Culinary Health Institute (CHI)

Program Overview

The Culinary Health Institute’s mission is to understand how different growing methods for food impact nutrient quality, and how that nutrient quality impacts chronic illness. We also aim to improve access to healthy foods for underserved communities. In collaboration with medical schools, we aim to educate the next generation of doctors and allied health professionals on the impact of whole food, plant-forward diets and the importance of other lifestyle changes to heal the body.

Active Areas


We recently completed a pilot program to deliver healthy, disease-specific meals to outpatients, and we are currently expanding this program to provide a greater reach.


We are working to better understand how therapeutic horticulture impacts high school students.


We are looking at how multiple lifestyle interventions — such as yoga, therapeutic horticulture, culinary education, and resilience training — can help strengthen urban communities.


We are assessing different growing methods and how they impact nutrient quality of the food that is produced.


We are working with medical students to improve knowledge of the impact of nutrition and lifestyle on various disease states.


We are building a culinary kitchen to educate communities and physicians on how to prepare healthy food.


We are hosting community education events on nutrition and lifestyle changes to reduce chronic illness.

Meet Dr. Monica

Monica Aggarwal, MD, is an adjunct Associate Professor in the University of Florida’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine where she conducts research on the impact of nutrition in chronic illness. She also serves as the Chief Medical officer of the not-for profit, 4Roots Farm which is looking at how to improve food quality to improve human health.  She received her medical degree from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and subsequently went on to complete a residency in internal medicine at Tufts University Hospital in Boston, MA. She then completed a cardiology fellowship at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, MD. 

Dr. Aggarwal’s own path to understanding the impact of nutrition in illness started soon after the birth of her third child, when she developed an advanced form of rheumatoid arthritis. She was placed on medications that gave her severe side effects. It was only through learning about the microbiome (gut), its impact on the immune system and the role of nutrition in affecting the gut, was she able to truly heal. Determined to change the face of medicine, Monica left private practice and returned to academics in order to pursue research on the role of diet and to create an integrative cardiology practice focused on nutrition and lifestyle.  

To learn more about Dr. Monica visit her website here.