Friday, December 27, 2013

Girl Scouts testing gluten-free cookie

After two years of clamoring from celiacs, the Girl Scouts are test marketing a gluten-free cookie for the 2013-2014 cookie season.

ABC Bakers, one of two companies that produce Girl Scout cookies, is conducting a limited pilot of the Girl Scout Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookie with 20 Girl Scout councils.

The cookies are available in a 5-ounce resealable foil pouch with 12 pouches per case and will be sold only at booths in the test markets, rather than featured on the cookie order card.

The only Florida council offering the gluten-free cookie is the Girl Scouts of Citrus, which serves six Central Florida counties. So you won't be able to find them in Jacksonville, but you might find them on visits to Disney or Daytona Beach.

ABC Bakers said it will conduct market research and could roll out the gluten-free cookies nationally in the future.

I'm sure they're completely overpriced but if I encounter these cookies, I'll be sure to try them.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Anniversary to me

It was three years ago today that I was diagnosed with celiac disease. Before that day, I had never heard of celiac and had no inkling that this was coming. And getting the diagnosis two days before Christmas sent me into a complete panic mode.

I realized I had to cancel my Christmas plans for Chinese food, because most of the stuff served in Chinese restaurants has gluten. Unfortunately, P.F. Chang's, which has a great gluten-free program, is never open on Christmas.

So I had to scramble on the 24th to find whatever gluten-free food was available in the stores to make sure I had something to eat on Christmas.

That was a long time ago. I still find the gluten-free diet challenging, but at least I don't panic like I did three years ago. I'll survive the holidays just fine.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Udi's bread now at Costco

Costco seems to be slowly increasing its selection of gluten-free products. The latest is Udi's bread.

I bought a 30-ounce loaf of Udi's whole grain bread today for $6.79. That's a pretty good price, since the normal supermarket loaf is 12 ounces and goes for something like $4.

I found out about it in an e-mail from Udi's a couple a days ago, but a Costco employee told me they've been stocking the bread for about a month.

Besides the bigger package, another difference is that Costco is selling it off the shelf, as opposed to in the freezer cases. In fact, I almost didn't find it because I was looking for it in the freezers.

Another interesting product I found recently at Costco was a large package of gluten-free chicken nuggets from a company called Golden Platter.

I actually got the nuggets a couple of months ago and found them to be, frankly, mediocre, so I haven't written about them before. When it comes to gluten-free chicken nuggets, I really prefer Applegate Farms, which are available in Publix and other stores.

However, I've had a lot of meals out of the 64-ounce package from Golden Platter and it's still going. It is kind of convenient for a quick small meal, and I bet it would a great thing to have around for kids who are gluten free.

Yes, you can find gluten-free deals at Costco.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Enter to win free goodies basket from Glutino

How would you like to win a free basket of gluten-free goodies from Glutino?

As most of you likely know, Glutino makes a wide variety of gluten-free products (and has been kind enough to send samples along for myself and others to try).

To celebrate the holidays, Glutino wants to send one of my readers a gift basket of some of the products I've been lucky enough to sample. The basket contains:

Breakfast: Instant pancake mix, Strawberry and Apple Cinnamon toaster pastries
Snacks: Pretzel Chips, Bagel Chips, Lemon Wafers, Rosemary & Olive Oil Crackers and Cheddar Crackers
Baking Mixes: Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix, Brownie Mix, All Purpose Flour Mix

To enter to win, you can post a comment below. Or, you can post a comment on my latest Gluten-Free Glutton column on, printed today, which tells the story of how I was glutened by the Jaguars. Just let us know that you're gluten free.

One winner will be chosen at random on December 18

Monday, December 9, 2013

Celiac Disease Foundation offers physician directory

Most people who read this blog have probably already been diagnosed with celiac disease or another type of gluten intolerance. However, for those of you still in need of medical help, the Celiac Disease Foundation has created an online directory to help you find physicians in your area who specialize in celiac-related issues.

You can use the online directory to search by zip code for health providers in all 50 states. The directory can be found at

“The CDF Healthcare Practitioner Directory provides an invaluable and critically needed service for patients with celiac disease and their caregivers, as well as those yet to be diagnosed,” said Marilyn G. Geller, Chief Executive Officer at Celiac Disease Foundation, in a press release.

“With less than 20% of patients with celiac disease diagnosed, finding practitioners who recognize the signs of celiac disease and treat patients appropriately is a challenge. The Directory serves as a local resource for those seeking specialized care," she said.

The Celiac Disease Foundation is one of several organizations that help people with celiac. In addition to its provider directory, you can also find other information on celiac disease on its website at

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Peppermint Yogurt Pretzels? They're pretty good

If I went into a store and saw peppermint yogurt pretzels, I don't think I would spend a second thinking of buying them. But Glutino was kind enough to send me a bag to sample, so of course I started eating them.

They're actually pretty good. I'm still probably not going to buy any but if peppermint yogurt pretzels sound appealing to you, I highly recommend them.

The pretzels were one of two limited edition holiday treats Glutino sent me. The other was a sugar cookie mix. Since I'm not in the habit of baking, I haven't tried these yet (I'll probably give them to somebody else to try).

Glutino said these products will be available at Whole Foods stores until January.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Van's 'Say Cheese' crackers bring back memories

No, I really don't have any great new Thanksgiving tips to offer, but I did make a great new snack find. At least I think it's great.

In the crackers section of my local Target, I found Van's gluten-free "Say Cheese" crackers.

I mentioned before how cheddar cheese Goldfish were my favorite snack, so I was happy that Goldfish came out with gluten-free Puffs crackers. They aren't quite the same as the Goldfish I loved, but they are good.

Van's cheese crackers actually bring back memories of another favorite snack of my pre-gluten-free diet: Cheese Nips or Cheez-it crackers. I've tried a lot of gluten-free cheese crackers and these are the first that have the familiar taste and texture of Cheese Nips and Cheez-its.

If you like those as much as I did, give the Say Cheese crackers a try.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

California Pizza Kitchen gluten-free program looks good

I had an opportunity today to visit the California Pizza Kitchen restaurant at the St. Johns Town Center and see their gluten-free procedures for myself. I have to say I was impressed.

You'll recall that CPK pulled its gluten-free pizzas off the menu two years ago because of complaints that celiacs were getting sick from them. Apparently, the company was not providing any training on precautions to prevent cross-contamination.

The time they spent to get it right seems to be well worth it. They now have a separate preparation area in the kitchen for gluten-free pizzas and a separate cabinet to store the gluten-free sauces and ingredients. They also, of course, have separate pans and utensils to prepare the gluten-free pizzas.

And of course, just as I thought two years ago, the pizzas were delicious. I was able to try both a barbecue chicken and a pepperoni pizza. I loved them both.

Any pizza on the menu can be made with a gluten-free crust but the company says they can only certify five varieties to be completely gluten free. In addition to the two I tried, you can also get a mushroom pepperoni sausage, a margherita and a plain cheese pizza.

It costs $2 extra for a gluten-free pizza.

I would say California Pizza Kitchen is well worth the trip for a gluten-free pie.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Jags trying to fix gluten-free problems

The Jaguars have had their problems on the field this year but, of course, I'm more concerned about the problems they are having at the concession stands: specifically, the fact that I was glutened at their last home game.

If you didn't read my post last month, I was served a hot dog with a bun they claimed was gluten free but actually wasn't, and I got sick. The people working the hot dog booths clearly had no idea what gluten free means.

With another home game coming up this week, I had a chance today to talk to the people in charge of the concession areas and they assure me they are taking this seriously and working to correct the problems. As they explained, the concession stands are staffed by volunteers that can change every week, so they haven't necessarily been getting any training. Of course they don't know what to do when someone asks for a gluten-free hot dog.

The Jaguars say they are working to change that so that everyone working at the stands knows where to go to get gluten-free buns when someone orders one.

