15 minutes with Annabel Karmel

From fussy eating to healthy chicken nuggets, Annabel Karmel answers those tricky mealtime questions...


Weaning, feeding and healthy eating can raise all sorts of questions, and that’s why we’ve asked renowned nutrition and weaning expert Annabel Karmel to answer some of the most commonly asked queries when it comes to mealtimes…


Q. What is the best food to start my child on?

A. Fruits and vegetables should be easy to digest and unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. I like to start with root vegetables as these are naturally sweet and puree to a lovely smooth consistency.

Mix with a little of your baby’s usual milk or some of the water from the steamer to make a smooth puree.  Foods such as sweet potato, carrot or butternut squash are fantastic and full of nutrients. 

You can also start with fruit, like cooked apple or ripe pear.  


Q. My child is so fussy and has stopped eating the things she used to love. What should I do?

A. Around 90 per cent of children go through at least one stage of fussy eating in their lives. It is so easy to get frustrated and worry that your child is not getting enough food.

If your child is kicking up a fuss at the table, try not to react to this bad behaviour, try to avoid offering him a sweet treat as a reward for eating.  He will soon learn that behaving badly will result in treats. 

A hungry child is a much less fussy child so try to avoid giving too many snacks before meals and excessively praise trying something new. I know it is really hard but sometimes you have got to be a little bit tough.


Q. Can you give me interesting lunchbox ideas? I often get stuck in such a rut.

A. You can buy some fantastic different breads such as pitta, bagels, and baguettes, as well as fun bits you can put in your sandwiches such as speciality meats, spreads and chutneys – so you don’t have to give a ham or cheese sandwich on white bread every day! Wraps are popular with children, too.

You can use leftovers from meals the night before by making rice or pasta salads with lots of brightly coloured vegetables like peas, cherry tomatoes and sweet corn.

Get your kids baking and make some delicious flapjacks or apple and current muffins.

Try Annabel Karmel’s stuffed pitta bread with tuna, egg and sweetcorn.


Q. I can’t get my child to eat meat, other than sausages or chicken nuggets, help!

 A. Meat is an important source of protein and nutrients such as iron.  If he doesn’t want to eat meat at all, you can get many of these nutrients from eggs and pulses, add lentils to a tomato and veg sauce to make a meat free Bolognese. 

Make meatballs or burgers using meat you have whizzed up in the blender. To give it a smoother texture and add sautéed onions, and add grated apple to give a lovely sweet taste. 

You can also make your own delicious chicken nuggets by marinating the chicken and covering in breadcrumbs or crushed corn flakes, and a mixture of crushed Rice Krispies and grated Parmesan makes a good coating.

Top recipes from Annabel…

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For lots more tips, advice and recipes pick up Annabel’s bestselling book New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner.

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