Hello gluten free-ers! Earlier this week I posted tips for eating out (https://glutenfreeandglittery.com/2016/01/31/tips-for-eating-out-with-celiac-disease/) so now I am going to share some suggestions for eating in….with a gluten-eater. I have been asked numerous times if my roommates, family, or boyfriend are gluten free now too. And the answer is no. Simply because they do not have to and I don’t think they need to eat gluten free. None of them have celiac or a sensitivity to gluten. And they are amazingly careful when it comes to cross contamination with me. Here are some (hopefully) helpful tips for living with a gluten-eater…
During my senior year of college I lived with my best friend, Lauren, who ate gluten. And I had zero cross contamination or accidental gluten-ing episodes. ZERO. So yes, it is entirely possible to live with someone who avidly eats gluten without hurting yourself….if and only if, that person understands how serious celiac disease is and understands gluten.
What you have to understand about Lauren is that she showed up the day I was diagnosed with gluten free homemade brownies. Lauren doesn’t like mixes. She does everything from scratch and loves baking. She took the diagnosis as a challenge to make more gluten free things. She’s made me cakes, cheesecakes, muffins, brownies, egg-free cookie dough for ice cream, bread, and the list goes on and on. She even made me homemade gluten free tortillas–and made them pink! She did her research on gluten free and truly understood it. She recognized that just because the word “gluten” may not be on the label, that does not mean that the item in question is gluten free…and so she triple checked the ingredients to make sure it is safe for me. As a strict vegetarian, she falls ill when she accidentally consumes meat so she understood.
Things I had my own of that were only for my gluten free use:
- Gluten free toaster: It is nearly impossible to remove gluten from a toaster. So we each had our own. Mine was clearly marked as gluten free and it was stored in our closet to prevent guests from accidentally using it. (Lauren loved Hello Kitty so she had a special hello kitty shaped toaster for all gluten containing things so this wasn’t a problem at all).
- Butter/peanut butter/jam: Any spread we used had a separate gluten free version labeled in permanent marker. Labeling is key! Don’t set yourself up for the inevitable “oops I think I used the wrong one” if you don’t mark it.
- Cabinet: This wasn’t so much an immediate safety concern, but rather convenience. Things that were specifically gluten free (pastas, breads, etc) were kept in this cabinet. This prevented mixups that could lead to me grabbing the gluten-containing version plus it also prevented guests from accidentally consuming my more expensive gluten free version.
- Hand mixer: mixing parts are very difficult to clean!! especially flour! so I had my own hand mixer. I highly recommend this.
Extra precautions: We were fortunate to have a dishwasher. We would wash our dishes by hand and then use the dishwasher–double the washing? maybe excessive and kind of bad for the environment, but we never had an issue with gluten. We also lysol-ed and cleaned our counters every week or after we made something messy/with crumbs or flour. We shared cookie sheets, but she made sure to scrub very well after using them and then I never baked directly on the sheets to be safe. I put aluminum foil down—again, probably not necessary but sometimes cookies burn and are hard to get off anyway so easier to clean!
Also, Wegmans. My favorite favorite grocery store of all time. It is the paradise of all markets. AND IT CLEARLY MARKS WHAT IS GLUTEN FREE RIGHT ON THE LABEL! Look for the “G.” Most of their sauces are NATURALLY GLUTEN FREE!!! So 1) no increase in price 2) tastes awesome 3) perfect to keep in the house if you have gluten eaters and gluten free-ers. Lauren and I tried to get shared items that were naturally gluten free that we could both use. For instance, their BBQ sauce is amazing! and since you pour it, no risk of cross contamination if we both used it. Wegmans made it easy for Lauren to know what I could have and for me to know what she could have as a vegetarian (Yup! There is a “V” if it is vegetarian. Their marshmallows are vegetarian–who knew that most aren’t?!).
We also made a habit of cooking gluten free vegetarian meals together. Great roommate bonding plus it was fun! Both of us were happy and full of wonderful food. 🙂
So all in all, it is possible to live with someone who eats gluten as long as you can have the conversion with them so that they understand what gluten is and how to prevent cross contamination. Lauren was beyond what I could have hoped for in a roommate and I hope that all of you are this lucky ❤ Please feel free to share any tips that you have!!