July 06, 2010 02:00 PM

Courtesy of Weelicious

Picky eaters at home?

It’s a common problem, but one that’s easily solved, according to culinary school grad and Weelicious.com blogger Catherine McCord.

“After I had my son, I just looked at him and thought, ‘What am I supposed to feed you?’ ” McCord tells PEOPLE Moms & Babies. “I had all this training, but needed to apply it.”

McCord started going to her local farmer’s market, educating herself about foods and creating “simple, but exciting baby food,” as she describes it.

Writing about her experiences earned her a following (including celeb fan Jennifer Garner), and soon she found her children (and recipes) blossoming with her audience.

So how to satisfy your kids’ appetites, while pleasing their palates at the same time?

Here are some of McCord’s suggestions:

Take your kids grocery shopping. McCord particularly loves bringing her children to farmer’s markets, where they get to see the fruits and vegetables, sample them and learn where they came from. “Make them pick out a piece of produce, and ask, ‘What are we going to make with this avocado?’ ” she suggests. “Incorporate them into the meal planning. Exposure is one of the most important things we can offer our children.”

Steer clear of processed foods. “Don’t touch the McDonald’s,” she warns. “Make sure at mealtime, your kids are getting a fruit, a vegetable, a carbohydrate and a protein. Make it easy on yourself.” McCord says it’s easy to build off of basic ingredients kids love, like rice and pasta. “Boil some, keep it in the fridge, and each night add a few things you know your family will love.”

Plan ahead. McCord is a big champion of slow-cooker recipes. “My Crock-Pot chicken is the easiest thing in the world,” she shares. “It makes five pounds of chicken, so we eat it plain one night, make quesadillas the next, then mac, cheese and chicken bites the third. The key is to make staples that stretch themselves.”

McCord also suggests using any free weekend time to cook for the coming week. “Make a double batch of something, or freeze it if you can,” she says. “Then pop it in the oven later in the week. It’s such a timesaver.”

Make it fun. “Again, involve them in the process,” she says. “Let them stir, say, the pasta, then they can come back to it later and see what they’ve created. It gives them a sense of empowerment.” She also suggests food in small portions. “Anything in a pancake, muffin or mini form is appealing,” McCord shares. “Too much food is overwhelming.”

For more of McCord’s simple recipes — and some great how-to videos — check out Weelicious.com.

Kate Hogan

Courtesy of Weelicious

Courtesy of Weelicious

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