With so much delicious food available on a Walt Disney World vacation, it’s easy to derail the healthy eating habits we have at home. While a little culinary indulgence is a pleasure of any Disney trip, the good news is that there are plenty of meals – even quick service ones – that can fit into a healthy diet. I am always on the lookout for fast meals that are not only nutritious, but are also big on flavor, and I have found that these healthy, quick service meals are delightful gems at the Walt Disney World Resort.
1. Quinoa Salad available at Be Our Guest Restaurant (lunch menu). Be Our Guest has earned the reputation of being an elevated quick service restaurant, on a higher level than other Magic Kingdom locations in both cuisine and decor, and their healthy options have followed suit. Described on Disney’s official menu as a “quinoa salad with green beans, potatoes, olives, roasted bell peppers, golden beets and tomatoes,” this dish is a nice alternative to the typical greens-based salads available at other locations, as it features nutritious ingredients that are not commonly found at other quick service restaurants. Accompanied by a side of greens, I thought the quinoa salad was wonderfully balanced, which helped sell the dish to members of the family who are pickier eaters, who don’t prefer olives or beets. One of my favorite perks of this dish is that it is hearty, and was enough to make me feel satisfied and energized during a busy day at the Magic Kingdom.
Extra-healthy tip: While concrete nutritional information isn’t available for most Disney dishes, online research leads me suspect that the sodium levels of this dish could be higher than traditional salad options. So, if you’re keeping an eye on your sodium intake, be sure to make up for any added salt by drinking plenty of water (another great reason to hydrate in the hot Florida sun!)
2. Polynesian Salad with Chicken available at Captain Cook’s, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. This is a quick service salad that feels like anything but fast food – the salad is downright decadent. Disney’s official menu describes the Polynesian Salad with Chicken as “mixed greens, cucumbers, pineapples, blue cheese, cherry tomatoes, and wonton strips with sesame-soy dressing.” While I was concerned that some of these ingredients could eliminate any healthy properties that the salad possessed, I found that none of the salad’s ‘toppings’ overwhelmed the healthy greens; the blue cheese added a tangy, rich flavor, and the chicken was juicy, well seasoned, and cooked perfectly. Even though it was made at a quick service restaurant, it seemed like this salad was made with love and care. Overall, it provides a wonderful meal that doesn’t feel like a sacrifice by choosing a healthier option.
Extra-healthy tip: Ask for the dressing and the fried wonton strips on the side. That way, you can control how much dressing is added, and eat less wonton strips by sharing them with the family!
3. Butter Lettuce Salad available at Wolfgang Puck Express. Described on Disney’s official menu as “butter lettuce, tomato goat cheese crostini and balsamic vinaigrette,” the dish doesn’t sound that awe-inspiring on paper (okay, with the exception of that goat cheese crostini). While I looked longingly at all the delicious pizzas coming out of Wolfgang Puck Express’ kitchen, I thought that I’d be disappointed that I ordered a salad, but was so pleasantly surprised to discover that I was wrong. This salad is delicious, with elements that are just so refreshing; the lettuce is delicate and crisp, and even with the crostini, the dish is incredibly light. If you can believe it, I thought my salad tasted better than the pizza dishes my family enjoyed. It’s a perfect choice for a hot day of gentle meandering around Downtown Disney/Disney Springs.
These three salads are great options for Disney World guests who want something that is both quick and healthy, but don’t want to sacrifice taste. For those who have more specific health considerations, Disney has a lot of different options that accommodate various allergies, as well as gluten-free and vegan diet preferences. For more information, posting to the Disboards can help you discover what meals are best for you. Or, you can contact Disney directly through their nutrition department at [email protected], or 407-824-5967.