Friday, September 30, 2011

A few more of my favorite things

Completing my review of things I learned and wrote about with my previous blog, here are some of my favorite gluten-free items I've found in Jacksonville area stores.

Bread: We all know finding decent bread is a chore. The best I found came from the Cookie Momsters bakery on San Jose Boulevard.
But for those of you who can't make it to Cookie Momsters, from a convenience standpoint, my favorite choice is Udi's, which is available in most (but not all) Publix stores in the area. I was actually quite surprised this week to stop in Publix at the St. Johns Town Center and find they don't stock any gluten-free breads. But every other Publix I've been to has it.

Buns: By far the best hamburger buns I've had are made by Canyon Bakehouse, which are available at Native Sun.
Again, for convenience sake, it may be easier to find Udi's buns at Publix. Udi's offers both hamburger and hot dog buns.
I should also mention that Schar's makes a selection of par-baked gluten-free rolls. They sent me some free samples and they were fantastic, but I haven't seen them available in any stores. They are sold online.

Spaghetti: I have tried a number of overpriced gluten-free pastas that I didn't like at all. But surprisingly, the best spaghetti I found is a brand called Heartland which is sold at Walmart. It takes just like regular spaghetti, is reasonably priced, and is stocked with the other pastas on the shelf.

Ice cream cones: A company called Goldbaums makes gluten-free cones that have recently become available at Winn-Dixie stores. They seem just like regular cones to me.

Snacks: I've recently become addicted to Crunchmaster crackers, which has several varieties. And I've also been eating a lot of Fritos and way too many potato chips. But I'm looking for more variety and, in some cases, snacks that are less fattening.
I'm also particularly interested to see if anyone knows of any sugar-free gluten-free cookies. There are a lot of good gluten-free cookies out there but I try not to eat them because they are too sugary.
So I'm on the lookout for healthier gluten-free snacks, if anyone has any suggestions.

A few words on gluten-free beer

It's nice to know there are a lot of gluten-free beers available. But finding them sometimes...
I've spent a lot of time searching for beer since going gluten-free. The easiest to find is Redbridge, which is made by Anheuser-Busch and is available in just about any supermarket. But it's surprisingly hard to find in bars.
I've been contending that any establishment that serves beer should be able to offer Redbridge. Basically, any place that sells beer likely has a relationship with Anheuser-Busch, so it should be able to get Redbridge from its distributor.
I confirmed that early on by asking the management of my favorite sports bar, Time Out Sports Grill (on Beach Boulevard east of Hodges), to see if they could get Redbridge. They found it was very easy and have been stocking it ever since.
But few other Jacksonville bars offer it, according to Redbridge's web site. It's my goal to convince the world that everyone should be at least offering Redbridge, if not other gluten-free beers.
One of my last accomplishments before leaving The Florida Times-Union was convincing the Jaguars to stock Redbridge at EverBank Field. It is supposed to be available at a few beer stands during Jaguars games, but a Facebook report by's Jennifer Gornto said it was hard to find at the home opener. Hopefully, it will be there this Sunday.
After Redbridge, Bard's may be the next-most accessible gluten-free beer. It's offered at Mellow Mushroom and at at least two European Street Cafe's in the area.
European Street in Jacksonville Beach also has two gluten-free imports available, Green's and St. Peter's. That and European Street's sandwiches on gluten-free bread has made it one of my favorite spots.
I've tried a good number of other beers that I've found at Total Wine, which has a good selection of gluten-free beers: New Grist and New Planet. New Planet is also available at Broudy's Liquors. Broudy's in Jacksonville Beach has a nice gluten-free display stand with a number of beer choices.
The list of gluten-free beers keeps growing.  Hopefully the list of places that offer gluten-free beer will continue to grow as well. I can promise you I'll keep working on it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A few of my favorite places

For those of you who didn't read my previous blog, let me tell you about some of the favorite gluten-free places I've found in Jacksonville in my nine months of gluten-free living.

