This series is aimed at helping people who are on a gluten-free diet, but suspect that they are consuming gluten unintentionally. It is also great for anyone who is just starting out on the diet.
Please read Part 1 – Gluten-Free Food
After you have made sure the food you are eating is indeed gluten free, next you need to take a look at your home. Specifically, your kitchen.
Look for Cross Contamination at Home
If you do not have a gluten-free kitchen, you need to be very careful. It only takes a crumb (actually even less) to make someone sick. A completely gluten free kitchen and home is certainly the safest way to go, but it is not the only option.
For ten years I was the only person out of five in our family who needed to be on a gluten-free diet. My husband and I decided we would not eliminate all gluten from our house, but we knew that we needed to do whatever it would take to make sure I was healthy and not accidentally consuming gluten.
Here’s what we do:
- My kitchen cabinets, work space, and cooking tools are all gluten free.
- I only cook and bake gluten free food.
- We keep a portable counter at one end of our kitchen that holds all the gluten-containing foods.
This is not the one we use, but you get the idea.
Keep the gluten contained. When I first started on the gluten-free diet, gluten filled breads and cereals were still in the main part of the kitchen. I was also having gluten reactions on a fairly regular basis. When we moved all the gluteny foods to a separate cabinet that was away from my cooking area, there was a big drop in how often I was getting sick.
Get rid of wheat flour. While we do have gluten filled foods in our house, I do not have any gluten containing flours in my house. Personally, I think it is almost impossible to bake with wheat flour and fix gluten-free meals in the same kitchen. Flour gets in the air (which means it can get in someone’s mouth and be swallowed) and can settle anywhere.
Have separate cooking tools. If you decided to cook gluten-filled foods such as pasta for those in your family who can eat it, it is a good idea to have separate utensils and other cooking items. Look for things that are particularly difficult to clean. Colanders with all their little holes can pose a problem. Having two of them is a good idea. Porous items are also a concern such as wooden spoons and cutting boards.
Have two toasters. Toasters are full of crumbs and can certainly make a gluten-free person sick. At our house we have two toasters—a black one for gluten containing bread and a white one for gluten-free bread.
Have separate condiments. Keep two of anything that people dip a knife into, spread on their bread, and then dip again. This includes butter, mayonnaise, jelly, and peanut butter. Use a sharpie or bright round stickers to label the gluten-free condiments.
Consider separate squeeze bottles. Squeeze bottles are less of a problem than jars that are dipped into, but people are still handling the bottles with crumbs on their hands. It is also possible that the top of the bottle will touch the bread and a crumb could stick to it. I got very sick from such an accident years ago. I used a bottle of honey that my young kids had used with their English muffins. After I got sick I went back and looked at the honey bottle and there was a very large crumb stuck to the top right next to the hole where the honey comes out. Apparently there had been another crumb there too.
Keep surfaces clean. Surfaces are a place where crumbs can go unnoticed. Be sure that tables and counters are wiped well. A good way to make sure they are clean is to get eye level with the surface. You might be surprised by what you see!
As you can see, there are lots of opportunities for gluten cross contamination in your own home, and I have probably forgotten some.
The Gluten Free Survival Guide is a very practical and thorough eBook which I recommend to beginners. The link to the survival guide is an affiliate link which will take you to another site.