Friday, March 30, 2012

Jacksonville Suns will have gluten-free hot dogs and beer

Big news for Jacksonville baseball fans. The Jacksonville Suns will be offering gluten-free hot dogs and beer this season at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville! And some other gluten-free stuff.
Jamie Davis, the Suns' general manager for ballpark foods, told me the gluten-free items will be available in the Sundowner Lounge inside the ballpark. In addition to hot dogs, you can also get a half-pound Bubba Burger, chicken sandwiches and pulled pork all on gluten-free bread.
They will also have Redbridge beer and Woodchuck cider available in the lounge.
The Suns also have a variety of gluten-free snacks and salads available at other concession stands throughout the stadium, as they did last year.
Davis said the Suns will see how much demand there is for the gluten-free items in the Sundowner Lounge and if there is a lot, the items could be made available at other concession stands in the future.
The Suns' season opens on April 5. Now I can't wait.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Looks like a good gluten-free season for major league baseball

I've gotten used to going to spring training games without any gluten-free ballpark fare. Last week, I went to Steinbrenner Field in Tampa and had a chef's salad. It didn't inspire me to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."
But for regular season games, things are looking up for celiacs, as more and more major league ballparks are offering gluten-free fare.

Michael Savett posted a great summary of gluten-free options at all the major league ballparks today on his blog, Gluten Free Philly, which you can read here.

Looks like I'm going to have to plan out-of-town trips to the ballpark this year.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pizza everywhere at the Gluten-free for Life Expo

If you can't find any gluten-free pizza to eat, you're just not trying.
At least that's what I was thinking when I attended the Gluten-Free for Life Expo in St. Petersburg on Saturday.
There were informational sessions at the expo but if you've ever been to one of these, the main attraction is the tables and tables of free stuff to sample. And I found plenty of pizza, all of which was pretty good.
I made the mistake of eating breakfast before I went, not thinking about how much I would eat when I got to the expo. Somehow, I found my way to the pizza tables first and I was stuffed within 20 minutes.
Gluten-free for Life Expo
I'm not sure I would have enjoyed this 15 months ago before I was diagnosed with celiac disease, because pizza was a major part of my diet. And I never thought frozen pizza could live up to the real thing. But after eating gluten-free pizza for all this time, I've adjusted my tastes. And I liked all five pizzas I tried.
One of the pizzas is a new frozen offering from Udi's, which has previously been selling pizza crusts but not full pizzas. Udi's is a favorite gluten-free brand for a lot of people, including me, because it's breads and other products are widely available in Publix stores. I haven't seen the new pizzas in my local Publix yet, but the Udi's representative told me that they are rolling them out in Publix stores as we speak.
Three other frozen brands I found were Against the Grain Gourmet (, Gluten Free by Beverly ( and Bold Organics (
I particularly liked the Bold Organics pizzas, which are available in Jacksonville at Native Sun and Whole Foods.
I also enjoyed a pizza made from scratch from a crust mix by Taste of Gluten Free (, but I'm not likely to make a crust from scratch myself. I'd rather use the pre-made crusts, or some of these frozen pizzas, if I'm going to cook pizza at home.
There were of course other products available, including some wonderful goodies from local bakeries in the Tampa Bay area. But If you've read my blog, you know I'm pizza-obsessed. So I left, again, with pizza on my brain.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Taco del Mar will be a gluten-free option

Here's some good news: Taco del Mar, which is planning to open its first Florida restaurant on Jacksonville's Southside, has a gluten-free menu.
The company's gluten-free menu admits that the restaurants are not a 100 percent gluten-free environment, but it does offer a lot of information about what we can and can not eat.
The only other fast-food taco chain I know of that operates in Jacksonville and offers gluten-free options is Chipotle. So I'm looking forward to seeing what Taco del Mar has to offer.
Taco del Mar will be located at 7159 Philips Highway, in a former Quiznos Subs site.
You can see its gluten-free menu here:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

More varieties of Redbridge could be on the way

I was sitting at a bar last night drinking a Redbridge when the guy next to me started asking me why I was drinking it.
It turned out the guy was an Anheuser-Busch representative. And here's the good news: he told me Anheuser-Busch, which makes Redbridge, is working on expanding the brand with new varieties of gluten-free beer. He said the company recognizes that celiacs want to have more beer choices and it's looking to respond.
I don't know when these beers will hit the market, but this is encouraging news. Ever since I was diagnosed with celiac, I've been advocating more bars and restaurants to at least carry Redbridge if they don't have any other gluten-free beers.
Every establishment that serves beer has a relationship with Anheuser-Busch, so it's a simple process to get Redbridge from their distributor and keep at least a case in stock. It will keep in the refrigerator for awhile.
So when the new varieties of Redbridge come out, I'll be advocating for these same bars and restaurants to carry the new lines.

