I’m not going to lie! Gluten-Free Friday has quickly become I post I look forward to writing every week! I feel good staying on top of a Gluten-Free diet for my son. I feel good sharing our journey and I feel good sharing the lunches that I make! Since my son Evan’s preschool does not provide lunch I actually do pack lunch 5 days a week for him. I try to share 2-4 of those lunches here deciding whether I think it is interesting enough and whether I perhaps have already shared a similar lunch a few times. I’m always trying to be creative by mixing up the colors and flavors for him to keep it interesting. Plus, I also want to expose Evan to a wide variety of foods. He is not a picky eater and with any luck I can continue to capitalize on that! The Gluten-Free diet certainly seems to be agreeing with him!
Last week I discussed Gluten-Free Savings, this week I am going to discuss Cross Contamination! Now that term has traditionally always been used to describe what happens when bacteria from one food is spread to another food. This can often result in spoiled food and even food poisoning. In the Gluten-Free world this term has a similar but different meaning. The concept is the same, you are spreading a contaminate from one food to another but in this case it is gluten. For most people who avoid gluten the simple acronym CC is all you have to say and that person will be on the same page.
In our household we have not made the decision to be 100% Gluten-Free. In many cases we are switching over to Gluten-Free items like Rice, Pasta, Oatmeal, snacks etc but we have not made a complete switchover across the board. I am always experimenting with Gluten-Free recipes but not everything I make is without gluten. You see, Evan at his young age is having very little “taken away”. He just has never had it yet, everything is still being introduced. He also is not old enough to understand he is on a special diet. My older kids however will take a little more time and convincing. I mention all of this because it is therefore my responsibility to make sure that I do not cross contaminate his food.
Here is an example of a cross contamination situation:
If you were to make a peanut butter sandwich using regular bread and then make a “Gluten-Free” peanut butter sandwich you probably just made a big old cross contaminated mess! Why? Well for so many reasons actually!
Let’s start with the knife itself. The knife when scraped across the regular bread probably picked up some gluten. Continuing to use that same knife now spreads that gluten to where ever you use it next.
Now, the peanut butter. When you stuck the knife in the jar to get more peanut butter you potentially just contaminated the jar itself. Many peanut butters are naturally Gluten-Free but not if you keep contaminating it with your knife.
Your hands, did you wash them? Are your fingers crumby or sticky with peanut butter? Then they probably also have gluten on them. Did you just make your Gluten-Free sandwich with those hands?
Don’t forget the prep surface. Did you lay your Gluten-Free bread on the same cutting board, plate or counter that you just made the other sandwich on? If you did you may have picked up crumbs with gluten. Uh huh! It’s true!
Now apply this same line of thinking to everything you make. Yeah, you have to be fully conscious of it and yeah it takes some work. This is why many households will go completely Gluten-Free. Believe me that is a small illustration of CC issues!
Does it matter for me? Is cross contamination really going to effect me? I can’t tell you that for sure. Many people who are sensitive to gluten can tolerate some level of gluten. Many people cannot tolerate one minuscule iota, not a single bit. Only you will know for sure. If you start experiencing those familiar symptoms then you know you may have been victimized by cross contamination. Evan is too little to tell me about his symptoms. I have to try to observe them. I am choosing to be as cautious as possible. As he gets older perhaps we will experiment to see if there is a level he can tolerate. I’m just not sure at this time.
In the meantime. here are some of the things I try to do to minimize the chances of contaminating Evan’s food:
- I prepare Evan’s lunch first, seal it up and pack it away. Then there is no chance that I will forget!
- Evan has his own jar of peanut butter, some of his own condiments and some of the snacks are exclusive to him!
- When I cook dinner I will pull Gluten-Free portions out for Evan. This way if I add a sauce, something with breading etc his portion is already safe.
- I also keep a freezer stash of Gluten-Free items in case the dinner I cook doesn’t have enough Gluten-Free components for him.
- As I said we are switching many items over to Gluten-Free such as rice and pasta. It is important these items are well sealed and ideally stored away from gluten containing items.
I’m always giving thoughts to other ways I can stop CC! Drop me a line if you have suggestions!
Finally here are this weeks featured lunches:
Lunch #1 served in a Nibble Tray by Zak Designs. Perdue Shortcuts Chicken is served with watermelon, black beans, cheddar cheese cubes and Pirate Brands Original Tings.
Lunch #2 served in a Leaflet Tight container. This lunch was inspired by a MOMables Gluten-Free menu item. Mini spinach and cheese GF quiches are served with grapes and strawberries. Evan is teething his 2 year molars so has been avoiding crunchy foods.
Lunch #3 served in a Glit & Brillia 2 tier container. A salad of cucumbers, mandarin oranges, blueberries, Perdue Chicken Shortcuts and slivered almonds is tossed in GF Creamy italian dressing and served with Van’s Say Cheese crackers and Puffins Multigrain Cereal.
Lunch #4 served in a Leaflet Tight container. I made GF blueberry orange waffles by using Bob’s Red Mill GF Waffle mix but substituted the milk for a combo of Vanilla Almond Milk and orange juice. I tossed in some fresh blueberries. I served this with fresh blackberries, grape tomatoes, cucumbers and Pirate Brands Original Tings. You could send a pure maple syrup along side but these have a sweetness to them already!
I’ll be back next Friday but until then check out these blogs for more daily lunch ideas!
Keeley McGuire Blog
Biting the Hand That Feeds You
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