Chocolate, the happiness of Easter

31 03 2011

Readers, the time is almost here! In less than a month it will be Easter!

In Italy this day has great religious significance, but there are also many traditions not related to our catholic religion. The most important custom involves colourfully decorated chocolate Easter eggs with a small surprise hidden inside. Even if many people, from little kids to old men, buy Easter eggs just to break them open with a knee strike or, for the most self-injurious ones, with their head, personally I buy eggs for one reason only – to eat them!

Let me take this opportunity to tell you why I love chocolate and illustrate to you some of its benefits, which you may not know of. My objective today is to erase all your fears about eating chocolate. Never again will you think of it as a horrible, tempting monster! Above all, this article is to convince you that when you eat a bar of dark chocolate or when you have a cup of hot chocolatey goodness, all you have to do is relax and enjoy that magic moment.

There is no doubt, of course, that chocolate is a high fat food (40 grams of dark chocolate contains 210 calories and 13 grams of fat) so if you take it in large quantities, it would not be good for your health. But actually, I can’t think of anything you can consume in large amounts without it having a bad effect on you.

There is growing evidence that, in small quantities, some kinds of chocolate may actually be good for you. Dark chocolate is naturally rich in flavanoids, antioxidants that prevent heart diseases. Moreover, chocolate can have also positive effects on your brain: Chocolate actually activates the same part of your brain as certain opiates, such as heroin or morphine, do. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, or PEA, which is an amphetamine-like chemical. PEA is a neurotransmitter that has psychoactive effects on an individual. It is even richer in theobromine, which has an uplifting and stimulating effect on the mind, as well as a chemical structure similar to caffeine.

Studies have shown that while people are eating chocolate, their blood flows to certain areas of the brain, such as the frontal cortex and the midbrain, areas which are activated by some drugs. That’s the reason why, in many cases, psychologists suggest that patients who want to give up smoking or taking drugs should consume chocolate regularly. Apparently, while people are eating chocolate, they are rewarded by feelings of pleasure that are generated by specific parts of the brain that are activated.

I hope that by reading this article you have learnt new, positive things about chocolate. Be careful, though – I’m not suggesting that this Easter you can cram your mouth with mountains of chocolate! Consume it responsibly and in moderation, but please DO enjoy eating chocolate!

by Alberto





Spring fashion

29 03 2011

This is what women will be loving in the spring season!

Maxi dresses

The first piece of clothing that is starting to be loved by women are magnificent maxi dresses, very colourful and with different exotic patterns. Perfect for these nice spring days where you can enjoy a nice walk in the sun in a super-stylish way!

Lace clothing

No, it’s not new. But it’s so IN now!  And to look even more fabulous you just have to wear lace clothes with quality antique-style fabrics! You’ll look fancy for special occasions or casual to go out in the city.


Tassels

Sometimes a little detail is all it takes to change a particular item that you might consider old-fashioned. In spring 2011, one of the most popular ‘accessories’ for bags, shoes and hats are little fancy tassels!


Tail hems

This name is given to a particular style of dress that is longer at the back and shorter in front. They’ve been seen as an alternative to the summer mini skirt or, sometimes, maxi dress, and for spring/summer 2011 ‘tail hems’ continue to inspire more and more fashion designers!


Stripes

Stripes are a dominant part of any spring/summer season, although they usually change theme from year to year. Spring 2011 sees stripes with a predictable ‘sailor style’ so you can look forward to breezy, relaxed summer days frolicking in the sun.

 

Jumpsuits and playsuits

There’s something strange about these items: one season they’re in, the next season they’re out. For spring/summer 2011 they’re back again, ready to fight off the other fashion trends with a ‘grungy’ style.


By Johara Gargiulo





Italian meals

15 03 2011

by Rita Montagna, elementary

In Italy, people generally eat three meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Italian people like a sweet breakfast, for example, biscuits, cake or bread with jam. We drink a cup of milky coffee, a cappuccino or a tea. For breakfast in my family, my daughter has a cup of milk with cornflakes, my husband has a little cup of coffee with milk and biscuits and I have a big cup of tea with milk or lemon and some cake like pasticciotto, a typical sweet breakfast food in my region.

Coffee and pasticciotto

Italian people really enjoy having lunch. We like to eat pasta like tagliatelle or lasagne with tomato sauce, vegetables or a special sauce called ragù. In Puglia, a typical type of pasta is orecchiette. We can also eat meat with salad or fish with vegetables. After lunch, we like to drink a cup of espresso to signal the end of the meal.

Tagliatelle al ragù

For dinner in my family, we like to eat pizza, cheese, legume or vegetable soup or sandwiches. At the end of lunch or dinner, we often eat fruit for dessert. In my family, we usually eat just one course for each meal, but a lot of Italian people eat two or three courses at each meal.

Pizza rustica