Pam Brook is the author of We Can All Eat That.
We caught up with Pam to discover her top tips for encouraging our kids to experiment with what they eat!
Pam’s recipes are super easy, super delicious, and can be altered to suit all tastes and diets requirements.
She works on the basis of the latest research which believes that if you introduce foods that are often ones that cause allergic reaction early – between 6 to 12 months – the child is less likely to have an allergic reaction to it.
Her recipes are developed with the leading health advice in mind, and in conjunction with whole food chefs Sarah Swan and Sam Gowing, to ensure that her recipes are nutritious and suited to every age group within your family. From baby to toddler and teen to grandparent. These recipes will please everyone from a taste perspective and a nutritional perspective.
‘One of the most anxiety-provoking parts of becoming a new parent can be starting a child on solids. While allergies affect only a small percentage of children—about 4-8 per cent under the age of 5—numbers continue to rise significantly.
We’ve become so afraid of allergies that food marketing now focuses more on what’s left out than in—‘free from’ often feels like the safe option. This fear, though, means many babies are not being introduced to common allergens like peanuts, wheat and seafood when scientific evidence says they need them most: right from the start.’
Pam’s cookbook delves into the truths and the myths surrounding food allergies to give you arsenal of knowledge so you can feed your baby with confidence and teach the toddlers how to be excited about eating the rainbow of food on offer to us.
What are your top 3 tips for getting our kids to experiment with food?
If kids help you cook food they’re more likely to eat it—stirring and licking the bowl, tearing lettuce, helping fetch food from the fridge.
- If kids help you shop for fresh produce and the basics they’re more likely to try it—even washing the fruit and veg after you’ve bought it home.
- Eating together as a family and seeing others eat the same food is great role modelling. Then there’s always clever disguise—if they don’t like a certain food use it as an ingredient rather than as the feature of a dish to introduce new flavours.
As a new parent (and second time around too) who is terribly allergic to seafood (yep, all seafood) I was terrified about giving my kids seafood. And I was so scared my in-laws would give it to them when I wasn’t around – which happened btw).
What advice do you give parents who are really scared or nervous about allergies. How do we deal with it calmly?
The common food allergens are peanut, tree nut, dairy, egg, sesame, fish and shellfish, soy and wheat. The children who benefit the most from early introduction of the common food allergens, to help prevent the development of food allergies, are those who are most susceptible, e.g. those with a family history of food allergies or children with dry skin or eczema. If you’re truly terrified, talk with your doctor or allergist first.
Start at a time when you and your baby are calm and your baby is hungry, too. The common advice from the medical experts today for a cautious approach is to try just a tiny bit on of the pureed food on the tip of your finger and rub it on the inside of your baby’s lip. If there is no allergic reaction after a few minutes, start serving a small amount of the allergen, say 1/8 teaspoon mixed into your child’s food.
Keep a watch over them for the next 30 minutes. If your child does have an allergic reaction it will usually occur fairly quickly after eating—stop feeding that food and seek medical advice from your doctor or allergist.
We’re only trying to introduce tiny amounts of the common, allergy-causing foods and only one at a time. After three days of feeding small amounts of one food allergen mixed with other foods to your baby you can add in the next common food allergen. You might want to start with all the foods you’re confident with first and leave seafood to last as your confidence builds. Keep your family informed of where you’re up to as well so you have their support.
This is an edited extract from We Can All Eat That by Pam Brook, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $45. Available in stores nationally.
Cheesy-Crusted Vegetable Bake
A heartwarming dish for the whole family, especially on cooler autumn and winter nights. This is so easy to make and it tastes even better the next day.
PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES
COOKING TIME: 60 MINUTES
- 400 g (14 oz) pumpkin (squash), peeled and thinly sliced
- 400 g (14 oz) potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced lengthways
- 1 zucchini (courgette), sliced diagonally
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 teaspoon mixed dried Italian herbs
- sea salt (omit for babies)
- freshly ground black pepper (just a tiny amount for babies)
- 360 g (12½ oz/2 cups) cherry tomatoes (or 400 g/14 oz tinned chopped tomatoes)
- 50 g (1¾ oz/½ cup) grated parmesan (use ricotta for babies)
- 60 g (2 oz/½ cup) grated cheddar (use a mild variety for babies)
- 60 g (2 oz/1 cup) panko (Japanese) Breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease and line a medium baking dish with baking paper.
- Place the vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Combine the melted butter and herbs together in another bowl, then toss the mixture through the vegetables, and season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the vegetables to the baking dish in an even layer. Spread the tomatoes over the top. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and take off the foil. Increase the heat of the oven to 200°C (400°F). Top the dish with the cheeses and breadcrumbs, return to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife. Serve hot.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
For younger babies thin with a little water and pur.e until smooth. Allow to cool before serving.
For older babies mash to a lumpy texture. Allow to cool before serving.
For toddlers serve as for adults, but allow to cool before serving.
We Can All Eat That by Pam Brook ($39.99, Hardie Grant Books) is on sale now and available in stores nationally. www.wecanalleatthat.com
About The Author – Pam Brook
‘Pam Brook is Co-founder of Brookfarm, a family business based in Byron Bay, New South Wales. Together with her husband, Martin, over the past 30 years Pam has transformed a rundown, weed-infested dairy farm into a spectacularly beautiful patch of land that follows regenerative farming practices and produces premium, internationally-recognised macadamia food products. Pam is a great believer in a nutritionally balanced diet and a healthy, sustainable food chain. In a previous life, she worked for several decades as a dentist. Pam also holds an MBA from Southern Cross University.’