Mellow Mushroom – Jacksonville, FL

mellow mushroom jacksonville flWhile at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL my wife was in need of a gluten free meal and gluten free pizza was on the top of the list. A quick search revealed a Mellow Mushroom close to the Clinic. We have had good experiences at several Mellow Mushrooms across the south so she decided to give it a try. She was travelling with a friend who has a gluten intolerance. They were not disappointed with their choice. The staff was very knowledgeable about their gluten free options and cross contamination issues.

The meal was great and they ended up eating at the Mellow Mushroom twice while they were in Jacksonville. She asked if they could prepare the hummus dip appetizer with vegetables like she has gotten at other restaurants. The Jacksonville Mellow Mushroom had a great idea. They serve their gluten free pizza crust as a replacement for the normal bread that comes with the appetizer.

About a month after her first visit, my wife and her friend were back at the Mayo Clinic for more tests. My wife found a way to take her mind off the stress of continued complications of her celiac disease by being able to eat out gluten free. Her now favorite place to eat in Mellow Mushroom gluten free pizzaJacksonville is, you guessed it, the Mellow Mushroom! They went a total of four times during this trip. So when I joined them in Jacksonville it was back to the Mellow Mushroom.

The manager, J.P. Morgan, introduced himself to me and told me that he was glad “the girls” enjoyed the restaurant. He took the time to explain to me the procedures that are in place there to protect the gluten free items from cross contamination. He said the gluten free items are stored and prepared in a totally separate area of the kitchen. He also explained the training process that is in place from the corporate side which extends to all Mellow Mushroom locations. The Mellow Mushroom Jacksonville is located at 9734 Deer lake Court, Suite 1, Jacksonville, FL. The parking is adequate and there are places to shop nearby.

Our experience so far has been 6 trips/12 gluten free meals at the Mellow Mushroom in Jacksonville with no bad reactions to the food. To sum it up, I was very impressed with the gluten free pizza options available and even more impressed with the knowledge and care that the Mellow Mushroom staff and management take to ensure a great dining experience for their customers who must eat gluten free. We have more trips to make to the Clinic and we will be eating more gluten free pizza at the Mellow Mushroom!


Tax Deductions for Gluten Free Food

A gluten free diet is the medical treatment for someone diagnosed with celiac disease. Depending on the amount of income you claim on your federal income tax return, you may be able to claim tax deductions for gluten free food. These expenses are considered medical expenses if you are diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten allergy. There are a complicated set of rules and it requires detailed record-keeping but it is possible. The basics of the tax deduction for gluten free food are that you can only deduct the cost difference between a regular item and its gluten free alternative.

An example would be: A box of Bisquick might cost $2.00 but the gluten free Bisquick might cost $6.00. Your allowable deduction would be $4.00. Again, this record-keeping can be time consuming but there are ways to keep track of it using a spreadsheet or financial program like Quicken 2012 Home & Business.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Get a letter from your doctor that identifies your condition. You may not have to send this in with your tax return, keep it on file in case you are audited.
  • Make sure to save all your receipts for gluten free food.
  • The costs of naturally gluten free foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables cannot be deducted.
  • Shipping costs for items ordered online are tax deductible.
  • If the gluten free item does not have a “regular” counterpart, then the entire cost of the item is deductible.
  • Only food used by the celiac patient is covered, not food for the entire family.
  • Your mileage to and from your doctor, pharmacy and grocery store is also deductible.

One of the big issues with the medical deduction in general is that you can only claim expenses above 7.5% of your income. Like I said at the beginning of this article, your deduction will depend on the amount of income that you claim. You also have to itemize your return to claim any medical expenses. Make sure it is worth your time and effort to track these expenses. Many people go to elaborate means to track them only to find that they will not get any deduction.

There is also a deduction allowable for medical education. IRS Publication 502 states “…you may include expenses for admission and transportation to a medical conference relating the chronic disease of yourself, your spouse, or your dependent (if the costs are primarily for and essential to the medical care).” This has been ruled to include the registration of yourself, your spouse and your celiac dependent. However, you may not deduct the costs for meals and lodging while attending the medical conference.

The purpose of this article is not to give you specific medical, legal, accounting or tax advice. Please discuss these expenses with a tax professional before including them on your return. Tax laws change every year, which makes it more important to discuss this deduction with a tax professional each time you file. More information about tax deductions for gluten free food can be found in IRS Publication 502.


