Healthy Living, Cooking & Parenting with Mumpreneur Helene
Leading a healthy lifestyle is important for everyone, but especially for little ones, as they need a good balanced diet to keep them healthy. As Farmdrop announce their new Baby Range of good food stuff, we spoke to mumpreneur Helene from RATATOUïE all about why inspired her to first start the line of children's food, and why little ones can love veggies too.
We've also parterned with Farmdrop so you can win a an eco-friendly baby bundle worth £200! Competition ends on Sunday 4th June, so make sure you enter now!
Please tell us a bit about yourself
Provence born and raised (hence the name!), London has been my home for the last 22 years. A single mum with a beautiful 4-year-old daughter, we live in Wandsworth and spend a lot of our time cooking up a storm in our tiny little kitchen. Her favourite dish is pasta with pesto, broccoli, peas, sardines and cream cheese, sprinkled with parmesan. Mine is roasted vegetables (any I can find in the fridge) with couscous or quinoa…sprinkled with parmesan! She hates it but if I make a gratin (read “add cheese and cream”) with the roast veg, she happily tucks in! Her favourite ingredient is peanut butter, mine is asparagus. And the only way I can get her to eat the latter, is to spread a bit of the former over it (yes indeed… but who cares: as long as she eats it!)
We both love dancing like crazy with the music super loud, picnics in the park, cycling along the river, eating strawberries in Summer, making ice-creams with homemade fruit compotes, hanging out with friends and family, going down the slides in the playground.
How did you come up with the idea for RATATOUïE?
From experience really! When my daughter was ready to start solids, I was determined to give her healthy eating habits from the very start. For me, it meant giving her variety and balance through fresh, natural, flavourful, colourful food. A full time banker back then, I found myself every night crazily peeling, chopping, steaming, puree-ing, crushing and blending a vast range of delicacies. When I turned to supermarkets for help, the convenient baby food range was colourless (when you could actually see it!), uniformly flavoured, filled with all sorts of nasties, and with a shelf-life so long that no natural forms of nutrients, minerals or vitamins had survived the heat process. After researching the matter, I realised that the freshly made baby food delivery concept was actually well developed in the USA and Australia. All mums (and dads!) share the same urge to do it all (perfectly!) and more importantly to give only the best to their little ones. I thought it was time to give my fellow mums (and dads!) a bit of relief and use my passion for food to make their life that little bit easier! It was about time for London, the most exciting food scene in the world, to finally reach out to the 6Months to 3Y old!
What helped you to take the plunge starting up RATATOUïE?
My passion for food, my love of cooking and particularly of creating dishes that are suitable for everyone in the family (from 6M to 119Y), my determination to pass on the pleasure of eating to the little ones, and finally my dedication to make the life of fellow parents a little easier, one meal at a time!
Everything looks so colourful and fresh! The ingredients must be an important part of the dish creation - do you have a favourite supplier / where do you source your ingredients from?
Yes, colourful and fresh indeed! Eating is the ultimate sensory experience and I truly believe that for little ones to grow into good eaters they need, from the onset of weaning, full exposure to the full range of flavours, colours, scents that Mother Nature so graciously provides us with. They need to see the food, smell it, taste it, chew it, touch it and even hear it. With this in mind, I take extra care in selecting the most natural ingredients that must be produced as locally as possible, always in season and off course organic!!!! I love Langridge Organics for everything to do with veg as they know every single little quirky fact about the producers they work with and they go extra length to make sure they provide you with what you want!!! For the meat, I love my local butcher Moen&Sons who has proved so consistent and trustworthy over the years and finally Moxons for the fish as when it comes to quality down in SW London, who else could it be? We get all our ingredients fresh and pride ourselves in cooking everything from scratch in a very traditional way. Think homemade, delivered!
Many parents have high hopes when it comes to raising adventurous, healthy eaters yet find the daily reality harder than they envisioned. What tips can you share?
I have plenty of them and they will be part of the Education of Taste workshops I am currently developing for parents, babies, toddlers and beyond. Let’s start with saying that eating is very multidimensional (social, anthropological, psychological, physiological, cultural) and each little one goes through many phases in their eating journey that will require ladles of flexibility and buckets of patience from their parents. Variety and balance are the very foundation of healthy eating habits so maybe parents should focus on this from the very start and think initially in terms of exposure to colours and flavours: the more the better!!!! And then as my daughter would say quoting her favourite cartoon character (a very famous rabbit named Peter): “A good rabbit never gives up!” So never stop offering the disliked ingredients with no obligation to like…in many different forms…bearing in mind that steamed lonely vegetables on the side of the plate will never look filling enough to highly energetic little toddlers!
We've heard your dishes are delicious for adults too (especially your chocolate cream!) What’s your favourite RATATOUïE creation?
Difficult to say… the Scrumptious Chocolate Cream is definitely up there as it was created in memory of one of my favourite dessert as a child! Though my version has no refined sugar whatsoever! And the Primavera Fish Pie too, which marries the comfort of cream and cheese with the crunchiness of Spring vegetables cut in tiny weeny little bits together with the natural saltiness of the fish!!! Oh and the Spriiiing Chicken: such a vibrant green in the plate that if it could sing, the chicken would certainly scream: SPPPRRIIINNNG!!!!
The best comment I had from a customer was this one: “I don’t have any negative feedback to give apart from the fact that it is very hard to feed my son and not go: 1 for you, 3 for mummy!”
You can find RATATOUïE food at Farmdrop. Use code BABYMORI for £25 off your first order (minimum spend £50).