Category Archives: Sponsors

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

Epik Burger: Burgers of Epic Proportions

gluten free jacksonville epik burgerI recently met with Korey Konopasek, owner and Chef of the very gluten-free friendly restaurant Epik Burger on Atlantic Between Kernan and Hodges. While I have been to Epik Burger many times I had yet to meet the mastermind behind the deliciousness. Epik Burger has been open for 4 years and this restaurant is his dream. Before becoming a restaurant owner Korey was Director of Operations for Food Service at the University of North Florida.  While at UNF he came across many students with various allergies and knew when he finally opened a restaurant of his own it would need to accommodate a variety of food allergies.  He also wanted a place his mom could enjoy- she is living with Celiac Disease.

While talking with Korey he shared that he wanted a place people could come on a regular basis not just on the occasion when they were wanting to splurge on a greasy burger. Epik Burger is also known for their vegan and vegetarian options. While they are not a completely gluten-free establishment, they take extraordinary steps to avoid cross contamination.  There is nothing put in the fryers that have gluten in them and they have a separate toaster for the gluten-free buns.  They also use separate utensils for gluten-free preparations.

We enjoyed the Vegan BBQ Burger with a side of onion rings and the Epicurean Burger with a side of their truffle fries.  Their menu features a variety of flavors that go beyond just a lettuce and tomato topping.  Some of the interesting burgers are: PB and Burger, Vietnamese Burger, Fruit and Cheese Burger and the Buffalo Fried Burger.  Here is a link to their full menu. 

Korey and his wife recently expanded their restaurant offerings and opened Empire City Gastropub nearby.  

gluten free jacksonville epik burger

Meet Korey- Owner and Chef of Epik Burger as well as their new restaurant Empire City Gastropub.

gluten free jacksonville epik burger

I had the Vegan BBQ Burger with a gluten-free bun which includes BBQ sauce, vegan cheddar, cole slaw and an onion ring.  I got it with a side of onion rings because I don’t know anywhere else I can get gluten-free onion rings.  They make them with a gluten-free batter and gluten-free beer.  They make all of their onion rings this way.  The burger was amazing.  Loved the chunks of chick peas in the vegan burger and the onion ring gave it a nice crunch.  The onion rings have a nice cross between a beer batter and tempura so they are nice and crunchy.

gluten free jacksonville epik burger

We also tried the Epicurean Burger which is one of their award winning burgers with a side of their truffle fries. It includes Maytag Bleu Cheese-Truffle Mousse, Pancetta, Mushrooms,
Blackberry Jam, Balsamic Mayo, Green Onions and Parmesan Cheese on a gluten-free bun. The flavors are so unique and go so well together.  This is an awesome burger!

gluten free jacksonville epik burger

It was totally worth the splurge!  See you soon Epik Burger!

Make sure to not only check out Epik Burger but stop by Empire City Gastropub.  They have gluten-free items at Empire City- things like Bi Bim Bap- a tasty korean dish, burgers, shrimp fried rice, salads, and so much more.  See their menu here.

Have you been to either?  What is your favorite?

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Filed under Dining, Indulging, Sponsors

Sponsor Post: Wine and Chocolate 5K

I like wine
gluten free jacksonville gluten free wine

I like to run

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And now I get to combine the two at the Wine and Chocolate 5K in San Marco.

wine17-266x200gluten free jacksonville wine and chocolate 5k

Join 1st Place Sports and Tropical Smoothie Cafe on Saturday April 22nd at 4:30pm in San Marco Square for the Wine and Chocolate 5K. This will be my very first Wine and Chocolate Run and you can’t beat getting a souvenir wine glass and wine and chocolate post race. I am very excited!

It is rare that there is an event that time of day, it should be beautiful and it takes you through the beautiful San Marco Neighborhoods. I haven’t run since the Gate River Run so I am excited for a much shorter run.  Check out their Facebook event page for more info.

This blog is sponsored by 1st Place Sports and Tropical Smoothie Cafe. You should try an Acai Berry Boost TM with Acai, pomegranate, banana, blueberries & strawberries.

tropical smoothie gluten free jacksonville

 

Are you running?

