Healthy Living, Raw Foods

Lessons From My Gluten-Free Kitchen

17 Comments 27 November 2012

Lessons From My Gluten-Free Kitchen

I love kitchens. Kitchens gives you a glimpse into someone’s life. Into their hearts. Into their worlds. When I went to Shirley’s home in Virginia for the gfe retreat, I felt her kitchen because it exuded warmth. I just loved helping in the kitchen and watching the girls bustle around Shirley’s space. This is where Shirley dreamed up such delicious recipes as her Brazilian Uncheese Rolls and her Pumpkin Butter Pecan Chocolate Chip Bars. This is where she cooked for her husband and son and where she taught members of her gluten-free support group that gluten free can be done easily. I learned so much about that wonderful woman just by sitting in her kitchen.

Wendy of Celiacs in the House started a series called “In My Gluten-Free Kitchen” before she retired her blog. She asked various bloggers to share photos of their kitchens as well as kitchen tips they use for gluten free living. I was prepared to share all about my kitchen, but Wendy’s retirement occurred before my post date. I thought of deleting the photos that I took for this event, but then I thought again.

I’ve learned a lot in my gluten-free kitchen. So I thought I’d give you a little peek into my tiny corner of the culinary world and share several lessons that I’ve learned by working here.

I have a tiny kitchen. Not for New York City, but for Nashville, and for this foodie. We sold the house that had my ideal kitchen, and we are currently living in a smallish apartment awaiting our next home. So at least half of my kitchen is in boxes. So why would a food blogger want to share her “less than ideal” kitchen with you? Because living gluten free isn’t complicated. It doesn’t take a lot of room. Space isn’t a limiting factor. It just takes a little organization and creativity.

This is my current kitchen.

And here are the lessons that I’ve learned from it.

Lesson #1: Clean up throughout the cooking process.

I don’t have much counter space, so I’ve had to train myself to clean up in small batches. In my last kitchen if one counter was littered with cutting boards or dirty dishes I’d just move on to the next counter.  Now I have to stop and clean up my workspace between steps. It was hard to get used to, but one benefit is that there isn’t a mound of dishes to clean up when the meal is done.

Lesson #2: Find a process that works for you.

My biggest frustration in this tiny kitchen is in emptying the dishwasher. My daily dishes fit into two cupboards. But I can’t reach these cupboards when the dishwasher is open! Who designed this?

So emptying the dishwasher is a multi-step process. I place some clean dishes on the counter, close the dishwasher, put those dishes away, open the dishwasher, and repeat this cycle 3-4 times until the dishwasher is finally empty.

Not exactly an efficient process in my efficiency kitchen, but it works. Max loves when the dishwasher is open. There just might be a smidge of almond butter on a spoon.

Rats, these are clean.

Lesson #3: Decide which appliances are important enough to take up counter space.

I love appliances, and if it were up to me they would all be on the counter. But I have to prioritize which ones get the prime spots.  The Vitamix, my Cuisinart Food Processor, and the Omega VRT350 Juicer are used most frequently, so they line my workspace. The canisters all hold a variety of Protein Powders that we use in smoothies at least once a day so they also get priority. (My favorite is here.)

Lesson #4: Get creative.

The microwave is hardly ever used and is rather large, so it sits on top of the refrigerator. We just have to duck when the door is open. The fridge also serves as the holder of my current favorite cookbooks and lunch boxes, which leads to Lesson #5.

Lesson #5: Find multiple purposes for spaces.

The dehydrator and toaster are off to the side. The dehydrator is large, but it’s humming more often than not and deserves to occupy the only other free counter space. It also holds my bags of ripening fruit and avocados as well as a basket of trivets and potholders.

Lesson #6: Protect important spaces.

My favorite thing about this kitchen is the high narrow counter. I guess technically it would be called a “bar”, but I’m not sure who would want to sit at a bar that hits chest level. It’s easy for this counter to become cluttered with keys, wallets, junk mail, and sticky notes, but I try to reserve this space for soaking, sprouting, and growing herbs. The banana basket is the only place where I allow junk.

The buckwheat groats will be folded into these raw cookies. The basil will accent salads all week long. (I miss my herb garden, but this works for now.)

These almonds will become almond milk or chocolate almond milk.

Lesson #7: Prioritize your pantry and clean it once a month.

I’m lucky to have a pantry. My pantry used to be filled with packages of gluten-free cookies, pasta, baking mixes, and flours. But I find that I only use those on special occasions. The more natural my gluten-free cooking has become the less I’ve had to rely on gluten-free substitutes. Now my pantry is filled with the things I use most: spices, seasonings, sun-dried tomatoes, a few canned goods, and a gluten-free grain staples like brown rice and quinoa. I find that when I do my monthly cleanout, I don’t miss a single thing that I donated to the food pantry.

Lesson #8: Get the things you don’t use out of your kitchen space.

I do have my stock of gluten-free flours and pastas, but they’re in a big basket in the utility room just off my kitchen.

