Editors Note: I honestly couldn’t be more thrilled about our newest addition to the Bella Life contributors. Susan Cohen is a girl who is dedicated to bringing compassion and sass to this gluten-free world more and more people are trying to navigate each day. Follow her journey as a gluten-free goddess and be sure to reach out to her if you have any questions or additional tips to share, in the comments below! ~Nitika~
After receiving a diagnosis that requires you to go gluten-free, you are probably a bit nervous about walking back into your kitchen. You may be concerned if there is anything left to eat when you cannot have wheat, rye, barley, and oats unless they are certified gluten-free oats. You might start thinking about rushing off to the supermarket and buying everything that is stamped gluten-free. Before you run to the store, it is important to first check your kitchen. You may be surprised to find out how many gluten-free foods are already in your home.
The first place to start in your kitchen is to look for naturally gluten-free items. These foods are likely all over your kitchen – from your banana hammock to your vegetable drawer to those frozen steaks in the freezer. In fact, you may still be able to eat what you planned for dinner that night. Examples of naturally gluten-free foods are fruits, vegetables, eggs, meats, poultry, fish, seafood, beans, nuts, tofu, most dairy products as well as rice, quinoa, corn, and buckwheat. Remember to also check if your jarred sauces, soups, salad dressings, condiments, bars, chips, popcorn and yes, even candy, are gluten-free. To your surprise, some of these items may be marked gluten-free and you never even noticed. For products that do not list their gluten-free status, it is important to visit the company’s website or contact them to follow up and learn more.
While exploring your kitchen for gluten-free foods, make a list of what you have and what foods you would like to have or like to try. This is a great opportunity to look through your recipes and see if any are inherently gluten-free. An example of an inherently gluten-free recipe relies on a protein, vegetables, fruits or a gluten-free grain as well as seasonings that are gluten-free such as salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon, garlic, herbs or spices. While doing this, you can start to meal plan for your first week or two of being gluten-free. This takes away a lot of the intimidation you may feel cooking in your kitchen post-diagnosis.
As you find gluten-free foods in your kitchen, it is important to think about preventing cross contamination. Cross contamination refers to something that is gluten-free coming into contact with gluten and no longer being gluten-free. This can happen from gluten crumbs on the kitchen counter or sharing certain kitchen items or foods. However, with a couple of changes you can be on well your way. Treat yourself to a new toaster as you cannot share one. Make sure to have your own jars of peanut butter, jelly, cream cheese, and your own stick of butter. This way no one has to worry if they dipped a gluten knife into the jar or contaminated the stick. Buy a new colander as gluten can get stuck in it and contaminate it. You may also want to designate a few pots and pans gluten-free depending on what else is cooked in your kitchen and how well they are cleaned. Also, no gluten fingers in bags of chips, popcorn, or candy.
Once you are familiar with your new gluten-free kitchen, it is time to go to the supermarket. It is time to start exploring gluten-free aisles to look out for all the exciting gluten-free products that are waiting for you from gluten-free breads, bagels, pizza crusts to frozen pizza, cereals, crackers, cookies and more. It may seem overwhelming on your first trip as there are so many gluten-free options to choose from. Limit yourself and only try a few things and make a list of a few things you would like to try next time. It may take time to figure out which products and brands you like best, but that is part of the fun.
This article was written by Susan Cohen who is one positive celiac. Diagnosed with celiac disease at the age of 13 in 2000, she has always viewed her diagnosis as a positive and it is this outlook that spurred her to get involved in the celiac community. Susan is the Creator/Director of Generation Gluten-Free: A Documentary on Celiac Disease. The film was released on DVD in January 2010 and has been viewed across the country and abroad. She has also spoken and written nationally on celiac disease and is a proud graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University where she majored in History with a concentration in American History and minored in Art History. Susan is currently pursuing freelance writing and can be reached Susan@generationglutenfree.com
A few hours in the kitchen will turn your initial gluten-free kitchen concerns into gluten-free kitchen curiosity. Questions or concerns about going gluten-free? Leave a comment or question below and let us guide you!
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