Nature Calls

Every once in awhile you just have to get away. You need a break from the day-to-day grind of mundane tasks.

Since it has been awhile since we have had a mini-vacation we decided to go camping for a weekend.

If you have read my previous post reviewing Old Millstream Campground you will know that I am a little timid when it comes to the great outdoors.

So we decided to stick with familiar territory and rent a cabin for a few days at a local campground. This way we won’t spend a lot of time driving to our destination and will be able to be close to home as well.

Since we are going to be leaving in a few weeks I have been trying to accumulate ideas and lists for what we need and things we can do while we are at the cabin.

Being that we aren’t going to be that far away, I have imposed a one backpack per person rule. (Lily will get two one with stuff she needs and the other one for fun stuff.) But, this makes me think that I am going to forget something. Luckily, there is a Walmart and grocery store close by.

I came across this really great website/blog called Beyond the Tent and they have this really great simple camping check list.

Simple Camping checklist

Photo courtesy of Beyondthetent.com

Our cabin also comes with a fire ring and grill so we are trying to find some different recipes to follow  that utilize our cast iron skillet and a griddle.

I am thinking campfire griddle cakes for breakfast and some kind of veggie foil packet for dinner, but I am still open to trying some different things.

The thing about us is that both Kev and I are vegetarians (Lily isn’t) so we are looking for some recipes that are sans meat.

While I didn’t find a lot of interesting Youtube videos about specifically vegetarian camping (minus the one included below), but there were a few interesting vegan camping videos like the one below.

Do you have any tired and true camping recipes. Feel free to share them below in the comments.


The Unthinkable Happened

Our daughter is such a picky eater. Not just a little picky and will turn up her nose at broccoli but loves hamburgers. No, she only eats cereal, waffles, pancakes, chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, carrots, green beans, peas, quesadillas and that is pretty much it. Maybe mac and cheese or bananas, but that is on a good day.

So today the unthinkable happened.

I am off work on Fridays so Lily and I get to spend the day together.

I had some left over kale from salads for the week so I told Lily we would make “dino chips.” (AKA Kale with nutrtional yeast on them.)

The first step was preheating the oven to 350 degrees.

While we were waiting for the oven to reach temperature, Lily helped by stripping the leaves from the stems. We didn’t have to rip the kale because it was already in little pieces because I bought a bag already prepared for salads.

Then I tossed the kale with olive oil while Lily sprinkled the yeast on top. (Actually, it was more like dumping then sprinkling.)

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Making Dino Chips with curlers in our hair

I then spread it out over two cookie sheets and baked it for 10 minutes.

They turned out great and very crunchy and had a great cheesy flavor from the nutritional yeast.

It was a little bit of a fight to get Lily to at least taste it. But, when she did, she said it was really good and then continued to eat it.

I was so happy with this little victory.

I guess we can add another food to the short list of what she will eat. Baby steps.

Is your little mousekatot a picky eater? How do you get them to try new foods? Leave your comments below.


Hidden Culinary Treasure

Finding places to eat to please all the pallets in your group can be challenging. Some people don’t like spicy food, others don’t like Chinese and sometimes you just can’t eat one more burger and fries combo.

In our circumstance, my husband and I are both full time vegetarians and part time vegans, it can be hard for us to find something to eat.

Back home, we have to usually ask for grilled chicken salads with out the grilled chicken or order a sub without the meat (crazy I know.)

So we were really looking forward to enjoying all the wonderful vegetarian/vegan options available.

The meal that I was looking forward to the most was located in one of the most surprising places for a non-meat eater: Trails End Café at Fort Wilderness.

Situated at the campground at the Walt Disney Resort, Trails End is in Pioneer Hall which is only a short walk from the boat dock that takes you from the Magic Kingdom to the resort (this is the way we arrived to the campground.)

While the restaurant is a buffet that would please any meat-eater, it is surprising that this is a vegan haven.

Chef TJ has been recognized for his commitment to keeping those with food allergies safe. Because, not only does chef TJ work with those who are vegans he is also the person that helps people with food allergies.

The great thing about him is that he really goes above and beyond to make the meal extra special for those with dietary restrictions.

When we went to the restaurant Chef TJ was super busy that day. He had a bunch of people with dietary restrictions so he asked us to be patient and was so nice throughout the meal. He showed us to the buffet and told us what we could eat, which was pretty much limited to a few salad items and a baked potato, but he said he would bring the rest of the food to us.

The very first course were delicious vegan samosas.

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They were crispy with a little bit of spice brought on by the filling and also the tangy sauce on the outside. To add a little bit of a tang, a balsamic reduction was drizzled over top.

The second course were delicious vegan nachos.

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This picture isn’t doing justice to how delicious these nachos were. I am pretty sure that these were rice nachos because they were lighter and a little crispier than traditional nachos.

