Category Archives: lists

May is Celiac Awareness Month

gluten free jacksonville may is celiac awareness monthIt is amazing how far Celiac Disease Awareness has come in the almost 10 years since I was diagnosed.  There are a few things I am happy about and a few things I would LOVE to see change as we try to raise awareness of Celiac Disease.

For those of you new to the Celiac world- according to The University of Chicago Medicine Celiac Disease Center, Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive process of the small intestine. When a person who has celiac disease consumes gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, the individual’s immune system responds by attacking the small intestine
and inhibiting the absorption of important nutrients into the body. Undiagnosed and untreated, celiac disease can lead to the development of other autoimmune disorders, as well as osteoporosis, infertility, neurological conditions and in rare cases, cancer.

Things that make me happy about where we have come with Celiac Awareness:

  1. Every grocery store has some type of gluten free offering beyond just Whole Foods and specialty stores.
    gluten free jacksonville may is celiac awareness month gluten free jacksonville may is celiac awareness month
  2. Restaurants are beginning to educate their staff better to avoid cross contamination.
  3. Friends and family care and actually want to learn what “gluten-free” means- sometimes even taking steps to avoid cross contamination and make you a meal.
  4. We are seeing more and more restaurants that are dedicated gluten-free (no worries about cross contamination!!)
  5. Sooo many recipes online!!!  I have found the joy of cooking through this diagnosis.gluten free jacksonville may is celiac awareness month
  6. Travel has gotten so much easier.  I have enjoyed trips on Cruises to the Caribbean, Ireland and Italy that were amazing and I didn’t go hungry once!gluten free jacksonville may is celiac awareness month

Things I would LOVE to see changed about Celiac Awareness:

  1. The question: is this a serious allergy when I say I am “gluten-free” and “living with Celiac Disease.”  I dream of a day when I see “gluten-free” on the menu and I don’t have to say a word afterwards.  I hate to say it but french fries fried in the same oil as breaded chicken fingers should not be labeled gluten-free.
  2.   Stop making fun of the gluten-free diet.  Yes there is a large percent of the population who use gluten-free as a diet tactic but there is an even larger group of people- approximately 3 million- that have to follow this diet to stay alive.
    gluten free jacksonville may is celiac awareness month
  3.  Incorporate a laws- similar to what these countries have done– to protect people living with Celiac Disease.
  4. Stop using gluten-free labeling as a marketing tactic.  There are laws in place but there is no one enforcing these laws.
  5. Provide better subsidies for those of us living with Celiac Disease.  Gluten-free goods are very expensive. When I went gluten-free my grocery bill per week was $50 more expensive and continues to be that way.  Thank goodness I live near a Trader Joes!
  6. Educate more primary care physicians on the signs and symptoms of Celiac Disease.  When I was diagnosed, almost 10 years ago, my physician was very skeptical when I asked to be tested for Celiac Disease.  I had done a ton of research online and that was the only thing I could find that matched my symptoms. She is one of the top doctors in our area and she thought it was a waste of time.  But she did it and was extremely supportive when the results came back.

What has your experience with Celiac Disease been?

Resources:

  1. University of Chicago Medicine – Celiac Disease Center
  2. Celiac Disease Foundation
  3. Beyond Celiac
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NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens Gluten-Free Training

gluten free jacksonville nfca great kitchens gluten free training
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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Good-Bye 2013, Hello Gluten-Free 2014

Thank you for a great 2013, I am so excited about 2014.  More new restaurants, more new gluten-free foods and the new gluten-free labeling standards starting in August 2014.

As we enter 2014 I thought I would share some of the greatest hits of 2014. Some are oldies some are goodies.

Sweet Theory Baking Company

Sweet Theory Baking Company

Restaurants that get it, restaurants that don't

Restaurants that get it, restaurants that don’t

 

publix gluten free section jacksonville, FL

Publix: Where Gluten-Free Shopping is a Pleasure

gluten free j william culinary

Product Review: J. William Culinary Prepared Meals

 

gluten free french fries epik burger

Epik Burger: Worth the Splurge

While it is nice to look back every once in a while, it is time to charge forward to 2014.  Here is to a year filled with healthy and nutritious foods.  What are you looking forward to in 2014?

