Interview: Annabel Inglis Speaks About Her Collaboration With Nadia Lim To Create YUM!
YUM! is not just a recipe book, it’s the helping hand, trusted source and new go-to that we have been looking for. To celebrate its release, we spoke with Annabel Inglis, Mum of three, and co-author of YUM! about collaborating with Nadia Lim and dieticians Jenny Douglas and Lisa Daniels, cooking seasonally, brutal feedback, and courgette ice cream!
Kia ora Annabel,
First off, can you tell us a bit about yourself, your whanau and your mahi?
I am a stay-at-home mother of 3 children – Harry (7), Rupert (4) and Penelope (1 1/2). The beauty of writing a recipe book is that I was able to work from home and fit my writing around Penelope’s nap times. My husband and I shifted to Christchurch a couple of years ago for his work – it’s great to be back south as we both grew up in Canterbury. It’s so wonderful for the children to grow up surrounded by their extended family. Prior to that I worked in Auckland at My Food Bag which is how I became friends with Nadia, and we happened to live just around the corner, so our children also became friends.
Can you tell us about YUM!? Who is it for? What do you love about it? How did it come to be?
YUM! is a combination of recipes and nutritional advice for families who want to enjoy healthy yet delicious food. There are recipes for babies, toddlers, and children of all ages but most of them adults will love too. I love that the recipes are super simple and flexible and made with ingredients you are likely to have at home. We’d been mulling on the idea of writing a children’s book for a while, we knew from our own parenting journeys that there was nothing else like it. Nadia’s readers had been asking for a children’s book for years – they have finally got it!
As well as Nadia, you also worked with Dieticians, Jenny Douglas and Lisa Daniels on YUM! Can you please talk a bit about the collaboration and how it all worked?
Jenny and Lisa are paediatric dietitians so have helped hundreds of families with everything from allergies to fussy eating (and everything in between). They were given the task of writing nutritional advice in a way that even sleep deprived parents could understand.
Meanwhile Nadia and I collaborated on the recipes. We would challenge each other to make the recipes as simple as possible and to pack in as many vegetables as we could. We wanted meals that families could enjoy together rather than cooking separate meals for both kids and adults. We included recipes that we eat on repeat in our own homes and developed dozens of new ones, including twists on classics, ideas for lunch boxes, snacks and even kid’s parties.
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We love that the book starts with Nutrition advice which is easy to read and written in super simple language! Is there anything you know now about feeding your pēpi and nutrition, that you wish you knew when you first became a mum?
It took me a long time to cotton on to exactly how much iron children (and breastfeeding mothers) actually need. It’s a lot more than you could imagine! I thought because we ate a healthy and varied diet (which included red meat) that we would be getting everything we needed. Once I learnt more about the daily requirements, I made an effort to increase the amount of iron in our diet and it gave me the energy boost that I needed and helped my eldest son’s concentration levels at school. I wish that I had given this more thought sooner as my iron levels were often running on empty as it turned out.
Do you have any advice for parents who are just starting out the solids journey?
Alongside recipes for baby lead weaning, our book contains loads of ideas for parents wanting to start with purees. Or parents may wish to dabble in both, depending on the child. My first piece of advice would be to embrace variety to ensure baby gets access to a range of nutrients. The more foods they try when they are young, the more likely they are to be open to trying new foods later on (and hopefully avoid issues with fussy eating).
I’d also advise not to not sweeten every single puree with fruits and sweet vegetables (such as kumara). They might develop a liking for sweet foods – instead add loads of bitter greens such as spinach and broccoli so that they become accustomed to savoury tastes and be more likely to enjoy these foods later.
Above all I’d encourage parents to have fun with solids – it’s such a special time getting to embark on your child’s food journey with them. Be ready to embrace the mess!
What sort of kai do you like to cook for your whanau?
My style of cooking has changed hugely since having children. Pre-kids I used to spend every weekend with a stack of recipes books and loved the process of sourcing all sorts of quirky ingredients and spending hours over the stove. It was my form of relaxation. But now I’m the opposite – my criteria is “quick, easy and with ingredients I already have at home”. With food prices so high we eat seasonally, so that is usually the starting point when deciding what to eat each night. With 3 young children we love to eat informally – they love the chance to eat with their hands and choose their own ingredients – so lots of wraps, tacos, dumplings and homemade pizza. The freezer is my best friend – I always cook a bit extra to make sure I have a stash of ready made meals for busier days.
Do you have any advice for parents of picky eaters?
I learnt so much about this topic through Jenny and Lisa throughout the process of writing this book. They taught me that the main thing is to relax. As hard as it can be to see your children reject your food, don’t force them to eat foods they don’t like. Just keep trying the food again in the future and perhaps change the way you serve it. For example if they turn up their nose to a pile of corn on their plate, next time try offering a corn on the cob instead or perhaps added to a stir-fry.
When possible, eat together as a family so they can watch their parents confidently eating a range of foods. Keep the mood happy and upbeat – in our family we turn on some music and keep the focus on the conversation rather than monitoring how much they are eating. Children intuitively know how much food they need so we don’t make a fuss if they don’t eat everything on their plates. As always, positive reinforcement goes a long way – we always try to praise them for the food that they did eat rather than focus on the food that they didn’t.
While you were writing the book, there must have been a LOT of recipe testing going on. Can you tell us about that process?
Yes there certainly was a lot of testing! But luckily, being a kid’s book, this meant that nothing went to waste – my family would eat the recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between! Children are so brutal with their feedback… if they weren’t big fans then the recipe was instantly scrapped. We had a lot of friends and family trial the recipes too and if the dish wasn’t a crowd pleaser, then we didn’t include it in the book.
Once Nadia and I had nailed the recipe we’d then adjust it (wherever possible) to be gluten free, dairy free, nut free, egg free, vegetarian and vegan which involved even more testing.
Do you have a favourite recipe from the book? If so, what is it?
Two jump out as favourites – one is the 10 Veg Pasta Sauce. My kids request this on repeat, because like most children they love pasta. The tomatoey sauce is pureed until smooth so they have no idea that they are eating 10 different vegetables.
My husband always makes a big batch and divides it into smaller portions to put in the freezer. It’s great for nights when we arrive home late following rugby practise or swimming lessons.
Another favourite in our house is the Blueberry, Courgette and Banana Soft Serve. The kids are oblivious to the fact there’s a vegetable lurking in their ice cream (you peel the courgette so can’t see or taste it). It’s so easy to make and the kids love squirting it themselves to look like a Mr Whippy cone! It’s so healthy that even our baby daughter is allowed a bowlful.
Recipes and images extracted from YUM! by Nadia Lim, Annabel Inglis and Dieticians Jenny Douglas and Lisa Daniels.
Published by Nude Food Inc, RRP: $55.00.