Adopting a gluten free lifestyle requires you to do a lot more than simply replace your ordinary bread with gluten free bread. You need to take some necessary precautions that will prevent your daily food from being contaminated with gluten. Heading over to a local diner for gluten free food or buying readymade gluten free meals should not always be your only options. You need to learn how to prepare and store gluten free food at your home. In order to do that, there are certain changes that you need to make in order to ensure that a completely gluten free environment has been created inside your pantry and your refrigerator.
The changes need to be made in a systematic and orderly fashion. No one’s asking you to throw all your food away. No one’s asking you to buy a new refrigerator or get new shelves in the pantry. What you basically need to do is get your priorities straight and eliminate as many risks of contamination as you possibly can. We are here to help you learn how to do that. Follow our lead and take note of these five simple tips for making your pantry and refrigerator gluten free:
1) Sorting Out the Available Space
We start off the gluten free adventure by clearing off a large and clean space near the kitchen or inside the kitchen. This space will mainly be utilized for sorting out the food that you will remove from your pantry and your refrigerator. It is a wise idea to divide this section into three separate areas. The first area is the “Keep Section”, the second is the “Toss Section” and the third is the “Not Sure Section” (also known as the “I Am Way Too Stressed Out to Deal with These Section”. Once you have a designated sorting space, it becomes a lot easier for you to organize and manage the food items in an efficient manner.
Once this task has been accomplished, you need to re-familiarize yourself with what gluten really is. It is basically a protein that you can find in wheat, barley, rye, malt, oats and other grains that do not have the gluten free label. Also, remember that products that are wheat free are not necessarily gluten free.
The good news for you is that most of the food manufacturers are careful about listing down the allergens and stating the main production process on their labels. Reading the information on the packaging will save you a tremendous amount of time.
2) Keeping Food Items
Once you have cleared out the space and arranged the food items, get started on keeping food that you actually need. It is worth remembering that an ideal gluten free diet usually comprises of natural, fresh, whole food. Processed food is not recommended. Make sure that you carefully read through all the labels to confirm that none of the food items on the Keep Section have been contaminated with gluten or exposed to gluten during the production process. Some of the common items that go into the Keep Section include fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meat, fresh poultry, fish, eggs, natural dairy products, pure gluten free grains and flour, naturals herbs and spices and any food that has a gluten free label.
3) Tossing Food Items
Food items that get tossed do not necessarily have to end up in the waste bin. If they are perfectly okay for consumption, then our advice would be to donate the food to people who need it. The foods that you are going to throw out are the ones that obviously contain gluten or do not clearly state whether they are gluten free or not. For example, you may have to let go of the flour, breads, cookies, pastas, imitation meats, sausage, cheeses, baking powder, soup mixes, bullions, beer, nutritional supplements and drugs.
4) Dealing with the Not Sure Section
The Not Sure Section is very important. You wouldn’t want to waste money right away by tossing food that may or may not contain gluten. Items that usually fall in the grey area include modified food starch, caramel, artificial colouring, monosodium glutamate and hydrogenated ingredients. If you can’t confirm whether these foods are safe for consumption or not, then don’t be shy and give a phone call to the manufacturer. If the company does not provide you with a clear answer, do not hesitate to chuck the food out of your house or donate it.
5) Clean Up the Mess
Cleaning up the mess is a very important step in preventing cross contamination of gluten. Once the food items have been moved out of the pantry and the refrigerator, use hot soapy water or your favourite disinfectant to clean the shelves, drawers and surfaces. Take your time in sanitizing the kitchen. The cleaner the kitchen is, the safer your eating environment will be.