Kids cook-up healthy dishes
By Shant Shahrigian
Students at AmPark Neighborhood School (PS 344) learned some of the ingredients for healthy living during an Oct. 3 cooking class.
Two chefs from the Wellness in the Schools Initiative, a non-profit that provides food and fitness programs for public school students, showed about two dozen children in Megan Collins’ second-grade class how to create a simple tomato sauce, imparting lessons about healthy eating along the way.
“When you cook, it gets a little messy,” chef Laurielle Clark said at the start of one of four sessions during the week.
Second grade student Kammand Sammak, who is 7-years-old, was elated with the prospect, saying, “I like messy!”
Ms. Clark and fellow chef Annie Hanrahan placed half-pieces of roma tomatoes facedown on placemats for the students.
Before instructing them how to dice the tomatoes for a homemade sauce, Ms. Clark explained why she prefers that to the readymade alternative in a jar.
“This particular sauce, mushroom and ripe olives, has about 15 different ingredients in it,” she said, holding up a store-bought example. “That’s a lot of ingredients. Some of them I can’t even pronounce… like something-glutamate. If there are ingredients in a jar or a dish that you can’t pronounce, would you want to put it in your body? You want to find out what it is first.”
Let the dicing begin
Ms. Clark encouraged students to help their parents make a four-ingredient sauce the next time pasta is served at their homes.
Then, the dicing commenced.
The students gleefully cut up their tomatoes — donated by Whole Foods along with the rest of the ingredients — with large plastic cutting knives. Tomato juice squirted and giggling abounded as the children sliced the fruits before setting the cut pieces into several bowls.
Ms. Clark then called upon her young charges to demonstrate the rest of the process with a hotplate. Two boys and two girls alternated pouring olive oil, grating garlic into a pot and seasoning with salt and pepper. The second step elicited a small uproar as the smell of simmering garlic spread across the room.