7 Things I Have Learned Since My Celiac Diagnosis

gluten free jacksonville celiac disease I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in November 2017. Since then the gluten-free world has changed and so have I.  I feel a little more confident about how to eat, I am comfortable talking with restaurant staff in front of friends and I have learned not to hold up the entire tables order when giving my specific instructions. But there are some other big things I have learned. Let me share them with you!

1. Gluten-free does not always mean healthy. It is so easy to get caught up in the gluten-free breads, desserts, pastas and other processed foods. Many times those foods are high in sugar, fillers, fat, etc. that are not always good for you. While I am not perfect and I enjoy breads, cupcakes (icing is my weakness) I am trying really hard to stick to whole foods and have even tried to eliminate sugar and carbs completely. It is really important to read labels.

2. Gluten-free does not always mean celiac safe. In my early days, I thought if it was on a gluten-free menu it was safe. Many times restaurants will label fries and wings as gluten-free. Many times those items are fried in the same oil as chicken fingers or other breaded items. I try to always question items that I know will be fried or I avoid them all together and stick with salad and grilled items. Even a few tortilla strips on top of a salad can be agony for someone living with celiac disease.

3. I have gotten a little bit boring with my food. I eat at a lot of the same places because I feel safe. I feel like when someone asks me where I want to go it is one of these restaurants: Tacolu, Bonefish, PF Changs, Kamiya 86, Moxie, Epik Burger or Sake House. All places #1 are close to my house and #2 are places that make me feel safe. However, I am always up for trying something new even if it means I may have to spend extra time talking with my server before I order. More and more restaurants are educating their staff on the needs of gluten-free patrons.

4. I always have snacks on me. There is nothing worse than going to a work meeting and seeing that everyone is given a sandwich or wrap and I am stuck there for 3 hours or being on a plane where the only snack options are pretzels or cookies. I always keep some sort of nuts in my work bag and when I travel I like to bring peanut butter, gluten-free crackers, gluten-free pretzels and apples or grapes because no one wants to sit next to someone who is hangry.

5. I have a huge fear of being stranded without anything to eat. This is similar to #4; when you live with celiac disease the convenience factor is taken away. Fast Food restaurants are not always available and able to accommodate, gas stations have limited availability and coffee shops and other quick stop places don’t always have gluten-free items available. This has caused me to perhaps overeat at times and has got me into trouble with my weight. It is hard to find that balance between eating before you go somewhere and not having any options when you get to the event. This happens mostly when I go to weddings, dinner parties, on trips, and going to a friend’s house that doesn’t know I have celiac disease.

6. I make mistakes. I sometimes get lazy and it has come back to bite me in the you know what. Sometimes at certain restaurants that I trust I forget to tell the server that I am gluten-free and dairy-free . While most of the time I am fine, there have been times when other ingredients that are not gluten-free end up on my dish. This is not only annoying for me it is annoying for the server and those dining with me because they have to re-make my food
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7. I need support. It is easy to feel like the odd man out when you are gluten-free and dairy-free. I occasionally get comments like “oh my gosh what do you eat” or “don’t you just want to cheat.” But overall my friends and family know that I am gluten-free and they are very supportive. My husband is extremely supportive we don’t have any gluten in our house. On Monday nights we rotate houses for dinner with some of our friends and it is amazing to see how friends say “gluten-free really isn’t that bad.” When I was diagnosed I felt like such a weirdo but now my friends will call and say “I am making dinner and here is the menu what can’t you have” or “what do I need to avoid for this recipe.”  People don’t realize just how happy this makes me.

What have you learned on your gluten-free journey? What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed?


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Filed under Diagnosis, Nutrition, Travel

Honey Acres, Inc. Dark Chocolate and More

Recently Tiara from Honey Acres, Inc. reached out to me to try their chocolate line.  She shared with me that they are made with 100% Dark Chocolate and Raw Honey.  They are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, and no added sugar.  Being dairy free as well as gluten free can be hard sometimes because very few chocolates don’t incorporate milk into their recipe.

When the chocolate’s arrived they were also accompanied by other honey products I did not know even existed and some honey straws.

