Living with Celiac disease, or any gluten allergy, can get frustrating. It is often tricky to know what to eat and eating the same things over and over can get boring. Much of my frustration stems from the fact not all things that say they are gluten-free are actually safe for people with Celiac and severe gluten allergies. When I feel bored, frustrated and overwhelmed I know I can always rely on fresh vegetables. We are so lucky to live in a climate and region where you can get fresh produce that is grown locally and tastes delicious.
I have really tried to make an increased effort to eat produce that is in season and take advantage of the freshness and lower cost.
Last Saturday I checked out the Beaches Green Market in Neptune Beach for the first time. I have driven by many times but have never had a chance to stop in.
The Beaches Green Market is from 2-5pm every Saturday at Jarboe Park. It was a super hot day but the place was bustling. In addition to produce and unique prepared foods there were a few vendors serving fresh iced tea, lemonade and popsicles to keep everyone cool.
When I walked in there was quite a line around the produce tents. I got to the market around 2:15 and I could easily see how many of the items could sell out. There was quite a demand for fresh produce so I recommend getting there relatively early.
I decided to walk around and see what my options were and wait until close to the time I wanted to leave to purchase my produce, since it was so warm. The first place I noticed was the Ugly Cupcake Muffinry. They had a few signs that they had gluten-free muffins, they were over-sized and looked delicious.
Around the corner I saw Short and Sweet. They did not have any gluten-free cupcakes available but they can take special orders. The gentleman manning the booth did let me know that there is some cross contamination so these were not safe for those with Celiac. They are made using all natural fresh ingredients. They had quite a selection of unique flavors. In addition to their booth they also have a store front off of University that is shaped like a giant cupcake!
My favorite discovery of the day was finding all natural, gluten-free, Celiac safe grits from Fullwood Farms out of South Carolina. I have had the hardest time finding grits that are safe for me to eat. Most grits, which are made of corn, are ground on the same equipment as wheat and flour. I was happy to know that they only mill corn products. It is not cheap, but for $7 I was able to get a big bag that should last me quite a while.
I then headed over to the booth featuring produce from Alvarez Farms and loaded up on some goodies:
Here I am with my loot! In addition to the okra, grits, tomatoes and jalapenos I also got eggs, a cucumber and a butternut squash. The whole thing came out to $19.50. If you take out the specialty items grits ($7) and eggs ($4) all of that produce was only 8.50. Not too bad and I am sure much cheaper than in the grocery store!
Have you been to the Beaches Green Market? Who is your favorite vendor?
Remember- share your favorite gluten-free food pictures on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #glutenfreejacksonville!