How to Create a Gluten-Free Kitchen in 5 Easy Steps
Many people struggle with gluten intolerance today, whether it be a gluten sensitivity, a mild gluten allergy, or full blown celiac disease.
The one thing that seems to remain constant is the growth of this segment of our population forced to find solutions to this health problem.
Upon initial diagnosis, it can be overwhelming to try to find answers to all of one’s questions about the gluten-free life, including whether or not creating a gluten-free kitchen is necessary.
My husband was diagnosed with celiac disease in early 2017 and it has been a journey of learning how to live a gluten-free lifestyle ever since. When one member of a family gets diagnosed with a gluten allergy or intolerance, one of the first questions that may arise is what the diagnosis will mean for the rest of the family.
Will the entire family need to avoid gluten because one member is diagnosed with celiac disease?
If it is simply a mild gluten allergy or gluten intolerance such drastic measures may not be necessary; however, with a celiac diagnosis, transitioning to a gluten-free kitchen is a good (and likely necessary) idea. Check out the list below for five practical steps for making the switch to a kitchen free of gluten.
Five Steps to Creating a Gluten-Free Kitchen:
Step 1: Rid your kitchen of all foods containing gluten.
- Flours and baking ingredients and supplies that contain gluten.
Keeping flours that contain gluten in the kitchen or pantry can be especially dangerous to someone with celiac disease. Flour can easily become airborne and ingested by the member of the family with celiac disease.
- Bread, crackers, cookies, pre-made snacks, etc.
This may be optional in some homes. While it is best not to keep any gluten-containing foods in the kitchen, this may prove more difficult to some families. At the very least, designate a “safe” area for all of the gluten-free foods and find a practical way to keep all of those gluten-rich foods separate from this area.
- Condiments or refrigerated items that may have been cross-contaminated.
Think mayonnaise, mustard, peanut butter, jelly, butter, etc. Any jar or container that a knife might have been “double-dipped” after touching bread made with wheat.
Step 2: Assess your small appliances that have been contaminated.
This is one area that doesn’t occur to many people, but it is super important to think through. Will you need to purchase any new small appliances?
- waffle iron
- sandwich maker
- panini press
- countertop grill/griddle
- bread machine
- electric mixer
- food processor
- can opener (This one is less obvious and maybe not necessary but SO many canned items contain gluten, especially soups!)
Step 3: Replace pans and cooking utensils that may have been contaminated.
Not all pots and pans, or even mixing bowls and dinnerware need to be replaced. Generally, if an item is non-porous, it can be cleaned with hot soapy water and any residual gluten will be removed. However, there are some items that need to be addressed:
- Nonstick or coated pans with deep scratches (Those deep grooves and scratches can harbor gluten.)
- Cast iron pans, pizza stones or other cookware that is “seasoned” (instead of washed) between uses
- Wooden and plastic utensils, as well as bowls (These can serve as good hiding places for gluten, especially after lots of use and those deep grooves and/or scratches.)
- Hard to clean items like flour sifters, colanders, muffin tins and specialty pans, and even cutting boards with deep grooves and scratches
Step 4: Clean your oven and microwave.
This one is pretty simple, but it’s not always the most obvious. Spend some time scrubbing all of your cooking surfaces to make sure that all of the traces of gluten are gone.
Step 5: Scrub all of the surfaces in the kitchen.
This should include:
- knobs and pulls
- all cabinetry
- pantry shelves and bins
- any other appliances and/or surfaces
- throw away old sponges and scrubbers, as well as wash all kitchen towels in hot water
Tips for Gluten-Free Family Life (beyond a Gluten-Free Kitchen)
Learning how to live a gluten-free lifestyle can feel completely overwhelming at first; however, making changes like transitioning to a gluten-free kitchen can relieve a lot of this stress.
Making this switch to a gluten-free kitchen can be especially difficult with young children living at home. We have experienced that firsthand with our family.
I wish someone would have told me to convert my kitchen to a 100% gluten-free kitchen right away, but we learned the hard way just how stressful and annoying it can be to try to keep life going as normal for most of the family while always adjusting and creating gluten-free alternatives for the family member with celiac.
My recommendation for families with children is to transition to a gluten-free kitchen, but allow your children to consume gluten outside of the home.
I am NOT a doctor or nutritionist, but I have always been told not to withhold gluten from an individual who does not have a sensitivity, intolerance or allergy. I’m not sure if this could be truly harmful or not.
But I personally saw no reason to make my children quit gluten cold turkey since they did not have a gluten allergy or intolerance. For example, if a classmate has a birthday and is bringing treats full of gluten to school to celebrate. I allow my kids to fully partake in these treats! However, we do not bake anything at home with ingredients that contain gluten.
This can also be difficult when preparing meals for others. For example, when friends have a new baby or a coworker is sick, I either make them a gluten-free meal at home. OR (even better), I use my gluten-free kitchen as an excuse to simply pick up a meal for them to save time.
Look for Gluten-Free Alternatives
The great news is there are now so many wonderful food options for a gluten-free diet. While there are lots of natural, whole foods that do not contain gluten, there are also some great substitutes on the market now for making some of your old favorite recipes that contain gluten.
Here is a video that describes the “Top 10 Gluten-Free Alternatives”:
Don’t always trust labels.
Do your research to be sure which brands you can trust to be completely gluten free. Whether it’s issues with gluten cross contamination between ingredients and products within one manufacturing facility or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s definition of “gluten free” as simply having less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.
Either of these issues could cause someone with celiac disease to experience symptoms and this exposure to gluten could compromise their long-term health.
Also, be sure not to assume a food item is gluten free simply because you don’t see wheat listed as an ingredient. Gluten is hidden in SO many foods under other names in the list of ingredients on the label.
Here is a printable list of ingredients to steer clear of if you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity.
Some of the brands I trust to be consistently gluten free are Udi’s, Caulipower, KIND, Bob’s Red Mill, Glutino, Enjoy Life Foods, and Pamela’s.
Resources for Your New Gluten-Free Kitchen
One final resource that has helped me a TON when converting my gluten-free kitchen is always having a gluten-free cookbook at hand.
If you’re looking for some curated gluten-free recipes to test out in your newly-converted gluten-free kitchen, you’ll love these posts: