Saturday, 21 January 2017

A Coffee Break with.... Kayley from Friendly First Foods

This week I chatted to Kayley who writes a popular blog called Friendly First Foods. This is a blog about weaning babies and making easy family friendly foods for them to grow and develop. I like this blog because it is all about feeding youngsters a varied diet as soon as you start weaning. Giving babies a healthy start is so important and Kayley has done so well at sharing her experiences with her son so that other parents and carers have ideas to help the next generation.

Here I chat to Kayley about her blog and share this with you, if you want to find out a bit more about Kayley or Friendly First Foods her social media links are at the end of this post, but for now lets have a cuppa and see what this blog is all about!

Kayley and her son Harry

Important things first! Tea or coffee? How do you have it and do you like biscuits?
Tea every time!  I like it milky with 1 sugar.  If I go out I like to have a cheeky latte but day to day I'm a tea drinker.  I rarely say no to a biscuit, there's nothing better than a biscuit to dunk in your brew!

Your inspiring blog about feeding babies has become very popular. When did you start it and why?
Gosh, inspiring, I really don't feel like it is inspiring .  I see it more as me sharing way too much on the internet, if it helps other parents along the way that makes me very happy!
I started Friendly First Foods less  than a year ago as a Facebook group after I was kicked off a baby led weaning group for using a spoon.  I wanted to create somewhere where people would feel safe to ask questions and share their thoughts without the fear of judgement. The group grew quickly and I was surprised how many like minded parents there were.  
I'd never really been much of a cook but Harry loved his food from the start and I loved preparing meals for him.  I'd often post my meals on the Facebook group and be asked for the recipes.  My husband made me the blog to make it easier to share my recipes and meal plans on the Facebook group.  I'll be honest I was hesitant to have a 'blog' on there initially but my husband talked me into it and I'm so glad that he did as I love having my own little space to dump all my foodie thoughts now!
We've been live for just under 4 months now and it's been overwheming how many people are using Friendly First Foods, I love watching it grow and develop as my son grows.

On of the meals on Friendly First Foods

The foods on your blog all seem to be healthy is this important to you?

Feeding my son a healthy diet is very important to me.  I'll be honest, before I had Harry I wasn't the healthiest eater.  It wasn't until I started thinking about giving him a balanced diet that I began making healthier choices for myself.  I feel so much better for it and like to think I am setting a good example for him by us eating the same meals.  It's so easy to create tasty, quick and healthy meals once you know how and I like the fact that I have a platform to share healthy ideas with lots of parents all over the world.  
People think I spend a long time cooking for Harry.  I don't.  I plan ahead, batch cook and have a well stocked fruit bowl, salad bowl and freezer full of vegetables at all times!  It is faster to make a healthy tortilla pizza than it is to cook an unhealthy frozen one.  There are so many healthy swaps out there that you can make and they usually save you money too!

Do you think there is enough advice to parents on feeding their babies and children healthily?
There are some great resources out there to give parents ideas for healthy meals but I don't think theses are accessible enough or easy enough to find.  It would be great if, as part of all the leaflets and advertising you are given after you have a baby, you were given a list of useful websites and books that can help you make healthy foods quickly and easily for babies.  Something that explains the different approaches to weaning and helps parents to make the best choice for them.  I think it's sadly still a common misconception that eating healthily has to cost more and take longer but it really doesn't, the more we share the "boring" quick healthy meals we prepare for our children the more people will see how easy it can be!

Harry enjoying the kinds of foods on Friendly First Foods

How old are your children now and do they still eat healthily? 
Harry is almost 19 months:  Well and truly weaned.  He is still a very good eater and will eat most things I offer him.  He is a a bit suspicious of raw peppers and tomatoes but enjoys these when cooked within a meal.  We follow the 'everything in moderation' approach.  He eats lots of fruits and vegetables, usually 5 varieties per meal never mind a day!  He is also allowed treats occasionally though.   Every few weeks we visit my grandparents and he has a funsize packet of chocolate buttons, sometimes he will have a packet of pom bears and a sandwich for lunch. By no means does he eat perfectly healthy 100% of the time but I like to think by allowing him occasional treats he is learning that some foods are 'all the time foods' and some foods are 'sometimes foods' so as he grows up he will be able to make those healthy, balanced choices for himself.

If you could give a new parent one piece of advice on babies first foods what would that be?
Relax!  It is so easy to worry about how much baby is eating and panicking that they haven't had enough.  Whilst they are still having milk feeds they are still getting all the nutrients they need.  Relax, enjoy it and embrace the mess: There will be a lot of it!  I really believe that when I was stressed about food, Harry would be too and would eat less and be less likely to try new things.  When I was more relaxed so was he.  Even now if he refuses a certain food I just take it away and offer it again alongside food he enjoys next time.  Eventually he has come round and tried everything we have offered.