Kick The Holiday Blues

Do you need to kick the holiday blues? Many people seem to get depressed during the holidays and there are many reasons for this. Sometimes it is just the stress of getting things done in time or something as simple as bad weather that keeps you indoors. We cannot control many things that affect us but there are some things that we can do about it.

Here are 5 ways to help you body recover from the physical stress of the holidays from Dr. Deborah Serani. Dr. Serani is the author of the book Living with Depression: Why Biology and Biography Matter along the Path to Hope and Healingand has been interviewed on the subject for ABC News, Glamour Magazine, The Associated Press as well as served as a technical advisor on NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Sleep

The body needs a break after long periods of stress. She suggests a “pajama day” for rest and relaxation. She also suggests unplugging from technology too.

Exercise

By moving 30 minutes a day, your body can process the excess chemicals that keep your body from relaxing. Play with the kids, run with your dog, take a walk – just move.

Look Forward

Instead of dwelling on the season’s end, look forward to the next event, birthday or vacation to help you move into the new year.

Relive the Memories

Take time to relive the special memories you and your family made this holiday. Wear your new things or print pictures of the fun memories. It will help you concentrate on the fun stuff that happened.

Talk about It

When you talk to others about your experiences, it helps keep the depression from taking hold. Again, revisit good memories, talk through any sad experiences and help solidify the decisions you have made.

Remember that sometimes just random acts of kindness make you feel better. Smile at a stranger. Open a door for someone else. Thank someone for the work they do. Let another driver into the line of traffic. Give someone a ride. Run an errand for someone who is sick. Small kindnesses take little time or effort but can make a big difference in someone else’s day. Perhaps you’ll even inspire others to pay it forward.

Nexvax2 Financing

We have tried to post as much as we can about treatments for celiac disease and Nexvax2 seems to be leading the charge right now. This press release talks about the latest Nexvax2 financing and what the money will mean to research efforts.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Dec. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — ImmusanT, Inc. announced today it has raised $20 million in Series A financing from Vatera Healthcare Partners LLC to advance development of the biotechnology company’s immunotherapeutic vaccine Nexvax2®, companion diagnostic and monitoring tool for celiac disease. The proceeds will fund the Nexvax2 therapeutic and diagnostic development plan to the point of demonstrating proof-of-concept. ImmusanT expects to initiate the next clinical trial in early 2012.

“ImmusanT’s Nexvax2 and companion diagnostic address the rapidly growing number of patients diagnosed with celiac disease whose only option is a strict diet that eliminates gluten. At Vatera we seek to invest in therapies that fulfill unmet medical needs and offer a significant clinical benefit to patients. We believe that ImmusanT’s technology has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life for celiac disease patients,” said Sundar Kodiyalam, Managing Director of Vatera Holdings LLC.

ImmusanT’s product pipeline includes Nexvax2, which combines three proprietary peptides that elicit an immune response in patients with celiac disease who carry the immune recognition gene HLA-DQ2, which includes approximately 80% of patients. ImmusanT Scientific Founder and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Bob Anderson discovered the three peptides responsible for making gluten toxic to people with the disease. Nexvax2 is designed to tolerize celiac disease patients to the toxic effects of gluten, enabling them to return to a normal diet. Safety, tolerability and bioactivity of Nexvax2 have been established in a Phase 1 clinical study and presented at this year’s Digestive Disease Week.

ImmusanT is also developing a proprietary whole-blood functional T-cell test for use both as a standalone diagnostic for celiac disease and as a monitoring tool for the therapeutic. In the company’s dual-track product development strategy, clinical trial subjects will be screened using the diagnostic along with standard serology tests to identify patients most likely to respond to Nexvax2.

“There is tremendous enthusiasm for Nexvax2 from celiac patients and clinicians who want a therapy that allows patients to resume a normal diet and return to good health and improved quality of life. The financial backing and support of Vatera Healthcare Partners will allow us to round out our team and advance our research and development programs to bear out this hypothesis,” said Leslie J. Williams, Founder, President and CEO of ImmusanT, Inc.

