Culinary Medicine

The joy of cooking with the science of nutrition

Explore our program:

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At the University of Vermont Medical Center, we know that healthy food systems and nutrition play a critical role in wellbeing. The mission of our Culinary Medicine program is to nourish health in our community through the experience of food, the science of nutrition, and the wonder of the natural world.

Foundational Principles of Culinary Medicine

  • We strive to create safe spaces that incorporate the principles of patient and family centered care, accessibility, and inclusion.
  • We focus on what we have in common – developing common language to talk about food and health, sharing resources and support among all our patient and practitioner partners.
  • We provide empowering experiential learning opportunities designed to promote curiosity and self-efficacy in patients as they move toward their vision of optimal health.
  • We recognize that we depend on natural resources to sustain ourselves and promote healing and mutually beneficial relationships between individuals, communities, and the natural environment.
  • We believe that feeling “awe” and a connection to what we eat and where it comes from are vital to self-care and our experience as humans.

Downloadable Recipes Cards

Download individual recipes to keep in your kitchen and reference them anytime you need inspiration!

Highlighted Recipes

Steamed fish with vegetables.

Steamed Fish en Papillote

This recipe is for those who don’t want to touch or clean the fish they are cooking!

View the Recipe

White been dip surrounded by carrots, celery, red bell peppers and cucumbers.

Lemony White Bean Dip

This very basic white bean base can serve as a palate for so much flavor building!

View the Recipe

Three salmon cakes and a lemon wedge.

Salmon Cakes

It’s simple, from-the-can ingredients that create a fancy, delicious and cost- effective way to incorporate fish into your cooking repertoire.

View the Recipe

From HealthSource

Your Health and Wellness Resource

From Our YouTube Channel

Our "What's That Food?" series highlights simple and cost-effective ways to include more plant-based foods in your diet. These videos showcase seasonal local produce and goods that you can grow in your backyard, patio or window box. 

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad with Yogurt, Honey and Lemon

White Bean Soup with Spring Herbs

Meet the Culinary Medicine Team

Headshot of Culinary Medicine team member, Diane Imrie.

Diane Imrie
Network Director of Sustainability and Founder of the Culinary Medicine Program

Diane Imrie is a Registered Dietitian and holds a Master of Business Administration degree. She worked as the Director of Nutrition Services at University of Vermont Medical Center for 28 years, where she was responsible for clinical, retail and patient Nutrition Services, as well a nationally recognized food sustainability program. Diane received the first Fletcher Allen CEO leadership award, titled "Living the Leadership Philosophy," the Pyramid Award from the Vermont Dietetic Association for improving the health of Vermonters, and a national Silver Plate 2016 award winner for Foodservice Operator of the Year. She is passionate about local food, both personally and professionally, and is the co-author of a cookbook highlighting seasonal cooking titled “Cooking Close to Home.” She owns and operates a small farm with her husband in Vermont.


Headshot of Culinary Medicine team member, Leah Pryor.

R. Leah Pryor
Executive Chef Manager and Co-Founder of the Culinary Medicine Program

Chef Leah started her culinary career in 1994. She graduated the Culinary Institute of America with her AOS in culinary arts in 2000. She promptly took the chef position at Fog Island Café, where she ran the kitchen and externship program, teaching young cooks the ways of from-scratch, high-volume breakfast and lunch cookery. She then followed her passion for food to Vermont and took the chef position at Mary’s Restaurant Inn at Baldwin Creek. She worked closely with Chef/Owner Doug Mack, who started the Vermont Fresh Network in 1996, way before farm-to-table was a movement. In 2010 Chef Leah decided to make a change and went to work for the University of Vermont Medical Center. In 2017 she was awarded a UVM Medical Center Foundation grant, through which she has been able to create the Chef Educator role and expand the Culinary Medicine program. In 2020, she was promoted to Executive Chef Manager in Nutrition Services, overseeing the culinary aspects of Patient Services, and continues her work directing the Culinary Medicine program.

Headshot of Christina Vollbrecht

Christina Vollbrecht
Chef Educator

Christina began working as a professional chef in Washington DC in 2014 after studying history and completing a Master of Arts in Sociology. Working in the food industry ignited her passion for a local, sustainable food system and regenerative agriculture and led her to pursue a Master of Science in Nutrition in Integrative Health so that she could work with food as medicine. Christina works as an adjunct faculty member teaching behavior change in food selection and preparation at a university in Maryland and runs community nutrition literacy outreach programming in addition to Culinary Medicine programs at UVMMC. Her focus is on food and cooking accessibility and creating a safe environment for nourishment and growth. In 2023 Christina received the UVMMC Foundation Grant and is the first full-time Culinary Medicine team member with a focus on creating a strong, interdisciplinary, and collaborative foundation for Culinary Medicine to grow and thrive. She is passionate about using food as a common denominator to build connections, health, and community.


