Thursday, April 25, 2013

(Cook)Book Review: Weelicious by Catherine McCord

Title: Weelicious
Author: Catherine McCord
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Summary from Goodreads:

Every parent knows how difficult it is to get to get kids eating happily and healthily. Catherine McCord has the answer: Weelicious. Creator of the wildly popular blog, Catherine, who honed her cooking skills at Manhattan's Institute of Culinary Education, strongly believes in the "one family/one meal" idea--preparing a single, scrumptious meal the entire family can sit down and enjoy together rather than having to act as "short order cook" for kids who each want something different. In Weelicious, she offers dozens of recipes and tips for creating quick, easy, healthy, and fun food that moms, dads, and young children of any age will absolutely adore--from the most persnickety infants to the pickiest grade-schoolers.

My Review:

When I started this blog, I never thought I would review a cookbook.  Mostly because I don't read cookbooks--I may look through them for a good recipe now and then, but I don't read the intros or pour through all the recipes or anything like that.  Also, let's remember that I am, for the most part, utterly hopeless in the kitchen.

However, after continuous battles with Small Fry (aka World's Pickiest Eater), someone mentioned Weelicious to me and I decided to read it, back to front.  Because I'm willing to try anything at this point.  I had never been to, but I knew about it and had heard a few raves.  Catherine McCord is supposed to be the guru of curing Picky Toddler syndrome, and I hoped she could help me out.

Small Fry cheerfully dismantles the Huevos Rancheros I made for him.  Mother is not pleased.
The philosophy of Weelicious is that you should get your kids involved with food/cooking in your house as early as possible.  You would hate it if you never got to choose what you ate for a meal, right?  If it was just plunked down in front of you three times a day?  That's what most kids experience with their parents (something that never occurred to me before, but yes, I'll concede that point).  Catherine McCord suggests fixing this dynamic in a few ways.  For example, letting your kids assist with grocery shopping, or press the button on the food processor, or choose between two different meal options for dinner that night.

McCord does NOT advocate the philosophy that a lot of other parents have suggested to me:  hiding vegetables in other food (like making brownies but mixing carrots/broccoli/whatever in the batter).  She says that this is deceitful and that we should treat our kids with more honesty than this method suggests.  Okay, I get that too, and I'll admit I've tried this a few times (rarely with favorable results anyway).  I also like her reminder that just because YOU don't like a food, doesn't mean your kid won't--so add variety to their diet by letting them try everything.

Also (I know, I'm recapping everything for you here, but there is so much to share!), McCord has a section debunking the "my kid only eats chicken nuggets!"-type myths.  Your kid only eats those things if you make them available.  I will admit I have totally fallen into this trap before, with things like mac n cheese and fish sticks.  The book reminded me that Small Fry WILL eat other things, as long as I don't resort to these easy options every time he gets persnickety.

Before the recipes, McCord has a large section that talks about the importance of buying organic as much as possible, something that I understand and believe in, but I continue to maintain (despite McCord's claims otherwise) that it is near-impossible to feed a family affordably if you buy all organic.  However, I like the spirit of her message and I do think it's good to keep it in mind as much as feasibly possible.

So what about the recipes?

Well, I made a point of trying quite a few of them during my 4-week loan of the book from the library. Some went over GREAT with Small Fry--others, not so much.  He was a particular fan of the Stuffed French Toast, as well as the pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Pesto (which is REALLY FREAKING DELICIOUS and easy to make).  Hubs and I loved the Shrimp Tacos, but Small Fry was not a fan (picked out all the shrimp...sigh).
Stuffed French Toast = NOMS
Some of the recipes were okay, but lacked flavor, in my opinion--the Brown Rice and Veggie Casserole was good, but a little bland.  Same goes for the Slow Cooker Apple Streusel Oatmeal, and the Oatmeal On The Go Bars.  They were good, but in McCord's quest to keep extra sugar out of the recipes, you get kind of a bland outcome.  I ended up adding some brown sugar to the streusel oatmeal, and topping the oatmeal bars with some raspberry preserves to liven them up.

Overall: Weelicious did not completely cure Small Fry's finicky food preferences.  He still picks everything green off his plate with brain-surgeon-like precision.  And I don't necessarily think that all of McCord's suggestions for rehabbing your kid's eating habits are as easy as she makes them sound.  However, this did give me some great suggestions for how to include him in the kitchen, and add more variety to his diet.  I've been really good about not running to the mac n cheese every time he throws a fit, and that alone is a win for me.  I'd say that if you have a picky eater in your household, Weelicious is worth a perusal--you might find a few new, healthy go-to meals for your kiddos!

Other reviews of Weelicious:
Reading For Sanity
Fed Up With Lunch
Cafe Johnsonia

Do you have any favorite cookbooks?  Or really smart ways to get my son to eat green things?


  1. This is a fantastic review. I don't have a picky eater per se, but I don't have a lot of child friendly recipes in my bag either. I'll definitely be checking this book out! Thanks!

    1. The recipes are EASY too. That was one of the best things for me. I am not good with complicated recipes, and I usually only want 30-40 minutes or less (unless it's a weekend). These recipes are great for that.

  2. I'm not sure if you can answer this since I don't think you frequent the website--but would you say there is anything "more" in the book that you wouldn't get from the website?

    1. From my quick perusal of the site--I think the beginning part of the cookbook (about how to get your kids involved in the kitchen, etc) is more elaborated than similar info on her website. Many of the recipes do appear to be different, but there's a ton on the site too, so if you already have a repository of stuff you've tried on there, you may not need this.
      Maybe see if the library has it?

    2. Thanks girly! I may look for a library copy to see if some of the recipes I may want beyond the website. Thanks for the response!

  3. I appreciate your comment about the affordability of organic... I'm with you on that! I think in plenty of parts of the country it probably IS affordable but there are still plenty of other places where it isn't. :(

    After reading your review, I think this is one I might still look into, hopefully my library has it!

    1. Yes, organic is great in theory but financially, I wish it were a more viable option for more people. I think the argument "well it's worth it in long-term health care costs" is a cop out, and something that lower income families cannot afford to consider on a day to day basis.

      Let me know what you think if you try it!

  4. I know of Weelicious, but I haven't used her website too much. I found that when my little guy got older, actually having him help with the making of dinner meant that he was excited to eat it (usually). Of course that also means that your kitchen will be twice as messy as usual...sigh.

    1. Haha, so true. So far I've allowed him to stir a flour-based batter...and that was QUITE the cleanup.

  5. I'm well past the stage of needing this cookbook, but it sounds like something I would have liked when I was a young mother. My son (age 25) still balks at most things green, despite all my efforts similar to the methods you mention in your cookbook review!

    1. I fear the same for my son! My brother is 26 and JUST started eating green things, at the insistence of his fiancee. Sigh.

  6. This would sure come in handy for parents of picky eaters!! Thankfully though, my kids would eat whatever I gave them.

    1. Ooooh you are so lucky! How I wish that was my reality...haha.

Imagination Designs