I have also been assured that the bartenders in the Bud Zone will be educated to know that there are gluten-free beers for sale. Last game, at least two didn't seem to know that.

I do believe the Jaguars are taking this problem seriously -- I expressed repeatedly that serving food with gluten that they claim is gluten free is dangerous. Still, I'm not sure I'd feel confident eating a hot dog at EverBank Field right now.

My advice remains: eat before you go.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New York's "premiere gluten free" restaurant

During a weekend visit to the New York area, I was able to visit a restaurant which bills itself as "NYC's premiere gluten free dining destination."

The restaurant is called Friedman's. There are actually two locations: one is called Friedman's Lunch located in the Chelsea Market. I visited its second restaurant, called Friedman's 31st, which is on 31st Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.

The great thing about this restaurant is almost everything on the menu can be made gluten free. It has a varied selection of entrees. I had a turkey burger, which was good, not great. But I just liked the variety of options I found at this place.

Yes, I would highly recommend Friedman's if you're visiting the city.

I spent most of the weekend in New Jersey, where most of the gluten-free destinations I could find in my Internet searches were chain restaurants. But that did give me the opportunity to go to a Red Robin restaurant for a hamburger on a gluten-free bun. I've been hoping that Red Robin will expand to Jacksonville one of these days.

Yes, I liked the burger. I also like the fact that Red Robin offers "bottomless" steak fries which can be made gluten free.

This was my first visit to that area since I was put on a gluten-free diet. I've read about a lot of other gluten-free destinations in New York. I hope to get back there to try them one of these days.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gluten-free wraps at European Street

On a recent visit to the European Street Cafe in San Marco, I discovered that gluten-free wraps are now available.

Of course, ever since I started on the gluten-free diet, European Street has been a go-to place for me because it offers sandwiches on gluten-free bread as well as gluten-free beers. But I was happy to discover a new option. I assume the wraps are available at all four locations.

European Street gets its gluten-free bread from the Cookie Momsters bakery. I asked the waiter where they get the gluten-free wraps and he didn't know.

When I got the sandwich, the wrap seemed similar to other store-bought gluten-free wraps I've had. It was okay, but it was nothing special. I think I'll go back to gluten-free bread on my next trip there.

But like I said, it's so nice to have options.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gluten-free Halloween candy

Every year at this time, celiacs start asking questions about Halloween candy. What is gluten-free and what isn't?

CeliAct, a company that makes a nutritional supplement for celiacs, offered some information on gluten-free candy, which you can read by clicking here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jaguars say they're looking into the problems

After my appalling gluten-free experience at EverBank Field Sunday, the Jaguars tell me they're looking into the problems. I do believe they are taking it seriously.

I got a call yesterday from the guy who is in charge of the Bud Zone and some other food service areas, but not the hot dog stands.

I barely described the beer situation in my blog post on Monday, because that problem paled in comparison with hot dog stands serving people regular buns that they claimed were gluten free. But here is what happened: I asked for a gluten-free beer at two different bars in the Bud Zone and was told they had Angry Orchard cider, but no gluten-free beer.

According to Ari Tokar, director of operations for Levy Restaurants at the stadium, those bars were stocked with gluten-free beer! In fact, he said they each had 12 gluten-free bottles before the game and after the game, one of the bars still had 12 and the other had 11. So they only sold one.

Tokar said he couldn't understand why two different bartenders would not know about the gluten-free beers. But he will make sure that's corrected. He was not deterred by the fact that they only sold one gluten-free beer during the game. He will continue to stock it.

Unfortunately, Tokar does not have any role with the hot dog stands, although he completely sympathized with my concerns. I hope I will be hearing from the hot dog concessionaire soon.

Monday, October 21, 2013

No more Jags games for me

I'm done with the Jaguars. Not because the team is so bad on the field. It's because the team working the concessions stands is so bad.

I attended my first game of the season yesterday and I was expecting a good gluten-free experience, based on what they told me before the season. However, it was just awful.

First of all -- and this is a minor issue in the greater scheme of things -- there was no gluten-free beer available in the Bud Zone.

But even worse was the hot dog situation. Hot dogs with gluten-free buns are supposed to be available at the Stadium Classic concession stands around the stadium. I stopped off at the stand in the Southeast corner of the lower deck and immediately got a hot dog.

I asked for a gluten-free bun and when I got the hot dog, I asked again, "is this a gluten-free bun?" and was told yes.

The hot dog was very good and that made me want another one, as I was walking around the corridors of the lower deck. I stopped at another Stadium Classic stand at the Northwest corner. The people there had no idea what I was talking about. Finally, they found someone who said they were out of gluten-free buns.

I wish that was the extent of my problems. I kept walking around and checked again at the Stadium Classic stand in the Southwest corner. Again, the people there didn't know what I was talking about when I asked for gluten free. Finally, they gave me a hot dog and said "all our buns are gluten free."

Now that's ridiculous. I know that's not true. I started arguing about this when my friend standing behind me in line said she would take the hot dog. She also noted that  while she couldn't hear what I was saying to the concession people, it was clear to her that the concession people just considered me a difficult customer and were trying to get rid of me.

I ended up back at the Southwest corner, where I had received my first hot dog and ordered another one. Again, after much discussion (I went to a different line), they produced a gluten-free bun that was clearly different than the bun I got the first time. It was more like a gluten-free bun should be.

So now, I am convinced I was glutened on my first visit to the stand. Sure enough, I found myself with an upset stomach by the end of the game.

As I've said before, I don't get the extreme symptoms that other celiacs get and I shudder to think what would happen to some of you if you tried to get a gluten-free hot dog at a Jaguars game. I feel terrible because I wrote at the beginning of the season that the Jaguars seemed to have a good gluten-free program, and I hope nobody went to a Jaguars game on my recommendation.

Whatever you do now, don't go to a Jaguars game. Unless you don't want to eat. And you
don't mind bad football.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Want a free box of Vanilla Chex cereal?

You probably already knew that Chex produces a line of cereals that are gluten free. It's hard to miss in the supermarket, because the boxes have a big "gluten free" label on the front of the box.

Chex has added a new gluten-free flavor, Vanilla Chex, and the company was kind enough to send me some sample boxes.

It's good, but then again I like all of the Chex cereals. I generally always keep a box at home for a quick gluten-free breakfast, and I've probably tried them all at some time. I don't think I can rank them in order of preference.

Besides vanilla, the other gluten-free Chex brands are Rice, Corn, Honey Nut, Chocolate, Cinnamon and Apple Cinnamon.

I was able to pass out the free samples of Vanilla Chex last night at the monthly meeting of the Celiac Support Group of Jacksonville, and also some coupons for free boxes (You see, it pays to attend the meetings).

But I still have a few extra coupons available for free boxes of Vanilla Chex (up to $3.39 a box). If you'd like one, send me your address via e-mail ( and I'll send it to you. First come, first served.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Celiac Support Group of Jacksonville meets tomorrow

The Celiac Support Group of Jacksonville will be meeting tomorrow, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m.

We meet at the offices of Windsor Assisted Living and Memory Care Welcome Center at 6331 Roosevelt Blvd., Suite 7. It's in a strip mall anchored by a Target store, just north of NAX Jax.

The meetings are held on the third Tuesday of every  month.

Some members of the group have promised to cook for this meeting, so there should be some good food to sample.

Friday, October 11, 2013

I still don't care about Trader Joe's

One more observation about my recent trip to Chicago.

I made another visit to Trader Joe's while in Chicago. When rumors started that Trader Joe's was coming here, I wrote a post about how disappointed I was at the gluten-free offerings on previous visits to the Chicago store. But I decided to give it another chance last week.

The first thing I found was a gluten-free bread section. It had a bunch of Udi's products and one original that looked intriguing: a gluten-free "ryeless rye" bread.

Since I really miss rye bread, I picked up the package. It was basically like picking up a brick. No thank you.

