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Enjoying the holidays, gluten-free

December 21, 2009 |  6:30 am

The holidays are a tough time for anyone who has specific dietary needs, but near the top of the list are people with celiac disease. The autoimmune disease causes digestive symptoms such as intestinal inflammation after eating wheat, rye or barley, which contain gluten. (Read more about new treatments for celiac disease here). Since the holidays are pretty much all about carbs, celiac sufferers and those with a gluten intolerance can have a hard time negotiating parties and family meals.

GlutenScreen-capture-1 But fear not, help is here, in the form of a new website called Gling, a social collaboration community (launched in September) that offers those living gluten-free a way to connect, plus find recipes and restaurants offering gluten-free foods. Founder and Chief Executive Mike Lee said he and some of his family deal with gluten intolerance and have been gluten-free for seven years. With his background in tech start-ups, he decided to start a site dedicated to a gluten-free lifestyle.

Recipes on the site include corn and porcini pudding, gluten-free vegetable latkes, and caramel apple cheesecake. A special "menuzine" for the holidays offers recipes and information on such topics as traveling with gluten-free foods. In one blog post titled "What Not To Do For Your First Gluten-Free Christmas," a woman tells about learning from mistakes she made navigating through the holidays.

Enjoying social gatherings can be a challenge, he said. "And probably for people new to this, it's an even bigger challenge. They're used to eating that family classic they eat once a year, and suddenly they can't. The nice thing about the gluten-free world is that people can start focusing less on avoiding gluten and more on finding good foods they can eat, and things that are fun to make. So you end up starting some new traditions and finding some fun new things to make with your family."

Lee, a headhunter for software and tech start-ups, says he wants to expand the features on Gling (short for gluten-free living), still in beta mode. "I want to give somebody a place to go where, after a few minutes of surfing, they can find places to go in their neighborhood, people they can connect with, and food they can make tonight."

-- Jeannine Stein

Screenshot of the Gling site courtesy of Mike Lee