What to do with a Bunch of Kale…


Kale has hearty leaves that withstand all types of cooking: boiling, braising, steaming, microwaving, and stir-frying. Kale can also be served raw but the texture may be difficult to chew. If you can grow Kale you will be saving $$ on your multivitamin bill.  Kale is very high in nutrients and very low in calories, making it one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Here are my favourite ways to enjoy Kale.

5 Recipes to Make Kale Taste Amazing

Boiled Kale: This is one of the simplest and most versatile ways of enjoying Kale, first rule when cooking Kale – Don’t throw away the stalks! Chop up the stalks and add them to a saucepan of boiling water with a good pinch of salt. After about 4-5 minutes, add in the rest of the Kale, chopped up. Ensure its submerged in the water and allow to boil for a further 4 minutes. Drain the cooked Kale of its water – feel free to keep this water for stocks and soups. Squeeze most of the water from the Kale, add the Kale to a bowl and dress it with what ever flavour or dressing you like. Enjoy it cold, or reheat it as a side. You can also freeze the cooked Kale in a container or plastic bag for ;later use in soups, stir fry or in any of the recipes below.

Sautéed Kale: This is one of the simplest, quickest methods to enjoy kale. Add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil to a saucepan on medium-high heat. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until softened. Add ½ cup water or broth and 500 – 750g kale (washed, stems and leaves coarsely chopped). Cover the pan and allow to cook for 5 minutes until kale is softened and at desired texture. Season with herbs and spices as desired.

Kale & Basil Pesto

basil pesto
Kale & Basil Pesto: This recipe uses a vibrant green combination of fresh aromatic basil and tender Kale leaves to create this flavorsome Italian classic. Place into a food processor: 2 cups kale leaves (stems removed), 1 cup of picked basil leaves, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, and 2 cloves garlic or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder; pulse until smooth. Add ¼ cup toasted pinenuts/ almonds/walnuts or cashews, and pulse until blended. Add ½ cup Parmesan cheese and pulse again until blended. Serve pesto mixed into pasta or whole grains, as a sauce for chicken or fish, as a pizza sauce, or spread on crackers.

Kale Salad: If using in a salad, there are two methods to soften the leaves so they are easier to chew: 1) Place leaves in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil; massage the leaves for 1-2 minutes, or 2) Blanch leaves by placing in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain the leaves and place into a bowl filled with ice water to quickly stop the cooking. Place leaves in a colander and gently press out excess water. Use paper towels to blot dry as needed. Blanching can also help to remove some of the bitter flavor from kale. Use the blanched Kale leaves as a substitue for spinach or lettuce, Kale loves flavour so don’t hold back on your salad additions.

Kale Chips: Preheat oven to 170 degrees c. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Using your hands, pull leaves from their stems and rip the leaves into small pieces; or you may use kitchen scissors  to cut leaves from stem and into small pieces. Wash and dry the kale leaves using paper towels to dry most of its moisture if needed.  Place the kale into a large bowl and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle herbs or spices as desired (try curry, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, nutritional yeast, or chili powder). Massage oil and spices evenly into kale pieces. Spread in single layer on baking tray and bake until the leaves shrink and the edges turn slightly brown, about 15 minutes.

The Benefits of Kale

Kale is extremely high in vitamin C, an antioxidant that has many important roles in the body in fact a single cup of raw kale actually contains more vitamin C than an orange.  It is best eaten steamed as steamed or cooked Kale contains substances that bind bile acids and lower cholesterol levels in the body.   A single cup of kale contains 7 times the RDA for vitamin K – an important nutrient that is involved in blood clotting.  Kale is very high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body can turn into vitamin A.  Many important minerals are found in kale, some of which are generally lacking in the modern diet. These include calcium, potassium and magnesium.

Why Should you be growing Kale? 

If you can grow Kale you will be saving $$ on your multivitamin bill. Not to mention giving yourself a boost of healthy greens for next to nothing in cost.   Kale is very high in nutrients and very low in calories, making it one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.  Many powerful antioxidants are found in kale, which have numerous beneficial effects on health. 

More Kale Ideas..

Add kale leaves to soups, stews, and casseroles at the start of cooking.

Add a few handfuls of chopped kale into your burger mixture before cooking.

