UK Dietetics and Human Nutrition Students 'Plate Up' Healthy Recipes

photo of "Plate it Up!"
Photo by Matt Barton, UK Ag Communications.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 13, 2017) — Recently, students in a University of Kentucky Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition class got the chance to create healthier recipes and serve them to panelists that included some Kentucky celebrities.

Taught by UK lecturer Jessica Houlihan, students in the experimental foods class receive hands-on application of food modification and its impacts. For their final project, students use their knowledge from the class to make healthful modifications to develop recipes for the Plate it Up Kentucky Proud project. Plate it Up Kentucky Proud is a partnership between the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment; UK Cooperative Extension Service; and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture that promotes the use and consumption of locally grown foods.

“It’s crazy to think you can substitute pureed fruit for butter. With increased rates of hypertension and hyperlipidemia in the U.S., it’s important for people to understand that they can modify recipes to improve their diets,” said Maranda Perdue, UK dietetics senior who modified a butternut and acorn squash soup. Perdue hopes to use the knowledge from this class in a future career as a physician assistant in pediatric oncology.

Like Perdue, human nutrition senior Tate Trimble plans to use this knowledge in his future career as a restaurant owner.

“I can use this class in the restaurant to alter different dishes to cater to the needs of different people that come in,” he said.

Perdue, Trimble and the other students in the class presented their modified recipes to a taste test panel that judged the modified dishes in several categories including taste, presentation and ingredient accessibility. This year’s panel included WKYT news anchor Barbara Bailey and Miss Kentucky Molly Matney.

“I was super excited to be invited,” Matney said. “As Miss Kentucky I am the spokesperson for the Kentucky Proud label, so to be at an event with all Kentucky Proud products and do the taste testing was super fun for me!”

Recipes that are favorites among panel participants are given to family and consumer sciences extension agents who further test the recipes. Some recipes advance to the project’s recipe cards that are distributed throughout the state. According to Sharon Spencer, division director for Direct Farm Marketing at the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the recipe cards go to Kentucky farmers markets, roadside markets and on-farm markets to help promote in-season Kentucky products.

Students in the class have conducted biannual taste testing since 2009. In that time, UK agents, faculty and students have tested 375 recipes and developed 95 of those into consumer recipe cards that feature a Kentucky specialty crop. Project partners have distributed more than 1.7 million recipe cards at educational events in all 120 counties.The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

Plate It Up Kentucky Proud recipes, photos and demonstrations are available at