Winning power bacon brownie bites are a creative take on healthy dessert

 Winning power bacon brownie bites are a creative take on healthy dessert
Winning power bacon brownie bites are a creative take on healthy dessert

URBANA, Ill. ­– Brooke Covas is looking forward to beginning her studies in food science and human nutrition (FSHN) this fall.

“I have always had eyes for University of Illinois and specifically their FSHN program because it’s a really concrete program,” says Covas, who will be a student in FSHN’s dietetics concentration. Learn more about FSHN today.

“I am interested in health and nutrition, and I want to be in a helping career because I jump at any chance to contribute to the wellbeing of people around me,” Covas states. “I specifically want to work with eating disorders because it’s overshadowed in our society and needs a greater spotlight.”

Covas showed her commitment to healthy nutrition when she made power bacon brownie bites for the 2021 FSHN Food Challenge.

As an incoming dietetics student, her challenge was to make tasty food with either low calories, low fat, low sodium, or no added sugar. Her brownies met all four criteria, and the recipe earned her a $1,000 scholarship.

“I wanted to meet not one [which was required], but all of the challenge guidelines. I wanted to create a healthy take on a dessert that was under 40 calories, less than 3 grams of fat, under 140 mg of sodium, and had no added sugar. I know desserts have the misconception of always being unhealthy and I wanted to create a different take to show this misbelief is not always true,” Covas says.

FSHN invites students accepted into the program to participate in the food challenge for the chance to win a scholarship and show off their skills, says FSHN department head Nicki Engeseth. Students receive a box with three kinds of flour – white long grain fancy rice, Illinois blue corn, and soft red winter wheat, milled at the FSHN pilot processing plant on the U of I campus.

Participants must prepare food using at least one kind of flour, following a set of criteria specific to each FSHN concentration. The students submit a photo of the food, a recipe, and a description.

 “When I got the message about this challenge I was thrilled because this was right in my wheelhouse. I experiment with new recipes on a daily basis because I love creating and finding healthier alternatives so this challenge forced me to think outside the box and really tune into my creative side,” Covas says.

“This food challenge definitely reassured me FSHN was where I am meant to be. It was such a fun opportunity and I’m so glad I got to participate because it helped me grow as a person and established a new confidence in my abilities to impact the world around me,” she adds.

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois.

The FSHN Food Challenge and other students-focused projects like this are funded through donations to the College of ACES. To learn more, or to contribute, please contact the College of ACES Office of Advancement.  


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