Catherine McCord always appreciated good food and the impact food has on health and well-being, but when her first son was born she struggled to find feeding tips and fresh, healthy recipes for kids. This was when Catherine decided to put her training at The Institute for Culinary Education in Manhattan to use as a food blogger. She posts weekly meals and cooking videos (with her kids!) on her website
. Catherine’s newest book, Weelicious Lunches, focuses on innovative solutions for quick, delicious, easy-to-make, lunch box meals that kids won’t be tempted to swap. I sat down to talk to her about toddler lunch monotony, her favorite Hanukkah foods, and more.
Feeding kids can be a stressful part of parenting. Clearly you work hard to make healthy meals that are appealing to your kids. What is your philosophy when it comes to them eating the food you serve? One bite to be polite?
I’m all about what works for you. Some families hope their kids will eat one bite and they’re satisfied; I find that when I include my kids in cooking it inspires them to want to try new foods. If they really don’t want to try something, I offer to let them sprinkle the food with Parmesan cheese, dip it in maple syrup, or top it with toasted sesame seeds, for example. Those little tips help all the time!
There is so much variety in the lunches in your book, but what would you tell the Mama whose child asks for the same lunch every day? For example, I send a peanut butter whole wheat tortilla and my preschooler eats every last bite of it, but if I send a turkey sandwich–rolled, cute toothpick, covered in edible glitter–regardless it always comes back uneaten in the lunch box.
I’m a big believer in offering as much diversity in lunch as possible. It’s important for your child to eat their lunch, but it’s also a great opportunity when they’re away from you and hungry to try a variety of new foods without any pressure. I’ve sent a different lunch for my kids every day for years and I’m constantly surprised to see that the fruits and vegetables are gone, but the cookie remains. If you offer a variety of foods and balance, kids will get what they need!
What is your favorite way to add a little “Jewish flair” to packed lunches?
We’ve been making latkes with the kids since they were little. Just having them sprinkle salt over grated potatoes and mixing the ingredients together with their hands before we fry them up makes the experience during the holiday that much more fun.
I know your husband is Jewish and you celebrate the Jewish holidays in your home. What is your go-to Jewish cookbook? Were you ever intimidated cooking meals for the Jewish holidays?
I adore Joan Nathan’s cookbooks. Her
Jewish Holiday Cookbook
is one of my favorites! Thank goodness no one else loves to cook on my husband’s side of the family so it’s really not intimidating.
If you are looking for flair and variety for your school lunches, I highly suggest grabbing Catherine’s book. You can also follow Catherine on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Below is one of her recipes that you can try for one of the last nights of Hanukkah!
2 large carrots, peeled
2 large parsnips, peeled
1 large egg, whisked
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Grate the carrots and parsnips on the large side of a box grater.
2. Place all the ingredients except the oil in a bowl and combine thoroughly.
3. Add a thin coating of oil in the bottom of a saute pan over medium heat.
4. Using an ice cream scoop or a 2 tablespoon measure, place the mixture in the oil, and press down to form a flat circle.
5. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
6. Makes 12. Serve warm with applesauce.
To freeze: Allow to cool, place on a baking sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes, then transfer to a labeled ziplock bag or other freezer container for up to 4 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight, or place frozen latkes in a 300F oven for 10 minutes, or until warmed through.
Check out Catherine and our friend Tori Avey of “Shiksa in the Kitchen” whipping up a batch of Hanukkah cookies!