I don't know about you, but my whole family is not gluten-free. For most of my 4 years of being gluten-free, I was the only one in the house who was living a strict gluten-free lifestyle. Then about a year ago my mom decided to begin going gluten-free and noticed that it helped some of her health issues and continued to move to a completely gluten-free life just like me. But my brother is not gluten-free. Now I don't have to really deal much with it since he is off at college, but there are still gluten-filled foods in the house and he does come home often. But when he was living at home regularly I had to make sure cross-contamination would not affect my health (a huge concern for Celiacs).
When most people first go gluten-free for Celiac they either go all the way and clear out the kitchen and the whole family converts to gluten-free, or they take a slower approach and just buy some new essentials and may be the only on in the house who is gluten-free. Which ever path you chose there are some critical and essential things you should do in your kitchen to protect yourself for the dreaded enemy.
1. Buy a new toaster and designate it GF only. You don't need anything fancy, we just bought a cheap little white toaster and it does the job. If you share a toaster with gluten it is just like rubbing you GF bread on a plate that just had normal bread on it...no good! Also remember to place a dish towel or other cover over the slots when it is not in use so no gluten crumbs fall in!
2. Keep those wooden utensils far away, or throw them out entirely! Never ever use a shared wooden spoon to mix you gluten-free pasta. The wood has pores and even if you wash it thoroughly gluten stays in the wood and will make you sick! Opt for plastic and make sure to wash it thoroughly if your share the utensil. Other things you should get your own GF version of are cutting boards and colanders. These are breeding grounds for cross-contamination. Play it safe and but a GF version.
3. The Sponge issue. Some will continue to use the same sponge that they use to wash gluten dishes as well as gluten-free. But the safest thing to do I believe is to have separate sponges. Just like wooden utensils, sponges are all pores and trap gluten, so be safe a have two sponges. But when you can, always use the dish washer as much as possible. Then you don't have to worry!
4. Clean the counters OFTEN! If you have a gluten-eater constantly using the kitchen, make sure to wipe down your counters with cleaner before cooking anything you want gluten-free on them. Even if you are just going to place a cutting board down to chop some veggies, clean the counter before you do so.
5. Have designated G-Free shelves or areas in the panty, fridge, and freezer. This makes it easier on everyone. All of the gluten-free products can be easily found together and have their own safe shelf. You can even go as far as to keep the gluten-free products on a high shelf then gluten-filled products so something falls in the GF products! Take special care with flours and grains. these need to be kept completely away form their gluten-free counter parts!
6. G-Free Labels! When I went to the GFAF Expo in September, I met Kelly, the founder of Glutenfree Labels. She created easy labels, tags, flags, and stickers to label all of her gluten-free foods and appliances. They are great for when you are bringing a GF dish to a party and want to alert everyone to the fact that this dish and utensil is gluten-free. They are also great for the kitchen to easily label anything gluten-free as so! The labels and tags are dishwasher-safe so you can always reuse them!
7. Having separate essentials. I don't have this problem myself since I am the only one in the house who eats expensive nut butters and such, but my mom needs to be careful with her essential items like peanut butter and normal butter. Make sure you buy a separate jar or bottles of this types of essential and. You don't want a knife that was just used to spread butter on a piece of wheat bread going back in and contaminating the whole jar!
8. Foil those pans when you can! If you are using a baking sheet to make some fish or roast some veggies, always use foil on the pan, never place it right down. Unless you have a designated GF pan, but that is unnecessary. You could even use a designated non-stick mat as well, but foil is your friend in these scenarios.
These are just some of the top precautions I think are important when keeping your kitchen safe from gluten. Cross-contamination is a serious issue for those of us with Celiac, allergies, and extreme intolerances. No one wants to have a nice dinner at home and a few hours/minutes/days later be sick and living in the bathroom for the next few days. Being glutened is no fun, but I have been able to keep myself safe by taking these precautions.
So tell me:
Is your whole family gluten-free or is it just you?
What other precautions do you take to keep from being glutened at home? (Note: I said at home. Eating out of the home is a whole other post worthy beast!)
**All photos courtesy of Google Images!**