Do you have a gluten allergy or condition where you need to eat a gluten free diet? It may seem like a tricky thing to do at college, where there’s hamburger rolls, pasta, and a waffle maker right in front of you as soon as you step in the dining hall. However, at Siena I’ve found that eating gluten free isn’t so bad after all. So, here are my tips and tricks to making the best of your gluten-free diet.
Disclaimer: I personally eat mostly gluten free because I have an irritable stomach condition and have found that not eating gluten (as well as going lactose free) is the best option for helping my stomach. I am not in any way an expert on gluten and I am also able to eat gluten in small amounts. It is not necessarily true that these tips would work for someone with a serious gluten allergy, so keep this in mind while reading. Also, make sure to check with your doctor or dietitian that gluten free eating is right for you before starting a diet, as it is something very hard to reverse once you’ve started.
1. Breakfast: I personally find breakfast to be the toughest meal to eat gluten-free, because the staple breakfast foods are bagels and waffles and pancakes (oh my) which are conveniently all entirely made of gluten. From Saga, I always get myself delicious eggs or an omelette from my girl Limmy, or I recommend getting some yogurt with fruit. I also think it’s a good idea to get yourself some gluten free cereal from your dorm. My favorites are Chex and Cheerios (can we also just talk about how happy I am that Cheerios are now gluten free?).
2. You may have noticed that the menu for the day is posted at the entrance to the dining hall and a description is also by each food station. These descriptions also have a key that will have a black circled “W” on them that indicates they are dishes containing wheat. There is a particular allergen-free section at the back right corner called Clarity, and there is always a meal there for you to choose from that you know is gluten free. There is also gluten free bread at the sandwich station.
3. There are often ways around eating just from Clarity. Often I do a round around the dining hall to see what options I have, as there are often meats, potatoes, rice/quinoa, vegetables, etc. that are essentially gluten free. I am able to eat all of these because I can eat small amounts of gluten, however if you cannot I would be careful to always make sure the food does not have the “W” on it. Otherwise, the food may have been processed/ cooked with traces of gluten.
4. Surprisingly enough, a burger without a bun tastes pretty darn good. I usually just put my ketchup, tomato, lettuce etc. right on top of it and cut it up without the bun. (These are things that I do that my friends look weird at me for but I guarantee it’s good). You can always get yourself a nice loaded salad (minus croutons) from Saga or Casey’s. I also love the Wrapped station at Casey’s, and you can ask them for a gluten free wrap there too. If you are getting chicken and are worried about the breading on the crispy kind, there is also grilled chicken as an option.
5. Another tough thing about eating gluten free is snacking. I also highly recommend just buying your own tasty gluten free treats to keep in your room so you’re not tempted to eat your friends’ cupcakes or Chex Mix. Some of my favorites are Snyder’s pretzels (found at Hannaford), Goldfish Puffs (yes, gluten free goldfish exist), popcorn (which is actually gluten free on its own), as well as any Van’s brand snacks, like their crackers.
6. As for dessert, ice cream (not cookie dough though, sorry) is always a good option. Sometimes the dining hall also has gluten free desserts like those Cheerio bars that are extremely delicious, or at Casey’s you could also get a yummy smoothie or milkshake. Another one of my favorite gluten free treats is called Muddy Buddies. This basically consists of a big ball of rice or corn Chex cereal, melted chocolate (which I think you can carefully do inside a microwave), peanut butter (optional), and powdered sugar. You could also add your choice of candies like M&M’s or various nuts to add something else to the mix. This also stores really easily inside of a big Ziploc bag in the fridge!
Here is the basic recipe online: http://www.chex.com/recipes/chex-muddy-buddies/6c7c1895-131a-4591-a874-04e686633e11
Happy Gluten-Free Eating!