 

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My End of September Wish List

gluten free jacksonville jacksonville magazine food lover's guide 2013
A few weeks ago I received the September version of the Jacksonville Magazine Food Lover’s Guide. While flipping through I noticed that in addition to mentioning the best restaurants in Jacksonville, they have a little section on restaurants that have vegetarian options. gluten free jacksonville jacksonville magazine food lover's guide 2013 eat your veggies

Could Jacksonville Magazine also promote restaurants that offer gluten-free options on their menu? Could we as a city, do more to promote restaurants who are doing a great job of accommodating gluten-free diets?  There are many out there and many already listed in the magazine that could use some love. I think even Folio Weekly could help spread the word about gluten-free restaurants… Here are a few of my recent wishes:

MY WISHES:

1. Can we do something to highlight the gluten-free restaurants in Jacksonville in the next issue of Jacksonville Magazine’s Food Lover’s Guide?

2. Could we add a GF to the Guide to the Guide legend in the Jacksonville Magazine’s Food Lover’s Guide.gluten free jacksonville jacksonville magazine food lover's guide 2013 guide to the guide

3. Could Folio Weekly add “Best Gluten Free Restaurant” (or best gluten-free blog- haha) to their Folio Weekly Best of Jax voting ballot?

What are some of your wishes?

P.S.  Looking for something fun to do this weekend?  Check out The Wedding Crashers Party, hosted by JacksonvilleScene.com and benefiting the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America Saturday September 28th at 8:00pm.

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Question and Answer: Gluten-Free Near the Hyatt Downtown

Question: I happened upon your blog when looking for GF restaurants in Jacksonville, where I will be for a week the end of the month. I will be attending a conference for work at the Hyatt Regency downtown. Can you offer any suggestions close to the Hyatt as I will not have a car? But other suggestions for dinner would also be welcomed or anything else I shouldn’t pass up!

Answer: While there are not many options too close to the Hyatt there are some that are a either a long walk or quick cab ride. You may want to contact the hotel ahead of time to give them a heads up about your gluten-free needs, they are pretty good at accommodating a gluten-free diet.  The Hyatt is located in Downtown Jacksonville right on the St. Johns River.  It is conveniently located close to charming neighborhoods such as San Marco, 5 points and Riverside/Avondale all either a long walk or short cab ride away.  Here are some of my recommendations:

Downtown:
Indochine (walking distance)- thai food,  great for lunch or dinner
Cafe Nola inside MOCA (walking distance)- great for lunch or dinner, check their website they are not open every night
Koja Sushi at the Landing (walking distance)- open for lunch or dinner.  No gluten-free soy sauce but sushi is pretty good.
Chart House (cab or long walk)- good place for dinner, mostly seafood, they have a gluten-free menu
Olio Market (walking distance) – good lunch spot
Pho A Noodle Bar (long walk)-  gluten free options available, good lunch spot

gluten free roast beef sub european street jacksonville, fl

European Street Roast Beef Sandwich on Gluten-Free Bun

San Marco:
bb’s (cab or long walk)-  gluten free menu, good for lunch, dinner or brunch on weekends
European Street (cab) – gluten free bread for sandwiches from Cookie Momsters, gluten free beer and good happy hour 
Taverna (cab) – Chef has a gluten- allergy, they are very knowledgeable.  Good for dinner, somewhat fancy
Pulp (cab) – smoothie shop
Hightide Burrito (cab)-  fast food mexican locally owned and fresh

Avondale: 
Mellow Mushroom (coming soon) (cab): gluten free pizza and beer!
The Brick (cab): gluten free menu

Riverside:
Sweet Theory Bakery (cab)- they close every night at 6 but it is worth it, there is nothing like it in Jacksonville. They are gluten-free and dairy free.

Chocolate Chip Cookie sandwich with vanilla frosting in the middle sweet theory baking co

Chocolate Chip Cookie sandwich with vanilla frosting in the middle from Sweet Theory Baking Co.

5 points:
Larry’s Giant Subs (cab)-  is a local chain sandwich shop with a few locations and gluten free sub rolls from Cookie Momsters and wraps
Sushi Cafe (cab)-  pretty good sushi, no gluten-free soy sauce but delicious none-the-less
Black Sheep (cab)- best roof top in town, farm to table concept
Grassroots Natural Market (cab)- plenty of gluten-free snacks, prepared foods, smoothies, etc. Convenient to center of 5 points.

