Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Exclusive Q&A with Emma Forbes

Emma Forbes, who has recently launched her very own lifestyle website Forbes Style (
I was looking for samples for a beauty feature I want to run on my blog, when I was offered the opportunity to feature a Q&A with celebrity mum-of-two Emma Forbes. I was allowed to pick the questions and as I've been following the recent controversy about weaning with great interest, I asked her opinions on this much-debated issue. Of course it was all a storm in a teacup as the study that sparked the controversy wasn't really advocating changes. As the NCT puts it: "The media furore surrounding the story was a surprise to the NCT. To start with, the article was not based on new research, but an opinion piece that raised questions and did not provide any new evidence, alter policy or recommendations."

Anyhow, here are Emma's replies to my request of a comment on the weaning controversy and/or to recall her own experiences, at a time when guidelines advocated earlier weaning. As this is a homeworking and parenting blog, I also asked if she had any recipes for time-strapped mums (and she should know since she has a lot of commitments!).

Emma on weaning "Weaning was very different then (14 years ago). I basically started Lily and Sam from three months onwards with a little rice put into the last feed at night... and then when it came to introducing solids, I used to make all my own purees! Their favourite was banana and avocado blended together (it may sound gross but it has the perfect consistency and is full of protein and filling, too). I loved experimenting with different mixes and used to freeze them in ice-cube trays to take out when needed.

Emma's quick recipes for busy mums
"My main time-saving method is one-pot cooking! This is perfect for time-strapped mothers as you shove it all in one pot and then bake in the oven. Here are a few recipes... 

Chicken casserole 
This is a foolproof, one-pot, crowd pleaser for any family! Serves 8

  • flour to season, salt and pepper
  • 8 chicken breasts and 8 thighs, skinned  
  • knob of butter
  • a couple tbsp of olive oil
  • one onion, finely chopped 
  • one clove of garlic, chopped
  • half a glass of white wine (optional)
  • 2 pints of stock (made from vegetable bouillon or chicken stock cubes)
  • 8 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • a few potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • one spring of rosemary
  • 3 handfuls of pearl barley
1 Preheat the oven to a low heat. Lightly sprinkle some flour in a bowl and place the chicken in it, seasoned with salt and pepper. Stir the pieces to coat them.
2 In a large casserole pan, melt the butter with the olive oil and add the chicken. Add the onion and the garlic and cook until the chicken is browned all over and the onion is just translucent.
3 If you have any leftover white wine, add it to the casserole and let it bubble. Add the stock, the carrots, potatoes and rosemary.
4 Bake in the oven for around two hours (keep checking to see how it's cooking and adjust the heat if necessary). In the last 30 minutes, add the pearl barley. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Tip: Don’t worry about using precise quantities, experimenting is part of the fun, especially when using leftovers or whatever is handy.

Easy but healthy recipes for older babies and toddlers
Stir-fries are great… stir-fry chopped vegetables and shredded chicken with a little oil, add a squidge of lemon and some soy sauce, voila! Serve with boiled egg noodles – not only is this really easy for small children to eat and digest, it’s good for them too.

I do three-minute guides on, including how to  bake brownies with children, which is a fab activity for a rainy Sunday afternoon! 

As Emma signs off, I visit her new website, which covers a wide range of topics. Aside food, there are articles and inspiration on homes, fashion, parenting, travel, health and wellbeing. And if you need to vent on an issue close to you, there is a space for that too! I will certainly try her casserole recipe, after all Emma was a finalist on Celebrity Masterchef.

UPDATE, February 2015: Emma's website is now offline. It might have changed its address or being taken down. Do let me know what happened to it!

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