Disney Dessert Dining with Allergies!

Last fall we were fortunate to go on a wonderful trip! We had some sun, sand and of course great food. For me, one of the easy vacation destinations where I know I can always eat is with Disney. They are so careful with food allergies, whether it’s at the parks, cruise line or resorts. This time we vacationed on the high seas on the Disney Wonder. We were able to explore Alaska, and the west coast including San Francisco and Los Angeles. The cruise concluded with a two week repositioning sail down the Mexican Riviera, through the Panama canal and to the new winter home of the Disney Wonder: Galveston, Texas. It was a great September. Of course it has taken me several months to get my photos from the trip organized, which includes all my pictures of the great meals we enjoyed!

The wonderful thing about the multiple cruises in a row, was our ability to really get to know our wait staff. It made dealing with my food allergies amazingly easy. We had mostly the same wait staff the whole time. Once we dealt with my food allergies for a few days, I didn’t have to worry about it any more. The kitchen took care of my meals, and making sure I had a dairy free, nut free, chocolate free meal and dessert every night. I found myself taking pictures of my desserts many nights, because they were so beautiful. Here are just a few of them!

A spice cake with cream filling and strawberry sauce:


My hot apple pie with vanilla rice dream:


A blueberry muffin cake with fresh berries and vanilla rice dream:


An amazing dairy free strawberry mouse with strawberry sauce and fresh berries:


I also had the fortune to be on the Wonder for my birthday and we were able to do brunch at Palo!


This was a spiced cake with lemon sauce and dairy-free whipped cream for garnish. The chef told me it was a vegetable oil type whipped cream but it was tasty!


This was a spongy lemon cake with strawberry syrup and fresh fruit. This was the best dessert of the whole cruise!


Just for fun, of course even the ketchup has personality of a Disney cruise!


PS. Yes I am a Disney fan and that is why all of my blog photos have a Mickey theme to them. Probably 1/3 of my kitchen is Mickey themed and I love it!!!! (More importantly, my husband is nice enough to put up with it and sometimes even encourage my Mickey habit) Gotta love the Mouse!!!


Vacationing with Food Allergies


So the start of this summer has been super busy and I have been away from Toothless Wahine for several weeks. Since summer is the season of vacations, I thought I would give some thoughts on eating while on vacation for those with food allergies. When you are at home, it is always easier to control what you eat and to be sure foods are allergy friendly. When traveling, this always becomes much more of an issue. I have gotten very good at asking questions everywhere I eat but there are places that make it much easier than others. My favorite vacation place where I know my allergies will be accommodated may surprise you.

I would never have thought that a cruise ship would be super accommodating to food allergies. We have had the fortune to take a cruise several years in a row and have found several things that make these moving vacations amazing. The unpacking once aspect is awesome. It is also fun to see a different port of call, or even a different country every morning when you wake up. And for me, the constant supply of custom-made allergy friendly meals is amazing. As some of you may have noticed, I have a thing for Disney (just look at all of my blog photos). So of course the cruise line that I speak of is the only cruise line that does fireworks at sea, has a ships horn that plays When You Wish Upon a Star, and of course that has Mickey Mouse on the ship funnels. Disney Cruise Line not only offers amazing cruises with the famous Disney magic but great ports of call, and extreme attention to details (especially to food allergies).

With my food allergies we have always been very leery of traveling out of country, especially to someplace where there is any language barrier. Trying to order meals with a language barrier is a nightmare to me. A great way to do this has turned out to be on a cruise ship. We have explored part of Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska, and part of the west coast on Disney Cruise Line (DCL) ships. The wonderful thing here is, I am free to go explore the ports of call during the day, and then I can come back to the ship for meals that I know are safe. That eliminates my fears of dealing with food allergies in foreign countries.

The most amazing part of DCL is how they handle dining on the ships. Each of the four DCL ships (the Magic, the Wonder, the Dream and the Fantasy) have three restaurants on-board. As a guest your family will rotate through each of the restaurants so you get to experience the different menus, themes and entertainments. The best part is that your wait staff rotates with you to every restaurant. Which means you get to know your staff and they get to know your likes and dislikes. For those with food allergies, you only have to explain your concerns and restrictions once. Then you have the same people helping you for the duration of your cruise. A food allergy sufferers dream!! Your head server, server and assistant server will all help with your food allergies all cruise long. We have also had the amazing ability to request the same head server for several cruises in a row, so the service has been AMAZING!! I have the ability to get custom made meals every night. Our servers help me look through the next days menu and pre-order meals that work not only for my allergies but also for my lack of chewing ability. They have helped to come up with customs desserts every night so there is always something I can eat. DCL is very careful with food allergies, as they have a separate kitchen area for allergies. They also stock certain allergy friendly products. DCL can easily accommodate dairy, gluten, nut (both tree and peanut), vegetarian, vegan and probably many other allergies. I have figured out that DCL always has rice milk and rice dream on board. You just have to know to ask and find somebody who knows where they are stored.

