College Dining Plans – Gluten Free Guides

It’s college acceptance season, and you’re considering a school, but have you considered everything?


Odds are you are probably like me and let one important consideration slip; food. Don’t worry though, there is still plenty of time to look into it! By now you are probably starting to receive your letters of acceptance, and if not will be here very soon. This makes it the perfect time to help you narrow down a school based on dining plans. While many colleges do offer gluten free options, far too often they are unsafe for consumption by somebody with Celiac Disease. As such, I have a few tips, tricks and warnings.

  1. Visit the campuses of the schools you are considering again, looking at both housing options and dining options. While you look try to note if there are any options for housing that will provide you with a kitchen.
  2. Explore the dining halls, see if you can locate any gluten free options and see if they are separate and safe. If possible chat with a chef and see what precautions they take, get a general idea of what to expect. 
  3. Determine if the dining plan is a requirement for first year students. 
  4. Calculate the cost difference between the dining plan (assuming it offers safe gluten free options), and making your own meals (assuming you can get a kitchen).
My school personally doesn’t offer safe gluten free options but required the dining plan for all first year students. As a result I had to petition to be allowed off the plan, if you choose a school and need to petition the dining plan, it is a good idea to start the process immediately. I made the mistake of waiting to the last minute and it was nearly disastrous as I likely would have needed to pay for a month or two of food I would have been unable to eat. For me, the petition requires a note from my physician, and some paperwork to be submitted. It is a simple enough process but one to definitely be aware of. Just do the option that is best for you, be careful of possible cross contamination, and consider the difference in time and cost of preparing your own food versus a dining plan. If there is something I missed here that you have questions on feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to answer!

Thanks for reading, and as always, enjoy!

Christmas Feasting – A Gluten Free Guide – The College of Celiac

Christmas Eve is today, and that means all around the globe people are beginning to prepare for Christmas Dinner. Whether you are like my family, who have a free for all style buffet Christmas Eve, followed by a traditional dinner on Christmas, or a traditional family who only does the dinner, it can all be very hard to navigate. That is why I have made this list, much like with my Thanksgiving video, in order to assist you in preparing for the holiday!
First off the hams, beware as a shocking number of glazes do unfortunately contain gluten and may lead to a surprise reaction. Our go to on Hams is honey baked, which as far as my research and experiences have shown have, gluten free hams as well as turkeys. If you ensure that the glazes and the hams are prepared in a facility that does not contain gluten, i.e. avoid any meats that say processed on equipment that processes wheat, as well as ensuring that all nutrition labels are free of wheat, barely, or rye, you will be fine. Just take extra caution to make sure the meats are safe, and if necessary stick with Honey Baked or Butterball as traditionally these have been safe options. 
Next up is mashed potatoes, as touched upon in my Thanksgiving video, homemade potatoes are your safest option. This makes sure that it is done in your kitchen, and allows the best shot of avoiding any kind of cross contamination. Of course in order to have a proper gravy this should be made at home too. Sadly for us, the majority of gravies do contain flour in order to maintain their gravy-like consistency. I have found very few store-bought alternatives, often settling for mashed potatoes with butter, or having to make my own from scratch. Also a quick side note with butter, if you are gluten free it is always a safe bet to have a separate container of spreadable butter in order to prevent any accidental crumbs winding up in the foods and causing a reaction. 
As for additional sides, this is more up to the individual family. Usually we make a dinner roll substitute, making enough to feed everyone to prevent cross contamination. Various recipes can be found online with a quick google search. We also usually have a fruit salad to accompany the dish. This adds a nice balance to the richness of the main courses, while also offering a healthier option during the meal. There could also be some sort of veggie dish, though I believe ours is some combination of roasted carrots and other such veggies. Another thing we traditionally make is green bean casserole, however this is often not gluten free due to the usage of onion strings. This can be easily modified to be made gluten free, assuming proper substitutes are used or the strings are omitted. Perhaps try caramelizing onions instead. I will be sure to link my Thanksgiving video as well to offer additional meal ideas!

Finally desserts, these are always a tricky topic. Personally, I love some kind of cake dish to pair with a finishing out of a Christmas dinner. Of course this presents a problem as the majority of cakes are not gluten free. Luckily various recipes can be found online, one year one of my favorite items was a gluten free chocolate cheesecake. This of course is just one idea, there are also holiday brownies, Christmas Candy (Guide for that soon), gluten free sugar cookies, etc. Really the choice is yours, take whatever your favorite holiday dish is, and substitute referencing the Internet for help if needed.

I hope this guide was helpful, as stated before I will link in my video. Thank you all for reading, and as always, enjoy!