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First Meals Hardcover – September 15, 1999

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: DK ADULT; 1st American ed edition (September 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789441772
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789441775
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,158,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

There's a popular game at baby showers in which the new mom-to-be has to taste jarred baby food and guess its contents. Inevitably, the first comment is "Yuk! How do they eat this stuff?" The answer, of course, is that babies don't know there's an alternative--fresh, delicious, wholesome food made at home. In the beautifully and extensively illustrated First Meals, Annabel Karmel explains how simple and satisfying it is to make baby's food yourself--from the earliest mashed banana and steamed carrot purees to Singapore Noodles for 3- to 5-year-olds.

Karmel begins with an extensive section on early nutrition, pointing out that while grownups are often encouraged to follow a high-fiber, low-fat diet, "the under 5s need significantly more fat and concentrated sources of calories and nutrients to fuel their rapid growth during the early years." Continuing her "Basics" chapter are sections on keeping a well-stocked pantry; the equipment you'll need; illustrated, step-by-step instructions on preparing your first purees; and notes on freezing and reheating food. Close-up views of spoonfuls of puree are especially helpful for nervous first-time chefs. Chapters of recipes and feeding information are then broken down by age--4-6 months, 6-9 months, 9-12 months, 12-18 months, 18 months-2 years, 2-3 years, and 3-5 years, with each chapter addressing the particularities of the given age (questions about starting solids are answered for parents of 4-6-month-olds, while maintaining a healthy and varied diet and packing lunches are the concerns for the preschool child), along with 20 or more recipes appropriate to the child's level.

First published in England, the book has been "translated" well--ingredients are measured both in cups and in grams, and while there might be more parsnips called for than one normally sees in a North American diet, nearly every ingredient is obtainable at your regular supermarket. Karmel is up-to-date on the most recently accepted food recommendations as of 1999--she advises families with food allergies to avoid peanuts until a child is 3 years old, and while she cooks with cow's milk after 9 months, she doesn't recommend offering it in a cup until baby has reached his first birthday. Most importantly, she preaches a gospel of variety and of fun at mealtime. Cheesy Pasta Stars are made with tiny "stelline" pasta, and homemade Chicken Nuggets (made with grated apple and parsley in the breading) are formed in the shape of hearts--enough to break down the barriers of any picky eater. Stuffed Baked Potatoes become sailboats with cheese triangle sails and red pepper flags, and "Mock Fried Egg" looks just like the real thing--except it's vanilla yogurt with half an apricot on top! So trust your taste buds and leave those jars at the store--Annabel Karmel's First Meals will inspire you in the kitchen and leave your kids pounding the table for more. --Rebecca A. Staffel


"Annabel Karmel's First Meals may be the perfect new-mom gift... it's real charm is for the decoratively challenged (or the desperate); fun food-presentation ideas, like chicken-sausage snails, above [picture shown]." -- Time magazine

"For help from an expert, try First Meals, a beautifully illustrated, easy-to-follow guide to cooking for kids up to the age of 5." -- Newsweek

"If your little darling is a food snob who has you jumping through hoops at every meal, Annabel Karmel's First Meals may be just the inspiration you all-round nutrition guide, with lots of pull-out charts, photos and lively graphics." -- New York Daily News

"Recipes little kids can sink their teeth into." -- Parenting magazine

More About the Author

Annabel Karmel is the international best-selling author on baby and
children's food and nutrition and champions the cornerstone message that creating a healthy diet for your children is crucial to their healthy development

A mother of three children, Annabel was inspired to write children's cookbooks following the death of her first child Natasha. Although the illness was not diet related, Annabel was determined to give her second child the best possible start, seeking out only the healthiest foods. Annabel spent two years researching child nutrition and development and interviewing leading UK pediatricians and child nutritionists. She realized that no one had really explored the truth about what babies should and could eat and naturally started creating recipes herself that were both delicious and healthy. She is (resolute) passionate about helping parents provide their babies with fresh food and providing solutions for busy mums who want to feed their family a healthy meal.

With her imaginative approach to creating healthy and delicious food, Annabel is the expert in getting your child, no matter how fussy, to eat a healthier diet ' without them even noticing! She makes it easy to prepare fresh baby food and has developed (tricks) ways to improve children's nutrition on a daily basis, from hiding vegetables in other foods, packing powerhouse lunchboxes and creating healthy junk food . All the recipes are tested on children after all if it doesn't taste good they wont eat it'

Annabel has written 16 books. Her first book the Healthy Baby Meal Planner was published in the US in 1991 by Simon and Schuster and has become the authoritative guide on feeding babies and children. Her best-selling books in the US also include First Meals, Lunchboxes, 100 Top Baby Purees, Favorite Family Meals, The Mom and Me Cookbook. Impressively, every single recipe has been conceived and cooked in Annabel's own kitchen.

A household name in the UK has enabled Annabel to develop ranges for feeding babies and toddlers, food preparation equipment, children's food, baking and party ware. Her recipes are so popular that UK supermarkets now stock a range of her meals. (Annabel is currently working with US manufacturers to launch innovative product ranges for the US market) no not yet

With books sales of over 3 million worldwide, this is likely to grow fast as four new books are being published in the US this year including Baby's first Year Album, The Toddler Cookbook ,Baby and Toddler Food Diary and the Fussy Eaters Recipe Book

Annabel travels frequently to the US and has appeared on many TV programmes including the Today Show, Regis and Kelly, the View, (Rosie O'Donnell Show) NO, ABC Eyewitness News, CBS Early Show and also writes for national US newspapers and magazines including Child Magazine, New York Daily News, American Baby, Working Mother, Quick and Simple and Parents.

