When diagnosed with Celiac disease, people often have a crisis, wondering how do I even begin a gluten-free diet and not go crazy? It’s so important for their health, and the eating part is figure-out-able, but then there are more questions about cross-contamination, like “Can you kill gluten? Does a dishwasher get rid of gluten?” and the big one we can help with in this post: “Do I have to get new kitchen tools because I have Celiac to avoid cross-contamination?”
Becoming Gluten Free for the First Time
The last nine years of my life have been a roller coaster with gluten.
I’m going to take the time to tell a little bit of my story… because it’s my hope that it may bless and help someone. (If you are pressed for time and just want the bullet list of 17 Hidden Sources of Gluten In Your Kitchen, scroll down.)
Nine years ago I began making my own homemade bread, using my Bosch mixer to crank out 6 loaves of delicious gluten goodness every week. When you make 6 loaves of bread every week, you go through a lot of flour – I was buying one or two 5lb bags of flour every week!
It wasn’t long before I took the plunge and invested in a flour mill. I became a whole-wheat flour convert – grinding my own flour and sharing it with friends. Every few months I’d purchase a buy a 50lb bag of wheat berries, milling them in my flour mill.
RELATED: Gluten-Free Snacks Kids Can Make & Behavioral Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity
Fast forward a few years
One of my kids developed a massive gluten intolerance, due to some difficult GI issues. For her health and safety, we ended up going grain-free (elimination diet) for 18+ months.
God gave her some miraculous healing and we slowly worked grains back into our lives – this time experimenting with sprouting and soaking. I would soak my wheat berries, sprout them, dehydrate them, and THEN mill them in my grain mill – all to create sprouted flour. Which I THEN would bake into bread.
Talk about a time investment!
That regimen was WAY too much to keep up with, especially with a new baby in the house.
We still tried to keep our overall wheat intake lower, focusing on spelt, einkorn, and other non-traditional grains.
My Own Health Crisis and Discovering Celiac Disease
Everything changed Thanksgiving 2015.
First, I came down with shingles on Black Friday. I was unbelievably sick and exhausted for a month, unable to leave my house until Christmas. In order to survive, we relied more and more upon grains to get us through – though we still tried to make healthy choices: whole grain crackers, einkorn noodles, sprouted Ezekiel bread.
February – I contracted mono. My energy went from low to zero.
March – I had slipped into a pretty deep depression, fueled by absolute exhaustion. My joints hurt. I was gaining weight like crazy, despite hardly eating. I felt like I was living in a fog and it was a desperate struggle to just keep up with life.
It was from this place of desperation that I wrote from my heart about how to cook for your family when depression strikes.
April – This month ushered in some very serious health problems – too many to write about. We bought cereal for the first time in years. Lunch was cheese and crackers. Dinner was pasta or frozen pizza or grilled cheese.
Without realizing it, our diet became gluten, gluten, and more gluten.
May – My husband and I did a Whole30 type challenge. I was surprised how quickly I began to notice an improvement…
My joints didn’t feel like cement.
I wasn’t bloating like I was 7 months pregnant by the end of the day.
I felt clear headed and saw the first glimmer of energy in months.
I could make it through the day without having to lie down every other hour.
Things didn’t finally click until July 2016, when the doc diagnosed me with Celiac Disease – a disease where your body essentially attacks itself when it consumes gluten. Without removing gluten, serious harm can occur.
Going Gluten Free Again (& Learning About Cross-Contamination)
I was no stranger to eating gluten free. We stopped eating wheat, rye, spelt, and einkorn. We watched out for gluten additives in food. We used gluten-free soap, shampoo, and toothpaste.
But I was still getting sick.
After doing some research, I realized I needed to deep clean my kitchen and replace a lot of my equipment.
Because NO, you can’t just kill gluten with a good dishwasher or bleach. It’s not alive. You can’t even get it OFF most tools!
The difference has been astounding. Friends keep commenting on how healthy I look. I’m losing weight. My energy is growing. I’m more emotionally stable and have energy to spend time with my kids.
ALL BECAUSE I REPLACED MY COOKING TOOLS.
Rather, I would NEVER have dreamed that my [clean] kitchen equipment could actually still be making me sick. Gluten cross-contamination is a real thing. We were blessed with friends from around the country who pitched together to help me replace my kitchen. Please read the following with hope, not despair.
