Tag Archives: mellow mushoom jacksonville beach

GlutenFreeJacksonville.com Helps Out a Local News Channel to Test EZ Gluten Test Strips

Recently Healther Crawford, a reporter for First Coast News, asked me to help identify some area chain restaurants that have gluten-free menus to test the EZ Gluten test strips’ ability to detect gluten in food. EZ Gluten test strips are created by Eliza Technologies. According to their website, these test strips are easy to use and help detect the presence of gluten in foods and beverages.

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We went to three different restaurants- PF Chang’s at the Town Center, Chili’s in Jacksonville Beach and Mellow Mushroom in Jacksonville Beach to test multiple meals for gluten.

I had so much fun,  it was like a progressive dinner with friends you just met.

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Heather and the videographer, Ed, were so fun and I really enjoyed their company.

We ate:

  • Spicy chicken and beef and broccoli at PF Chang’s.
  • Loaded baked potato soup, spicy chicken and sausage soup, margarita chicken with rice and beans and mashed potatoes at Chili’s
  • Bards beer and gluten-free pepperoni pizza at Mellow Mushroom Jacksonville Beach.

The results: the mashed potatoes at Chili’s tested positive for gluten. To the credit of Chili’s, they do have a disclaimer on their gluten-free menu.

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After our testing, we made our way to my kitchen!

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Ed and Heather actually came to my house, tested food in my pantry and took a look inside my fridge.

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My thoughts on the night:

1. Each test takes 20 minutes. I seriously doubt many people will have the patience to wait 20 minutes to eat their food while they are waiting on the test results to come in. Their website states 10 minutes, but each kit we used took 20 minutes from start to finish.

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2. The kits are quite expensive.  You can purchase 2 for $25 or 5 for $60 off the website.

3. There may be some testing errors. This was the first time any of us have ever used the kits and we only sampled one part of the food. The kit allows for a small sample, so to test multiple parts of the food would take the use of multiple kits. For the purposes of the report it was not practical to use multiple kits to test more than one part of the food.  However, every effort was made to include as much of the food in the small testing spoon that came with the kit.

4. If you are using these test strips in a public place, you will get some interesting looks.  The kit has a few stages you have to complete that involves mixing and letting things sit for certain amounts of time.

5. There still may trace amounts of gluten that the kit doesn’t account for. It tests as low as 10ppm.

Read the Full Story Here

Have you ever used these kits before?  What are your thoughts?

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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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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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Eating Gluten Free at Mellow Mushroom, Jacksonville Beach

Mellow Mushroon in Jacksonville Beach does not have a gluten free menu, but I ate gluten free at their restaurant.  It was my sister in law’s birthday celebration with our family and they wanted to eat someplace fun, affordable and delicious.  I am not going to deny, I love Mellow Mushroom’s pizza and the atmosphere is very fun and casual.  It is especially great for my nephews 2 and 4 because of the cool seating inside their groovy bus in the dining room.  Ok, I know you are dying to know how I ate gluten free.  I brought my own pizza!

I called around 4:30 to ask for permission and was told the manager would call me back with an answer.  I didn’t hear back and thought, what the heck, I am going to bring my own Glutino Duo Cheese and Spinach and Feta cheese personal pizzas with my fingers crossed they would cook them in their oven for me.  As soon as I walked in with the pizzas in my hand our waitress happily took the pizzas from me and said they would come out with the rest of the table’s meals.  They were more than accomodating and glad to help me out.  I was so glad I took the risk and brought them with me.

I am fine with eating before going to a restaurant that is not gluten friendly, but the last time we ate out for pizza I was craving it big time and it was turture.  When the pizza came out at Mellow Mushroom Jax Beach, it was the best tasting frozen gluten free pizza I have ever had.  I don’t know if it is their ovens or that I was hungry but it was so yummy; I didn’t feel like I was missing out on pizza night with my family.   When we left I was informed that they are planning to have a gluten free menu in the near future.  I am excited to hear more about it and hopefully try out the new menu soon.

*please note, Mellow Mushroom added a gluten-free pizza to their menu a few months after this post. An updated post will be coming soon!

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