Anyone else out there in the same boat? I recently was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, and am trying to decide if I should convert my whole kitchen to GF. I have four children 6 and under and a very tight budget. They love their PB&J and I don't love the price or taste of GF breads. I also bake from home for friends and a few customers. There isn't a whole lot of demand for GF cakes.
I have been celiac for many years. I think whether or not you want to go totally gf in your kitchen depends on a few of factors. One is your sensitivity, some celiacs are incredibly sensitive and can be affected by even tiny amounts or even flour in the air while baking.(luckily this isn't the case for me, though I do wear gloves when I knead wheat dough, it makes my hands itchy!) The other factor to consider is the temptation factor, for some people the adjustment is easier if they go to a completely gf kitchen for a while, so they are not tempted by all the glutenous stuff around until they get more used to cooking gf.
I started showing symptoms and was diagnosed as a teenager. I'm now 31 and married with 2 little ones. I do a lot of GF cooking and baking but my kitchen is not completely gluten free. I also bake regular wheat things too for my Hubby and kiddos who are not celiac.
I'm just very careful to avoid any cross contamination. Gluten free flours and products are kept on a separate shelf above and away from any wheat products. All pans and measuring cups are washed very carefully. When I roll out dough I use a sheet of freezer paper beneath so I can fold up the flour mess and throw it away and not have to worry about flour reside on the counter. I have my own jar of peanut butter, ect so I don't have to worry about the kids forgetting to wipe off the knife and getting crumbs in there. You'll want your own toaster too.
So, my kids and husband have their own bread, crackers, ect, and I have mine but when it comes to family dinners I usually just make everything GF. It's just much easier to just make one dinner, everyone can eat. My husband and kids don't mind and the kids actually really like the homemade gf bread I make. I do occasionally make two separate dishes, so my husband can still have his favorites, like chicken pot pie.
As far as making cakes go, I don't see any reason why you couldn't do both, (unless you are so sensitive to gluten that baking with it causes problems) just be careful to not cross contaminate. Check out your local GF groups. I think you'll find there is much more demand for beautful and yummy GF cakes than you realize.
Sorry that was kinda long, I hope it had some helpful stuff though
I'm not celiac, but I do have severe food allergies (to eggs and nuts) so I'm in a similar boat. leafO is exactly right that cross-contamination is the biggest concern, especially with airborne gluten. My wife still eats a lot of eggs and nuts at home (she's actually on a Paleo diet right now which includes a lot of both) but I've never had a reaction since we're both very careful.
There is definitely a lot of demand out there for gluten-free products, I would estimate about half of our customer base is GF (the other half has food allergies to nuts, eggs, dairy, etc.). Growth in wholesale GF products in grocery stores and restaurants is also huge right now. With this type of specialty market you really need to reach out to online discussion groups, local support groups, and gluten-free events to get things going, but if you get positive word-of-mouth your business will likely explode since there are very few businesses targeting this market segment.
I have celiac. I was diagnosed 19 months ago. I was an avid baker prior to my diagnosis. I also have 3 children. I do not have a gluten free household, though I do have a gluten light home. I still keep a loaf of storebought bread and a few kid snacks that have gluten. Aside from that everything else is gluten free.
I don't bake with gluten anymore. First, I hate baking and not being able to taste what I make. Second, and most importantly, flour gets everywhere. I've heard you need to give flour a good 24 hours to settle before you can be sure it's out of the air. So you can't just wipe down your kitchen right after baking with gluten and be safe. And you also have to worry about contaminating all of your utensils and ingredients. I find it easier to just do 100% gluten free. On rare occassions I have baked with gluten, such as for my SIL's baby shower, but those times I went to my mom's house, used her kitchen and supplies and wore a mask to keep from inhaling the flour. It might sound like overkill, but I find it necessary.
I want to add that I think Jason_Kraft is right about the market. I plan to go into business with gluten free baked goods exclusively at some point in the future. As of right now, I'm still experimenting trying to get my gluten free goods up to the quality I expect from my time baking prior to my diagnosis. I'm not there yet, though improving all the time. I have no doubt there will be plenty of customers to keep me busy when I'm ready, based on the inquiries I get all of the time from the networking I've done just learning more about celiac for my own health.
Thanks for the support!
Coleslawcat - I like your idea of going GF except for a few snacks for the kids and bread, I currently let them have their cereal in the morning and sandwiches but cook GF for all of us for dinner.
LeafO - I already have my own peanut butter and shelf in the pantry, and my husband came home yesterday with a brand new set of measuring cups! I am still in the process of trying to figure out how sensitive I am and I am beginning to think I am really sensitive every time I have tried to bake I get a massive headache. I'm starting to think it's not worth it.
Jason- It is scary to tell my customers I won't make regular cakes anymore and start from square one, but having had a few symptom free days I am anxious for more. Thanks for the encouragement! Pricing is going to be a whole new ballgame...
I agree that it really depends on how sensitive you are. You might ask your doctor what he/she would recommend as far as kitchen setup, based on the severity of your allergy.
I have not been diagnosed, but I started eating gluten free several months ago and after trying to re-introduce it, discovered I have a pretty bad intolerance. We do not have any children yet, but there is no standard flour in our kitchen, and my husband cooks only gluten free meals. Any standard baking of mine is done at my mom's. I know it is a lot harder for your family to adjust to a new diet when there are children involved, but I bet they will appreciate how much more energy you have when you start feeling better because of it.
I myself don't of celiac, but my mother was diagnosied(?) last year. But because of that I'm looking into gluten free recipes and plan on offering them when I go into business