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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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Gluten-free Ramen

At this point in the year I’m pretty much souped out. Not eating it, just making it. So, I’m quite excited to have found this gluten-free ramen that takes all of 4 minutes to make and tastes seriously good. The one I like is by Lotus Foods and has a miso base and I’m pretty sure when my oldest tries it, he’s going to be hooked too because he loves miso, and noodles, and especially fast prep. Try it out yourself on a day when your missing dorm cooking, or more likely, just want some fast soup on a chilly Spring day:

gluten-free Ramen

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Nut-free, Dairy-free ‘nutella’

Back in the glorious days of my sons eating nuts and dairy, my oldest loved nutella on dinner rolls as a snack or lunch item. I decided to look for homemade nutella recipes online to see if there was something I could convert and oh my, there are scores of nutella fans out there, making homemade versions, making dairy free versions, making nut free versions~ I mean if you are looking to make your own nutella, by no means should you stop your quest here. There are hundreds of recipes out there, and most start with the raw seeds or nuts and are truly from scratch. After reading more than a few variations, I decided I didn’t want to go to the store a second time today to get the ingredients I lacked, so I’d just try a quicker, not-so-from-scratch way of making a chocolaty, nutty flavored spread. The sunflower butter I’d bought to replace my son’s peanut butter cravings never really satisfied him, so I grabbed that, the half bar of baking chocolate I had left over from something else, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Ingredients I melted the 2 oz of unsweetened baking bar on low heat while scooping 1/2 C of the sunbutter into the food processor. I added the 1 t of vanilla extract, and then the melted chocolate and processed until smooth, which didn’t take long. I really wanted to avoid the confectioner’s sugar most recipes called for in my research, but when I tasted the blend I knew it needed some sweetening, so I added 1 T honey and blended again. That was better.

nut-free, dairy-free nutella My son tried it on a Maninis dinner roll when he got home from school and gave it a thumbs-up. (His mouth was full after all.) I will probably play around with this recipe a bit more, but for a quick fix, this works well.

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Broccoli and Tofu

You can’t really ever go wrong with tofu and broccoli, at least in my oldest son’s opinion. His favorite way to eat that healthy combination used to be wrapped in a spelt tortilla with garlic sauce. He even wrote an essay about that dish in third grade when asked about his favorite thing to eat, but sadly, he can’t eat spelt anymore and corn tortillas are just not the same. They are great for soft tacos, quesadillas, and ‘beandillas’, (a quesadilla made with refried beans instead of cheese) but corn tortillas just do not complement the broccoli and tofu like the spelt did. He missed that dish terribly, along with countless others, once his gluten intolerance was discovered, but now he’s found a new favorite way to enjoy broccoli and tofu. Here’s the recipe:

broccoli and tofu with pasta

Ingredients:

1 package brown rice fusilli

½ yellow onion

2 crushed cloves of garlic

3-4 cups broccoli, cut into bite size pieces

1 package extra firm tofu, drained and wrapped in paper towels to get out extra water

Approx. 2 T. olive oil (1 for the stir fry and 1 for the pot of pasta)

1 T. balsamic vinegar (or to taste)

1 T. gluten free Tamari

Dried basil and oregano to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

For this dish, I start the water boiling for the pasta as I begin the cutting up process. Pour in at least one tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pan, and then add the onions, cooking until translucent. Next the garlic should be added in, with the broccoli following. Pour the vinegar over the broccoli while stirring the veggies. Add the tofu then cover the tofu with the tamari. While cooking, stir in the herbs, salt, and pepper, and cook until the broccoli is bright green and the tofu is warm throughout with a bit of browning. Meanwhile, make the fusilli according to the package directions, and when all is done combine into approximately 4 bowls. This is one pasta dish that doesn’t require parmesan, but feel free to add it if you prefer, or if you like just drizzle on a bit more olive oil. For my son and I, we do not add anything but our forks.

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Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter

My son needed a science project and I needed a reason to try to make the sourdough starter recipe I’ve been eyeing for months, so we decided to work together and see what happens. The recipe we are using is from Jennifer Katzinger’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Bread. I’ve wanted to make sourdough starter for a long time now, ever since I read about it being a more easily digested bread than other types with single strands of yeast, but the recipes I read always seemed too complex and involved too much planning. Once I read Katzinger’s version which was already gluten-free I started thinking I could do it. Except I didn’t. There was still that planning part that got in my way, until my son’s science fair came up and I thought, we could do this~ we have a week and a half, plenty of time to get the starter going and then to try to bake with it a couple of times, with enough time even for a failure or two. We will actually use the starter later today for the first time, but actually making the mother was easier than I expected, so in case you are feeling daunted by the idea yourself I thought I’d share the steps so far. First, get a gallon size glass jar and put in 1C teff flour and 1C water.

Making starterStir well.

Then add two purple cabbage leaves and the skin of half an apple.

