11 Ways to Keep a Gluten-Free Kitchen
Combat cross contamination if you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity
Trying to stay gluten free? If you have celiac disease, it’s a must — eating even a few crumbs of wheat bread can trigger an immune reaction that damages your small intestine and ultimately prevents your body from absorbing the nutrients it needs. But if the rest of your family isn’t gluten free, how can you possibly avoid cross-contamination and keep a truly gluten-free kitchen?
It’s not easy, but it’s possible.
Related: 14 Surprising Places Gluten Hides
Practice counter-surveillance. Make sure prep surfaces are crumb free. Wipe your counters down before (and after) you use them. And since faucet fixtures, oven handles, cupboard knobs and even the refrigerator door handle can harbor crumbs, clean them regularly.
Designate a gluten-free cutting board. Earmark a separate cutting board for the person with gluten issues and write her name on it with an indelible marker. “I recommend using plastic or acrylic cutting boards,” says Nancy Farrell, MS, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and owner of Farrell Dietitian Services in Fredericksburg, Virginia. For one, you can run the boards through the dishwasher to sanitize them. And unlike wooden boards, plastic ones don’t develop tiny crevices where crumbs can hang out. Another nice thing about acrylic and plastic boards: They come in colors, which makes telling them apart a lot easier.
Also, designate separate boards for bread, meat and produce, and label what each board is used for. That way, no one will accidentally cut veggies on a board that’s been used for bread.
Buy a separate toaster for gluten-free breads. Mark it “gluten-free” to be safe. Ditto for pancake griddles, waffle irons and even coffee grinders and coffee makers if your coffee contains gluten (some do, says Farrell).
Buy separate condiments and spreads and label them “gluten-free.” Items including mustard, relish, peanut butter, jelly, mayo or butter can get contaminated if someone double dips — puts a knife that touched gluten-containing bread into that mayo or mustard. Another option: buy condiments in squeezable containers.
Keep gluten-free foods on a designated shelf. And make sure that shelf is above the one that holds gluten-containing foods. That way if food spills, the gluten-free items won’t get tainted.
Store gluten-free flour, pasta and grains in glass jars and label the jar “gluten-free.” Also, designate a set of scoops to use only with those jars.
Buy a gluten-free cereal the whole family likes. But avoid foods containing oats unless they’re certified as gluten-free. Some oats are produced in a plant that produces wheat, barley or rye, says Farrell.
Don’t mix snacks. Give gluten-free snacks their own home, be it a shelf, canister or drawer, and label that home “gluten-free.” That will reduce the chance your loved one will mistakenly nosh on the wrong munchie.
Use metal or plastic spoons for mixing. Wash them thoroughly afterwards or run them through the dishwasher. Like wooden cutting boards, wooden spoons can harbor crumbs in tiny crevices.
Scrub pots, pans, utensils and bowls before using them for gluten-free food prep.Consider earmarking certain pans and bowls for gluten-free recipes.
Wash your hands. If you’ve handled foods containing gluten, wash your hands carefully before you touch a gluten-free item. One strategy to consider: Prepare gluten-free foods first.