Another tasty meal suggestion on Friendly First Foods

Can you give us some examples of how babies can enjoy healthy foods that are still fun and easy for parents because jars are quick which I think is why a lot of people turn to them?
I'll be honest and say that I don't really know much about making purees as we have offered food as we would eat it from the start.  There are lots of recipes on our website recipe page that are healthy and easy to make.  I also wrote a post about 'everyday meals', the ones that don't look pretty or impressive but are a true reflection of what normality looks like in our kitchen.  Our favourite 'go to meals' are things like:
Gnocci, pesto and mixed veg or pasta and veg with tomato sauce: These can be made in one pan.  Throw in the pasta/gnocci, toss in some mixed veg 5 mins before the pasta is cooked, drain and make a quick tomato sauce or add a dollop of pesto.
Tortilla pizza: Faster to make than a shop bought one! Put a tortilla under the grill, flip, add toppings, return to grill and voila! 5 minute meal!
I also love using my slow cooker so I can prepare meals during nap time and have them ready for dinner with little or no effort required whilst Harry is awake.

What do you enjoy about your blog? Where do you see it going from here?
I love the feeling I get when someone shares one of my recipes that they have made for their child and says that they really enjoyed it.  Nothing beats that!
I'd love to grow my blog and continue to share healthy, simple food ideas for babies and children.  As Harry grows up I like to think I will be able to involve him more, helping me to cook and sharing his own thoughts on his favourite healthy foods!  More than anything I just want to enjoy the ride.  This time last year I never would have imagined I'd have a blog and be sharing recipes that people would actually find useful but I'm so glad life has led me down this path.

Links to read about Friendly First Foods yourself:

The Blog can be found at

Every week on Just Average Jen we will have a coffee with someone different so you can find more blogs to read, more inspiring people, or just have a few minutes to yourself reading something different. Remember to keep coming back to see who else we feature.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

10 Characters You Find At Slimming World Groups

As you know I have attended Slimming World group for the last almost 3 years. I have been to a number of groups and met lots of people during the course of these three years and found that all groups seem to have a similar group of people which I thought I would share to give you all a giggle and see if you can spot yourself and your friends. These may also apply to other weight loss groups but it is some time since I have had any experience of these so I am not sure!

The Consultant - Usually quite crazy and chatty, knows everyone though highly likely to call you by someone else's name at least once! He or she will usually be found bouncing around with new member forms in one hand and their trusty tablet in the other. If there are problems with their tablet or computer system they will turn into some kind of panicked meerkat rushing around trying to find a solution.

The Consultant

The Social Team - These are the group members who help the consultant by doing the shop selling all the Slimming World books etc, weighing in members, and taking your weekly fee. The social team know everyone and chat to everyone, usually handy for a tissue when you don't get the result you want on the scales or you are emotional when you hit your weight loss target! The Social team members are usually as crazy as the consultant but we all know not to say that when they are operating the scales!

The Social Butterfly - He/she is a group member who has probably been coming to group quite a while and knows everyone. The social butterfly will always remember whether you lost weight or not last week because he/she makes it their business to know everyone and how well they are doing. The social butterfly will remember if you posted on Facebook that you ate a packet of biscuits after weighing the previous week and remind you of this when you are sure you don't deserve to gain!

The Social Butterfly

The Mum and her Kids - Almost all groups have at least one mum and her children who attend group though some late groups manage to miss this! The mum is always reminding one of her children to be quiet and finding them toys and food out of a never ending bag and hoping to keep her kids quiet and entertained through the whole group session. Everyone looks to the mum wondering how she possibly loses weight with kids that are so lively and her children soon become known by everyone in group.

The Late One - The member who runs in at the last minute every week just before the scales close! He/she always says they will be more organised and often has to be reminded in their rush to take off their shoes or put their purse down before getting on the scales!

The Fitness Fanatic

The Fitness Fanatic - This member is usually dressed in some kind of Lycra and looking far too energetic. He/she will have already gained their Body Magic awards - given for exercise. If anyone suggests they may like to start exercise this member will suggest things and if you're nervous offer to do a class with you.

The Chef - Whatever the ingredient this member can always give you something you can make with it. When the group have taster sessions everyone will look forward to what this member brings. Whilst some of us talk about making an omelette for tea the previous night this member tells us about a meal we cant even spell let alone pronounce!

The Mum and her Kids

The Lucky One - This member is often someone different every week so they aren't easy to pick out in advance. He/she is the one who before they get on the scales tell you of wine, pizza and nights out. They have had cheat days and nights off plan where they cant actually remember what they ate in the end. They tell you they deserve to gain, but then they get on the scales and have a maintain or a loss. It is lucky that this member changes every week because if not no one would like them! Everyone is jealous of this member!

The Planner - This is someone who always knows what they are eating for the next week, they can always remember at image therapy what they ate this week. If you asked him/her they could probably even tell you what they ate 4 weeks ago last Tuesday! They are organised and if you want to know what date Easter falls on this year this is the person to ask, they can probably even tell you next years too as more likely than not they have a diary in their bag!

The Planner

The Forgetful One - He/she can never remember when you talk to them what they have been eating, how they made it or even how much they lost or gained this week. If you find someone has left their book or members card the chances are it belongs to the forgetful one!

Which one of these are you? Do you recognise them all at your group? I would love to know who you are in the group give me a comment and say hi and let me know which you are!