Mount Pleasant, Iowa

I spent a couple of weeks in my boyfriend’s home town of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, just 5 days after being diagnosed as Coeliac. I knew it was going to be difficult as I had just found out and didn’t have much knowledge of everything I could and couldn’t have yet. I figured that I would be very careful and only eat what I was sure I was allowed…this turned out to be pretty frustrating in a small town where everyone wanted to take us out for breakfast, lunch and dinner as we hadn’t seen them in over two years.

Mount Pleasant's water tower

Mount Pleasant’s water tower

After a long flight and car ride to Iowa from the nearest international airport, I was starving. I’d already consumed everything I’d brought with me as a result of boredom and not much of a meal on the plane. We arrived at John’s parents house to find that his mum had already been shopping to buy me a few gluten free treats. She knows that I can’t live without my cereal and had generously bought me a couple of boxes of gluten free cereal. This was to be my first experience of Envirokids…. I poured myself a huge bowl of frosted flakes and gorilla munch as soon as I arrived….delicious and hard to tell that they are not ‘normal’ cereals unlike some others I had already got my hands on in the UK.

That night we had been invited to a family BBQ with lots of different foods I wasn’t sure whether or not I could have. Lucky for me it turned out that one of John’s cousins also had coeliacs so I decided my best bet was to eat whatever she was eating, figuring that she must at least have more of a clue than me. When the time came to leave the party, my jet lag was severely catching up with me and I was glad I’d eaten the bowl of cereal before coming out. Either John’s cousin hadn’t been very hungry, was pretty fussy or there was less that I could eat than I first thought!

The next morning the first thing I did (after eating more delicious Envirokids) was travel down to the local supermarket in search of gluten free delights. There are two large supermarkets in Mount Pleasant, one being Hy-Vee and the other a huge Wallmart. I wrongly assumed that being a huge corporation Wallmart would cater for the gluten free but it turned out that they didn’t even have a gluten free section and hardly any of their products say whether or not they are gluten free.

Hy-Vee on the other hand, a supermarket commonly found in the mid-west, was far more gluten free friendly. They had a whole section full of gluten free products such as cereals, breads, cakes, pasta and cookies as well as gluten free labelling on quite a few of their ‘regular’ products. Later on I was so glad I’d found Hy-Vee because the groceries I bought there would be the makings of my meals before, after and during visits to some gluten un-friendly restaurants…..

An Iowa number plate

An Iowa number plate

Pizza Ranch is an all you can eat pizza buffet that John’s gran took us to. The only things I ate that I was sure wouldn’t make me sick were baby plum tomatoes and cucumber from the salad buffet and a diet mountain dew from the soda fountain….exciting!

Mount Hamill Tap is a chicken bar and restaurant not far from Mount Pleasant. With everything fried and breaded this definately wasn’t the best place for someone trying to avoid gluten. I ate some tasty home made gluten free pasta and veggies en route to the restaurant and drank 3 Amaretto and cokes when I was there while everyone ate…at least some of their drinks are gluten free!

Breadeaux Pizza is a takeout pizza place with a few tables to sit in. I think they do a few baked potatoes which should be gluten free but other than that it’s a big gluten fest. Here I brought and ate something I’d made at home.

Little Mexico is a fantastic little Mexican restaurant situated in the town square. I probably could have eaten a few things here as they serve some of their dishes like tacos and fajitas with traditional corn tortillas as well as wheat ones. I didn’t eat anything on this occasion but I have eaten here before and will again.

Mount Pleasant is a lovely little town of around 8,000 people. They have one good supermarket with gluten free options so I could survive for a while but I hope that no one in this town has Coeliac disease or they will have to go pretty far from town for a sit down meal!

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