My real mission at Trader Joe's was to find something for a light breakfast, like a gluten-free muffin or a breakfast bar. I didn't see anything so, standing in front of the breakfast bar section, I asked an employee if they had any gluten-free breakfast bars. "No."

I should have thrown the ryeless rye bread at her, but then I probably would have gotten arrested for assault with a deadly weapon.

So anyway, Trader Joe's can come to Jacksonville. I just don't care.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Gluten-free pizza returns to California Pizza Kitchen

California Pizza Kitchen was the textbook case of how not to offer gluten-free alternatives.

You may recall two years ago when CPK introduced its gluten-free pizzas. They were delicious, but a lot of celiacs started complaining about getting sick after eating them. I didn't have any symptoms myself, but I am one of those celiacs who doesn't get symptoms when my food is cross-contaminated with gluten.

It turned out that CPK had no clue about cross-contamination or about training its staff to prevent it. It just put the gluten-free pizzas out there.

With all the complaints pouring in, CPK pulled the gluten-free pizzas off the menu while it reevaluated its procedures.

It took a long time, but gluten-free pizzas are finally back at CPK. The company tells me they will be officially launched next week but I called the Jacksonville restaurant in the St. Johns Town Center and they said they've had gluten-free pizzas since Oct. 1.

The choices are limited. According to its online menu, there are four varieties of gluten-free pizza: Original BBG Chicken, Margherita, Mushroom Pepperoni Sausage and Pepperoni.

I haven't had a chance to try the new pizzas, but one blogger in California tried them out and offers more details:

These were really good, if flawed, pizzas two years ago. I'm looking forward to trying them again.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Yes, a fresh-baked gluten-free donut...but in Chicago

My quest to find a fresh-baked gluten-free donut was finally fulfilled...but I had to go to Chicago to do it.

I found it at a small donut shop in the Loop called Do-Rite Donuts. I discovered it in a Google search and saw on its website that it had fresh varieties of gluten-free donuts that change daily.

I went there on Saturday morning and asked what they had gluten free. The clerk said they had one maple bacon donut left. Of course, I said "sold!"

It was about 8:30 a.m. I asked her how early you normally have to get there before the gluten-free donuts run out and she said they make them fresh all day, depending on demand. She also said if you call ahead and let them know you're coming, they'll set aside a gluten-free donut for you. That's very encouraging and good to know for my next visit to Chicago.

Yes, it was delicious...a frosted donut with bacon on top.

I also found a new gluten-free beer while in Chicago, a craft brew called Prairie Path. I don't know how wide its distribution is.

The interesting thing is that I got in a bottle in one bar/restaurant but actually got it on draft at another - Lou Malnati's Pizzeria. That was the first time I've ever seen a gluten-free beer on tap!

This is a beer similar to Omission -- it's crafted to remove the gluten. According to the brewer's website, Prairie Path is certified at 5 ppm of gluten, well below the 20 ppm standard.

And by the way, at Lou Malnati's, I once again was able to get their gluten-free deep dish pizza, which is a pizza built on a crust made of sausage.

Look, I didn't go to Chicago to eat healthy, but I went there to enjoy myself. A deep dish pizza, as well as the first fresh-baked donut and draft beer I've had in almost three years!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Gluten-free wraps at Larry's Giant Subs

I was talking to Larry Raikes of Larry's Giant Subs and he told me that, in addition to offering gluten-free subs, the sandwich chain is now offering gluten-free wraps.

So I went and tried one today, just a regular turkey sub in a wrap instead of a roll. It was very good. I like the sub sandwiches there a lot but this was good too.

The wraps have the advantage of being lighter than the sub sandwiches, and also cheaper. There is a $1.25 surcharge for the gluten-free wrap, while the gluten-free sub rolls have a $2.25 surcharge.

Larry said the gluten-free wraps, in addition to the gluten-free subs, are available at all 70 Larry's Giant Subs restaurants.

Friday, September 27, 2013

I'll always go for chocolate

I received some new samples from Glutino. You may recall last month they sent a box of lemon wafer cookies that I wasn't crazy about, just because I wouldn't normally eat lemon wafers.

However, this month, they sent a box of Glutino Chocolate Wafers. These were absolutely delicious. I hope I get more chocolate from them.

Glutino also sent along a box of Double Chocolate Brownie Mix. That certainly looked delicious and the directions looked simple enough. But I just don't bake (I wouldn't even have a pan to bake them in), so I passed the box along to another regular member of the Celiac Support Group of Jacksonville. When she tells me what she thought of the brownies, I'll let you know.

As I've said before, for those of you who've never been to a Celiac Support Group meeting, please try to attend. The meetings are held on the third Tuesday of every month. It's a great opportunity to meet other celiacs and share ideas of where to find good gluten-free food or just commiserate about our condition. We don't like to whine to others because there are worse problems to have than celiac disease, but at least we can whine to each other and understand.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Great gluten-free list for Chicago

While researching potential restaurants for an upcoming trip to Chicago, I came upon a fantastic list of gluten-free friendly restaurants from one gluten-free blogger.

I know there's a lot of websites and apps you can use to search for restaurants in a particular city, but I love this list because it comes from a celiac in Chicago, so you know it's reliable.

So, for those of you who may be visiting Chicago, check it out:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Gluten-free options at Jimmy John's

During last night's meeting of the Celiac Support Group of Jacksonville, I mentioned that one quick lunch option is Jimmy John's, because they have a lettuce wrap option on their sandwiches.

However, another member of the group cautioned me that their cheese has gluten, which I found very surprising. I would have never even thought to ask that.

So I checked with Jimmy John's today and got a very quick response. The good news is they said the cheese falls within the FDA's 20 ppm guidelines, so it is considered gluten-free.

Here is the full response I got from Jimmy John's with a list of their gluten-free ingredients:

Thanks for eating at Jimmy John's! I am writing you back in response to your earlier e-mail.

You ask if our menu items are gluten-free:

Avocado – It is gluten free.
Bacon - It is gluten free.
Beef - It is not gluten free.
Ham - It is gluten free.
Capicola - It is gluten free.
Salami - It is gluten free.
Turkey - It is gluten free.
French bread - It is not gluten free.
Wheat bread - It is not gluten free.
Cheese - It is gluten free. (Based on the FDA proposed ruling saying that product with <20ppm gluten can be decaled as gluten free)
Mayo - It is gluten free.
Cookies - They are not gluten free.
Chips – They are gluten free.

We have a great gluten free option..our unwich.  Any sub/club minus the bread wrapped in lettuce.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

These quesadillas didn't do it for me

Unlike a lot of foods I haven't been able to find in a gluten-free form, I haven't actually been craving quesadillas. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to eat them once in a while.

So I was intrigued when I saw these Evol gluten-free chicken quesadillas in my local Target. I had to try them.

Unfortunately, I was less than thrilled. I just didn't find them very good.

Now Jennifer of says she found Evol gluten-free chicken burritos in Target and she liked them, but I haven't been able to find them yet. Yes, I have been craving burritos and my attempts to make my own burritos have generally failed, because the tortillas always seem to fall apart. So I'd like to find those Evol burritos.

On the bright side, I did have one really good find in Target: Omission beer at $7.99 for a 6-pack. That's the best price I've found anywhere for Omission.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Celiac Support Group meets next week

The Celiac Support Group of Jacksonville will be meeting Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 6 p.m.

After much moving around in the last few months, we've settled on what we hope will be a permanent location at the offices of Windsor Assisted Living and Memory Care Welcome Center at 6331 Roosevelt Blvd., Suite 7.

It's in a strip mall alongside a Target store, so it's easy to find. The shopping center is just north of NAS Jax.

If you haven't joined us before, please do. The support group is very informal and is a way for fellow celiacs to get together and share ideas on where and how to maintain our gluten-free diets. Or you can just commiserate on how frustrating the diet can be at times. We all understand.

