by Shelby Kaho from Celiacs in the House
When I come home for the weekend, I try to cram in as much time with my friends as I can, but Saturday night and Sunday before I head back to school, I get down to business and cook for a solid few hours preparing gluten-free food to put in my dorm room mini-fridge freezer. The menu usually consists of fried rice with lots of veggies, grilled or baked chicken cut into small slices, sautéed asparagus, black beans, sweet and sour sauce to put on the chicken and/or steak, ravioli with sauce, steak cut into strips and sautéed, pizza, French toast, and chocolate chip cookies. I pack everything in quart sized freezer bags that I fill halfway, release the air and flatten the contents. This makes everything flat and stackable. It also makes it easier to break off single servings if the food is in a thin layer and cut up into small pieces.
I also stock up my fridge with corn tortillas for microwave quesadillas, shredded cheese (I put this on rice bowls, quesadillas, etc…), fruit cups, microwaveable sausages, lunch meat, fruit smoothies, and kefir. I also have several drawers full of the items that don’t need to be refrigerated. Some of my staples are microwaveable rice, gluten-free pretzels, chips, bread, fruit snacks, and beef jerky.
My strategy is to cover the basics like protein and carbohydrate so that I know I won’t go hungry and will always have what I need available to me. I also keep a collection of spices and sauces to make things less monotonous. My favorites to keep on hand are tamari, mayonnaise, hot sauce, ketchup, mustard, garlic powder and chipotle powder.
By Wendy Gregory Kaho
Choosing a college can be tough when you have celiac disease and/or gluten sensitivity. If your child is required to live in the dorms, you need to know what to look for in the dining hall to determine if a school really can meet your gluten-free needs. Here are some tips from our experience sending two gluten-free teens off to small liberal arts colleges.
Despite the good reputations in the food service world of both dining services, we found a wide variation in knowledge and follow through in serving gluten-free meals in both colleges. Look for dining services with training programs within the corporation and look out for programs that are researched and implemented by the chef or manager on duty.
Beware if you have new a new chef or dining manager. They will be getting an entire program up and running at the start of the school year and special diet meals will fall thorough the cracks and off their radar.
Smaller colleges are not always safer. With a much smaller gluten-free population to feed, some schools may have little to no experience even serving gluten-free meals. Ask very pointed, specific questions of everyone when asking about gluten-free meals. Watch the servers, the students and the kitchen preparation to see if you can spot weak links and poor kitchen practices.
Get everything in writing and consider registering with the Students with Disabilities Office at your school. This will protect you and your investment once you do choose a school.
By Shelby Kaho
Choosing the right college can be tough, especially with each college offering different academics, athletics, people, and so many other things to take into consideration. For me, I also had one other very big thing to take into consideration: my gluten free diet. Could the dining hall accommodate my needs?
I decided on a small liberal arts school about an hour and a half away from home. I loved the atmosphere and how comfortable I felt there. Since it was a small campus where you could really get to know everyone, I had confidence that I could work out a plan with the dining hall to make sure my food was safe. The first day I arrived on campus, I sent an email to the dining director of operations explaining my situation and concerns about getting safe gluten-free meals. I also talked to the sous chef and asked what was safe. While they promised me gluten-free meals when I visited the campus before deciding to attend, their understanding of what gluten free really means was inaccurate. They were both very helpful and willing to do whatever I needed, which gave me hope for being able to get safe, reliable meals. (more…)