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The first thing I did was try out the Cinnamon creme by sauteing some local pecans from Front Porch Pickings and then adding to a yummy King Arthur Flour banana bread mix.  It was so yummy and a great recipe for the holidays.

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I then tried the chocolates which are delicious!  The dark chocolate taste is not too over powering and I just loved the creamy centers.  The dark chocolate mint was my favorite and the dark chocolate cocoa was my second favorite.

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Some other things I plan to do with these yummy honey products:

  • Put some in my morning smoothie to naturally sweeten it up
  • Add it to my morning hot tea
  • Use it on pancakes like this suggested recipe

Currently their products are not available in the Jacksonville area but to see changes and updates to locations view their store locator.  I hope they come soon because I am going to be craving these chocolates!

Do you cook with honey?  What are some of your favorite recipes?

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Filed under Product Reviews, Recipes

Schar Gluten-Free Artisan 10 Grains and Seeds Bread

Whenever people ask me “how does gluten-free bread taste?” my usual response is “it’s ok, it doesn’t have a long shelf life, it needs to be refrigerated, it needs to be toasted and it is usually very small with large holes in the middle and tastes somewhat dry and it crumbles as I eat it.” Well no more!  Schar’s Gluten Free Artisan 10 Grains and Seeds Bread has changed the game completely.  gluten free jacksonville schar gluten free bread

For decades Schar has been dedicated to the celiac and gluten sensitive communities providing a safe and flavorful line of gluten free products including: bread, cookies, crackers, pizza, pasta and frozen meals.

Schar’s Gluten Free Artisan 10 Grains and Seeds unique sourdough recipe is made with ancient and whole grains including : rice flour, quinoa seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, millet flour, buckwheat flour, quinoa flour, amaranth flour and chia seeds and comes packaged at room temperature; there is no need for refrigeration, freezing or toasting.  Schar’s Gluten Free Artisan 10 Grains and Seeds Bread is also high in fiber.

gluten free jacksonville schar gluten free breadThe package can easily get you through the week with 2 people having sandwiches or breakfast toast.  The bread is chewy and delicious with a hint of sweetness.

gluten free jacksonville schar gluten free breadWe enjoyed ours with a turkey sandwich and with my husbands famous toast, guacamole egg breakfast (paired with sauteed spinach and Canadian Bacon).

gluten free jacksonville schar gluten free breadgluten free jacksonville schar gluten free breadI love this bread so much it is definitely a bread game changer.  Where can you get it you ask:  as of the posting of this blog they are available at Native Sun Natural Foods Market, Winn Dixie, Walmart, The Commissary and The Fresh Market. Click here for a full list of locations as they get updated. 

Also click here to visit their website for a coupon to give their Gluten Free 10 Grains and Seeds Loaf- the newest member of the Artisan Baker family.

Follow them on Facebook and instagram @ScharGlutenFree.

Have you tried them yet?  What are your thoughts?

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Filed under Nutrition, Product Reviews

Front Porch Pickings – Veggie Delivery Service

About 3 years ago I subscribed to a veggie home delivery program called Front Porch Pickings.  Every two weeks a box of vegetables grown within Florida is delivered directly to my doorstep for only $26 a delivery.  I love vegetables and am not picky at all.  Even my husband enjoys the veggie creations I come up with.  My goal every two weeks is to use everything in the box even if I have no idea what it is.  I have grown to love turnips and kohlrabi, vegetables I never would have purchased on my own at the supermarket.  I even became hooked on my eggplant parmesan recipe because I had no idea what to do with the gorgeous eggplants I got in my delivery box.

What I really love is they send you what you will be receiving the Sunday before they deliver so you can make changes and take out items you don’t like.  For instance sometimes there an abundance of salad bunches in the box and my husband usually purchases tons of spinach for our salads so I may substitute for more of one thing or add on something different that may be available.  In addition to vegetables you can add in local coffee, bread, soaps, and more.

Because everything is from Florida the vegetables usually arrive ripe and full of nutrients.  Another nice thing is if I run out of something that is especially delicious I know it is going to be available at the local farmers market or grocery store so I can go and get more.  I feel like I am on top of whatever is in season based on what is in my box.  Here are a few of my finds from my local deliveries:

Oyster Mushrooms, sweet potatoes, green beans, eggplant, peaches, tomatoes, muscadine grapes and sweet potato greens.

