Gluten Free Kitchen Basics

Gluten Free KitchenOne of the biggest challenges and yet by far the best plan for those with celiac disease is keeping a gluten free kitchen. When I lived alone this was not a big deal at all. After my diagnosis I took EVERYTHING out of my cabinets and the refrigerator and did a major overhaul.  I made sure EVERY crumb was picked up when I dusted and wiped the cabinets down as well as when I scrubbed the refrigerator. Who knows what that spill may have been!?!? It took an entire day but it was definitely worth the effort. I gave a ton of food to my parents and then filled my house with only gluten free food. I didn’t have to worry about reading labels once it landed in my cabinet.  It was my safe zone and I loved it.

Then it happened. I had a “serious” boyfriend. He was always over and had a love for snacks. He tried some gluten free cookies and would eat the pasta I would cook, but one day asked if he could leave some of his favorite snacks at my house- pretzels, cookies, etc. So we came up with a great solution, the basket on one of my shelves became the “gluten zone.” Anything containing gluten went into that container. Eventually my boyfriend spent more and more time at my place and that container had to become a small cabinet. No biggie. I just stayed away from there. It worked out great because it was a part of a small island and that became the area he would prepare gluten containing foods as well. It worked great! When we had friends over, all of the gluten food would go there and my counter space was still a gluten free zone. Woohoo!

Gluten free KitchenWell then he moved in. Damn. I had to share my refrigerator. And pots. And Pans. And well- everything. My fear of cross contamination had become my nightmare. My gluten-loving-Italian boyfriend (now fiancé) ruined my system. For the first month had not been so bad. Unfortunately, after that we both became a bit too comfortable and I spent 4 months miserable. We couldn’t figure out what the source until I decided to do another major overhaul of my kitchen. There were breadcrumbs in the butter.  My lettuce managed to get crumbs from his fried chicken (no joke… apparently men don’t cover food, they just toss things in the refrigerator).  It was chaos. Our solution was to go back to label EVERYTHING. Not only was it great for him to remind him of what he had to be careful with, but it was great for our guests as well!

 

 

Here are some of the helpful tips we tried and have really helped:

  1. Label. Label. Label. I purchased “gluten free” labels online and went crazy. Yes you can make them yourself, but these are really cute. I’m sorry. I’m a girl- the prettier the better. Plus, they don’t come off easily and they have even lasted in the dishwasher! Everything in my refrigerator that was gluten free was labeled and placed on a gluten free shelf.
  2. Label condiments and buy two when needed! We have two butter containers and one is labeled gluten free. The reason for doing this is to keep his gluten containing crumbs out of mine! This is especially helpful on those frequently used items!  I put one label on the container itself and one on the lid as well. Not only does this help with quick identification, but it keeps us from mixing them up and putting the wrong lid on the gluten free container. If you put them just on the lids, be careful! If you take the lids off of both the gluten free and gluten containing item you may inadvertently mix them up!
  3. Keep gluten free items on higher shelves. Just in case something spills or isn’t covered adequately, gluten won’t accidentally fall into your gluten free food!
  4. Dedicate a gluten free prep area. No gluten comes into this space. Ever. That being said, I would still wipe it down before cooking just to make sure no crumbs have fallen anywhere. My countertops are gluten free areas but I always wipe them down with a sponge before cooking
  5. That brings us to a gluten free sponge. Yes I have a dishwasher, but I tend to wipe down dishes/pans/etc before putting them in there so I have a gluten free sponge. Sponges can sometimes trap crumbs in the little holes. Your safest bet is to use two separate sponges. Some people color code them so you can remember but we also have a “sponge holder” next to the sink that is labeled gluten free.
  6. Get a second toaster. Crumbs fall and the slots are contaminated if you use gluten free and gluten containing bread in the same toaster. Be safe, get two. We have a tag hanging on the gluten free one as well so no one accidentally grabs the wrong one!
  7. We cook a lot of pasta so we have two colanders (strainers) as well. Those things can be pretty hard to clean with all of the holes so save some time and aggravation and invest in two! Do the same as the toaster and place a tag on it if you can so you know which ones I gluten free!
  8. Invest in a second cutting board. It’s possible to get small amounts of gluten stuck in the “cuts” on the board. They can be hard to remove so I always recommend using two separate cutting boards. Wiping them down does not always do a good enough job.
  9. Using separate baking/cooking equipment. We have designated gluten free pots/pans that are labeled.  It is the same thought process as the cutting board, sometimes things get trapped in small crevices, especially if they are coated pans!
  10. Educate your family. This is especially important when dealing with kids. If you’re living with a gluten free child, those labels make life so much easier for them! They already know what is safe and what isn’t. You may think that you don’t have to worry as much since you are their primary caregiver, but what happens when you’re not home? Grandparents may not be as familiar with their gluten free diet and babysitters may be clueless! This is okay though if things are labeled. They can easily find a snack or meal for them without causing alarm!
  11. Use placemats or at the very least avoid a table cloth. I know it sounds dumb, but using a table cloth can lead to trapped crumbs around your eating area. Unless you are okay with constantly washing it, you may want to skip it if you live with others that are not gluten free. However, if you love your tablecloths, the solution is to use a placemat when eating. This way your area is nice and clean!

Review: Tone It Up Diet & Fitness Plan

Being gluten free is pretty darn challenging at times. Unfortunately, one of the challenges we don’t tend to think about are diet plans. Most people assume that having celiac disease means you are at normal weight or even underweight. However, many individuals are diagnosed while being considered obese. In addition, patients tend to GAIN wait once going gluten free. Why? Well sometimes they are taking in more calories than average to account for what is not be absorbed. Second, gluten free food tends to be heavy in fats and added sugars as I’ve mentioned before. 

