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Creating a Safe Kitchen

 

How do you create a safe, gluten-free kitchen? Can I share a kitchen with someone who isn’t gluten-free? Can I have a safe kitchen with both gluten and gluten-free items?

How do you create a safe, gluten-free kitchen? That’s easy, toss everything…..all of your old food, packaged products, spices, etc., and start from scratch. But things are not that simple if you share a home with someone who is not gluten-free. So how can you make your shared kitchen and home safe? Well that takes a bit of effort, on everyone’s part.

I have a mixed home, as in two of us have food allergies while the others do not. I have allergies to wheat and dairy while Anderson is just allergic to dairy. Since our budget is tight, we are not able to have a household that is 100% gluten & dairy-free. While my article refers to gluten primarily, the same concept can be applied to any foods that you may be allergic to. If you’re struggling to cope with a mixed kitchen, below is how we found a balance for all.

  • Separate Gluten-Free foods from Gluten Containing Foods

This sounds like it can be a huge undertaking but I promise it’s not. I’ve learned that the best method (for us) is to separate the allergy friendly foods from the rest. We have certain shelves within our cabinets that are designated as allergy friendly. Those shelves are to contain nothing but safe foods for Anderson and myself. Every now and then, due to space limitations, we have to split a shelf; half the shelf contains safe foods while the other half does not (case in point, the pasta shelf). But we are cognizant of the fact that it’s a shared shelf and take care when selecting items from it.

  •  Buy Gluten-Free Canned Goods & Marinades

This one was pretty simple for us to decide on. There was no point in buying two kinds of canned goods when we could buy the gluten-free version for practically the same price. Same goes for soy sauces and marinades. La Choy soy sauce is gluten-free, as it is made from soy beans. There are several other gluten-free marinades that you can find for an equivalent price to their gluten counterpart.

  • Sharing Appliances

Sharing a toaster or griddle may not sound like a big deal but I promise it is! Sharing a toaster can expose you to crumbs from breads containing gluten, which can then contaminate your safe food. Buy a toaster that has 4 bread slots; designate two as safe and label it.

If you are sharing a griddle or something similar while making pancakes, be sure to make the gluten & dairy-free versions first! Again, failing to do this can result in cross-contamination.

While having two refrigerators would be amazing, it’s not a feasible option for most. I have a shelf in my fridge that contains my gluten & dairy free butter, cream cheese, sour cream, bread, etc. I also keep Andersons allergy friendly food on my shelf (as most all of his dairy-free items are also gluten-free).

  • Cleaning the Kitchen

Wiping down your counters should be a top priority for you if you share a mixed home. Gluten crumbs are evil, nasty beings that can make you sick without you even knowing you were glutened! Make it a habit to wipe down your counter several times a day, just as a precaution.

Every once in a while my husband has a hankering for good ole’ homemade biscuits; obviously making these involves using regular flour. He’s very good about being careful. When he gets his craving, he makes the gluten containing biscuits on a totally separate counter, away from the rest of the dinner foods. If at some point, there is a plume of dust, he tells me to get out of the kitchen or to not come into the kitchen. After he’s finished, he washes the dishes that he used (use a fresh batch of dish water afterwards) and wipes down the counter with a cleaner to clear it of any crumbs.

Sharing dish sponges is frowned upon since food particles can get trapped within them. You should have two in your home, and it’s a good idea to differentiate between them by using different colors: red for gluten and green for clean (or gluten-free).

It’s also a good idea to clean out your cabinets frequently if they are being shared.

  • Double Dipping – Jellies, Jams, Mayo, etc.

This is a huge no-no! Jams, jellies, mayonnaise, peanut butter, etc., are all potential hazards. Many people do not even think about food being transferred by double dipping. At first, we bought two containers of items that you would dip from. I personally found it annoying as all get out, but eventually, once everyone became aware, we were able to revert back to buying just one container.

  • Utensils

The subject of utensils isn’t really relevant in our home as we use stainless utensils. Stainless is non-porous unlike wooden spoons, spatulas and other items. If you do use wooden items, it’s a good idea to start weeding them out (or buy two of everything and designate one as GF only).

  •  Wash your hands often

We should be doing this anyway, but for me its crucial after preparing snacks or sandwiches for my kids. I’ve posted on my IG the results of not washing my hands after feeding Anderson his baby oatmeal.

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