For as long as I can remember, I have been passionate about food. Growing up in Kentucky — with its rich culinary traditions and grandparents who were avid cooks and growers of their own fruits and vegetables — made a deep and lasting impact on me. It shouldn’t be surprising that many of my best childhood memories revolve around food.
To me, food is the greatest form of communication. It is the one thing all of us have in common, no matter where we hail from or what our likes and dislikes may be. We may not have always experienced the same flavors and recipes that others around us have, but very likely we can easily relate to the feelings they conjure up.
When I was a model, during my late teens and 20’s, I had the great privilege of traveling the world for my work. The many tastes and experience of food differed from city to city and country to country, and only served to deepen my love of the edible universe and the profound effect it can have on all of us.
After attending culinary school I spent years trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my degree. I drifted in and out of restaurant kitchens and catering companies, but could never quite find my niche. Then my first child was born and, in spite of everything I knew about food, it dawned on me that I had no idea how to cook for him. I set out researching homemade baby food recipes and information on how to make kids great eaters, but surprisingly found very little. I spent a lot of time doing research and when Kenya started eating solids, I started taking pictures of the homemade purees I was making and blogging about it. I imagined that there were other moms out there as confused as I had been and I hoped if they came across my recipes and advice, it might be of help to them. It turned out that there was an audience and as their children grew, so did their food needs. I haven’t stopped since.
Had you told me 5 1/2 years ago that I would still be as passionate about feeding families as I was when my son was crawling all over our floor, I wouldn’t have believed you. But the one thing that never ends when you’re a parent is feeding your family. It’s a 24/7 job, and an often thankless one at that. However, that’s a challenge I love taking up. So much of what I love about food is figuring out how to get kids excited about what goes in their bodies while at the same time making a mom’s life (and yes a dad’s too) in the kitchen a fast and easy one!
These days, few things get me more excited than watching my kids pick something from our vegetable garden and declare what they want to make with it. Or getting an email from a mom whose family complements her after she cooks them a weelicious recipe. I tried to put all of that excitement, research and knowledge into the over 140 recipes and information that make up my first cookbook, Weelicious: One Family. One Meal. Having worked on it for 3 years, it feels like I gave birth to another child. The book is filled with tons of ideas on how to make kids great eaters from day one, includes shopping and feeding tips and much more. It’s basically the last 6 years of my life distilled into one place and looking back on the experience makes me realize that somewhere along the way, I not only found that niche I was looking for, but my passion as well.
Want to try Catherine’s recipes? Check out 3 easy ways to get kids to eat their greens!
Photos by Maren Caruso