Gluten-Free Made Easy Cook Book Review

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While I don’t claim to be a book critic I will say this is one book that I’ll be referring to quite a bit. When I was asked to write a review by Christi Silbaugh, author of Mom, What’s for Dinner I must say I was a little skeptical. Living with celiac disease I wondered how could she understand, truly understand, what I would need someone living with Celiac Disease.  But after flipping through the first few pages of Gluten-Free Made Easy I could tell she got it!

Gluten-Free Made Easy is a book for all the gluten-free eaters and health enthusiasts everywhere.  It is formatted very similar to other gluten-free cook books I have seen.  The book helps explain: what is gluten, where is gluten hidden, where do I find gluten ingredients and how can I fit gluten-free into my budget.  In addition there are tips and tricks all through the book such as:

    • on pg 49: “The Batter Barrier: Gluten-free batter is sometimes thicker, sometimes thinner and always different than traditional batter.  It will take time to get accustomed to the texture of gluten-free flours.  For now, trust the recipe.”
    • on pg 145: “The secret to moist fish.  An over cooked fish is a dry fish.  It is best to remove the fish from the oven when it’s jucy and has changed color….  if the fish starts to brown… it is probably overdone.”
    • on page 6: “Try restaurants with a large number of gluten-free dishes such as  Mexican, Chinese, Indian, and other ethnic cuisines.”

This cookbook is very easy to understand, the directions are simple and many of the ingredients are things I already had around my house. I also like that the recipes don’t rely on hand making everything from scratch with 10-12 different steps. The recipes reference a lot of really good gluten-free products and they seem like great recipes for children on gluten-free diets.gluten free jacksonville potatoes au gratin gluten free made easy

gluten free jacksonville tilapia gluten free made easy

I made the Potatoes Au Gratin (p158) and Dry Rubbed Tilapia (p142). They were DELICIOUS! and I can’t wait to try the Homemade Baked Tater Tots (p73), Italian Sausage Lasagna Cups (p93) and the Cauliflower Pizza Crust (p99).

The pictures are beautiful; at first glance I was immediately hungry. While I love this book I do have a few critiques:

  • The calorie and fat counts are not posted and many of the items seem high in fat and calories.
  • Since many people are gluten-free and dairy-free it would have been nice to include some dairy substitute ideas.
  • It would be nice to see the overall preparation times at the top so people can pick recipes based on time allotted (It took close to 1 and a half hours to prepare the Potatoes Au Gratin).

The book is available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Books and Things. I recommend it for you and your family.

Happy Cooking.

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Earth fare NOW OPEN- Gluten-Free Goodies Galore!

earth fare jacksonville gluten-free
With much anticipation, Earth Fare is now open in Jacksonville, FL.   A cross between Whole Foods, Native Sun and Grassroots Natural Market, this Asheville North Carolina native is FULL of gluten-free options.  Here are some of my highlights:
Meat and Seafood: They provide humane meats and keep smaller quantities on hand and order more frequently so that meats and seafood stay fresh.  They source their meats and sea food from all over the world but are looking to reach out to local seafood and meat sources.
gluten free jacksonville earth fare Family Meal Night: Every Thursday from 4-8pm up to six kids eat free with one adult dinner purchase (only $5) and they will prepare gluten-free meals for your family.

Gluten free Goods: They have distributed gluten-free goods throughout the store rather than having all gluten-free items in one aisle. Look for wood grained shelves and the gluten-free signs.  These shelves are HUGE, it is not just one column and one row of gluten-free goods it is rows and columns of gluten-free goodness.  They even have some local gluten-free items such as FreshJax hot sauce and Sweet Pete’s.  The prices for gluten-free items vary.  gluten free jacksonville earth fare gluten free jacksonville earth fare gluten free jacksonville earth fare gluten free jacksonville earth fare

gluten free jacksonville earth fareLocal 100: Look for the signs that say Local 100 this means that the produce came within 100 miles.

gluten free make up jacksonville earth fareGfree makeup: They have two different brands of  gluten-free make up that are also vegan.

gluten free jacksonville earth fare

Specializing in REAL FOOD, we think Earth Fare is going to be a huge hit.  They do their best to avoid foods that contain antibiotics; artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors, fats; high fructose corn syrup and bromated or bleached flour.  We can’t wait to make this a part of our regular shopping routine.