On top there were grilled peppers and onions, the delicious balsamic drizzle and homemade vegan cheese.

We have made vegan cheese at home with cashews and it always comes out delicious, but also kind of heavy. This recipe was light but also had a cheesy taste with an excellent cheese-like mouth feel.

Just, when I thought we were going to get our main course, Chef TJ comes out with a delicious mushroom soup.

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I am not sure how it was done, but the mushroom soup was so creamy without any dairy products. You have to really like mushrooms to enjoy this soup. Luckily, I do love mushrooms so this was the perfect soup.

Right when I was starting to feel pretty full, Chef TJ comes out with our main entrée.

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Not only was this meal beautiful, but it was so delicious. It consisted of grilled zucchini, squash and portabella cap toped with an onion. There was also baked tofu and stir fry rice drizzled with a mesquite sauce.

I might have been pretty full but there was no way I was going to not enjoy this meal. It was delicious, with a yummy grill flavor. The rice was not salty, which can sometimes be the case with stir fry rice, and the grilled vegetables had the perfect crispy texture.

To end the evening’s eating events, Chef TJ, brought out this amazing dessert tower and proceeded to drizzle chocolate syrup all over it.

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In this dessert tower was vegan ice cream sandwiches, bananas, strawberries, a strawberry compote, gummy worms, a whole apple and sprinkles.

To say that I was impressed would be an understatement. The fact that Chef TJ takes the time to create something so special for vegan guests just blows me away. While, all of the Disney restaurants do a wonderful job taking care of their guests with special dietary needs, Chef TJ takes it to a whole new level.

His friendliness also puts you at ease. For me, I hate to have a fuss made over my food. I always feel like I am putting someone out. But, Chef TJ never once made me feel like that.

So if you are looking for a great place to dine for anyone with special dietary needs, you need to check out Trails End at Fort Wilderness Resort.

 


Tot Five: We All Scream

Ice cream is a multi-generational treat. Anyone from Mousekatot age to senior citizens love ice cream. Especially, when it is hot outside.

Walt Disney World offers so many different ways to enjoy this delicacy including extravagant sundaes, milkshakes and more.

Here are our Tot Five places to enjoy this chill treat.

1. Beaches and Cream: The Kitchen Sink

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Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World

The Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream located at the Beach Club Resort is the ultimate when it comes to true ice cream decadence.

This dessert is intended to serve four people and features scoops of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, coffee and mint chocolate chip ice cream smothered in every topping they have, including a whole can of whip cream.

The cost is $28.99.

2. 50s Prime Time Café: Peanut Butter and Jelly Milkshake

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Nothing is better or more nostalgic than a milkshake. Now, you add in the flavors of peanut butter and jelly and it is like going back in time to childhood.

The combination of ice cream, peanut butter and jelly is $5.29 and can be enjoyed at either the restaurant or the lounge next door.

3. Plaza Ice Cream Parlor: Ice Cream Sundaes

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Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World

The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor offers so many different ice cream options including an ice cream float, sundaes, ice cream cookie sandwich and more.

They also offer options for those either with dairy allergies or are vegan including Ice Dream and Tofutti ice creams.

The treats are around $5.

4. Whispering Canyon: 10 Gallon Hat

 

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Photo courtesy of wdwnt.com

WDW News Today had the opportunity to partake in this contender for the biggest ice cream sundae on property.

It comes in a clear, plastic hat that contains even more stuff than the kitchen sink. Inside of the hat is vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream, strawberry ice cream, mint chocolate chip ice cream, bananas, pineapple, a piece of apple pie, graham cracker crumbles, a vanilla cupcake, strawberry sauce, caramel sauce, two Mickey Mouse cookies, a skewer of toasted marshmallows, two chocolate brownies and chocolate covered bacon. Whew! You will want to bring a lot of friends.

This hat will cost you about $27.

5. Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bar (Multiple Locations)

 

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Photo courtesy of Orlandoweekly.com

There is no more iconic ice cream treat at Walt Disney World, then the humble Mickey Ice Cream Bar.

These bars are available at multiple locations in all the parks, usually from a kiosk.

It contains sweet vanilla ice cream dipped in a hard chocolate shell. (Added bonus: The melting bar makes really cute photos of your Mousekatots trying to eat them before they melt.)

Prices vary.