Use large hardy kale leaves as a wrap to replace bread or tortillas.

Add a handful of kale leaves to smoothies.

Use blanched Kale leaves instead of vine or cabbage leaves to wrap up seasoned rice and mince for dolmades or instead of stuffed cabbage leaves.

Use a mixture of Kale and Cavallo Nero in a spinach pie instead of baby, English spinach or silverbeet…

Grab my recipe for Wild Green Cheese Pie here

What’s so special about “Minni Di Virgini” from Catania

What are “Minni Di Virgini”

Minni di virgini, cassata di Sant’Agata, or minni di Sant’Agata typically are made of a round marzipan shell moulded into a smooth half sphere. Looking like the shape of a small breast they are often served with white porcelain sheen icing topped with candied cherries. There are a couple of varieties you will find particularly in Catania where they are celebrated on the 5th of February for St Agatha’s saint day. According to experts, there are a couple of versions of these little cakes most of them have an outer layer of short crust pastry but their fillings change, one is filled with pastry cream or a type of vanilla custard, covered in pink icing and topped with a candied cherry, the other is traditionally filled with sweet sheeps milk ricotta cheese, chocolate, and candied citron or candied squash. Not to be confused with the “Sicilian cassata” with is of a similar combination although using sponge cake and covered with marzipan. The other Minni di Virgini you will find is filled with a type of cream filling flavored with chocolate and candied orange peel. 

The story behind these pastries is that they were inspired by Saint Agatha,  who is embraced as the patron saint of Catania.  St. Agatha had her breasts cut off in martydom and is depicted forever carrying them on a plate.  The pastries called ‘virgin’s breasts’ were created in her honor by the sisters of the Monastero della Vergine in Palermo and later adapted by the Catalians who, in the interest of anatomical correctness, added the cherry on top.  For reasons of modesty, minni di virgini were called cassatine by the nuns.  At one time, minni di virgini were baked in monasteries, now they are available in the pasticcerie or pastry shops though out Sicily but particularly in Catania.

The Story of St Agatha

St. Agatha, also known as Agatha of Sicily, is one of the most highly venerated virgin martyrs of the Catholic Church. It is believed that she was born around 231 in either Catania or Palermo, Sicily to a rich and noble family.

From her very early years, the notably beautiful Agatha dedicated her life to God. She was living as a Christian in Catania during a period of intense religious persecution, she became a consecrated virgin, a state in life where young women choose to remain celibate and give themselves wholly to the Church in a life of prayer and service. That did not stop men from desiring her and making unwanted advances toward her.

One of the men who desired Agatha was Quintianus, a high diplomatic. He thought he could force her to turn away from her vow and force her to marry. His persistent proposals were consistently spurned by Agatha, so Quintianus, knowing she was a Christian during the persecution of Decius, had her arrested and brought before the judge. He was the Judge.

He expected her to give in to his demands when she was faced with torture and possible death, but she simply reaffirmed her belief in God by praying.

To force her to change her mind, Quintianus had her imprisoned in a brothel. Agatha never lost her confidence in God, even though she suffered a month of assaults and efforts to get her to abandon her vow to God and go against her virtue. Quintianus heard of her calm strength and ordered that she be brought before him once again. During her interrogation, she told him that to be a servant of Jesus Christ was her true freedom.

Enraged, Quintianus sent her off to prison instead of back to the brothel a move intended to make her even more afraid, but it was probably a great relief to her. Agatha continued to proclaim Jesus as her Savior, Lord, Life and Hope. Quintianus ordered her to be tortured. He had her stretched on a rack to be torn with iron hooks, burned with torches, and whipped. Noticing Agatha was enduring all the torture with a sense of cheer, he commanded she be subjected to a worse form of torture, that her breasts be cut off with pincers – often seen with her in painting and religious images of the saint.

He then sent her back to prison with an order of no food or medical attention. But the Lord gave her all the care she needed. He was her Sacred Physician and protector. Agatha had a vision of the apostle, St. Peter, who comforted her and healed her wounds through his prayers.

After four days, Quintianus ignored the miraculous cure of her wounds. He had her stripped naked and rolled over naked over hot coals and fragments of broken pottery. When she was returned to prison, Agatha prayed, tradition has it that, although her breasts were miraculously restored by Saint Peter, she died on February 5, 251,

She is commonly featured in religious art with shears, tongs, or breasts on a plate.

