With each passing year, there are new gluten-free products being launched, more options in restaurants, and society is becoming more aware of gluten-free issues. There is a lot more delicious food help out there! But there is one area that needs constant attention when leading a gluten-free life that cannot be downplayed – cross-contamination – and it starts in your home.
One can be meticulous in eating gluten-free, but a simple cross-contamination mistake can undo all that careful eating. Whether you are converting your kitchen to a gluten-free environment, will be sharing space with others who will be eating gluten-filled foods, or will be having guests over, here are some tips to avoid experiencing common gluten cross-contamination issues in your home:
1. Cutting boards – Buy new cutting boards and keep them exclusively gluten-free, having another set for gluten-filled foods if your household requires it. If it will be easier for those in your home to remember, establish a color theme for all your exclusively gluten-free kitchen items.
2. Counter space – If your kitchen will have gluten items in it, try to establish a gluten-free area to avoid crumbs and cross-contamination. If this isn’t possible, make sure your counters are thoroughly cleaned and use your gluten-free cutting boards for food preparation. In a shared cooking environment, prepare gluten-free items first to eliminate cross-contamination.
3. Toaster – Buy a new toaster and keep it 100% gluten-free, keeping a separate one for gluten filled breads if your household needs it. A toaster is one of the biggest areas of cross-contamination with the amount of crumbs inside and having bread products directly touching the sides (or the rack if a toaster oven).
4. Buy new kitchen items & thoroughly clean all shared serving pieces– A household can use the same plates, utensils and pots and pans if they are thoroughly cleaned. However, you may feel more comfortable having clearly marked, separate pieces. New items that should be bought and remain exclusively gluten-free include: flour sifters, pasta strainers, cast iron pans, plastic spatulas and containers, and wooden pieces. Pots, pans, baking sheets and muffin tins with any scratches should be replaced as well as these scratches can hold traces of gluten.
5. Oven – Thoroughly clean out your oven, especially the racks. They have most likely had crumbs directly on them from foods like pizza or possibly had gluten filled foods bubble over.
6. BBQ – So many food items can go on the grill that contain gluten especially buns and sauces so thoroughly clean the grills or better yet replace them. Carefully read the ingredients of all sauces. If a guest or family member wants a gluten-filled sauce, they can apply after grilling is done. Buns with gluten can be toasted in the appropriate toaster. If your BBQ is very large, it may be possible to establish gluten and gluten-free zones provided you are extremely careful about cross-contamination on the grills and with your use of utensils.
7. Frying pans & pots for boiling – Never fry gluten-free foods in the same frying pan oil that was just used to fry gluten filled foods and never put gluten-free pasta in boiling water used for regular pasta.
8. Drinking glasses – Be careful leaving drinking glasses around the house especially when children are involved, when guests are over, or if you’re having a party.You can never be sure if gluten has been transferred to a glass via someone’s lips due to what they have eaten or a lip product containing gluten. Establish a particular cup color if needed so as not to accidentally use each other’s coffee mugs, bathroom cups, or water glasses. Put markers on wine glasses during get-togethers.
9. Keep gluten-free items on top – If your refrigerator and cupboards also contain gluten-filled foods, be sure to place the gluten-free items on top to avoid drips and spills that could fall onto them.
10. Buy two sets of condiments if needed – Dipping cutlery that touched breads and other food sources into butter, jams, spreads and condiments can leave traces of gluten in the container and on the food. Squeeze bottles like ketchup and mustard can touch food items like hot dog and burger buns especially if kids are involved. Pay attention to how condiments are used in your home and make changes wherever needed. This may involve setting some rules: labelling, putting a colorful sticker on jars, or keeping certain items in a dedicated spot in your cupboard or part of the refrigerator.
This all may seem overwhelming at first but in no time this will all become daily habit for you! Little changes are massive changes towards maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyle and keeping you safe.
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