Being gluten free in regular life is difficult, let alone add a college lifestyle into it. Are you gluten free and going to school? Here are my tips to avoid a contamination or allergy reaction! (We try to avoid those in regular life, especially in the dorm setting!)
Suggestions on what to bring with you??
I would obviously recommend a fridge and microwave. Most dorms either allow you to have a microwave or will have one for the floor. I would also recommend maybe bringing a mini waffle iron. They sell these for as little as $15. If you like pancakes for breakfast at home, most recipes can be made into a waffle form! Another top item? Tupperware! One of the top recommendations I will have to all gluten free-er undergrads is to make some food while you’re studying or doing homework. HAVE STUFF PREPARED! Sometimes, the campus eat spots won’t have an option and it will be 2 am and you’ll be starving. This way you have a back up food item to choose from!
Another item I have JUST come across is the Ziploc Steam bags… have you seen these? They’re GREAT!!! You can cook almost anything in them!!!
I would also suggest a little under the bed Rubbermaid to store your “pantry” items in. That way they’ll be safe and stowed away for more clothes in the closet!
I know most girls carry around larger handbags now, so this is easy to get away with… Get a small lunchbox or cooler. Marshalls and TjMAxx always have some cute ones. I ALWAYS have a cooler with me with at least one meal for back up or my favorite gluten free condiments ready to go. It took me a while, but having an allergy or sensitivity is not an easy way to live and getting contaminated is even worse! I hate being “that girl” that has to request all the specific stuff and I used to be self conscious about it, but NO MORE!! My body, my choice! I whip out my foods when I need them! If a restaurant doesn’t carry what you can eat, don’t be ashamed. Don’t not go and be social because you can’t eat there. Bring your own food, or eat before! Don’t be embarrassed about it. I used to and I missed out on a lot. A year later, I pulled up my big girl pants and got a lunchbox!
Staples for the fridge/pantry:
- Egg whites: these are Easy! And you can make them in the microwave. Both plain or add them to a protein muffin recipe! (see links below)
- Almond/Coconut milk (if you’re not dairy free you can use regular or skim)
- Protein Bars: find the right ones for you! There are a few out there now that are gfree. Some include the kind bars, think thin, Lara… To name a few. I’m picky on the bars so I usually stick to the kind bars if I need one. I always keep about five on hand though for backup!
- A few gluten free frozen meals for the microwave: if you go to your grocer they carry a lot of these now. Amy’s makes a bunch. I love the GardenLites, but they can get expensive. Also, keep your eye on the sugars in frozen meals! Most manufacturers add excess sugar to make up for the flavor! Check your labels!
- Cheese or Dairy free cheese alternative: I prefer cheese that melts! I like the rice shreds. But we all have our own tastes!!
- Yogurt (if you like greek it’s higher in protein!)
- Gluten free bread: this is a total person to person preference. I’ve tried a lot of the breads and only like a handful. Most are frozen, so you shouldn’t have to worry about moldy bread under your bed!!
- Fruit: I always keep bananas and apples handy. In college though, you only need one or two pieces each.
- Glutenfree oats: if you like oatmeal this is essential! Get a big bag and store it! IF you like oats from scratch, the best way to make them is from Chocolate Covered Katie. I would recommend getting a larger measuring bowl that’s plastic to make your oats in the microwave. It’s the only way I avoid “spillage” from the boiling water!
- Microwaveable sweet potatoes: great source of nutrition and an easy item to throw in the micro if you’re in a pinch!
- Tuna packs: if you like fish and your roomie doesn’t mind the smell (ask out of courtesy!!) it’s a good thing to have around. Grab a garden salad at the cafe and then throw some protein on top!
- Cereal: I keep rice puffs on hand to add crunch to my smoothie type meals. Chex is also great and CHEAP alternative!
- Protein powder: If you’re into fitness, you’re probably already using protein powder. Take it with you! You can add it to most foods for extra protein!
- Quinoa: quinoa is great for gfree peeps! (And non alike!). You can make it in the microwave and store it for a few days. It’s great to add to salads or even eat for breakfast!
- Rice Cakes/Corn thins: I love these things for snacking. Better than crackers!
- PB or peanut flour: I’m obsessed with peanut butter. I use peanut flour all the time now. It’s easy to store and goes a long way.
- Your favorite spices, plus salt and pepper
- Gluten free soy sauce, tamari and at least one bottle of your favorite salad dressing. I usually make my own dressing with lemon, apple cider vinegar and nutritional yeast.
Warnings in the cafeteria:
- Stay clear of sauces
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a different pan if they’re making it in front of you.
- Be careful w salad bars w gluten ingredients in the bin next to the gluten free ones. Sometimes they cross over!
- Just ask someone when you first get there! Find out who is in charge and ask if they make previsions for allergy sufferers. It’s more prevalent now than ever!
I post some great recipes on my Pinterest account: pinterest.com/eiren
But here are some of my go to’s for easy microwave cooking (If I’m at home, the microwave is usually going with something!)
Low Cal Moist Fudge Brownie in the Microwave Via Smoothiegirleatstoo!
I love PurelyTwins in general! But these are DIVINE!! Chocolate Protein Muffins
Egg Mug Cakes are great too!! Check out HungryGirl for some easy recipes there!!
I mentioned something above about quinoa in the microwave. It’s pretty simple! Be sure sure to do the right amount of quinoa to water, 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water. Heat for 3 minutes, then let it stand in the microwave for a minute or 2. Fluff with a fork, and then cook for another 3-5 minutes. Then allow it to stand in the microwave for at least 2 minutes. If there is excess water, just drain it out. Of if it’s not 100% cooked through yet, I will cover and let it steam for a little longer in the microwave.
I hope this letting “getting started” guide was useful for you!! Even if you aren’t going to college, they’re just a good to have you’re “bag of tricks”!
Did you have to eat gluten free while on vacation or at college? How did you handle it?