Category Archives: lists

Summer Memories From my Phone


Summer is quickly coming to an end.  It makes me sad, but thought I would share some of my summer memories from my phone…

1.  My pepperoni and sausage gluten-free dairy-free pizza I found at Native Sun

2. Wonderful outdoor dinner with great friends

3. Cliffs of Moher from my trip to Ireland this summer

4. Brunch at Publican in Chicago this summer

5.  French Meadow gluten-free dairy-free brownies

6.  Corner Taco  food truck gluten-free tacos!

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April Smart Phone Pics


I am constantly taking photos of food on my phone, I thought i’d share a few of my favorites from this past month…   Have you tried any of these?

1. Gluten-free Creme Brulee from bb’s in San Marco
2. Tuna Tartare with sliced cucumbers instead of crustini at bbs’s
3. Amontillado Hamburger and French Fries (no bun) at Poe’s Tavern, Atlantic Beach
4. New gluten-free menu at PF Changs
5. Gluten-free goodies at World Market
6. Salad from the Sweet Tomatoes salad bar

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What is Love?

Behind everyone that has celiac disease is someone that loves them and wants them to be happy and healthy.  I am lucky that I have a great support system.  However, my boyfriend J Ry goes above and beyond sometimes sacrificing his own taste buds for my benefit.

What does he do you ask?

– Brings me gluten-free/dairy-free Sweet Pete’s caramels
– Buys me awesome treats during holidays from Cookie Momsters
– Asks the server not to put bread on the table at the beginning of a meal
– Asks the server if there is a gluten-free menu if I am late to dinner or while I have stepped away
– Makes me gluten-free/dairy-free pizza (yes even including the soy cheese on top) and eating it with me
– Shares gluten-free/dairy-free pizza with me from Mellow Mushroom
– Understands what “gluten” is and what “casein” is- sometimes even calling me from the grocery store to under stand what I can and can’t have
– Never complains that he has to hear my story over and over again when we are in new company and people ask me about celiac disease or when I have to give my usual statement about what I can and can’t have to restaurants
– Explains my needs to his family in Chicago when I go to visit- to the extent that they have cooked an entire meal gluten-free just because of me

Love is when people do things for you without you having to ask them.  I have never asked him to do any of these things, but he does them anyway.  I love you J Ry!


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Is the Gluten-Free Diet Just a Fad?

According to Judith Rodriguez, Ph.D., R.D., Chair and Professor of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at the Brooks College of Health it is.  I attended the annual Us Group Luncheon at UNF today and the keynote speaker was Dr. Rodriguez, she is also the author of The Diet Selector.


The theme of her talk was proper diet and proportions and how fad diets don’t work unless they:

  • are long term changes
  • incorporate exercise
  • don’t rely on one food item (for example: grapefruit diet, cabbage soup diet, etc.)
  • are realistic (for example- you don’t have to purchase special meal plans or shakes)
  • don’t promise extreme changes (for example: doesn’t promise to help you loose 10 pounds in a week)
  • don’t rely on pills (I don’t think vitamins count)

When I asked about gluten-free as a diet choice for those without celiac or gluten intolerance she stated (not word for word):

The gluten-free diet fad has been around for a while.  We are going to start seeing dairy-free as the new fad diet to replace the gluten-free diet.  The only real benefit of gluten-free (for those without gluten-sensitivities) is it causes people to reduce their carbohydrate intake, and we eat too many carbohydrates.

I am not so sure I agree with her that the gluten-free fad diet is over.  New gluten-free items are constantly popping up at my grocery store.  I am sure the food companies making millions on their gluten-free food items would tell us differently as well.. However, as someone who is also dairy-free I am excited that we may start seeing an even further increase in dairy-free items.


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Let the Voting Begin: Best of 2011

Rather than always telling you what I think- I want to hear what you think about gluten-free resources in Jacksonville. Send me an email by January 6th with your vote for the following:

Best gluten-free chain restaurant
Best gluten-free locally owned restaurant
Best gluten-free pizza
Best gluten-free grocery store
Best gluten-free bakery
Best gluten-free beer
Worst attempt at gluten-free dining

Note: only one entry per person and these must be found locally in and around Jacksonville. 