The History of the Nuns and Sicilian Sweets

Minni di virgini have been a specialty of Sicilian convents for hundreds of years, but in recent history, they’ve become associated with Catania’s celebrations. It might seem odd that convents or Catholic festivities would embrace breast-shaped cakes. In Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s 1958 novel The Leopard, the narrator recoils in horror as he beholds minni di virgini, which he calls “a profane caricature of St. Agatha.”

One of the easiest ways to access the saint is by eating minni di Sant’Agata, especially since they’re available year-round in Catania. It’s impossible to pinpoint when, exactly, these anatomical cakes went from pagan treat to saintly sweet, but Sicilian nuns are credited with popularizing them. Before they became associated with Agatha, early versions of the cakes were simply known as minni di virgini, which may imply that they were a specialty of the nuns of the Monastero di Vergini in Palermo.

Plato, plumbing, and pastry might not be around today if not for Italian monks and nuns, who are credited with saving Western culture in the tumultuous centuries known as the Dark Ages. As barbarian hordes conquered and reshaped western Europe, monasteries and convents became safe havens. Classical literature was protected, studied, and translated by scholar monks.

They preserved medicinal knowledge from the ancient world and used Roman plumbing systems to pull water through their cloister fountains. Nuns took in orphans and raised them. (Esposito, meaning “exposed,” is a common Italian surname given to babies left on the doorsteps of convents.) They also baked elaborate, labor-intensive pastries from ancient recipes that they sold to the public to support themselves.

Not only were the convents bastions of tradition; they were (and are, where they remain) the most authentic source for classic Sicilian sweets. Some monastries still producing sweets are monastery of Sant’Andrea in Palermo making cannoli. In Agrigento, the Santo Spirito monastery of cloistered Cistercian nuns, famed for the sweet couscous with crushed pistachios that’s made there. But perhaps the most famous baker is Maria Grammatico, in the mountain peak town of Erice. Grammatico’s life story has been recounted in the book Bitter Almonds, which she coauthored with Mary Taylor Simeti (William Morrow & Co., 1994). She was raised in an orphanage run by Franciscan sisters, where she helped in the preparation of sweets. Deciding against the nun’s life, Grammatico opened a modest pasticceria, which has since grown into one of the largest pastry businesses in Sicily.

Grammatico, who is now 70, makes an amazing assortment of traditional cookies and small pastries, but her true talent lies in frutta di Martorana (marzipan fruit, named after the Palermo convent where they originated) shaped from almonds she grinds into a paste daily and paints in realistic colors.

St Agatha. Her tomb was originally in Sicily in a cave, but then her body was taken to Constantinople for about nine years, before being brought back to Catania in 1126. It now rests in the Cathedral here in Catania The Cathedral also houses the tomb of Catania’s famous opera composer, Bellini.


Vincenzo Bellini and Pasta Alla Norma

Vincenzo Bellini

Vincenzo Bellini, (born November 3, 1801, Catania, Sicily [Italy]—died September 23, 1835, Puteaux, near Paris, France), Italian operatic composer with a gift for creating vocal melody at once pure in style and sensuous in expression. His influence is reflected not only in later operatic compositions, including the early works of Richard Wagner, but also in the instrumental music of Chopin and Liszt.

What does Bellini have to do with pasta?

Eggplant, tomatoes, basil, and ricotta salata – these four ingredients are the fundamentals of Pasta Alla Norma, a dish that originated in Catania, a city on Sicily’s west coast.

So, who’s Norma? It’s said that Catanese composer, playwright, and poet Nino Martoglio (1870 -1921) was so impressed by the pasta that he called it Norma after fellow Catania native Vincenzo Bellini’s opera. Legend says that Martoglio exclaimed, “Chista è ‘na vera Norma!” (This is a true Norma!)

Pata Alla Norma grab the recipe here


““Ah, come back again as you were then, then when I gave you my heart, Ah, come back to me…” Bellini, Norma

The story of Bellini

Vincenzo Salvatore Carmelo Francesco Bellini was born in the city of Catania, Sicily in what was then the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies on November 3rd, 1801. A child prodigy from a family of musicians, legend has it that Bellini could sing an aria of Valentino Fioravanti at the tender age of only 18 months. His father schooled the boy in piano lessons, and by the age of five he could play quite well. At the age of six he composed his first piece, Gallus cantavit, and subsequently began studying composition with his grandfather.

