Sunday, June 27, 2010

Solutions for Identifying Gluten Free Food

Our house is completely gluten free so we don't have to worry about cross contamination or mix ups in our kitchen, but cross contamination and food mix ups are real issue when gluten free and regular food are being prepared in the same kitchen and served at the same time. Once, I was making banana bread for my daughter's class and there was a child with an egg allergy. It was pretty hard to be sure which bread was egg free when all the banana bread was baked and sliced, so I have experienced how difficult it is to tell after cooking which is the allergy free item. You can usually figure it out. But in some cases, such as at a restaurant or group situation, you need to have an easy way for everyone to know what is gluten free and what is not. Here are some solutions I have seen implemented and some I have used myself to identify gluten free food and cut down on cross contamination.

  • Use different plates. One restaurant has square plates for the gluten free food and round plates for the regular food. Since they are both white, you only know which one is gluten free if you are aware of the system. It is a nice understated way to differentiate two different dishes that might look identical. Lilly and Loo's in Manhattan uses this system because many of the items, such as the gluten free dumplings, look exactly the same as their regular counterparts. You can also use different colored plates if you want a more obvious system in place.
  • Use flags or toothpicks when the item is served. Risotteria, a NYC pizza place that serves gluten free and gluten filled pizza sticks small flags in their gluten free pizza which looks exactly like the regular pizza. As soon as the pizza comes out of the oven it gets a gluten free flag differentiating it from the regular pizza. If you don't have colored flags, you could put little frilly toothpicks in the gluten free food as soon as it is plated.
  • Prepare gluten free food first before preparing gluten containing food. Uno's pizza prepares all the gluten free pizza in the morning first thing when the kitchen is clean. This is important to do whenever baking gluten free items in a kitchen that is not completely gluten free. Everything used for baking should come straight out of the dishwasher to make sure that there is no cross contamination. Line all pans with parchment paper or foil or use paper or foil baking cups for baked items. You can keep all gluten free items on the parchment paper to differentiate it for the kitchen staff.
  • Put an extra item on cupcakes or cookies to differentiate it from gluten containing items. When my kids were younger and I used to bring cupcakes and cookies to class parties where other food was being served, I would serve the cookies and cupcakes my kids could have with a skittle in the middle. That way, they would easily know which ones they could have. I am not a huge fan of candy, but for a celebration, a small piece of candy transforms a gluten free treat into something appealing to everyone.


Busy Lizzie said...

Thanks for the advise. I am in the process of decontaminating the kitchen. (I hope Im being thorough enough!) and am finding it a daunting and exhausting task. In time I hope to have a totally gf kitchen, as the rest of the family use up the "bad stuff". I feel I need to stand guard over the kitchen at the moment!

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Gluten Free Food said...

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