Email your entry to jgornto_6(at) by January 6th.  Vote now to let your voice be heard and help us encourage gluten-free dining in our great city!

Happy New Year Everyone!

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What I am Thankful For

As we begin the holiday season, I find I must reflect on what I am thankful for as a person living with Celiac Disease.  Thanksgiving marks my 2 year anniversary of being diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  I have learned so much and have so much to be thankful for.  Jacksonville, FL has been making enormous strides during this time.  Restaurants are becoming more aware and making accommodations and new restaurants and bakeries are popping up all over the scene.  As with any list I post, this is not all-inclusive and is based on my own opinions.  I would love to know what you are most thankful for as a gluten-free diner.

1.  Cookie Momsters: This comes first only because their Chocolate Silk Pie is waiting to be devoured after the turkey this afternoon.  This is my favorite gluten-free bakery.  They are gluten-free and casein-free.  When I need to splurge (and what girl doesn’t) this is my favorite place to retreat for a Twinkie, cookie sandwich, red-velvet cupcake or a cinnamon bun.

2. Veggie Bin: For $25 I receive locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables delivered to my house every other Thursday. I LOVE IT!  So far I have been challenged with vegetables I have never cooked with before such as Kale, Bok Choy, and Eggplant to name a few.  I feel so good because this is forcing me to get creative with my cooking and is probably safer for me than many store-bought pre-made meals.  My crock pot has never been so busy.

3. People that give: A few months ago I sent out a request for donations for a basket I was putting together for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and had a great response!  Special thanks to the generosity of PF Changs, Sweet Pete’s, Native Sun, The Veggie Bin, and My Mom.

4. Local restaurants who are doing it right: Bistro Aix, Chew, Orsay, Tacolu, Royal Palm Village Wine and Tapas


5. Chain restaurants who are doing it right: Bonefish Grill, PF Changs and Mellow Mushroom


6. Jason’s Deli– GLUTEN FREE BREAD, need I say more.

7.  My Mom: She has done research online, saved me a spot on her grill, made me special side dishes and cared more than one person could care.  She cares to the point she feels bad if she eats something decadent in front of me.   She makes Thanksgiving special for me and always makes sure I am well fed and not glutenated.

8. YOU: I would not be where I am today without the things I have learned along the way.  Your comments, your support (on this blog and on our Facebook page) have been tremendous.  I have learned so much and hope to continue to learn.  I am no expert, I just play one on the internet. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! What are you thankful for?

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Celiac Support Group

On May 21st, I tried out my first Celiac Support Group.  I have never been to a support group of any kind and was a little curious about how I would feel about it.  Thanks to Mark Basch’s blog Gluten-free Glutton, attendance has grown.  There were about 9 people there with experiences that ranged from someone newly diagnosed, diagnosed many years ago, diagnosed with Celiac but showing no symptoms to those diagnosed in the last year or so.  It was a nice dynamic and best of all, there were tons of gluten-free foods for all of us to try and take home- FREE!  While I may act like a know it all sometimes, I learned some new things at the group and thought I would share:

1.  Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg has gluten-free ball park favorites and in Dunedin (not too far from St. Pete) there is a completely gluten-free restaurant called Serendipity. For more on this visit Gluten-free Glutton’s post.

2. There is a social media site for people who are gluten-free called Gluten-Free Faces: A Global Gluten Free Social Network.

3. There is a yahoo group called Gluten-Free in Florida.

4. There is a great facebook page called Celiac Scoop.

5.  A lot of people make their own bread in bread makers.  The favorites of the group were Pamela’s and Bobs Red Mill.

6. Smoothie King has listed items as gluten-free on their menu in stores.

7. There is currently some research being done in Australia for a vaccine.

The group meets the third Saturday of the Month at Sunrise Assisted Living of Jacksonville (4870 Belfort Road; Jacksonville, FL 32256) from 11am-12pm.  The next meeting is Saturday June 18th.  For more information contact Kristin Green 904-332-0774 or Nicole Wolfson 904-994-9906.