By the time he reached his teens, Bellini had composed parti sacre which was being heard in churches throughout Catania while his ariettas and instrumental works were being played in the salons of Sicilian aristocrats and patricians. Having learned all he could from his grandfather, in June of 1819 he left Sicily to study at the Conservatory in Naples. By 1822 he was in the class of the director, Nicoló Zingarelli. Here he wrote his first opera semiseria, Adelson e Salvini which was produced in 1825. Its success led to a commission from the Teatro San Carlo. It was here he produced his next opera, Bianca e Gernando, whose success garnered him a commission from the impresario Barbaia to produce an opera at the prestigious La Scala in Milan.

Il pirata (1827), written for La Scala, the opera house at Milan, earned him an international reputation. Bellini was fortunate in having as librettist the best Italian theatre poet of the day, Felice Romani, with whom he collaborated in his next six operas.

1831 saw Bellini produce two of the three operas considered his greatest works: La Sonnambula and Norma; the last universally considered both his greatest work and the finest example of the Bel canto tradition of opera ever composed. His fame as an opera composer was now on an international scale.

Bellini in his later years

It was this opera, Il pirata, that put Bellini “on the map”, so to speak, of musical composers. It was such a resounding success, it, and the works to follow, guaranteed that Bellini would be able to live the grand lifestyle he so desired solely from his opera commissions. It also began his long and fruitful collaboration with librettist and poet Felice Romani, as well as cementing his friendship with the famous Lombardian tenor Giovanni Battista Rubini. Rubini, Bellini’s favored tenor, had earlier sung in Bianca e Gernando.

Between the years 1827 and 1833 Bellini lived mostly in the city of Milan. It was during this time his creative genius was in high gear. In 1829 he composed La straniera, which was even more successful than Il pirata. However, his other opera, Zaira, composed that same year, was considered a failure. He regained his momentum the following year in Venice with his production of I Capuleti e I Montecchi , an opera based on the same sources William Shakespeare used to write Romeo and Juliet.

1831 saw Bellini produce two of the three operas considered his greatest works: La Sonnambula and Norma; the last universally considered both his greatest work and the finest example of the Bel canto tradition of opera ever composed. His fame as an opera composer was now on an international scale.

“You are a genius, Bellini, but you will pay for your great gift with a premature death. All the great geniuses die young, like Raphael and like Mozart.” – Heinrich Heine: to Bellini, at a dinner party, 1835.

With those unintentionally prophetic words, the German-Jewish poet Heine (who was never known for his tact or his couth) cursed Bellini to an early grave. Scarcely several months after hearing these words, Bellini would sadly prove Heine correct by joining Raphael and Mozart among the greats who died too young.

When in Catania don’t miss…

A fine public space for relaxation and enjoying nature, the Giardini Bellini and the Parco Maestranze are located to the west of the Piazza Carlo Alberto in the town center. The Bellini garden is located at the east side of the park and contains a beautiful fountain and several flower beds. Furthermore there is an ornate bandstand and many varieties of tree. Aside from the Giardini Bellini, the Maestranze Park features a series of shaded walking trails covered by luscious forest.

Considered one of Italy’s most magnificent opera houses, the grand Teatro Massimo Bellini dazzles with its imposing Sicilian baroque-style façade and opulent interiors. Admire its fin de siècle beauty during an opera or concert in the evening, or join a tour during the day to see its ornate marble foyer and 19th-century boxes.

Discover the City of Catania in Sicily

Discover the City of Catania in Sicily


Where is it?

Catania  is the second largest city in Sicily after Palermo, and among the ten largest cities in Italy.  Its located on the eastern coast of Sicily at the foot of Mount Etna, the biggest volcano in Europe. Catania faces the Ionian Sea which includes the gulfs of Squillace and Taranto (Italy) and Arta, Patras, and Corinth (Greece). The main Ionian ports are Syracuse, Catania (Sicily), Taranto (Italy),Corfu (Ionian Islands), and  Patrai (Greece).

How did Catania it gets its name?

