Global Running Day 2018


Running: I love you.

Running: Thank you.


It’s Global Running Day, a celebration of running that encourages people to get moving.

No matter how fast, how far, where, get moving!!!

It’s very important to be physically active to live a healthy, happy, long life.

Running has so many benefits. It can improve physical and mental health.

Running can help you maintain a healthy weight (combined with a healthy diet).

It can improve heart health, build strong bones, strengthen muscles. It can help keep joints healthy, it can improve brain function.

When we exercise, our body releases endorphins, lovely chemicals that trigger positive feelings. That’s also why running can diminish perception of pain, reduce stress and anxiety, boost self-esteem, make you feel more energized and happier, improve sleep.

Should I add more?? 😊

I run for all the reasons mentioned above and many more.

When people ask me why I run, even when it’s freezing or very hot, or when I don’t really feel like it, I show them pics of my face after a run or a race. That big smile says it all!!


I love running, and I’m grateful my body can do it!!!

Hope you’ll give it a try. Happy Global Running Day !!

And don’t forget, Run is Fun!!


Never Stop Learning

I’ve been spending some time in NYC and while here I’ve been attending seminars, workshops and events related to food, nutrition and education. As a nutrition educator, I make sure I keep updated with dietary guidelines, nutrition research and teaching strategies. If I want kids to learn how to eat healthy, I need to make sure I use the best and most efficient teaching techniques to engage them.

An interesting workshop I attended was the Educator Boot Camp, hosted by Practice Makes Perfect, an organization that creates summer enrichment programs. The workshop’s focus was on Socratic Seminars, Rigorous Questioning and 100% compliance.

I acquired useful teaching strategies which can be applied to any subject, including nutrition. We learned the benefits of using Socratic Seminars in class, planning an effective Socratic Seminar discussion, planning for Rigorous Questioning. We understood the rational for having 100% compliance and acquired methods to ensure it.

I found the workshop very interesting because we also had the opportunity to practice what we were learning.



During my stay in NY I also attended events related to nutrition and food education organized by Edible Schoolyard NYC, a non-profit organization committed to changing eating habits of kids through gardening and kitchen classes integrated into the school day. They’re an important source of inspiration, motivation and teaching material for my work.

In January, they held a workshop on composting with worm bin. It was organized with the Lower East Side Ecology Center.  Indoor composting needs care but I thought it was more difficult to sustain, especially in a classroom. Instead, I learned that once you know how it works, it can be very easy and fun for kids.






Recently, I also met with the Liza Engelberg, Director of Education at Edible Schoolyard New York City. She invited me to observe programming at a public school in NYC. Second-graders were learning things about strawberries, such as how to describe the various parts of the fruit and new tasting words. Eight-graders were learning how to make banana-strawberry pancakes from scratch.

The enthusiasm of the kids reminded me why I love so much teaching nutrition in school, and motivated me to go back to Italy and reach more schools and serve more kids with my programs.

I’m truly convinced that incorporating food/nutrition education into the school curriculum not only is an efficient way to instill healthy eating habits, like shown by many studies, but it’s also a fantastic educational approach that can improve academic performance and overall development of children.







Movember is back!!

It’s that time of the year again- Movember is back.

What’s Movember? It’s an annual campaign that takes place in November to raise awareness and funds for men’s health.

It’s held by the Movember Foundation, a global organization that focuses on men’s health with the ultimate goal of reducing the number of men dying prematurely.

The campaign aims at generating a conversation about men’s health and raising funds for the Foundation’s projects that address three of the biggest health issues faced by men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

The Movember Foundation is committed to helping men living healthier, longer. To do so they need our help.

Here’s how to get involved.

Grow. Men can grow a moustaches through the month to raise funds and inspire conversations about men’s health.

Move. Men and women are invited to being physically active. Walk, run, cycle, swim. Set a goal and challenge yourself, friends, family. Do something good for you and men’s health while having fun and raising funds.

Host an event. Campus, workplace, sport club, community center, home. Gather your friends, colleagues, family, neighbors. Throw a party, have dinner together, organize a sport tournament, anything that can help to generate a conversation and donations for men’s health while having a good time.

One more thing I suggest to do is talking to your husband, boyfriend, brother, father, friend about the importance of screening and regular health checkups and inviting them to see a doctor. For several reasons, men tend to neglect aches and pains, minimize symptoms and are reluctant to talk to doctors. However, prevention is the key to a healthier life.

