April 12, 2019 at 06:00AM by CWC
There are few places people are more passionate about than Disney World. Dubbed “the happiest place on Earth,” the resort has upbeat music playing everywhere, is void of sarcasm and negativity, and there are fairytale characters walking around like it’s NBD. Every year, over 40 million people flock there for family vacays, weddings, and honeymoons. People who love Disney World really love Disney World.
But between racing around trying to get a selfie with Mickey, waiting in line for Space Mountain, and completely losing it at the Haunted Mansion, a girl’s gotta eat. “Disney World is very good at making the whole experience magical and happy, including the eating,” says registered dietitian Lindsey Joe, RD. “They’ve done a wonderful job over these last several years in terms of accommodating more and more food allergies and food preferences, so there are plenty of options for people.”
While you won’t find this online, Joe says that every restaurant at Disney World—including fast casual restaurants, not just sit-down places—have pamphlets with a grid of the most common food allergens—including gluten, eggs, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, and soy—while highlighting options eaters with these restrictions *can* order. “If you tell the waiter about your dietary needs, they will really work with you,” she says.
Of course it helps to be prepared, too—which is where this handy guide comes in. Joe helped us compile a list of healthy meal options at Disney World for people who are vegan, keto, or gluten-free. There are over 200 restaurants at Disney World, so for simplicity’s sake, we’ve zeroed in on three of the most popular places at the resort: Chef Mickey’s, California Grill, and Tiffins Restaurant. Keep reading for healthy meal options from each place.
The best Disney world healthy options if you’re vegan:
Menu picks: Chef’s Hash (Chef Mickey’s); Market Strawberry Salad (California Grill); Avocado and Tomato Salad (Tiffins); Chickpea Falafels (Tiffins)
What an RD says: For breakfast, Joe is all about the Chef’s Hash at Chef Mickey’s. While potatoes often get a bad rap because of the carbs (gasp!), Joe says they’re actually healthy in moderation. “Carbs are okay! As long as this hash isn’t made with sausage and is made with onions and peppers instead, it’s a great healthy choice.” (Just be sure to ask for no eggs and no cheese, either, since this dish may default to having both.)
For lunch or dinner, California Grill and Tiffins offer great options for vegans. At California Grill, many of the apps are vegan-friendly (with easy modifications), so Joe recommends pairing them together. She’s especially drawn to the Market Strawberry Salad. “People may not think salads are all that exciting, but when they’re prepared to be really special like these ones, they definitely are,” she says. Tiffins has a special salad too, starring avocados and tomato, which she recommends pairing with the Chickpea Falafels. “It has good protein. Just ask for it without the yogurt sauce, since that has dairy,” she says.
Order tweaks: When ordering the Chef’s Hash for breakfast, Joe recommends requesting to add in tofu for protein. For the Market Strawberry Salad, nix the cheese to keep it vegan and be sure to check with the waiter to make sure there’s no dairy in the pistachio meringue. For the Avocado and Tomato Salad at Tiffins, swap out the buttermilk dressing for a vegan vinaigrette. And with the Chickpea Falafels, ask for it sans yogurt sauce.
Side dish recommendations: Joe suggests rounding out your breakfast at Chef Mickey’s with the Seasonal Melons and Fruits. Over at California Grill, she recommends the Ginger-Carrot Soup as another way to up your veggies with added anti-inflammatory benefits.
The best Disney world healthy options if you’re keto:
Menu picks: Tofu Scramble with Spinach (Chef Mickey’s); Bacon and Egg Salad (California Grill); Alaskan Halibut (California Grill); Surf and Turf (Tiffins); Pan-Seared Alaskan Halibut (Tiffins)
What an RD says: While eggs are a ketogenic diet staple, Joe points out that the Tofu Scramble with Spinach at Chef Mickey’s gives a way to get added protein with fiber-rich spinach. For lunch, the Bacon and Egg Salad at California Grill practically screams keto. Or, if you’re at California Grill for dinner, she recommends going for the Alaskan Halibut. The cashew chutney on top isn’t just packed with flavor—it gives the meal great protein, too. “At Tiffins, both the Surf and Turf and the Pan-Seared Alaskan Halibut have the same formula of protein, veggies, and carbs. So just as to switch the carbs out for extra veggies and they’re both 100 percent keto-approved,” Joe says.
Order tweaks: With the Bacon and Egg Salad, Joe says to ask for it without sherry vinaigrette as it’s likely high in sugar. And with the halibut at California Grill, she says ask for extra bok choy instead of the rice. As mentioned above with the Surf and Turf and Pan-Seared Alaskan Halibut at Tiffins, ask to replace the potatoes with greens.
Side options: If you go for the Alaskan Halibut at California Grill and want to add a side, Joe recommends going for the Hearts of Romaine, made with an avocado dressing (healthy fat bomb alert!). Just cut the croutons, which have carbs. At Tiffins, the Brussels Sprouts are a great side option.
The best Disney World healthy options if you’re gluten-free:
Menu picks: Tofu Scramble with Spinach (Chef Mickey’s); Glazed Salmon (Chef Mickey’s); Tuna Three Way sushi (California Grill); Sashimi (California Grill); Surf and Turf (Tiffins); Pan-Seared Alaskan Halibut (Tiffins)
What an RD says: The tofu scramble doesn’t just work for keto; it’s gluten-free, too. For dinner at Chef Mickey’s, Joe suggests ordering the Glazed Salmon. “While it isn’t keto-approved because the glaze has sugar, this meal is entirely gluten-free,” she says.
At California Grill, sushi is clearly one of the restaurant’s specialties. “Of all of the hand-rolled sushi on the menu, the Tuna Three Way and Sashimi are going to be the healthiest,” Joe says. “With the sashimi, it’s simple—you’re just getting really good cuts of fish. The Tuna Three Way is flavorful without having sodium-laden sauces.” Over at Tiffins, the same entrees that work for keto eaters are also gluten-free. “They’re healthy options because of all that great protein and omega-3s from the fish and the vegetables,” Joe points out.
Order tweaks: To make the Glazed Salmon even healthier, Joe says to ask if you can have it with out the glaze so you’re getting the omega 3-rich fish without the added sugar. And if ordering sushi or sashimi, make sure you’re getting tamari (which is gluten-free) instead of soy sauce. And if you’re GF because you have Celiac, you should still check with your waiter before ordering anything to ensure that everything is completely gluten-free (including no cross-contamination), not just the ingredients. Better safe than sorry.
Side dish recommendations: If the tofu scramble isn’t enough to fill out your meal, Joe suggests rounding it out with the Yogurt Parfait as a way to get more protein, calcium, and nutrient-packed fruit. (Just watch out for granola, which may not be gluten-free.) At California Grill, she says to go for The Chef’s Garden Heirloom Beets, which have folate, fiber, and vitamin C (although ask your server if the hazelnut biscotti included in the dish has gluten in it). At Tiffins, once again the Brussels Sprouts prove to be a side almost everyone can enjoy.