The history behind Sicily and each of its cities is a tangled story of conquests. Historically the name Catania can be found in three stories –

  1. Old Sicilian dialect “Katane” which means “Grater“. The name was undoubtedly inspired by the  territory shaped by the lava on the slopes of Etna, full of rocky and sharp scenarios formed by the cooling lava that can just “grate” anyone who recklessly ventures.
  2. This involves the more modern and popular Latin. “Catinum“, ie: Recipient, Basin for the natural conformation in the shape of a hollow of the hills around the city or as a reference to the basin of the “Flat basement” that houses the city.
  3. Sees the hand of the Greeks who used the word “Aitnè” to name the volcano that later became “Etna” . The Greeks used the prefix “Katà“, or “Supported” or “Near” to indicate this settlement located just below the imposing volcano. So Katà-Aitnè or: Catania.



      “The motto of Catania is ‘Melior de cinere            surgo’: From the ruins, I emerge stronger.”


The History of Catania…in a nutshell

The area of Catania was settled early by Sicels. In 729 B.C. Chalcidian Greeks from the nearby town of Naxos founded Katane, which flourished as a Greek trading town until the 5th Century B.C. The tyrant Hieron I of Syracuse moved the inhabitants of Katane to Leontinoi, named the town after the nearby volcano Aitne and settled more than 10,000 new settlers into the city. After Hieron’s death, the original inhabitants moved up to the southern slope of Mount Etna again and returned to their city. After being destroyed by a lava flow and then rebuilt Dionysius I of Syracuse conquered the city, enslaved the population and settled Campanian soldiers in Katane.



Rule Under The Romans

The city flourished again thanks to the fertile volcanic soil which aided agriculture. Under the Romans Catania was a Civitas decumana and part of the Roman province Sicilia. Many buildings such as the Roman theatre, the amphitheater and the baths bear witness to the blossoming of the city under the Roman Empire. The Roman Theatre is one of the best examples of Roman architecture to survive centuries of natural disasters.


 Catania in the Middle Ages: Prosperity, earthquakes and plague

During the Byzantine and Arab rule, Catania lost its importance and was outstripped by other Sicilian cities like Palermo and Syracuse. Fortune was less than favourable to Catania over the course of history. Although it came to prominence as a commercial and maritime centre under the Normans again, the earthquake of 1169 with 15,000 deaths and the devastation caused by Emperor Henry VI of Hohenstaufen in 1194 led to tough times yet again for the city.


The Renaissance and the birth of Sicilian Music and Literature

During the 14th century, and into the Renaissance period, Catania was one of Italy’s most important cultural, artistic and political centers. Not only was it  the site of Sicily’s first university, it has been the native or adopted home of some of Italy’s most famous and influential artists and writers, including  composers Vincenzo Bellini and Giovanni Pacini, and the writers Giovanni Verga, Luigi Capuana, Federico De Roberto and Nino Martoglio.


It was not until 1434 that Catania gained importance again thanks to the establishment of the university, the oldest in Sicily and one of the oldest in Italy, by the Spanish House of Aragon and became the second largest city in Sicily.



Destruction of Catania 1669/1693 and history to the present day


The late 16th and 17th Century saw some significant developments in the history of Catania. In 1576 a major part of the population died due to the plague; in 1669 a lava flow destroyed the western part of the city; and, in 1693 a heavy earthquake destroyed the rest of Catania. Catania’s present day appearance is thanks to its reconstruction in the 18th Century, following the designs by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini using the iconic dark lava stone seen in many of the towns surrounding Etna.



Discover the beauty of Catania


The major feature of Catania is its architecture, which is predominantly baroque and feature mainly theatricality characteristics.

This style dominated Europe in the 17th century as a result of the reformation/counter-reformation where the statement given was one of grandeur.

The preceding style was Renaissance, while the succeeding was Neoclassicism. The three major features are a near excessive amount of detail (statues, lots of gold, columns and pilasters, garlands and wreaths with tall facades and frescoes often featuring trompe-l’œil (visual illusion in art, especially as used to trick the eye into perceiving a painted detail as a three-dimensional object).

