Catherine McCord is the ideal Mom. Her site, Weelicious, is all about incorporating one’s kids into the cooking process. To her, family meals are most important, and she’s been integral in the movement towards kids making healthier choices. Whether she’s starring in one of her Friday videos cooking with one of her kids, or putting out new recipes like Pea-wee Kiwi Popsicles or Oven Baked French Fries, Catherine’s message is infectious, as is the chef herself. Now the guru for new Moms looking for food instruction, Catherine has somehow created a niche all her own. We decided to sit down with her for DIY tips and our next breakfast go-to…
Describe your ideal food day…
It’s usually a Sunday. My family and I all hop out of bed and we head straight to our local farmers’ market. It’s where we go as a family every Sunday to be together, without fail. It’s sort of like our church. We start by tasting all the food samples available, which I’ve so relied on all these years in place of making breakfast for my kids, that I nicknamed it the baby buffet. After we get home with our food cart full, we make a simple lunch together – maybe some cheddar cheese and heirloom tomato panini’s on fresh moroccan olive bread. My husband and I usually let the kids help decide at the market what we’ll make for dinner, but it’s often fish – sea scallops, wild salmon, mussels or calamari – along with whatever’s in season for a great big salad or roast vegetable plate. Unless of course my son really gets his way and then it’s homemade pizza. The way I look at it, anytime I am eating with my family, it’s an ideal food day.
What would your last meal be? Who would it be with?
Anything Chef Dan Barber from Blue Hill cooks for me, but hopefully it’s his beet sandwiches on olive oil bread buns (I’m sure I’m butchering the name of them). They’re unlike anything I’ve ever tried. Regardless, all of his food is sublime and magical. The meal would be with my entire family, of course. That would be the end all, be all.
How do you start your day?
Working for an hour before my kids wake up next to a large pot of French pressed decaf with beans from Cafe Organico. Then I pack school lunch and make a big breakfast (when time permits). It’s something different every day. I like to keep everybody guessing at mealtime so they don’t become creatures of habit.
Favorite Los Angeles kid-friendly food spots…
What’s the trick to kid-friendly recipes?
Making food fun and appealing to the eye! For example, cutting sandwiches into different shapes and sizes with a cookie cutter transforms an otherwise boring sandwich and makes it playful. Kids also love interactive meals, so looking for opportunities to include dressing, dips, and sauces are always a good bet.
The secret behind packing school lunches…
Focus on packing a fruit, vegetable, protein, and carbohydrate in each meal. While this may seem daunting at first, it’s actually easier than you think. This could be as simple as an apple, a bagel with cream cheese, and a handful of sugar snap peas.
Also, don’t be afraid to switch it up! It’s easy to just toss the same ole’ PB&J in a bag, but in the long run, if you want your kids to be great eaters and enjoy a nice balance of foods, vary their lunch and snack selections.
Lastly, don’t forget to freeze! Any time you make things like muffins, cookies, or have leftover banana bread, pop it in the freezer so you can pull out one or two to throw in the lunch box when you’re in a pinch. It also causes big smiles when little ones find a homemade treat when they open their lunch.
Is there always a way to get your kids to like and eat what you make them? What’s the secret?
Get them involved in cooking, gardening or shopping for food with you as early as possible. The more you include kids in the process of food, the more excited they get about trying a wide variety of it. It gives them pride of ownership and turns eating into an active process, rather than a passive one. Whether it’s handing them a shaker of sesame seeds to sprinkle on their meal, allowing them to help pour the ingredients into a recipe, or teaching them something new like how to use chopsticks; it’s all part of the fun factor and gives them some authorship of their meals.
What popular ingredient among parents cooking for their kids, do you consider overrated?
Macaroni and cheese out of a box (it’s more than one ingredient, but it’s pretty overrated).
What ingredients are you convinced makes everything better when cooking for your kids?
Pesto. Whether you put it on pasta, fish, chicken, in a sandwich, or on eggs, it just makes it that much more kid (and adult) friendly. I always have some in my refrigerator and my kids never say no to it.