Category Archives: Product Reviews

Native Sun Jacksonville

gluten free jacksonville native sunThis past month, I had the opportunity to meet with Native Sun Natural Foods Market to discuss their celiac safe bakery, gluten-free product vetting, and more. As background, Native Sun opened its first grocery store in Jacksonville over twenty years ago. Since then, it has grown to three neighborhood stores and is known around town for its all organic produce selection, health minded and organic deli, delicious juice and smoothie bar, and the best celiac friendly bakery in town. They are truly Jacksonville’s neighborhood grocer!

Gluten Free Jacksonville Native Sun

Whether you were recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease or are trying to prepare a gluten free meal for a friend or family member, I highly recommend making a trip to Native Sun. After meeting with their team, I really believe that they are the number one resource in the JAX community for products and tips on how to live a gluten-free lifestyle. Ginny Nehring, who is Native Sun’s Manager of Research and Education, is just one of the many resources available to you when shopping at Native Sun. Ever since her middle son was diagnosed with Celiac Disease twenty years ago, Ginny has been researching gluten-free products and spearheading Celiac Disease community education around Jacksonville. I admire Ginny for her dedication to our community and the 1:1 time she spends with newly diagnosed gluten-free families. One of the services she offers at Native Sun is hosting tours to those newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Tours can include education on Native Sun’s color coded in-store labeling, recommending some of her favorite products, and can provide much needed comfort to those who are trying to navigate a new lifestyle and diet. Ginny shared with me that people often hear, “Celiac Disease” and fear that they can never eat their favorite foods again like pizza, pasta, or cake. When she walks them through the aisles and shows them donuts, fritters, muffins, pizza crust, pasta and breads that are celiac safe, it can open a whole new world of enjoyable options!

Native Sun’s new product vetting process is also impressive. As the Manager of Research and Education, Ginny contacts every single gluten-free product manufacturer and researches their cross-contamination practices. As a result, Native Sun will not label a product gluten-free unless it has passed a rigorous process that ensures it is Celiac safe. Ginny shared that some products will be labeled by the manufacturer as “gluten-free” but after researching cross contamination practices, Native Sun will discover that they do not meet their gluten-free labeling standards.

It was Ginny’s idea to create the dedicated gluten-free bakery at Native Sun. She had perfected many of the recipes in her home for her son and wanted to share them with the community. It’s important to mention that when I say, “gluten-free bakery,” I mean 100% gluten free Celiac safe bakery—it’s dedicated gluten-free. Their bakery items include my favorite oatmeal cream pie made with purity protocol oatmeal, carrot cake, banana bread, and even a pecan pie.

In addition to what we put in our body, I had the opportunity to talk to Ginny about the cosmetics and skincare products that we often use. Ginny shared with me that we need to be concerned about the cosmetics we put on our skin and in our hair. One of her favorite products is a skincare line called Derma E—all items are gluten free. After our meeting, I tried one of the Derma-E face serums and absolutely loved it! I had to get used to the sunscreen type consistency, but it has done wonders for smoothing out my skin! Ginny assured me that not all their products share that consistency!

Gluten Free Jacksonville Native SunSome of the items Ginny shared with me that I really want to highlight are these new Udi’s bread you do not need to toast! This is a game changer!

Lastly, I compiled some of my favorite gluten-free items that are available at Native Sun! If you are looking to set up a meeting with Ginny you can contact the store by phone and request a store tour or stop by and complete a Product Knowledge Enhancement Tour form and she will contact you, usually within 24 hours to set up a time to meet with you at your convenience.

Italian night! This gluten-free pasta tastes just like the real thing and the recipe for Manicotti is already on the box! The pasta is made in Italy. I also suggest pairing the cheesy bites. You might even trick your gluten eating friends.

Gluten Free Jacksonville Native SunMexican is the easiest to eat gluten-free and you can feel safe doing it at Native Sun even this margarita mix is safe!

Have you been to Native Sun? Have you ever taken one of Ginny’s tours?

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Filed under Nutrition, Product Reviews, Shopping, Sponsors

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.

honey acres gluten free jacksonville

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.

cinnamon creme honey acres gluten free jacksonvilleking arthur flour pumpkin bread honey acres gluten free jacksonvilleking arthur flour pumpkin bread honey acres gluten free jacksonville

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.

dark chocolate honey acres gluten free jacksonvilledark chocolate honey acres gluten free jacksonville

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.

gluten free jacksonville front porch pickings gluten free jacksonville front porch pickings gluten free jacksonville front porch pickings gluten free jacksonville front porch pickings gluten free jacksonville front porch pickings

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

gluten free jacksonville front porch pickings

Locally grown black eyed peas with fresh sauted green peppers

gluten free jacksonville front porch pickings

Locally grown green peppers and mushrooms in a chicken stir fry

gluten free jacksonville front porch pickings

Locally grown arugula, peppers and cucumbers in a yummy salad

gluten free jacksonville front porch pickings

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

Gluten-Free Frontier Bites

Recently I was asked to try Frontier Bites.  They are a new product coming to Publix from Boulder Colorado.  I didn’t know much about them but I am a fan of a healthy snack packed with protein so I thought I would give them a shot.  gluten free jacksonville frontier bites

gluten free jacksonville frontier bites

I thought it would be fun to do a little taste test with my Monday night dinner crew.  I tried to make it fun and offered it as a healthy dessert after dinner (look at how seriously everyone is taking this).

