bowl – with Gardein Chick’n Breast $18.99 which is with a mock soy chicken product. I don’t tolerate soy very well but I did have a few bites and it was tasty.

San Angel Inn – Mexico – World Showcase – Epcot

This was another splurge meal for us. This is a really ambient pavilion and one that I knew we would want to hit some time over the week. We went for lunch and I considered having a salad or the something from the vegan menu, but I decided that if I was falling off the dairy wagon while I was away, Mexican was one of the nicest places to enjoy a bit of cheese.

We split the Tostados de Tinga but asked for them to be made vegetarian. These are fried corn tortillas topped with black beans, lettuce, onions, advocado, tomato marinated chicken (usually), sour cream, and fresh cheese $10.50. I didn’t really want to get an appetizer because I was also enjoying the green sauce that came with the tortilla chips at the table but my husband was really hungry so we had a pretty giant lunch.

I had also ordered a vegetarian (but not vegan) version of the Enchiladas. These ended up being made with a LOT of cheese and it was really over the top but now I don’t have to eat cheese again for a looooooong time. On the menu they’re listed as: Enchiladas Verdes de Pollo – Corn tortillas filled with pulled chicken (usually), covered with green tomatillo sauce, topped with sour cream, queso fresco and onion, served with black beans $17.50 and then I had them make them vegetarian. That was a huge meal. Next time, I’ll ask for black bean instead of cheese.

At Epcot, we would also recommend Tokyo Dining at the Japan pavilion for anyone who eats fish. There isn’t a lot for the vegetarian menu but Geoff really enjoyed his meal and the food is quite healthy if you skip any tempura.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Back Lot Express, Hollywood Studios (near Star Tours) – Quick Service

We actually ended up here twice because there are fewer options at Hollywood Studios unless you’ve made a reservation in advance. From my research and now my own experience, this is really the best option for quick service at Hollywood Studios. One day I had the Cucumber & Cantaloupe Salad which is actually a really nice little salad but it needed one of my jazz packs to make it into a satisfying lunch. On a different day which was quite cold, I wanted something more substantial so I had the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich. I didn’t stay vegan on this and did have it with the provolone cheese. It’s a quite large sandwich and the grilling does make it pretty tasty. You can have it served with fries but I had mine with the option of baby carrots. The salad isn’t listed on the website for some reason but the sandwich is described as: “Grilled Vegetable Sandwich – basil asiago artisan bread, mushrooms, red peppers, zucchini, tomato, watercress and cheese with sundried tomato pesto, served with carrot sticks or french fries $8.99.”

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Vegetarian Stand between Africa and Mount Everest, Animal Kindom – Quick Service

I can’t find the name of this little kiosk but along the back route of the park somewhere near the Bird’s of Flight show there’s a vegetarian stand that sells edamame, salad rolls, fruit… I’m really impressed that there’s actually a stand that’s 100% vegetarian! It’s small, but the fact that it exists is promising. We had 2 orders of the cold salad rolls with peanut sauce. Great snack or small meal and I definitely felt good about supporting this concept.

Near the Animal Kingdom

Sanaa – Kidani Village – Animal Kingdom Villas

I would call this the best meal of the trip. It was also our largest. We went a bit over board ordering appetizers as well as our meals, and they mixed up my order for the vegetarian sampler so they ended up giving me an extra dish of 3 options instead of 2. Long story, but I did get to try a lot at this place and I would definitely recommend it as the best vegan option at Disney.

Sanaa AppetizersWe started with the Sampler for Two – Potato and Pea Samosamb Kefta Kabobs, Roasted Cauliflower $14.99. I would actually skip this next time. My husband ate both the meat kabobs and I ate all the cauliflower, but the cauliflower was really nothing special. The samosas were nice, they seemed like they may have been baked because they weren’t oily. Mostly the mango salsa was the highlight. The salad sampler was better than this appetizer sampler though.

SALAD SAMPLER – CHOICE OF THREE SALADS $6.99

We had the Bhel Puri, Golden Lentils and Tomato and Watermelon, cucumber and fennel. The watermelon salad sounded more interesting than it was. Nothing special, so next time I would pass on that one but the other 2 salads were excellent. I’d opt for the beets next time as my third choice.

VEGETARIAN SAMPLER – CHOICE OF TWO SERVED WITH BASMATI RICE OR FIVE-GRAIN PILAF $14.99

Sanaa VegThis is where the mix up happened because my waitress took my order down wrong. As a result I was able to try 3 of the vegetarian options instead of 2. Along with the five-grain pilaf I had the Paneer Tikka (not vegan), Spicy Peas, chickpeas and potatoes (vegan) and Vindaloo-style vegetables (vegan). Let me tell you, it was pleasantly spicy! I like spice, but I was shocked that they actually made it that hot at Disney. It was a very filling splurge meal. We were so full we skipped dinner that night. I would go there again, and make sure to make it my main meal of the day again too.