I’ve tried a few diet plans in the past and I was a little skeptical about the Tone It Up program. I came across www.toneitup.com one day while looking up some exercise tips and found these two very bubbly girls, Karena and Katrina.  Both girls are amazingly gorgeous and have incredibly toned bodies. Combined with their personalities, they make their workouts fun and entertaining! You know when you watch workout DVDs and everyone is doing stuff in sync while you’re falling around your living room? Not here! The girls switch off between moves and talk you through each movement. AND they lose their balance. It’s great. While doing one video, I stood there balancing on one leg and trying to do an extension on the other without letting my toe touch the ground. Yeah. It’s a great core workout but it can be tricky. While watching the video I noticed that they wobbled slightly too. They aren’t afraid to show their imperfections and it really was a breaking point for me. If they aren’t perfect, why do I need to be disappointed in myself for having the same struggle with a move? Lesson? Keep on doing it. I’ll get there eventually. I hope.

As for the diet plan, you can purchase different versions, including a gluten free diet version (as well as vegan, vegetarian, gluten free vegetarian, & pescetarian). I LOVE THIS. Yeah I know what is gluten free and what is not. I know that bread and wraps are generally off limits, but when I have to go on a diet and figure out a different way of eating, I don’t want to have to figure out gluten free substitutions as I go along. They have taken all of the guess work out of the equation for you. 

The diet consists of a morning drink (I stick with the bombshell spell versus the meta d) and 5 meals/snacks during the day. They teach you what you need to eat at each meal and when to avoid certain foods. Their website is full of recipes they have posted as well as those posted by members of the Tone It Up Community. Yeah- there’s a “community” too. Think of it as a built in support system. You can check in during the day with each other, trade workout ideas, meals, and even meet people in your area to work out with! (I’ve actually met someone on the TIU plan that goes to the same gym I do and we now go to yoga class together occasionally). 

I highly recommend this diet to those looking for something fun and looking for a trainer as well as a nutritionist. One of the biggest selling points for this plan are the workouts. Once each week you are provided with a workout schedule. It changes from week to week so you are never bored. If you choose to just do the workouts, you can check out their website and follow along without paying any fees. There’s no pressure at all! If you decide to do the diet plan, it currently costs $150. That gives you access to download the program and all of the updates/challenges along the way.  I did the exercises for a few weeks before I finally decided to go ahead and spend my money on the diet plan. It’s a great way to see if you think that you will like the plan without having to make any financial commitment!

Hope this helps!

xoxo

New Year? New You!

All right ladies and gents- it’s that time of year again! Let’s start 2014 by making a promise to start taking better care of ourselves. I use the word “promise” and not “resolution” because, to me, a promise is something we tend to take more serious.  The majority of us tend to use January 1st (okay technically January 2nd since most of us are still partaking in holiday indulgences on the 1st) as a restart date. It’s a great milestone to help all of us get to where we want to be and I challenge you to take better care of yourself this year. That can mean you stop smoking, drink less, workout more, start following clean eating principles, or anything else that will positively impact your health.

My suggestion is that you look at the changes you are about to make in “short term” segments. Forget getting in shape for swimsuit season! Instead, focus on what you can get done between now and Valentine’s Day. After then? Challenge yourself to get to April Fool’s Day! Oh come on, you have to appreciate that one. Next? Memorial Day. (Oh and if that seems just a bit to far, push yourself to my birthday- it’s May 16th. Feel free to send well wishes and/or gluten free cake).

Cheers!

xoxo

PS- Feel free to post your New Year’s Promises as a comment to this post to motivate each other!

Holiday Rehab: Peppermint Body Scrub & Cranberry Facial

Phew! The holidays are over! I’m not trying to sound like a grinch because as you know, I absolutely love the holidays. By now, though, all of the presents have been opened (and apparently I was a very good girl this year!), the yummy meals have been eaten, and well… lots of wine seems to have disappeared! All of this clearly means that I had a fabulous holiday season this year, but it also means my body is in need of some serious rehab.

Hitting the gym is my favorite way of rebounding from my holiday indulgences. Not only does it wake you up, but just because it’s the winter doesn’t mean you should slack! Plus burning all of those extra calories will certainly help keep off the holiday weight gain!

Now don’t forget to take care of your skin as well! Make sure to wash your face every morning and night and apply moisturizer twice daily to help beat the dry winter skin! Your hands and feet need extra pampering too! All of those heaters on at home tend to pull moisture out of the air leading to problems with those of us with dry skin! If you happen to be one of them like me, try these recipes to help repair your skin!

peppermint body scrubPeppermint Body Scrub

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 crushed candy canes (I’m sure you have some leftover and you need to crush them so put them in a baggie and take out some holiday frustrations!)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 10 drops peppermint essential oil (optional but highly recommended!)
  1. Melt coconut oil in the microwave for 30 seconds, or on stove top. Allow to cool slightly and add sugar and candy canes. Mix thoroughly
  2. Add essential oil and mix. You can omit this step if you want.

cranberry facialCranberry Facial Mask

  •  1/2 cup cranberries
  •  1/4 cup cranberry juice
  • 2 tbsp plain greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup bentonite clay
  1. Puree cranberries and cranberry juice
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly
  3. Place mask in airtight container (I use mason jars)
  4. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days
  5. To use apply to face and leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse off and continue your normal skincare routine

Enjoy!

xoxo