Gluten-Free at The University of Idaho

Clara’s daughter, Jenna, graduated from high school this spring and is currently up to her ears in her first year at college. She has been texting pictures of campus life to Clara including her meals. Clara is so pleased about Jenna’s local gluten-free food options that I asked Jenna to write a guest post. And somehow she found the time!
On Campus at The University of Idaho
On Campus at The University of Idaho

    Finding gluten-free food at college is a bit of a challenge; but thankfully, the University of Idaho is doing its part to incorporate gluten-free options into their cafeteria and other meal locations. At first, I just assumed that there would be nothing for me outside of salads, so I became fast friends with those who work at the salad station (they mix the salad for you) since I was always eating there. One evening, however, I was tired of salads, and I got a cheeseburger instead. Luckily, they leave the burger open-faced, so it is easy to remove without prying off the cheese (arguably the best part).
    The only regular gluten-free food at the cafeteria to depend on is dessert. The baker at the cafeteria has been experimenting with gluten-free baking. On most weekdays, there is a dessert I can eat. They are usually decadent – like red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, or a brownie with chocolate sauce….yummy. They made some very good peanut butter cookies and peppermint patties with icing. My friends who are not gluten-free are also big fans of the gluten-free desserts and try to get them too. The dessert workers have begun to learn to hold back the gluten-free desserts so that those who are gluten-free actually get one because the gluten-free desserts are that good.
    One day, I was talking to the lady making my salad, and we got to talking about the gluten-free offerings. She informed me that if you ask nicely at the deli sandwich counter, those making the sandwiches will go in the back and get corn or rice bread according to your preference (of course, this isn’t the good stuff, but it is certainly a start). They also have gluten-free crackers that are tasteless in a Saltine kind of way, so I ask specifically for them if I get a salad.

Gluten-Free Crackers!

Gluten-Free Crackers!

    Yesterday, I went to Win Co Foods, a Northwest bulk foods store that has wonderful prices, and one of my friends I went with saw Udi’s gluten-free products on a lower shelf in the freezer section. I was so delighted to see brands I know well, and I bought the pizza crusts. I made one last night, and it was wonderful. I ate it all by myself, but it had been a couple weeks since I had pizza. This made my day.
    Today, I am making meatballs according to the recipe my wonderful mother made up all on her own. I feel much more confident knowing that there are gluten-free options nearby. I am also encouraged by how many people know about gluten-free in this area. Most people don’t even need it explained to them, which is refreshing.

Really Good Desserts!!

Really Good Desserts!!

    The one not-so-great thing is that I haven’t had a decent sandwich since I have come here. The deli at the cafeteria offers gluten-free bread occasionally, but it is hard, dense, and doesn’t even soften when heated. Plus, the nearest Jason’s Deli is in Utah, just 432 miles away.
    So, this is much better than I ever expected for college, and this part of the world is remarkably accommodating for those of us with food allergies and other diet choices, but I wish they had more choices more of the time.

Jenna Putnam
The University of Idaho

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2 Comments »

  1. Thats awesome! I grew up in Idaho =). Very cool that the cooks are experimenting with gf options.

    • gfedge said

      Rita went to school in Utah for a while and even though she does not like cold weather she enjoyed the time she spent there.

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