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Filed under Events, exercising, Indulging, Sponsors

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

Update: As of June 30th Fresh Jax has announced that they will be closing their store. However, you can still find all of their delicious spices and food at the Riverside Arts Market each Saturday.

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Filed under Dining, exercising, Nutrition, Shopping, Sponsors

Sponsor Post: Run 13.1 and 5K

gluten free jacksonville run13point1

Hi Friends- There is another super fun race coming up  the Run 13.1 and 5K put on by 1st Place Sports and sponsored by Tropical Smoothie Cafe– what a team!   I am still recovering from the Gate River Run which was a perfect race this year.  Great temperature, no rain and everyone was in high spirits. I saw the craziest food on the course this year.  In addition to the hot dogs, donuts and fruit I saw people passing out jello shots, rice crispy treats, full bottles of beer and so much more it was a hoot.  I was so happy that I was able to be seeded so I didn’t have to get passed by too many people however, during the crowded areas I did get elbowed a few times by runners passing by.

One of the greatest challenges of running is planning what are you going to eat on race day.  I am great at the carb loading but I am always nervous about what I eat and drink on race morning.  I try to make sure I eat enough calories to get me through the run and that I pre-hydrate without having to run with a full bladder.  I usually eat gluten-free bread with some Trader Joes Better’ N Peanut Butter and a banana. During the week when I am training but not racing I love a good smoothie for breakfast.  I could have a banana, strawberry, spinach, PB2 and coconut water smoothie every day practically.   Why PB2 in my smoothie vs Trader Joe’s Better’N Peanut Butter you ask?  PB2 is a powder and much easier to add to a smoothie than taking out a spoon and trying to scoop into liquid.

Are you into smoothies?  Check out Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s awesome smoothie concoctions (YUM):

  • Chia Banana Boost with Strawberries (Coconut, almonds, dates, cinnamon, whole grain oats, chia seeds & roasted banana with strawberry).
  • Chia Banana Boost with Peanut Butter (Coconut, almonds, dates, cinnamon, whole grain oats, chia seeds & roasted banana with peanut butter).
  • Acai Berry Boost TM (Acai, pomegranate, banana, blueberries & strawberries).

Don’t miss out on this fun race.  The race details are as follows:

  • Sunday, April 2, 2017, 7 am
  • The Jacksonville Landing
  • All participants receive moisture wicking, technical shirt and a sling pack goodie bag!
  • Large finisher medals for participants
  • Post-race celebration with music, beer and food

Follow along on Facebook.

gluten free jacksonville run13point1 1st place sports tropical smoothie

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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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Sponsor Post: Naturally Smart Now Sold In (more) Stores

gluten free jacksonville naturally smart frozen dessert gluten free jacksonville naturally smart frozen dessert

Our Sponsor, Naturally Smart Frozen Dessert, is continuing to sweeten up the Jacksonville frozen dessert market.  Their founder, Mark Patterson, has really been pounding the pavement.  I see him everywhere.  Usually I run into him at the local coffee shop early in the morning where he is preparing to continue to spread the word about Naturally Smart.  Some places you may have seen Naturally Smart:

1.  At one of the many tastings they have participated in…

gluten free jacksonville naturally smart frozen dessert gluten free jacksonville naturally smart frozen dessert gluten free jacksonville naturally smart frozen dessert gluten free jacksonville naturally smart frozen dessert

2. Around town in the Naturally-Smart.com van…

gluten free jacksonville naturally smart frozen dessert gluten free jacksonville naturally smart frozen dessert gluten free jacksonville naturally smart frozen dessert

3. At Fresh Market, Winn Dixie, Grassroots Market and Whole Foods….

gluten free jacksonville naturally smart frozen dessert gluten free jacksonville naturally smart frozen dessert gluten free jacksonville naturally smart frozen dessert
gluten free jacksonville naturally smart frozen dessert

4. On the news…

Naturally Smart a healthy alternative to ice cream | Gatorsports.com

The “SMART” Dessert | One Spark

Naturally Smart frozen dessert | News – Home – News4Jax

Smart People Eat Dessert

Jacksonville Business Journal

Jacksonville Magazine

We are very excited for Naturally Smart Frozen Dessert.  It is nice to see a local “passion” succeed.  Have you tried it?  What do you think?  Check out our previous sponsor post on Naturally Smart.

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