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Here are a few of the meals and sides I have made with items from my Front Porch Picking bin:

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Locally grown black eyed peas with fresh sauted green peppers

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Locally grown green peppers and mushrooms in a chicken stir fry

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Locally grown arugula, peppers and cucumbers in a yummy salad

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Locally grown roasted zucchini

Do you subscribe to a local veggie delivery service ? What is your favorite vegetable?

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Filed under Nutrition, Product Reviews, Recipes

Gluten Free Delights

Recently, Kristy Luschen the owner of Gluten Free Delights Florida reached out to me about trying some of her gluten-free desserts.  She recently started her gluten-free dessert company and wants to get the word out to those following a gluten-free diet as well as restaurants who are looking for a gluten-free option at their restaurant.

gluten free jacksonville gluten free delights Kristy brought me a strawberry cream cake, chocolate cake with salted caramel frosting, and a cheesecake topped with dark chocolate.  They sounded (and looked) delicious! Since her desserts also have dairy (I am dairy free too) I had to rely on my go-to taste tester: my husband!

gluten free jacksonville gluten free delights Kristy went gluten-free a while back when she thought she may have had gluten-sensitivity or Celiac Disease.  During that time she experimented with different gluten-free desserts and other recipes. While her kitchen is not designated gluten-free she makes every effort to clean, make sure all gluten-containing ingredients are out of sight and avoid cross contamination.

gluten free jacksonville gluten free delights Chocolate salted caramel

My husband found this one tasty- the icing had a salty taste which really balanced out the chocolate cake.  The cake could be a little bit more moist (this is always a challenge with gluten-free cakes) or just pair with a glass of milk or add a bit more icing 🙂 He loved the flavor of the icing.

gluten free jacksonville gluten free delightsStrawberry Cream Cake
This was my husband’s favorite so far and overall.  He said it was SO GOOD. My husband stated that it reminded him of the strawberry cake that they have at French Pantry that is so delicious.  It has a nice fruity creamy strawberry taste and has real strawberry chunks.  My husband said it tasted really fresh.

Chocolate cheesecake

While my husband is not typically a cheesecake fan he said the cheesecake and graham cracker flavors tasted amazing together. I know as far as gluten-free options go it is usually quite hard to find a good graham cracker crust. It was so tasty it may not even need the chocolate part or maybe a little less.

I highly recommend that you try out Gluten Free Delights. Visit her website and place an order. It is always nice to support local people trying to do good things in our community. And no matter what diet you are on you always need to allow a splurge every now and then. For more information visit her Facebook page: Gluten Free Delights on Facebook

What are your favorite desserts? So you normally order gluten-free dessert if it is available? Who has the best gluten-free dessert?

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Filed under Indulging, Product Reviews

Foo Dog Curry Traders a Gluten-Free Facility

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Since June 1, 2017 I have been dreaming of eating at Foo Dog Curry Traders located in Riverside. What is a Food Dog you ask? According to a quick google search: ” Chinese guardian lions or Imperial guardian lions that are a common representation of the lion in imperial China.” Once I got over the interesting name I quickly learned that this is a dedicated gluten-free restaurant.

Foo Dog’s Philosophy “Let’s abandon trying to retrofit classic European and American recipes to please a more health conscience patron as well as all-consuming food lovers. Let’s look to the cultures that have mastered tasty vegetarian and gluten free diets for centuries. Southeast Asian and Indian cuisine are the perfect inspirations to create beautiful food that is delicious, and healthy. Let’s apply that tradition to fit a wide array of dietary preferences. All the people can eat great food together.” I just love this!!!

The want to give our community an eatery that is delicious and meets a diverse array of dietary restrictions. All of their food is naturally gluten free and begins its life vegan. Beyond that, the choices are yours to make. They want to provide a clean, affordable, diverse, and delicious food with a conscience.

