Dietetics student’s recipe gets a healthy seal of approval

Morgan Campbell ’18, a food and nutrition major from Hillsboro, Ohio, has four brothers. She knows first-hand just how much they eat and just how picky they can be about what they eat. So when choosing a semester-long topic to develop for the class Nutrition Education and Communication, the choice was simple. Campbell answered the question “Can family meals provide the best of both worlds: low cost and healthy?” The answer she discovered--yes!

“Cooking at home for a big family can be hard and getting a pizza is quick and easy. It is a topic I know people can use, and I definitely had my family in mind,” explained Campbell.

During the spring 2017 semester, Campbell developed low-cost recipes using easy-to-find ingredients. Her signature recipe, a rice pilaf dish, made with a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken costs just $1.23 a serving. She joked that she had probably made the recipe more than 100 times, while perfecting the recipe and serving the meal at health and wellness events where students serve as experts on their healthy-eating topic.

“Cooking healthy can seem expensive and people are shying away from cooking at home, but they’re spending a lot of money on fast food,” said Campbell. “I’m letting people know you can cook fast at home. It doesn’t have to take one hour or two hours. You can spend 15 minutes putting it together and have it done and ready to be served.”

Campbell and her fellow classmates shared their wellness information at several events during the semester including wellness fairs at Bluffton University, Whirlpool in Findlay and Bluffton Schools. Campbell was also chosen to share her recipe and expertise for Activate Allen County’s Healthy Happens Here event at Ruler Foods in downtown Lima.

The Healthy Happens Here program helps customers in Allen County stores find healthier food options, and signs at stores promote items that are “Activate Approved.” During the kickoff event, Campbell handed out samples of her rice pilaf, passed out recipe cards and answered questions from customers. Campbell’s recipe features the “Activate Approved” seal and is featured alongside recipes developed specifically for the event by other Bluffton students.

“I don’t think you can put a price on the experiences the students have while interacting with the community,” said Jeanna Haggard, assistant professor of food and nutrition. “We can tell them in class how a typical consumer will react to nutritional information or the typical questions they will have, but the best way is for them to get the experience. It’s a great way to learn about the questions consumers have and it builds confidence when they are able to answer the questions.”

During these hands-on learning experiences, Campbell learned how to relate to a variety of people.

“It was a different dynamic presenting to the factory workers at Whirlpool versus the students who came to the Bluffton event,” said Campbell. “Many of the people have been hesitant, but I tell them ‘take a recipe and see if your family likes it. Who knows?’”

Campbell even thinks she can get her brothers involved in cooking healthier meals. “They like to spend time with everyone in the kitchen so they would really enjoy mixing the spices together, and they’re at the right age to start doing it so for them they would grow up realizing ‘hey we can cook at home’, and that it’s not a big deal.”