Nursing Students Transform Thanksgiving

Learning to make a meal that’s healthy and tasty, too

By ARVIN TEMKAR, USF NEWS Posted Tue, 11/22/2016 - 11:10

Turkey, gravy, pumpkin pie! Thanksgiving dinner may be mouthwatering, but it’s also often loaded with disease-inducing saturated fats and refined carbs.

In one USF class, though, nursing students learned to cook a nutritious — and tasty — Thanksgiving meal that can help combat or prevent illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.

Students in the Introduction to the Techniques for Healthy Cooking: Serving Vulnerable Populations class spent Nov. 17 preparing a traditional Thanksgiving feast — turkey, gravy, and pie included — using nontraditional ingredients and methods. Instead of mashed potatoes, for example, they created a dish of mashed cauliflower.

“Gamechanger,” said Denee Brewster ’16. “It looks like mashed potatoes, and you can fool people by the way you prepare it, but it’s a lot healthier for you and it’s delicious.”

The class, a partnership between the School of Nursing and Health Professions and USF’s hospitality management program, aims to show nursing students how healthy food can be tasty and affordable, too. In turn, the students can take meal ideas and recipes to patients and the community.

In October, students prepared a nutrient-rich Chinese-style meal of fried rice and barbecue chicken for 300 homeless adults and children who were part of the St. Ignatius shelter meal program.

“We emphasize sustainable, locally grown food, [and] feeding the community,” said chef Jean-Marc Fullsack, who co-teaches the class with nursing Professor Mary Lou De Natale. “We celebrate health.”

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