If you are looking for a healthy Holiday destination, then Walt Disney World may not be your first choice until you are in Orlando when the House of Mouse surprises with what it can cook. For over two decades I have visited Disney World and tasted it all; therefore, I can testify about the trend of healthy and delicious foods. Disney has made progress towards offering more healthy options by including local and seasonal ingredients, increasing healthy snacks, introducing Mickey Check dishes that satisfy children’s nutritional guidelines and providing more allergen-free and special-diet friendly menus.
At least every restaurant in Disney has at least one healthy and delicious meal but some standout and here is the list of my ten favourites that are a cut above the rest if you are trying to have healthy food at Disney World.
1) Cape May Café
You may doubt what is healthy about an all-you-can-eat buffet, but now that you are on vacation, you might as well spoil yourself with a bottomless dining extravaganza. The best place you can choose to have one is at the Beach Club Resort where most of the items on the menu are lightly-prepared seafood such as grilled fish and steamed clams. It also offers some vegetable and salad bar on the side catering to those who love greens. Still, you can have some fried calamari or clam chowder, but moderation is key.
2) The Garden Grill
Just so you know The Garden Grill at Epcot is not for everyone: it is a rotating restaurant in which Dale, Chip and other Disney friends will come to your table for autographs and photos. However, if you are not into that sort of thing, you can tell the server in advance. Dinner and lunch match those at Thanksgiving with many servings of salads and vegetables to go with the main course comprising roast turkey breast as well as pot roast. Besides, you enjoy fresh vegetables grown in The Land Pavilion’s greenhouses, or you can take the Living with The land ride through the greenhouses. Now that’s a bonus you cannot have in Brooklyn.
3) Sunshine Seasons
Disney has lots of fast foods, with some of it being healthy and the rest being unhealthy. Casey’s Corner has corn dog nuggets that I would not stop you from gobbling down, but my vote for the healthiest ones goes to Sunshine Seasons. It is similar to The Garden Grill in that it incorporates veggies from The Land’s greenhouses into a variety of dishes such as salad with kale, vegan flatbread, salmon with cheesy grits, broccoli slaw, quinoa and many more. If entrees with meatless meat are your thing, then you will find them here too.
4) Raglan Road
If your idea of healthy is to avoid food allergens, you can count on Disney since it caters for all special dietary requests in most of the restaurants. Nearly all the dining locations have allergy-friendly menus or options while full-service restaurants have chefs who can discuss meal preparations at your table. Disney Springs’ Raglan Road has many fried dishes such as battered onion rings or fish and chips which can be made gluten-free.
5) Erin McKenna’s Bakery
McKenna’s Bakery in Disney Springs specialises in vegan and gluten-free sweets. It’s not my place to decide whether vegan means healthy, but if you need to take a break from dairy products, then this bakery offers a fantastic coconut milk-based soft serve. You may forget about cow’s milk altogether and prefer this soft serve instead. Better yet, you should not miss out on the cookie sandwiches at all.
6) Katsura Grill
The World Showcase offers the most varied dining experience among all the Disney parks and hotels. While it is famous for the world drinking challenge, it also has some healthy-ish options. Japan’s Katsura Grill is the excellent place for light but satisfying meals of chicken teriyaki with steamed rice, sushi rolls, miso ramen and salad. If you are seeking some extra plant power, you can have a side of edamame.
7) Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café
This Café in the Magic Kingdom is a winner in my books because it serves Tex-Mex fare. It has a taco burger though you can also have fajitas either as a salad or traditional, a bowl of rice with vegetables and beans as well as a burrito stuffed with roasted veggies. I would not be surprised if you had some queso dip on the side.
8) Tusker House
For someone who is passionate about produce, among the things that drive me crazy about dining out is having a vegetable side looking more like a garnish. At Tusker House, you can have as much produce as you want. Tusker House in Animal Kingdom has many specialities among which are African-inspired dishes such as mealie pap, vegetable samosas, roasted potatoes, stewed vegetables, sweet plantains, vegetable couscous, Indian chutneys, rice pilafs and spiced tofu.
9) Tangierine Café
Most countries in Epcot have quick-service and table-service dining options. In Morocco, both choices are ideal, but Tangierine Café tops my list for the quick-service that adds to the convenience, and for my selfish reasons of serving all my favourite Middle Eastern/ Northern African healthy-ish foods. You can try the tabbouleh, spit-roasted chicken shawarma with hummus and couscous salad whose cold temperatures makes is perfect during the hot Florida weather.
10) Anaheim Produce
Even if most of the main meals you eat are not healthy, you can compensate it with healthy snacks. Hollywood Studios’ Anaheim produce has stands where you can have some yoghurt, pickles, fresh fruits, carrots with ranch, trail mix and other healthy bites. There are many similar stands in the entire park so you can never run out of healthy snacks.