As part of a new guest post series, with an aim to share and be inspired by amazing parents all around the globe, I chatted to Miriam, the founder of Mimi’s Bowl. She cooks modern baby and toddler recipes from her home in West London. She is mum to one little girl, 4 years old, and a baby boy, born this Summer. Miriam blogs and posts daily about what they eat at home, via her Instagram feed. She shares her honest experiences of cooking at home for her family; whilst offering parent cooking hacks and recipes. She has just started weaning her little boy. Her mission is to end (what she calls) “babyfood panic”: an anxiety about how to feed your baby and what to feed your baby. And this is what Miriam had to say…
“I wanted to reach out to other parents, who felt as I did. Firstly, to put an end to “babyfood panic” by talking about it and secondly, to really re-think babyfood and family food for a busy modern parent. There are so few relatable parent voices out there, and even less tried and tested parent friendly recipes. Only a parent, who has been there, understands the determined rejection given by your baby, toddler, or child, when they repulse at the sight of food, you have lovingly made for them. I would personally challenge any professional chef not to quake at the very thought of a baby, or toddler diner, sitting at one of their tables!”
~ Miriam, founder Mimi’s Bowl
Miriam from Mimi’s Bowl shares her food philosophy, which she calls “one family one recipe”. As a new mum Miriam found it difficult to cook two separate meals every meal-time; she has adapted a more manageable and parent-friendly approach to food, via her popular feed Mimi’s Bowl.
As a mum of one 4-year-old daughter and a baby boy, I have been through my fair share of culinary highs and lows. When my daughter was born one of the many challenges for me as a new mum proved to be food. As we approached the time to start solid foods, I found myself gripped by “babyfood panic”. These are the only words I can find to describe my feelings of trepidation, when faced with this new parental challenge. I was in a relentless pattern of preparing multiple purees, meals and snacks a day, often only achieving a few mouthfuls of any, at a given meal. I was exhausted and overwhelmed. Speaking to other new parents, they felt just as I did.
What’s available to parents
For guidance and support I, like many other parents, turned to some of the best-selling baby cookbooks on the market. Babyfood books are written as a guide for parents, but their designs and layouts seem to be largely aimed at kids: bright clashing colours, with cartoon illustrations of fruit and vegetables dancing around the pages. I just couldn’t relate. I subsequently found myself making first foods, from out of season ingredients, that I don’t often buy, in strange flavour combinations. What I produced looked, smelt and tasted unappealing. I had simply no desire to eat it myself. Instinctively this is not how I wanted to feed my young daughter.
What happened next
My experiences led me to start a blog and Instagram feed called Mimi’s Bowl; I wanted to reach out to other parents, who felt as I did. Firstly, to put an end to babyfood panic, by talking about it, but secondly to really re-think babyfood and family food, for a busy modern parent. There are so few relatable parent voices out there and even less realistic and parent-friendly recipes. Only a parent (who has been there) understands the feeling of failure at the determined rejection of a baby, toddler, or child, at the sight of food you have lovingly made for them. I would personally challenge any professional chef not to quake at the very thought of a baby, or toddler diner, sitting at one of their tables. Yet as parents, this is a daily reality. In the course of writing my blog and creating an Instagram feed dedicated to family food, I have learnt so much. I am constantly sharing ideas with parents and professionals; gaining from their knowledge and experience to develop a food philosophy which makes the whole cooking process, for parents, a lot easier.
How I cook today
This Summer I gave birth to my second child, a baby boy. Second time round I have vowed to enjoy the experience more. Having written about baby and toddler food for close to two years I now have to take a leaf out of my own book and embrace this next baby eating adventure. Can I live by the cooking principles I have been sharing? This time, I want my second weaning experience to be different; dare I say it even… enjoyable. I continue to work on recipes and food ideas that can be adapted for the whole family: if I make a vegetable puree, I add stock and seasonings, to make a hearty soup for the rest of the family. If I stew fruits with cinnamon and vanilla, I then blend some into fruit purees. I steam fish in paper parcels and customise each one for each family member, blitzing one for my son. And so, the list goes on… This for me is the modern and time-sensitive approach to food, that works for my whole family.
We need to look after ourselves too
The more I spoke to other mums, dads, grandparents anyone caring for little ones I realised that the issue wasn’t always what our babies were eating. Often, the babies were having beautifully cooked food and purees prepared for them; whilst the adults of the household lived off caffeine and biscuits. I am a big believer in what I call “one family one recipe” cooking. And, increasingly this is a trend I am seeing amongst family food cookery writers and on social media. Parents are leading busy lives, they can’t prepare endless homemade meals and snacks, for their baby and also themselves. One of the reasons I love the “one family one recipe” philosophy is that the whole family can benefit. Looking after small children is exhausting and the health and happiness of our whole family is important.
Apple, Pear and Cinnamon Compote
This quick compote is a failsafe family classic, for babies you can blend this into a smooth purée. The addition of cinnamon is delicious and helps balance blood sugar levels. For the rest of the family its delicious at breakfast, served with natural yogurt and a handful of homemade granola. I also give it to my daughter as a light snack in the day, or and healthy pudding option. It freezes beautifully too.
7 apples, core, peel and slice
1 pear, core, peel and slice
8 tablespoons water
1 small cinnamon stick
Cook for 10 -12 minutes until all the fruit is soft (I keep the lid on)
Remove the cinnamon stick and serve
You can also blend the compote
Classic Beef Ragu
This is one of our favourite family recipes and minced beef is a great source of iron. is recipe is written to make one large batch that you can cook ahead and freeze (it freezes really well). It is incredibly useful to have on standby: serve with pasta or rice, use in a lasagne or as a base for a cottage pie (just top with mash).
From 12 months onwards this minced ragu should be a good texture for your little one; before then you can blitz until you have a smooth sauce. For much smaller babies I would add less tomato passata, which is acidic for small tummies and increase the amount of water/ stock. I hope this is a recipe you will make again and again.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 carrots, washed, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, peeled and whole
500g organic beef mince (I use mince with 5% or 10% fat, the best quality you can get)
680g tomato passata, or chopped tinned tomatoes
200ml water, or stock (no salt added stock, or homemade stock)
- Take a large ceramic pot and add butter/ or oil, then the chopped onion and carrot; gently sauté until softened for 10 minutes.
- Next add the garlic clove whole, cook for 2 minutes, you remove this at the end to cooking
- Next add the mince, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula as you stir. You want the mince to colour but not brown, to avoid toughening the meat
- Finally, add the tomato passata and water. Bring up to a gentle boil and then lower heat to a simmer for 1 hour approx. Stirring occasionally. The sauce should reduce, thicken and intensify in flavour.
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