MD Program

1T8 students create an app to tackle the ‘freshman 15’

Aug 22, 2016

Univore: A Healthy Eating App for Students

“What are your interests (and you can’t say medicine)?” 1T8 students Brandon Tang and Elizabeth Liao’s responses to this question sparked the creation of Univore, an iPhone app that encourages healthy eating by helping students develop cooking skills.

The project began as a community-based service-learning project in the Community, Populations and Public Health (CPPH) course, and has allowed Tang and Liao to tap into their passions. Liao – an accomplished foodie with a passion for nutrition and cooking, and Tang an education enthusiast found that a recipe-generator app for students was a natural fit.

“We have always suspected that students ate poorly, from our own life experiences – and the literature confirms it,” states Tang. “We wanted to make this easier for students by creating a toolkit for them to get started. I only began cooking in my first year of med school, so I understand that it’s a challenge.“

The healthy, easy-to follow recipes – all created by Liao – are designed to help build the confidence of first-time cooks. “My classmates are always telling me they would like to cook, but have no idea where to start,” says Liao. “This first release of Univore contains 40 easy recipes, all tested and nutritionist-approved. When I designed the recipes I thought: what are my go-to meals? and how can I make this in the simplest way possible? The idea is to lead students through their first few recipes until they feel comfortable enough to be creative with any ingredients they have on hand.”

Tang and Liao partnered with UHN OpenLab, a design and innovation shop dedicated to finding creative solutions that transform the way health care is delivered and experienced, to develop the app. They also worked with developer Brad Kratky, a recent MD Program grad and designer Karen Keung to turn their vision into reality.

Univore is available for download through the Apple Store on August 22.