Thursday, January 30, 2014

Gluten free at Walt Disney World - January 2014

Just got back from my trip to Walt Disney World. We try to go every two years.  This is my first trip being gluten free and all went well. I researched a lot before I went and found safe places to eat and new foods to try.

 On a daily basis my family and I actually eat Primal. Which means quality meats, vegis, fruits, nuts, seeds, full fat dairy and a bit of dark chocolate. It's like Paleo but with dairy. I do not eat grains or added sugar. I decided before this trip that I would be sticking to gluten free  but not Primal/Paleo as I tend to get pretty sick now when I consume even a little gluten. So lets be clear I was gluten free but not grain or sugar free as this was a vacation and I splurged quite a bit!

We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge for 9 days in January and did bring gluten free snacks like mary's gone crackers, dark chocolate, larabars, kind bars, home made trail mix, and  Choffy with us. I pack a bag with food items and use it for souvenirs on the way home.  I also ordered fruit, carrots, yogurt, cheese sticks, milk, half and half, water and seltzer for our room from Garden Grocer, which we have used in the past. They delivered the food to the hotel lobby on the date of our arrival and the perishables were refrigerated until we picked them up.  It is great to have snacks items to carry in the parks and options for breakfast in our room. Water is also very expensive in the parks (about 2.50 a bottle) and we figured that even with the delivery charge and tip we saved quite a bit just by ordering a case of water and bringing a bottle for each of us to the park each day. I actually wish we had ordered two cases because we ran out by day 5.

To keep things as organized as possible I am going to start by showing the meals we ate at our hotel first. We had 3 restaurants to choose from but the online reviews for gluten free at Artist's Point were not good so I opted not to eat there. This left Whispering Canyon Cafe which is a sit down option and Roaring Forks which is the quick service option.

We only ate at Whispering Canyon once and of course I forgot to take pics, but the Chef came to the table, and asked what I was thinking of for dinner and I told him the Build Your own Platter.  I was brought out a big slice of gluten free corn bread by the chef, while the rest of the family got the regular basket of corn bread to share. I was told that the meats were all fine except the fish which had some kind of breading, and the sides were fine except the baked beans which had some form of gluten in them.  So that is what my husband and I  ordered. It was delicious. Again, the chef brought out our platter and the kids got their individual meals separately.  I especially liked the sausage and the ribs included  and we got seconds of those.

We ate at Roaring Forks quite a bit. I was actually a bit bored with the limited menu by the end of the trip, but it was fun to have things I do not eat on a regular basis anymore. The managers were always so nice to help me with a gluten free order. They never made it seem like a big deal. I would usually ask someone working at the checkout or on the floor to get the manager for me for my gluten allergy and then order with the manager.

Here are some pics of some of the meals I had at Roaring Forks
Grilled Chicken sandwich on gluten free bun with a side of cucumber salad. 
This was a gluten free pizza that the manager made fresh for me. It was not too busy so she had time to take a fresh dough in back and make it herself. It was actually very good.  I also had a garden salad from the fridge with Kens Ranch which was gluten free and a milk.

Grilled chicken ceasar salad with no croutons, made in a clean bowl by manager!  Very tasty and filling.

Gluten free pepperoni pizza on our last day. It was very busy and I think this was an Amy's boxed pizza. Definitely not the same pizza I had earlier in the week.

On our last day at the Wilderness Lodge we were chosen to be the flag family. We did this on our first stay here in 2008 with Ranger Stan who has since passed away and this time we were lucky enough to go up to the top of the Lodge with Ranger Don. He was so nice to us, talked to us about the Disney property surrounding the Lodge and put up the Flags on the roof top of the building. It really is an enjoyable and informative morning and you can ask at check in if it is an option for your family.  We were then given a certificate to take home and allowed to get breakfast on the Concierge level in the Wilderness Club. My kids loved it there they had all sorts of gluten filled goodies and hot cocoa while I stuck with a bowl of fresh cut fruit and a milk. They had oatmeal too but I was concerned about all the add ins and what could be accidentally added to the big bowl of oats.

Concierge floor fruit salad and milk

To finish up with the gluten free items at our hotel, I brought my insulated Choffy press from home. Yup I packed it in my suitcase along with a rubbermaid container of Choffy to make in our room in the morning. That thing is like a tank. No dents or breaks. It traveled well and got lots of use every morning. I just brought it down to roaring forks and asked if I could fill it with hot water each morning. No Problem!

