We’ve all heard the statistics: the prevalence of obesity amongst adults in the United States has risen dramatically in the past 5 years to nearly 34% of the population. But at a recent orthopedics symposium I was staggered to find that not only has the obesity rate in 6-19 year olds tripled in that same time period, but there is a staggering increase in the amount of joint disease- once reserved for the aged- in these children! So, in addition to skyrocketing rates of asthma, diabetes and heart disease, children are now at risk for osteoarthritis, fractures and other bone diseases. Physical therapists in clinics across the country are confirming these numbers.
Maybe that’s why I am so invested in the runDisney brand; as a way of introducing exercise as fun for the entire family. From Diaper Dashes for crawlers to the signature Walt Disney World Marathon, runDisney event weekends are family vacations that lead to good health (and memories) for a lifetime.
Likewise, I was thrilled when I first read about the Disney Magic of Healthy Living initiative; addressing the Disney demographic in a powerful way. The Walt Disney Company updated their nutritional guidelines in 2006, demonstrating a willing partnership with parents wishing to provide their families healthy nutrition and lifestyles. Understanding that eating nutritiously while vacationing presents unique challenges, Disney is now committed to adding healthful items to all park and resort menus, making these healthy choices easy and accessible to all families.
In Downtown Disney Area, the Levy Restaurants (Fulton’s Crab House, Portobello and Wolfgang Puck Cafe) have made healthy and fresh dining affordable and simple for families visiting Walt Disney World. I recently had the pleasure of sitting with Executive Chef Steve Richard to discuss (and sample) their merger of fine dining and healthy menu development for both kids and parents.
|Portobello’s Executive Chef Steven Richard|
It had been 15 years since my last stop at Fulton’s Crab House (and many more years since my first Character Breakfast aboard The Empress Lilly), and I was ecstatic to see “the ship” (a replicated riverboat) still in tip-top shape. I was also delighted to note that the lobster and king crab legs that I so vividly remember remained on the menu, but equally impressed with all that was new, fresh and reimagined. Witness three outstanding appetizers, all offered at both lunch and dinner, that are not only art to gaze upon, but art for the soft palate!
|Crab Cake, Crab Ceviche and Lobster Corn Dogs|
The jumbo lump blue crab was very light on filler, and perfectly accompanied by the roasted corn Louisiana maque choux and fried green tomato ; the ceviche screamed fresh; and the lobster corn dog with remoulade sauce was as fun and delicious as it sounds. Along with traditional “raw bar” choices and market catch fish tacos, there was something for every taste in the appetizer department.
The Lunch menu is complete with Entree Salads (like the Ahi Tuna Cobb), sandwiches (the Crab Cake BLT caught my eye) and the requisite steakhouse burger and fries. The Dinner menu expands to a full list of Crab & Lobster and Charcoal Grilled Steaks & Chops specialties, but it is the Chef’s Selections of fresh fish that sets this restaurant apart. From North Atlantic Salmon to local choices such as Florida Pompano, Key West Yellowtail Snapper, and Florida Grouper, fresh preparations are highlighted. And what I found most exciting and novel is Fulton’s Executive Chef Mark Boor’s partnership with Gulf Wild; a program that allows the diner to track the fish you are ordering. By entering the code on the Gulf Wild website (see card below), you are taken to a map showing where your fish was caught, and a photo of the boat that caught it- all before the fish appears on your plate! Talk about interactive dining and family fun!!
|My Red Grouper, thanks to Captain Dean Younger aboard the No Bull!|
Kudos to Chef Boor for his efforts in assuring his guests they are consuming a safe and fresh product that is caught in a responsible way. And I did I say absolutely delicious?
If the runner in your group does not eat fish, and is looking for the infamous carb load, there are several pasta dishes available; the Roasted Chicken & Tomato (served on cavatappi) would be appropriate. Of course, Wolfgang Puck is renown for his Wood Stone Oven Pizza (go easy on the cheese) and Portobello has many amazing pizza and pasta offerings (Chicken Farfalle, for instance). I am hoping that more whole wheat products will be added to their offerings in the near future. As always, within 24 hours of your race, go easy on fats and stick to lean proteins.
The Children’s Menu is no less exciting and unique. Healthy choices abound; the Fish of the Day, Grilled Chicken Tenders and Filet Mignon are accompanied by fresh cut corn, and Snow Crab Legs with red skin potatoes and Baby Shrimp Pasta are certainly not the standard theme park kid fare. Note that burgers, fried tenders and fries remain on the menu for finicky and special needs eaters. As with all Walt Disney World restaurants, if the waitstaff is alerted to an allergy, or if your family would like to order a gluten-free meal, the Chef will personally come to your table to discuss your options. As the mother of an autistic son, I can’t tell you how comforting that is! If you are runner who no longer eats gluten because of its sluggish after-effects, this is welcome news for you as well.
Sides dishes such as fresh celery and carrots get top billing on their menu, as do the fruit-based desserts. Kids menus at Portobello (Low Fat Ice Creams) and Wolfgang Puck’s Cafe (Kid’s Sushi) are similarly constructed, and all offer 100% juice and low-fat milk for beverages.
Fine dining, in a beautiful atmosphere, with healthy and fun options for your entire family; that’s the take away from my return to Fulton’s Crab House. Downtown Disney is now the perfect destination for runDisney enthusiasts’ pre-race power meal. Disney and Levy Restaurants have made it easy to keep both parents and kids happy while dining at Walt Disney World; just like magic!