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Gluten-free Travel in Maui

Maui Beach

We just took a trip to Maui, my sons and my first to Hawaii, and I was of course nervous about what we were all going to eat. The good news is that it wasn’t actually that difficult, but the bad news, I have to say, was it was food-boring. On the first night we got in late and ordered room service because it actually pointed out their gluten-free foods on the menu (Westin Ocean Villas at Ka’anapali). Their gluten-free buns were dark and awesome, though I was much more enthusiastic than my boys who prefer whiter breads. They must use teff or some other flour that isn’t in heavy rotation in the gluten-free bread circles because they were darker than I’d ever seen any gluten-free baked good, and hearty like a dark whole wheat. The next day we went to a typical grocery store and bought gluten-free pasta, corn tortillas, refried beans and a few other things plus fruit and veggies. We ended up eating those things just about every single meal of every single day of the week, hence the food-boredom. We went out to two other meals, one, a Mexican restaurant so more tortillas and beans, and then another to an open-air sports pub kind of place where the boys and I got…tacos. Thank goodness for corn tortillas but it will be a long time before I care to make anything with them again. My youngest son found a bread he adores though, so he actually ate toast, plain toast nothing on it, for part of many meals. Ener.g tapioca bread was a big hit with him and about as white as you can possibly make any bread. tapioca loaf

I had brought with me pumpkin seed butter by Omega Nutrition and my other son spread that on all his toast and Udi’s bagels which I had brought with us. pumpkinSeedButter-12oz-MediumThat pumpkin seed butter is really good~ it tastes closer to peanut butter than sunflower seed butter does, and less salty. If you have a nut-free child, or are nut-free yourself, I definitely recommend trying it if you haven’t already.

I suppose people don’t go to Maui in November for the food, but it made it a little easier to go from 80+ degree weather to 30 degree weather when we were so bored with our meal times. It is nice to be home with our warm kitchen, even if the weather outside is back to the typical Fall drizzle and there are no oceans nearby. It was good to see that so many gluten-free things could be found in a regular grocery store though~ I suppose traveling anywhere in the U.S. would be fairly easy at this point, as long as you had your own toaster and stove-top to use.

Thanksgiving is next week already and all the recipes I’ve seen going around all look so tempting! I think I’m going to stick with a few side dishes I know though while my husband deals with the turkey. So far this is the plan:

Marinated goat cheese appetizer (Café Flora cookbook) with crostini and rice crackers

Gluten-free, vegan corn bread muffins

Rolls from Wildflour

Roasted Winter Vegetables from Whole Living

Husband will make (or buy!) Turkey and Mashed Potatoes and probably cranberry sauce which no one ever actually eats at our house

Some kind of pie with (non-dairy) ice cream

(Please ignore my ‘creative’ capitalization.)

What’s on your menu?

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Redmond Market

Redmond Market Flowers

Aren’t these flowers just the prettiest? I got them at the Redmond Farmers Market last Saturday and they are still going strong in our front windows. These aren’t what I went to the Redmond Market intending to buy, but I couldn’t help myself, especially since they had such an inviting price ($5). The Redmond Market, located right next to the Redmond Town Center, is a Saturday tradition from May-October and the gluten-free options there are abundant. If you are hungry you can order a gluten-free crepe (made where the other crepes are so do be careful)at Anita’s crepes or enjoy a tamale just down the way at Hermosa Mexican Foods’ booth which is my son’s favorite thing about the market by far. Wildflour Gluten Free bakery has a booth there and when I get there early enough I buy two of their baguettes, but they sell out fast! Many of their items are dairy free but not all, and most have eggs in them, but all are gluten-free and there is a nice variety at her booth. It is delicious fun to buy a pint of fresh berries and sit down with a baguette and snack while watching some live music that rotates through there all summer. Another gluten-free bakery that has a booth there is Fancy Free bakery which touts a much longer list of ‘free-of’ ingredients~ no peanuts, eggs, dairy, etc, so pretty much anyone could find a treat there, and they will not be disappointed. I bought sourdough bread there and it is truly sour-ly awesome. I heard two other vendors discussing with near rapture the lemon bars they bought there but when I went to check them out myself I was too late…definitely getting to the market earlier next Saturday. There are of course plenty of produce farmers, jewelry makers, planted pots venders, much more there, but I personally adore the fact that there are so many gluten-free finds. I just wish it lasted all year-long, but I guess that just makes it all the more special. Now if only I could wake up and get going on Saturdays earlier to fully take advantage of it…Hm, maybe by August I’ll get that part down. At least I managed to get flowers last week. They are lovely.

