(Mostly) Healthy Eating in the Happiest Place on Earth

Behold, my awe-inspiring rap skills:

My school was havin’ a half-day

So we dropped everything and flew to LA

And we knew everything was gonna be okay

(Though things did get a little cray-cray

In the house of the Mouse himself, Mick-ay!).

You know you love me.

The rap holds true.  If you’ve been wondering, the reason for my week-long hiatus from the blogosphere was due to a family vacation to none other than Disneyland, the self-proclaimed Happiest Place on Earth!  Yes, for four days, I became The Girl in the Orange County, California. 😉  I’m a huge fan of all things roller coaster, so that was my primary source of excitement on this trip (Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, yeah!),  but I was also looking forward to just taking a break from the “real world” and letting the magic of the Magic Kingdom settle in over me.  (And I would also get to meet Mickey Mouse.  This makes me a very happy girl.)

I’ve told you guys that I’m a vegetarian and the rest of my family is not.  I’m also much more health-oriented than the rest of my family.  So, while a Disneyland vacation was undoubtedly going to be fun, there was the awful looming question over my head for the entire plane ride there…

What am I going to eat?

I wasn’t sure.  I hadn’t heard good things about food in Disneyland for people who don’t want to live off of Mickey waffles and ice cream bars.  So, I came prepared.  Mother Dearest, who “worries about me starving”, purchased me some sustenance from the magical realm of the supermarket… 2 Corazonas oatmeal squares, 1 Earnest Eats baked whole food bar, and three strips of Primal “jerky”.  Aw yeah all you fellow teen vegheads, you wish you had my mom right now. 😉 

I was really excited to try the seitan jerky (I’ve only ever had the soy before), but still can’t really get over the fact that it sounds like Satan… (gulp).

I also packed some homemade fruit leather  and some Clif Z-Bars. And some roasted squash seeds in a Trader Joe’s yogurt container.  In case you were wondering, you can bring that on the plane with you! ;D  I was a bit nervous that the TSA would think they were a yogurt bomb or something.  You never know.

If any of you guys were wondering, here are my Disneyland eats, purely so you can see what options there were in the Magic Kingdom.  And also because I’m a little bit nerdy like that. ;P How can I take a vacation and not blog about the food I ate?

Day 1:

This was mostly a day of travel.  We flew with a new airline, Virgin America, which was pretty awesome.  The inside of the plane was purple, peoples!  As opposed to the ugly aggressive flourescent lighting usually found in aircraft.  How can you not have fun on a purple plane ride?!  It totally made my day!  Well, that, and the interactive screen on the headrest in front of me that allowed me to read books and watch movies and television (you had to pay extra for sound though).  And we weren’t even in first class!

We got seated down for dinner at about 9 o’ clock, which was SUUPER late for me to be eating dinner, and my appetite was pretty much shot.  I knew I had to eat something, though, because my mood was plummeting into the dangerous lands of snarky hypoglycemia (I think it had been eight hours since I last ate).  We were at the restaurant inside our hotel, Garden Court Bistro.  I ordered a plate of linguini primavera to be split with Mother Dearest.  This was full of broccoli cooked soft, ‘spiralized’ carrots and zucchini, as well as gobs of sun-dried tomatoes.  It was served alongside a sourdough bread basket and some crunchy herb cracker/wafer things.  All in all, it was a pretty decent dinner, especially when sprinkled with the provided parmesan cheese, but, you know, nothing to write home about.

(My sincerest apologies for the travel point-and-shoot photography. Sigh.)

I still wasn’t sure about how many options I would have food-wise in the park the next day, so I decided that, even though I wasn’t really hungry, I should eat a lot so I wouldn’t be starved the next day.  😉  It makes sense in my world…

Day 2:

The air practically stuck to us when we woke from our very restful seven hours of sleep (on the comfiest bed ever!), and, as per my ‘strategy’, I wasn’t really hungry for breakfast.  We ended up walking to a little gift shop inside the hotel called California Deli, and I bought a packet of Cheerios, a little carton of milk, and an apple.  (They actually had oranges!–but they looked pale and squishy.  Sad face.)  I found out too late that they actually had oatmeal on the menu (!!!), but it was much too hot to even consider that sort of thing.  They also probably put brown sugar in it or something.  (sniffs) Which would be tragic.  I am an Oatmeal Purist. We decided that we would ‘do’ California Adventure rather than actual Disneyland for this day, and to appease Little Bro, we had to hit up Cars Land first thing.  The longest line was only 70 minutes, which, for Disney, is pretty sweet!  I also enjoy how, when waiting in line at the parks, you’re provided with a ton of different structures to wander through as you slowly snake your way closer to the actual ride.  Mental stimulation, yeah! My appetite picked up as we stood in line for our first ride (Radiator Springs Racers ;)), and so I snacked on some pumpkin seeds.

