Category Archives: Nutrition

Fresh Jax: Gluten Free Goodness

gluten free jacksonville fresh jaxI was recently contacted by Jason at FreshJax to stop by and see their almost one year old store. I have known about FreshJax for a few years now through their strong presence at the Riverside Arts Market and just hadn’t had the time to make it to their store. Prior to opening their store they invited me to a wonderful gluten-free dairy free meal that was delicious.  Fresh Jax is the brain child of one of the sweetest couples you will meet, Jason and Hilary.

As I walked in I was kindly greeted by one of 2 staff working at the counter. I asked for Jason and was asked if I would like a tour while I waited.

gluten free jacksonville fresh jax

gluten free jacksonville fresh jax

gluten free jacksonville fresh jaxAs I approached the cafe counter I could quickly see chili, broccoli soup, donuts, kale wraps, yoga bars, a TON of amazing spices and a nice menu of fresh to order food options. The thing that is so hard to believe is that their entire menu is clean and the ENTIRE STORE IS GMO-FREE, GLUTEN-FREE AND DAIRY-FREE. No joke! Staff are not even allowed to come in with gluten-containing foods.gluten free jacksonville fresh jax

gluten free jacksonville fresh jax

gluten free jacksonville fresh jax

How do they do it?? They use a ton of locally sources fruits and vegetables and use a variety of replacement options such as organic coconut milk and organic maple syrup.  They also have a vast array of spices that they create in house.  A sample of their amazing spices include:

  • Bold Bayou perfect for pasta, potatoes, corn on the cob or as a marinade. It is made from Ancho Peppers so it is not too spicy but has a nice flavor.gluten free jacksonville fresh jax
  • Grill Master: one of their most popular seasonings this time of year as people start firing up their grills. Great on burgers!gluten free jacksonville fresh jax
  • Their signature coconut bacon that tastes just like bacon.  Great to add to on saladsgluten free jacksonville fresh jax
  • Thai Coconut Curry includes real coconut and thai spices
  • Himalayan Sea Saltgluten free jacksonville fresh jax
  • Italian Herb Blendgluten free jacksonville fresh jax
  • A tofu scramble spice that makes tofu taste just like scrambled eggsgluten free jacksonville fresh jax

They also have an entire case full of Kambucha and turmeric drinks. Turmeric is all the rage right now for its ability to decrease inflammation in the body which is very helpful for those of us living with Celiac Disease and other gluten-related illnesses.

They support a ton of local products such as 5 Points Candle Co. – they are organic soybean food grade essential oil with wood wick and a 60 hour burn. They are colorless so you are not breathing artificial coloring as they burn.

I tried their sushi bowl which is made of home made pickled veggies, carrots, ginger, seasoned rice with wasabi and cashew cream, black sesame seeds and guacamole. The flavors of the pickled veggies and the cream and guacamole make you forget that there isn’t ahi tuna in it. It was delicious and so fresh!gluten free jacksonville fresh jax

In addition to the cafe, spices and local products they also have a yoga studio attached. They have thought of everything! They offer 40 classes a month and they pride themselves on providing restorative yoga for every body! It is a beautiful space and you can purchase a class pass or a regular membership. They also host cooking classes and movie nights.gluten free jacksonville fresh jaxgluten free jacksonville fresh jax

They recently started catering office lunches to provide a healthy option during work meetings.  They are now offering boxed lunches for $15 per person that includes a kale wrap, yoga bar, cashew cheese and healthy chips, clean pickle and a pass for a free yoga class!  Here is an example of the yoga wrap they use for their wraps.

gluten free jacksonville fresh jax

I love this place! Not only is it a really nice environment, it is nice to support a business that is owned by passionate people who love what they do and believe and live out the mission of their organization. As I left I tried the chocolate donut with blueberry jelly.

gluten free jacksonville fresh jaxOMG! I was just thinking about how much I miss Dunkin Donuts chocolate donuts and this hit the spot and tasted just like it and yes it is organic, gluten-free and dairy free (I seriously asked 3 or 4 times because I couldn’t believe it).gluten free jacksonville fresh jax

If you are in the area- they are near 2-95 and Gate Parkway- I suggest you stop by.  Not only is it delicious but you are supporting this great couple who are truly following their dream.  gluten free jacksonville fresh jax

Have you been before? what did you think?