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Gluten Free in Louisville, KY

Photo Credit: Ray Schuhmann
Photo Credit: Ray Schuhmann

Part of the reason I haven’t written much lately has to do with a trip to see my family in Louisville, KY, which turned out to be a very easy place to visit with multiple food intolerances in our crew. The other reason is the sheer craziness of summer with two high-energy boys~ it takes some time to adjust from school year days to summer days and honestly, I’m still adjusting. But, here’s what you will find in Louisville if you head that way (maybe in May…?) It is the Derby City after all.

Annie May’s Sweet Café is a gluten and nut free place that also has a large selection of vegan items. We went there for lunch and immediately regretted having not gone earlier in the trip. My son thought their vegan cream of broccoli soup was ‘epic’ and three of us got sandwiches we very much enjoyed and I was the only one of the three who is even gluten intolerant. The desserts we ate were delicious~ mostly cookies with cream in the middle, some vegan and some not depending on the person. My sons and I had the vegan kind which were dipped in chocolate too and probably the most decadent thing I’ve had in years. I don’t know what the vegan cream was in the middle but it definitely tasted like the real thing and I did not ask because if I knew how to make those things I might never leave my kitchen again.

Just down the road is Bluegrass Burgers which advertises on its sign outside, “Gluten free buns and beers” but it isn’t just buns and beers actually because I asked about the veggie patty and the black bean patty (they have both!) and those were also gluten-free and vegan. They were nice and patient about my questions, something that can be hard to find at restaurants where the going trend is to hate on people with food intolerances. They were extremely friendly and their food was great but there is one warning, their fries are way too good. Seriously, if you don’t want to eat a ton of them, just say no because once you start it’s all over~ they are seasoned to perfection and more addictive than chocolate covered cashews. Highly recommend this place. (And chocolate covered cashews for that matter.)

And of course there’s pizza. There are several places that have gluten-free options, but we chose Blaze Pizza because they have vegan cheese, all the pizza pies are individual size, and they cook them quickly in a wood fire so there (theoretically) isn’t much wait time. I was impressed that when I ordered the gluten-free crusts and vegan cheeses that they asked me if they needed to change gloves when handling those pizzas. They knew what they were doing when it came to allergies and I felt quite safe feeding their food to my kids and eating it myself. We liked the taste but it kind of reminded me of Chuck E. Cheese pizza, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, something about it was just similar…the thinner crust, snappier cheese, slightly sweet tomato sauce. But if that isn’t to your taste, there are plenty of other pizza places that have gluten-free crust options, such as Mellow Mushroom, Impellizzeris, Puccini’s, Uncle Maddio’s, and Cottage Inn Pizza, so basically wherever you are in Louisville you are never far from gluten-free crust.

Something else you are never far from in Louisville are natural foods stores, so in a pinch you can always find allergy free food at Whole Foods, Lucky’s Market, or shop local and visit Rainbow Blossom at one of their five locations.

A surprising amount of allergy-friendly food can be found at the most unusual place of all, and I say that mostly because the town’s name is Santa Claus but also because the amusement park there, Holiday World, is, well, an amusement park (and water park) which generally aren’t hubs of allergy free dining.

Photo credit: Santa's Little Helper
Photo credit: Santa’s Little Helper

This place is about 70 miles from Louisville and well worth the trip if you are traveling with kids or just like rides, water parks, and Christmas music in July. Just check out this list of allergy-free foods that you can get there and you’ll be adding Santa Claus, Indiana to your must-do list. The only thing I caution is to have the list handy with you before you go in to order because the people behind the counter weren’t always up-to-date on the offerings. There seemed to be one person in charge who handled the allergic folks and the rest of them waved her down to deal with us. That was fine with me, as long as there was one person dedicated to keeping us safe I was thoroughly impressed. We also had to wait extra time for the allergy free food so another caution is to go before your four-year old is in low-sugar-sunburnt-over-tired-and-hungry-tantrum-mode, but really it wasn’t too long of a wait, 15 minutes maybe. Of course 15 minutes with a hungry child is a lot longer than 15 minutes with just yourself to worry about, so you’ve been forewarned. But both my sons said the place was better than Disney Land, so check it out.

I’m sure there are plenty of other restaurants that accommodate gluten intolerant people but I just want to highlight one more because their menu is very clear with calling out gluten-free items, along with vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, and whatever other kind of ~ian you want to call yourself, they’ve heard it all before. Ramsi’s Café will fill your worldly cravings when you’ve tried all the gluten-free pizza (impossible!) and eaten all the burgers on gluten-free buns that you can handle. Kids are welcome but if you are going to leave them behind for an evening out with your significant other, this is the place to go. When you are finished with dinner be sure to walk up and down Bardstown Road for some fun shopping and people watching, or grab a movie at the nearby Baxter Avenue Theaters. Enjoy!

