THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS: ANNABEL KARMEL

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Annabel has sold more than a million copies of her cookery books worldwide. Her recipes offer parents quick, tasty, child-friendly food, specially designed to tempt fussy eaters and have become bibles for many a worried parent.

I began my career as a harpist, but I was also keen to have children and I always knew it would be nearly impossible to combine the life of a musician with full-time motherhood. The catalyst that turned me into a writer was the death of my first daughter Natasha at just 13 weeks.

I got pregnant again fairly swiftly and had a son who was an incredibly fussy eater. I despaired - having lost one child already, I was very concerned that he should have strong reserves to fight off infection. I couldn't find any books on the subject of feeding fussy children so, as I loved cooking as a hobby, I began experimenting with recipes to get him to eat. Talking to other mums I discovered this was a common problem. They asked for my recipes and my husband suggested I write a book.

The experts have different views on what you should feed children, but they lean towards bland food. I disagree: in my experience if you give them a range of flavours from an early age it will broaden their taste buds. They can eat a little of many different things like rice and noodles, which they prefer. Stir fries are a great way to get them to eat vegetables.

My secret is to make all my recipes quick and easy to prepare. It's about simplicity. There's no reason why children shouldn't eat the same food as grown-ups, you just take out the things they may not like. But you must bear in mind that children need more fat and less fibre than parents.

I take great pride in preparing my recipes and ensuring that they are effective. So I'm concerned that they are presented appealingly in the books. I've had people write and say that their children request meals directly from the pictures because they like the look.

Having said that, when I wrote my first book no one wanted to publish it. It wasn't until a friend took it to a book fair that an American publisher took it up. But I never expected to sell this many copies. I did it as a tribute to Natasha and to help other mums.

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