Being Gluten Free in a Shared Kitchen

When you or someone you are close to is diagnosed with Coeliac disease or with a gluten intolerance, it can come as a shock.  A change in diet is not the only challenge; you will also most likely be living and sharing a kitchen with others who eat gluten.  This means that you potentially put yourself at risk every day of coming into contact with gluten containing products…and dare I say it…their dreaded crumbs!  It also means that you will have to keep a close eye on everything in the kitchen so you don’t mistakenly eat something containing gluten or use something that could be cross contaminated with gluten.

What people need to understand is that the amount of gluten that can make you sick is microscopic!  It also clings to different items in the kitchen, even after cleaning them, which is why you have to be so cautious.

It is possible to share a kitchen when you are gluten free, as long as you and the people you are sharing with follow some strict rules to keep you safe.  I share a kitchen with my gluten-eating husband and we follow strict rules to make sure that I don’t get glutened.  Here are some tips for keeping your shared kitchen gluten free friendly:

 

Replace Your Toaster

First and foremost, it’s time to say goodbye to your old toaster!  The last thing you want to do is risk years worth of gluten-build up in your toaster making its way onto your gluten free bread.  In our house, we bought a new 4 slice toaster and have a rule that the left hand side of the toaster is for gluten free bread and the right hand side of the toaster is for normal bread.  If someone in your house is a bit forgetful, you can add a label to the toaster – “GLUTEN FREE BREAD ONLY” – to remind them which side of the toaster is off limits.  I clean our toaster every couple of days with Dettol to make sure there are no unwanted crumbs clinging to the top of the toaster!

I have a little "GF" written in chalk pen on my side of the toaster!

I have a little "GF" written in chalk pen on my side of the toaster!

Cutting and Chopping Boards

Used cutting boards and chopping boards (especially wooden boards) by nature tend to have lots and lots of tiny scratches in them.  These little scratches can harbour microscopic pieces of gluten and can make the boards a threat for cross contamination.

The best way to deal with this is to buy all new boards and keep them only for gluten free use.  You can even buy colour coded boards so that everyone knows which aren’t to be used.

 

Keep Gluten Items in One Corner of the Kitchen

In order to share a gluten free kitchen successfully, it needs to be thought of as just that – ‘a gluten free kitchen’.  This means that you are not segregating all of the gluten free products into ‘one shelf in the fridge’ or ‘the gluten free cupboard’, but instead you segregate all of the gluten-containing products and cooking tools.  To put it simply, in your shared kitchen picture all of the gluten-containing foods, utensils and cooking tools in one corner.  These items should only occupy that corner and stay in that corner.  That means the rest of your kitchen will remain as a crumb-free, gluten-free friendly environment.  You can then actively avoid that corner of the kitchen, or occasionally, go on a Dettol cleaning spree to get rid of any unwanted crumbs!

It is best to pick a corner for the gluten-containing foods that is away from most of the other counter-space and oven.  This will obviously be difficult if you have a small kitchen, but just choose an area that you can consider as off-limits.  It should obviously have cupboard space for gluten foods and utensils and a bit of a worktop area for food prep.

You then need to make sure that everyone in your house is made aware of the ‘gluten-containing’ corner and how they should stick to this space.  You should also request that they only use gluten-free flours, as normal gluten flours can be airborne and could result in cross contamination.

Keep all gluten items well separated from gluten free areas

Keep all gluten items well separated from gluten free areas

Sharing a Fridge

Ok, so in an ideal world we would have two fridges – a gluten fridge and a gluten-free fridge, but in reality, we don’t live in MTV cribs and will have to cram all the food in one fridge together. 

To make this work, you should have the top shelf as gluten free.  On this shelf, you will have your own butter (never share butter – you don’t want to end up with gluten crumbs on your gluten free toast) and gluten-free condiments.  If there’s more than one other person in your house, you could label the condiments as gluten-free so that there’s no risk of them using it and cross-contaminating it with gluten.