17 Hidden Sources of Gluten In Your Kitchen – Gluten Free Kitchen Rules
1. You Can’t Kill Gluten on that Bakeware, Sorry
I was able to save my pyrex bakeware (scrubbing it really well), but I had to get rid of my high quality muffin tins – because gluten build up can hide in the cracks and joints.
2. Pots and Pans with Rivets Hide Gluten
Remember all that pasta I had been boiling? My pots had interior rivets. Even though they were stainless steel, they still had a ring of pasta-scum around those rivets.
I scrubbed a long time… and couldn’t get it clean. I tried ‘cheating’ and keeping them, but they still got me noticeably sick.
3. Old Baking Pans Aren’t Safe for Celiacs
Notice that lovely patina on the bakeware? That patina seasons your pan and helps your items to not stick.
Sadly, that patina can be formed from oil + flour, which traps the gluten. My pans also had some grooves and scratches. So they had to go.
4. Wooden Anything is a Gluten Disaster
My beloved bamboo tools? My trusty cutting boards? My wooden rolling pin? My artisan hand-carved wooden serving ware? All had to go. Wood is porous and no amount of cleaning was able to make it safe for me.
5. Cooling Racks Have Too Many Crevices
Years of making bread, muffins, cookies, biscuits, cracker – all cooled on my cooling racks. There’s no way one can scrub all the sides and corners of these.
6. Anything Open Has to Go Because Flour Might be in There
My toothpicks (used for testing the doneness of baked goods), muffin liners, foil wrap, parchment paper rolls – all were touched with floury hands or were suspect to cross- contamination.
7. Colanders and Strainers
This probably goes without saying, but if you have a colander that has strained wheat pasta STOP USING IT.
There’s no way you can clean out all the little holes and crevices. Pasta water is VERY sticky and pervasive. I also used my strainer to rinse wheat berries that I sprouted. Sniff.
8. Plastics are Too Porous to be Safe for Celiacs
Although we try to avoid plastics, some were still unavoidable in our house. Because plastic is porous, all my plastic (and Tupperware) had to go.
9. Stoneware Also Too Porous
Speaking of porous material, all stoneware MUST go. There is NO amount of cleaning you can do to get gluten out of stoneware – which is very sad.
10. Cast Iron is a Gluten Problem (but Enameled is Not)
If you’ve been a KS reader for awhile, you’ll have heard me sing the praises of enameled cast iron. I’m so so SO thankful to report that I was able to keep all my enameled cast iron! The porcelain coating provided a barrier to keep the gluten out. (Phew.)
However, my regular cast iron had to go. I’m told that one could strip the pan and re-season it to possibly make it safe, but my reactivity is strong enough that it wasn’t worth the risk.
11. Miscellaneous Kitchen Tools
My high-quality kitchen scoops (used for scooping muffins, cookies, meatloaf, etc) had too many moving parts to get them clean. Similarly, my rubber spatulas had removable heads. I couldn’t guarantee that I could get them clean. There were many small tools that I thought “Oh, I don’t need to get rid of this!” and so I would use it and promptly get violently ill.
12. Gluten-laden Storage Containers
Okay – go ahead and laugh. Yes, this is me. Keeping gluten-free Larabars in my old wheat gluten powder container. I was trying to be frugal and reuse old containers. Likewise, I stored my 40lb bag of rice in my old wheat bins. So I had to give away all of my rice because of cross-contamination. Scrutinize what you keep your stuff in!
13. Freezer Food – Even if it Wasn’t Made with Flour!
Oh, this hurt. I had made a bunch of freezer meals right before I was diagnosed with Celiac. I thought, “Hey, these are gluten-free! I should be fine!” But they were made with my old equipment. And sure enough, I got so so so sick. So I had to purge everything out of my freezer. The bright side? I was able to bless some friends in need.
14. Opened Spices, Herbs, Baking Supplies, Oils, Condiments had Cross-Contamination
See these beautiful, grain-free chocolate cupcakes? I got violently ill when I ate them. Turns out that I used ingredients that had been previously cross-contaminated with wheat (baking soda, cocoa powder, coconut oil, etc).
