Annabel Karmel in Dubai: parenting advice and the sugar debate
Annabel Karmel in Dubai: Mother, Baby and Child sat down with the famous children’s recipe author to discuss all things parenting-related this week
What’s the worst piece of parenting advice you have ever heard?
It’s actually advice I was given. When I had my children, parents were all given the same advice: ‘Give your baby bland food – that’s what they like to eat’. It made no sense to me. We don’t like tasteless, boring food, so why should babies? So I started testing the theory out. And whenever I offered babies a choice between bland food or food with real flavour, they chose the same option every time – the tasty one! My vision today is still the same as it was over 25 years ago – I set out on a mission to show the world that you can make tasty recipes for babies and children.
If you could give one piece of advice to first time mums, what would it be?
Experiment with a wide variety of healthy foods and flavour combinations at the very start of a baby’s weaning journey and more importantly – have fun. Entering the wonderful world of weaning is a real milestone in your baby’s development. It can be daunting, particularly for first time parents, but remember to laugh and smile. It’s a wonderful time and you should remember to enjoy it!
Parents get a lot of conflicting advice about sugar. What is your opinion on sugar, and its place in children’s diet?
I don’t believe we should be shunning sugar altogether, it’s all about striking that healthy balance and educating our children on where food comes from, nutritional value etc.
I like to get kids in the kitchen making their own treats so they understand that they’re not readily available and something you have every day. This way, you can also make healthier versions of sugar-laden favourites. Why not try some fruity flapjacks, mini energy balls or fibre fuelled muffins.
You’ve been publishing cooking books for nearly 30 years, how do you stay passionate and driven in your work? What inspires you to keep creating?
My three children are my inspiration and motivation – and Natasha [Karmel’s first child, who passed away aged three months old in 1987]. 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. My passion to succeed continued to be fuelled by Natasha and my three children who are so supportive.
My mother is also a huge inspiration to me. She is a wonderful woman with an amazing work ethic – she is still busy working now as an architect and interior designer.
In the words of Steve Jobs: ‘Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.’
I absolutely love running my own business and for me I still love what I do 26 years on! I hope that my recipes and the work that I have done in the field of children will continue.
Details: For more information, visit Annabel Karmel. If you enjoyed this article, you may like this story on Annabel Karmel’s tips for women setting up their own business.