If you need more information, please e-mail me at

Monday, September 9, 2013

Extend Nutrition has low-sugar, gluten-free snacks

One thing I've constantly complained about since going gluten-free is the lack of sugar-free, gluten-free snacks. There are an awful lot of very tasty gluten-free cookies and other treats available, but they of course contain globs of sugar.

So I was very happy to receive samples of low-sugar and sugar-free products from a company called Extend Nutrition. The company makes a variety of snack foods designed to control blood sugar, and they have the added benefit of being made with gluten-free ingredients.

The one drawback that may concern some celiacs is that they are not made in a dedicated gluten-free facility.

I've tried a variety of Extend's bars, crisps and "drizzles," which have the appearance of small rice cakes but taste like cookies. I enjoyed them all.

Extend also produces low-sugar shakes and while I received a couple of packets, I haven't tried them yet.

The products are available at national retailers like Target and Walmart. I'm going to have to look for them.

You can get more information on the products at the company's web site at

Friday, September 6, 2013

Udi's baguettes at Publix

Here's another good find -- Udi's gluten-free baguettes are on sale at Publix.

I had never even seem them at Publix before, but they are on sale for $4.19, 80 cents off.

There are a lot of gluten-free baguettes out there that you can find at Native Sun or Whole Foods, but they are soooooo expensive. So I was happy to find this.

On a completely separate note, here's an enjoyable post called the "Everyday Struggles of Living Gluten Free." I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Is Trader Joe's a good gluten-free spot?

It seems like a lot of people are getting excited about the prospect of Trader Joe's opening in Jacksonville Beach. You would think that a specialty grocer like this would have a good selection of gluten-free products.

But based on my limited experience, I'm skeptical.

In case you missed it, the Times-Union today has a front page story about Trader Joe's opening a store this fall at the Beach. I should point out that the story is highly speculative and while it seems likely, the store is not yet a certainty.

My only experience with Trader Joe's has been in Chicago. There is a Trader Joe's near the hotel I often stay at in Chicago. On my two most recent trips there, I've visited the store hoping, at the very least, to find something gluten free I could eat for a quick breakfast.

However, I was very disappointed at the gluten-free selections. I actually found a better selection of gluten-free options at a nearby Jewel-Osco store, which is a typical neighborhood supermarket.

Because of that, my initial reaction to Trader Joe's is, so what?

However, I coincidentally found a blog post yesterday about a Trader Joe's brand gluten-free pizza. This sounded very enticing.

So, I'll reserve judgment until the store actually opens. If it it actually opens.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Gluten-free pretzel bun recipe

Now I would never try to make this myself, but Glutino sent me a recipe for gluten-free pretzel buns. The company even offered to send me a free box of its all-purpose mix to try and cook this myself, but I didn't even want to attempt it.

However, as a public service, I offer their recipe to anyone who wants to try this themselves.

1 ½ cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ½ tablespoons light brown sugar
1 (7 gram) packet or 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
1/2 cup baking soda
Pretzel salt or coarse ground sea salt, for sprinkling
In the microwave, heat the milk and butter to 110 degrees F. Set aside.  
Combine the flour mix, and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a mixing bowl. Add the yeast and blend. 
Add the milk and butter mixture and the eggs and yolk to the flour blend.  Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. 
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.  Coat each with PAM vegetable spray. (This prevents the baked rolls from sticking to the paper.)  Turn the dough out onto the parchment and knead until smooth.  Divide into 12 equal pieces.  Using your hands, roll each piece into a ball.  Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let them rest in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a large pot, bring 8 cups water to a boil, and then add the baking soda. In batches, place the dough in the water and cook for 30 seconds on each side.
Using a slotted spatula, remove the rolls and place onto the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with pretzel salt as they come out of the water, to ensure the salt sticks. Use a sharp knife to cut an “X” shape in the top of each roll.  
Bake 12 to 15 minutes, turning pans halfway through baking. Serve warm. 
Reheat in a 350 degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Gluten-free pancakes coming to Jacksonville?

A chain of breakfast restaurants called Another Broken Egg Cafe announced plans last week to expand to Jacksonville next year, and I'm intrigued.

That's because its menu includes a "gluten free friendly jumbo pancake." I don't know of any other restaurant in the Jacksonville area that offers gluten-free pancakes.

The menu is a little cryptic, using the term "gluten free friendly." The menu does say that the kitchen is not a "100% friendly gluten-free facility."

I'll wait until they actually get close to opening a local restaurant before investigating this. But for now, just call me intrigued.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Glutino crackers very tasty

Glutino sent me samples of a couple of new products last week: Rosemary & Olive Oil Crackers and Lemon Wafers cookies.

I thought the crackers had a very good flavor. Glutino suggests using them with dips or spreads, but I found them very tasty on their own.

I would rate the wafers as just okay. They tasted basically the same as you would expect from a lemon wafer, which is not something I would normally eat. So I guess that's why I didn't get very excited about them.

However, I would definitely buy the crackers.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Deal alert: Rudi's bread

I feel a need to pass along this deal I just found at Publix: buy one, get one free on Rudi's gluten-free bread.

It's selling for $4.39, which means that each loaf in the BOGO deal is $2.20. That almost makes it reasonable.

I generally try to stock up when I find deals like this, which means my freezer will be full of bread (it's still filled with Canyon Bakehouse buns after they were on sale a couple of months ago at Native Sun). With the high cost of gluten-free food, it's all we can do.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Your Pie now open in Tapestry Park

More good pizza news. The second Jacksonville-area Your Pie restaurant is now open in Tapestry Park. I visited it today and had a great experience.

Your Pie is a restaurant chain in which the employees build your pizza in front of you before placing it in the oven. But it's of particular interest because it's a very gluten-free friendly restaurant. It has a wide variety of gluten-free pizza options (the menu indicates which ingredients and sauces have gluten in them) and a program to prevent cross-contamination as much as possible.

I had already visited the first local Your Pie which opened in the spring in Fleming Island, where the owners showed me how they put together gluten-free pizzas separately in the kitchen so that they aren't contaminated with gluten from the other pizzas being assembled out front. But this was my first time going in as a regular customer, so I was interested to see how they responded to my gluten-free order.

Basically, they responded perfectly. The guy who was making all the other pizzas said the manager would assemble my pizza in the kitchen, away from all the other pies.

Oh, and I should also add that my barbecue chicken pizza was delicious.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Gluten-free pizza at The Loop

We have another option for gluten-free pizza. The Loop Pizza Grill now has a gluten-free crust available at all nine of its Jacksonville area locations.

I actually discovered this in the Loop ad last week in Mint Magazine, and checked with the company to make sure it was available at all locations. I was told the restaurants also have gluten-free buns available now at all locations for burgers and other sandwiches.

Anyway, I wanted to try the pizza, so I visited the Neptune Beach restaurant. There was nothing on the menu to indicate the gluten-free pizza was available but it is there, with a 10-inch crust. Without being able to check all the toppings to see if they were gluten free, I played it safe and ordered a pepperoni pizza.

There is a $2.50 surcharge for the gluten-free crust, which isn't really a surprise. We're all used to paying more for gluten free.

The good news is, I really liked the pizza. I thought it had kind of a New York-pizza taste to it, meaning it was very oily. I know that won't appeal to some people, but I liked it.

Yes, I'm sure I'll be eating there again.

