Uncategorized

Annabel Karmel Interview

Taste of Dubai is always a highlight of my calender so you can imagine how excited I was when I found out Annabel Karmel was going to be one of the headline chefs this year. When I got the chance to interview her I wasn’t about to turn it down, so here we go….

You have spoken in the past about the fact your son was a fussy eater, but what was the most unexpected challenge when it came to feeding your other two children?
I think what surprised me the most was quite how stubborn such young children could be. As a parent, it can be very upsetting and frustrating to lovingly prepare a meal for your child, only to have it rejected without them trying even a mouthful. You come to dread those words ‘It’s yucky, I’m not eating it’.
Children can get very worked up over things like visible onions or green bits in their tomato sauce. They also don’t like too many things mixed together so separation of food is important.
When my children were little, I found that trying to ignore bad eating behaviour and not reacting when they made a fuss worked well. Instead I piled on the praise when they tried something new or developed a good eating habit. Other good tactics I used that I would recommend to other parents are making sure you don’t give snacks too close to mealtimes and using a reward chart system. Put the chart somewhere visible like the fridge or a kitchen noticeboard and award your child a star every time they try a new food. They can then look forward to a special treat when they collect an agreed number of stars.

There are so many pre-made meals and snacks available to parents these days; do you feel it has somewhat taken away the importance of cooking homemade food for children?
Not at all. Parents still absolutely think it is very important to prepare home-cooked food for their children. For the last 12 weeks, my Baby and Toddler Recipe App has been the number one paid food and drink app in the UK and many other countries, outselling the likes of Jamie Oliver. The recipe pages on my website www.annabelkarmel.com are among the most popular and my recipe books – all 42 of them! – continue to sell incredibly well.
Parents are today very concerned and more aware than ever about making sure that their children’s diet is healthy. They don’t want them to grow up eating junk food, which is high in saturated fat and salt.
Some children do have a very narrow diet of foods like chicken nuggets, pizza and burgers, however you can steer them away from unhealthy fast food by making your own healthy versions. For example, I make delicious burgers with lean minced beef, grated carrot and apple.
Parents do ask a lot of themselves though and while it is admirable to want to prepare homemade meals three times a day, seven days a week, sometimes everyone needs a bit of help. This is why I have my own range of ready meals in the UK and also Australia. These meals are low in salt, contain at least one of your child’s five a day and introduce children to new recipes like Fish Pie with Salmon and a Potato and Carrot Topping and a Mild Chicken Tikka Masala.

What’s the most important thing for new parents to think about when weaning and cooking for their kids?
It’s important to understand that while an adult’s healthy diet is low in fat and high in fibre, a healthy baby’s diet is quite different. Babies grow more rapidly in their first year than at any other time in their life and, as such, they need nutrient-dense foods. Dairy foods should be full fat and too much fibre is not good as it can deplete their body of vital nutrients.
Iron is also crucial for the normal development of baby’s brain. The iron a baby inherits from his mother runs out at six months, so it is very important to give iron-rich foods from six months. These might include iron-enriched cereal, red meat, egg yolk and lentils.
A lot of parents carry on giving only fruit and vegetables for too long, without introducing nutrient-dense protein foods like chicken, red meat or salmon. These foods are very important for you baby’s development.

What are your top tips for busy parents who want to cook homemade meals for their children?
Plan ahead! It’s the only way to make sure that you have the right ingredients in and that you are using what you’ve bought to avoid unnecessary waste. I thoroughly recommend batch cooking, you can make mini Cottage Pies for example in little ramekins. Almost all of my baby puree recipes can be frozen, so you don’t have to cook every day. Just remember to freeze items in single portions and label them carefully with the ingredients and the date by which they should be consumed. Otherwise you could end up with a freezer full of UFOs – Unidentified Frozen Objects.

If you could only choose one of your recipes as your favourite, which would it be?
I am making one of my all-time favourite recipes at Taste of Dubai – Chicken and Apple Balls. My son wouldn’t eat chicken when he was a baby, but he liked apple, so I made up this recipe to try and tempt him and he loved them! The chicken balls are made with breast and thigh chicken meat, diced onion, egg yolk, parsley and sage, breadcrumbs, crumbled chicken stock and my special ingredient… grated apple. Everything is whizzed in a food processor and then rolled into balls

You have been to Dubai a number of times now, but this is your first time participating in Taste of Dubai, what are you most looking forward to about the event?
I am really looking forward to the interactive cookery sessions, during which children are going to be cooking along with me. When my three were young I used to get them to cook once a week for the family. They were only 4, 6 and 7 when we started this tradition (which still goes on today) and I think it’s really important that children learn to cook at home. Most children love to cook, it’s an important life skill that will help them make healthy choices. As a bonus, they are also learning maths through measuring and timing, and following a recipe helps with their reading.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about Annabel, I will be back in a day or two with a new original recipe for your Tiny Tums.

Enjoy Em xx

8m +, Egg Free, Lunchbox Idea, Nut Free, Savory, Uncategorized

Minty Lamb and Hummus Pitas

  • 8M +
  • Dairy free
  • Egg free
  • Nut free
  • Can be frozen
  • Lunchbox idea

The Monster is not a massive fan of meat unless it’s in mince form so I try to make sure that I come up with a good variety of recipes that use mince. These Minty Lamb and Hummus Pitas are great for the whole family,  full of flavour, tender and just as good for lunch as they are for dinner . The best bit,  they can be made in around 15 minutes. 

