By Julie Householder | firstname.lastname@example.org
Whether you have Celiac Disease, gluten sensitivity or just prefer eating gluten-free, it can seem impossible to find restaurants that cater to your preferences. The utter frustration that arises when you hear a server at a restaurant say “well our salads are gluten free” can be quite irksome. When I first found out that I had a gluten sensitivity, I dreaded eating out because I knew that the only thing I would be able to safely consume was salad. Fortunately, more restaurants are beginning to offer more gluten-free items and gluten-free menus.
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, “Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barely and triticale [hybrid of wheat].” Gluten is like the glue that holds together baked goods and pasta. It can be found in so many unexpected places such as: Imitation crab, soy sauce, oats, salad dressings, licorice, soups thickened with flour, seasoning packets, various alcoholic beverages and the list goes on.
I had to learn the hard way that where and how food is prepared is just as important as knowing what foods contain gluten. If I were to order French fries, which are typically gluten-free (if the fries are not battered), and they were cooked in a fryer that made foods that contained gluten, I would still get sick. Cross-contamination can occur when food comes in contact with gluten in shared storage or cooking areas. Even using the same utensil or putting bread in a toaster that made non-gluten free toast can create serious issues for anyone with Celiac disease.
Thankfully, St. Augustine has various locations that offer gluten free options. Here are a few of my favorite places:
This hidden gem is located in historic downtown St. Augustine and has French, Italian and Spanish inspired dishes. They offer homemade gluten-free bread, gluten-free pasta (including homemade chicken and kale raviolis) and gluten-free/dairy-free brownies. Everything on the menu is made to order. Different cooking utensils and cookware are used to prevent cross-contact with gluten.
Creative Juices is located in the Lighthouse Plaza Shopping Center on Anastasia Island. It is known for it’s healthy and creative food that includes gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian specialties. Creative juices offers an assortment of fresh pressed juices, smoothies, salads, homemade soups, sandwiches and breakfast all day. My favorite part is that the entire menu is gluten free. Worry not gluten eaters, they have wheat options!
Whenever I am in a serious need of a great pizza I tend to find myself headed towards Mellow Mushroom on Anastasia Island. This restaurant has a separate station where all the gluten-free pizza is prepared. The gluten-free pizzas are set on steel pizza screens to keep them from touching gluten while in the oven.
Every morning in Uptown St. Augustine, Luli’s Cupcakes bakes a delicious variety of cupcakes, cake pops, ice cream treats, mini cupcakes and macaroons. Luli’s has its own shelf for gluten free cupcakes and macaroons. They separate all of the ingredients and have marked pans that are specifically used to make all of the gluten free goodies.
For more information regarding gluten or how to eat gluten free, visit: https://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/glutenfreediet/what-is-gluten/