Since gluten goes airborne, it’s easy for it to contaminate. Even if you don’t double-dip, if the containers are open while flour is involved, you run high risk. And I got whammied. Similarly, watch out for your butter dish, open containers of nut butters, jelly jars, honey pots, mayo jars, even salad dressing jars – any of these can become cross- contaminated!!!
15. Toaster / Toaster Oven Must be Dedicated for Celiac Safety
If gluten is an issue, you must must must replace your toaster / toaster oven. If gluten is still in your house, keep a dedicated toaster just for those who must go GF. I personally don’t believe that bread is evil, but your body will think so if you cross-contaminate your toaster!
16. That Sneaky Silverware Drawer
I would never have thought of this until a friend pointed it out. The silverware drawer somehow becomes a magical collection of all-things crumbs. This is a pic from a [very clean] lodge we stayed at for a week. Sure enough, the silverware drawer had a large assortment of crumbs.
We didn’t get rid of our silverware divider, but we did empty everything, run it through the dishwasher, scrub the container, and replace it. Actually, even if you don’t have gluten issues in your house, go clean your silverware drawer! It will equally surprise and scare you…
17. Check Your Food for Hidden Gluten Cross-Contamination!
I never thought I would find wheat on my nuts. But after eating a handful (and getting sick), I flipped the bag over and was horrified. These nuts were: “Processed on equipment that also processes peanuts, other tree nuts, milk, soy, and wheat.” I never, ever would have thought to double check my nuts, dried fruit, or other ‘safe’ foods.
So there you are. The 17 unsuspecting places we found gluten in our kitchen. I don’t expect your journey to look like mine and you may have issues with gluten and be able to use everything from this list just fine. But if you find you’re not feeling the best you could, it might be worth doing a gluten-hunt in your house.
Looking for more Gluten Free Posts?
- Easy Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins
- Packing a Gluten Free Lunch
- Meal Plans for Elimination Diet
- Gluten-Free Chocolate Peppermint Cookie Recipe
- Gluten-Free Soft Pumpkin Cookie Recipe
- Gluten-Free Apple Flax Muffin Recipe
- Gluten-Free Camping Menu
- Easy Gluten-Free Pancake Recipe
- 7 Easy Steps to Gluten-Free Survival Mode
GLUTEN-FREE CAN BE CONFUSING BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE HARD!I’m thrilled to share a FREE gluten-free cheat sheet mini eBook to help get you started! This is perfect if you’ve just been told you need a GF diet, if you have a friend or family member eating GF and you’d like to cook for them, or if you’re just curious what it’s all about!
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21 thoughts on “17 Hidden Sources of Gluten In Your Kitchen (That Aren’t Food)”
You are an angel! I was diagnosed ten days ago and am learning fast. Can you recommend which food storage containers you now use? I’m afraid of materials now because gluten could even be in my dental night guard and retainer. I want to do right but am not sure which food storage containers and bento boxes are safe to buy (as I’ll now have to take my own food everywhere). Thank you for this blog, I truly feel seen after a lifetime of being told nothing was wrong—and it was!
Bethany is not a contributing writer anymore, so I don’t think she will see your comment. Based on what she says and other blogs, glass, and stainless should be safe for you to use. It looks like the big problems with storage is plastic or metal with grooves and tight corners, but that’s if you are using containers that are also used with gluten foods. Brand new containers should be clean and safe. Good luck as you figure out how to change your diet. I bet it’s such a relief to know what’s bothering you!
Wow! Wow! Wow! I’m blown away. I have ulcerative colitis and gluten intolerance. I’ve been so careful with my food choices…like crazy careful. And I’ve made a few changes in the kitchen. But this really opened my eyes. I’m currently living in a house with 4 other adults so sharing a kitchen and being the only one with a food intolerance has been a challenge. I almost want to just have them read this so they’ll understand why I ask them not to use my things. I’m not being a pain in the butt. I’m trying to avoid one, so to speak. 😉 Thank you SO SO much for this!
Wow, this is not what I expected! I thought you were going to write about gluten hidden in certain foods not equipment used to prepare food! What an eye opener for us non coeliac! I only recently have started to eat as grain free as possible to optimise health and weight control, so consuming gluten inadvertently doesn’t have an obvious effect on me and my family. Well done on highlighting how absolutely debilitating coeliac disease can be. I’ll be putting a link to this post on my blog! xx
Thank you, Dee, for your kind words. It has certainly been an eye-opening experience for us as well!! Thanks for putting a shout out to this post on your blog!
