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Que rico! Florida leaders visit Chaplin School to promote healthy eating
From left to right: Florida Secretary of Elder Affairs Michelle Branham, Chef and FIU Hospitality Professor John Noble Masi, Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez and Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo

Que rico! Florida leaders visit Chaplin School to promote healthy eating

FIU supported the lieutenant governor and surgeon general’s efforts with a cooking demo for local seniors that featured low-fat, low-sugar twists on popular Hispanic dishes.

February 6, 2024 at 1:30pm

Just over a month into the new year, resolutions for a healthier lifestyle are still on the minds of many. Florida’s Department of Health promotes better nutrition as part of those goals, and in response FIU's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management stepped up recently with a cooking demonstration for the community.

Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez ’94, MPA ’98, a two-time FIU alumna, hosted the event to encourage healthy-cooking practices in the community, especially among senior citizens in Miami’s Allapatah neighborhood.

“As of 2022, heart disease is the leading cause of death in Florida for those that are 65 and older. A nutritious diet can go a long way to improve one’s overall health, including preventing heart disease, throughout all stages of life,” said Nuñez.

Community members watched as hospitality professor and chef John Noble Masi prepared a meal alongside Nuñez, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo and Florida Secretary of Elder Affairs Michelle Branham.

On the menu were two popular Hispanic dishes: Vegetarian Reina Pepiada with Tostones, an avocado-forward main course that originated in Venezuela, and the dessert Pudin de Pan, a bread pudding flavored with orange, both of which Masi modified with healthier substitutes. 


Community members enjoy healthy takes on traditional Hispanic recipes during a recent visit to the Chaplin School.

Nuñez and Ladapo cooked alongside Masi and prepared the Reina Pepiada, substituting chicken with cauliflower and mayonnaise with Greek yogurt.

“Healthy eating starts with the first step of changing little habits regularly,” Masi told the audience.

Nuñez and Branham followed along with Masi to create Pudin de Pan using whole wheat bread instead of white bread. The three government officials actively participated in the demonstrations, engaging with community members and sharing valuable insights into healthy cooking practices.

“This is a great opportunity to see that you can cook healthy, you can make these small changes, and this becomes a tool that can help us prevent chronic diseases,” said Nuñez.