We went to Port Orleans-French Quarter as I had heard that they had gluten free beignets and I really wanted to try them. Boy am I glad we went. The Chef there was Chef Raphael and he was amazing. He helped me with my order and made suggestions. He was so pleased to hear that people had been blogging about his gluten free options and he told me about his extensive breakfast and dinner options too! Talk about customer service! I was really in the mood for some protein that day so I decided on a bacon cheese burger with a gluten free bun, a salad with ranch dressing(gluten free) and a side of bean salad( gluten free) which was also very tasty and flavorful. The best part of this trip was the beignets though! They were so good we considered going back another day, but could not find the time.
Almost forgot to get a picture of my bacon cheese burger with gluten free bun, side salad with Ken's ranch dressing, and a dish of bean salad. 

These beignets were amazing. The four of us shared and each had 1 and 1/2. Yes my kids and husband all loved these gluten free beignets. Chef Raphael said that some people like the GF better then the regular ones!

At Hollywood Studios we only had a couple of quick service items. We had a giant Turkey leg from Toluca Legs turkey Co on Sunset Boulevard. They are so big that the four of us shared one as a light lunch with some snacks we had brought from home. The second meal we had was also on Sunset Boulevard at Rosie's All American. I got a hamburger with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles (cheese was not gluten free here) on a gluten free bun and french fries that were cooked in a separate frier to avoid cross contamination. The manager here was fantastic also. He came out to help me place my order and told me not to take my food from anyone but him. He put my meal together in the back away from all the others being prepared and came out with my meal separate from the rest.
My husband about to bite into the giant turkey leg!
Again I almost forgot to take a picture before I finished. This was the hamburger on GF bun and  GF french fries from Rosie's All American.

Animal Kingdom is really GF friendly. They actually have an allergy friendly booth in the park. They gave me a pamphlet with gluten free options at three restaurants. We also picked up a couple snacks there. They had a variety of Rice chips and we went with the honey dijon which were very tasty but you need a good teeth brushing soon after to get rid of the mustard breath. We also got a bag of caramel popcorn. My kids had been wanting some since we arrived but the regular version in the parks has wheat in it. So when we saw this blue bag we jumped at it. It was very good. We also got 4 pk of mini BabyCakes muffins-I will tell you about Baby Cakes NYC in a bit.

We chose to eat at the Flame Tree BBQ as I had read that I could get a gluten free meal there. They had me go to the cashier to order, she then had me wait at the counter for a person who worked with people with food allergies. She showed me the allergen book and helped me choose a meal and sent me back to cashier (who was just behind me- so I did not have to wait again)and I ordered my meal and my families regular meals all at once.  I ended up getting the chicken and ribs platter with coleslaw and pineapple spears. Their beans have gluten so that was not an option but the pineapple was fresh and delicious and a nice substitute. I was again told only to take my food from the woman who helped me choose my meal.  I forgot to take a picture of this meal until it was to late. Sorry!

So here is my favorite meal of the week. We went to the Kona Kafe for my daughters BDay dinner. She wanted Sushi and I knew she could get it after 5 and I could get a gluten free option here too. As per usual we were seated and after our waitress arrived she said the chef would be right out. Chef Brett came to the table and asked what I was in the mood for. I told him I had read about the wings, and he said he could bring me GF Ohana wings, I also got the Kona salad with out the blue cheese as it must have had gluten in it and I told Chef Brett I liked shrimp. He suggested a twist on the pan asian noodles using rice noodles and GF tamari. I have not had a noodle in almost 2 years so I was not sure what to expect. This was amazing. The flavors were so good. The shrimp was cooked perfectly, there were so many vegis, which I was craving and it was light on the rice noodles, but enough to be very satisfying. I can not explain how much I enjoyed this whole meal.
Ohana wing- coriander and other spices made for a very tasty wing!
Kona Salad without Blue cheese. Again another great part of the meal. The dressing was light but flavorful and I loved the nuts and fruit pairing too.

My favorite part of my meal. The GF pan asian noodles made with shrimp, vegis, rice noodles, GF tamrai and other great herbs and spices. This was AMAZING!