Your article makes me remember all I went through! We even did GAPS, but never felt well off it so we read Kerry Riviera’s book and you would not believe the difference! I have actually touched bread without a horrible reaction. That is huge for me. Not ready to taste it yet but maybe in a year or maybe not because I feel so great! Good luck and God speed on your health journey!
What is the title of that bk pls?
Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism is the book. The author has been very badly treated by many online. It’s all about parasites and how to rid your body of them. It will take more than a year so be prepared for a fight, but such joy comes with the release of each parasite! There is an amazing story in the book about the worm whisperer and although we have never dealt with autism our many problems have slowly been dissipating, praise God!
Ah, parasites! Im sure shes gotten a lot of flack. Im going to look for that bk, thx!
And i do believe autism is a collection of symptoms, not a “different way” that ppl think. It needs to be addressed, not embraced.
Rebecca – thanks for the kind note! I’m so glad to hear that you are doing well!
Wow. I got a grain mill shortly before my husband developed a wheat intolerance four years ago, and I haven’t used it, but haven’t given it away, hoping I might be able to run a bunch of rice or something through it to “clean” it. Guess not. I have done pretty well with cleaning our existing tools, but I don’t have some of the things you mention. Still, it is probably worthwhile to finally shed some of those questionable items I haven’t wanted to use “just in case”. Sigh. Thanks for this helpful information!
Dawn – don’t be discouraged! Depending on the severity of his intolerance, you may be able to redeem it! I would certainly wash all applicable parts, buy a new filter, and run as much rice/filler as you can.
I held on to my grain mill for several years. I did end up selling it (especially since the flour reside it left in my pantry/laundry room was making me sick any time I walked into my laundry room!!!!!!!). I’m eating more paleo these days — at the moment too much grain/rice irritates my gut. But when the time comes, I’ve thought about getting the vitamin grain mill attachment to make rice flour. But, then again, it’s also easy to just buy pre-made blends for as little as I use.
Good luck as you look through your kitchen with fresh eyes. Hope this helps your husband (and your whole family) continue to feel better!
God Bless you Bethany and Family, Have you all been tested at this point? When I was diagnosed with CD I was 48 years old and had been diagnosed with everything under the sun but CD. My Gastro-enterologist (SP) finally said let’s test for one more thing instead of doing iron treatments, we did and low and behold there it was. They also suggested my siblings get tested and my children, so far at this point, I am now 61+, no one else has it. So thankful for that! I have been able to reintroduce certain items and I am doing fine, But I stay completely away from what I consider cheaper grades of flour, pasta was a killer for me, and also graham flour… Stay well and I am sure you will do great. Look for the Gabanzo bean chocolate cake, scrumptious! And it is so fun to serve to unsuspecting people!
Rebecca – Thank you for your kind note! At this point, I do have a medical diagnosis. We are in process of having our kids tested as well, especially since the disease does have a genetic component.
Wow, this article makes me sad. I am a whispermill, DLX kitchen center momma too who made 6 loaves at a time (in my heyday) pasta, rolls, etc. With all those tools and more. Damn all those monsanto-type groups and the fda in cahoots with them! Our world is just so toxic to so many ppl that it shudnt be 🙁
Glad u r feeling so much better tho! That is worth anything, I know that for absolute!
Thanks, Helena! Yes, it was a sad day when I had to sell the grain mill and my beloved Bosch mixer. But I’m thankful to see how God has blessed and provided with new (albeit different) tools now that I’m on a new cooking journey.
People thought I was crazy when I bought a whole new set of cookware, bakeware and stoneware, but I KNEW it was causing problem for my daughter with allergies. Immediately, we saw a difference in her skin. Now I have my safe cookware and unsafe. It’s a storage issue without a doubt, but so worth it to know she’s being taken care of!
Ursula – Isn’t it crazy how things we never suspect can impact us?? I’m so glad that your daughter is doing better.
THANK YOU!! for this post. I’d thought all about the food and ingredients, but not the utensils and cooking/baking/storage containers. This answers the questions to my personal frustration. I went GF, went on GAPS, but still have had problems occasionally. Now it makes sense. Kitchen purge coming up.
Cynthia – I’m glad my story could be a blessing to you. Good luck on your healing journey!