Come join us!

Update As of September 2012: The group now meets the 3rd Tuesday of the month at Sunrise Assisted Living (same as before). Email to RSVP to each event.


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Restaurants That Get it, Restaurants That Don’t

In honor of National Celiac Awareness Day which was September 13, I thought I would share my opinion of Jacksonville Restaurants that Get it and Don’t Get it when it comes to accommodating the diets of those of us with celiac disease.  This is completely my opinion based on my dining experiences.  The restaurants that Don’t Get it, are not bad restaurants, actually almost all of them are some of my favorite places to eat back before I knew I had celiac disease.  I am sad that I can’t get a full belly at these places anymore without getting sick.   My hopes are that these establishments will hopefully become aware of the needs of those of us with annoying, I mean, special, diets.

Restaurants that do a great job at accommodating those with gluten intolerance and celiac disease ranked in order favorite, 2nd favorite, etc.:

Restaurants that “GET IT”:

  1. Bonefish GrillBonefish Grill is my all time favorite.   They have a special gluten-free menu that mimics their regular menu but has GF next to those that are Gluten Free.  At the Bonefish Grill in Mandarin, they also offer gluten-free bread which is fantastic and goes so well with their herb olive oil blend (just make sure you get a separate dish from those who have the regular bread).  I have heard that the bang-bang shrimp sauce is Gluten-Free and if you get the shrimp grilled with the sauce it is safe.  I have yet to try it though.
  2. Taverna- Taverna is located in San Marco near Square One and the San Marco Theater.  It is locally owned and opened about a year ago in 2009.  I happened upon this place not long after my diagnosis and was surprised that they could easily accommodate a gluten-free diet.  One of the head chefs has either celiac disease or gluten intolerance and was well aware of what I could eat.  Most of their dishes are made with fresh ingredients and include meats and veges (except for their pasta dishes of course).  They were so knowledgable that they were able to discourage a dessert that is gluten-free, however, the pan was dusted with flour.  So nice to go to a restaurant that knows how to accommodate a gluten-free diet.  They also have the coolest wine glasses in Jacksonville, in my opinion.

    Taverna Interior

  3. PF Changs–  One of the biggest no no’s of a gluten-free diet, other than pasta and breads is soy sauce.  PF Changs, not only has their gluten-free menu been added to every menu in the restaurant on the back, but they also have gluten-free soy sauce as well.  PF Changs also has gluten-free desserts and a recent new dessert, a Triple Chocolate Mousse Mini Dessert. I had it this week and it was AMAZING!  It includes three sinful layers of Chocolate Ganache, Milk Chocolate Mousse and Flourless Chocolate Cake.
  4. Outback steakhouse– Much like Bonefish Grill (they are owned by the same people) Outback Steakhouse has a special menu that looks similar to the main menu with items listed as gluten-free with all of the proper substitutions.  Another plus, the Chocolate Thunder from Down Under is gluten-free!
  5. Tommy’s Brick Oven Pizza and Mellow Mushroom TIED!  It is hard to pick between these two, because where Tommy’s has been providing gluten-free pizza for a while as well as appetizers, beer, salads and cookies; Mellow Mushroom has just recently hopped on the bandwagon.  A lot of my friends like to hang out at Mellow Mushroom so the addition of gluten-free pizza and gluten-free beer in a fun environment helps me feel normal while watching football, socializing and etc.

Now for those that need some work:

Those that “Don’t Get It”

  1. Bahama Breeze -As much as I love this restaurant and as much fish and vegetables they have on the menu it is impossible to get fish or chicken here that is gluten-free because most of their stuff is already pre mixed and premade.

