Tag Archives: gluten free dining

Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan

gluten free jacksonville eggplant parmesanSo about this time of year each year I get an eggplant in my Front Porch Pickings Veggie Bin. I have tried all sorts of recipes- eggplant dip, grilled eggplant, broiled eggplant but nothing really did it for me until I tried making eggplant parmesan. I just love the crispy outside and the thick and meat-like texture of the inside. I also like anything drizzled/smothered in tomato sauce. I always add some sort of meat to it sometimes baked chicken and often times just some ground turkey breast. I put it over spaghetti or sometimes some spiralized zucchini.

The recipe I am sharing today is used with Gillian’s Gluten-free breadcrumbs I have also used 4C Gluten Free Bread crumbs and Ground Ian’s Italian Style Croutons. I have to say the ground (in my Magic Bullet) Ian’s Italian Style Croutons are my all time favorite. However, the Gillian’s sticks a little bit better.

Ingredients
1 eggplant
1 cup of Gluten Free Bread Crumbs
1 egg
2-3 dashes of oregano, basil or other italian seasonings
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese (I am dairy free so I typically forgo the cheese and it is still quite yummy)
1 tbsp olive oil or cooking spray

Instructions

-Preheat oven to 375
-Grease a baking pan with olive oil or cooking spray
-Get out two bowls – in one put the egg beaten, in the other put the breadcrumbs with parmesan and italian seasoning
-Slice the eggplant into about 1/2 inch round sections
-Dip the eggplant slice in egg then into the breadcrumb mixture continue until all round sections have been coated and put on the pan
– Spray coat the eggplant and add any additional Italian seasoning you prefer
– Cook for 10 minutes per side for a total of 20 minutes
– Let cool 2-3 minutes

To finish:
Pair with your favorite pasta sauce, gluten-free noodles and the meat of your choice (or you can go with no meat)

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Anything you would do differently? What is your favorite gluten-free Italian dish?

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V (Gluten-Free) Pizza in San Marco

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco
Join me as we welcome the newest gluten-free pizza joint, V Pizza (not V’s Pizza or Five Pizza just V Pizza). I have been driving by this place constantly wondering what was going on. Not long after seeing the sign “Opening Soon” I got a message from an old high school friend who is now one of the owners, Rudy Theale, wanting me to talk to him and his staff about living gluten-free. I was very impressed about his commitment to doing gluten-free right. When asked to come and take a tour and do a tasting I thought, why not!

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco

With a focus on fresh ingredients V Pizza is taking the gluten-free pizza business seriously. They taste tested multiple gluten free pizza dough products before deciding on their final crust. They were looking for something that had a great taste but would be easy to keep the customer with serious allergies (celiac like me) safe. The pizza dough comes in a metal tin so that the pizza can be cooked in along with the other pizzas without touching the same surface as gluten-containing pizzas. In addition to pizzas, their menu will feature gluten-free desserts and a baked chicken dish. There is a $1-$2 additional charge for gluten-free pizzas.

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco

When I went for the tasting a few weeks ago I was quickly introduced to the kitchen prep team. One of the team members was the chef who has the most wonderful Italian accent. He was really proud of his product and was eager to show me the separate gluten-free area where the pizzas were prepared. They use separate utensils (including the pizza cutter) from the gluten-containing pizzas. Almost all of their ingredients and toppings are gluten-free, including their meatballs. On most menus meatballs are off limits because bread crumbs are one of secret ingredients. At V Pizza, their recipe does not call for bread crumbs. He immediately made a meatball pizza with mozzarella, oregano and a little bit of extra virgin olive oil. Because I am also dairy-free I had some helpers on hand from Liz Morgan PR taste test for me. They were impressed by how great it tasted and couldn’t believe it was gluten-free.

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza

Next the chef made me a meatball pizza, no cheese and lots of veggies. It was AMAZING! I wanted to eat the whole thing right there but had to play it cool and box it up to take home (don’t tell anyone but I had a slice in the car on the ride home :)).

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza

They are taking multiple steps to avoid cross contamination: educating their staff, separating gluten-containing items in the prep area behind a glass enclosure, using separate utensils and making the gluten-containing dough in a separate room limiting its ability to contaminate the gluten-free pizzas.

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza

I think they will do well. The location is convenient, the space is in an old paint store and they have a cool bar in the back called The Side Car where they are mixing up fresh cocktails and I heard they make a mean Lemon-cello. I can’t wait to go back.
gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza
Address: 1406 Hendricks Ave. Jacksonville (San Marco), FL 32207 904.527.1511

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NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens Gluten-Free Training

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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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Gluten-Free Moxie Kitchen+ Cocktails

gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails st. johns town centerI am so excited.  I love when new restaurants come to Jacksonville, especially when they use fresh ingredients, have a great menu and are opened by great chefs (who happen to be really down to earth nice people). Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails, a Chef Tom Grey creation, is now open for business.

Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails is in the Town Center between Nordstrom Rack and Seasons 52.  They feature fun and funky american food with international (and a little bit of southern) influence.  Their menu is quite diverse and items range from craft cocktails, cheeses, burgers, seafood and decadent desserts. A majority of the food is made from scratch and/or sourced locally.  The vibe of the restaurant is a fusion of industrial, rustic and prohibition. gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails salt and pepper shakers

My boyfriend and I went during the soft opening and had an amazing experience.  Even with the restaurant being so new, staff were knowledgeable, friendly and attentive.  The menu makes it really hard to decide what you want to eat.

gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails menu

We started off with cocktails: a Lorem Ipsum (fancy margarita) for me and a B.E. for my boyfriend. Each of our drinks had their own ice cube shape: the Lorem Ipsum- a tall slender chunk of ice, the B.E. a large square ice cube.gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails craft cocktails Lorem Ipsumgluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails craft cocktails b.e.

We then moved on to two appetizers (both gluten free): we had the octopus appetizer and a plate of 2 cured meats.  Both were amazing.  The octopus appetizer came with chorizo, olive crisp, corn nuts and black garlic.  I am not a huge fan of octopus, but the way the server described that it was prepared to reduce the chewiness we had to try. Plus it was just so unique we were intrigued. The flavors of the octopus dish left me wishing I didn’t have to share.

gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails octopus

gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails cured meats

Unfortunately, our main course was so tantalizing I immediately dug in and forgot to take a picture.  But trust me when I say the food is amazing.  My boyfriend had the Filet Mignon with the chimichuri sauce and I had the rainbow trout.  We ordered the collards and ham and the brussel sprouts as our sides. I loved these sides (I love vegetables). The brussel sprouts were actually kinda sweet.  The rainbow trout was gluten-free and dairy-free and came on top of mashed sunchoke (a vegetable similar to an artichoke).  They had to make some variations to the meal so it is very important to let your server know of your allergy.

Gluten-Free notes (updated 12/3/2014):
– They have a dedicated gluten-free menu
– They do not have a dedicated gluten-free fryer
– Corn nuts, popcorn bar snacks are gluten-free
– Salads, Short Ribs and BBQ Pork Steak and the burger can be done gluten-free

For dessert, my boyfriend was a devil and had the coconut meringue cake that was enormous.  DEFINITELY NOT GLUTEN-FREE 🙂

We were so lucky, Chef Tom was in the restaurant and came around to all of the tables to say hello and see how things were.  I expected him to say hi and rush off to the kitchen in a rush but he seemed so calm and stayed to chat a bit. It was very apparent that this is his dream.  It is so refreshing to know that someone as successful as he is can stay so grounded and friendly.

gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails chef tomAll in all the restaurant has a wonderful layout and even has the flexibility to host meetings, special events, etc.  They have outdoor seating downstairs and upstairs and two bars.  The upstairs bar has a great lounge feel while the downstairs lounge accommodates guests waiting for a table.

One of my favorite features is their water filtration system which provides still and sparkling drinking water.  I crave their sparkling water it is delicious. My other favorite feature is the upstairs artwork by my favorite artist- Dennis Campay.  gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails dennis campayThis is a great place for a date, special occasion, a holiday dinner or when friends are in from out of town.  There are a variety of prices so you could dine on a budget or splurge. 

moxie kitchen and cocktails logo

Have you been?  What was your experience like?
Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails on Urbanspoon

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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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Travel: Surdyk’s Flights Minnesota Airport

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During a recent trip to South Dakota we connected through Minneapolis St Paul International Airport. We had a bit of a layover coming home and thought we would stop some place for a bite to eat. I checked my new app Gate Guru to do a little research on the best restaurant in the Airport. Syrdyk’s Flights came up as number one.

surdyk's flights gluten free jacksonville

In addition to having a high rating, it was super close to our departure gate. I loved this place from the start. They have a few seats inside and seats in the walkway where envious onlookers drool.

surdyk's flights gluten free jacksonville wine flight

Surdyk’s is the perfect travel snack/meal stop. In addition to a great location, they also have plugs everywhere making recharging your phone, laptop, iPad, etc. very easy and convenient. After taking a quick glance at the menu I was so excited to see GF next to many items, they even had gluten-free crackers. We started with a flight of interesting whites and a salumi plate with gluten free crackers.
surdyk's flights gluten free jacksonville wine flight and meat plate

The salumi plate had various Italian meats along with olives, almonds, pecans and apricots. After our appetizer my boyfriend got a panini (gluten-containing) and I had the smoked salmon salad with Mediterranean beets. It was delicious and very healthy!!!
gluten free jacksonville smoked salmon salad surdyk's flights minnesota

If you are gluten-free and need a place to stop between flights for a snack or meal I recommend this place. In addition to it being a sit down restaurant, they also have items that you can grab and go (including mini bottles of wine). It is located in the main terminal between C and G gates. If you need help finding it, they have information desks everywhere with very helpful staff.

Bonus info: check out Gate G, they have iPads everywhere. You can browse the web or order food or drinks. There must have been over 200 iPads.

minnesota airport ipads

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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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