The owner of Foo Dog is also the owner of 13 Gypsies around the corner. Their culinary team is experienced and passionate. They hail from different walks of life with a broad range of interests and backgrounds. Professional Cooking, Catering, Music, Art, and Management… but they all share a love of food. But seriously, who doesn’t love food?

I visited in Early August with much anticipation. It is an order at the counter restaurant with very reasonable prices and quick service. I thought they would be slammed it being 7pm on a Friday. However, we got there during a rare lull which gave us plenty of time to chat with two very friendly staff members and ask all sorts of questions. My first question of course: Are you really a dedicated gluten-free facility? And they were like yep! Is everything really made fresh in house? Again yep! They were very patient as my husband and I tried to decide what we wanted to get and of course we had to share everything. We decided on an appetizer, a rice dish and a noodle dish. Food Dog Curry Traders also has a variety of assorted sodas so we got two which came highly recommended one tasted like hot of the grill pancakes and the other was a version of basic cola.

food dog curry traders gluten free jacksonville

Ban Mi Spring Rolls with Pork

We started off with the Ban Mi Spring Rolls with pork. These were so fresh. I just love spring rolls that taste fresh and are not fried. This was such a great introduction to the enormous flavors we were about to experience. It came with a side of vegan mayonnaise which I quickly mixed with their chili garlic sauce that was amazing!

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Chick Pea Spinach Masala with Jasmine Rice

Next was the Chick Pea Spinach Masala with Jasmine Rice. The flavors were just amazing. I had done a little research from other food reviews and this came highly recommended and it was well worth the recommendation. It has a little bit of spice but nothing that should scare you off. The portion sizes are just right not too large but you definitely leave feeling fulfilled. They serve them in environmentally friendly boxes that you could easily take home.

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Chicken Laksa with Rice Noodles

Lastly was the Chicken Laksa with Rice Noodles. This had a more curry flavor and was a tad bit sweet. I loved how different it was from the Masala and it went so great with a little bit of the chili garlic sauce.

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Pancakes and Kola Drinks!

These are our sodas! They were so sweet but it went nicely with our dishes which we added a little spice to so it was a nice offset.  The White Gourd Drink seriously tasted like pancakes you have to try it!

I had a great experience, felt great after wards (well maybe a little hopped up on sugar) and even though it is about 30 minutes from where I live I am going to find a way to visit once a week- I love it that much!

food dog curry traders gluten free jacksonville


Filed under Dining

Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan

gluten free jacksonville eggplant parmesanSo about this time of year each year I get an eggplant in my Front Porch Pickings Veggie Bin. I have tried all sorts of recipes- eggplant dip, grilled eggplant, broiled eggplant but nothing really did it for me until I tried making eggplant parmesan. I just love the crispy outside and the thick and meat-like texture of the inside. I also like anything drizzled/smothered in tomato sauce. I always add some sort of meat to it sometimes baked chicken and often times just some ground turkey breast. I put it over spaghetti or sometimes some spiralized zucchini.

The recipe I am sharing today is used with Gillian’s Gluten-free breadcrumbs I have also used 4C Gluten Free Bread crumbs and Ground Ian’s Italian Style Croutons. I have to say the ground (in my Magic Bullet) Ian’s Italian Style Croutons are my all time favorite. However, the Gillian’s sticks a little bit better.

1 eggplant
1 cup of Gluten Free Bread Crumbs
1 egg
2-3 dashes of oregano, basil or other italian seasonings
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese (I am dairy free so I typically forgo the cheese and it is still quite yummy)
1 tbsp olive oil or cooking spray


-Preheat oven to 375
-Grease a baking pan with olive oil or cooking spray
-Get out two bowls – in one put the egg beaten, in the other put the breadcrumbs with parmesan and italian seasoning
-Slice the eggplant into about 1/2 inch round sections
-Dip the eggplant slice in egg then into the breadcrumb mixture continue until all round sections have been coated and put on the pan
– Spray coat the eggplant and add any additional Italian seasoning you prefer
– Cook for 10 minutes per side for a total of 20 minutes
– Let cool 2-3 minutes

To finish:
Pair with your favorite pasta sauce, gluten-free noodles and the meat of your choice (or you can go with no meat)

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Anything you would do differently? What is your favorite gluten-free Italian dish?

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