HEALTHY, SEASONAL AND FLAVOURSOME COOKING

Interview with Annabel Karmel

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Describe yourself in a 5 words.

Happiest surrounded by family & dogs.  This is actually 6 words but I am sure you will let me stretch by one!

What inspires you?

All sorts of things, I love working with food as I love eating….I like to experiment with new recipes and I love eating out and trying new things….It was my children who inspired my career principally because they were such fussy eaters and so I wasn’t going to give in to their whims and made it my business to create recipes that they would love to eat …I never thought when I started that I would end up writing 25 books.

I’m good at… 

things I enjoy like cooking and skiing

I’m bad at… 

things I don’t enjoy like reading contracts and running

Who’s your favourite Style Icon? 

Audrey Hepburn

Most inspirational person you have met? 

My mother

What’s your favourite location?

Difficult one, at the moment it’s a tossup between Cape Town and Mykonos

What are the highlights of your career thus far?

The 20th Anniversary of my first book Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner’ was pretty amazing, as my career has changed so much in 20 years.  But it would also have to be getting an MBE in 2006.

What are your goals for the next 5 years?

I want to launch a range of organic baby food that tastes just like home made and  I want to continue to crate healthy food for children that tastes good . I would also like to make another TV series – it was a lot of fun making Annabel’s Kitchen with Jimmy the penguin and I hope that the series has inspired lots of children to cook.

How did you get into food and nutrition? How did you develop your concept?

My first child Natasha died when she was very young, and when my second child Nicholas came to weaning he was an extremely fussy eater, and I felt very vulnerable, so  i started trying out all sorts of recipes to try and entice him.  The nursery group I was in all used to ask for my recipes and suggested I write a book.  There was so little out there for parents wanting to feed their children from scratch, and people were often scared to give children different types of food.

What has been the most exciting collaboration you’ve worked on so far?

I really love working with Disney on my snack range for toddlers.  There is nothing quite like those characters that appeal so much to children and it is very exciting coming up with new healthy snack ideas that kids will love.

What are you working on at the moment?

Well I am never working on one new thing at a time I have several projects ongoing at the moment, but I am really focused on my food range.  At the moment our lives are so busy, and mums do not always have the time to cook for their families so I want to create food that they can trust and rely on to feed their children without always having to cook from scratch.

What do you believe sets you apart from your competitors?

I am not a big faceless corporation, I am a mum who has been writing and researching feeding babies and children for over 20 years.

What is your advice to parents who has got fussy eaters?

Try not to rise to bad behaviour; do not let them see your frustration.  As difficult as this sounds if they kick up a fuss ignore them and let them go off and play.  Do not let them fill up on snacks but wait until the next meal where they will be hungrier.  A hungrier child is often a less fussy child.  Ignore bad behaviour, acknowledge good behaviour.

Why do you think it is important for children to learn to cook?

It is so important to teach your children to cook and to get them into the kitchen from an early age as cooking is not only a life skill itself that they will have for the rest of their life, but it also teaches them numerous other skills such as reading and mathematics.  Cooking with your children is also a fantastic way to spend precious time together.

What are the main things to prepare before getting kids in the kitchen?

There will be mess so remove anything you don’t want broken or any sharp implements.  Get your children into an old t-shirt or apron.  If you only have big bags of ingredients, it might be easier to have them measured out in bowls to avoid bags of flour being spilt over the floor!

How do you cope with cooking with more than one child or different ages?

Give the children different jobs and responsibilities. Even if this means giving each child their own bowl to stir, this will prevent squabbles.

What, in your experience, are the kitchen jobs which children enjoy the most?

There are so many jobs that children can get involved with, and they can start from a very young age, even just breaking an egg or mixing something.  Children take real pride in creating things in the kitchen and you will be surprised at what they can get involved in.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

When I ask people advice on my latest plans I once got told to ask people why they think it might fail, as it often meant you got the most truthful, and helpful advice.

What is your most treasured procession?

It is not really a possession, but after my three children of course, it would have to be my three dogs.

What is your must-have item for next season?

A must have for all new mums is my iPhone app!!

In a nutshell, your philosophy is…

Do something in life that you are passionate about and then its not really work.

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