Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale. There are many reasons people are gluten free including Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and gluten intolerance. In my case, this diet change was a choice because I noticed a correlation between eating gluten and stomach pain. Some benefits attributed to being gluten free are weight loss, improved health and increased energy. Although there are not enough studies to completely support these benefits, I can vouch for these through my own experiences.
In terms of on campus dining, UConn was ranked #1 in 2015 and 2016 for gluten-free options offered by dining services. In 2015, UConn opened their gluten free bakery, making them the first college/university to do so. Dining services actually offer one-on-one meetings to formulate a plan for a specific student’s dietary needs. The team consists of Assistant Director of Dining Operations Mike White, a dining unit area manager and production chef from the dining unit that you will eat at most often, along with the Registered Dietitian on campus Amy Dunham and Manager of Culinary Development Rob Landolphi.
Students can find an area strictly for gluten free alternatives in each of the eight dining halls. All of the food stations in the Student Union offer gluten free options as well. My freshman year, before I was even gluten free, my friends and I chose to take the brownies from the gluten free area because that’s how good they were. For those of you living on campus, my favorite dorm-friendly gluten free snacks are: Glutino Pretzels, gluten free Oreos, Popcorners, Tate’s gluten free cookies, microwavable popcorn, microwavable edamame and Kind Bars.
Since I live off campus now, I can also recommend off campus gluten free options. First off, Gansett Wraps has a gluten free wrap option, and they are actually pretty good. Just be aware that the french fries there are surprisingly not gluten free. Next, Blaze Pizza offers an original gluten free crust as well as a cauliflower crust, which is naturally gluten free. Of the two, I have only tried the cauliflower crust, but I highly recommend it. Toast Four Corners also has gluten free alternatives if you ask.
One of my favorite desserts are the gluten free Chocolate Chip cookies from Insomnia; you can barely tell they’re gluten free, and trust me you usually can. If you’re looking for a quick gluten free breakfast on the go, I highly recommend the egg bites from Starbucks. Just make sure to check for hidden sources of gluten in the nutrition facts of the things you eat.
If you have a friend with a car, you should definitely take a trip over to Nature’s Health Store (603 Middle Turnpike, Storrs, CT 06268). They have delicious gluten free donuts, muffins and cookies. Customers say they have a cozy, comfortable and welcoming atmosphere, so it is definitely worth the visit!