In other pizza news, Jennifer Gornto of the glutenfreejacksonville blog says that the second Your Pie restaurant in the Jacksonville area is opening this week in Tapestry Park. Your Pie, which has a large variety of gluten-free pizza options, opened its first area restaurant in the spring in Fleming Island.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Jaguars' gluten-free options at EverBank Field

I'll be writing about the gluten-free options at Jacksonville Jaguars games in my Florida Times-Union column this Thursday. But in the meantime, here's the list of gluten-free concessions that will be available at EverBank Field this year, as provided by the Jaguars:

In the clubs, the main gluten free locations will be a chef’s table in the East and West Upper Clubs, which will carry these items:
Hot Dog, Nachos, BBQ Pop Chips, Caramel & Cheddar Popcorn, Tapaz 2 Go Crackers and Hummus, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Larabar, Udi's Cookies, Bottled Gluten Free Beer - Omissions, Bard's, Angry Orchard, and McKenzie's Cider (Lazy Lemon and Black Cherry).

The snacks will also be available in regular seating areas.

 Gluten Free Bottled Beer will be available throughout the following areas:

Bud Zone bars, Lower Club Center Bars, Lower Club Satellite Bars, Upper Club Elevator Bars, and the Gluten Free table above.

 In the general concessions, gluten free hotdogs will be available in 104, 115, 131, 142, 415 and 442.

 The Duval Taco offering at 435 will have gluten free corn tortillas.

 Lastly, McKenzie’s Cider will be available at the following locations, as of our current plan:
Portables at sections 118 and 127
All stadium classic stands 104, 115, 131, 142, 415 and 442
Upper East Club Draft Cart – Lazy Lemon and Black Cherry
Upper West Club Draft Cart – Lazy Lemon and Black Cherry
SEZ Draft Cart – Lazy Lemon and Black Cherry (this one will be in the 100/SeaBest Cool Zone area)
Lower Club Satellite Bars – Bottled Lazy Lemon and Black Cherry
Gluten Free Table on Upper Clubs (same table as listed above)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Finally!! The FDA approves gluten-free guidelines

It's taken years, but the FDA today finally published its official guidelines for labeling foods as gluten free.

Here is what the agency said in its news release:

This new federal definition standardizes the meaning of “gluten-free” claims across the food industry. It requires that, in order to use the term "gluten-free" on its label, a food must meet all of the requirements of the definition, including that the food must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. The rule also requires foods with the claims “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “without gluten” to meet the definition for “gluten-free.” 

Companies have one year from today to comply with the rules.

In case you're wondering, I've been told directly by a leading researcher, Stefano Guandalini of the University of Chicago's Celiac Disease Center, that the 20 ppm standard is safe.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gluten-free Twinkies?

Now that Hostess Brands is back in business under new ownership, several media reports indicate the company might start offering a gluten-free Twinkie.

Here's one report from

I'm not sure if it's a good idea, but it's another reminder to those who don't understand the gluten-free diet that gluten-free is not necessarily a healthy choice -- it's a medical necessity for us.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Gluten-free Goldfish made in certified facility

Here's some more good news about Pepperidge Farm's new gluten-free version of Goldfish crackers: according to a press release from the company last week, the new snacks are made in a certified gluten-free facility.

The packaging for the product, called Goldfish Puffs, says that they are gluten free but doesn't have a gluten-free certification mark. I'm sure that makes some people nervous, but at least the company says now that they are made in a certified facility.

Pepperidge Farms isn't really pushing Goldfish Puffs to the gluten-free crowd. The press release indicates the company is marketing this to teens as a "fun reinvention of one of their favorite childhood snacks."

As I said in my previous post, I think Goldfish are a great snack for any age. I was eating the original Goldfish for about 40 years before I was diagnosed with celiac.

The company is also marketing Goldfish Puffs as healthy because they are "baked, with no artificial preservatives and offer 10g whole grains per serving."

Goldfish Puffs come in three flavors. I had already tried the Mega Cheese variety after finding it in my local Target (the only store where I've seen them) and really liked them. But the company was kind enough to send me packages of all three varieties along with the press release, so now I've tried all of them.

I have to say I liked the Cheddar Bacon flavor even more than the Mega Cheese. I'll definitely be buying more of those.

The other flavor, Buffalo Wing, is okay, but I like the other two more.

Goldfish Puffs are sold in 7-ounce packages for a suggested retail price of $2.99. The company says 2-ounce bags will also be available in convenience stores for 99 cents.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Gluten-free pancakes even I can make

One of the drawbacks to my gluten-free diet is my lack of cooking skills. I have a feeling I'd have it a lot easier time if I was just a better cook.

So I appreciate products that make things easy for me, like Glutino's instant gluten-free pancake mix. The company sent me a sample this week and I found that, yes, even I could make them very quickly and easy.

The mix comes in a plastic carton with instructions to just add a cup of water and shake it. Suddenly, you have instant pancake batter.

The carton says you can make 10 to 12 pancakes but, I just made one big pancake with some batter left over.

It cooked quickly and easily and tasted like, well, a regular pancake. I was pleased.

I haven't seen this in local stores but Glutino said is available nationwide. The suggested retail price for the 6.67-ounce carton is $5.29.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bonefish bread gone forever

Bonefish Grill in Mandarin has been one of my favorite gluten-free spots. Not only are they attentive to people with celiac or other gluten intolerances and have a good selection of meal options, but they used to also offer gluten-free bread!

This was not a regular feature of the Bonefish chain -- this was just something special offered by the Mandarin location and it made it worth the trip. However, the gluten-free bread is gone forever.

There was no bread available on my last trip there several months ago, and I was told the restaurant was having some kind of supply issue. On my latest visit last night, I asked about the bread and the waiter went to check on the situation. He came back with the disappointing news that they are not going to be getting the gluten-free bread back.

Oh well. You can still get a good, apparently safe, gluten-free meal at Bonefish. But the bread made the trip special, and I'll miss that.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Celiac Support Group of Jacksonville meets Tuesday

After some searching for a new venue, it looks like the Celiac Support Group of Jacksonville has a new place and will hold its regular monthly meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m.

To make a long story short, group founder Kristin changed jobs, which necessitated finding a new venue. Now we're going to meet at Kristin's new office at The Windsor Assisted Living and Memory Care Welcome Center at 6331 Roosevelt Blvd., in the Target shopping center.

The group meets on the third Tuesday of every month. If you've never been, it's a good, generally informal, gathering of fellow celiacs to share ideas and just commiserate about our issues.

If you're interested in more information, send me an e-mail.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Gluten-free cronut recipe

I've mentioned many times that I don't really cook, so I'm not going to try this. However, in response to my Florida Times-Union column yesterday pining for doughnuts, Glutino sent me this recipe for gluten-free cronuts.

Cronuts, if you don't know, are a combination of croissant and doughnut and are apparently insanely popular. I don't know why they're considered better than a regular doughnut, but whatever.

So anyway, here's the recipe:

By Beth Hillson on behalf of Glutino

2  1/3  cups Glutino Gluten-Free Pantry All-Purpose Flour Mix
¾ cup sorghum flour
1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
¾ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1cup milk
½ cup half-and-half cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Butter Square
20 tablespoons (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cold
3 tablespoons Glutino Gluten-Free Pantry All-Purpose Flour Mix

Additional Glutino Gluten-Free Pantry All-Purpose Flour Mix for rolling out the dough

Grape seed oil or safflower oil for frying

Glaze (combine and mix until smooth)
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons half-and-half cream

To Start:
In a large bowl, combine Glutino Gluten-Free Pantry All-Purpose Flour Mix, sorghum flour, xanthan gum, and salt.  Whisk for 1 minute.  Add the sugar and whisk to combine.   Add the yeast and whisk again for about 30 seconds.  Set aside. 

Warm the milk with the cream until it reaches about 100 degrees F.  Add the vanilla.   In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour and sugar mixture.  On low speed, add the warm milk.  Beat until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes. The dough will be smooth.  Transfer to a lightly oiled large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit at room temperature preferably in a warm, draft-free area for 30 minutes.

Spray a large sheet of plastic wrap with vegetable spray.  Turn the dough out onto the wrap and press gently into a rectangle, about 1 ½ inches thick.  Shape, but don’t press too hard.  Cover well and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.  This can also sit overnight.

