Gluten? No Problem in Chase Dining Room
Anne Berman ‘15
3 c. confectioners sugar
¾ c. cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. chocolate chips
4 large egg whites
1 ½ c. pecans
Mix in bowl: sugar, cocoa, salt
and chocolate chips. Add whisked egg whites and blend just
until mixed. Heat oven to 325°F. Drop tablespoon-size dough
onto parchment-lined pans about 3" apart, and bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool
and store in an airtight container. Enjoy!
It all started
eight years ago with a couple of Smith students who had celiac
disease, a condition that includes a severe intolerance to
gluten, a protein in foods processed from wheat. Because
of their intolerance, the students requested meals with dishes
containing no wheat.
In the years since, gluten sensitivity
has grown well beyond celiac disease, and medical experts
have discovered that more people suffer from the sensitivity
than initially suspected. For those with gluten
sensitivity, health typically improves when they remove wheat
from their diet.
Now, eight years since those
two students made their requests, some 50 students at Smith
follow strictly gluten-free diets.
Thanks to Tina Atkinson, a chef in Chase dining room,
students with gluten sensitivity have plenty to eat.
Thanks to dining staff members
in Chase dining room, who have met the need to produce daily
menus of wheat-free items, those students have
a place to eat on campus.
“Things you wouldn’t ever think
of as having wheat in it—like soy milk, for
had to substitute and pay attention to,” says Tina Atkinson,
second cook in Chase dining room, who, along with head chef
Diane Warren, has helped develop a menu in recent years with
items similar to regular house dining room menus—and with
scumptious desserts like Heaven in a Wax Bag. She keeps a
regular supply of gluten-free ingredients on hand to cook
Creating well-balanced meals
for students with gluten sensitivity, and other dietary restrictions
in some cases, requires a good deal of creativity and hard
work, say the chefs.
“I did a lot of research in
my own kitchen to try to find out what exactly makes a good
cookie or muffin, and what can I substitute to keep it that
Atkinson. “It has been a lot of trial and error, but also
rewarding when I figure out a menu.”
Warren and Atkinson say their
goal has been to make sure these dining alternatives taste
delicious while looking normal, to help students with special
diets feel comfortable in choosing those items, and have
plenty to eat.
“Parents are always so worried whether their kids with special diets are going
to get enough to eat when they’re here,” says Warren. “We
spend a lot of time on the phone with them before they get
here promising them that, yes, we make a huge effort to make
sure that not only are their kids going to eat well, but
also that their food looks so normal and that none of their
classmates are going to look at what’s on their plate and
say ‘What is that? Why are you eating something
Rick Rubin, area coordinator
of dining halls, says he has received a lot of positive feedback
about the efforts of the staff in Chase dining room.
“Parents with gluten allergies who eat at the dining halls during commencement
and parents’ weekend have remarked how impressed they were
with the options and how easy it is to be gluten-free here,” he
says. “A lot of parents have thanked
us at graduation for making sure their students ate well.”
Ariane Kelsey ’15, who can’t
eat gluten, says she is appreciative of the wheat-free dining
like to see more gluten-free items available in the Campus
she says, and other dining halls.
For now, the Chase menu
offers plenty to eat for the gluten-sensitive—such as Heaven
in a Wax Bag.