Monday, February 29, 2016

Food allergy group plans day camp

The Food Allergy Families of St. Johns is planning a day camp Saturday for kids to educate them about nutrition and cooking with allergens.

The event is being organized by a local teenager with celiac but is open to all children who are interested, regardless of whether or not they have celiac.

The event is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Mandarin United Methodist Church.

For more information, check out the Food Allergy Families website at

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Red Robin finally coming to Jacksonville

It's been rumored for months and now it's finally official. Red Robin is coming to Jacksonville.

As I wrote in my Times-Union column, I've been waiting for a Red Robin to come here because it's probably the most gluten-free friendly large hamburger chain. You can get a burger on a gluten-free bun with french fries.

The Shopping Center Group today announced Red Robin will be part of a new shopping center across Town Center Parkway from the St. Johns Town Center (the parkway is the main road through the Town Center).

The center will also include an Aldi grocery store, which is great because as I've written before, Aldi has a wonderful line of proprietary gluten-free products at reasonable prices. While we already have Aldi stores in the Jacksonville area, they are sporadically located and the more they build, the merrier.

They hope to open the new shopping center in the spring of 2017.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Different take on gluten free at Seachasers

I visited the new Seachasers restaurant in Jacksonville Beach, which is an appealing destination because of its location right on the beach.

I of course asked if they have a gluten-free menu, which they don't. But the hostess did have a printout of menu items that have gluten in them. That was a different take than I've seen at other restaurants -- instead of telling me what I could have, they told me what I couldn't.

So, I ordered a grilled fish dish and told the server I had a gluten allergy. She understood my issues and said she would alert the kitchen with my order.

It was a good meal. Like I said, the best part of the restaurant is its location. It's a big new building with several different bar areas. From our table in the second floor dining room, we had a great view of the ocean.

So yes, I would visit Seachasers again.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Nothing new at new Winn-Dixie

I got to visit the new prototype Winn-Dixie store on Baymeadows Road, off of I-295, and didn't really see anything new -- from a gluten-free perspective anyway.

The new store is trying to emphasize fresh foods and has a more appealing display of its produce, but it's nothing you can't find at other Winn-Dixie stores.

The "allergy friendly" section is convenient, because it groups the frozen and non-frozen gluten-free items together in about the same spot. But I didn't see any new gluten-free products there.

The new store is also offering some new fresh items made in the store like barbecue and bakery products but, of course, this is nothing for us to eat.

So, there's no reason to make a special trip there to find any gluten-free items.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Finally: gluten-free pasta at Carrabba's

I've been waiting for five years for Carrabba's to offer gluten-free pasta and it's finally happened.

I just discovered this last week and when I checked with the company, they said it's been available at all Carrabba's Italian Grill restaurants since October.

When I was first put on a gluten-free diet, I read several surveys which rated Carrabba's as one of the best chains for gluten-free dining. But I always wondered why people seemed to like it when they didn't offer gluten-free pasta. The menu seemed very limited without it.

The restaurant's new menu includes a pretty good selection of items with a "GF" label, indicating it can be made gluten free.

The gluten-free pasta options are made with casarecce pasta, which spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts described as "a short pasta similar to penne or rotini made with corn, rice and quinoa flour."

I went last night and had a shrimp dish with a weesie sauce, which is a white wine lemon butter sauce. I really enjoyed it.

So yes, Carrabba's is finally high on my list of restaurant chains that offer satisfying gluten-free meals.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Gluten-free buns at Chick-Fil-A?

I saw a blog post out of Atlanta yesterday saying that a local Chick-Fil-A there was having a gluten-free bun tasting event.

Of course, I found this very interesting because you don't see fast food places offering gluten-free buns. Chick-Fil-A is generally gluten-free friendlier than other fast food chains. Their waffle fries are gluten free and you can also get grilled chicken nuggets that are gluten-free, so you can have a full meal there.

I contacted the company to find out more about the gluten-free buns, to see if this was something that might be rolled out nationally soon. I haven't heard back yet but I will let you know if/when I do.