Baroque from Catania has several unique features such as use of dark lava stone (basalt), the Bell in the facade itself and grotesque masks and putti. Due to the natural disasters and the destruction of the city , the centre now shines in the Sicilian Baroque style. Whether the Piazza del Duomo with the black lava elephant, the Roman Theatre, the Villa Bellini, the Cathedral of Sant’Agata or any of the numerous churches – Catania offers its visitors a wealth of interesting places and tourist attractions.


The top 5 sites of Catania you wont want to miss …

  • As the main square in Catania, the Piazza Del Duomo has a great deal to offer in terms of attractions. Located in the heart of the city close to the port area, this central square is a regular gathering place for the locals and a great tourist spot. In the center of the square is the impressive Fontana Dell’Elefante, the Fontana Dell’Amenano, Catania Cathedral and the Palazzo degli Elefanti – All fine pieces of architecture. Furthermore there is a series of cafes and restaurants with ideally situated outside seating so you can have a drink, a bite to eat, and enjoy the fine Sicilian weather. The Piazza Del Duomo is a great place to start a walking tour of Catania, and from here you are in close proximity to many of the main sights.
  • Castello Ursino has been standing proud above Catania since the 13th century. Today, the castle is an art-themed visitor attraction packed with items from the city’s Roman Theatre, alongside Greek artefacts and religious paintings. Like most castles, Ursino is perched atop a hill and therefore offers excellent views across Catania’s red-hued rooftops. The courtyard is also occasionally used for concerts.
  • Believed to have been built in the 2nd century CE, Catania’s Roman Theatre may look modest from the street, though inside it’s anything but. Its cobbles, columns and caves offer an atmospheric insight into Roman history – with much of it beneath street level. Over time, earthquakes and erosions have caused the lower parts to drop. As such, the orchestra area is often washed by the underground Amenano River, rendering it unusable for performances, though the amphitheatre still hosts events.
  • Catania’s fish market, known as La Pescheria, is one of the most well-known in the world. Located a stone’s throw from Piazza del Duomo, this market is atop a set of volcanic-rock formed steps and ignites the senses as soon as you head towards it: the sights, sounds and – questionable for some – smells of a fish market are unmistakable. If you’re staying in self-catering accommodation, or you just love people-watching, this is the place to go.
  • If you travel for approximately 10 miles to the north of Catania along the coast, you will arrive at the charming village of Aci Castello – This village was originally constructed around the castle that lies on the coast and has stood there since the Norman conquests of Sicily.  The castle is indeed the main sight here and sits apart from the village on a rock outcrop facing the sea.  Built in 1076 the castle has stood for hundreds of years and is an iconic landmark on this section of Sicilian coast.  Today you can explore the grounds of the castle and climb up to the top battlements for fantastic views out to the sea and the surrounding countryside.


The top 6 sites in walking distance from the center of Catania


  1. The Cathedral of Catania is a simply beautiful structure and is a masterpiece of Norman and Baroque architecture. Located in the center of the old town, the cathedral can be found in the self-styled Piazza Del Duomo and is in close proximity to many of the other sights. Originally constructed in 1078 over the ruins of a Roman Baths, the cathedral has been restored many times due to earthquakes in the region. The front façade features a grey stone design with a series of ornate statues depicting religious figures and a large domed basilica sits at the back of the main aisle. Inside, there is a large amount of beautiful details such as the frescos at the main altar, the decorative artwork and paintings, and the tomb of the notable composer Bellini.
  2. A fine public space for relaxation and enjoying nature, the Giardini Bellini and the Parco Maestranze are located to the west of the Piazza Carlo Alberto in the town center. The Bellini garden is located at the east side of the park and contains a beautiful fountain and several flower beds. Furthermore there is an ornate bandstand and many varieties of tree. Aside from the Giardini Bellini, the Maestranze Park features a series of shaded walking trails covered by luscious forest.
  3. Located in-between the Roman Theatre and the Giardini Bellini, the Via dei Crociferi features four spectacular churches – The Church of St. Francesco Borgia, The Church of San Benedetto, The Church of St. Francis Assisi and the Church of San Giuliana. This historic street is one of the main arteries of the city and features a plethora of historical buildings. Each building has its own unique design and offers something different. Furthermore, there is also the San Benedetto Arch and the cloisters of the Jesuit College. Consider visiting this street in conjunction with a trip to the Roman Theatre.
  4. Considered one of Italy’s most magnificent opera houses, the grand Teatro Massimo Bellini dazzles with its imposing Sicilian baroque-style façade and opulent interiors. Admire its fin de siècle beauty during an opera or concert in the evening, or join a tour during the day to see its ornate marble foyer and 19th-century boxes.
  5. Taking its name from Mount Etna, the imposing volcano that looms over the city, Via Etnea is one of Catania’s most important thoroughfares, lined with shops, restaurants, and cafés. A lively destination both day and night, Via Etnea connects two of the city’s top attractions—Piazza Duomo and Villa Bellini.
  6. Known as the “Sicilian Sistine Chapel,” this baroque church on Catania’s photogenic Via Crociferi is home to dazzling frescoes by the 18th-century painter Giovanni Tuccari, sumptuous stuccoes, a lavish choir loft, and an ornate marble altar. Don’t miss the Scalinata dell’Angelo, a stone staircase decorated with statues of angels. Part of the Benedictine Monastery complex, the Chiesa di San Benedetto is one of the baroque jewels lining Via Crociferi, and a highlight of Catania’s historic center. Admire the church’s facade and interiors on a walking tour that stops at the Sicilian baroque churches along Catania’s picturesque thoroughfare.  The Chiesa di San Benedetto is located along Via Crociferi in Catania’s historic center, an easy walk from the Catania Centrale train station and most major sights.