Adding cabbage and apple skin

Mix well again and then let it sit in a warm spot for 12 hours before stirring and adding more teff and water. After 48 hours (with 12 hours in between stirrings and adding more flour and water) it should be bubbling with yeast activity.

Yeast bubbles

It is then time to take out the cabbage leaves and apple skin and put it in the fridge. It is ready to be used.

Taking out the cabbage

Now it’s time to test if this has worked. There is starter resting on my kitchen counter right now warming up with fresh teff and water for 4 hours and hopefully creating some yeasty activity. Crossing my fingers that we will have fresh sourdough bread by tonight. We’ll see!

 

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Some New Gluten Free Finds

I don’t know how long I’ve been overlooking this bread, but I have a feeling it’s pretty new to the scene, but boy has it made a splash. I’d say about half the time I go searching for it, there’s none to be found:

olivias super free This is Olivia’s Super Free Baguette and that picture is from their site: http://oliviasuperfree.com/home.html. I’ve been making garlic bread with the baguettes~ olive oil, Tuscan salts, garlic, 425 degrees for 10 minutes, and it turns out really lovely. I can imagine making a big sub sandwich with these too. The texture is great, the flavor is good, and the lightness makes it easy to use in meals (as opposed to being so heavy that all you can do with it is slice and eat it.) The kids whole-heartily approved.

The other bread I’ve found lately is Flying Apron’s new white bread which tastes even better than their old one and they are actually finally making enough that you have a decent chance to buy one on white bread days, (bonus!), which at the Redmond location are Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Flying Apron's White Bread This is a hearty loaf made with quinoa, oat, and I think sorghum flour though I could be wrong about that last one. It has the whole grain goodness of stand-out healthy grains which is so rare in a gluten-free loaf. I love this bread but surprisingly, my sons are not full-on excited about it, though my oldest adores the white rolls made from the same ingredients~ go figure. I think they have gotten so use to the fluffy lightness of gluten-free breads that this denser loaf seems strange to them, like a child who’s been eating regular white bread suddenly tasting a whole wheat loaf~ not exactly the same thing. That’s fine for now because it means more for me! I’ve been making veggie sandwiches with this bread~ one side gets hummus spread on it, the other gets avocado, and in between goes spinach and lettuce, tomatoes, red peppers and whatever else I can find. I haven’t had a fulfilling sandwich like that in so many years I can’t even begin to remember~ until last week that is, at which time I started having them almost every day. Seriously, if you are in the Seattle area and haven’t tried this loaf because you aren’t in the habit of buying a ‘white’ bread~ this loaf will surprise you.

Those two breads above are also vegan, soy, and nut free~ it can be done!

The last product is a granola bar from KIND. These are not the same bars that have been around for a long time, they are different~ flatter and wider for one thing, but the best part is at least one flavor, the oats and honey, is nut free.

kind barThis pic is from their website.

Trying to find a gluten-free, dairy-free protein bar that doesn’t have any nuts in it, especially almonds, is extraordinarily difficult. We eat some bars from Nugo and Enjoy Life Foods, but having a new one to throw into backpacks for snack time is extremely welcome at this point.

If you have any new gluten-free favorites, let me know~ I’d love to hear about them.

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Lentil Love Affair

I’ve written about lentil soup enough to signify I’m no casual lentil-liker, and I’ve seen several recipes for lentil salad this season which makes me think they might be having a popularity surge…I don’t know that for sure, but what I do know is that I’ve just been cooking up lentils like a mad woman lately and my husband and oldest have been eating them up just as fast (when I share that is.) Here’s how I’ve been cooking them: 1.5C French green lentils cooked in a pot with 4C veggie stock, 1 chopped leek, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped carrot and a bay leaf, plus some olive oil poured in there too. Once the lentils are cooked through (about 20-30 minutes) I add some cracked pepper and Mediterranean salts to taste. They are good in a bowl, wrapped up in corn tortillas, spread on slices of gluten-free bread or crackers, or served over rice. Another thing I’ve found that has been making my life a little easier is a vegan cheese my youngest actually likes on pizza. Yay! I thought that was a lost cause because everyone seems to like daiya cheese best but he doesn’t like it one bit (I do though!). He likes follow your heart brand, so I guess I learned to try different brands when they refuse to eat something. He’s also loving Amy’s brand gluten and dairy free frozen pizza with spinach. That is the first time ever he has voluntarily eaten a green vegetable and liked it. I’d even say loved it!

