Friday, December 23, 2016

Happy Anniversary to me again

Today marks the sixth anniversary of my celiac diagnosis.

That was a day of panic, of course. I had no idea what a gluten-free diet would look like, and it was compounded by the fact that I received this diagnosis as Christmas weekend was beginning.

But a lot has changed in six years. We still have a lot of work to do on education, and it's mind-boggling to me that so many people don't understand the gluten-free diet and still think it's a fad diet.

But we have so many more food choices than we did six years ago, both in grocery stores and restaurants. Just this week, another significant burger chain announced it was offering gluten-free buns when Shake Shack said it now has them.

We don't have any Shake Shacks yet in Jacksonville but it's a growing, popular brand that does have restaurants in Orlando. I'm going to have to try it on my next visit there.

A couple of years ago, I was begging burger joints to start offering gluten-free buns, instead of forcing me to bring my own bun. It's becoming more common.

Unfortunately, we still need to work on getting these places to ensure their french fries are gluten free. I noticed Shake Shack says its fries have gluten free ingredients but it can't assure they are free from contamination. That's also, unfortunately, a common trend.

So that will be my cause for 2017: gluten-free fries. And burritos. I still don't know of any taco place that can offer a gluten-free burrito. I realize it's hard, because gluten-free tortillas almost always crumble in your hands. But I think it's time that somebody comes up with the formula.

I hope this is the year.

Friday, December 9, 2016

A lot of GF stuff at Lucky's, but nothing special

When a new grocery chain arrives in the Jacksonville market, I'm of course curious to see what kind of gluten-free offerings it brings.

So I visited the new Lucky's Market in Neptune Beach today.

My quick take: they do have a lot of gluten-free stuff but if you don't live in the Neptune Beach area, it's not worth a special trip.

Most of the gluten-free stuff is familiar brands that you'll find in other local stores. However, I did notice a couple of things: there seemed to be a lot of gluten-free bake mixes available and there was also a nice choice of Katz gluten-free goodies, including several varieties of pie which I have never seen. Katz products are generally pretty good but I didn't buy any because I'm trying to avoid sweets.

There also was nothing special about the prices. There were some items on sale but this is definitely not a discount store.

So, if you're in the Neptune Beach neighborhood, you may want to check out Lucky's. But don't go out of your way.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Some encouraging gluten-free developments

Just a few notes of things I discovered last week.

First, and at least to me most important, I talked to Jaguars President Mark Lamping on a completely unrelated matter but of course took advantage of the opportunity to talk about gluten-free concessions at EverBank Field.

I told him I was disappointed that the new vendor wasn't offering gluten-free beer this year and he seemed receptive to the idea of offering it in the future. Between that and my previous contact with the vendor, I hope the gluten-free offerings will be better next year. Because of the limited gluten-free options and the Jaguars' performance on the field, I haven't found any reason to go to a game this year, but I'm more optimistic about next year.

Secondly, on a visit to Ruby Tuesday's, I discovered they've now added a gluten-free pasta option to their menu. I didn't try it, but I am pleased to see this chain continuing to expand its gluten-free options.

You may recall several months ago I posted that Ruby Tuesday's offers a gluten-free bun option for burgers, and has some other gluten-free entrees. No, they don't have a dedicated gluten-free cooking space but I still consider this good news.

Finally, Uno Pizzeria & Grill announced it is offering a new gluten-free pizza crust at its restaurants. We don't have Uno's restaurants in Jacksonville but I have written about how disappointed I was when I tried the gluten-free pizza at its restaurant in Kissimmee.

This change tells me that Uno must have realized how bad the previous gluten-free crust was and decided to do something about it. I'm sure I'll get around to revisiting Uno at some point.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Allergy labeling for holiday meals

As we approach the holidays, here's an interesting idea from ConsumerSafety.org to make sure everyone can eat safely at a holiday meal:

Put an allergy label alongside every dish so everyone knows what's in it, and whether they need to avoid it.

ConsumerSafety.org, which provides food safety and other consumer product safety information, has a link to a printable allergen label in this column on the issue:

https://www.consumersafety.org/news/food/whats-really-in-that-fruitcake-food-allergy-safety-during-the-holidays/

The column also has a link to a consumer survey about food safety and recall issues.

The food label is a great idea if you're hosting a holiday meal. Hopefully, if you're visiting someone else, you can convince the host that it's also a good idea. I think it should be easy when the host gets sick of us pestering them for ingredient information before we eat anything.

Friday, October 28, 2016

M Shack has gluten-free buns

I don't know how long this has been going on, but M Shack is now offering gluten-free buns for its hamburgers.

I had talked to one of the owners a few months ago about this and she said it was under consideration, so I was surprised to see it added to the menu. The restaurant, which has four locations, is charging $2 extra for a gluten-free bun.

I visited the Atlantic Beach restaurant to check it out and unfortunately, I was somewhat disappointed. It was a very good tasting burger but the bun, like so many other gluten-free buns, crumbled in my hand.

Also, the French fries are not gluten free. In fact, there is no gluten-free side option to go with your burger.

The M Shack menu does mark burgers and other items that are gluten free with a "GF." Besides burgers and a chicken sandwich, the gluten-free options include shakes.

So anyway, I'm not rushing back to M Shack anytime soon. But it's good to know if you're with a group that wants to go there, you can actually eat a burger.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Burrito Gallery worth a try

Before the storm, I visited the new Burrito Gallery in Jacksonville Beach last week. And since it remains intact and is back in business, I figured it's time to write about it.

I had been to the downtown Burrito Gallery B.C. (before celiac) and liked it, but I seem to remember checking the menu after I went gluten free and not seeing anything we could eat there.

When the new beaches location opened at the corner of Beach and 3rd, I figured it was worth checking again. I didn't see any indications of gluten-free food items on the menu, but I did see a gluten-free beer on the beer list.

As I've said before, it doesn't matter if you drink beer or not, but it's worth checking out gluten-free beer websites to find restaurants that sell the beers. If a restaurant does offer a gluten-free beer, I have to believe the restaurant is at least somewhat gluten-free friendly.

I did see on the menu that tacos are offered with a choice of flour or corn tortillas, so I figured I could give it a try.

The server seemed knowledgeable about gluten-free issues and while she wasn't sure about all of the items, she did help me order a couple of tacos on corn tortillas that seemed to be gluten free. She did point out that the teriyaki taco wouldn't be gluten free because of soy sauce.

So I had two tacos and they were good. They seemed similar to the kind of tacos you would find down the street at TacoLu.

So yes, you can probably eat at Burrito Gallery. You'll want to ask a lot of questions before ordering, but I don't think you'll be disappointed.