HEAL-IM About Us Admissions Core Curriculum Culinary Medicine Elective Additional Opportunities Financial Support Our Team Culinary Medicine Elective The Culinary Medicine Elective teaches UCI medical students hands-on, practical healthy cooking skills paired with evidence-based whole food nutritional concepts that will be applicable to their own health, as well as to many future patients they will see with diet-related illness. Home Education Medical Education HEAL-IM Culinary Medicine Elective Culinary Medicine: An evidence-based approach Research indicates that giving physicians more knowledge and training in practical nutrition, including healthy cooking skills, improves their effectiveness in supporting their patients’ healthy nutritional choices. Under the direction of clinical faculty, nutritionist, a chef, and a health coach, UCI medical students taking the Culinary Medicine Elective acquire nutritional knowledge and culinary skills needed to address chronic disease conditions using whole-foods, plant-based diets. During patient case discussions, students also learn practical communication skills and mindful eating principles that support healthy behavior change. Program Overview The Culinary Medicine Elective teaches first- and second-year medical students hands-on, practical healthy cooking skills paired with evidence-based whole food nutritional concepts that will be applicable to their own health, as well as to many future patients they will see with diet-related illness. The elective examines the effects of nutrition on both healthy patients and those with diet-related illnesses. Lectures, readings and case studies examine the significant role that food choices and nutrition play in preventing and managing several common chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, hyperlipidemia and hypertension. What to Expect Many common chronic conditions can be improved with dietary changes, but few physicians and healthcare providers and even fewer medical students feel equipped to give patients practical directions and health coaching tips to bring change within reach. In this course, a Chef Instructor helps students learn food preparation and cooking techniques to save time and money, while creating dishes that are healthy, delicious and accessible. Clinical faculty introduce case studies and share their experience counseling patients to adapt healthier food choices and behaviors. Our health coach guides students in applying mindful eating concepts. Students present key nutritional, clinical and culinary takeaways. Program Topics We offer the course twice each academic year – once in the Fall semester, and again in Spring. The course is capped at 25 students for this series, and students are chosen based on their interest and expressed goals for taking the course as space allows. Topics covered in the elective include: Introduction to Culinary Medicine, Knife Skills Safety & Sanitation, Meal Prepping Intro to Mediterranean Diet, What is mindful eating Anti-inflammatory foods, Emotional eating Proteins: Understanding more about plant based proteins, Awareness of your hunger level Fats: Understanding it all, How stress affects cravings Carbohydrates: What are the healthy ones, Review of mindful eating Session Format Each session has a clinically relevant focus, with students learning to prepare a variety of recipes that illustrate different nutritional and culinary teaching points for each session. The session format is: 30 minute student and faculty review of overarching nutritional and culinary concepts and techniques for that session, review example patient case and discuss relevant culinary medicine approaches to clinical issues for that patient, a review of recipes and cooking techniques for the session and assignment of small cooking groups 60-80 minute hands-on cooking and discussion in small groups At conclusion of cooking, students present example dishes with review of nutritional and culinary principles represented by the recipe. 30-minute Family meal – during which students and faculty, discuss mindful eating concepts and practice, how cooking techniques impact nutrient value, as well as how to frame conversations with patients about food and healthy eating. Core Faculty for Culinary Medicine Director: Nimisha K. Parekh, MD, MPH, FACG, AGAF, Clinical Professor of Medicine (Specialty Gastroenterology), and Director, Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program Physicians: Sonali Iyer, MD, Associate Clinical Professor, Hospital Medicine and Perioperative Care; Bavani Nadeswaran, MD, Clinical Professor, Internal Medicine and Associate Program Director, UCI Internal Medicine Residency Program; Tan Q. Nguyen, MD, Associate Clinical Professor, Family Medicine Culinarian: Chef Jessica VanRoo, Director of Culinary Education, UCI Campus Recreation Dietitians: Karen Lindsay, PhD, RD; and Sherry Schulman, RDN, Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute Health Coach: Cathy Parks, National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach "I think one of the most valuable things about this course is that it expands our knowledge of potential styles of cooking, spices to use, and ingredients to substitute to make healthy recipes. I otherwise likely would not have explored these things without the guidance of a professional chef. And the lessons learned were truly invaluable." –Culinary Med Student "I liked how I was able to apply my medical school knowledge in nutrition and pharmacology to understand how food is also used as medicine. Applying it and cooking medicinal foods has helped me recall and better remember how to educate patients about eating well and how food can be medicinal." – Culinary Med Student "Being exposed to a lot of new recipes and seeing how approachable they are was most useful to me. Helps me feel more confident in my ability to provide practical advice/help to patients." –Culinary Med Student "All of Chef Jess’s tips and tricks were most personally useful to me [and] also gave me a lot more ideas to work with in terms of suggesting relatively easy ways to eat healthier to future patients." –Culinary Med Student "The most useful part of the course was gaining knowledge of simple, healthy recipes and having the personal background to recommend them." –Culinary Med Student "The background on various diets, etc. helped bring understanding from an evidence based approach that I appreciated. Then, having the ability to tie it into what we were making and physically put it together reinforced that knowledge." –Culinary Med Student "I really do think nutrition is so important for the health of all people, and it was great to learn nutrition and the science behind foods and applying them immediately to patient cases. I came in with little cooking experience, so Chef Jess's culinary pearls were absolutely life changing, and everything else from the mindful eating exercises to the nutrition pre-work was so interesting!" –Culinary Med Student Slide 1 Slide 2 Slide 3 Slide 4 Slide 5 Slide 6 Slide 7 Additional Information Culinary Medicine Initiative The Culinary Medicine Initiative is one part of our Integrative Medicine Program’s overarching plan to change the focus of healthcare and medical education for our residents, medical students and faculty to include a multidisciplinary, patient-centered approach that emphasizes wellness, prevention and self-care skills. Learn More Blog for Nutrition Tips Visit the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute Wellness Blog for nutrition tips from clinicians and researchers. Check Out Our Blog Mussallem Nutrition Education Center The Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute is proud to offer a variety of classes to patients, students, faculty, executives, and community members. Ignite Your Culinary Passion Culinary Medicine in the News Jo Kwon from Spectrum News shared the culinary medicine story on her Twitter (June 19, 2019) UCI School of Medicine's culinary class gives doctors practical skills to help patients live healthier lives (Jan. 23, 2019, Lori Corbin from ABC7) UCI Magazine Lilibeth Garcia and Steven Zylius (May 13, 2019) UC Irvine Health - Live Well blog Karin Klein and Kevin Equitz (April 2018) News Feb 17, 2023 | UCI Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute School of Medicine Alumnus Supports Medical Students in Culinary Medicine Features & Briefs UCI School of Medicine HEAL-IM View All News Events There are no upcoming events. View All Events The license and permission for using this well-tested and researched curriculum developed by Culinary Medicine Specialist Board for Health meets Food, was obtained through a generous grant from the Samueli Foundation. It is currently being used by over 35 other medical schools across the country, with research showing that the program improves students’ knowledge, attitudes toward and likelihood of following healthy diet principles. Studies of physicians attending similar hands-on culinary medicine workshop courses show greater likelihood of the physician attendees providing counseling regarding healthy diet changes.