(I also have a ridiculous amount of boxes of tea. I have no idea why any home needs an entire basket of tea, but there it is.)

Lesson #9: Keep the most used ingredients close to your workspace.

My oils, vinegars, and fun bottles are kept directly above my workspace. These are the items that I use all the time. I also stack my daily vitamins in glass prep bowls for easy access. Notice that I only have one glass measuring cup. Living in a small kitchen has taught me that you only need ONE good measuring cup, which leads me to Lesson #10.

Lesson #10: You need less than you think.

When packing up my kitchen to move to an apartment, I had to decide what kitchen items I couldn’t live without. Everything else was packed up in these boxes.

Here are some things that I know are in these boxes: my waffle maker, my tortilla press, casserole dishes, a coffee maker, salad bowls, fine china, pitchers, platters, and my Christmas dishes. Other than that, I really can’t remember what’s there. And we’ve done just fine.

Lesson #11: Use glass.

We’ve known for a while now that plastic is evil. Mason jars now hold most of my seeds, nuts, and grains. I’m also transitioning to glass for packing lunches and storing leftovers. You’ll find very little plastic in my kitchen.

Lesson #12: Put the most used utensils closest to your workspace.

I have 3 drawers. This is the drawer closest to my workspace, so it holds my utensils, measuring cups and spoons, my hand juicer, and a can opener. I use all of these daily.

And that’s a quick peek into my gluten-free kitchen. A kitchen can be large or small. It just has to work for you. For now, this works.

I was hoping to give you a list of my favorite gf kitchens for you to look at, but sadly most of the posts are no longer available since Celiacs in the House shut down. But I have found a few bloggers who posted on their own blogs. Check them out!

Readers, dish!

  • What is the one kitchen item that you couldn’t live without?
  • What is your favorite appliance?
  • What lessons have you learned while working in your kitchen?
  • What is your biggest kitchen challenge?
  • What would your ideal kitchen feel like?

Your Comments

17 Comments so far

  1. Heather, you are so kind to start out this post with those super lovely words on me–thank you, dear! Now to have your well-organized, pristine kitchen would make me very happy! Yours is a bright, “feel good” spot to be … you can just tell. I love seeing all the nooks and crannies, even the boxes in storage. ;-) Thank you so much for sharing with us all! FYI, Diane shared a post on her kitchen, too. And I really want to go back and do a full post on my kitchen. That one was just a teaser, but I appreciate you sharing it. :-)

    xo,
    Shirley

  2. You are SO organized! You should start giving lessons. :)

  3. Alta says:

    I love how you’ve streamlined your kitchen. I don’t have a lot of space in my house, so I try hard to utilize my space the best I can! You’ve done a great job keeping it clean and as efficient as possible! And I’m a tad jealous that your top cabinets are taller than mine – your Vitamix fits underneath. Mine doesn’t! Boo.

  4. Mario says:

    Hi Heather,,nice clean kitchen.. im sure its all your passion..

  5. Thank you for the peek inside your kitchen. I too enjoyed Wendy’s series and wish those could have continued. It’s always fun to see how someone else lives and particularly how they live gluten-free.

    • Heather says:

      I agree! I was so inspired by one photo of Gena’s kitchen from Choosing Raw. It was showing off her new dehydrator (and they are huge) in a NYC kitchen. She used floor space! So inspiring!

  6. These are brilliant tips! I too am transitioning to making my kitchen a plastic-free zone. It’s a slow process, but slowly but surely jars and glass storage containers are taking over!

    • Heather says:

      Yes, Gabby, it is a slow process. I love having glass. My only complaint is that the lids are plastic and break or crack over time, and I can’t find a way to replace the lids only.

  7. Jenn says:

    I love this, all of it – such great and useful tips, SO important for a small space! I’m still working on doing tip #1 more often though… :)

    • Heather says:

      How sweet of you to comment, Jenn. I LOVE your kitchen! Yes, #1 takes so much discipline! One day while doing a Daring Cook’s Challenge I was in up to my elbows and grabbed a laundry basket to hold the dirty dishes so I could have sink space!

  8. Debi says:

    I love that you shared your kitchen (and I love it)! You’re not the only one with a big stockpile of tea. I don’t know why I do, but I do. So whatever I want, I have when I want it! It was a great idea to do this since you didn’t get to do it on Wendy’s. I remember Diane re-posting hers. I think I need to repost mine. :D


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A Curious Girl in the Gluten-Free World

I'm a curious girl, wife, teacher, friend, fitness fanatic, foodie, high raw vegan, child of the King, and Mama Cat. I've made the transition from baking and cooking gluten-free to creating raw vegan recipes that are naturally gluten free. My gluten intolerance opened up my diet to a whole new world of nutritious plant-based foods. And now I have another challenge ahead...I'm moving to New York City! I look forward to Living Raw Vegan in the City and sharing my experience with you.

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