Judith Litvin starts work at 5 a.m. and sometimes does not come home until 7 p.m. after teaching all day.
She understands her medical students face similar schedules, so she started a cooking YouTube channel to share quick and easy recipes for students with long days like her.
“I come home late sometimes and in 20 minutes I can cook a meal, so why not share that with the students so that they can do it as opposed to eating out a lot and, you know, just buying prepared foods from the supermarket or whatever,” Litvin, a biomedical and data science professor, said.
Litvin launched her YouTube channel, “Persephone’s Kitchen” in March 2022, where she posts videos of her cooking quick and healthy recipes from her home kitchen for a target audience of busy people like her students. She seeks to give them opportunities to still eat a well-balanced meal that can be prepared in a short amount of time, even after a long day of studying or working.
Litvin’s process is done solely by her and her husband; while Litvin prepares the recipes, her husband films, edits and uploads her content.
The goal of Litvin’s videos is to teach students the importance of eating healthily through the quick and easy recipes she brings.
“Especially since I teach in the medical school, the stress level is very high, and students have a tendency of allowing their health to kind of get put on the side burner,” Litvin said. “So this would be one way that they can not only pay attention to what they’re eating, eat nutritious food, stay healthy — nutritious food can be tasty — but they can also use that time to de-stress.”
Having her videos posted on YouTube means that viewers can watch Litvin’s videos whenever they please and for the reason most convenient to them.
Chloe Cohen, a first-
Cohen began watching Litvin’s cooking videos after she was recommended by Litvin to try a salmon and rice recipe.
“You can tell she’s very passionate about what she does,” said Cohen. “She knows the ingredients as a food scientist, as a professional and as a food lover. She knows about nutrients and what it does to your body.”
Litvin incorporates science, like chemistry, into her cooking, but tries to keep the videos lighthearted, she said.
“Sometimes I do impart this kind of information to students if I think they’re interested, but not always,” Litvin said. “In cooking, it’s supposed to be fun.”
Ivana Kohut does not consider herself to be culinarily-skilled but enjoys Litvin’s videos because they offer her access to meals she can make quickly.
“The videos were actually something that was very much, I guess, within my capabilities of doing,” Kohut, a fourth-year medical student, said. “I appreciated it because especially with how busy clinic can get, it can be hard to make, I guess, like wholesome meals outside of just frozen foods.”
Kohut has cooked two meals from Litvin’s YouTube, including her “Quick & Delicious Smashburgers” and “Quick and Delicious Banana Fritters” recipes, she said.
“I really think that Dr. Litvin’s channel is a beautiful example of the Temple family,” Kohut said. “You can’t get more personal, I think, than helping someone prepare a meal or preparing a meal with someone.”
Litvin plans to continue posting videos throughout the school year, and hopes her videos allow students to learn how to regulate their nutritional intake and become more familiar with cooking meals in the kitchen, she said.
“My goal is to make them more comfortable to be independent in a kitchen,” Litvin said. “Some people, you know, have never been in the kitchen, especially students who have just left home or those who take out a lot.”