Food Trucks:
Corner Taco (location varies)- make their own corn tortillas and use cornmeal for fried foods. Blog post

tempeh and carnitas tacos from Corner Taco

Tempeh and Carnitas tacos from Corner Taco

Special events:
Riverside Arts Market– Almost every Saturday
The Cummer- Free Tuesdays and First Saturday of the Month
Art Walk- First Wednesday of the Month
Museum of Contemporary Art Free Saturday and Sunday for Bank of America Card Holders

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Gluten-free French Fries

gluten free french fries epik burger

OK, I think I am obsessed with where to find gluten-free french fries.  Sometimes I get sick of eating the same things when dining out.  One can only have so many salads, baked potatoes or plain grilled meat.  I like to eat healthy, but there comes a time where everyone needs to splurge.  (NOTE: Splurge does not mean cheat on the gluten-free diet.  I NEVER eat gluten on purpose.  In almost every instance there is something else I can find that satisfies whatever craving I am having). French fries are my favorite splurge.  You would think since potatoes and oil are gluten-free this would be easy.  But for those of us with celiac disease, we need to make sure that the oil does not come in contact with anything breaded.  This includes: crab cakes, onion rings*, chicken fingers, fried fish, fried chicken, or anything else dipped in flour then thrown in hot oil.

So, because I am a little obsessed, I have discovered where I can get fries that are fried in a dedicated gluten-free fryer and completely gluten-free.

Chick- fil- a– they only fry french fries in their oil.  I probably have their fries the most and have never had a problem.  I like to get them with their grilled chicken nuggets and a diet coke.  They probably think I am really weird 🙂

*Epik Burger- I love their fries. They are one of the best gluten-free places to get a burger in Jacksonville. In addition to gluten-free fries they have gluten free: buns, dessert, beer and onion rings. Yum!

Five Guys– I have had great experiences here.  One time they cleaned the entire kitchen when I ordered a burger no bun.  They have dedicated fryers for their fries.  Sometimes they are a little too salty, I need to remember to ask them for not too much salt.  These locations are harder to find so I don’t eat here too much.

McDonalds– This is my go-to fry place when I have cravings on Sundays, when Chick-Fil-A is closed.

Outback Steakhouse Jax Beach– they have a dedicated gluten free fryer.  I have not tried them yet, but I can’t wait!  I called  around to other locations in Jacksonville and this seems to be the only Outback with a dedicated gluten-free fryer.

Ovinte– this new wine bar has the best truffle fries.  They top them with grated parmesan.  They are crispy and small.  So good.  I like to throw in a little bocce ball and a glass of sauvignon blanc too while I am there.

Time Out Sports Grill on Beach Boulevard– While I have not had french fries here, my friend Mark Basch, Gluten Free Glutton, claims they have a dedicated fryer for gluten-free fries and wings.

Did I miss a place? Where do you go to get gluten-free french fries?

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New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year!

I really hope everyone is enjoying special time with family and friends.  I spent the rest of 2012 up in Chicago with my boyfriend’s family.  It is freezing up here but I have also gotten to see some snow so it is worth it.  The food here is great, and I love being in a big city where almost every restaurant we go to is educated on gluten-free.

(If you are ever in the area, Meli’s is one of my favorite breakfast places.)

While 2012 was full of challenges, I also have so much to be thankful for.  As I look forward to 2013 I can’t help but be reminded I still have so much more to learn and I still need to take steps to reduce the amount of times I get sick.  Here are a few of my New Year’s resolutions and wishes:

  1. I hope to be more prepared.  This means relying less on pre-packaged foods and making more of my own foods from scratch.  This also means less meals out and more meals at home.
  2. I wish that more restaurants knew what “gluten-free” means.  Yes, I can have potatoes, no I can’t have soy sauce, no I can’t have fries that have been fried with battered onion rings.
  3. I will have more willpower over sweets.  Perhaps I can incorporate sweets a little every day so I am not so deprived I go and spend $30 at Cookie Momsters.
  4. I want to exercise more.  There are some days I have been glutened, I am tired, grouchy, my stomach doesn’t feel good, but after exercise I feel so much better.

What are your gluten-free New Year’s resolutions?

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