Members of the Nutrition and Dietetics Club prepare trail mix bags for the Yes U Can campers. Pictured are (from left) Ali Black, Sarah Novak, Taylor Evans, Lizzy Smith and Ariana Haidari.

Beyond trail mix

Recipes for the hungry, healthy camper compiled by UD students


8:34 a.m., May 20, 2013--Spinach and strawberry salad, black bean quesadillas, and mustard-crusted salmon are among more than 20 dishes appearing in a recipe booklet prepared by a group of University of Delaware students for those with limited mobility and disabilities. 

The booklet — which includes healthy eating tips as well as recipes for snacks, entrees, desserts, and side dishes — was a project of the Yes U Can Nutrition Extension at UD, led by dietetics students Taylor Evans and Elizabeth Smith.

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“Students in our Nutrition and Dietetics Club were already offering healthy eating workshops through Yes U Can,” says Sandra Baker, instructor in the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition. “So when president and CEO Vickie George told us she was planning a camping trip, we thought that creating a recipe booklet would be a good way for them to expand their involvement. They found recipes that were not only healthy but also required minimal preparation, and they calculated the calories, fat, and sodium content for each one.”

The recipes take advantage of healthy and labor-saving shortcuts such as the use of pre-cut vegetables, pre-cooked chicken, and low-fat versions of popular foods such as cheese and yogurt. 

With the support of Baker and assistant professor Jillian Trabulsi, the students also provided goodie bags of their homemade trail mix for the Yes U Can campers. “The recipe books and trail mix were very well received by the campers,” says George. “We’re hoping that in the future, the students might be able to come along on the trip and cook for us too.”

Smith points out that Yes U Can focuses on what participants can do rather than what they can’t. “So we wanted to translate that to nutrition,” she says.  “Instead of people saying ‘I can’t have potato chips,’ we want them to say ‘I can have carrot sticks and hummus.’”

For Evans, the project opened new doors. “Before I became involved with Yes U can, I never even thought about the special nutritional needs of people with limited mobility,” she says. Evans plans to earn a doctorate in nutrition and hopes that research may help identify roles that nutrition can play in improving outcomes for people with chronic diseases.

Both students have found working on the Yes U Can project to be a valuable experience. “It’s great to collaborate with students from other fields in developing plans for healthy living,” Smith. “That’s how it is in the real world — you have to work on a team that looks at the whole person.”

George has an ongoing campaign to involve more UD students from additional disciplines in Yes U Can. “This program just keeps growing,” she says, “from exercise and nutrition programs to Healthcare Theatre and the adapted trike and rowing shell being developed by mechanical engineering students. It’s a great collaboration for everyone.”

About Yes U Can

The Yes U Can Corporation was founded to increase inclusion, awareness and access to health, recreation and physical fitness opportunities for people with limited mobility and disabilities by developing assisted activity programs, forming strategic partnerships and providing valuable resources to the community.

The programs are developed to encourage participation in activity programs, while addressing the barriers that often prevent a person with limited mobility from taking part. The benefits of the programs are many, staying active improves one’s physical and psychological well-being.

Through the Yes U Can Extension at the University of Delaware, students from a variety of fields — currently including nutrition, exercise science, physical education, engineering, and health behavior science — are supporting the parent organization while also gaining valuable experience with a special population. 

For more information about Yes U Can, contact Vickie George at 302-286-1399 or or visit the website. Like them on Facebook to receive updates on activities and programs.

Article by Diane Kukich

Photos by Ambre Alexander

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