In June 2006, Annabel was awarded an MBE, Member of the British Empire, by the Queen in her Birthday Honours List for her outstanding work in the field of child nutrition.

Her popular web-site is the number one site on child nutrition with lots of advice, delicious recipes and social networking. She has also launched the most comprehensive and informative online TV channel on family nutrition, with recipe videos, Top Tips and interviews with leading experts. Visit

Customer Reviews

The early recipes are very easy.
My sister had this book for her children, and liked it so much that my mom got it for me right before I had my son.
Deborah Gray
Annabel Karmel's book easily displayed directions for starting the process of making your own baby food.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

572 of 593 people found the following review helpful By bethlovesbooks on August 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I've read most every baby food/nutrition book on the market. This book is by far the prettiest: it has beautiful color illustrations that make you feel as if feeding your baby will be an exciting and colorful journey. However, once the romance of the first feeding is gone (and after you've scrubbed dried brown banana off your child's tray for the thousandth time), I fear that this book will get lost in the dusty recesses of your kitchen bookshelf, as my copy has.
My main criticism is that the book doesn't deliver what the cover promises: "Fast, healthy, and fun foods." The book should be subtitled "Fun foods to make if you are in culinary school and have a whole lot of free time on your hands." Check out these suggestions: vegetable croquettes, apple, mango & apricot muesli, paella, chocolate profiteroles & puff pastry mice. Even the purees are exotic and complicated: dried apricots with semolina, spinach, potato, parsnip & leek, tasty ground meat with rutabaga & tomato. Now if someone wants to really knock themselves out for a special occasion, I think that these menu suggestions could be very inspirational. But, the average parent just needs someone to tell them that they can steam carrots in the microwave with a little water then mash them with a fork.
I really lost hope when I noticed that they devote an entire page to "making purees with a mouli." Where would I even begin to find a mouli, and if I did, where the heck would I find room to store it? Have these folks never heard of a food processor or blender? Why make life so complicated? I've got to imagine that the authors of this book live a very priveledged life or that they've never had small children clinging to their legs!
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62 of 64 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
First Meals seems to be about how a Cordon Bleu chef, obsessed with nutrition, cooks for her own kids. It is very healthful approach to infant's needs, challenging to the ordinary mom's cooking skills, and tends to yeild a few disappointments the more you use it.
I started using this book for my 8 month old son about 5 months ago, with great results-- at first. The baby is in excellent health and spirits, after eating home prepared baby food that was easy to make. Ms Karmel's baby recipes are wonderful, resulting in foods far superior in smell and taste to what comes in jars.
The first sets of recipes taste good: Ms. Karmel is dead on when she gives advice about the foods that babies like. My son really does enjoy parsnips, for example. I am grateful for the first sections of the book, where Ms. Karmel opened my family's world to a lot of new and healthy foods. In addition to this, the charts and suggestions I found dead on for my son's introductions to solids, as well. His pediatrician has approved of all the advice for feeding my son that was in this book, so for my infant's needs, this was a very happy fit.
Ms. Karmel's recipes for toddlers and older children did produce some disappointments, unfortunately. While the time allowances for the baby foods and purees were accurate, it took me much, much more time to prepare foods in the latter sections than was indicated by the recipe.
In addition to taking more time than she allows, many of the latter recipes simply didn't taste very good. This was particularly inconvenient, because many of the recipes in these sections are merely variations of each other, sometimes resulting in one flop after another. Ms. Karmel's Tomato Soup, for example, was a busy mom's nightmare.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca of Amazon HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Salmon Starfish on a bed of green bean "seaweed" sounds a bit exotic for children, however one wonders if a child will grow up to be a master chef if fed a healthy diet of gourmet food as a child. ;)

While this is written to amuse children and parents alike, I could not help thinking some of the ideas were too good just for kids. The cucumber flowers on the Cucumber and Cheese open sandwiches looked quite lovely for a summer tea as did the salad and cheese cut-out butterfly sandwiches.

As a cook who once used to make alligators out of pickles to serve with sandwiches to amuse my clients (don't ask), I can say, this book has some cute ideas. The chocolate profiteroles & puff pastry mice looked good to me! You have to see the "sleeping cannelloni" where they have a blanket of cheese, mushroom faces and black olive boots.

The first thing you will notice is that this book is filled with really healthy food! Sure, there are cookies and pastries, but for the most part the food is made from fresh ingredients like vegetables and chicken breast, etc.

Annabel Karmel is a leading expert on cooking for children and also happens to be a Cordon Bleu chef. It shows! Her three children are her inspiration. They don't care if the food is healthy, they just want it to taste good. Annabel has combined "child appeal" with sound nutritional principles. Parents can give their children the best nutritional start to life and encourage their children not to be fussy eaters.

After a brief introduction, you will want to take a look at the kitchen equipment you will want to have on hand.
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