 

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Seattle Gluten-Free bakery

The other day I had the rare opportunity to wake up in downtown Seattle and look around for a breakfast place. It happened to be mother’s day so it was busier than usual, but we found a place to sit and eat some breakfast foods, which honestly were nothing special. I didn’t mind the mediocre hash browns though because I had a mission for the day to find this gluten-free bakery near Pike Place Market that I had read about called Coffee & Specialty Bakery. It is a tiny little hole in the wall which we walked right by at first and we had to backtrack to find it. I’m so glad we did. It smelled like a real bakery in there and I bought the boys and myself croissants, something we haven’t had in ages. I didn’t ask if they were dairy free but they sure didn’t taste it, so I’m guessing they were made with butter, but it was worth every bite. I have no idea what flours they use but if I hadn’t known it was from a gluten-free bakery I would have sworn it was a traditional croissant. The reviews of the place speak a lot to the friendliness of the owners and it’s all true. If my sons had been with me I’m quite sure they would have been compelled to hug them because they were both so sweet and smiley. I’ll definitely be heading back there any time I am in Seattle from now on.

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Gluten Free Bakery in Bellevue

Eden B bakery is not your typical gluten-free bakery. In fact I’d bet that it’s the only bakery in the greater Seattle area, gluten-free or not, that could ask, “Would like a Jeep or Dodge with that muffin?” The location, inside a Jeep dealership, makes it an awkward place to stop by, unless you relish navigating between smiling, over-helpful, car salesmen so much  that you choose to do so even when not in search of a new car. The place is worth the trip though, because it’s location isn’t all that makes it unique~ they also make salads, sandwiches on gluten-free bread as well as offering a nice selection of muffins, sweet breads, and the like. Some of the goodies are also vegan, but not all (maybe 1/3 of the selection) and my sons both picked the gluten-free, vegan ding dongs. I’ve never seen a homemade ding dong before, and they had never even heard of a ding dong, so that was a fun find. My oldest loved it but my younger, pickier son…not so much. I probably should have guided him to the big gf, vegan snicker doodle cookies that they had because you can can’t go wrong with straight sugar on top, but maybe next time. Along with the sandwiches and bakery goods they also have espresso drinks plus bags of gluten-free chips and such to round out a pleasant lunch. We’ll definitely go back though I’d go back more often if it were in a less awkward place~ something about going to a Jeep dealership for a sweet-fix just doesn’t feel right.

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Gluten Free on the Eastside

Fremont Troll
Fremont Troll (Photo credit: jcolman)

The other day my friend told me about a vegetarian Thai restaurant she and her husband had found in Bellevue that had a lot of gluten-free options which were clearly marked, and many vegan items too. I looked up the place and it was the same restaurant I used to go to in Seattle when I was still at UW and I was so excited I talked my husband into ordering take-out that very evening and drove through a blinding rain to pick it up. When I was at UW we English teachers would usually celebrate the end of the quarter at Araya’s Place, and meat eaters loved it just as much as the vegetarians in the group even though it is strictly flesh-free. The freshness of the produce plus the enlightened awareness of food intolerances makes the place truly a stand out in a world of Thai places on every other block. I had no idea that they had opened up shop in Bellevue, and apparently they have only been here on the Eastside since May 2012. The best thing is, long ago our favorite noodle soup place closed in Fremont, and we have been in search of one ever since. Araya’s soup, finally, ended our search, and it isn’t as far as Fremont. (Though we love Fremont, we usually stay on our side of the bridge.) Another reason we no longer have to go to Fremont, is Flying Apron opened up shop in Redmond~ though that was a good two years ago I think, or maybe even more, I still feel incredibly lucky whenever I go there. For my son’s recent birthday I ordered a cake from there and it surpassed all expectations. It was chocolate cake with vanilla icing, completely gluten, dairy and egg free, and oh my gosh, I don’t know if it’s because I so rarely eat cake, but I thought it the best dessert I’d ever put into my mouth. The rest of the family seemed very impressed too and there wasn’t much left on the plates afterward so I can assume their smiles and thumbs-ups were due to full, happy mouths. So, I guess we’ll only be heading to Fremont when we need our troll fix, since the Eastside now has our soup and baked goods covered, because no one can replicate the troll. Ever.