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More Gluten-free/dairy-free Discoveries

Besides the garlic bread that I’ve been making with the Trader Joe’s flatbread, I’ve also been making pizzas which my sons have declared better than delivered pizza, so that says it all. For the cheese I’ve been combining two goat cheeses together, one is that hard goat gouda from Trader Joe’s and the other is a mozzarella style that I found at Whole Foods. I combine the two b/c while the mozzarella one does indeed taste like regular mozzarella, it almost tastes too much, like mozz on steroids. The gouda has a much milder flavor and tames the other quite a bit to make a very yummy, kid friendly, cheese pizza. Here’s the empty package:  Mozzarella Goat Cheese

Today I used Namaste Foods’ pizza crust for the first time and the kids really love that too. I use that same brand for waffles in the mornings (almost every morning for my youngest) and it is wonderfully clean of ingredients that people commonly cannot tolerate. Here’s the package: Namaste Foods' pizza crust

I needed to spread the crust a bit thinner, but this is how it came out:

Gluten free Goat cheese pizza

The boys loved it and commented on the pizza crust specifically. I won’t rely on pizza and garlic bread for too long, but for now, during this transition period, it’s so nice to have easy to prepare foods that the kids enjoy. My youngest son has been open to trying more new foods too, just like the naturopath predicted! She said when kids stop eating foods they don’t tolerate well, their taste buds change. So far my son is eating rice again, like he used to when he was younger but stopped some time around 4 years old. He also has been eating granola which he used to turn his nose up at. Not that these additions are kale and quinoa, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. (Actually two steps!) I’ll take it.

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Substitutes for Common Food Intolerances

I know that food intolerances can be cured and granted, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. We haven’t gotten our test results back yet but I’m already trying to get dairy out of our diets, and I’m leery of eggs and soy because they are common problem-makers too. This is not easy for a primarily vegetarian family, but if we can do it, anyone can, and honestly it hasn’t been all that difficult yet. My youngest who used to live on Annie’s boxes of shells and cheese now has a new love~ garlic bread sticks. I make the Trader Joe’s gluten-free, dairy free flat bread pizza crusts into garlic bread sticks by preheating the oven to 425, mix 1T of olive oil (per sheet of crust), with one clove of garlic and a dash of Mediterranean salt. I pour that on the flat bread and rub it until it is all evenly distributed. It says to cook for 6-10 minutes and I am finding 9 minutes works best for our oven. Once I take out the bread I cut it into 3 long strips, like bread sticks he recognizes from restaurants. He loves them, and I love the olive oil and garlic getting into his body. This is what it looks like and it is in the refrigerated section.

Gluten Free Pizza Crust
Gluten Free Pizza Crust

Also from Trader Joe’s we’ve been getting goat cheeses of all kinds. I found this goat cream cheese which is perfect on Udi’s bagels. Goat Cream Cheese

If you are watching fat/calories the above goat cheese is more in line with Neuchâtel cheese than cream cheese. Other cheeses I’ve talked about before, also from Trader Joe’s are these goat cheeses: Trader Joe's Goat CheesesThe triangle is a hard cheese which is good for shredding and snacking, the others are a soft, spreadable cheese that go well with sweeter foods. I am looking forward to making gluten-free crepes with those cute little medallions and fresh strawberries.

Another substitution I’ve made lately is cooking up Lundberg’s Tuscan Risotto instead of their parmesan one that we used to eat all the time (with broccoli and sometimes smoked salmon on the side.) I was very afraid my oldest would revolt against this change because he adores parmesan risotto, but he actually loved the dairy free Tuscan kind. He said it tasted just the same~ works for me!

Lundberg Tuscan Risotto
Lundberg Tuscan Risotto

These are just quick fixes so far, but it helps to make the task seem less daunting to have easy to prepare meals on hand that the kids really like. Once they are used to their intolerances, we will work on adding in more variety. Watch, they won’t even be dairy intolerant! That’d be fantastic, but less dairy in their lives can’t be a bad thing. My son’s sinuses confirm that. It’s nice we are entering summer too for all the fruits that are available. They add color and variety to every meal in a happy way.

 

 

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Gluten Free biscuits

Saturday I made gluten free biscuits from the Flying Apron Cookbook replacing the berries with 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. As much as I love the berries, we were running low on them and my son has been drinking smoothies in the mornings lately so I saved them for him. Mothers are always sacrificing! But the cinnamon is delicious actually, so it was a good experiment. I’ve been daydreaming of what goodies I am going to make my gluten intolerant friends for Christmas. It is so nice to know other gluten intolerant people with whom to share food! It can be so lonely when you are the one and only at a meal, party, or any other gathering where food and drinks are served. Since I have never really liked meat, I was always the odd one at meals as a child, so honestly by now I should be used to it, but it still bums me out. In fact, Thanksgiving has long been my least favorite holiday, considering I’ve never liked any of that kind of Turkey-ish food, and for last few years I’ve known I can’t eat the bread-ish food (unless I make it). This year I am determined to make it a festive inclusive meal, and since we are hosting that should be relatively easy. I’m putting together the menu this week and I’ll post what I come up with. Really there are such great ideas floating around I’m sure I’ll have more than enough ideas to keep me busy!