My Secret Vanilla Life

My Secret Vanilla Life: June 2014

Monday, June 23, 2014

Disney World Etiquette

      I bet you are super excited to go to Disney World with you family and you want to make sure you get it just right. As a self-proclaimed Disney World professional attender, I'd like to offer some tips on how to not be a total jerk during your stay. Enjoy.
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Theme Park Pack List

You've probably heard the "the locals" here, in the Florida, visit Disney World quite often. See, we don't travel AT ALL. We couldn't possibly afford to fly anywhere or even stay in a hotel for more than a few nights. So, our best option is to do day-trips to Disney, with  a Florida Resident pass, a few times a year. We have mastered the art of packing, fast passes, when and where to eat, where to nap and which lines are shortest.

I am going to share with you what I pack to feed a family of 4 at Disney for less than $15 (at Disney). You may be skeptical of some of the items on the pack list, but I promise everything is necessary.

If you are staying in a hotel suite with a fridge where you can shop at a local grocery store when you get there, or if you are local, this will work for you. It requires prep work, but it will be worth it.

This list is in addition to what you have already packed. 

1. Healthy granola bars and other healthy packaged snacks
These are best for snacks while waiting in line. Try packing "snack sized" zip bags with grapes, raisins, craisins, and/or granola bars. Here's a great recipe for that.
 Packing each snack individually:
  • Will help with portion control (so, your 6 year old doesn't eat the entire bag of popcorn that was meant for the family to share)
  • You can finish it while in line and just throw away the bag when it's time to ride (almost all the attractions have garbage cans at the front.) 
  • It's easy to grab and hand it over.
It's not a good idea to hand a 6 year old a handful of grapes. She will drop them, everywhere. A small baggie seems to be easier for her to manage. - Lesson learned.

2. Cut up fruit and side dishes in packable containers
 This will be the bulk of your meal for lunch and/or dinner. Cut up fruit and veggies into pieces and keep them separated. If your kids are like mine, they will want to choose what they want. 
Any fruit, except maybe apples and bananas will work great for packing. For veggies, try celery sticks, cucumber slices, carrot sticks, broccoli florets, spinach leaves and even grape tomatoes. All of these can be dipped in something.
Use little 2oz plastic containers to pack dips like peanut butter, ranch dressing, honey mustard dressing, soy sauce, or hummus. You don't have to get fancy with side dishes, but make sure it can be eaten cold/room temp.

3. Paper plates (1 for each family member, per meal +2)
Don't ask for plates when you get there. You'll have to stand in line, it's kinda rude and they might not give it to you. You don't have to pack the utensils, napkins or water cups since those are easily accessible and attainable in the park.

4. Flossers
Someone will get something stuck in their teeth. Why does this always happen? You are most likely going to be taking lots of pictures and I know you don't want that spinach grin forever immortalized in your vacation album. Make sure you throw them away in a trash can to keep the wildlife safe.

5. A pair of  disposable latex or vinyl gloves (1 pair per meal)
Once you are at the theme park, you can eat just what you packed, or you can add a Turkey leg into the meal. I'm sure you know that Turkey legs are crazy-high in calories and should not be consumed by only 1 person. But, when you split it between family members, the calorie portions work out great. The gloves are so that you can rip off the meat, cave-mom style, pile it up and add it to your packed buffet. When you are done, you don't have to get up and go wash your hands, because they will be greasy from the turkey. Just throw them away in a nearby trash can or make a trash pile on the table to throw out when you are done eating. *Don't leave your trash on the table.*

6. Flushable wet wipes
Do you have kids? Then, yes, you will need wet wipes.

7. Empty Plastic zip bags
So, you couldn't finish off that turkey leg at lunch? Stick the rest in a plastic bag and serve it at dinner! Same goes for any other left over snacks.

8. Large water bottle
Bottled water is so expensive. You can bring a large water bottle, we use this one, and we fill it up at water fountains, they are everywhere. 

Additional notes:
*PLEASE do not trash the theme park.* They allow us to bring food in because certain people can not eat the food available due to allergies. If we start trashing the park with baggies and paper plates from packing our meals, they will take that convenience away. Make sure you throw everything in a trash can and don't feed the animals or birds. It's annoying and not safe.

Make sure your bag is small enough to put between your feet on rides. Hard coolers are not allowed in the park. You can use a locker, but they are expensive and you won't have your food with you when you are ready to eat it. Make sure everything is sealed really well.  It will probably be riding the rollercoasters with you.

Got any other handy ideas for eating at the parks? Let me know.
Check out my blog post about Disney World Etiquette.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Farmer's Market Dinner

Menu: Grilled Beet Burger with goat cheese, spinach, avocado, ranch dressing, topped with a homemade gluten-free bun and a side of cinnamon sweet potato fries and fresh strawberries.

Almost everything was from the farmer's market:
Local Goat cheese
Raw, local milk for the ranch dressing and the buns
Herbs for ranch dressing
Sweet potatoes

(Serves 6-8)
3 cups grated raw beetroots (approx. 4-5 beets)
1.5 cups rolled oats
1 small onion
7 oz goat cheese or sheep’s feta cheese
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp cold-pressed olive oil
3 organic eggs
Homemade Ranch dressing

Peel and grate beets, onion and garlic with a salad shooter or the grating blade on a food processor. Mix the vegetables, olive oil, eggs and rolled oats in a large bowl. Set the mixture aside for about 30 minutes, so the oats can soak up the liquid and the mixture sets as this step is important for the patties to hold together).

Form 6-8 patties with your hands. Grill the beetroot burgers a couple of minutes on each side – or fry them in a frying pan by heating a bit of oil and fry until golden on both sides. Serve with Ranch dressing and toppings of your choice.