FeaturesDec/Jan 2016 Issue

We've Got Issues: Basic Allegy-Friendly Kitchen Cleaning Tips

Irreverent solutions to your real life allergy & sensitivity drama


Dear Issues,

I’m curious. I am moving into a new (to me) kitchen. What’s the best way to get rid of any wheat or whatever may be in there? I was just going to paint. Or is a good scrub-down the way to go?

Signed,
Afraid to Inhale

Dear Afraid,

Coincidentally, you ask this question while I’m in the middle of my own house-hunting quest.

As someone who works out of her kitchen every day, I recently hired a professional organizer to come in and help me sort through all my gluten-free flours and my stacks of pots and pans. My stated goal was to tackle the clutter before my house goes on the market. But honestly, I need to be able to recipe-test without a Dutch oven tumbling out of the cabinet and onto my head.

One thing this organizer did for me, which anyone with food allergies and sensitivities should consider, was to rip out the old cabinet linings and replace them with new, easily cleaned, grooved, plastic shelf liners. Before installing these new liners, he scrubbed the heck out of the cabinets with an abrasive cleaner. I’ve never felt so clean in my kitchen!

When I move, I plan to bring the gloves, abrasive cleaner, tough-as-heck sponges and fresh shelf lining into my new (to me) kitchen. Before you transfer your non-contaminated cookie sheets into your new (to you) cabinets, consider doing the same.

No, this isn’t fun. But neither is waking up in the middle of the night and wondering if your cooling racks have been sitting in traces of wheat flour for the past four years. (I really did this after reading your letter. Really.)

If this massive cleaning project seems overwhelming to you, grab a spray cleaner and wipe down the insides of your new (to you) cabinets. This will clean up any food spills from the previous owners.

Good luck with your move!


Dear Issues,

I really love your magazine but many of the prepared products you endorse are as bad for me as anything containing wheat. I’m allergic to rice—and almost every commercial product that’s gluten-free is made with rice flour. My allergies include wheat, rice, corn, oats, cow’s milk, beef, salmon, shrimp, peanuts, strawberries and grapefruit. I can work around most but it’s a problem finding prepared bread, pasta, piecrusts, etc., that I can eat. I also have to be very careful about restaurant items because of the foods used in cooking. I’d love to be able to purchase food rather than always having to make my own. Any suggestions?

Signed,

99 Allergies

Dear 99,

I give you a high-five for speaking out and asking for help in solving this food issue.

Here’s the good news: There’s more awareness about food allergies than ever before. Restaurants and grocery stores are getting the message that food allergies are serious.

Here’s the bad news: You’ve got some really special allergies (rice and corn, specifically) that make it pretty challenging to shop in the prepared-food aisles or dine outside your own home.

And here’s the “meh” news: You can still shop in the whole-foods sections of your grocery store—fruit, vegetables, chicken, and fish other than salmon. And with food labeling laws, you can feel safe purchasing premade foods that are allergy-friendly, since the big 8 food allergens (for you, that would be wheat, dairy, fish, shellfish, peanuts) must be identified on the label. But it’s still “meh” news since your other allergens (rice, corn, and oats) are often used as fillers and they aren’t going to be so clearly labeled.

It sounds like you’re mostly eating at home. I know how frustrating it is to have to always make your own food in order to be safe, but that’s really the way to go here. The best person to grab single-ingredient foods at the grocery store and create amazing meals that are safe for you is you. Controlling your food selection and prep is your safest bet.

That said, personal chefs and meal delivery services are popping up all over the country. Many of these specialize in Paleo meals, which are grain-free (something that would be okay for you) and they may work with you to understand and accommodate your other allergens. Familiarize yourself with these services and get on the phone to discuss your specific needs. There are chefs who can make you a dang good dinner so you can take the night off from the stovetop.

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