Cut the butter into small pieces. Place in the bowl of a standing mixer and add the 3 tablespoons of Glutino Gluten-Free Pantry All-Purpose Flour Mix.  Using the paddle attachment, on low speed blend the butter and flour until smooth and blended.  Depending on how warm your kitchen is, this can take 30 to 90 seconds.  

Turn onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a 9×9-inch square. The butter should still be cool but workable.  If it’s too soft, refrigerate for 10 minutes while rolling out the dough. 
Take the dough from the refrigerator and roll out to a 12.5 x 12.5 inch square. Place the butter square in the center of the dough.  Roll the sides of dough over to meet in the center on top of the butter so that this becomes a 9-x- 12.5 inch rectangle, and roll out just enough to blend the folded edges of the dough into the butter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, place the dough so that the seam is horizontal and roll it out to about 15 x 9 inches.  Brush excess flour from the dough’s surface and fold it in thirds, like the shape of a  business envelope.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set on a tray or baking sheet.  Let rest in the refrigerator for 40 minutes. That’s one turn.

You’ll want to do this twice more.  Be sure the dough is well-chilled between turns.
The rectangle might get larger each time you roll it out.  That’s okay. Just remember to fold it in thirds each time.

Once you have completed your last turn, chill the dough again for 30 to 40 minutes.

Dust a sheet of parchment paper with flour blend.  Set the dough on the paper and cover with a second sheet.  Roll the dough out to about 2 inches thick (the depth of your donut cutter).  Use a donut or biscuit cutter to cut the dough.  Or cut out 2 ½ to 3-inch rounds, then cut out the centers.  Cover and let rise for 20 minutes. 

Heat 2 inches of grape seed or safflower oil in a fryer or deep frying pan until the oil reaches 350 degrees.  Add two G-Fronuts at a time and fry until golden brown.  They brown quickly so don’t take your eyes off these.  Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.  Repeat, frying two at a time, until all the G-Fronuts have been fried. 

Call in all your friends.  Drizzle G-Fronuts with glaze and eat while they are warm. 

Beth Hillson is the author of Gluten-Free Makeovers and created this recipe on behalf of Glutino.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Gluten-free goldfish!

For most of my life, my favorite snack was cheddar cheese Goldfish crackers. I know I was eating them for about 40 years because I remember feeding them to my dog when I was a kid (they seemed to be her favorite snack too).

Of course, that all ended when I went gluten free. Just another favorite food I missed.

So I was very excited a few days ago to read that Pepperidge Farm is producing a gluten-free variety of Goldfish!

The gluten-free Goldfish are actually called Goldfish Puffs and come in three flavors: mega cheese, cheddar bacon and buffalo wing.

At first I couldn't find them in stores but after reading a post about them on Facebook's celiac disease group, I learned that some people were buying them at Target. So I went to my local Target and did find them. I bought a bag of mega cheese Goldfish Puffs.

The verdict: they are, of course not the same as traditional Goldfish but compared with other gluten-free crackers, these are really good. I have a feeling I'm going to be eating a lot of these.

The back of the package says Goldfish Puffs are gluten free, but there is no indication that they are certified as gluten free. I did read concerns from some people about that in the Facebook group. As I've said before, I don't have the same gluten sensitivity as some other celiacs but if you are sensitive, I can't say for sure if I could recommend these. But I have no reason to think they are dangerous for celiacs either, other than the lack of certification. So you'll have to decide for yourself.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mid-year gluten-free tax deduction update

Since we've hit the midway point of the year, I thought it would be a good time to review my progress in trying to take the gluten-free tax deduction on my federal income taxes.

If you were unaware, the government allows those of us with celiac disease to take a deduction for the increased cost of gluten-free foods. Basically, you have to calculate the difference between what you pay for  gluten-free items and what it would cost for the equivalent normal food item.

There are two drawbacks to this. One is that it's a very tedious deduction to calculate. I've been keeping a spreadsheet recording all of my gluten-free purchases and trying to find equivalent items to compare them with. That hasn't been a lot of fun.

The second drawback is that this gluten-free deduction is considered a medical expense. You are only allowed to deduct medical expenses if they total more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.

If you don't have major medical expenses (I haven't had any so far and I don't anticipate any this year), it's unlikely that your expenses will reach the 7.5 percent threshold.

Sure enough, I've added up all of my excess gluten-free costs for the six months of the year and it comes to a grand total of about $250.

So for all the work I've put into calculating this, I'm probably not going to get any benefit. And I'm still stuck paying for all those gluten-free extras.

Oh well.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dunkin' Donuts to offer gluten-free donuts!!!!

Fantastic news from Dunkin' Donuts.

According to Business Week, the restaurant chain is going to be selling gluten-free cinnamon donuts and blueberry muffins in all its stores later this year.

I knew Dunkin' was test-marketing gluten-free donuts in South Florida and was hoping to try them on my next visit there. But this is even better.

I really wasn't eating all that many donuts before being diagnosed with celiac but when someone tells you you can't have something, you just crave them even more. So I want my Dunkin' donut.

You can read the full Business week story here:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gluten-free corn dogs surprisingly good

I've never been a fan of corn dogs. Not that I have anything against them, just that I've never looked at a corn dog and said "I've got to have one." Wherever they sold corn dogs, there always seemed to be something else I'd rather have.

But put the words "gluten-free" in front of something and suddenly, I've got to try it. So when I was looking at the Applegate Farms products in Publix and saw gluten-free corn dogs, well....

I've had several other Applegate Farms products that I really like, such as chicken fingers and chicken tenders (I eat a lot of their chicken tenders), so naturally I had to give these corn dogs a try.

The verdict -- they were surprisingly good. I really didn't expect to enjoy them as much as I did.

I wish I could tell you how they compare with other corn dogs, but I really can't remember ever having one. I'm sure I have somewhere, sometime. But like I said, I just don't think about corn dogs normally, so I can't remember.

But I can see myself buying these again.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Canyon Bakehouse buns on sale at Native Sun

My favorite gluten-free hamburger buns are on sale this month at Native Sun.

The buns are made by Canyon Bakehouse, but I haven't bought them in a long, long time because of the price. Finally, Native Sun put them on sale again for $4.65 for a package of 4. That's about the equivalent of a package of Udi's buns at Publix, which I've been buying instead. The normal price for Canyon Bakehouse is $6.60.

Really, if you haven't tried them before and you can get to Native Sun, try them now.

I got to meet the owners of Canyon Bakehouse a while back at a gluten-free conference and told them how much I liked the product. I was hoping they would offer me some freebies, but no such luck. Oh well.

Actually, I should say these are my favorite buns that you can buy retail. I really like the gluten-free buns available at Epik Burger, but they get them from their food service company and I don't think they are available retail.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Schar deli bread good, but pricey

I've always liked Schar's products, particularly their par-baked rolls, which are some of the best gluten-free rolls I've tried.

So I was intrigued when I saw another Schar product in Native Sun, which it calls "deli-style bread." It looks really good in the package, like big slices of rye bread, which is something I really miss. The label says you can eat this bread right out of the package, without toasting.

But here's the problem. There are only 5 slices in the package, and I think the price was $5.76. We're used to paying ridiculously high prices, but this seems over the top. And why 5 slices? I mean, they couldn't put an even number in there? Or are we supposed to make a sandwich with one slice of bread?

Anyway, the deli-style bread has been on sale at Native Sun for $3.99 this month, which is still pricey for 5 slices of bread. But at that price, I decided to try it.

I bought some Boar's Head pastrami to see if this could make me feel normal again, like I was eating and old-fashioned pastrami-on-rye.

The verdict? Yes it made for a pretty good sandwich. It didn't taste like rye bread, but it had a good flavor and it held up well.