I make them using mini wholemeal pita but you can easily use full sized ones. We can get some really great fresh hummus here (what with it being the Middle East and all) so I tend to buy it in rather than make it but there are loads of simple recipes online if you did want to make your own. 

Tip: if you want to freeze these, it’s best to freeze the lamb patties before cooking,  this helps to prevent them from drying out. 

Ingredients

  • 250g lamb mince
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • 1/4 of a onion, grated
  • 1 cup hummus
  • Packet of wholemeal pita breads

Method

Heat a frying pan over a medium heat hob (don’t add any oil) in a bowl put the lamb,  garlic powder,  mint and onion and mix thoroughly using your hands.  Take golf ball sized pieces of the mixture and flatten into oval patties. Fry for 5 minutes each side

Slice the pitas down the side to create pockets,  and pop in a good dollop of hummus,  add a lamb Pattie and any extras you want (I love adding tomatoes) and devour. 
Enjoy

Em xx

7m +, Egg Free, Lunchbox Idea, Nut Free, Savory, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Cheese and Rosemary Crackers

  • 7m +
  • Egg free
  • Nut free
  • Lunchbox idea

I have yet to meet a kiddie that doesn’t like crackers, even the fussiest of eaters seem unable to resist the crunchy,  cheesy delights. Unfortunately many of the shop brought ones have high levels of salt, and various other unpleasant ingredients. 

With The Monster  being crackers about crackers I decided I needed a super simple,  delicious and healthy recipe for making them at home.  After a few test recipes, this insanely easy recipe was created. When  tested on The Monster, his playmates and their mama’s there wasn’t one left,  always a good sign!

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 3/4 cup mature cheddar (grated) 
  • 1 /4 cup Parmesan (grated) 
  • 1 tablespoon of dried rosemary
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Method

Re-heat the oven to be 180 degrees. Place the flour, rosemary and cheeses into a food processor and give it a quick blitz to combine the ingredients. Mix the water and olive oil and slowly pour into the flour, and cheese mix while the processor is on a low setting. Once the dough comes together, tip it onto a floured surface. Roll until thin (about 2.5mm) use cookie cutters to cut the dough into any shapes you choose. Line a baking sheet with grease proof paper and lay the crackers on the paper. Bake for about 12 mins or until golden brown and crisp at the edges. Allow to cool before eating. 
Enjoy

Em xx

12m +, Egg Free, Lunchbox Idea, Nut Free, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Sugar Free Raisin and Oatmeal Cookies

  • 12m +
  • Nut free
  • Egg Free
  • Can be frozen
  • Vegetarian

These delicious cookies went down a total storm at The Monsters recent playmate,  barely a crumb was to be found on the carpet! They are sweetened with honey rather than refined sugar making them a little healthier. They actually have a taste very similar to butter shortbread and so us mums couldn’t help but pinch a few too. 

If you seal them in an airtight container they will last about 3 to 4 days. If you want to freeze them do so a’s a dough before cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter (room temp) 
  • I  tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.  If you have a food processor, chuck all the ingredients except the raisins in and wizz until combined.  If you don’t have a processor you’ll need to grind your oats to make them finer,  then mix all the ingredients except the raisins together in a bowl until completely combined. Dust your work surface with a little flour and turn the mixture onto the surface.  Pour the raisins onto the dough and then lightly knead until they are well distributed. Roll the dough to about it 1/2CM in thickness.  Cut into your desired shapes using cooking cutters. Grease a cookie sheet with a little butter and lay the cookies out ensuring they do not touch.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.  Remove from the sheet and allow to cool completely before eating. 
Enjoy

Em xx

7m +, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Nut Free, Puree, Savory, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Secret healthy Dip-Dip Sauce

  • 7m+
  • Nut Free
  • Egg Free
  • Dairy Free
  • Vegetarian 
  • Can Be frozen

Like most small humans,  The Monster loves sauce,  any sauce,  ketchup,  mayo,  sweet chilli, if he can dip stuff in it he is happy.  He actually says dip-dip as he dips,  super cute… But anyway, most of the time even the fussiest of eaters like ketchup (even if they claim to hate tomatoes.) So I set myself a mission to create a healthy version with some hidden veg to share with you guys.

I used veg I had in the house that needed using up, so feel free to substitute the veggies as you need to. Pumpkin, carrot or sweetpotato in there would also test great. 

Because it’s homemade and doesn’t contain sugar this will only keep in the fridge for about 5 days.  I however I freeze it in an ice cube tray,  this way,  if The Monster is going to want sauce with his meal that day I can just pop one cube out and it defrosts in about a  minutes, just give it a stir. 

Ingredients

  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoon’s of pure tomato puree
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 1 handful of broccoli 
  • 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

Method

Roughly chop your veggies.  Place a saucepan over a medium heat and fry the onion in a little oil,  until soft but not brown. Add the tinned tomatoes and the roughly chopped veg and simmer for about  5 minutes.  Stir in the balsamic and the tomatoes puree and then leave to cool.  Once cool,  pop the sauce into a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth. 

It’s as simple as that.  Place a small jar of it in the fridge and the remaining into an ice cube tray. 
Enjoy

Em xx