Gluten is the elastic substance formed when certain proteins in wheat, rye and barley mix with water. Gluten is what allows baked goods to rise. It adds flavor and texture to processed foods like malted milk and soy sauce.
In people with celiac disease, however, gluten triggers an autoimmune response. The body attacks its own digestive system, destroying the villi, which are tiny "fingers" that absorb nutrients through the small intestine wall. Immediate symptoms include diarrhea, constipation and cramps; in the long-term, there's anemia, depression, seizures and other complications of malnutrition.
Coping with celiac disease is a lifetime challenge. Thanksgiving presents the added challenge of tinkering with time-honored tradition to fit a gluten-free diet. It may also be a test of vigilance: To prevent cross-contamination, gluten-bearing foods and their utensils can't mingle with gluten-free fare.
With that in mind, we're ready to revamp the holiday table, starting with that most revered icon: the stuffing.