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Italians in America – Our Immigrant Stories: Spreading the word about Mediterranean diet is one way she honors her roots


Written By Tanya Tecce and Daniela Puglielli

From the natural bounties of Abruzzo to the bustling streets of America, Daniela Puglielli’s family history is woven with a captivating tale of immigration, love, and the pursuit of potential. The story begins with her grandfather, Gaetano Puglielli, who ventured to the United States during the early 1900s, driven by a desire to explore new horizons and express his many talents as a craftsman. Fate played its part when he met and fell in love with Cora (Carmela) Cianocca, an Italian-American girl hailing from Molise by way of Oklahoma.

Carmela’s family had also immigrated to America seeking not only a better life but also the thrill of adventure and self-fulfillment. Their journey led to Oklahoma, where they established a strong community alongside many compaesani, their fellow countrymen.

The couple’s life in America took a turn with the unfortunate passing of Gaetano. Despite facing hardships as a foreign woman in Fascist Italy, Carmela remained resilient. When the war ended and her assets were finally released, she made her way back to the United States in 1955, accompanied by one of her children.

Daniela, who is trained as a professional pianist, sits at her favorite instrument.

Growing up, Daniela was enchanted by her grandmother’s Americana lifestyle, with fond memories of Cora’s unique fashion choices, nail polish, and the family members speaking English with pride. Despite being born in Caramanico, Italy, Daniela’s heart was always drawn to America.

In her adult life, Daniela found her passion for event planning and arranging concerts, which came naturally to her due to her musical background as a trained professional pianist. She met her husband, a computer science guru, in Turin, Italy, and eventually decided to move to the United States in 1996 to pursue greater opportunities for him.

Their immigration to the United States proved to be a rewarding choice, with her husband finding immediate work and gaining professional recognition.

Daniela’s journey took a new direction when she noticed a concerning trend in America’s food culture. She was determined to address the issue of unhealthy eating patterns and the emphasis on profit-driven practices rather than promoting wellness. She founded the Mediterranean Diet Roundtable (MDR), a think tank that aims to improve the food system in America and raise awareness about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which favors unprocessed cereals, fruits and vegetables and emphasizes only moderate consumption of meat and dairy. Many studies have shown that people who follow the Mediterranean diet have a lower risk of heart disease and early death.

At one of her agency events in New York City, Daniela Puglielli pauses for a smile with former mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Through MDR, she organizes various events, bringing together experts, policymakers, chefs and other stakeholders to cultivate a new (to America) kind of culinary culture.

Her mission is to re-educate the public on portion sizes, quality ingredients, and nutrition profiles while supporting artisan domestic producers. Daniela believes in the power of culinary culture and its impact on overall well-being. Her journey has been one of determination and innovation, as she works to reshape the American culinary mindset from senior centers to individual consultations.

With the memory of her inspiring Italian grandmother, Daniela continues to pave the path for a healthier, value-driven food industry in the United States. Her recent venture, the Mediterranean Diet Roundtable event in Philadelphia, was an immersive educational experience for all participants, offering an opportunity to learn from various producers and manufacturers in the food industry.

Carmela Cianocca Puglielli

For more information about the Mediterranean Diet Roundtable event, visit www.MDRproject.com. Daniela Puglielli’s story is a testament to the enduring spirit of immigrants, the power of family heritage, and the determination to make a positive impact on society.


Tanya Tecce

Tanya is an Anxiety Anthropologist and Family Alchemist sharing deep nervous system restoratives and healing family constellation work with her clients. Master certified in Transformational Psychology NLP, she curates decades of study and experience in neuroscience, psychology, family constellations, epigenetics, yoga, and ayurveda to heal mindset and fortify your nervous system so it feels safe for you to get what you want. She’s led retreats to Italy annually since 2014 and has worked with Today Media since 2003, IAH since 2019. To learn more about her powerful “suffering obligations of love” work visit: tanyatecce.lpages.co/protect-my-peace/

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