Monday, March 12, 2012

No gluten-free joy in Mudville, or any other spring training site

While more and more major league ballparks are offering options such as gluten-free beer and hot dogs on gluten-free buns, I found last year that gluten-free refreshments are hard to find at spring training parks. And it's not looking any better this year.
I went to the Atlanta Braves' spring training home at Walt Disney World Saturday and I was thinking that if any park had gluten-free stuff, it would be this one because 1) Disney has a reputation as a very gluten-free friendly place and 2) the Braves were leaders in putting a gluten-free concession stand in their home park in Atlanta.
But alas, I found nothing. All I ate at the ballpark was a full bag of peanuts. And of course, there was no beer.
It's understandable that we can't find gluten-free goodies at spring training sites, because the games are played at minor league parks that seat 10,000 people or less. So the economics aren't there.
I guess I have to look forward to the regular season. Last year, the Tampa Bay Rays put in a gluten-free stand with beer and hot dogs. And while the hot dog buns were awful, I was still happy to eat hot dogs and beer at the game.
I'm curious to see what the Miami Marlins do with their new ballpark. But apparently, the Marlins haven't even addressed major parking issues at the new stadium, so I'm not getting my hopes up that they've gotten around to gluten-free.
I'll be checking on the Marlins and making sure the Rays still have their gluten-free stands before the season starts. And as I did last year, I'll check in on the Jacksonville Suns. The Suns weren't offering gluten-free beer and dogs last year. Could this be the year?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Winn-Dixie still working on gluten-free stickers

A lot has happened since Winn-Dixie CEO Peter Lynch told me in November that the company would have gluten-free stickers on its shelves to help shoppers find gluten-free items.
Basically, Winn-Dixie agreed to a merger with South Carolina-based supermarket chain Bi-Lo in December. But as the merger is completed today, Lynch told me that he still hopes the company will get those gluten-free stickers up.
Bi-Lo's gluten-free tags
"It's very important for Winn-Dixie. It's important for the industry," he said. "I've always been an advocate of that."
Lynch admitted that the merger has sidetracked him from working on gluten-free issues. And Lynch is leaving the company now that the merger is done. But he still would like to see the company follow through on the program.
He doesn't know about Bi-Lo's plans, but Bi-Lo already has a program in place with gluten-free tags. So hopefully we'll see them soon at Winn-Dixie.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

My latest Times-Union column

My monthly column for the Florida Times-Union focuses on the quest for gluten-free subs. It's not very promising, but at least we can get a gluten-free sandwich in a couple of places:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New celiac research group formed

A group of physicians and scientists last week announced the formation of the North American Society for the Study of Celiac Disease.
Membership in the society is open to researchers in the field of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The group has scheduled its first general assembly for May 20 in San Diego.
"The NASSCD’s overall mission is to advance the fields of celiac disease and gluten-related disorders by fostering research, and by promoting excellence in clinical care, including diagnosis and treatment of patients with these conditions," it said in a press release.
Dr. Stefano Guandalini, founder and medical director of the University of Chicago's Celiac Disease Center, was elected as the NASSCD’s first president. I met Guandalini at the Gluten Intolerance Group's conference in Orlando last year, and he is recognized as a leader in celiac research.
Research into celiac disease is growing, and the formation of this organization is a positive development. I'm very hopeful that within the next decade, we're going to see some form of medication that will allow celiacs to eat anything they want.
You can find more information the group at

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My great gluten-free pizza experiment

I've found several good places for gluten-free pizza around Jacksonville, but unfortunately none are conveniently located near my home. Since I don't always feel like taking a drive to satisfy my pizza cravings, I decided to take drastic action.
I decided to try making my own pizza.
My own freshly-made gluten-free pizza
Cooking generally scares me and for some reason, I thought pizza would be very complicated. But once I actually researched how to do it, I found it extremely easy.
I started by buying a pizza stone at Target. I don't know if this is absolutely necessary, as opposed to a regular pan, but I wanted to give this my best shot.
So I put the stone in the oven while it preheated and prepared the pizza. I went as simply and cheaply as possible with the ingredients. I bought an Udi's prepared gluten-free crust, Publix pizza sauce, Publix shredded mozzarella cheese and Hormel pepperoni.
I spread the sauce and cheese on the crust, not really sure how much I was supposed to put on. And then I smothered it in pepperoni and put it in the oven at 375 for 10 minutes and....
It worked! I had pizza that was actually pretty decent.
My great pizza experiment worked. If I can do this, anyone can do it.