    Bahama Breeze Lunch Item- no gluten free


  2. Mama Fu’s recently the organization had a promo for items on their gluten-free menu yet the Jacksonville store (located in Mandarin) does not have a gluten-free menu.  They said it is coming soon, but I am still waiting.
  3. III Forks I love the ambiance of III Forks, however, I cannot have their steak.  It is marinated in broth/aus jus, which means it contains gluten.
  4. European Street– while they have done a great job at getting gluten-free beers and gluten-free bread; nothing that goes on the gluten-free bread is certified gluten-free and their vegan/gluten free options are very expensive and very small.  The Vegan/Gluten Free burrito was terrible and $11. *Since my original post they have begun using new gluten-free wraps that are actually quite tasty. They are trying.
  5. Burrito Gallery– I love this place.  It has done wonders for downtown and the owners are very involved in reviving art downtown, however the cooking staff is not educated enough about needs of those of us with celiac disease.

All of these are debatable and could change at any moment.  Please, restaurants, if I am wrong or if things have changed I would love to learn more.   I would recommend every restaurant on this list for people without Celiac disease or gluten intolerance, but for those with, the bottom five should be explored with caution.


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My Wish List

I try not to be too unrealistic with my wishes and dreams in life.  However I realize some of these are never gonna happen.  Hey, a girl can dream…

Here is my top ten Gluten Free Wish List

1.  That Bold City Brewery had gluten free beer
2.  The McDonalds happy meals were gluten free
3.  That Hooter’s had gluten free wings
4.  That Brewster’s ice cream didn’t cross contaminate when mixing their different flavors
5.  That Dairy Queen could make a gluten free Blizzard that was not cross contaminated on their mixer
6.  That someone (Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s) delivered gluten free pizza
7.  That someone would have a gluten free Beerfest, Food Fight, Gala, Festival, etc.
8.  That I would get skinny from going gluten free
9.  That I could eat anything with that gooey, chewy consistency of a good piece of bread like at French Pantry
10.  That I had never eaten a brownie, cookie, cake, pizza, whoppers candy or drank a beer to know what I am missing (their subtitutes are never as good as the real thing)


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5 things I have learned in 5 months

1.  I am happier! My celiac disease is now somewhat under control.  My moodiness has decreased tremendously; I am happier and able to juggle a lot more work.  Today my boss made a comment that something has changed for the better with me and I know it is because I have my celiac disease somewhat under control.  I feel like I am more loving to my boyfriend, family and friends.  Jennifer the grouch isn’t around as much anymore and the small bouts of depression are gone.

2.  I no longer need a nap after exercising.  I love to exercise, play sports and be outside; since I have adjusted my eating I have more energy.  For the first time in 3 years, I feel great, physically, about running in the Gate River Run this weekend.  I can’t wait.  I no longer have to take naps after exercising for 30 minutes or longer and when I play volleyball I feel so much stronger and more powerful.

3.  I cannot eat out as much as I used to.  Through a process of suffering, I am slowly illiminating where I can eat out in Jacksonville.  Even when I talk to a waiter or chef there is still no guarantee that the food will be gluten free.  Cross contamination is everywhere and not everyone is educated about the disease and the ingredients that are harmful.

4.  My shopping bill has doubled.  There is no way to sugar coat it, gluten free products are more expensive.  I also feel that like “all natural” or “organic”, “gluten free” is becoming the new HIP term in shopping that makes foods more expensive.  As much as I love Glutino products and feel so safe with them, their products cost almost 3 times as much as the gluten- containing comparison brands and I feel like I get half the amount of food. 

5.  There is so much I CAN eat. Amen for: olives, cheese, steak, milk, okra, rice noodles, potatoes, corn on the cob, sausage, tomatoes, avocados, black beans, pickles, vodka, wine, peanuts, broccoli, spinach, apples, pears, mushrooms, eggs, yogurt, chicken, snickers bars, diet coke, sprite, port, grapes, corn chex, green beans as well as all of the gluten free options!

Wow, keeping this to 5 was hard.  Can’t wait for 6 things I have learned in 6 months


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