Monday, May 17, 2010

Around The Mouse Fitness - Healthy Eating In Magic Kingdom

When it comes to eating healthy, Magic Kingdom can be a major challenge - and in my opinion more so than any of the other parks, especially in comparison to Epcot, the first park of this Around The Mouse Fitness series.

There are some big differences between Epcot and Magic Kingdom in the realm of healthy eating. First, Epcot has many more table service restaurants than Magic Kingdom (11 to 4). And as we mentioned in the last article, it's usually easier to eat healthfully at table service restaurants because if you communicate with the server and/or chef about your wishes and dietary needs, they are usually very willing to work with you. In most cases you can ask for seasoned and steamed or baked veggies instead of rice or pasta. Or you can request a baked, broiled or grilled chicken or fish with no butter or oil and they can usually do something for you. Or a dressing or sauce on the side so you can use it sparingly and control the amount that goes on your food.

Also, Epcot has a very wide variety of food because of the nature of World Showcase. With 11 different pavilions from around the world showcasing their cultural culinary diversity, there is plenty to choose from. Magic Kingdom offers food that is more monochromatic in nature.

But that doesn't mean the original WDW park is devoid of healthy offerings and options altogether. One place I love that offers some healthy options is The Plaza Restaurant just around the corner off of Main Street, USA on the way to Tomorrowland. The Plaza has a Chicken Strawberry Salad with a White Zinfandel dressing that's really very good. Also, the Turkey Sandwich on Multi-Grain bread is a quality choice as well (just ask to hold the mayo and replace with mustard if you're a mustard fan).

Next in line for healthy choices is Cosmic Rays Starlight Cafe. The Grilled Chicken Sandwich isn't a bad option, and there are some good condiments to be had at the toppings bar - just avoid the mushrooms and onions as they are sauteed in butter and oil. You could also ask for the half rotisserie chicken - just make sure to take the skin off to save massive calories and fat. Also, it comes with mashed potatoes and seasoned veggies - you could ask for double veggies and be much better off.

Another Magic Kingdom counter service staple has a couple of items that fit the bill - the Columbia Harbour House. Just beware of the tuna sandwich - tuna fish is always tricky since because it's fish, many believe it to be healthy. Except, and in this case too, it's always mixed with full-fat mayo. Gotta stay away from that. But Harbour House does have a hummus sandwich that is very good and much better for you than the tuna - and definitely better for you than the battered deep-fried fish or chicken. Add the side of vegetarian chili and you're in good shape.

Our new favorite is a great counter service restaurant in Adventureland that's open only sparingly (usually only for lunch) - El Pirata Y El Perico. It is basically standard Mexican counter service-type food: burritos & tacos. But first of all, we love this restaurant because it's very cost-efficient...some of the cheapest counter service meals in the parks. Second, they have a vegetarian taco combo that is very good and relatively healthy. Instead of ground beef or chicken, the veggie taco comes chock-full with black beans - which are loaded with protein and fiber and next to no fat. Ask for double beans and no rice (which they've done for me), and it doesn't seem to be a problem. It also comes with a little side cup of white rice and black beans. Again, ask for more beans and no rice and it shouldn't be a problem. They also have a GREAT toppings bar with incredible salsa. Add some lettuce and diced tomatoes and you've got a great taco - you could choose to not eat the corn tortilla and be better off, but you could do worse even if you eat the shell.

One other location that I always recommend is the Liberty Square Market fruit stand beside The Hall Of Presidents. They offer a variety of fruit which are PERFECT summer snacks (or snacks for any time of year). Fruit is particularly great in the summer because most have a high water content (which will help keep you hydrated along with regular water consumption), a decent amount of fiber (to help you feel satiated) and fructose (natural complex fruit sugars) to give you energy to keep navigating the parks. Try going there instead of for the turkey leg! ;)

So that's a three counter service restaurants, one table service restaurant and a food cart area to take advantage of in the Magic Kingdom when it comes to healthy eating options. And while it's a battle to try and avoid the Dole Whips, the Churros, the Confectionary fudge squares and the Popcorn, it is possible to do!

Next up, Disney's Hollywood Studios!

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