Jiko – The Cooking Place – Animal Kingdom Lodge – Full Table Service

Jiko DipsWe made reservations to go back to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for a nice Sunday dinner at Jiko. Jiko was very nice, but the food wasn’t as exotic as Sanaa. Still, it was a nice experience. They bring bread to the table with a fancy butter so I only opted to share the appetizer dips with my husband and have a salad rather than trying the full vegan entree on the menu.


Jiko SaladThe dips were the Taste of Africa – African inspired Dips with pappadam, poppy seed lavosh and House-made Naan $9.00 which were ok but not really anything too special. It ended up being so many carbs since they had also brought the yummy bread to the table first. Then I had the Jiko Salad – bitter greens, frog hallow pears, spicy glazed walnuts, aged goat cheese and citrus vinaigrette $12.00 which wasn’t a huge salad but it was just right since I had already carbed out on the starters.

Downtown Disney

Wolfgang Puck Express, Downtown Disney

Wolfgang Puck Express Beet Goat Cheese saladI’m calling this mid-service because you order but then they bring the food to your table. We really enjoyed this option for a reasonably priced dinner the one night we went do Downtown Disney. I had the Butternut Squash Soup – Roasted red pepper coulis and chives $5.95 and the Roasted Beets Salad – Goat cheese, oranges, fresh greens, candied pecans, balsamic vinaigrette $10.95. The soup was really delicious. The salad was good too, but I’m glad that I had the soup because it wasn’t a particularly large salad on it’s own. Still, very tasty.

****

Treats – if you’re going to indulge, do it right!

Alright people, if you’re going to indulge then make it count! Though I admit that we had some other treats over the week including splitting a funnel cake at Sleepy Hollow while we watched the fire works, I think it’s important to pick the high calorie treats that are actually worth it. There is so much crap around, and it’s not even good! When you have a treat, quality counts.

Boulangerie Patisserie – France – World Showcase – Epcot

Ah, the France pavilion. We stopped at the Boulangerie on several different days and also packed a couple of treats as our dinner for the airplane ride home. Are the pastries as good as those in Paris? Well, no. But they’re still really good. Freshly made and if you’re going to indulge, this is the place to do it. The Napoleon – puff pastry with layered cream $4.50, is more creamy and not particularly sweet by “American” standards. Rich and light at the same time. It’s not listed on the menu but they’re also now serving an oversized and very delicious Macaron with white chocolate mousse, basil gelee, passion fruit macaroon and chartreuse sorbet for about $6.00. On the plane ride home Geoff and I split a Frangipane – almond filling between puff pastry $3.70 which was delicious, a Pain Au Chocolat – chocolate croissant $3.35 which wasn’t as good as the Frangipane so I would pass on that next time, and a Brioche Au Chocolat – chocolate brioche $3.50 which was also very good.

Italy Gelato Stand – Italy – World Showcase – Epcot

Though it wasn’t a traditional cannoli, it was still very tasty. The problem with cannolis is that if you have them made fresh they can be absolutely delicious and worth every bite, but if they get soggy they’re gross and truly disappointing. The Italian pavilion got around this by making the pastry more of a cookie that was covered in chocolate. Not completely traditional, but definitely something that I enjoyed. Cannoli – Crisp pastry with sweet ricotta, chocolate, Candied Orange $4.75.

Kringla Bakeri og Cafe – Norway – World Showcase – Epcot

I’ve spent a lot of time in Sweden which shares a lot of similarities to Norway in both culture and food. I found the School Bread $2.69 to be a perfect treat with the familiar and nostalgic flavours of my time spent in Stockholm.

Sleepy Hollow – Liberty Square – Magic Kingdom – Quick Service

We ended up buying breakfast on our last morning. It’s not listed on their menu but Sleepy Hollow is one of the only options for anything breakfast-like foods around the Magic Kingdom. I guess they have options on Main Street USA but once you enter the actual parks there’s nothing around. I had gone for a jog that morning and only ate an apple so by the time we had been at the park for an hour I was really hungry. I had hoped to buy another sweet potato but they weren’t available in the morning so I let myself indulged in a Breakfast Waffle with egg & Swiss cheese. It comes with prosciutto which I of course skipped. It was actually a pretty tasty indulgence and I don’t feel too guilty about it.

Hollywood Brown Derby – Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Full Service

Grapefruit Cake Brown DerbyHappy birthday to me. My birthday fell during our trip and I decided that if I was going to have cake, it had better be good. I had the classic and rather famous Grapefruit Cake – Light Layers of Yellow Cake with fresh Grapefruit-Cream Cheese Icing $8.00. It was worth the treat. And I admit it… I had a spiked fancy coffee too!

Minnie Ears SM

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Staying healthy and vegetarian at Disney World

  1. Thanks, Mandi! Bethany, my oldest, is going to Disney in April with the school, and these are some great tips for her as she is vegetarian, mostly vegan.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s