Annabel Karmel – Children’s Food Expert and Author

[quote style=”boxed”]Make sure you love what you do and if you love it then it’s not really work.[/quote]

A mother of three, Annabel Karmel is the UK’s number one parenting author on feeding babies and children. She is an expert in devising tasty & nutritious meals for children without the need for parents to spend hours in the kitchen.

Annabel has written 26 books on feeding babies, children and families and sold over 4 million books worldwide. 2011 marked the 20th anniversary of Annabel’s first book, the Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner, which is also called the Healthy Baby Meal Planner, which has become the authoritative guide on feeding babies & is regularly in the top five cookery titles. This year sees the launch of a range of weaning equipment for making fresh baby food called Fresh Foods by AK with NUK as well as the update and addition of new recipes to Annabel’s iPhone app Annabel’s Essential Guide to Feeding your Baby & Toddler, which features 120 recipes for babies and toddlers as well as episodes from Annabel’s TV series Annabel’s Kitchen, an entertainment series on cooking with children on CITV.

Annabel is passionate about improving the way children eat and has her popular chilled range of toddler meals and healthy Disney snacks stocked in major supermarkets as well as having menus at family attractions, hotels & restaurants throughout the UK.

Annabel was awarded an MBE in June 2006 in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her outstanding work in the field of child nutrition and in 2009 Annabel won the Mother and Baby’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Her popular website has around 130,000 members and over 180k unique visitors per month. The website offers parents delicious recipes for babies, children & adults, as well as information on all aspects of nutrition. Annabel also has a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter.

What are you working on right now?

I am really excited about my new food range in the UK. I have developed a new savory baby purees which I have taken two years to develop so that they taste like home made food. I have also updated my range of chilled meals to make sure they flavours are at their best and so that they now include at least one of your child’s five a day. I have also launched a range of equipment for making fresh baby food Fresh Foods by AK with Nuk in America, which includes flexible ice cube trays with lids for freezing baby food and ice pop moulds suitable for making fresh fruit ice pops for toddlers. The range has launched in Wal-Mart.

Where did the idea for Annabel Karmel come from?

I started writing recipe books for children and babies after the death of my daughter Natasha at a very young age. I knew then that I wanted to work with children in some way, but it wasn’t until I started weaning my second child Nicholas, who was an extremely fussy eater, that I started putting together recipes to encourage him to eat. After my first book, Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner was published everything went on from there. That book was published in the US with the title the Healthy Baby Meal Planner in 1991. I went on to write 26 books on food for babies and children.

What does your typical day look like?

Always varied and always busy! I usually start my day working on recipe ideas for a new book, at the moment I am coming up with quick toddler dishes. I then usually pop into the office to go through all my different projects with my team, I also usually have several meetings every day with all the different people I work with. If I am not in the office I might be at the photography studio getting pictures done of new recipes or packaging of my food products. I am a bit of a workaholic and usually work late into the evening catching up with emails from the day. However I do try to eat out at restaurants a couple of times a week. It is a real treat for me to eat out and a great source of inspiration for me.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Usually by talking through them with my team. I like things to happen quickly and once I have an idea I like to get things moving so I can see fairly soon how realistic the project is going to be. We have a very popular website and we often send out products to say 100 mothers in a focus group on the website and parents will fill in the survey which will give us a valuable insight into the product we are developing.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I am really passionate about the battle to get our children eating healthily and I am pleased to be seeing a bigger push towards making this a priority.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Make sure you love what you do and if you love it then it’s not really work.

What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

As an entrepreneur you really need to meet the right people, so you need the contacts, this meant that I have had to do a lot of networking, which is hard work, but can make a real difference to where your business goes.

If you could change on thing in the world – what would it be – and how would you go about it?

Give all children a thorough education in learning how to cook, and I don’t mean one lesson a month on making a cupcake, but proper cooking. I think something like this really depends on the community and individual parents, so getting local catering colleges into schools or getting kids to make something for a fund raiser is a good start.

Tell us a secret.

I’m publishing an eBook version of my first book. I’ve added quite a few new recipes and am going to create a special section with advice for parents who have a child with a cow’s milk, egg, wheat or nut allergy as these allergies are becoming more prevalent in children.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

-Absolutely adore Pinterest, I am quite a visual person, and this is great for getting food inspiration.

-foodgawker, I am afraid my world is mostly about food so I spend a lot of my time focused on it!

-Twitter, I am only just getting to grips with this but it is a such a good way to engage with other people and find out what is popular at that very second.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I would have to say one of my books if that’s allowed?! My first book The Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner, it tells you everything about feeding your baby and the recipes are simple and delicious.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

Lord Allan Sugar, I think he is wonderfully inspirational, and as mumpreneur myself I am always finding out about other entrepreneurs, and what they are doing.

I am a big fan of the Huffington Post and am very excited it has come over here.

The Daily Wag (Martha Stewart’s dog Twitter) I have three dogs a Golden Retriever, a Samoyed and an American Cocker Spaniel and think Martha Stewart is an incredible woman.

Who is your hero?

Scarlett O Hara from Gone with the Wind – I called my daughter Scarlett after her. When I have a business idea I always ask people why they think it might fail, rather than ask them what they think about it, as you often learn more that way.

What’s for Dinner …

I am obsessed with food and always thinking of my next recipe or meal!


Annabel Karmel’s website:
Annabel Karmel  on Twitter @annabelkarmel