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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!

 

children · ecology · Education · gardening · health · kids · parenting

Schools a Healthy Place?

I had a strange experience last week when I went to my youngest son’s music class presentation. It was beyond cute of course, with all the second graders sounding angelic although I know they are often quite a devilish group as I’ve seen them enough in other settings. But sitting in the metal folding chairs as they sat on the floor or walked around singing, something else struck me besides the sweetness of it all~ when I looked at them each individually, as in really looked at them, they mostly looked kind of…sickly. Granted it was the end of the day and also the end of the week so they had reason to be tired, and maybe the lighting is not the best in their brand new school, but it seemed odd to me that they could all look so sluggish and lacking vibrancy considering their youth. My own son’s cheeks were flared up with the pink that signifies something is bothering him allergy-wise, either the carpet or something he ate, or who knows what, but that is what made me start looking at the other kids. There was one girl who looked completely healthy, alert, and engaged and I happen to know that this girl always looks that way or at least she does at library time where I help out and also field trips and parties, before and after school. She is just that kind of girl who notices everything and is part of everything and probably questions her teachers and parents ad nauseam. She was seriously the only one. The other kids were a mixture of eyes with dark circles, half closed eyes, wandering eyes and hands, bad skin, rashes, confused and disengaged looks, and tired faces and bodies. It made me wonder about kids, schools, and health. Is the modern school a healthy place for our students? Do they get enough outdoor time? Are they eating good food? Are we doing our best to help them learn? I don’t know, it just bothered me to see a bunch of second graders that just didn’t look vibrant and vivacious. They are too young not to be! The edible schoolyard project is one place to look for answers though my kids’ school has put me off for two years now when I’ve brought up planting a garden there. The students would get so much out of it, not the least of which would be a bit more good health. One bright eyed bushy tailed student out of 21 is not enough.

kids

Healthy kids still moving (whether I like it or not…)

on the way to school
on the way to school

For several years I’ve been advocating for my kids to walk to school more, as opposed to sitting on the bus for 20+ minutes to then sit for 6.5 hours at school and of course sit another 20+ minutes again for the ride home. They would occasionally humor me, but mostly they fought it b/c it was “too long” (1.3 miles) and it “exhausted” them. That is until this year. Now that they are in first grade and third grade they actually are the ones driving our morning walks. In fact I find myself having to fight the urge of whining, “but it looks like rain…” more and more as they want to either walk or ride their bikes most days now. (And it pretty much always looks like rain this time of year in the greater Seattle area.) I prefer them walking since when they are on bikes I have to run to keep up, and I don’t get to have a conversation with them, or practice spelling words or multiplication tables~ all things I like to do when walking. Although if they do ride bikes we get there in record time b/c neither one of them likes going slowly whatsoever, so it is a good option on days we are running late. Honestly I think wearing those pedometers from geopalz is what changed their attitudes, although now they only wear them about half the time. The pedometers got them walking more, and now they find they like the walk~ it’s pretty cool when things actually work out the way they are meant to. Goodness knows when raising kids that is a rare occurrence.

biking to school through a park
biking to school through a park
Education · kids

Healthy Kids Move

It’s yet another responsibility a parent has~ making sure his/her children get exercise. It DSCN1563[1]isn’t always easy in the winter when even I take one look outside and dive for the nearest blanket. During the summer months it is completely normal for my two sons to play all day, to go from a park to a pool to another park and September always leaves me cringing at the thought of those two active boys suddenly having to sit for 6.5 hours a day with just short little recesses to get outside. Then as slowly as the leaves turn colors the sedentary lifestyle seeps into their growing bones and it becomes the norm, making movement a strange and rare occurrence that results in having to ‘rest’. I hate it. And just for the record I also hate the hours of homework after school when kids should be running around, or pursuing other passions like music, art, karate, etc. Anyway, I found a tool that helps motivate the kids to move and I like it so much I just have to share. There might be other brands out there, but what I found at our local REI was a kid friendly pedometer made by geopalz. The pedometers come in all different kinds of cute designs and can be worn on shoes or hips or even held in hand, though that is not really recommended. (Your arm movements are much more erratic compared to legs/feet.) The kids get to login into their personal statistics on the geopalz website and enter in their daily steps to watch their numbers add up and earn points for the ‘arcade’ and also points to earn real things, such as frisbees or balls. Such a fantastic idea! Both the website and the pedometer seem to be fairly new and have a kink or two that still need working out, but the fact my youngest and most lay-around-the-house son said, “I’m going to wear this all the time and get more steps!” is enough to make the purchase worth it. They have really enjoyed them so far and I have enjoyed being able to say, “Let’s walk to (wherever) and you can rack up some steps” and hearing “Yay!” instead of “No way!” Great idea and seems to be a great company.