What is your favorite ice cream treat at Walt Disney World? Leave your answer in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 


Tot Five: How to Handle Food Allergies

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Photo courtesy of Disney Food Blog

One of the best things about Walt Disney World, Disneyland and the Disney Cruise Line is they cater to the needs of everyone.
For those dealing with food allergies dining out can be come complicated and even dangerous, depending on the severity of the allergy.
Disney has many precautions in place that help people avoid contamination.
Here are the tot five ways to help manage food allergies in your family while at a Disney property.
1. Send an email
If you or a family member have a serious, uncommon food allergy, the number one thing you should do is send an email to special.diets@disneyworld.com. You need to send the email after you have made your dining reservations and at least 14 days prior to your vacation.
People who have an allergy with the following need to send the email:
•Any allergy or intolerance not listed as a common food allergy (i.e. Gluten or wheat, lactose or milk, peanuts or tree nuts, shellfish, soy, fish, eggs and corn)
•Phenylketonuria (PKU)
•Metabolic disorders
•A single guest with multiple allergies/intolerances or multiple guests with allergies/intolerances within the same party
2. Ask for the allergy menu
All restaurants, have a list of the ingredients that are in their menu items, include the counter service restaurants.
Some of the table service restaurants will have a special allergy menu, so don’t forget to talk to your server.
3. Indicate an allergy when making a reservation
It doesn’t matter if you make your reservations online, through the My Disney Experience app or over the phone you can indicate that you have a food allergy.
Because you have this indicated with your reservation you are more likely to have a chief come out and talk to you about your allergies.
4.  Make sure you are prepared
No one wants to think that something will happen on their vacation concerning their food allergies. However, you always have to be prepared with your medication should a need arise.
If there would be an emergency, and you forgot your EpiPen there are several stations throughout Walt Disney World that have EpiPens available.
The stations are located on the guide maps.
5. Don’t be afraid to speak up
If you think there might be an issue with your order or if you don’t trust an ingredient, please speak up. You are never inconveniencing the people that work at Disney. They want you to be safe and not see something happen to you.
Do you have any tips on dealing with food allergies? Leave them in the comments below.

That’s a Wrap: Veggies, Mummies and Harry Potter (Oh My!)

Once again our weekend was full of adventure.

Saturday started out on not such a great note with a ton of rain that luckily ended up passing as the day went on.

Our first stop was the Pittsburgh VegFest that was held on the North Shore of Pittsburgh.

We had such a wonderful time, but unfortunately the pictures aren’t doing it justice. (I was trying to dodge mud puddles and take photos at the same time.)

The event featured live music, vegan food trucks that offered all kinds of delicious foods including bbq pulled jackfruit sandwich, vegan froyo,  vegan Indian food and more.

There were also various animal advocacy groups and vegan/vegetarian merchandise businesses. I ended up getting an awesome T-shirt from a vender at the fest.

Of course you can’t tell by the horrible photos that I have, but the event was packed. We weren’t able to grab anything to eat because there were so many people in line that we didn’t want to wait.

We are really looking forward to going to next year’s event.

Since we didn’t stay super long at the festival, we wanted to take our Mousekatot to one of our local museums.

Here I am going to pause and talk about how much I love our membership to the Carnegie Museum system. I will do a separate post on this in the future, but we really love the ability visit these museums anytime we want.

We had originally planned to go to the Carnegie Science Center, but when we got there the line to just get in the building was out the door. I have never seen it so crowded before.

But, we decided to go to the other side of the city and visit the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, which also has the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Recently, we have been reading a book with Lily that is about Egypt, mummies and the pyramids. So we wanted to take her to the Egypt section of the museum, which was my absolute favorite when I was little. (I wanted to be an Egyptologist when I grew up.)

She seemed to really like it. I was unsure if she would be a little creeped out, but she seemed more interested then scared. When we saw my parents for breakfast the next day she would talk a lot about Egypt and the mummies.

 

No trip to the museum would be complete without a visit to the Dinosaur Hall. Recently, maybe about a handful of years ago, the dinosaur section recently got an update. The area became more interactive and bright that what it was previously. (To get a look at what the museum used to look like check out “Silence of the Lambs.”)

Lily was excited because she got to see “her pal T-Rex,” touch a real dinosaur bone and play with a few of the touchscreens.

Before we left we had to visit probably one of Lily’s favorite places in the museum, which was the Hall of Gems/Minerals. She loves to look at the rocks that glow in the black light and watching a show about crystals that are projected on the wall in an area that has a bench.

 

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We love our rocks

We finished up the day by going to one of our favorite restaurants, Double-Wide Grill, that has a ton of yummy vegetarian and vegan options.

Sunday was nice and low key. We went to breakfast with my parents, did a lot of laundry, napped and tried a new recipe that turned out great.

We also received our “Harry Potter and The Cursed Child” e-book, which Kevin has been enjoying.

Since it was Harry’s birthday, we wanted to celebrate the day, especially Lily who has become quite the Harry Potter fan.

Also, wanted to announce that I am going to my first live Q & A session on my Facebook page at 9:30 p.m. EST on Friday. Stay tuned for more information and there maybe more info about a giveaway.


Tot Five: Best Character Meals at WDW

Character meals are the pinnacle of interaction with your Mousekatot’s favorite characters.

