Annabel Karmel Fuss Pots Review
Annabel Karmel, the food guru for babies and toddlers, bought out a new range in October. Called Fuss Pots, each of the four meals comes with its own monster theme, and is intended to inspire fussy eaters into, well, eating!
Actually on the information I received it says that these "four delicious dishes will tickle the taste buds of even the fussiest eaters." I don't know who wrote that but clearly they've never met a truly fussy eater. If a child refuses to eat food that is 'mixed up', as mine does, then no amount of packaging will help, and it truly won't matter how good the food is inside.
Unlike Annabel Karmel's other food products, Fuss Pots seems ideally packaged, and with enough food in the container, for slightly older children. The pots are aimed a children aged 4 to 10.
But for the less extreme cases this sounds like it could be a good idea. I like Annabel Karmel's recipes. I had her book when son was a baby, and many of the recipes in there are still firm family favourites like the butternut squash risotto.
I also like the idea of having fresh food that's conveniently been made for someone else to feed a child when you're stuck or just want a night off cooking. We all need that sometimes for our own sanity! And at this time of the year, with all the Christmas stuff to be done, a few meals less to think about sounds like a jolly good Christmas gift to myself.
The range is exclusive to Sainsbury's. Read on to find out how it went.
Now before my son turned two he had a voracious appetite and would literally eat anything and everything. But his absolute favourite meal for me to cook was Spaghetti Bolognaise and for this I used Annabel Karmel's recipe. So I was particularly interested in seeing how her own Fuss Pot version came out, the Spaghetti Bolognaise with Hidden Veg (300g RRP £2.89).
I cooked up some extra pasta to go with this one as I don't think there's really enough in the pot for a growing, seven nearly eight year old boy. That might be different for your child. Also I usually give my son spaghetti bolognaise with the sauce thinly spread out amongst the pasta (did I mention he was very fussy?!).
We don't own a microwave so I tipped the contents in a pan and gently heated it up on a low heat. It didn't take much time at all and smelled gorgeous. Before serving I tried a spoonful and was really impressed to find that it pretty much tasted exactly like the sauce I make from scratch using Annabel Karmel's recipe.
The packaging itself didn't make any impact on my son. I tried showing him the 'monster'. Each recipe is represented by a different monster with a 'biggggg appetite'. There's Roger, who revels in spicing up lives, Gertrude crazy about rice and all Eastern food, Graham the super spaghetti slurper, and Ahgatha with the curliest of locks and baddest attitude. Hm.
I can imagine though that this approach will help with eating with kids that are enticed into these sorts of things and love stuff like trading cards and collecting.
My mum used to make a gorgeous Nasi Goren when we were growing up. It was one of our favourite meals, and a favourite of our friends too some of whom seemed to have a sixth sense when it came to knowing if she was cooking it.
The Annabel Karmel Chicken N Rice Nazi Goreng (300g) has an RRP of £2.89. In common with all the Fuss Pots, there's plenty of veg in there, not quite as disguised as with the spag bol, but still fairly well mixed in.
I'd never made this particular recipe, so I'm not sure if it is in the standard cook book. I tested this out on a six year old, who scoffed it down. So it passed the little ones taste test! Not such a great hit with me though. As with the other flavour, I tried a couple of spoonfuls and thought that it was exceptionally bland. I really couldn't see what was 'Nasi Goreng' about it. Also texture seemed more like a risotto. The rice was too mushy.
So you're rushed, you need a bit of a breather, but you don't want to pile chips or takeaways on the little ones. These are definitely what they claim to be. A reasonably yummy, healthy meal without the hard work, time consuming preparation, or guilt. And, for a convenience food for older children that's healthy, at £2.9 a pot it isn't that expensive.
I'm still rather inclined to get Annabel's recipe book out, make a big patch of pasta up and freeze it myself for a fraction of the cost ...
Pros: both were found to be delicious by both testers, healthy food at your convenience, quick to get ready
Cons: I felt the Nasi Goreng failed to be interesting at all and at 300g children older than 7 or 8 will need a little bit extra
Overall verdict: 8/10
My own top tip. Try Annabel Karmel's recipe for making your own fish fingers. I know that sounds a faff when you can get a pack for £1 at the supermarket. And it does take a good hour to do (but I make them in batches and freeze). But they taste so good you'll never, ever want to buy frozen ones again. And to make them that little bit cheaper use the packs of frozen pollock or colley, defrost and make into the fish fingers.