So, have a conversation with men about the importance of discussing health issues and getting screened, and encourage them to visit a physician. Avoid nagging; just be loving and supportive.

Click here to learn more about the Foundation, the Movember campaign, the work they fund and other ways to get involved.

Let’s help them stop men dying too young!!


Happy, Healthy Halloween !!

Halloween is fast approaching, and so a large amount of sugar that kids will be eating between parties and trick-or-treating!!

Recent reports show that American children can eat up to 3 cups (almost 400 grams) of sugar on Halloween!!

That is almost 16 times the maximum daily recommendation of 6 teaspoons (25 grams) suggested by the American Heart Association for kids.

Yes, that’s way too much and it’s a big threat to kids’ health considering that high intake of sugar is linked to cavities, tooth decay, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer.

Unfortunately, sugar consumption is high not only on October 31. Data show that an average American child eats 95 grams of sugar a day, almost 4 times the daily recommendation.

Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to prohibit children from enjoying sweet treats on Halloween; it’s more logical to reduce the amount they eat.

If you’re concerned about your children eating too many sweet treats on Halloween, here’s some simple strategies you can adopt to reduce the amount of sugar they consume.

  • Make children eat some healthy, protein-rich snacks or a hearty dinner before going trick-or-treating. It will fill them up and will prevent them from eating all the treats at once
  • Set an amount of candy that your child can have on that night, and save the rest for next days/weeks/months
  • Cut the sugar from the other meals of the day. For example, for breakfast, instead of sugary-cereal, choose plain yogurt or granola bar without added sugar
  • If you throw a party, offer some healthy alternatives to the usual candy bar and cookies plates. Check below.

I collected some colorful, funny ideas for a happy and healthy Halloween from the internet. Prepare these treats with your kids and have fun together!!!

Banana ghosts and orange pumpkins

banana mandariniVery easy to prepare. Peel the bananas, cut them and use some chocolate chips for eyes and mouth. For the orange pumpkins, peel the tangerines or clementines, place a celery stick in the center for the stem.

Pumpkin Veggie Platters

carrotsolivescucumbersSuper easy, healthy and funny/scary veggie tray. Shape a spooky pumpkin face using baby carrots and black olive. The stem can be made from broccoli or a celery stick. Add some sliced cucumbers on the bottom.

Use baby carrots for the face, sliced cucumbers or zucchine for the pumpkin’s smile. Fill small bowls with veggie dip (humus, Greek yogurt) and use them for the pumpkin’s eyes and nose.

Spooky Spider Eggs

halloweeneggsThese eggs are yummy and will fill kids up. You need hard boiled eggs and black olives. Slice eggs in half lengthwise and place yolks in a bowl. Mash the yolk, add some olive oil, few drops of lemon, and stir until well mixed. Then spoon the yolk mixture back into each white egg half. For the spider, place half black olive in the center of the yolk to make the body, and slice the other half to make the legs.

Monster Fruit Cups

monster fruit cupYou don’t need to be a professional painter to make this, just a marker, plastic cups and fruit!! Kids will have lot of fun creating monster faces!!

Almost done. You now need the centerpiece 😉

Pumpkin Centerpiece Fruit Skewers


Don’t even need to carve the pumpkin. Just use a marker to put a smile on it 😉 And lots of fruit skewers of course!!

Have a Happy & Healthy Halloween!!!


Pasta con piselli e fave

Springtime reminds me of my grandmother sitting on the stairs outside the house, shelling fresh fava beans and peas in her apron. While I always loved the latter, I’ve never been a huge fan of the fava beans, and haven’t eaten them for long time.

Then Sunday I went to pick some fresh legumes at the family garden; they looked so nice, green, fresh, and decided to give it a try.

I decided to pair them with my favorite food, pasta, and prepared a very traditional Mediterranean recipe, pasta with fava beans and peas, tasty and nutritious like most Mediterranean dishes.

Beneficial effects:

Peas and Fava beans are a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1, B2, B6, C, zinc, manganese, copper, magnesium, potassium, folate.

Both legumes are also a good source of protein especially when they are combined with grains so that they provide all of the essential amino acids.

Concerns to be aware of:

Sometimes, raw fava beans can cause allergic reactions in some people; cooking may prevent it.

Eating fava beans could cause adverse reactions to people who take Monoamine oxidase inhibitors  (MAOIs).

People with favism, an inherited disease characterized by the lack of the enzyme G6PD, develop hemolytic anemia when eating fava.

