I’m thrilled today to be chatting with two amazing mums who recently wrote a book together called Allergy Free Afternoon Tea. It’s a gorgeous book – available in both print and digital format – written and published by Simone Emery from Play With Food and Ruth Meaney from Pea Fritters. There couldn’t be two more qualified people to write a book like this. Simone brings to the book her expertise as a children’s nutritionist and feeding therapist, where she helps extreme fussy/picky eaters. She knows the importance of re-framing how we see our afternoons with respect to preparing for mealtimes. Ruth brings to the book her expertise as an allergy mum – she has two children with allergies and has developed some amazing recipes and insights about allergies for families to help build their confidence around feeding their families.
In it you will find information:
- to help manage food aversions and anxiety
- the golden rule around timing meals for kids
- what to do when out and about
- how to introduce new foods
- the importance of including all our senses when eating and how to do this
- a variety of delicious and healthy allergy friendly recipes to help beat the hangries
Can you please introduce yourselves – tell us a little about your backgrounds, and where we can find you?
Simone – I am a wife & mum of 2 little mess-makers (5 and 3). I work clinically with problem feeders and I write blogs and provide information to busy parents with fussy eaters via Play with Food. (playwithfood.com.au). I love travel, food and romantic comedies starring Colin Firth and/or Hugh Grant.
Ruth – I’m a mumma to two kidlets (very nearly 4 and very nearly 2) who both have food allergies and intolerances. We live in the beautiful Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. I am a physio by day, but have been blogging at Pea Fritters for 3 years now, where I share allergy friendly recipes as well as talk about self care for busy mums like us. I love that my blog can help make life easier for other mums who are travelling the allergy/intolerance road. It can be a really confronting path to take. You will generally find me in the kitchen haha, thankfully I love to cook (but hate doing the dishes!).
What was the inspiration for the book? Do either of you have kids with food allergies?
Simone – I work with children that have food allergies. I’ve been through testing with my oldest, but we got the all clear. My contribution is more from a feeding perspective but I also have an amazing appreciation for the uphill learning curve allergy parents have to go through. I tip my hat!
Ruth – Both my kids have allergies! Lucky me! I grew up being able to eat anything and everything, but when my daughter was 15 months old, she was diagnosed with multiple food allergies. This meant that I had to change my diet too, as I was breastfeeding her. I found it so incredibly difficult and confronting trying to figure out what food was safe, delicious and easy to make. I figured if I was finding it hard, most other allergy mums must be feeling the same way. I took it upon myself to try and come up with awesome recipes that were top 8 allergen free. I discovered that allergy food can be so delicious, so much so that I hosted a top 8 allergen free High Tea last year! The book is an opportunity to share my recipes with other families.
What food allergies are the recipes catered to? What level of difficulty are the recipes?
Simone – Everything is EASY! We cater for a range of allergies and Ruth has many recipes that are top 8 allergen free. We want afternoons to be fun and to set parents up for well-received family meals too.
Ruth – I always try to make my recipes as easy as possible. Us busy mums don’t have time for complicated recipes and obscure ingredients! I try to make my recipes top 8 allergen free so that the most number of people can share the food together. Because that’s what eating is all about!
What’s so important about afternoon tea?
Simone – We see afternoon tea as a golden meal opportunity for families. It’s when children may be more receptive for new foods or ideas. Also, it’s a great time to think about nutritional gaps prior to dinner. If vegetables haven’t featured much before afternoons, this is a great time to try for some extra vegetables. Parents will be less stressed if vegetables are refused at dinner, if there’s been a good afternoon tea a few hours beforehand. The concept of the book is to highlight the issues with prolonged grazing/snacking in the afternoons for children too.
Ruth – I love love love Simone’s advice around afternoon tea. It has really helped my little family. I find that pause in the afternoon to eat something decent not only fills up everyone’s tummies (and gives me a chance to sit down!) it also fills up their love tanks too. They come away from it happy and ready to play again. They also seem happier at dinner time.
Do you provide tips for fussy eaters in your book? Can you share any that might surprise parents?
Simone – One of the “surprising” tips may be that getting kids in the kitchen to “help” isn’t actually about them being productive. It’s about getting exposures. Some of the best “help” I get from my own daughters is bathing the vegetables before we chop them up. It’s not necessarily the most efficient (or required) way to get the meal prepared, but it’s full of learning opportunities, without pressure and it’s fun.
Ruth – This isn’t my area of expertise, but the information that Simone has shared in the book is so helpful and makes so much sense. It really helps to take the pressure off both parents and kids. I love thinking about new foods as a learning experience for the senses.
Is this your first book together? Have you written any other books?
Simone – Yes, it’s my first print book collaboration. I have written a joint eCourse in the past and I have some jointly produced videos on my website. I like to work with other professionals due to the different experiences we can bring to the table. I love learning from so many people and bringing more voices to my audience’s ears. I have done a few other solo eBooks too.
Ruth – This is our first book together. I was so excited at the idea of working alongside Simone as I really love the work that she does with families. We both share a passion of wanting this generation of kids to grow up as happy and confident eaters. I felt that Simone’s professional knowledge and my yummy recipes were the perfect combination for a book! I also have a mini cookbook I have written, which is available for free on my website.
What are some of your kids’ favourite recipes from Allergy Free Afternoon Tea?
Simone – My girls LOVE the sweet potato chips and the egg-free yoghurt slice.
Ruth – My kids love the sweet potato chips (they both jump up and down and yell “chippies!!!” when the oven bell rings) and the wheat and nut free muesli bars.