Annabel Karmel is the leading expert and bestselling author on baby food and nutrition. A mother of three, her children are now in their twenties.
'My son, Nicholas, lives away from home but my girls, Lara and Scarlett, still live with me at my house in London,' she told us.
Annabel actually started her working life as a musician. A talented harpist, it was the tragedy of losing her first child Natasha, who was born healthy but died at 13 weeks old from a viral infection, that led her to change direction into the field of nutrition.
'It wasn’t a diet related illness, but I was understandably cautious when it came to feeding my second child, Nicholas. Feeling vulnerable when he became fussy I struggled to find enticing recipes to encourage him and so set about devising my own. I shared my recipes with other mums and set about compiling a book – The Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner. My goal has always been to give growing families the very best start in life through my recipes and meal planners.'
Now her children are older, Annabel's days still heavily revolve around time spent in the kitchen.
'It’s the busiest place in my house. Although I only sleep two children, I probably feed about six every day as they bring all their friends over. My fridge is always being raided by my family, even my mother who has now hung up her apron and takes food from my fridge for her dinner parties.'
'My dogs are a big part of my life too and spending time with them is incredibly therapeutic. If I’m in need of a boost, I’ll take Bono my American Cocker Spaniel, Hamilton my Samoyed and Sabre my Golden Retriever off to the nearest park for a good dose of fresh air.'
'To relax in the evening I love getting my head into a good book or unwind in front of the TV watching programmes like 'Mr Selfridge' or 'The Great British Bake Off'.'
Annabel is still full of fabulous advice for parents who find themselves faced with a 'fussy eater' at mealtimes.
'It can be hard finding foods to tempt your children – especially when almost every child will go through at least one phase of fussy eating.'
'Most children love cooking and it’s amazing how being involved in the planning and preparing of a meal can stimulate a child’s appetite. Children like to assemble their own food, so you could lay ingredients out in bowls and let your child fill and fold their own wraps or choose their favourite toppings for their home made pizzas.'
'I would also get together and eat as a family, as this really can make a difference. Taking the focus off your child’s eating and refocusing on social chit chat at the table could help.'
'Presentation is also another key to getting a fussy eater eating. The way your child’s food is served up can make the difference between your child accepting and refusing food. Cutting up fruit and popping it onto skewers or straws or making mini portions in ramekins immediately becomes more appealing.'
Having always been a busy working mum, Annabel admits that guilt is one of the hardest feelings for a mother to deal with.
'It's tough when you're torn between working and spending more time with the kids - especially when you're missing out on bath time, reading time, dinner time and even play time.'
'The important thing is to not to be too hard on yourself. Instead make the most of dead time, so start sending emails in the supermarket queue, or finding time when the children go to bed. That way you’ll find your guilt threshold and will able to balance work and family life well.'
For Annabel, it's the simple things in life that have given her the most pleasure as a mother, like spending time with her children over dinner.
'Coming to terms with the death of my first child has been the biggest challenge for me. I used to wake up thinking I’d had a nightmare and then realising that it was true. I started out on my food journey wanting to give some meaning to Natasha’s short life and my first book was a legacy to her. That passion to succeed continued, resulting in an entire business dedicated to the health and wellbeing of babies, children and families.'
If she could go back in time and give her pregnant self-one piece of advice, Annabel would suggest keeping an open mind about labour and birth.
'You might make a birth plan, but be prepared that it might not happen. I planned to have Nicholas in hospital but instead I gave birth to him on the staircase delivered by my husband!'
Crowned the bestselling cookbook of all time for parents, Annabel’s famous New Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner (£14.99, Ebury Press) has had a special 25th anniversary makeover. Visit www.annabelkarmel.com for more information.
You might also like:
Comments will be approved before showing up.