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!