Is it good enough to keep buying at these prices? Well, once in a while. But it's not something I can afford to buy every day. That's pretty much the same as all of Schar's products. I like them, but I'll go broke if I keep buying them.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Kiddie TV show ridicules gluten intolerance

Okay, I found this even more infuriating than an ignorant bartender.

According to a story posted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on a Disney Channel show called "Jessie," other kids ridiculed a child who said he was on a gluten-free diet.

I never heard of Jessie, so I don't know anything about the show. But I didn't like what I read. You can see the story here:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Some people still need celiac awareness

I was pretty optimistic in my recent Times-Union column about Celiac Awareness Month, saying that the word seems to be getting out. But I was reminded yesterday that not everybody got the memo.

I went with some friends to have a drink at Ragtime in Atlantic Beach. I was pretty sure there wouldn't be any gluten-free beer but I figured they would likely have Woodchuck or some other kind of cider.

So I asked the bartender if they had any gluten-free beer (no), and then if they had Woodchuck or some other cider (no). Then he rattled off a list of beers that they did have.

I explained no, I was looking for a gluten-free beer or cider. He got annoyed with me and listed off the beers again and said "I'm telling you what we have." He clearly had no idea what I was asking.

This is the first time in a long time that I got that kind of attitude from a restaurant server. Ragtime used to be a popular restaurant -- maybe it still is -- so I can't believe I'm the first customer to ever inquire about gluten-free beer there. Their food menu doesn't appear to be gluten-free friendly and that's fine, I don't have to eat there. But I really expect restaurant workers, especially at a place that aspires to be an upper-end restaurant,  to understand when we ask about gluten-free stuff.

I guess we still do need Celiac Awareness month.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Omission beer now at Publix

Here's another great find at Publix. They are now stocking Omission beer.

It's available at my local store and according to the Omission web site, at a lot of other local Publix supermarkets.

Besides the fact that we can buy it at the supermarket, rather than having to visit a specialty liquor store, there were a couple of other bonuses I found at my Publix:

1) It was actually available in the refrigerated beer section. Usually in my experience, gluten-free beers are not refrigerated, other than the ubiquitous Redbridge.
2) It was selling for $1 off, at least this week.

Omission has become a favorite of a lot of celiacs. The beer is made from barley, but the brewer says it has a proprietary process that removes the gluten. Each batch of Omission is tested for gluten, and you can check on the test results of your beer at the company's website.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mueller's gluten-free spaghetti now at Publix

Mueller's used to be my preferred brand of pasta, before I discovered that Publix brand spaghetti seemed to taste just the same and it cost a lot less.

That all became a moot point when I had to go gluten free. But since Publix doesn't have its own brand of gluten-free spaghetti, I was pleased to find that Mueller's has a new gluten-free spaghetti now available at Publix.

It costs $1.79 for an 8-ounce package, which is only 20 cents more than Mueller's regular spaghetti. Of course, the Publix spaghetti costs just 79 cents.

I tried it and it was good, but probably no better than the other gluten-free spaghetti I've been touting for the past two years, made by Heartland.

I've only seen Heartland spaghetti at Walmart, where a 12-ounce package costs $2.18. That makes it cheaper than the Mueller's on a cost-per-ounce basis.

But anyway, it's nice to have choices. I don't think you can go wrong with either Mueller's or Heartland. In both cases, you can find the gluten-free spaghetti in the regular pasta sections at Publix and Walmart.

In addition to spaghetti, Mueller's website says it is also coming out with gluten-free penne and fusilli products.

Here's what Mueller's says on its website about the safety of its gluten-free products:

"We follow the proposed rule in the Federal Register (72 FR 7295) that tests for gluten at the 20 parts per million level. While we do not have dedicated equipment for Mueller's Gluten Free Pasta, we have a very detailed protocol in place to prevent cross contamination and ensure safety for consumption. The gluten level of the product is verified to ensure that it does not exceed 20 parts per million."

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Unfortunately, no gluten-free subs at Firehouse

I attended a presentation last week by Firehouse Subs CEO Don Fox, and it gave me an opportunity to talk to him and Dough Reifschneider, the company's head of marketing, about the possibility of gluten-free subs at Firehouse.

Unfortunately, the answer is no.

It is a disappointment, but I can't say I blame them. There are two issues with sub shops. One is getting fresh gluten-free sub rolls. But probably the biggest issue is finding a clean area to prepare subs that are not cross-contaminated with gluten.

With the relatively small sub preparation space in Firehouse, it would be difficult to ensure the restaurants could provide a gluten-free sandwich, Reifschneider told me.

We can't expect Firehouse to reconfigure the restaurants to accommodate a small percentage of its potential customer base.

At least we do have Larry's Giant Subs providing gluten-free subs in the Jacksonville area. They're getting their sub rolls from the Cookie Momsters bakery in Jacksonville.

The staff there has been trained to try and avoid cross-contamination, but they also have a small preparation area. I haven't heard any stories about people getting sick from a Larry's gluten-free sub but if you have a severe reaction to gluten, you might be taking a risk at Larry's and any other sandwich shop that offers gluten-free options.

Friday, May 3, 2013

P.F. Chang's and Mellow Mushroom pass gluten-free test

This is good stuff. First Coast News took Jennifer Gornto of Gluten-Free Jacksonville out to three restaurants to test if their gluten-free food was actually gluten free.

I was very pleased to see that P.F. Chang's passed the test. Considering all the precautions that P.F. Chang's takes with its gluten-free menu, it would have been very disheartening if it failed.

A Mellow Mushroom pizza also passed the test.

However, mashed potatoes at Chili's failed. Since I never had any plans to eat mashed potatoes at Chili's, I really didn't care about that.

You can see the full report here:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May is Celiac Awareness Month

It's May, and you know what that means. It's Celiac Awareness Month.

This is my third awareness month since being diagnosed with celiac disease, and I think a lot of progress has been made in educating food preparers about the disease and the need for the gluten-free diet.

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness is starting a campaign this month called "Fuel the Family." Celiac disease is a genetic disorder so if you have it, there's a good chance that other members of your family have it (although it's not a guarantee).

The NFCA's program is encouraging family members of celiacs to get tested to see if they may have it also.

You can read more about Fuel the Family and other Celiac Awareness Month information on the NFCA website at

Monday, April 29, 2013

Better onion rings at Epik Burger

I made a second visit to Epik Burger today. The first time I went, which was actually at a pre-opening event, I said the onion rings were thin and soft. However, since then, I talked to Korey Konopasek, the owner, and he said he finally got the onion rings recipe right.

He did. My onion rings today were big, thick and crispy. Yes, we have gluten-free onion rings in Jacksonville.

I also have to say I continue to be impressed with the buns. I got a regular burger today and, just like with my chicken sandwich the last time, the bun held together.

I met two other celiacs there today who were trying Epik Burger for the first time. They said they were enjoying their meals.

This is looking like a very good place for us. If you haven't found it, Epik Burger is on Atlantic Boulevard in a strip shopping mall at the intersection with Girvin Road.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Your Pie impresses with gluten-free program

I finally got to visit the new Your Pie pizza restaurant on Fleming Island yesterday.

It's a long ways away from my home at the beach, but at least franchise owner Mike Sims is working on opening a second location at Tapestry Park. I'm looking forward to that (and possibly a future beach location) because this is a place I want to visit again.

Your Pie is great for celiacs for two reasons: it has a large variety of gluten-free pizza options, and it also has a good program in place to try to avoid cross-contamination.

Mike admits that it's impossible in a pizza place to give a 100 percent guarantee against cross-contamination because of the pizza dough dust flying around (Tommy of Tommy's Brick Oven Pizza says the same thing), but they are doing everything they can.

I'll be writing more about this in my Times-Union column next month. But they took me into the kitchen to show me how they prepare gluten-free pizzas separately from other pies, and I was impressed.

I got to sample three pizzas, a barbeque chicken, thai chicken and regular pepperoni. I liked them all. I'd say the barbeque chicken was my favorite.

