My name is Citlaly Jimenez, a De Anza College student and currently studying psychology and child development. I have always loved kids and cooking, which made volunteering for Chef Koochooloo a perfect fit for me!

I was a little nervous on my first day of teaching at Fairwood Elementary, but overall, I was filled with excitement to teach kids how to cook healthy recipes while learning math, science, and geography. The age group that we had was from kindergarten to third grade from 12:30-1:30pm.

On that day, the kids learned how to make pomegranate jam while learning facts about the country Turkey. As the program began, the kids were asked to answer questions about Turkey to see if they know anything about it. To my surprise, they were really interactive with the teachers and seemed like they’re eager to learn. They especially liked the part where they were asked to write answers on the whiteboard. They also learned current facts such as, Ankara is the capital of Turkey, it is located in Asia, the population is 75 million, and their official language is Turkish.

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Before the kids started cooking, they were asked to participate in an experiment. For this experiment, the teacher had sliced three apples and placed them in three separate bowls. She asked the kids what they thought would happen to the apples by the end of the class if they covered them with water, lemon juice, and leave one with nothing on each bowl. They suggested that the one with lemon would last longer or the one with water.

The kids were then asked to sit in groups, handed half of a pomegranate, and instructed to put all of the seeds in small bowls. While they were doing this task, the teachers were telling them the health benefits of pomegranate. They learned that the juice acts as a blood thinner and helps remove plaques from the arteries, which can improve cardiovascular problems.

Once they were done with the pomegranates, they were given halves of apples and were asked to peel the skin off and grate them in small pieces. During this task, it was important for the teachers to stay with them to make sure that they were using the peelers and the graters safely. We informed the kids about the Children’s Day which is held each year where children take a place in the Turkish Parliament and symbolically govern the country for a day. The kids thought that it was a cool idea and suggested that the United States should have a day like that. The teachers also informed them about the rising issue that was occurring in Turkey, which is censorship. We asked the kids if they knew what censorship was and most of them did not know, but when we explained what it means, they understood that it was not a good thing.

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Once the kids were done with the apples, the teachers collected all of the ingredients to add to a pot with pomegranate juice that was cooking on the stove for about 20 minutes. The kids were asked to help clean up their tables while they were waiting for the jam to finish cooking. The kids were very cooperative and did the dishes as well. Shortly after they were done cleaning, we revisited the apple experiment to find out which apple stayed the same color over the time. They were surprised to find out that the apple in lemon juice remained the same color unlike the other two. We explained that the lemon juice had the most acidity, which helped counteract the browning of the apple. Since we still had a little time left, we went over the facts about Turkey that we had taught them earlier to reinforce what they’ve learned and many of them remembered most of the facts.

Once the jam was ready, we served it on small slices of toasted bread and shared it to everyone in room. All of them enjoyed the food while some of them even wanted to take some home for their parents!

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Overall, it was a great experience with the kids and I am looking forward to continuing my volunteer hours with them over the next few weeks. I was very pleased to see the different curriculum that they were being taught over the short amount of time and how much they loved to participate.

Below you will find the recipe used to make the jam.

Pomegranate Jam

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of pomegranate juice (POM Wonderful 473 ml + 25 ml water)
  • 1 red apple – peeled, discard the seeds, thinly grated
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 handful pomegranate seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. Place the pomegranate juice in a medium-sized pot. Add 25 ml water along with the apples, sugar, pomegranate seeds, and cinnamon sticks.
  2. Cook for about 10 minutes at low-medium heat. Then turn the heat down a little bit lower and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the lemon juice into the marmalade a few minutes before you turn off the heat and stir. Wait until it cools down a bit then place it into a clean jar and close the lid tightly.