If you belong to the above categories and still want to try this recipe, double the amount of peas.


Yelds: 2-3 Servings      Total time: 45 minutes (15’ preparation, 30’ cooking)


¾ cup pasta (150g)

½ cup fresh peas (120g)

1 cup fresh fava beans (150g)

½ diced onion

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ cup canned diced tomatoes (100g)

Salt (optional)

Chili flakes or powder (additional)

Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)


Remove the peas and fava beans from the pods. Wash.

In a sauce pan, heat the olive oil and onion for a couple of minutes. Then add tomatoes and fava beans, and stir a little bit. Add enough water to cover. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the peas, and more water if needed. Cook for 5-8 minutes, it depends on tenderness of the legumes.

Meanwhile, put some water to boil in a large pot and cook the pasta. I used large penne this time. You can add a pinch of salt to the water if you like it.

Check the pasta, when you think it needs only few more minutes to cook, drain it and mix it to the peas and fava. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Add some grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese at the end.

Serve warm. No liver, some Chianti if you wish 😉

Buon Appetito!!

Pasta & Piselli

This typical dish of the Mediterranean diet contains legumes, grains, spices and healthy fat that make it light and tasty, nutritious and balanced.

Easy and fast to prepare, it requires only a few ingredients. Perfect for when you want to eat something substantial but didn’t go food shopping and have little time to cook.

So, here’s the recipe. Enjoy it.

Yelds: 2 Servings  Total time: 20 minutes (5’ preparation, 15’ cooking)


3/ 4 cup elbows pasta (150g)

6 oz frozen peas (170g)

½ diced onion

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3-4 diced tomatoes

Salt (optional)

Curry powder (optional)

Chili flakes or powder (additional)

Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)


In a sauce pan, heat the olive oil and onion for a couple of minutes. Then add tomatoes and peas, and stir a little bit. Add enough water to cover the peas. Cook for 10-15minutes. Add more water if needed.

Meanwhile, put some water to boil in a large pot and cook the pasta. I like elbows or farfalle for this recipe. When you check and think the pasta needs only few more minutes to cook, drain it and mix it to the peas. Cook for a couple of minutes. Serve with some grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Notes: I don’t use salt. If you like it, add a pinch to the boiling water and/or to the peas. I prefer to spice the dish with a pinch of curry powder and chili flakes which I add to the peas while they’re cooking.

If you don’t have fresh tomatoes you can use peeled or diced tomatoes in a can.

You can also use peas in a can instead of the frozen peas. In this case, drain the peas and stir them with the cooked tomatoes for a couple of minutes.

Buon appetito!!



My favorite part of my job is teaching kids about nutrition and health!! It gives me the opportunity to use my background in science and nutrition and my passion for teaching!

I actually decided to study Nutrition and Health in order to be able to understand better the link between food and chronic diseases, and to be able to teach young kids the importance of eating healthy.

Changing habits can be a real challenge for adults, especially in regard to food and health. If we teach kids that eating vegetables and fruits make them strong and healthy since they’re young, they’ll carry this food pattern into adulthood. And, as studies suggest, they’ll influence their parents’ habits too.

Kids are curious, they soak up information like a sponge. They ask questions, are willing to learn and try new things. I love interacting with them. Every time I leave a classroom I feel blessed and inspired by their enthusiasm and interest.

Below there’s a picture of one of my recent lessons to 1st and 2nd graders of an elementary school in Calabria, in Southern Italy. We had lot of fun learning about food groups and Mediterranean Diet. Can’t wait to start another project.


Quinoa bowl with veggies

As I promised, here’s the recipe of the Quinoa bowl I made with the fresh veggies I picked  in my family garden.

Ingredients for 4 people

150 grams of quinoa

200 grams of mushrooms

5-6 Italian green peppers

1-2 small fresh chili peppers

4-5 tomatoes

1tsp curry powder

2 medium eggplants

2 cans of chickpeas

½ onion

1 tbsp EVO

50-70 grams of feta cheese


To cook the Quinoa

Follow the direction written on the box. They change based on which type and brand you’re using.

I boiled some water then added the quinoa and cooked for 15 minutes and then drained it.

To cook the veggies and legumes

Wash all the veggies. Cute the eggplants, the tomatoes, the peppers and onions in small cubes, slice the mushrooms.