gluten free jacksonville frontier bites

While each of the bites differed they were all packed into nice little squares making it SO much easier than eating seeds or granola; you don’t spill crumbs all over yourself.  All of the ingredients could be pronounced and there are less than 10 ingredients in each bag.  When you live with Celiac Disease you are always on the look out for hidden gluten and these bites make it easy to see that this is a safe product.  In addition to being gluten-free these bites are vegan, soy free and non GMO-certified.

They also have options without nuts.  The Fruit and Seed variety is nut free. This worked out great because one of my friends does not eat oily nuts.

We tried:

gluten free jacksonville frontier bites

Fruit and Seed Frontier Bites

gluten free jacksonville frontier bites

Jen is showing off the cashew cranberry orange.

gluten free jacksonville frontier bites

Almond Blueberry Lemon- my favorite!

gluten free jacksonville frontier bites

Pecan, Cherry and Cinnamon – quite a surprise, flavor packed

gluten free jacksonville frontier bites

Macadamia, pineapple and coconut

Overall  the group thought:
“this would be great on ice cream”
“this would be great for beach volleyball, on a hike or after a workout the bag is resealable and they are easy to take with you and eat anywhere”
“I have an allergy to oily nuts, nice to see options in the form of seeds and a variety of nuts”
“These little squares are easy to eat”

The Crowd Rankings

Blueberry Lemon was ranked #1 for flavor by our mini 6 person taste test.

Pecan Cherry Cinnamon came in a close second.  This combination was a surprise to the group. Sweet yet hearty at the same time.  This one also had the highest fat and calorie content of all the flavors.

The most anticipated flavor was the Pineapple Macadamia Coconut.  It missed the mark for us; you could barely taste the coconut flavor.

Lowest calorie and lowest fat content was the Fruit and Seed.  We really loved this one too.  It was not as chewy as some of the others ones and you can eat them with your hand and not feel sticky afterwards.

All in all these are nice little snacks for someone who is on the go and needs a quick burst of protein and nourishment.  It is important to note that my taste testers are not gluten-free; they enjoyed the gluten-free treat and did not complain once -pretty impressive.  While delicious they are not too filling which could be dangerous!  Also, they run about $5ish dollars in Publix around the Jacksonville area.

Have you had these before?  What did you think?

gluten free jacksonville frontier bites

Me with my personal favorite!

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Amazing Foods For Health Pancakes and Cinnamon Raisin Cookies

gluten free jacksonville amazing foods pancakes and cookies

On a lazy Sunday I decided to do some gluten-free baking. Recently Amazing Foods For Health sent me gluten-free pancakes and gluten-free oatmeal raisin cookie mix. While I try not to eat too many carbs and processed foods, after running the Gate River Run I had a few extra calories to spare and my husband absolutely loves oatmeal raisin cookies so I had a willing assistant to help with the taste testing.
gluten free jacksonville amazing foods pancakes

Gluten Free Pancakes

I started the morning with some pancakes. The ingredients were easy and things that I almost always have on hand.  Nothing is more annoying than weird ingredients that I have to make a special trip to the grocery store for. gluten free jacksonville amazing foods pancakes

We are dairy-free as well we we used So Delicious almond milk instead of regular milk and added in some extra flax seed for added fiber.gluten free jacksonville so delicous almond milk

The pancakes batter came out thicker than I usually make so I added in some water .gluten free jacksonville amazing foods pancakes

gluten free jacksonville amazing foods pancakes

I followed the instructions on the box and they still came out pretty thick but they cooked really nicely and were delicious! I paired it with some turkey bacon and a cup of coffee and it was a nice little breakfast!

gluten free jacksonville amazing foods pancakes

Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

While I had the mixing bowl out I figured I would go ahead and make the cookies too! Again the ingredients were easy and the only real pre-planning was to leave the butter out to soften.

gluten free jacksonville amazing foods oatmeal raisin cookies

I used Earth Balance instead of regular butter. gluten free jacksonville earth balance
gluten free jacksonville amazing foods oatmeal raisin cookies

While the box stated that it made 30 cookies this batch only made 18 cookies and take note they don’t get much bigger than the size they are when you put on the cookie sheet.  Also they came out a little dry, I may substitute coconut oil instead of the Earth Balance next time so they come out a little more chewy.  But they were delicious and I can honestly say that half of the plate below was gone within 10 minutes!
gluten free jacksonville amazing foods oatmeal raisin cookies

All in all they were both delicious.  I don’t think you would even notice that they are gluten-free.  They cooked easy and tasted so yummy. Looks like the only place to purchase these items in Jacksonville is the Walmart Supercenter on San Pablo Road S.

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