GIVEAWAY: Thank you for your comments about  your favorite gluten-free brand.  We have picked a winner and will announce soon.

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Present Moment Cafe Gluten-Free

Whenever work takes me to St. John’s County I always have to stop at Present Moment Cafe in St.Augustine.

gluten free jacksonville present momentEverything is raw and everything is gluten-free and dairy-free. Everything I have ever had has been delicious. It is located on King Street across US-1 from the hub-bub of Historic St. Augustine.

Today I had the house pizza and a piece of chocolate marble torte with drunken bananas. My belly is happy!!gluten free jacksonville present moment

gluten free jacksonville present moment
gluten free jacksonville present moment

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Summer Memories from My Phone 2014

What a great summer it has been!  This summer I…
gluten free the cafe at the cummer
Ate a yummy Stuffed Portabello at The Cafe at the Cummer,

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took a little kayak trip for Visit Jacksonville,

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indulged in gluten-free onion rings and a burger at Epik Burger,

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was moved at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum in Atlanta,

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happily indulged in a “Skinny Elvis” home-made by my love to mimic the Fat Elvis from The Vortex in Atlanta,

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I started taking weekly walks on the beach to collect sharks teeth,

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Celebrated 4th of July with my love,

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had a lovely dinner with our friends from FreshJax,

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enjoyed some summer veggies,

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won the Jacksonville Scene beach volleyball championship,

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and wore a silly hat to watch the Cubs take on the Braves in Chicago.

Thank you Summer of 2014.  You were good to me!

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V (Gluten-Free) Pizza in San Marco

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco
Join me as we welcome the newest gluten-free pizza joint, V Pizza (not V’s Pizza or Five Pizza just V Pizza). I have been driving by this place constantly wondering what was going on. Not long after seeing the sign “Opening Soon” I got a message from an old high school friend who is now one of the owners, Rudy Theale, wanting me to talk to him and his staff about living gluten-free. I was very impressed about his commitment to doing gluten-free right. When asked to come and take a tour and do a tasting I thought, why not!

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco

With a focus on fresh ingredients V Pizza is taking the gluten-free pizza business seriously. They taste tested multiple gluten free pizza dough products before deciding on their final crust. They were looking for something that had a great taste but would be easy to keep the customer with serious allergies (celiac like me) safe. The pizza dough comes in a metal tin so that the pizza can be cooked in along with the other pizzas without touching the same surface as gluten-containing pizzas. In addition to pizzas, their menu will feature gluten-free desserts and a baked chicken dish. There is a $1-$2 additional charge for gluten-free pizzas.

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco

When I went for the tasting a few weeks ago I was quickly introduced to the kitchen prep team. One of the team members was the chef who has the most wonderful Italian accent. He was really proud of his product and was eager to show me the separate gluten-free area where the pizzas were prepared. They use separate utensils (including the pizza cutter) from the gluten-containing pizzas. Almost all of their ingredients and toppings are gluten-free, including their meatballs. On most menus meatballs are off limits because bread crumbs are one of secret ingredients. At V Pizza, their recipe does not call for bread crumbs. He immediately made a meatball pizza with mozzarella, oregano and a little bit of extra virgin olive oil. Because I am also dairy-free I had some helpers on hand from Liz Morgan PR taste test for me. They were impressed by how great it tasted and couldn’t believe it was gluten-free.

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gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza

Next the chef made me a meatball pizza, no cheese and lots of veggies. It was AMAZING! I wanted to eat the whole thing right there but had to play it cool and box it up to take home (don’t tell anyone but I had a slice in the car on the ride home :)).