Pizza: I've spent a lot of time writing about gluten-free pizza, because I can't live without pizza. Fortunately, there are a number of choices in the Jacksonville area. I do frequent Mellow Mushroom, where you can not only get gluten-free pizza but also gluten-free Bard's beer.
Another place you can go for gluten-free pizza and beer (RedBridge) is the new BJ's Brewhouse in front of Costco on Gate Parkway. I've only been once but I liked it.
Tommy's Brick Oven Pizza on Southside Boulevard is another place to get a good gluten-free pizza, and Brucci's Pizza has has gluten-free at its three area locations.
I particularly enjoyed California Pizza Kitchen's gluten-free pizza, but it turns out the chain didn't quite understand cross-contamination issues when it launched its gf pizza menu in June. At last report, it had pulled the gluten-free pizza from the menu while it addresses the problem. Now that I'm blogging again, I hope to post an update on CPK soon.

Sandwiches: There are two places I go that offer sandwiches on gluten-free bread. One is Jason's Deli, which has a gluten-free menu that allows you to build your own sandwich. The other is European Street Cafe, which servces gluten-free bread from the Cookie Momsters bakery in Jacksonville. European Street has the added bonus of serving gluten-free beers. The beer selection seems to vary by European Street location, but I enjoy visiting the Jacksonville Beach restaurant because it has three different varieties of gluten-free beer.

Mexican: TacoLu in Jacksonville Beach has become a favorite spot of mine. You can ask for gluten-free tortilla chips and get many of their specialty tacos on a corn tortilla. The staff is well aware of the requirements of gluten-free diners.
Chipotle Mexican Grill is a good fast-food spot for gluten-free tacos in corn taco shells.

Chinese: P.F.Chang's China Bistro not only has a large gluten-free menu but also has a special area in the kitchen to ensure that the gluten-free dishes are separated from the other meals being prepared.

Seafood: Bonefish Grill in Mandarin hosted a gluten-free diner for myself and a group of celiacs several months ago, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. Not only can you get a good selection of appetizers and main courses, but it also offers gluten-free bread. It's the only restaurant I know of that offers gluten-free bread to accompany a meal.

Italian: At least two restaurants in the area offer gluten-free pasta dishes: Enza's Italian Restaurant and Maggiano's Little Italy.

Breakfast: First Watch, a chain that recently opened its first Jacksonville locations, is the only restaurant that I know of that has a gluten-free breakfast menu. There are no gluten-free pancakes or french toast, but there are plenty of omelet options and other dishes.

Burgers: Five Guys has become my favorite burger place. You have to bring your own bun, which I do, but the burgers and fries are gluten free.

All gluten-free: The Present Moment cafe in St. Augustine is an organic, vegetarian cafe, and everything on the menu is gluten-free! I only went once, but it was delicious.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My gluten-free story

I was diagnosed with celiac disease in December 2010. As all of you know, the only treatment for celiac, an autoimmune disorder that attacks the small intestine, is a gluten-free diet. That basically means avoiding any food that contains wheat, rye or barley.
Of course, I immediately starting researching gluten-free foods and found an overwhelming amount of information available. But I was able to use my skills as a career journalist to sort through the information and find what was accurate and reliable. I realized there was an opportunity to share what I've learned with others in the same boat.
So, I started a blog called The Gluten-free Glutton at which focused on information about restaurants and food stores in the Jacksonville area that offered gluten-free products.
I received a lot of positive feedback from other celiacs who found my blog posts timely and useful. But unfortunately, I recently left my position at and the blog was discontinued. But I have no intention of discontinuing my efforts to inform the Jacksonville community about gluten-free dining options. So today I'm launching this new blog to continue the work I started several months ago.
You can still find my previous gluten-free blog posts here. And hopefully, I'll have much more to add on this blog in the coming weeks and months.