Gluten is an incredibly invasive substance, especially on cooking surfaces. Old frying pans that have cooked with glutenous ingredients will have them on a microscopic level embedded in the metal, especially in scratches or wear marks within the pan. Even that little amount is enough to trigger symptoms in a person with Celiac Disease. Cross contamination is definitely a risk and a worry.
It is for this reason that we have all decided to unify and go Gluten-Free in our household. The risk of cross-contaminating my daughter’s food is too great, and we won’t risk her hurting for the sake of our eating bread, not to mention the notion of eating what she can’t right in front of her seems insensitive, at best.
Additionally, with cross-contamination being such a risk, if we manage every ingredient that walks through the door, our worry-level about cooking and preparing food goes down to zero (or maybe one or two). The minute a single cracker or slice of pizza walks through the house, the worry level rises dramatically. What surface did it touch? What utensils were used? Were crumbs left behind? It’s just not worth it.
So, first thing we did:
1. Buy new pots, pans, and cooking utensils. We just couldn’t risk hanging onto something and finding out it had a scratch that is continuing to make “V” sick.
2. Buy a new toaster. This one had been echoed by every single doctor and Celiac advisor we had seen. We kept all the pots, pans, toaster, etc out in the car in their packaging until the next steps were complete.
3. Go through pantry and dry goods shelves, ditch everything containing gluten or anything even questionable. The local food shelter loves us right now. After the purge, we had a few cans of vegetables and a bag of rice left. Dry goods, we’ve found, are notorious for containing gluten. Pastas, instant-anything, cream-o-soups, most canned soups, snacks… lotsa dangers there.
4. Go through the fridge and the freezer, continue purge. This wasn’t as bad as the dry goods, but we still found plenty we had to get rid of.
5. Box up and/or throw out old cookware, toaster, etc. This was tough. I loved my awesome powder-coated metal colander. Still, onward and upward.
6. Clean like the dickens. Every surface got scrubbed. The kitchen was SPARKLING.
7. Put new cookware in place. This was fun, gotta admit. I love that new smell of stuff and putting it in a freshly cleaned kitchen was liberating.
8. Inaugural gluten-free grocery shopping! All of our research and effort later, the rubber met the road and we restocked the kitchen. Quite a bit of fresh meats and veggies, potatoes, etc. We also dabbled in some of the gluten-free alternatives, a few loaves of GF bread, a few GF cookies and treats, some bags of pasta. The price of these alternatives weighed heavy on our shoulders and our wallet, but it was worth it and it also gave me the inspiration to delve into raw-goods GF baking and taking the time to do these myself.
With these steps complete, our house made the transition to Gluten Free. We put a sign on our front door asking guests to not bring in outside food and we will remain vigilant, especially in this crucial period of healing for V.
Here we go.