Headshot of Rachel Boyers

Rachel Boyers
Garden Educator

Rachel holds a BS from Cornell University and MLA from the University of Pennsylvania, both in landscape architecture. She joined the Culinary Medicine team in 2023. After 10 years of experience as a landscape architect, Rachel’s journey shifted with the birth of her son with special health care needs, whom she found delighted in the sensations he experienced while in her garden. Rachel’s new path included 18 years supporting families of children with disabilities, and a certification in horticultural therapy from the New York Botanical Garden. She is also a UVM Osher Center Integrative Health and Wellness Coaching trainee. Rachel believes that there is an undeniable link between the mind/body and the natural world, and that this relationship is critical to one's mental and physical health and well-being. Rachel feels fortunate to be bringing programming to an organization that supported her family through her child’s many medical challenges. Her goal as Garden Educator is to build community and ensure that the therapeutic benefits of gardening and a strong connection to nature are accessible to everyone.


 

Lisa Hoare
Garden Educator

Lisa was UVMMC’s first Garden Educator and is credited for the establishment of many of our current programs and the care and upkeep of the garden spaces at our Main Campus and Fanny Allen. Lisa now supports Culinary Medicine in an advisory role and on special projects.


Headshot of Emily Stone

Emily Stone
Registered Dietitian

Emily Stone, MS, RDN, CD, IFNCP is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, educator and author. She works for UVMMC at the Comprehensive Pain Program where she practices integrative and functional nutrition, culinary and lifestyle medicine. Emily works with people individually and in group settings. And she has a passion for connecting with individuals to encourage health and wellbeing through integrative and interactive nutrition and lifestyle education. Emily is most passionate about the relationship with food and eating, chronic pain, auto-immunity, food intolerances and sensitivities, IBS, gut microbiome, food as medicine, mindfulness and visualization. Emily aspires to evolve her career among transdisciplinary medical and public health teams and is devoted to influencing her community as a role model and educator, and collaborator in the growth of integrative health in Vermont.


Headshot of Jessica Fischer

Jessica Fischer
Registered Dietitian

Jess is a Registered Dietitian at UVMMC working in both an inpatient and outpatient setting. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from URI and then ventured up to Vermont for a Master’s degree in nutrition, as well as some skiing. Her studies and interests include sustainable agriculture, gardening, and helping patients build a positive relationship with food and exercise through connection to nature. Other interests include food preservation and helping folks build skills that support their own food security. She is currently completing her Master Gardener Certificate and will continue to be a part of the Culinary Medicine team as a Dietitian with a focus on making home gardening accessible to all through The Learning Garden program.


Headshot of Alison Precourt

Alison Precourt
Registered Dietitian

Alison Swanson Precourt RD, CD, CDCES is a registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care and Education specialist, providing clinical nutrition expertise at the UVM Medical Center Childrens Hospital for over 30 years. Alison joined the Culinary Medicine team at the University of Vermont Medical Center in 2018. This culinary venture has allowed Alison the opportunity to team-teach healthy eating through a dynamic and fun approach, blending the joy of cooking with the science of nutrition.


 

Joyce Huang
Registered Dietitian

Joyce graduated from the University of Vermont with a B.S. in Dietetics, Nutrition, and Food Sciences in 2017. During her time there, she was a teaching assistant for the basic concepts of foods cooking lab and completed her honors college thesis on how cooking skills among college students impact food choices. She completed her dietetic internship at California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo. Joyce worked in foodservice management and skilled nursing facilities before becoming a clinical dietitian at UVMMC in 2021. As an outpatient dietitian at UVMMC, her primary culinary medicine interests include lifestyle medicine and shared medical appointments. She enjoys collaborating with colleagues to provide evidence-based nutrition education, whether that’s through articles, presentations, or classes. Joyce is passionate about improving food access for disadvantaged communities and strengthening local food systems.


Headshot of Culinary Medicine team member, Gretchen Berry.

Gretchen Berry
Registered Dietitian and Patient Food Service Manager

Gretchen is a graduate of the University of Vermont (BS in Dietetics and minor in Food Systems) and the University of Pittsburgh, where she completed her dietetic internship and Masters of Science in Clinical Nutrition. As a Registered Dietitian, Gretchen has practiced in a variety of clinical and outpatient settings over the past 10 years. She joined the University of Vermont Medical Center in 2020, and was recently promoted to the position of Patient Services Manager. Gretchen is passionate about sustainable food systems, food justice and making culinary medicine accessible to all people.