Vegan Disney World 2017

I’ve posted about dining at Disney World as a vegan before, but if you are a Disney fan you know that the menus change often. So, it seemed like a good time for a new post! We were in Disney this week, traveling with 3 vegans and 5 omnivores. Good times and good food were had by all!

Day 1 – We arrived in Orlando and took a side trip to Disney Springs (previously Downtown Disney), where we stopped at Erin McKenna’s bakery and had some soft serve.

We got a pineapple upside down cake and a donut for later (meant to be coffee cake but there was a communication breakdown). The pineapple upside down cake was amazing!

After settling in we met up at Boma. We have had good Boma experiences in the past, but this wasn’t the best. The restaurant was packed (it was the night before the marathon, a Saturday, and really cold out). When the chef came out to explain to us what the vegans could eat, he was clearly not pleased about it. He walked us through the buffet, pointed out things we could eat, noted things that could be made more vegan friendly (i.e. the pasta sauce with meatballs) but didn’t say how to make that happen, explained that there was not dessert, and then said “will that do?” Being friendly, we said sure and made the best of it. Later, he did come out with a bowl of a nice vegetable curry. Sadly, after a 16 hour drive we were all a bit brain addled and we forgot to take a picture of that dinner. We would probably still give Boma a good overall review if you like buffets.

Day 2 – We had intended to go to the parks, but it was very chilly, so we decided to tour Disney Springs and catch a movie. We saw Moana and ate way too much popcorn. If you haven’t seen Moana, you should!

Day 3 – We got an early start at Animal Kingdom. After some trips on Everest, a nice safari ride, a little Lion King, some Bugs Life, etc., we dropped by Tusker House for lunch. We were a little alarmed by the check ($50 each for lunch is steep!) but the food was excellent. While the chef here visibly rolled his eyes at the start, he warmed up while showing us the items and the selections were plentiful and delicious. There were even cookies for dessert.

Since Animal Kingdom is usually a pretty quick day for us, some of the group also dropped in at Epcot for a few rides in the evening.

Day 4 – Hollywood Studios was on the agenda for day 4. We mostly enjoy this park for Rock n Rollercoaster, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania, The Great Movie Ride, and Muppets 3D. For this trip, we decided not to eat in the park (though some pickles and other snacks were had) and instead saved our hunger for the day’s dinner.

Dinner was at Trail’s End restaurant in Fort Wilderness. GPS in both cars took us the wrong way, so getting there was rather an adventure. Once you arrive, finding the restaurant is also a challenge and weirdly the signage is lacking (unusual at Disney). But, the restaurant was kitschy country with good food for the omnivores and AND the amazing and fabulously kind Chef TJ!!!!  If you haven’t heard of Chef TJ, he is a Disney chef known for his kind and generous treatment of those with special dietary needs. We were on pins and needles waiting to see if he was actually there. And then, good news, he was! He came out and chatted with us, and then the feast began.

There were several courses including samosas, nachos, a wonderful cream of broccoli soup (not pictured here), a beautiful and delicious entree with tofu and vegetables, and a dessert that was a tower of fried goodness and fruit. Mmmmm….

We practically had to roll back to our car (with takeout boxes).

Day 5 – Our full Magic Kingdom day was Day 5. We had fun trying to do the rides in a different order (not beginning with Space Mountain as we usually do), and then went to the Liberty Tree Tavern for lunch. In the past, we have had some delicious vegan burgers and sandwiches at the Liberty Tree, but all of that is now off the menu. We were presented with an allergy menu that had no vegan items, so the chef came over and offered a pasta dish with vegetables and marinara sauce. It was quite good and we had some fries as an appetizer because… fries.

For dessert, we had a Dole Whip for the first time.

We only recently were told these were vegan and we hope that is correct. They were quite delicious!

Day 6 – Off to Epcot at the start of the day! It was a little crowded due to early magic hours, but we still managed to see all of the attractions we hoped before our lunch reservation at Teppan Edo in the Japan pavilion. Teppan Edo is a hibachi-style restaurant. With a group of 8, we just fit at a table. Everyone was pretty happy with the offerings, which included a vegetable and tofu plate (made without butter and substituting white rice for the beef rice). Our chef was a woman, which was new to all of us for hibachi, and she did a wonderful job with the preparation.

After lunch and some tooling around in world showcase, some delicious margaritas from La Cava del Tequila. This little tequila bar used to be an unknown treasure in the Mexico pavilion. Now it’s a known treasure. The handmade and delicious (no sour mix!) margaritas here are not inexpensive, but they are very good. We sampled the Minty Pineapple, the Dragones Top Shelf, the Jalapeño, and the Guava, and all were pronounced good. Somehow, we also ended up eating guacamole and chips….
What can  you do?