 

Share your diet

The easiest way to share a gluten free kitchen?  Make sure everyone in it follows a gluten free diet!  This is what we do in our house.  The only gluten-containing products Andy keeps in our kitchen is occasionally bread (kept in the bottom drawer of the fridge away from all other products) and sometimes a Pot Noodle…I think he does this to ruin my reputation as a gluten free food blogger.  He can eat whatever food he wants when he is out of the house, but he understands the risks involved in bringing gluten into the kitchen.  All the food we buy and cook is gluten free – including pastas and grains.  All stock cubes, condiments and sauces are gluten free, which means that when I am going to cook, I don’t need to check ingredients labels before I cook!  No risk of cross contamination or glutening myself by eating the wrong product!

IMG_7576.JPG

I hope this helps if you are sharing a kitchen!

Fi x

What to do When You Have Been ‘Glutened’

I describe accidentally eating gluten as being ‘glutened’.  My head knows I have been glutened before my stomach because my symptoms start with brain fog.  I go from being in a really happy mood, to not wanting to talk to anyone and being easily irritated – then it hits my stomach and bowels!  This is my pattern.  Symptoms can vary from person to person, but this is typical for me.  So I now know that when brain fog hits that it isn’t the ‘real me’, it’s that I have been glutened and I need to act on it.

First things first, I am not a doctor or a nutritionist, so my advice is only what works for me and I am telling you because it might work for you too! 

Walk

My reflexologist once told me that a 20minute walk is a great healer.  So any time I have been glutened, my husband will drag me out the front door to go for a 20minute walk – it always helps!  It is the last thing you are going to want to do, but it really does help to settle your stomach.

IMG_0038.JPG

Hit the sofa

I get SO tired after being glutened.  Your body has just gone through a stressful experience and the biggest healer is rest.  After my walk, I will rest up for the remainder of the day (a blanket and Netflix are good additions).  This will obviously be difficult if you are working, but health comes first, so either try and go home or take it as easy as possible.

IMG_7438.JPG

Water & lemon

Water can help so many health problems and although it won’t instantly help to cure your symptom, it will help to flush out the toxins.  I like to drink lukewarm water, which I know is an acquired taste and can be difficult to do if you’re not used to it.  So if you can drink it lukewarm, try drinking it hot or at least cold but with no ice.   Adding lemon to water has been said to detoxify, improve digestion and reduce bloating, which are all things that will help if you have been glutened!

Peppermint tea

A great way to soothe your bowels is by drinking peppermint tea and it is much more effective than indigestion medication.  It will help to ease pain, bloating and gas.   I has also been proven to reduce the number of harmful bacteria in the gut.

IMG_8495.JPG

Charcoal tablets

We all know that charcoal is typically used in hospitals for people who have ingested in some kind of poison, but activated charcoal can also help after being glutened!   The capsules can help to reduce bloating and gas before and after eating, which will make you feel much more comfortable!

Probiotics

Great for balancing your gut health, you can either take probiotics in supplement form or by eating fermented foods or drinking fermented drinks.  I take probiotics in capsule form (by Ultraflora) and drink Kombucha.

Avoid certain foods

When the lining of your gut has been damaged it can not produce enough lactase, the protein that breaks down lactose, so I tend to avoid dairy for at least a few days afterwards.   I also avoid foods that are typically ‘allerginic’  - grains, nuts and eggs.  I lean toward healing and organic foods, such as sweet potatoes, bone broths (preferably homemade), avocados, fruits and veggies.

IMG_8464.JPG

Reduce your meal size

For me, the effects of being glutened can last anything from a couple of days to one week – depending on the severity of the reaction.  While my stomach is still inflamed, I find that reducing the amount I eat really helps.  If I eat a massive meal, I will get cramps, bloated and sore.  So eating little and often is the key to avoiding unnecessary pain.

The best thing to do is try and avoid being glutened where possible.  A lot of times, it can be down to laziness.  I hat to say it, but we are all guilty of neglecting reading a label from time to time and making the presumption that the food is gluten free.  You need to check each time, even if you have had the product before because the ingredients might have changed.  When eating out, make sure you tell the restaurant that you are ordering gluten free food because your are coeliac – that way, they will take cross contamination seriously!  Always follow the rule of ‘if in doubt, don’t eat it’!