Yes, I was That Girl.  The one who brought their own hydration pack (a fancy term for a fanny pack used to carry water when running long-distance, which also has a convenient pouch for snackage) to Disneyland so they could have readily accessible water and provisions on hand (er, hip) at all times.  I wasn’t taking any chances with my food, you see.  This was serious business. I managed to mow down two of my fruit leathers before lunchtime, but the whole family was seriously hungry by eleven-thirty.

We swung by a pasta-pizza-salad place on Paradise Pier, and I was thrilled to find a Portobello-Spinach Flatbread pizza.  The crust, being flatbread, didn’t stick with me that long, but the toppings were pretty good, as far as amusement-park pizza goes! My family was surprised that I managed to eat a whole personal pizza (I usually have such a tiny stomach), but, when I’m hungry, I get serious, people.  Let’s not underestimate me here.  The restaurant also served entree salads, which didn’t sound filling enough (sorry salad!) and side salads, which sounded like too much food in addition to the whole pizza, but my sources (aka parents) tell me they were pretty good.  All manner of beverages, applesauces and cheese sticks were also served.

Lo and behold, within half and hour of finishing this I was hungry again, 😉 (should have gotten the side salad!), so I ripped into one of my seitan jerkies in my fanny pack hydration pack.

The verdict on the “jerky”?  I didn’t notice any change in the texture from the soy jerky, but the Terriyaki flavor was definitely different from the Hickory Smoked.   Funny thing, it didn’t even really taste like terriyaki…more like, um, cinnamon-sugar.  Which was weird.  Not bad, but…not terriyaki.  (I doubt the jerky would sell very well if they advertised it as cinnamon-sugar.)  Maybe it was the licorice root that did it..?

After hitting a few more of the rides (California Screamin’, anyone?  It was INTENSE), we retired back to our hotel for a midafternoon siesta.    My feet were aching and my brain was whirring and my eyes were closing and This was heavenly.  I seriously wish my school had a ‘Napping’ elective course.  I would totally sign up.

We woke at about four and took the shuttle to Downtown Disney to eat dinner at Rainforest Cafe.  I was one hungry, hungry hippo while waiting the hour it took for our food to come.  My dad said he was surprised I didn’t eat the table in my anticipation.  Thankfully, I ordered SALAD! GLORIOUS SALAD!  You know what the best thing about salad is?  It comes BEFORE your meal so you get food in your tummah EARLIER. The salad was served with a hunk of fluffy herb bread (I think it had thyme in it, maybe?) that was probably the best ‘real’ food (read: not chocolate) I ate during the whole trip.  Seriously nummy stuff!  The salad itself was pretty good too.

Later, my main course was delivered, which consisted of a ‘natural’ burger made with chickpeas and topped with guacamole, and a big ol’ serving of potato chips on the side.  The potato chips were given to parents and I dove into the burger. My critical review:  Let me just put out there the fact that most restaurants don’t know how to make a good veggie burger.  (There is such a thing!)  And the Rainforest Cafe is one of them.  Sorry.  It’s sad but true.  However, the guac on top was pretty good, and the burger was okay when given my special ‘mustard treatment’. 😉  I ate the bun on its own (don’t judge) and it was actually, in the words of Mickey Mouse, pretty swell!  It was kind of sweet, like a roll, and it was all swirly and had a cute little “bellybutton” on top! 😀

…have you ever been to a Rainforest Cafe?

If you have, you know there is One Dessert that you cannot leave without ordering.  Even the healthy-eating queen yours truly could not resist the awesome tempting power of rich chocolate brownie, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, hot fudge ‘lava’ trickling down, all topped off with a sparkler. This is the VOLCANO.

The title of this post was (Mostly) Healthy Eating, right? 😉  I think this little splurge was worth it to enjoy my favorite dessert while on vacation.  The volcano is really da bomb.

The ‘After’ plate…

After we all set our spoons down in bliss, my dad proclaimed, “Why can’t they make zucchini taste like that?  I would become a vegetarian.”  Ah, if only he knew of the wonders of vegetables…

In addition to the food I ate, some other veggie options I found in the California Adventure park include: a tofu stir-fry bowl, all manner of entree salads, and cheese pizza.

