Gluten can be a scary thing for someone with gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity or Celiac’s Disease. But cooking in a completely gluten free kitchen can be difficult and impractical. As a part of this Gluten Freedom series, I wanted to share some tips on how to avoid cross contamination, both at home and while eating out.
When at home…
Dedicate specific places in your pantry and fridge just for GF food items.
Use a separate toaster, or toast your bread via stovetop in a pan.
Use separate peanut butter and jelly jars, if possible. If you’d rather not buy two jars of something (and sometimes we don’t), simply wipe down your knife completely with a clean, wet rag each time before using it again in the jar (like between swipes of peanut butter when making a regular sandwich.)
Squeezable condiment containers are your friend! They’re so much easier to keep clean and uncontaminated when the container isn’t touching the food.
Have designated knives and cutting boards for GF and non-GF bread.
Use tin foil to separate things like breads or prepackaged frozen foods on a baking sheet. This saves dishes, time, and your precious gluten free food! Just build a little “wall” out of tin foil between GF and non-GF foods, and bake as usual!
Invest in and use large ziplock bags. Keep a permanent marker handy to carefully label which foods you store are GF. To keep things safe and simple, in my freezer if it’s NOT labeled “GF,” it’s not safe, and anything labeled is.
Keep separate prep spaces, if possible. If I have to make anything non-GF, I usually move everything to the counter space that’s away from my stovetop, where I cook and prep nearly everything I eat. If your prep space is small, keep a small container filled with hot water, some dish soap and a tiny bit of bleach to sanitize surfaces after food prep.
Ask for help. See if a family member or friend can help out if you need to cook or prepare something that contains gluten. My husband loves making scones and bagels, so when we were selling them at our local farmer’s market, he was eager to help bake them and clean up afterwards to save me from accidental ingestion.
And, in keeping with the last tip, sanitize everything. Wipe down counters after meals, prepping food, and doing the dishes. I even use the sanitize setting on my dishwasher, to ensure something from someone else’s fork won’t somehow end up on my next fork.
When Eating Out…
Check the online allergen menu ahead of time. This has totally saved me so many times. Check out some of my favorite gluten-intolerant-friendly restaurants here!
Notify your server you have to eat gluten free.
Ask them what the protocol is for preparing food for a gluten intolerant/Celiac person. Usually they have to wear a new pair of gloves and set up a separate prep space. If they don’t, ask if they’d be willing to wear a new pair of gloves and use a different prep space and knife, etc.
Ask about the ingredients of what you’re ordering. I’ve never had a server who wasn’t willing to ask the chef upon inquiry.
When at a friend’s for dinner…
Come prepared. Kindly let your host or hostess know ahead of time that you have dietary restrictions.
Better yet, ask if you can bring anything! This gives you a way to connect with your host, contribute to the meal, and have something you know is safe to eat. 🙂
Just in case, have a few GF non-perishable food items (KIND Healthy Grains Granola Bars, whole almonds, etc.) in your bag or car for quick eating later on.
Politely ask about ingredients, prep spaces and utensils. If the host or hostess is a family member or a good friend, chances are they will not be offended.
Even though it’s tough to completely eliminate all gluten from my home, I know that if I stick with these tips, I can greatly reduce my risk of accidental contamination, and hopefully you can, too!
In case you missed them, check out my previous Gluten Freedom posts (and free printables) below!
Keeping a Food Diary
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