Keep your stinkin’ gluten on your side of the counter (and other ways to create a safe shared kitchen)

“Best laid plans often go astray.” Or are forgotten. Or are given up on. Some were never best laid plans to begin with.

When Nora was diagnosed with celiac, the guilt was all-consuming, and I had every intention to go gluten-free myself and lead the rest of my family into a mostly gluten-free lifestyle. If my 8 year-old daughter could give up every food she’s ever loved, so could I. And a good mother should, right? I guess that’s where you have to decide what makes a “good mother.” And why should I remove healthy and delicious foods from our older daughter’s diet, without just cause? My attempts to reach this unobtainable goal to create a GF family lasted for no longer than 1 month.

I still make all dinners, desserts, and family breakfasts gluten-free. And I personally eat gluten-free probably 75% of the time. But most weekday mornings, we all go our separate ways. To our separate toasters, and separate areas of the counter.

I have learned through trial and error how to create a safe, shared kitchen, where gluten and GF foods can exist harmoniously. Here are 7 tips to help you do the same.

7 tips to create a shared gluten-free kitchen

1. Clean – Not to sound condescending, but clean your kitchen, refrigerator, pantry, utensils, and cookware really well. Gluten lives on the bottom of that silverware holder and in the corners of your favorite cake pan. If you can’t get the crumbs out, get rid of it.

2. Organize – If you have a child that is GF and you have the space, organize your dry goods so that GF foods are within your child’s reach and your non-GF foods are stored separately in another area of the pantry. For instance, I have a left and right-side pantry. I store all GF foods on the left-hand side and strategically place cereals and snacks where Nora can reach them. If your pantry is small or non-existent, place GF foods on top shelves and non-GF on the bottom so that no gluten falls into your GF foods.Gluten-free pantry

3. Separate – Once again, try to separate your GF and non-GF as much as possible. If you keep your bread in the fridge like us, keep all loaves wrapped up well. I don’t go this far, but I do know that some people will even double-bag their GF bread to avoid cross contamination. If possible, store the GF frozen foods together above the non-GF foods.

4. Label – If you think you can buy one tub of margarine and keep gluten-infested knives out of it, more power to you. But this would never fly in our house. If you’re like us, buy two sets of margarine, cream cheese, peanut butter, and anything else you’d likely stick a knife into. Label one set as GF and keep on the lower shelf of your fridge, so your child can reach it easily.Gluten-free fridge

5. Designate – Even the smallest kitchen can accommodate a designated GF food preparation area. I have designated the right-hand side of our counter as GF. In the mornings, when I have to prepare and pack one GF lunch and one regular lunch, I prepare Nora’s food on the GF side of the counter. And because other members of my family don’t necessarily always follow that rule, I also use either a paper towel, plate, or cutting board to prepare her food on as an extra layer between her food and any possible lingering gluten. I also don’t ever put regular breads directly on the countertop. They always get some type of protective layer as well. That way the plate or paper towel catches most of the crumbs and I can quickly dispose of them and give the counter a quick swipe with a cleaner.

6. Invest – I will not tell you to throw away all your utensils and cookware. If it’s glass, ceramic, or porcelain, it can most likely be easily cleaned of any gluten. However, non-stick baking pans are another story. Oddly enough, my supposedly “non-stick” bread, muffin, and cake pans had tons of unidentified crust and gunk “stuck” in the corners and it was impossible to get these clean. I did use them to bake GF and just used liners or parchment paper, but if you can invest in new GF pans, do so. Or if you enjoy baking as much as I do, ask for new pans as a gift for the holidays or for your birthday!

7. Toasters – I gave toasters their own category because this is one item that you really NEED to buy new. There’s no way to clean a toaster of all gluten. You can shake it as hard as you can and there will still be crumbs inside. We now have 3 toasters on our counters. Ridiculous, I know. But it works. We have a toaster oven which is shared and we put all GF foods that need to be baked, like chicken nuggets, on a layer of foil to avoid cross contamination. We also have two pop-up toasters. One that is dedicated to gluten and one that is dedicated GF and lives on the GF counter. As ugly as this is, our toaster is even labeled GF with permanent marker so that when babysitters come over, they know which toaster to use for Nora’s food.

Gluten-free toaster
Follow these simple tips can help you can successfully create a safe, shared kitchen that accommodates everyone in the family, gluten-free or not.

Share the love: What’s your secret to keeping your kitchen GF? Share them here so we can all learn from one another.


Gluten-free medications


There’s gluten in medications? Sometimes, yes. Both prescription and over the counter medications and vitamins can be hidden sources of gluten.

gluten-free medication

© Zlideshowpix | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Nora has a sinus infection that refuses to go away. First she was on Amoxicillin and when I asked our pharmacy to check if it was gluten-free they said they’d have to call the manufacturer. Probably 5 days later, after she was almost finished with the prescription, they called me back to tell me that the manufacturer’s response was, “No ingredients are derived from gluten; however, we cannot certify the product to be gluten-free.” What does that mean? “You can’t certify it.” I’m not asking for a gold stamp, just some simple information, but thank you for the vague language.

Now, two days later, I’m back at the pediatrician’s office with Nora, still hacking away with her cough, which she’s had for a month now. On to Augmentin. This time, I thought ahead and asked the pediatrician if he could check if it was gluten-free. His response, “I’ve never had anyone ask me that before.” I find that both surprising and frightening. I’m not sure how many celiacs he has in his practice, but I know we aren’t the only ones, and I’m sure there will only be more as doctors become more aware of its prevalence. After all, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, 1 in 133 Americans have celiac disease. However, “it is estimated that 85% of Americans who have celiac disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions.”

But I digress, back to gluten-free medications. Thankfully, my pediatrician saved me the effort and called Nora’s GI doc to discuss the concerns. She reassured him that Augmentin was indeed gluten-free and that for future inquiries, we could check   If you scroll to the bottom there are several PDFs that you can download regarding gluten content in medications and vitamins. Our pediatrician wanted to also give her a probiotic along with the Augmentin, but the one he suggested DID have gluten in it.

When we are faced with adversity, it is often easy to feel helpless. My response to that is find the information I need and to pass it along to others who might also need it.  I now have one more valuable resource that puts the power back in my hands, and I can rest assured that Nora will receive safe medications. And to top it off, I have educated our pediatrician on the dangers of hidden gluten in medications.

Ingredients in any food or medication can change from time to time. For the most up-to-date gluten information, contact the manufacturer directly.



Welcome to my little experiment. This is my first blog and I still have a lot to learn, so bear with me as I figure out what works, what doesn’t work, what people want to hear, and what they could care less about.

Growing up gluten-free is exactly what our family is now facing. In February 2012, our younger daughter, Nora, was diagnosed with celiac disease. This is our story. Walk, run, and stumble with us as we navigate the gluten-free world and I take a stab at gluten-free cooking and baking. I promise to share with you all that we learn, from the product and restaurant reviews, to recipes, tips, and more.

Now for some site navigation.

Want to learn more about who we are and the nitty gritty on how our celiac story unfolded? Click on About us.

Want to learn more about celiac, gluten intolerance, and gluten allergies? Click on Learn more.

Need some gluten-free recipes that have received a thumbs up from a REAL family with picky eaters? Click on Gluten-free recipes.

Share the love!

I’m so new to gluten-free cooking and baking that I could always use new ideas. Have a recipe that you think is the bomb? Email me your recipe, and if it gets a thumbs up from our family, I will post it here!

Enjoy and check back soon for my first recipe!