One of the most common complaints I hear about Summerfields is its lack of variety. Yet while the menu may seem limited compared to the buffet at Usdan, there are plenty of ways to keep your Summies dining experience exciting and nutritious. Most of the dishes available can be manipulated to individual preferences, though the fixed menu hanging above the dining area might make it appear otherwise.

Whether you’re gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, or simply looking to make healthier choices, it’s easy to find a plate at Summies that can be tailored to your personal needs. After many rounds of experimentation, I’ve unearthed three of my favorite dishes based off of predetermined menu items.

 

The Burrito Bowl

It took me a full semester of tossing the tortilla shells of my taco salads to realize that its lower-calorie, gluten-free alternative can be just as satisfying and far less wasteful.

The burrito bowl is the closest thing to Chipotle you can get on campus. Served in a white, egg-shaped dish, the main ingredients are culled from the taquería portion of the Summies menu (the Mexican-style toppings are listed to the left of the register).

In a moment of spontaneity, I decided to switch up my usual order of the chicken burrito bowl by substituting pulled pork for poultry. Garnished with salsa verde, chipotle pesto, and a scoop of guacamole, the slightly smoky result was surprisingly delicious.

For an extra kick, squirt on some Sriracha sauce; for an even spicier taste, cherry peppers pack a powerful punch. A few squeezes of lime juice, available at the back of the dining hall, add a hint of acidity and create just the right level of sweetness. For those avoiding meat and looking for a protein source, tofu can be provided upon request.

 

The Healthier Chopped Salad

Whenever I stop at Summies for an early-afternoon bite to eat, the chopped salad seems to be one of the most popular lunchtime options. In the midst of a health kick, I was eager to see if I could add grilled chicken to my meal instead of the standard crispy chicken. My order was processed, but after hearing my number called, I noticed that my meal lacked chicken entirely, and even the feta cheese had somehow failed to make an appearance.

A few days later, I decided to try my luck with a text order; I figured that putting my specific request in writing would increase the chances of my order coming out correct. Sure enough, my plan was successful, and I enjoyed a healthier, gluten-free version of the well-liked dish. A sprinkling of scallions, a squeeze of lime juice, and a splash of balsamic vinegar make the salad even more flavorful. It is best enjoyed in a to-go container, which makes tossing more efficient.

 

Hold the Rice

Ever stuttered while choosing a side dish? I always wonder whether or not it’s worth it to fork over an extra dollar in exchange for a healthier side that I may not even feel like eating once it’s in front of me.

One evening, I wanted to see if I could change up one of the carb-heavy sides. I noticed the rice and beans, and I decided to ask if the dish could be prepared with only black beans. I received an affirmative response and thus found a way to load up on protein while significantly lowering my carb intake. With a little bit of salt and a dash of hot sauce, you’ve got a satisfying side that will keep you full throughout your busy day.

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