Caroline Shannon-Karasik’s AfterGlo

Gluten-free kitchen gadgets

By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Be honest: Each one of us has been witness – and victim – to a few good television promos. Vitamins that make your skin soft as a baby’s bottom, a slice-and-dice kitchen tool that would make Edward Scissorhands drool and core shaping gizmos that promise to give you ripped abs while sitting on the couch.

Guess what? That’s not what gluten-free is all about. Despite news articles claiming eating gluten-free is a fad, the truth is it’s a real problem for a bunch of sweet peas just like you.

So, why should I care?

Celiac disease – an autoimmune response to gluten – currently affects one in 133 people. Here’s the short of it: When people with celiac disease eat foods containing wheat, rye, barley, triticale and/or contaminated oats (i.e. gluten!), their immune systems cop an attitude and create a toxic reaction that causes damage to their small intestines, making them feel like crap. What’s more, mild to severe symptoms resulting from gluten intolerance and sensitivity are plaguing people left and right. What are the symptoms for celiac disease, gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity? Digestive discomfort, bloating and cramping, migraine headaches, depression and anxiety, joint pain, skin irritation, diarrhea and vomiting are just a few that can signify a problem with ingesting gluten.

Conquering the kitchen

If you are someone who is making the switch to a gluten-free lifestyle, you know it can be tricky at first. Not only are you left comparing brown rice to chickpea flour and learning how to read nutrition labels, but the kitchen becomes a whole new territory.
But since we’ve talked in the past about different meal and snack ideas for a gluten-free lifestyle (you can find more recipes and tips at sincerelycaroline.com), I think it is important we also discuss the kitchen tools that can help make your meal prep routine a bit simpler.
Here are a few tools that will keep your gluten-free life sane – and your bank account intact:

Washable cutting boards

They are a simple investment, but these handy guys are especially important if you have a non-gluten-free housemate. Cutting boards are used for a number of tasks (e.g. chopping vegetables and slicing bread) and ones that are tough to clean leave room for gluten to lurk and make its way into your food.

Mini-blender

Sure, expensive high-speed blenders like the VitaMix are da bomb, but a small blender – like the Magic Bullet – is perfect for making smoothies and other blend-ables on-the-go. It’s not uncommon for chicks with gastrointestinal issues to have a tough time digesting raw veggies, so tossing spinach, kale and other greens into a smoothie can be a great way squeeze in nutrients that are broken down before they hit your tummy.

Waffle iron

For about $30, this kitchen tool will make your gluten-free world a happy one. Designate it as a gluten-free gadget and pour in waffle, corn bread and even brownie batter for a taste of gluten-free glory.

Rubber spatulas

This might sound like a no-brainer, but rubber spatulas are a kitchen must. Plus, if your partner is not gluten-free, you’ll want to have extras in the kitchen to avoid cross-contamination. You’ll use them for everything!

Spiralizer or julienne peeler

I am completely obsessed with my Paderno Spiralizer. For around $40, the versatility of this tool is well worth its price tag. I use mine to slice fresh apples for a breakfast bake and peel zucchini or squash to make veggie “pasta.” You can also use it to make curly or sliced potatoes, and bake them for homemade fries. Of course, a julienne peeler (about $10) is a less expensive option that can also make vegetable “pastas” from zucchini, squash and other produce.

Silicone baking mat (or parchment paper):

Gluten-free baking means you will be working with a variety of different flours and, perhaps, textures you’ve never whipped up before when making a batch of cookies. The average gluten-free cookie can be a tad bit sensitive, so a silicone baking mat (or parchment paper) helps keep dough in place and makes it easier to remove cookies from a baking sheet.

A few finishing touches

As always, keep in mind one of the most important rules in the gluten-free kitchen is to avoid cross-contamination. If there will be gluten-containing items in your kitchen as the result of a roommate or significant other, it is important to keep those items away from your gluten-free food. During meal prep, work at a separate, clean section of the counter and thoroughly wash all shared tools. Don’t share the toaster or cleaning sponges and brushes. You might also want to take an extra step and mark certain kitchen tools as dedicated gluten-free items. Wrap a piece of colored tape around gluten-free utensils or place a piece of it on cutting boards and small appliances, like a food processor.

I’m curious: How have your found gluten-free kitchen success? Email me at afterglo@daytoncitypaper.com.

Caroline Shannon-Karasik is the author of The Gluten-Free Revolution and a certified health coach. She is also the author of the popular gluten-free blog, sincerelycaroline.com. Her writing and recipe development has been featured in several publications, including, VegNews, Kiwi and REDBOOK magazines. Caroline lives with her husband Dan and four adopted cats in Pittsburgh, Penn. Caroline can be reached at afterglo@daytoncitypaper.com.

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