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Filed under Dining, exercising, Nutrition, Shopping, Sponsors

Sponsor Post: I Love The Gate River Run

gluten free jacksonville gate river run tropical smoothie cafe
I ran my first Gate River Run put on by First Place Sports 12 years ago; and ever since then I vowed to run it every year. There is just something about getting up early, the rush of a crowd of thousands of people running together. You feel a part of something.  I have never had the feeling quite like the feeling I have running the Gate River Run.  I love running and people watching. Along the route you see people drinking Mimosa’s, drinking beer, handing out hot dogs, handing out orange slices and my all-time favorite people handing out popsicles around mile six. It feels as though the entire community is coming together. The spectators and the runners are all one even though we’re not talking to each other.

While I don’t run as fast as I did when I was 28; each  year I think this is the year that I’m going to beat my 28-year-old self. I’m not running against the person to my left or the person to my right I am running to beat my previous scores and be my best self. One of the greatest things about each race is there are people that come out every year to watch me run. My parents, sometimes my nephews, my brother but always my husband (just his excuse to blast music, make funny signs and crack open a beer before noon)!  My nephew Ryan even joined me for about 100 yards one year it is one of my favorite memories.
gluten free jacksonville gate river run tropical smoothie cafe
I love the carbo loading on Friday and the awesome expo where you pick up your packet.  But nothing compares to the feeling I get when I crank up my radio as I drive over the Matthews Bridge on my way to the race.  Each year I play a fun, loud song that really fires me up. On March 11 I will run my 12th Gate River Run with over 20,000 of my close running friends. I can’t wait!

Check out the view from my last few races:

gluten free jacksonville gate river run tropical smoothie cafe

gluten free jacksonville gate river run tropical smoothie cafe

Details of the Race:

Gate River Run put on by 1st Place Sports: Saturday, March 11, 15k and Florida Times Union 5k for Charity.  For more information on the 1st Place Sports Gate River Run click here.

What I eat:
1. Pasta- CARBO LOADING!!!
2. Smoothies like the Jetty Punch from Tropical Smoothie Cafe.  
Special Gluten-Filled note: If you eat gluten and love flatbreads try out the Cha Cha Sriracha Flatbread at Tropical Smoothie Cafe.  It is made with grilled chicken, mozzarella, shredded carrots, house-made roasted pineapple salsa, cilantro, scallions & caramelized pineapple Sriracha sauce on a toasted flatbread.

What I listen to: I love it- Icona Pop, Safe and Sound- Capital Cities, Fancy- Iggy Azalea, Sugar – Maroon 5.

Where I train: First Coast YMCA

Gate River Run Advice: Nutrition, Training and Preparation

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Filed under exercising, Nutrition, Sponsors, Training

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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Filed under Nutrition, Shopping

Freshfields Farm – EVERYTHING IS GLUTEN-FREE

fresh field farms gluten free jacksonville

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.

fresh field farms gluten free jacksonville

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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Filed under Nutrition, Shopping

The Unhealthy Side of Gluten-free

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More and more people are going gluten-free these days to lose weight that don’t have Celiac disease or any form of gluten-intolerance. Yes, eating gluten-free can help you shed pounds, but so can reducing caloric intake, increasing physical activity and adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. A gluten-free diet can be unsuccessful if you rely too heavily on processed foods or substitute foods like cookies, breads, cakes and pastas. Most gluten-free items are higher in fat, calories and carbs than their gluten-containing friends.