I only ate one meal at Epcot an that was at La Cantina de San Angel. I was a little nervous ordering here. You go through the regular line and It does not seem like a big deal if you have and allergy, but the cashier knew right away what I could get that was gluten free. No Chips here for those of us who eat gluten free. I ended up getting the Tacos de Pollo with a side of rice. The tortillas were made of corn. I actually enjoyed this meal quite a bit, the chicken had a good flavor but I was nervous I might get sick as I did not feel enough precaution was taken. However I ended up being fine! I wish I had thought to ask for salsa and sour cream when I checked out because I did not feel comfortable using the salsa bar. To many things to worry about there.

Tacos de Pollo from La Cantina De San Angel in Epcot 

At the Magic Kingdom I had another surprisingly great meal at Be Our Guest. We received an email a few days before our trip which invited us to try a new service using our magic bands and fast pass+. Basically you get the email and preorder your meal through the link in the email. They even had allergy filters to use. My husband and I both had the gluten free version of the braised pork with vegis and mashed potatoes. It was delicious! The pork was cooked just right and very flavorful. I loved the vegis too. It is easy enough to find a salad at disney but I find the other vegi options are a little lacking. I also ordered a gluten free lemon raspberry cream puff which was also very good. A little on the sweet side for my taste but for the average joe it would probably be great.
Braise Pork with mashed potatoes and vegis at Be Our Guest.
GF raspberry lemon cream puff at be our guest. Sorry this pic is upside down! 

One of My favorite and most anticipated stops on this trip was Baby Cakes NYC in downtown Disney. It did not disappoint. The kids and I went twice to visit this shop which is "hidden" in the building where Pollo Campero and Fresh Apeel are. However there is no sign on the building for Baby Cakes.
I had read online that they had donuts, cookies, loaf breads and cupcakes that were all gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free, vegan. I only make gluten free baked goods at home so my kids knew what to expect. The baked goods here are not overly sweet and a little more dense then traditional baked goods but they were all fantastic. The first trip we got a coconut frosted donut, a cinnamon sugar donut and a chocolate frosted donut and we each had a favorite. I loved the coconut frosted best. We also tried the banana chip slice and pumpkin chip slice which we all enjoyed also. The donuts were just a bit sweeter so I think those were the kids favorite. On our second visit we again had the chocolate frosted donut, the cinnamon sugar donut and the new favorite was the cookie topped donut.  It was a GF cookie crumbled on top of a donut using a glaze as the glue to keep it on. Again so good. We also brought a few GF chocolate chip cookies back as a treat for other days. As I said earlier we tried the GF mini cupcakes at the Animal Kingdom allergy booth and the kids enjoyed those also but the donuts were for sure the favorite. 
Baby Cakes NYC at Downtown Disney

Our first trip, the white donut is the coconut frosted which was my favorite. The back left is the chocolate frosted and the back right is the cinnamon sugar donut. We also got the two slices of banana chip and pumpkin chip in the front left, and they were all great!
Another Shot of Baby Cakes NYC goodies

Another highly anticipated treat on our list is the famous Dole Whip. We had this on our last trip and If you like pineapple you will love this. Dole whip is gluten and Dairy free. The line at Aloha Isle in Magic Kingdom was long, and my husband did not think we should wait, but my daughter and I really wanted to. My husband originally said he did not want one until we got to the window and he changed his mind. I was glad he did because I was not going to share with him. These are almost like a pineapple sherbet, and they melt fast, so you need to find a seat close by and eat it before it topples over. 
Dole Whip from Aloha Isle in Magic Kingdom

One of the last gluten free treats on my list for Disney was a Mickey Premium B
ar. It is a vanilla  ice cream bar covered in chocolate. They are rich and delicious but a little messy. We actually had these a few times on our trip and loved them every time. They can be found in all the parks and hotels but be sure you get the ice cream bar and not the ice-cream sandwich which does have gluten in it! The wrappers look similar.
Mickey Premium Bar

Mickey bar out of wrapper.

Well that is all the pics I took this trip. I hope this helps anyone going to Walt Disney World in the near future with a gluten allergy. We really enjoyed our time and found that Disney is super accommodating to those of us with allergies. Just be sure to add your allergy info to every reservation you make online or in person. It makes it so much faster and easier. If you have any questions about any of the meals feel free to message me!


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