Since C began eating solid foods I tried to make most of her meals from scratch. Sure, opening a jar of baby food is convenient, fast, and necessary in a pinch, however, I feel a whole lot better giving C something homemade. By making my own food, I know exactly what goes into her meals and I can ensure each dish contains fresh, healthy ingredients. Believe it or not, making homemade food also saves our family money because I purchase ingredients that work in C's recipes as well as recipes for the grown-ups. Baby Girl moved past pureed and mashed food a while back, which means I needed to expand my recipe repertoire. I wanted recipes that are quick, healthy, and travel well in a lunchbox-especially since C heads back to day care next week. My friend introduced me to Weelicious, http://www.weelicious.com/, which offers hundreds of recipes, cooking tips, and meal plan suggestions for infants, toddlers, big kids, and whole families.
Catherine Wheeler, a professionally trained chef and mother of two, started Weelicious to share fast, easy, and healthy recipes with busy moms in search of kid-friendly, nutritious food. Weelicious organizes recipes by age group, meal type, or ingredient. There are even lots of recipes dedicated to children with various allergies or dietary restrictions. Most recipes involve very few ingredients and require nothing more than a food processor, stove, or oven. Weelicious recipes take tried and true kid favorites, such as mac n' cheese or PB&J, and substitute processed and artificial ingredients with nutritious, natural alternatives, such as using agave nectar in place of sugar. Not only does Weelicious feature tons of recipes, the website also contains how-to videos showcasing Catherine cooking with her children. I especially like that many Weelicious recipes work for whole family meals, which saves time and energy in the kitchen.
Weelicious is also committed to improving school lunch by offering healthy and fun alternatives to standard lunch fare. Each day, Catherine takes a picture of her pre-schooler's packed lunch box and shares her delicious recipes on both her website and Facebook page. Yesterday, her son ate spinach gnocch-wee, a pb&j panini, yogurt pretzels, pomegranate seeds, and honeydew melon. My lunch of cheese toast seems slightly lackluster and pathetic by comparison. While most busy moms lack the time to cook something homemade each night for the next day's lunch, many Weelicious recipes are no-cook, such as Hummus Pinwheels or Cream Cheese and Tomato Sammies. Weelicious shows offering wholesome, fresh lunches is not necessarily time consuming or expensive. Good-bye Lunchables!
This week, Hubby travelled for work and it rained four days straight, which motivated me to spend some time in the kitchen trying out Weelicious recipes. I made Zucchini Muffins, Banana Wee-eat Germ Muffins, Weezpacho, Ratatouille, Avocado and Cheese Quesadillas, and Fruit and Oat Bars. Each recipe took very little time to prep and incorporated lots of ingredients I already had on hand, but better yet everything tastes delicious, I mean, weelicious. Now my refrigerator and freezer are stocked with plenty of back to school meals and snacks for C (and for myself!).
There is something quaint and nostalgic about food marketed especially for kids. I admit, when I walk past a jar of Fluff in the grocery store, I get a little weepy and reminisce about all of the Fluffernutters I ate growing up. Fluff, Spaghetti-O's, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese all remind me of my childhood favorites and I do not think there is anything wrong with offering such novelties, as long as they remain just that, rather than part of a steady diet. I want Baby Cakes to cultivate a diverse and experienced palate at young age. I want her to learn what a chickpea is before the age of 18 (discovering chickpeas are not green in my college dining hall was totally embarrassing).
Weelicious allows parents to prepare healthy, fun, and easy meals for kids. It gives kids the opportunity to become more adventurous eaters than their parents. I'm excited to incorporate Weelicious recipes into our everyday meals. Now if you'll excuse me, there are some homemade fruit bars in the kitchen that urgently need my attention.