As a person who lives off salads, I jumped at the chance to try this challenge. Although I am not gluten-free, I was really excited to taste the pastries and cereals in the gluten-free sections of all the dining halls. Join me as I try to find out if bread is still good when going gluten-free in NYU’s dining halls.
Day 1: Third North
I walked into the Third North dining hall and immediately saw the salad bar glaring at me. After staying up the night before, all I wanted was something filling, so salads were not an option. I knew every dining hall had a gluten-free section, but Third North’s was expertly hidden. I did a 360 and saw the bright yellow sign beckoning: “Gluten Free Selections.” Classy, yet understated. I had a nice banana and peanut butter, with a side of gluten-free Chocolate Chex. Healthy? Maybe not. Sweet and satisfying? Yes.
Day 2: Lipton and Palladium
Lipton salads are wholesome meals because you can mix and match so many combinations of various vegetables, dried fruits and proteins. I checked the sidebar and the vegetarian section for special toppings, but settled for beets, corn and sunflower seeds, which I ate happily. Palladium salads are also beautiful, with great toppings and savory honey mustard salad dressing. That dressing is the best part of any salad. Having consumed two salads in one day, I felt energized and ready for the rest of the upcoming days.
Day 3: Lipton and Kimmel
I love Lipton. Get in on those spicy lentils, glazed sweet potatoes and Moroccan chickpeas — you will be one happy person. For dinner I had nachos made from corn chips at Kimmel. Even the gluten-free students can settle their southwest cravings.
Day 4: Upstein and Lipton
Upstein has few gluten-free options, but their salads are not half bad. Still, beware of getting them at the end of the day, when the ingredients have been sitting out for several hours already. Today, I went with a Greek mix: olives, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes and, of course, tofu for the extra protein. Lipton dinner is never a bad idea for gluten-free students, because when you are sick of salads, you have the option to toast a gluten-free bagel and eat it with an array of toppings. Hint: Nutella bagels are simple and delicious
Day 5: Peet’s and Downstein
For a lazy lunch day, Peet’s is the perfect spot to sit with your coffee and fruit salad, which is exactly what I did. Downstein has a limited gluten-free section, but they have surprisingly good soups.
Despite my diet being mostly gluten-free anyway, after five days I felt less bloated and more energized. Also, some dining halls put Honey Nut Cheerios in the non-gluten-free section, but they are gluten-free. Do not be fooled. I definitely didn’t lose weight, but I did feel great. I would definitely recommend going gluten-free even on a meal plan.
Editor’s Note: For students with celiacs disease for whom a gluten free diet is not a choice, cross contamination is a major concern when eating in NYU’s dining halls.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, February 27th print edition. Email Drew Lederman at [email protected]