Love the idea of visiting Catania?

Join me on one of my Sicilian foodie adventures – click here to register your details for my 2023 tours.

It’s Chef Dom Rizzo & I’m Back! – May 2022 Newsletter

One of the questions I get asked so many times is – What are you doing now? Here is my answer…

Why a bespoke culinary tour is the way to go for your next trip to Sicily

What Take a Food Tour? Taking a culinary tour is like having a knowledgeable guide by your side to guide you around the city most deliciously and interestingly. Taste, fragrances, information, and memories combine to create a comprehensive experience!

Top Tips, Recipes & Shortcuts for Fuss Free Festive Cooking

If you any of you are like me and working right up to Christmas day, or you are someone who actions a last minute throw together Christmas plan, here are some of my tips, shortcuts and favourite recipes  for easy Christmas entertaining.

The Casino Le Royal Chamonix

Why You Need to Visit the Casino Le Royal Chamonix

Here are just some of the reasons you should visit: Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, commonly shorted to Chamonix, is a French city nestled between the Alps. It is known as a skiing hotspot and for its mix of modern and traditional architecture. The area sees around 440,000 tourists, but this number typically changes depending on the season. Many of these visitors come to participate in the numerous outdoor activities and see the historical sights of the city. If you’re looking for a more laid-back and unique experience in France, the Casino Le Royal Chamonix is a great place to be.

12 Calorie Busting Ideas For Working From Home

12 Simple Ways to Cut Calories While Working from Home


Losing weight is never an effortless endeavor. It’s particularly challenging when you work from home and the kitchen is so close by. In the age of COVID-19, you can certainly relate to the struggles of attempting to attain—or even maintain—a body in which you feel confident, strong, and healthy.

The three most vital components of losing weight are a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and regular exercise. As unfortunate and frustrating as it is, sometimes there are simply not enough hours in the day for the latter two on this short list.

There are, thankfully, simple ways that you can significantly reduce your daily calorie intake. Here are 12 easy ways to cut calories when working from home.

  1. Don’t Drink Your Calories

One of the most common mistakes made by people trying—and failing—to lose weight is that they consume an excessive number of calories in beverage form. The regular consumption of sugary drinks has shown to result in obesity, as well as type-2 diabetes. As a point of reference, a can of Coke contains around 40 grams of sugar and 200 calories.

Not only does the consumption of sugary drinks drastically increase your calorie intake, it also results in even greater levels of hunger shortly after consumption. Stay away from sweet sodas and cut back on the amount of sugar you add to your tea and coffee.

  1. Reduce Your Sauce and Dressing Consumption

Garnishes such as mayonnaise, chutney, and ketchup are surprisingly calorie dense. Just one tablespoon of mayonnaise contains around 94 calories. Sauces and dressings are often absolutely necessary for flavor. You do, after all, want your food to taste good. We’re simply suggesting that you cut back as much as possible. Swap a dollop for a drizzle.

