Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Maintaining a Gluten Free Kitchen

I'll never forget my first grocery shopping trip after learning of Sparky's celiac disease. It was completely overwhelming. I stood in the aisle at a total loss not knowing what I could buy. Everything I picked up was poison to my son. So, I stuck to the basics: fresh meat, vegetables and fruit.

Then I headed to the health food store, thinking they could help. The clerk insisted that she knew just what I needed. She loaded me up with spelt flour. NOTE: Spelt flour is NOT safe for celiacs. I had to find some real help!

Unfortunately, the pediatric internist who diagnosed Sparky wasn't very knowledgeable with the everyday living your life gluten free details. Fortunately, he suggested joining a local celiac support group.

I highly recommend looking for local support. Though we are no longer a part of that group, it was a great blessing in those early days of living gluten free. To find a group near you go to the Celiac Sprue Association and choose your state and click Submit.

I had also found support online. The email group I participate in was wonderful but has since moved to a new forum and I have no idea where. I'm sure that if you Google or go to Yahoo Groups you could find online support.

The first thing I did when I learned what had gluten in it and what was safe, was to make my kitchen completely gluten free. My friends benefited as I gave them my bulk flour, cream soups, morning cereals, etc. The whole family went gluten free for the next couple of years.

My friends would tell stories of how my children would melt with joy when offered sandwiches at their homes. I decided it was time to start re-introducing gluten. I needed those two years to get comfortable with keeping my son 's diet safe and now I was ready to put him into a more realistic real world environment.

I trained the children to be conscientious to contaminates. For example, when making a peanut and jelly sandwich, they spoon the jelly onto the bread and then spread with a knife. If they were to put the knife back into the jar then all the jelly would be contaminated and Sparky couldn't eat it. Usually though I have two jars. One is marked GF with a Sharpie and no one but Sparky can use that jar. We are also careful not to do things like put crackers on a platter with cheese and meats. The crackers go in a separate bowl.

I have to run and finish dinner now (complete with GF banana bread) but tomorrow I'll write about specifics on what to look for at the grocery store when maintaining a GF diet.

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