A dedicated gluten free kitchen or not? That is the question – to quote a famous author. I think a lot of factors go into this decision!
Since a crumb of a crumb sets off the autoimmune reaction in Celiac disease, many people say that the entire house needs to be gluten free in order to keep the Celiac sufferer safe. I would say that is absolutely true – except, it is very expensive and sometimes unrealistic to make the whole house gluten free. Let’s explore some –
First up, the reasons to have a completely gluten free household. In my mind, the most important and non-negotiable reason to have a gluten free household is – for any child under the age of 10. If a child is under 10, they don’t understand a lot of what gluten is, they can easily make mistakes, and you want home to be a safe haven for them in this gluten covered world. I would hate for a child with Celiac to accidentally eat something in the house they thought was gluten free and it made them sick for weeks. It just isn’t worth the risk. It would be a sacrifice for the family, but I think it is worth it.
Another reason for a completely gluten free household would be – multiple people in the house with Celiac. If more than 50% of the people living in the house have Celiac, then the whole house should be gluten free. Beyond those two reasons (I’m sure you all have more reasons), that is it for me.
Do I think a celiac can live safely in a non-gluten free house? Absolutely. I live in a non-gluten free house, so I might be biased here, but I think it can be done. However, the burden of keeping yourself safe falls on the person with celiac with help from the non-celiac house mates or family.
At our house, we have separate gluten free drawers for gluten food and non-gluten food. That is just how our kitchen is set up, but it can also be done with shelves. Just make sure that the gluten free shelves are above the gluten shelves in case of crumbs falling.
We have 1 non-stick pan that is scratched and dented that is for gluten cooking only – grilled cheeses come to mind. When that pan is used, it is run through the dishwasher to be cleaned. No hand washing. All the pots are stainless steel – if used for gluten it goes in the dishwasher. We have some steel and some non-stick frying pans, but those are for gluten free cooking only. The kids and my husband know this. We also don’t buy expensive non-stick pans and replace them about every year. Again, $10 per year for non-stick pans for my eggs isn’t an expensive investment.
Cutting boards, dishes, and silverware go through the dishwasher no matter what. We don’t hand wash here.
Condiments are all in squeeze bottles where available. It is a little more expensive, but it keeps me safe. If squeeze bottles are not available, like peanut butter, we have two versions – gluten and gluten free kept in their respective drawers.
Also, nothing is ever set on the counter top without a plate or aluminum foil under it. EVER. I have granite counter tops which are non-porous, but you never know where a crumb could be laying. Counter tops are cleaned with paper towels and water then tossed – so no sponge is cross contaminated.
Chips are poured out of bag, gluten hands don’t go into chip bags. Another way to do this is individually portioned bags. Its a bit more expensive, but might be good for portion control and cross contamination.
When I cook, it is gluten free. My husband loves Italian food, so on occasion I will make him a lasagna or gluten pasta. The lasagna goes into an aluminum foil baking dish and when the lasagna is gone so is the pan. I also buy the no-boil lasagna sheets, so I don’t have to cook and risk CC that way. If he makes pasta, everything that was touched goes in the dishwasher – no discussion, no exceptions.
This is how we live our lives and I have managed to stay healthy. My celiac blood panels are within normal ranges and I’m not sick often. So, I hope this helps. Again, you might have different ideas about how to stay safe or maybe even know better than me out to keep your self safe. I am always open to new ideas. Let me know what you think. FC.