Drain the chickpeas and wash them.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, the tomatoes and the onion for a minute or two. Then add the peppers and cook for 5-6 minutes till tender. Add a little bit of water if needed. Now add the eggplants and mushrooms and some curry powder. Cook for 5-6 minutes. Add the chickpeas and finish to cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add the veggies and the crumbled feta cheese to the quinoa, mix well and serve either warm or cold.


I didn’t add any salt because the feta cheese is salty and I don’t like eating too much salt. However, if you prefer, you can add some salt to the water when cooking the quinoa or to the veggies or both.

I always drain the canned legumes. The liquid in the can usually contains salt, and sometimes sugar too.

If needed, add some water to the veggies, but little by little. All these veggies tend to release water themselves.

Buon appetito!!

Late Summer Harvest

I’ve been spending some time with my family in my hometown in Calabria, a region in Southern Italy. A few weeks ago I went with my brother to pick some veggies from the family garden near our house. Although it was October, it was warm so we still had zucchini, eggplants, peppers, chili peppers, watermelons too!!

I used the veggies to make a quinoa salad. It was such a delicious and nutritious dish! I’ll post the recipe soon.

Growing your vegetables really connects you with the earth and your roots, and makes you appreciate better what you eat.

From farm..


… to table!!!


World Obesity Day 2016

World Obesity Day is led by the World Obesity Federation, which represents researchers, health professionals, members of communities around the world that are committed to prevent and treat obesity.

World Obesity Day is part of their Action Initiative.


This year, the focus is on ending childhood obesity. Worldwide, 222 million school children are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity has a strong impact on children’s health and it’s a risk factor for many preventable chronic diseases later in life such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. If we want to meet the WHO target to reduce childhood obesity to 2010 levels by 2025 we must act now.

World Obesity Day aims at raising awareness about the global epidemic of obesity, encourage governments to take action, encourage associations and communities to get involved to overcome childhood obesity.

No single action is sufficient to stop this problem and we should do our part.

We live in an “obesogenic” environment which doesn’t make it easy to adopt a healthy lifestyle, but not impossible. We can all make small changes that can improve the quality of our children’s life.

Proper nutrition and adequate physical activity are great allies to raise healthy children.


  • Starting the day with a nutritious breakfast will help children to focus and function better in school. Cereal breakfast, doughnuts, fruit juices contain so much sugar that could be considered more like dessert than breakfast. Homemade oat meal, a slice of bread with low-sugar jelly, milk, sugar-free yogurt or a fruit are better options.
  • Kids don’t like eating veggies. Kids love eating sweets. Guess what, we can switch those two statements. Kids have a natural preference for sweet foods. And it’s true, many of them refuse to eat broccoli or spinach. But once we teach them that it’s important to include veggies and fruits in their diet, they’ll give it a try. There are different strategies and tips that can help us to gradually include veggies in our kids’ lunch and dinner, and have them to enjoy the nutritious and delicious meals. Let’s do our best to make sure kids consume at least five portions of fruit and veggies per day.
  • Sugary drinks should really be called liquid candy. Sodas, fruit juices, and other soft drinks contain way too much sugar. We can and should advocate and encourage governments to pass soda taxes and we should ask food industry to reformulate their products and restrict the marketing of less healthy foods to children. Unfortunately, there are lots of conflicts of interest and money involved in all these issues so it might take some time before something gets done in this direction. However, we have the power to decide what to buy and what to put on our children’s plate.
  • Nutrition education in school should be implemented. In some countries, students follow classes like Health Education, but only a few hours are about nutrition. In other countries Nutrition education programs aren’t well developed and don’t lead to long-lasting healthy habits. We should implement these programs and have kids learn about food, its value, properties and health benefits, since preschool. As a nutrition educator in elementary schools I can say that kids are really interested in this matter. They show enthusiasm in learning how to grow the veggies that later they’re going to cook, and why eating only fries is not good for their health. Teachers, parents, community members, local health professionals should get involved, work together and contribute to the education of next generation.
  • Physical activity alone is not sufficient to lose weight or prevent obesity. But, being active helps prevent several diseases, improves our mood, and it’s a great opportunity for kids to socialize with their pairs. Adults spend lots of hours sitting and children are getting used to this bad habit too: they seat in school, in the car/bus traveling to school, at home while doing homework, playing games, watching TV. Let’s encourage kids to find activities they enjoy, build physical activity into family life, and soon it’ll become a regular activity.


Obesity is often referred to as a global epidemic and there’s a reason for it. If we don’t act now, it is estimated that more than 2.6 million school-aged children globally will be obese by 2025. The good news is that it is preventable!!