  1. Eat Plenty of Vegetables

Research conducted in the United States indicates that between 85 and 90% of adults don’t include enough vegetables in their regular diet. When you ensure your meals comprise of mostly vegetables, you can drastically up your vitamin intake, while also cutting back on unnecessary calories. Vegetables make a great snack too, so you can grab some carrot sticks, tomatoes, and cucumber when you’re feeling peckish. 

  1. Use Small Plates and Bowls

This psychological trick is a great way of reducing your calorie intake. Take your inspiration from a culinary tour of Spain, where tapas plates are the norm.

By reducing your plate or bowl size, your serving size will automatically decrease too. Once you’ve gotten accustomed to smaller crockery, reduced portion sizes will simply become the new norm.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Drinking water before every meal helps you to feel full more quickly. When you can feel satisfied without having to consume unnecessary additional food, you eliminate huge quantities of calories that would have otherwise gone straight to your hips. In fact, studies have shown that you can reduce your calorie intake by up to 13% by drinking 2 cups of water before every meal.

  1. Low GI Carbohydrates

We’re all aware that carbohydrates should be minimized when trying to cut back on calories and lose weight. It is, however, unreasonable to expect that you can completely eliminate them from your diet. This is why we would recommend consuming exclusively low GI carbohydrates. Low glycemic index foods include those with a rating of 55 or less. Examples include oatmeal, grain-rich bread, lentils, beans, and fruit.

  1. Eat Slowly

When you eat your food mindfully and at a slower pace, you become more aware of when you’re full. Not only does this give your body time to start feeling full before your plate is empty, but it also heightens your sense of awareness that this is, in fact, happening.

If you’re someone that usually eats hastily, practice putting down your knife and fork between chewing and your next bite. Alternatively, plate your food beautifully and take time with its presentation. If your food looks photo-worthy, you’re less likely to wolf it down and more inclined to savor every bite. 

  1. Separate Food from Work

When life is busy and the demands of work are causing you to feel stressed and time-pressured, it’s easy to wolf down a simple sandwich while staring at work emails. But eating while distracted results in overeating.

Not only this, when your lunch routinely goes unappreciated, then you’re discouraged from putting effort into the future preparation of healthy meals. Eliminate all distractions from your mealtime. Use your lunch break to nourish your body and clear your mind. Think of the most beautiful place you’ve ever visited, your next holiday, or anything else you enjoy.

  1. Include Protein

Protein will keep you fuller for longer than any other form of nutrition. This is because it reduces the presence of ghrelin, the ‘hunger hormone’, while also increasing levels of GLP-1, cholecystokinin, and peptide YY—a combination of appetite-suppressing hormones. Naturally, the adjustment of these specific hormones in this manner will significantly reduce calorie intake. 

  1. Snack Wisely

Snacks are sneaky in their often high calorie content. If you feel the urge to snack on something to fuel you through the latter half of the afternoon, choose carefully. For example, substitute crisps for carrots when looking for something to dip in hummus or pesto. That said, fruits are the ideal snack for in-between meals.

  1. Avoid Second Helpings

Most of the time, when you reach for that second helping, you don’t actually need it. Although you might be in need of a particularly large dinner after a long day of working from home, try to recognize the difference between desire and need.

If you’re on the fence, we recommend waiting 10 to 20 minutes before deciding whether to help yourself to a second serving. Instead of overeating, save the leftovers for a healthy and satisfying lunch the following day.

  1. Try Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has quickly become one of the most popular dietary strategies for reducing calorie consumption. The most widely adopted approach is one where you’re allowed to eat for 8 consecutive hours of the day, followed by 16 hours of fasting. For example, you can eat between the hours of 10am and 6pm. But you are not allowed to eat between 6pm and 10am the following morning.

If you’re battling a bit of a bulge, you may want to give it a try and see if this calorie-busting method works for you. It may require a bit of meal planning, but it’s worth it.

Now that you’ve got 12 ways to cut calories while working from home, you can switch up your eating habits and see what works for you. Working from home doesn’t have to equal a bigger waistline.


Organic or Non-Organic? That is the Question!

Organic food has become hugely popular in the last decade. Find out what being organic and non-organic means, and what the difference is.