If you're not out in Clay County, you may not find your way to Your Pie. But hopefully they'll be opening more locations near you in the not-too-distant future.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Epik Burger opens today

Epik Burger, a new Jacksonville restaurant that features burgers and a number of other sandwiches available on gluten-free buns, opens today.

I was able to attend a pre-opening event last night. As much as I've been looking forward to having a gluten-free burger, I decided to order a buffalo chicken sandwich because that's something I haven't been able to have in more than two years.

I was impressed by the gluten-free bun, because this was a very sloppy sandwich but the bun held it together.

The menu is impressive. In addition to a number of burgers you can order on a gluten-free bun, it also has chicken burgers, veggie burgers and a tuna burger you can order gluten free. There are a whole bunch of things on the menu that I'm looking forward to trying. You can check on the menu on their website at

Instead of fries, I of course ordered the gluten-free onion rings. I've only found gluten-free onion rings in one other place, Yeah Burger in Atlanta.

The rings were thin and soft -- I would have preferred crispy onion rings -- but they tasted good.

The restaurant is located in a strip shopping center on Atlantic Boulevard at the intersection of Girvin Road.

You'll want to check this place out.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Gluten-free pizza in Delaware

I found myself in Delaware over the weekend, drinking lots of wine because I couldn't find gluten-free beer anywhere I went -- I think at this point, every hotel bar should stock gluten-free beer, but that's another story.

Since I found a new pizza chain with gluten-free pizzas, I thought I should share my experience. I went to a place called Seasons Pizza with a bunch of family members, thinking I may have to have a salad for dinner. But I was pleased to find gluten-free pizza on the menu.

Seasons is a chain with more than 25 locations mainly in Delaware and Maryland, but also in Southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

I tried to order sausage on my pizza but the waitress told me that the sausage had gluten in it. I figured that was a good sign, showing that she was aware of gluten-free needs.

The pizza tasted very good. The one problem, that I have seen with other extremely thin gluten-free crusts, was that the crust kind of stuck to the baking sheet. But I did enjoy it.

If only they had gluten-free beer to go with my pizza...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

El's Kitchen gluten-free snacks now at Publix

Another brand of gluten-free snacks has made its way to Publix store shelves.

El's Kitchen, a Stratford, Conn., company produces a line of gluten-free snack "Medleys" that are available now in Publix stores. The medley consists of pretzels, potato chips, corn nuts, bagel chips and corn chips.

El's is also introducing a line of bagel chips, called "Snaps," that company President Eleanor "El" Smith hopes will be in the stores soon. El sent me bags of the Snaps, so I was able to try them too.

El is not gluten free herself but said she starting making gluten-free snacks three years ago when she found that one of her best friends from childhood was celiac.

I enjoyed all the snacks I tried. I only tried the Medley's original, but they also come in cheddar and sour cream and onion varieties.

The Snaps come in cinnamon and sugar, garlic and herb and sea salt varieties.

The only drawback, like with everything else gluten free, is the price. The Medley's cost $5.29 for a 5-ounce bag. I don't know what the price is for the Snaps, which come in 4-ounce bags.

If we're lucky, maybe Publix will have a BOGO sale on them.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Larry's Giant Subs now offers gluten-free rolls throughout the chain

It seems like I keep getting a lot of good gluten-free news lately, and here's another one: Larry's Giant Subs is now offering subs on gluten-free rolls throughout the chain.

Larry's began testing the gluten-free rolls at four company-owned restaurants last fall, but now they are available throughout the system, Chairman and President Larry Raikes said.

Larry's gets its rolls from the Cookie Momsters bakery. Raikes said the company is going through 400 to 500 gluten-free rolls a week.

"It's catching on," he said.

Larry's does charge $2.25 extra for the gluten-free rolls, but Raikes said customers don't seem to mind paying extra. I'm one of those people. I'm just happy to be able to go out and get a gluten-free sub.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Gluten-free buns and beer are back at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville

I spent Opening Day of the major league baseball season at home with my own gluten-free hot dogs (with Udi's buns) and beer.

But I also have some good news for those of you ready to go out to the ballpark. The Jacksonville Suns will once again have gluten-free dogs and beer, along with other gluten-free items, available at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

"We're going to have exactly the same thing we had last year," said Jamie Davis, the Suns' general manager for ballpark foods.

That means you can go up to the Sundowner Lounge, a bar and lounge inside the ballpark, and order hot dogs and beer.

Davis said the Suns got a pretty good response last year when they first offered the gluten-free items. The response was not big enough for the team to offer the gluten-free items at its regular concession stands, at least for now. They are only available in the Sundowner Lounge. But it least it looks like the gluten-free items are here to stay.

So take me out to the ballpark!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Ale House has Omission beer

More good news on the gluten-free beer/sports bar front.

Miller's Jacksonville Ale House at the intersection of Beach and Hodges Boulevards now has Omission on its beer menu.

This is good news on two fronts. It's another place to watch sports with a gluten-free beer, and it's also the first restaurant or bar I've seen that's serving Omission, which has become a favorite of many gluten-free beer drinkers.

By the way, Omission will also be available at The Players Championship golf tournament in May.

The only downside to this news is that there's nothing I want to eat at the Ale House. It has a gluten-free menu, but I feel like telling them "why bother?"

You can get a steak or the seafood catch of the day, but everything else on the gluten-free menu is very unappealing. For example, you can order clams or oysters but the menu says "please order without cocktail sauce."

You can order a salad, but "please order with no salad dressing." Seriously???!!!!

Oh well, at least I can say this is the only place to drink a gluten-free beer and watch hockey -- the Ale House does offer the NHL Home Ice package.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A day for chicken noodle soup

It's ridiculously cold in Jacksonville this morning, at least for the last week in March. So I decided I needed some chicken noodle soup.

I noticed cans of gluten-free chicken noodle soup at Publix recently and seeing that I haven't had that in more than two years, I've been pining for it. So in light of the weather, I decided to pay the ridculously high price ($3.39 for a 15-ounce can). I needed chicken noodle soup.

It's a brand I've never tried called Gluten Free Cafe. The result: it was a little bit bland but otherwise, it was just fine. The noodles tasted just like any other noodles I remember. But at that price, it's not something I'm going to stock up on.

Fortunately, this should be the coldest day we have until next November or December, so I won't be compelled to buy it again for a while. Now I just have to buy my gluten-free hot dogs and buns to get ready for baseball season next week.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Goodbye Gluten wraps coming to Publix

It's been more than two years since I've had a good burrito and I've missed it. There really isn't any local restaurant that offers a gluten-free burrito, because they just don't have big enough gluten-free tortillas to make them.

I've tried to make my own burritos but like other gluten-free bread products, the tortillas crumpled in my hands and left me with a mess.

So I was very pleased to get some samples of new gluten-free wraps from a company called Goodbye Gluten. I haven't seen them in my local store, but the company says they're launching them in Publix stores in Florida.

The first thing I tried was a simple sandwich. I rolled some cold cuts into a wrap and it worked out great. The wrap held together and I enjoyed the sandwich.

Then I tried the real test, making a chicken burrito. I figured the hot chicken strips would be a better test than cold lunch meat.

So I put the chicken and other ingredients on top of the wrap and folded it up. I can't say it completely held up. There was some crumpling but then again, the regular flour-tortilla burritos I used to enjoy also crumpled on me when filled. I do think these wraps held up better than the other gluten-free tortillas I've tried.

Goodbye Gluten also touts the flavor of their wraps, but I've always felt the flavor of the ingredients inside of the wrap is what matters, not the wrap itself. So I can't really say one way or the other if these wraps had better flavor.

So the bottom line is, yes, I think Goodbye Gluten's wraps are worth a try.

Goodbye Gluten wraps come in plan and multigrain varieties (I got to try both). The suggested retail price for a bag of six wraps is $4.99.