I would love to hear your experiences and if there is anything else that helps you when you have been glutened?

Fi x 

Christmas Taste Test: Asda Christmas Free-from Range

Christmas is a time for indulgence and I love to do just that!  Picture pyjamas, open fire, cosy blankets, a Christmas movie lined-up and ready to watch, a tea tray and your treat of choice (preferably something from the bakery section - calories don't count at Christmas).  If you’re gluten free, finding treats for the festive period can be tricky.  Luckily, this year Asda has well and truly got the message and is stocking over 630 Free From products.

Free From Mince Pies

Asda Free From Mince Pies

Asda Free From Mince Pies

These are everything that mince pies should be and more – because they are gluten free, but don’t taste it!  I don’t even think Santa himself could taste the difference.  Normally gluten free pastry can fall apart on first bite, but this pastry holds together, while having the perfect crumble in your mouth.  The pie has delicately crimped edges and is packed full of the Christmassy flavours of plump sultanas, Bramley apple and elegantly finished with a touch of warming winter spice.  I like to warm my mince pies in the oven and closer to Christmas, eat with some brandy butter (an extra indulgence!).  Unfortunately for Santa, I think he might have to share Rudolph's carrot, because this pack of mince pies won't last until Christmas! 

FullSizeRender-24.jpg
FullSizeRender-23.jpg

Extra Special Free From All-Butter Shortbread Selection

Free From All-Butter Shortbread Selection

Free From All-Butter Shortbread Selection

Two words: dangerously moreish.  No guilt here though, no-one can see what shape you're in under an over-sized cashmere jumpers anyway!  The shortbread selection is like chunky shortbread cookies.  They come in three flavours: Canadian Maple Syrup & Pecan, Belgian Dark Chocolate & Ginger, and Italian Mixed Peel & Clementine.  On first bite, the Canadian Maple Syrup and Pecan shortbread took me back to the time where I could enjoy maple and pecan pastries.  A wash of happy memories, because they were always my favourite biscuit.  It is so lovely to enjoy an alternative that packs so much taste into one little bite.  The Belgian Dark Chocolate & Ginger have a lovely contrast between the rich and melty chocolate chips and the glorious sticky and spicy ginger pieces adding a great kick, they are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea.  The Mixed Peel & Clementine are like a fresh and festive party in your mouth.  You can taste the zest from the lemon peel, which is balanced beautifully with the sweetness from the shortbread.  I enjoyed this with a cup of coffee on Sunday afternoon.

FullSizeRender-20.jpg
FullSizeRender-21.jpg

Extra Special Free From Christmas Cake

IMG_0355.JPG

I absolutely LOVE Christmas cake, but it needs to be perfectly moist - there's nothing worse than a dry cake!  I could tell as soon as I sliced into the Asda Christmas Cake that it was going to be a good one.  It had a nice sheen off the fruit pieces and little bits of the cake stuck to the cake slice - all signs of the cake being moist.  Just as I thought, it had the perfect texture.  The syrupy, soft cake held together and did not separate from the icing.  While the plump currants and raisins had a delicious juicy bite.  The cake has a great balance of spice while giving off an elegant hint of Brandy to add some extra warmth.  The Christmas cake is topped beautifully with white icing and is finished with gold, copper and white icing leaves and a gold bow, so it would make a perfect centrepiece for a table! 

On the box, it says that it serves 10.  However, this must be a misprint.  I think it should read, "Serves 1, 10 times".  After all, it's Christmas - treat yo'self!

FullSizeRender-19.jpg
FullSizeRender-17.jpg

To see Asda's full gluten free range, click here.  I am very pleased to have worked with Asda to promote and review their Extra Special Free From range.  I think it is fantastic that Asda has gone to such great lengths to produce fantastic gluten free products.  I was delighted to spend a day eating cakes, pies and biscuits and all views are very much my own.  Signing off with a full belly and on a delightful sugar high.

Fx