Healthy Food Lab Teaches Students Nutritious Ways to Cook

By Rick Henneman

The Youngstown State University Recreation Center and its wellness department held a free healthy food lab for students and staff on Sept. 14. Members of the Wellness Resource Center demonstrated how to prepare and create a five ingredient chili and a strawberry and Greek yogurt parfait at the Youngstown Kitchen Incubator.

Ryan McNicholas, coordinator of Fitness and Wellness Programs at YSU, said that there has been a need for an event like the healthy food lab.

“There’s a lot of students who express interest on eating healthier on campus but do not have access to a grocery store,” he said. “We are trying to bring the healthy food to them.”

This is the first time the department has organized an event like this, but McNicholas hopes that it isn’t the last.

“This is in its infancy,” McNicholas said. “If this goes well, we would like to move forward. We are doing a nutritional stress relief program in November to help deal with students who are stress eating.”

Chrystyna Zellers, registered dietitian and campus nutritionist, demonstrated how to prep and cook the meals for those in attendance. She explained that many students are intimidated by the thought of cooking and wanted to help change that.

“We are trying to start with simple ingredients and show them from start to finish that they can actually make a meal,” Zellers said.

Zellers believes that YSU is doing a good job of providing its students with the resources to eat healthy and maintain a healthy lifestyle, but knows that it isn’t easy.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” she said. “I try to make people realize that you might be buying something really cheap, but it isn’t nutritious. Sometimes you have to pay more for something nutritious.”

The food lab focused on the fact that you can make something with just a few inexpensive ingredients that is simple and healthy.

Kimberly Kitchen, senior criminal justice major, came to the food lab, because she has been transitioning to a healthier lifestyle.

“I signed up, because I wanted some quick recipes for when I’m stuck and can’t find anything to eat.”

Kitchen was impressed by the finished products of the lab and said that she will definitely try them again.

“I’m very surprised. I was thinking it was going to be something that I didn’t like. Actually it was very good,” Kitchen said. “I’m going to try the chili again this weekend, and I plan to implement the yogurt into my diet for breakfast.”

The free nutritional stress relief program will be Nov. 29 in the Rec Center lobby. Students can get more information about other upcoming events by visiting the Wellness Resource Center.