While shopping at your favorite grocery store, it can be hard at times to find 100 percent gluten-free items.

This potentially can pose as a threat when an individual is suffering from Celiac disease, a condition that affects the lining of the small intestine due to the consumption of gluten products.

That’s why Melissa Lemme created her own online company, “Lemme Eat Gluten Free Store,” to assist people living in Ahwatukee who are trying to maintain their gluten-free lifestyle.

“Lemme Eat Gluten Free Store” is fairly new to Ahwatukee, opening in March, and has been seeing a steady flow of traffic.

The online store allows shoppers to browse through the site’s assortment of food products that consist of breakfast, dessert, pasta and snacks.

Lemme believes what sets them apart from other stores is each item on “Lemme Eat Gluten Free Store” has been tested by Lemme and her children to ensure the food is appetizing.

“If a person is new to the diet they can try any foods they want, but we have already tried these foods so they can start here,” Lemme said.

The site also gives helpful tips along with recipes to keep meals free from all gluten, and still enjoyable for a person’s taste buds.

“When cooking and baking there is a lot of science and chemistry that is involved because if you add too much of one item, you have to adjust every single one of the other ingredients to get it to turn out right,” Lemme said. “You can’t just take your favorite receipt and just add gluten-free flour to it.”

Lemme was living on a gluten-free diet with her son, Justin, before she began “Lemme Eat Gluten Free Store.”

When her daughter, Noelle, was diagnosed with Celiac disease, she began setting the foundation for her online store to help others find the products they needed for everyday eating.

She tries to reach out to local bakeries in Ahwatukee to keep them thrive, and enjoys helping others manage the course of keeping a gluten-free diet.

“When my daughter was diagnosed with the disease I needed to find a store more local to my neighborhood, rather than having to drive out to Gilbert to get our favorite foods,” Lemme said. “That’s what prompted me to open up an online store to delivery locally here in Ahwatukee, and I’m hoping to eventually open up a store front.”

Lemme said when a person is diagnosed with Celiac disease the only way to maintain the disease is to keep a gluten-free diet.

Individuals who have the disease and who aren’t maintaining a gluten-free diet can potentially be at high risk for colon cancer, or can become malnourished.

Due to the high cost of gluten-free products, Lemme tries to keep her items affordable to keep her shopper’s wallets and stomachs full.

“I’ve been gluten free for about 10 years now and I can say that the cost might have stayed the same, but the foods taste a lot better,” Lemme said.

For more information, visit http://shop.lemmeeatglutenfree.com/

• Daniel Ochoa is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.

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