Late-Life Diagnosis Inspires Italian-American to Raise Celiac Disease Awareness

June 29, 2015

Late-Life Diagnosis Inspires Italian-American to Raise Celiac Disease Awareness

Meet Annette Marie,
NFCA Blogger Ambassador and author of the blog Best Life Gluten-Free.

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) is proud to call Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free a Blogger Ambassador. Learn more about Annette and the work she does for people living with celiac disease.

Keep an eye out for more Q&As with our Blogger Ambassadors. Meet the rest of the Ambassador Team at

Why did you decide to be a blogger for NFCA?

I decided that for the same reason I began the blog: to reach more people who might be struggling as I was in the beginning. I knew NFCA reached more people than I could alone. I began my blog after starting this lifestyle and since I have been cooking since I was 12 years of age and worked in the catering business for a while, I thought I could be of some assistance to others.

How has celiac disease personally affected you or your family?

Originally we cooked a separate meal for me, used a separate pot, colander, kept separate areas in the pantry, etc. But once I prepared one meal, a gluten-free meal for everyone, they were reassured and the home is more relaxed now. In addition, my son discovered he has non-celiac gluten sensitivity (‘gluten sensitivity’), so even his awareness of gluten-free foods has become a pattern for him.

What makes your blog different from others?

I think it’s different because my “semi-homemade” recipes are geared to helping the very busy family; many are two-income households, or a single parent family that doesn’t have time for fussing or “scratch” recipes. Another way my blog is different is that I’m Italian-American, and many are Italian dishes, which makes a non-cook feel a “can-do” attitude, encouraging those struggling with preparing something unique to their normal fare.

What goals do you hope you achieve with your blog?

I want to bring awareness to the fact that a gluten-free life can be rewarding, healthy and not the curse that some may feel it is. I began in the hopes of saying to a reader, “Hey, if you think you can’t cook a gluten-free dish, you’re wrong. Visit often and see how I tweaked a recipe to become a gluten-free one. You can too.” I also wanted to just talk to them and hopefully have readers feel there’s a friend who knows how you feel.

If you could only tell people one thing about celiac disease and living gluten-free, what would it be?

Don’t let it define you. It can be managed and your life can still be as fulfilling as you’d like.

What is your favorite Italian-inspired gluten-free recipe?

That’s a tough one. I love to change my menu up all the time so meals aren’t boring. I love Pasta with Bolognese Sauce. But also Chicken Voldastano.

What was the biggest challenge with becoming diagnosed later in life?

Adjusting a lifelong way of living. When you’ve lived over 55 years with a diet rich in carbs, pastas, breads of various types, pastries, cakes, etc., it’s a challenge “transitioning” to a very strict gluten-free home and diet.

I also discovered along the way, that there are some grains that are fine for other gluten-free patients, but not tolerable for me. So there were times that I couldn’t understand why I was still sick, when I was buying gluten-free brands. Then I sorted it all out, and now I thrive, love trying to mix-things-up and almost “playing” with food! It’s now rewarding!