Day 3:

My breakfast on Saturday was the same boring combination as the previous day.  Sorry about that. 😉

I must have been looking pretty that day or something, because as we waited in line for Adventureland in the Disneyland park, a few cast members came up to us and asked if we would like to help open the park!!  We got to put on Mickey gloves (you have to cram five fingers into four openings) and got to wave to all the lowly guests walking by.  Later on, the cast members escorted us to the Jungle Cruise, where we got to ride on our own personal boat, no other passengers!  We were feeling pretty awesome by the time that was over. 🙂 Probably because I devoured a fourth of a volcano the previous day, my appetite was AWOL when lunch rolled around.  However, I know enough about myself to know that if I’m not hungry at a mealtime, it means I’ll be famished later and I better eat something anyway.  We were in our hotel’s restaurant again, and I ordered an Asian Chicken Salad, sans chicken.  It included lettuce, mango, almond slivers, poppy and sesame seeds, a mandarin orange vinaigrette, and crispy fried sticks of some sort. It was an interesting combination.  Not bad, but, like most things I ate on the trip, nothing to write home about.  (Though I’ll be the first to admit I’m a pretty tough food critic.  It takes a lot to make me pronounce something delicious.)  After the salad, I ate another jerky strip to make up for the protein I was missing out on by opting out of the chicken.

Another nap ensued.  Not quite as long as the previous day’s, but equally blissful.  If only I hadn’t woken up after an hour because of hunger!

The hunger that had evaded me all throughout lunch suddenly hit me full force and I was rifling through our suitcase as quietly as possible so as not to disturb sleeping family, but very frantically.  The first thing I happened upon was a Corazonas Banana Walnut Oatmeal square.  I really didn’t want to take the time to photograph it, but I love you guys, so here:

Even though you probably don’t care what the wrapper looked like.

Review:  I was kinda expecting this to taste like banana bread, and it didn’t, therefore I was sad.  😦  It wasn’t nearly as sweet as I was expecting, which I’m normally okay with, but…it just doesn’t taste like banana bread.  I don’t know why I’m so bent out of shape about this; it ISN’T banana bread, it’s a healthy breakfast bar, so why am I expecting it to taste like dessert?  This question shall go unanswered.  I just probably wouldn’t buy this bar again.  The texture is quite dry, as well, not like the moister Clif bars that I like so much.

And then something tragic happened.  My stomach started hurting. :/  It was pretty awful, and I thought I was going to hurl.  I hate to admit this, but I think it was the homemade fruit leather I ate the previous day!  I usually keep it in the freezer so there’s no danger of it molding, but when I ate it it had been sitting in the suitcase for a couple of days… 😦 Not good.  I was pretty panicky.  There’s a toxic fungus that can grow on fruit preserves…thankfully I avoided death!!  Moral of the story: you’d better dehydrate your leathers ALL THE WAY or else eat them straight from the freezer, unless you like dying.

I needed something to calm my nausea, so I ended up walking down to the deli and buying a banana, something I knew would sit well on my stomach.  An hour later, I was feeling better, but still didn’t really want to go out.  We ordered in Mexican food from a nearby restaurant called Mi Casa Mexicana.  I had a large veggie burrito stuffed with beans, rice, and cheese, potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and bell pepper.  For $4.99, it was probably the best entree I’ve eaten on the trip, which was kind of sad. ;P  You never know which places will have the best food!

Why does it look so bland??

Other vegetarian options spotted on Day 3 include: a portobello couscous ragout, vegetarian chili in a bread bowl (much too hot for that though!), broccoli and cheddar cheese soup in a bread bowl, more tofu stir-fries, minestrone soup and salad, gnocchi,  an eggplant parmigiana sandwich, cheese quesadillas, build-your-own pizzas, fettucini alfredo and fettucini with mushrooms.

Bottom line: You can eat a relatively healthy vegetarian diet in Disneyland and the surrounding area.  As long as you’re okay with salad and you’re not too picky! 😉  Whole grains are elusive, but fruits and veggies are plentiful.  A vegan diet will be a bit more challenging, but, hey, it’s Disneyland; they cater to everyone.  If you’re staying for more than a day,  I would recommend bringing some “backup protein”, such as nuts and seeds or jerky strips like moi.  Enjoy your vacation. 🙂


What say you?

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 )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )


Connecting to %s