A recipe book for those who want practical, healthy recipes with a scoop of imagination and a sprinkle of the whimsical. The cookbook is merrily interspersed with poems and quirky illustrations.
I had a great time interviewing Poppy Fraser – from her worst cooking failure to her best cooking hack (hint: peanut butter and oat cakes is an ok supper!). Poppy’s stories, advice and recipes are much like the chef; likeable, fun and relatable.
When Poppy discovered she was pregnant with her fourth baby, less than a year after her 3rd, as many of us would, she panicked. However, unlike us mere mortals, she started compiling quick and easy recipes she could make in her sleep.
10 Minute Meals for Kids is now in its 3rd print run and has been hugely successful. I am wholly unsurprised.
While many of the recipes you will already know, most have a twist …
Add watercress to the pesto for an extra blast of Vitamin A and Calcium.
Think you know tuna pasta? Well, Poppy blends the tuna and the fussy 3-year-old took it down without a murmur. It was an Omega 3 win!
We had a great time with the spinach fritters. Have you ever thrown in the zest of a lemon? Spectacular!
‘Pink Fizzy Delight’ is the first time my children have ever willingly swallowed a beetroot. Pretty cool.
The cookbook has been such a success that Poppy has created a subscription membership for uninspired parents, where for £4 a month, you receive a weekly email with ingredients and recipes to get you through the week. Poppy cooks alongside you and posts that day in the Instagram forum – at least you know what it SHOULD look like! SIGN.ME.UP!
Favourite toy as a child?
I vividly remember my godfather coming to stay when I was very young. He shouted from his bath that I could have any toy I’d like from the toy shop. He probably wanted me to leave the bathroom and this was the best way to get me out of there! I chose an enormous doll which I loved. That and My Little Ponies were my favourites.
Favourite book as a child? I read all the time, encouraged by my mother. We were always being taken to Melvin’s, the bookshop in Inverness and disappearing into the basement to choose something. I would open and smell them. I loved so many, and am now having the pleasure of reading them to my youngest.
Roald Dahl’s books I think would be top of the list. I once wrote to him to ask when he’d be writing another book as I’d finished all the others and he did reply saying Matilda would be out soon. The letter was proudly taken in to primary school and somehow lost over the years, but it was a huge thrill to receive.
Easiest plastic-free swap?
I’ve never understood why children are given plastic cups. It seems so unfair on the child as they are far more likely to knock them over and incur a stressed parent and sad child. Why not give them jam jars? They are heavy and unlikely to break, and far less likely to be knocked over.
Your Favourite Recipe? It’s quite tricky to choose, there are a few but the courgette fritters - these little mint and feta and lemony fritters are so quick and easy, and so delicious, I absolutely love them. I think it might be them.
Your Kids’ favourites (a surprisingly different question!) ? They love the tuna pasta, the burgers, the griddled courgettes with shallots and mint. 3/4 of my children will eat anything. 1/4 is rather fussy...
Advice for parents of fussy eaters? Don’t worry. Life has enough challenges and I think the more energy one wastes on a problem, the more it grows. Take the focus off the problem, don’t discuss it, don’t feed it with attention. My rule has always been I don’t mind if you don’t eat supper/lunch, but you can’t have pudding unless you have had some.
What advice would you give yourself with kids under 5? One of the most comforting articles I read before I had children had a quote in it saying as a parent, you want to aim to be an ok parent. Not amazing, but just ok. That is the best thing for a child. If you are too amazing they will struggle. I really took comfort in that quote as I struggled when my children were born so close together; 15.5 months between the first two, and 11.5 months between the last two. I found it intensely difficult for lots of reasons. I found it tricky as I coped on some levels, but other things in my life collapsed around me.
What is your best recipe book? (not your own!) Ottolenghi. I am longing to go to the Middle East thanks largely to him. Having grown up in Scotland, his style of cooking was totally unfamiliar to me until I was quite grown up. A lot of chopping, a lot of work, but always worth it for the results.
Worst cooking failure? Christmas Lunch 2011. A beautiful turkey had been brought down from London from a fine shop in London by my mother in law. It was lovingly prepared the night before and popped in the oven at some ungodly hour like 5am for a slow cook all morning. It was meant to receive a short blast of the highest temperature before being turned down for the remaining 7 hours. Somehow, the oven was never turned down. We got back from church to fight our way through thick smoke in the kitchen and find a literally exploded turkey in the oven, as if a bomb had gone off inside it. 10/10 fail. Future Christmas lunches have never been very relaxing since that memorable one.
Best restaurant? Zuma. My brother took my Mother and I there once. We got there early and witnessed the staff training before serving began. They huddled together in a group and chatted and then high fived each other, shouting and revving each other up. Whatever they did, it worked. Lunch was off the scale. I’ve never forgotten it.
Top tips in cooking with children? I find this very stressful when it’s with my own children. I’ve given lots of lessons to other children, and find this easy with them but with my own I want to take over and avoid mess so it’s stressful.
Best cooking hack? If you’re up against it one evening for whatever reason- give yourself a break; they can have cereal for supper or oatcakes with peanut butter and jam on top. Your sanity is worth more than worrying about cooking.
Poppy Fraser is a Qi Gong Teacher. She lives in Dorset. She won two gold stars from the Great Taste Awards for her chocolate biscuit cake, which she sells each week locally. www.poppyfraser.co.uk
Pink Fizzy Delight
Pink and glorious, this is one of the healthiest fizzy drinks you could give a child, delicious and so exciting!
Ingredients: Half a small raw beetroot, 1 apple, 1/4 of a pineapple, half an unwaxed lemon (with rind), 1 litre of sparkling water.
Recipe: Juice the beetroot, apple, pineapple and lemon. Add the sparkling water in a jug. Joy!
Full of Vitamin C thanks to the pineapple and lemon. High in fibre due to the apple. The beetroot helps to make white blood cells and build antioxidants.
Ingredients: 250g of courgettes, 100g chopped spinach, packet of feta, handful of grated parmesan, half a clove of garlic, chopped basil, zest of 1 lemon, 5 organic eggs.
Grate the courgettes, shred the spinach and place in a bowl. Crumble in the feta and Parmesan. Add finely chipped garlic, basil, lemon zest and mix. Season.
Heat some olive oil in a pan and ladle a tablespoon of the mixture into the oil, dotting the mixture all over the plan. Flatten into patties, fry and flip.