Instead of waiting in line, possibly for hours on end, the characters come to you while you are able to enjoy a delicious meal. They are also able to spend a little more time with your family, depending on how busy the restaurant is.

While there are a lot of character meal options, some are better than others. Some are overhyped and some are practically perfect in everyway.

Here are my Tot Five character meals at Walt Disney World.

1. Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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Lily’s first ever character interaction.

In my opinion, Tusker House is a hidden gem when it comes to restaurants.

It is a buffet, which is great for the littlest of Mousekatots because if they are under three they are free, that offers a wide variety of food including exotic middle eastern and African delicacies.

Some buffet items for lunch and dinner include Kenyan Coffee BBQ Pork Loin, Peri-Peri Marinated Baked Salmon, Pearl Couscous with Sweet Basil, Spiced Vegetable Tofu, Toasted Couscous Salad, Corn Dog Nuggets, Mashed Potatoes, Macaroni & Cheese and more.

There is also a breakfast buffet that includes traditional breakfast items as well as Mickey waffles, Seasonal Vegetable Quiche, Coconut-Sweet Potato Casserole, Cheese Blintz and more.

Because of the nature of the food, this makes a wonderful option for families looking for vegan or vegetarian offerings.

But, the real gem is the opportunity to meet with the fab five (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy) in an usually un-crowded atmosphere.

The price range of the meals is between $15 to $34.99 and $35 to $59.99 per adult.

2. Askershus Royal Banquet Hall in EPCOT

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Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.

 

The cat is out of the bag when it comes to Askershus Royal Banquet Hall in EPCOT.

For many years, people thought the place to go to see the very popular Disney princesses was at Cinderella’s Royal Table, where you practically need a Fairy Godmother to get a reservation. However, this little spot in the Norway pavilion offers your Mousekatot the opportunity to see their favorite princesses including Ariel, Snow White, Belle and more.

The breakfast buffet is the most popular meal here and it features scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, potato casserole, salami, cheeses, roasted turkey and more.

Lunch and dinner can also be quite popular with their fare that includes popular Scandinavian dishes like Aquavit Laks (pan-seared salmon with roasted potato cake, pickled fennel slaw and aquavit cream sauce), Traditional Kjottake (Norwegian meatballs, served with mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and lingonberry sauce. Sounds like Ikea!) and Fylt Pasta, house-made potato-cheese ad herb ravioli with wild mushrooms, leek cream sauce, tomato jam and balsamic-onion reduction.)

Prices range between $35 to $59.99 per adult.

3. The Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom

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Lily and her pal Tigger

If your Mousekatot is a fan of Winnie the Pooh and pals The Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom is a must.

Situated in a beautiful glass conservatory at the end of Main Street U.S.A. is this delicious all you can eat buffet that features a lot of popular American fare.

In additional to traditional breakfast buffet items there is also a scrambled egg and omelet station, freshly baked pastries and assorted breakfast cereals.

Lunch and dinner feature a plethora of salads, spit-roasted meats, pastas and more.

For some reason, the price of this buffet  caused great distress for some patrons in the past. I have heard horror stories of security being called after people found out the price of the meal.

I however, don’t think that there is that much of a price difference between other buffets and character meals on property.

 

Prices range from $15 to $34.99 and $35 and $59.99 per adult.

4. 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian

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Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World

Breakfast character meals are a great way to start the day. They are also a little less expensive than the lunch and dinner options so it provides families with the opportunity to experience a character meal without breaking the bank.

The Supercalifragilistic Breakfast is really a treat at 1900 Park Fare because it features some characters that are more difficult to find at other character meals including Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland and The Mad Hatter. (However, if you go during lunch or dinner you will be treated to Cinderella and her crew.)

The breakfast buffet includes Fresh Fruit, Smoked Salmon Lox, a Yogurt Bar, Made to Order Omelets and Eggs, Classic Eggs Benedict, Mickey Waffles, Sticky Cinnamon Buns and more.

The cost ranges from $15 to $34.99 per adult to $35 to $59.99.

5. ‘Ohana

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Nestled in the Polynesia Village Resort is ‘Ohana, a restaurant that puts an emphasis on family.

While the lunch and dinner meals feature games, storytelling and a Hawaiian feast, breakfast is reserved for the Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo & Stitch.

While your Mousekatot has the opportunity to meet with everyone’s favorite blue alien and his best pal Lilo, you will be able to enjoy a family-style feast that includes Scrambled Eggs, Island-style Fried Potatoes, Hawaiian Pork Sausages and more.

Remember, if you want to meet with Lilo and Stitch, go to the breakfast.

The average cost for an adult is $15 to $34.99 and $35 and $59.99

Where is your favorite place to catch a bite with Disney celebrities? Leave your comments below.