DCL has nightly drink specials (usually one alcoholic and one kid friendly drink per day). By asking our favorite head server, I have been able to get many of these drinks made with rice dream instead of ice cream. Any cast member is always willing to check on ingredients in dishes at any of the breakfast or lunch buffets. There is also usually one restaurant open for breakfast every day, and the servers there are always able to get custom plates made. I have also been able to get packed lunches to take with me to port days by arranging it the night before with our head server. Your server also has the ability to get custom meals ordered for lunch on Castaway Cay if your cruise includes a day there. (Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island in the Bahamas that all Caribbean cruises will spend one day visiting.) Cruises are one of the few places that I get taken better care of, and I eat better than my family without food allergies. And I love it and cannot recommend DCL cruises highly enough if you have food allergies!!

(And I know it may sound like I am a spokesperson for Disney Cruise Line but I am not. We have traveled and visited Disney parks for years. They have always been willing to work with me on my food allergies. In my opinion DCL goes above and beyond to help with food allergies and with all of my allergies and my current inability to chew, I cannot express how much I enjoy being catered to. I have even had our head waiter helping to cut my steaks since I have to cut them to tiny pieces so I can just swallow and not have to do any chewing. I cannot say enough how wonderful Disney Cruise Line has been for me, which is also why we are vacationing on a ship with Mickey Funnels yearly!)


Olive Garden style Pasta Fagioli


Everybody loves to eat out at restaurants. It is always fun when you can find recipes for your favorite chain restaurant staples. Plus, it’s so much less expensive to make your favorites at home, not to mention you can tweak the recipe and make it exactly the way you want it. I love these type of recipes because at home, I have complete control over what I put in a dish, and there is no dealing with special orders or seeing if the restaurant kitchen can even alter a dish to be say dairy free. With no teeth, I also find at home I have complete control over how well done or crispy items get, which is necessary in my life without teeth. I have found lots of my restaurant favorites are fairly easy to find online. The great tool that is Google makes it very easy to find recipes for lots of homemade versions of these yummy staples. One of my absolute chain favorites is the Pasta Fagioli soup at Olive Garden (when I can get it without cheese). This was a very easy recipe to find on Google. There were tons of different versions. This is my version that came from several different web variations that I have tweaked to be dairy free, celery free and heavy on the pasta (because that is my favorite part). With lots of practice making this soup, I have also gotten pretty good a making it easy to eat without teeth and most importantly without a blender!

2 lbs ground beef
12 oz chopped onion
14 oz slivered carrots
14 oz diced celery
48 oz diced or crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can red kidney beans
1 14.5 oz can white kidney beans
88 oz beef stock (or you can blend beef and veggie stock)
3 tsp dried oregano
2 ½ tsp cracked black pepper
5 tsp chopped parsley
1 ½ tsp Tabasco sauce (Optional)
48 oz jarred spaghetti sauce
8 oz dry ditalini pasta

Start by browning the ground beef in a large soup pot (if you make this whole recipe you will need at least a 7 quart soup pot, an 8 quart pot if you like to use more liquid for a brothier soup). I usually drain the excess beef fat before proceeding. Add the chopped carrots, celery and onions and cook until they start to soften, about 10 minutes (I cook them for a lot longer until they are really soft and tongue squishable). Add in the tomatoes and the beans and mix well. Stir in the beef stock and the oregano, pepper and parsley. Bring the pot to a simmer and add the Tabasco if desired as well as the jarred spaghetti sauce (I like using a garlicy Prego) and the dry pasta (any small shaped pasta will work well here). Keep the soup at a low simmer and cook (stirring often) until the pasta and the veggies are tender, usually about 45 minutes. Serve with parmesan cheese for those who want to add it as well as garlic bread or breadsticks (I just use a little margarine and garlic salt on whatever bread we have or I use canned breadsticks). You can also add fried onion strings on top to give the soup a little crunch (I pass on the crunchyness).

This soup is so close to the Pasta Fagioli at Olive Garden and I love the ability to alter this delicious one pot dinner. I usually skip the Tabasco because it bothers my mouth, my husband will add a ton of Tabasco to his bowl anyways ☺ I also skip the celery since I am mildly allergic to it and picking the little pieces out of the soup later is annoying. I use a little more of the carrots and onions to make up for skipping the celery. I have also figured out that it helps to shred the carrots in the food processor and to dice the onion as fine as possible. This helps to get the veggies to cook so they are tender enough that I can gum them easily. A little warning, this recipe makes a ton of soup. My husband and I almost always halve the recipe for fear of having soup for weeks. We have tried freezing this soup and it does work great, and it’s super easy to reheat and use as a quick meal at a later date. If you halve the recipe we have also found that the unused half cans of beans freeze well in a ziplock bag for the next time. A general caution, the pasta will inhale and absorb lots of the broth, so if you like a brothier soup, be prepared to throw in an extra can of beef stock. If you happen to have fresh parsley, it is super yummy here and it makes a pretty garnish. And lastly, I am not a huge bean fan as they are a little tough to eat with no teeth. Occasionally I skip the beans all together and simply use 1.5 times the pasta. I would love to hear of other variations or add-ins that go well with this recipe. Please try this out, then share your variations here!