Student creates Bison: My Way

 What started out as just a small hope, turned into reality as SDSU student Kristin Olson’s cookbook Bison: My Way was published after about a year and a half of hard work.

With the help of grant money, 175 books were created. Currently there are only 14 cookbooks remaining and Olson is hoping to print more. They are trying to find the funding right now.

Olson received help and guidance from Padmanaban Krishnan, a professor in the department of health and nutrition sciences. Olson took classes with Krishnan as dietetics major when she approached him about other possibilities and Krishnan became her mentor. 

“It’s really the student who is shining,” Krishnan said. “I’m really a cheerleader, just without the uniform.” 

Krishnan had previous experience in the field as he helped students in Flandreau adopt more bison into their diets. He helped Olson market her project. 

“Whenever there is food, there’s a lot of enthusiasm. You don’t have to sell the idea of food to anybody,” Krishnan said. 

Bison: My Way features 25 recipes. Of these recipes, 21 contain bison while the other four include Olson’s personal favorite butternut squash soup and several others. 


 One of the most popular entrees in the cookbook is the bison tenderloin said Olson. Another recipe Olson mentioned is the bison osso bucco in which she used the leftovers to create additional things. 

The cookbook started out as just an undergraduate project to help Olson gain some research experience. It began when she applied for the Griffith Honors scholarship and was awarded with part of the money she would use for her project. 

“I didn’t have any idea it would turn into this,” Olson said. “…Maybe three or four bison cookbooks.” 

Krishnan said bison is not very common as it is not marketed like beef. Some meat packers may have it, but it is usually not stocked in everyday grocery stores. 

Compared to beef, bison contains less marbling and tastes somewhat like what the animal eats giving it a unique flavor. Olson added that bison also has a lower fat content. While beef and bison have the same amount of protein, bison is a healthier source of red protein. 

Prior to this project, Olson had little personal cooking experience with bison. She had to find and create recipes to use all of the different cuts of bison that were provided by the Inter Tribal Bison Cooperative from Rapid City. Several Native American tribes throughout the state are a part of this cooperative. Olson said it was a new experience with all the different cuts. 

While Olson was creating new recipes, she had taste panels. She had an email sent to the department faculty informing them of two recipes she created and anybody who wanted could come and participate. 

When the cookbook finally came out, Olson found herself very accomplished. “If feels amazing. Every time I see it, I have to pinch myself,” Olson said. 

A lot of the recipes she used were family recipes that she adjusted. Olson has always loved cooking. She said ‘ever since I was able to climb on the countertop’ she’s been helping her family in the kitchen. Her grandmother and parents helped teach her the basic cooking skills. 

Olson is originally from Spearfish. She joined the National Guard in 1992 and stayed for almost 10 years. She then received her calling to go to culinary school. She went to the Texas Culinary Academy and graduated after 18 months. She wanted to go back to school and finish her bachelor’s degree and so she returned to South Dakota in 2008. 

“I’m so grateful I was led back here,” Olson said. 

Olson is set to graduate this May and will attend graduate school this summer in the nutrition program at SDSU.