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Detroit, MI, 48207
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Cooking Matters Michigan

Empowering families with the skills, confidence and knowledge to prepare healthy and affordable meals

Volunteer Spotlight: Lydia Lanni

Rebecca Blauw


Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a student at Wayne State University, living in midtown, and just finishing up my Master’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science. I currently work in the Immunology Department as a research aide, so a lot of my time is spent in a laboratory, but I am also a volunteer at Cass Community Social Services and the Children’s Hospital. In my free time I love to bake, sew, and visit the Detroit Film Theater.

When did you first become interested in nutrition?

I come from a large Italian family, so food has always been a huge part of my life, but I became interested in the study of nutrition after taking an anatomy and physiology course. I was fascinated by the complexity of the human body, and it really brought home the message of "you are what you eat".

Why did you want to get involved in Cooking Matters?

I had been looking for an opportunity to apply my education outside of the laboratory, and a friend who had previously volunteered for Cooking Matters recommended the program to me. After signing up for one course, I was hooked. It has been a wonderful opportunity to reach out to the community in which I live, share my knowledge of nutrition, and promote healthy lifestyle choices.

You taught four kids classes back to back last year.  What do like most about working with that age group?

Kids are very receptive, and I love the enthusiasm they bring to each course. They are always eager to share about the recipes and lessons they have taken home to their friends and families. I think it is extremely important that healthy eating habits are established early on, so it is wonderful to see how participants in this course get excited to learn about cooking and nutrition.

What’s the funniest thing a kid has ever said to you in class?

It was during the lesson on Smart Shoppers, and I was asking the class if they ever went grocery shopping with their family. A few students said yes, so I asked, "What is the most important thing to do before going to the grocery store?" and a student exclaimed with such certainty, "PUT YOUR CLOTHES ON!"

Do you have a recipe that you’d like to share?

When I was younger, my favorite meal was meatloaf and I always requested it for my birthday dinner. Since my birthday is this month, I wanted to share my interpretation of this dish:

Turkey Meatloaf

1/4 cup quinoa

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey,

2/3 cup chopped yellow onion

1/2 cup chopped red or green bell pepper

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Place quinoa and water in saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Set aside
  • Place turkey in a large bowl. Add onion, bell pepper, quinoa, egg, 1tablespoon ketchup, garlic, salt, and pepper. Gently mix until ingredients are well combined. Transfer turkey mixture to a 1-pound loaf pan.
  • Place remaining ketchup in a small bowl; stir in cayenne pepper. Spoon ketchup mixture evenly over meatloaf, spreading with the back of a spoon.
  • Bake meatloaf 45 to 50 minutes. It should be browned on top and cooked through.
  • Remove pan from oven and let meatloaf stand 5 minutes before serving