Day 7 – The last day is always our “parks du jour” day. This trip, we started in Epcot in the morning, where we got to experience Soarin’ two more times, Test Track, the new Pixar Film Festival attraction (very cute), Journey into Imagination, and then headed over to the World Showcase where the International Festival of the Arts was happening. We wandered, saw some art, drank some beer and ate some “chips” in England.

Then, we moved over to Magic Kingdom for another trip on Space Mountain, a visit to the Carousel of Progress and the Hall of Presidents, a Mickey Pretzel, and some Tofutti on Main St.

It turned out to be a very rainy evening, so we called it a day a little earlier than planned and headed back to start the packing.

All in all, it was a week of delicious food and we are all happy that we walked many miles to counteract everything we ate!

A Water Bottle More Square Than I Am!

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Clean Bottle, a company that specializes in BPA free water bottles – in the past focused primarily on cycling bottles – recently contacted me and offered to send me one of their new Tritan Square bottles to try out. After researching the bottle, and the company, I agreed, and I’m happy that I did.

The company describes the Tritan Square this way:

The Square is the last water bottle you will ever need.  Its iconic shape prevents your bottle from rolling if dropped, while it’s wide handle is perfect for comfortable carrying.  Both caps use a simple quarter-turn twist to remove, and the bottom cap makes cleaning your Square easy, no matter what you may have left in your bottle.  The Square uses durable silicone gaskets in both caps to ensure a leak-proof seal everytime.  The Square’s elegant shape is sure to get you noticed, and don’t worry, it still fits in most cupholders.  Plus, the Square has an optional Water Filter or Fruit Infuser, so you can customize your Square to be perfect for you.

The bottle is 25 oz (.75L), is BPA free, and is dishwasher (top rack) safe. It also has a lifetime guarantee, which I love.

My Square arrived a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been testing it thoroughly, to make sure that I could give you a good review.

What I love:

  • The bottle opens on both the top and the bottom, making it easy to clean out very thoroughly. This, to me, is the biggest sales point. I have thrown away more than a couple of water bottles because I was worried about what might be lurking in the depths.
  • The handle makes the bottle really easy to carry/grab. It’s so handy for running around campus with or taking a walk. I haven’t tried it, but I suspect you could use a carabiner to hook the bottle to your bag.
  • The infuser works perfectly and is easy to clean. So far, I’ve made lemon water, lime/mint water, cucumber/mint water, and cucumber/lime water. The only time any bits got into the water was when a mint leaf got pulled to pieces in my haste to move it along.
  • The colors make me happy. I have been trying out a green bottle, but I want an orange and a blue (school colors).
  • The twist on bottom and top seem very secure and there has been no leaking, even when the bottle did fall over.

What I less than love (but don’t actively dislike):

  • I don’t actually dislike the square shape. I just have no feelings about it one way or another, other than it is different. I guess if I was camping or otherwise doing things where I might be setting the bottle down on uneven surfaces, it might be more useful to me.
  • At the moment, I’m happy with the top/bottom quarter-turn locking. It does make me a little nervous, however, that it could get knocked loose in a bag. It hasn’t happened though. I’m keeping an eye on it and will report back if it does.

All in all, I really like this water bottle. My daughter saw it and wants one, so I suspect I’ll be purchasing some for upcoming holiday gifts (they have a Buy3Get1Free deal).

Clean Bottle was kind enough to send me 2 extra bottles to use as giveaways for my lovely readers!

Tritan Square Giveaway

Batch Cook: Chunky Marinara

IMG_0374 IMG_0376I’ve been batch cooking on weekends when I’m home to help get my family through the week. This week, I have made some baked tofu, will do biscuits and gravy later, and have a giant pot of chunky marinara sauce on. I thought I would share the marina recipe here (though it’s an easy one). This makes a HUGE batch. It freezes well and can be kept in the fridge for a week. I suggest keeping it in a glass container or jar.

Chunky Marinara

Ingredients
3 sweet onions, chopped
8-10 celery stalks, diced
6-8 summer squash, diced
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
3 large (28 oz) cans of diced tomatoes
2 large (28 oz) cans of tomato sauce
6 T Italian seasoning
3 T salt
1 cup nutritional yeast
Pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a large pot (I use a pressure cooker with lid off). Bring to a boil and then turn heat back to maintain a simmer for several hours. The longer it cooks, the sweeter it will get.

Serve over pasta, on pizza crusts, on bagels, over rice, or over roasted vegetables.