SOURCE PR Newswire

We need to keep up the fight for celiac disease awareness and those efforts will result in more research and money dedicated to treatment of celiac disease. Just imagine if you were an investor and had the foresight to get in on a product that would be needed by 1 out of every 133 people in the world and your money was the first money in. Could be a great payday if Nexvax2 is successful.

Celiac Disease and Discrimination

It is tough for someone with celiac disease to safely dine out, especially when the plans include others that do not understand the disease. This mother of a two year old celiac child in Oklahoma just did what she had to do to keep her child safe. The group she was with decided to go to Pizza Hut so she stopped by McDonald’s and got her son a hamburger patty and fries then carried that food into the Pizza Hut. She was told by the management at Pizza Hut that she could not have the McDonald’s food in there and was asked to leave. I can see from this that celiac disease and discrimination will be a debated topic for years to come. Check out the article from the NewsOK website and let us know what you think.

The news article goes on to talk about celiac disease and its place as a disability.

The child’s mother, Candi Smithson, said the incident was much more than an inconvenience. She said it  violated her son’s rights as a person living with a disability. The mother claims food allergies that interfere with “major life activities” are considered disabilities.

Marca  Bristo, who helped craft the original Americans  with Disabilities Act during the late 1980s, agrees with Smithson.She served as chairman of the National  Council on Disability, a position she was appointed to by former President  Bill Clinton. “I do think she is right to challenge this,” Bristo said of the mother’s  ordeal. “The law’s not black and white, but if a food allergy affects life  activities, it’s got to be considered a disability and should fall under the  act.”

Bristo said the Americans with Disabilities Act, enacted in 1990, was amended  in 2008 to broaden what are considered “major life activities.” She said the  changes were necessary because “the courts had narrowed the definition of the  law” up to that point. Eating is listed as major life activity in the amended act, which went into  effect Jan. 1, 2009. “I believe her situation is covered,” Bristo said. “But that is just my  opinion.”

Smithson said she has no plans to sue Pizza Hut over what occurred Tuesday.  She said she just wants to make sure her son gets a fair shot at living a normal life. “He’s got enough to worry about,” she said. “He’s only 2, but he realizes  he’s not eating the same things we are. “I just don’t think it’s right to make him feel that way … to make him feel  like he can’t even eat with his own family.”

This incident makes it clear that more education is needed for restaurants on how to cater to celiac and gluten free issues. If this place had handled this different it probably would not have been a news story but it would have made this little boy’s day better. The restaurant was the big loser here, not only did they loose the business of the entire group that day, I’m sure people in the local area that are aware of this incident will remember it.

Celiac and Gluten Free Training for Restaurants

I found this press release today that talks about a company that provides training webinars to restaurants on celiac and gluten free menu and contamination issues. This training is needed in a big way and we will do our best here to promote it.

Kitchens with Confidence, LLC,  today announced the launch of online training focused on gluten and allergy-free dining. The 90-minute interactive webinar, AllerTrain™, a first-of-its-kind training program, educates food service providers about food allergens, intolerances, and Celiac disease. After completing the training, restaurant staff will know how to accommodate today’s growing population of special needs diners.

AllerTrain is currently certified by the Commission on Dietetic Registration – the credentialing agency for the American Dietetic Association. Registered Dietitians will receive Continuing Educational Credits for attending this live webinar.

“Registration for this training is flying off the shelf,” said Betsy Craig, Kitchens with Confidence owner and training provider. “It’s never been offered before and every class is full of excited restaurant professionals ready to learn more about the fastest growing segment in the restaurant industry – gluten and allergy free dining.”

About Kitchens with Confidence™
Kitchens with Confidence™ is the education arm of MenuTrinfo™. It was formed based on the high demand of restaurant professionals seeking education regarding how to serve the fastest growing segment in the restaurant industry – diners who suffer from food allergies, gluten intolerances, and Celiac disease. For more information on the AllerTrain™ webinar, please visit http://www.kitchenswithconfidence.com/ or call toll-free (888) 767-MENU (6368).

Source: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/11/prweb8999037.htm

Celiac and gluten free online training for restaurants focused on gluten and allergy-free dining is something that is needed for this industry. Celiac and gluten free information needs to be put in the hands of as many restaurants as will listen. While some of the major chain restaurants have some type of training program, very few of the non-franchise companies do. Share this and help get the word out!