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They are taking multiple steps to avoid cross contamination: educating their staff, separating gluten-containing items in the prep area behind a glass enclosure, using separate utensils and making the gluten-containing dough in a separate room limiting its ability to contaminate the gluten-free pizzas.

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I think they will do well. The location is convenient, the space is in an old paint store and they have a cool bar in the back called The Side Car where they are mixing up fresh cocktails and I heard they make a mean Lemon-cello. I can’t wait to go back.
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gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza
Address: 1406 Hendricks Ave. Jacksonville (San Marco), FL 32207 904.527.1511

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Freshfields Farm – EVERYTHING IS GLUTEN-FREE

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Through word of mouth, on multiple occasions, I had to try Freshfields Farm. A 7 days a week farmers market style grocery store, Freshfields Farm is a gluten-free dairy-free oasis. There are no labels to decider, no prepackaged goods to worry about cross contamination, the prices are reasonable and the colors are fantastic. Freshfields Farm has vegetables, fruits, meats and some dairy. They do a lot to highlight their organic and local produce but you will find almost any and every vegetable you could imagine.

fresh field farms gluten free jacksonville

fresh field farms gluten free jacksonville

I purchased two packs of strawberries for $4, two large bags of spinach for $4 and two large chicken breasts for $2. While not all of their fruits are organic and not all of their meat sustainable, they do have some grass fed beef options and other sustainable meats which are still quite reasonably priced.

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In addition to strawberries, spinach and chicken breasts, I got grapes, sweet potatoes, organic apples, a pineapple, and swiss chard; I loaded up. I got a great deal and everything I bought was fresh and flavorful.

fresh field farms gluten free jacksonville

The only problem with going to a place like Freshfields Farm is it forces you to cook. There are no precooked convenience foods like chicken nuggets, lean cuisines, frozen burritos, or cereal. Shopping here will require chopping, sauteing, grilling, roasting, cutting, blending, juicing… you get the point.

fresh field farms gluten free jacksonville

fresh field farms gluten free jacksonville

Freshfields Farm is located in the oddest space across the street from University Christian High School near the intersection Of University Boulevard and I-95. It is on my way home so I can’t complain too much.

5555 University Blvd W
Jacksonville, FL 32216
(904) 652-2810

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NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens Gluten-Free Training

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When I was first diagnosed with Celiac disease I thought anything that said “gluten-free” was safe for me.  I quickly learned that just because a restaurant has a gluten-free menu it does not always mean that they took steps to avoid cross contamination.

NFCA great kitchens gluten free jacksonville

A few months ago I found out about the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness GREAT Kitchens: Gluten-Free Training. GREAT Kitchens is a gluten-free training to food service professionals working in a variety of settings. This $100 training teaches skills and techniques to meet gluten-free needs and serve gluten-free meals safely and confidently.

As Jacksonville becomes more gluten-friendly I would love to see more restaurants taking steps to train their kitchen staff and servers on gluten. I would especially love to encourage local restaurants. I find that it is the chain restaurants who provide most of the training for their staff because of a need in a larger market. It is the local restaurants I find that a majority of the time have not educated their staff on food allergies.

Some of the issues I have with restaurant servers:
1. They don’t know what gluten is.
2. They think I can’t have ANY carbs.
3. They think items that have been fried in the same oil as breaded items are gluten-free.
4. They aren’t aware that sauces like soy sauce carry hidden gluten.
5. They don’t write down that I have celiac disease on the ticket so the kitchen staff has no idea that they should take extra steps to avoid cross contamination.
6. They don’t write anything down and try to memorize my order as well as the order for the 8 other people at the table.

As of March 1st, 2014 there are no restaurants in Jacksonville that are certified as a GREAT Kitchen. I would love to see this change and I would love to update our gluten-free restaurant listing with a list of GREAT Kitchen certified restaurants.

What are some of the issues you have when dining out? Do you avoid dining out altogether because it is so hard?

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