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Glutino Sandwich Cookies. These are delicious and safe for those with Celiac because they are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility. However if you are not gluten-intolerant there may be reason to stick with the original- The Oreo. Glutino Sandwich Cookies are worse for you than their counterpart. Here is the nutrition breakdown:

Portion: 3 cookies
Calories: 190
Total Fat: 9g 14%
Carbohydrates: 27g 9%
Protein: 0g

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Who would have ever thought that Nabisco’s Oreo Cookie could ever be considered better for you than anything 🙂 Here is the Oreo nutrition breakdown:
Serving Size: 3 cookies
Calories: 160
Fat: 7g
Carbs: 24g
Protein: 1g

Oreo has 30 less calories than the Glutino Sandwich cookie, 2g less fat, 3 grams less carbohydrate and even has protein in it. It is not a huge difference, but if you are counting calories and think just because something is gluten-free it is better for you this may be an inaccurate perception.

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Bread is another sneaky culprit. Gluten-containing Arnold Brand 100% Whole Wheat Bread has the following nutritional breakdown:
Serving Size: 1 slice
Calories: 110
Fat: 1g
Carbs: 20g
Protein: 5g

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Udi’s brand bread (found in the freezer section) has the following nutritional content:
Service size 2 slices
Calories per slice: 110 calories
Fat per slice: 3g
Carbs per slice: 18g
Protein per slice: 2.5g

While the nutritional value doesn’t seem to be that different one other factor needs to be taken into consideration- size of the slice. Arnold’s slices are close to double the size of an Udi’s slice.

While not all gluten-free foods are worse than gluten-containing foods it is important to read labels and know what you are eating whether you are gluten-free to lose weight or you have Celiac disease, gluten-intolerance or gluten-sensitivities.

What other gluten-free foods have you found that are worse for you than gluten-containing foods?

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Maintaining a Gluten-Free Home

My boyfriend and I recently moved into a house at the beach.  We had a discussion about how we would handle food in our house.  I have Celiac disease and am dairy free, gluten-free and shellfish-free.  He likes pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs in addition to pretty much anything I cook.  I wasn’t completely stressed about the conversation, however in my mind I was thinking: how would we wash the dishes together?  Would we have to separate out items in the dish washer, would we have separate dish sponges, or would we have to use separate utensils or plates?  Then the thought of friends coming over began to really stress me out.  Having to be strict and educate friends on what to use and what not to touch did not sound fun for me or for them.

We decided to maintain a 100% gluten-free household. My boyfriend was fine with getting his pizza, hot dog or hamburger fix for lunch, when we go out to eat or when we eat separately.  That was music to my ears. The expense of cooking gluten-free for an entire household can be quite costly. However, it is worth it to feel safe in my own home and cooking at home still costs less (most of the time) than dining out.  It really isn’t that hard to make gluten-free meals at home that taste yummy. Most people don’t even realize what I make is gluten-free.  I enjoy finding new recipes and using fresh ingredients.  Cooking is fun for me. And being healthy is important. So far I have had no complaints…

How do you maintain a safe kitchen? Is your kitchen 100% gluten-free? Do you take steps to keep gluten-containing foods and utensils separate from the gluten-free foods and utensils?

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Complaints About a Gluten-Free Diner

I have to share this story with you.  A close friend of mine is a server at a local fine dining establishment.  Recently she waited on a woman who said she had a gluten-allergy.  My friend, who is very educated on gluten-free ingredients, worked with the woman making sure there was no cross contamination, sauces were left off that had gluten, dressings were substituted, spices were gluten-free, etc.  She went way out of her way to make her meal as safe as possible. The entire meal was gluten-free, until dessert, when the woman ordered ice cream with cookies and ate the cookies knowing full well they were not gluten-free.

What are your thoughts on this?

My friend was happy to accommodate her needs, but was confused that she spent so much time going over the menu and took extra steps to make sure this woman’s meal was safe, only to watch her eat cookies at the end of the meal.

Personally, I think this hurts people who really are living their entire lives gluten-free and may cause restaurants not to take gluten-allergies seriously during food prep for others who truly are gluten-free.

What do you think?

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Filed under Dining, Nutrition