When I had the chance to attend a round table discussion with Disney and Anabel Karmel about packed lunches recently, I took all of two seconds to agree. Firstly, Annabel Karmel is small enough to put in your pocket … and you don’t see that often …. and secondly … it’s Disney …. and Disney rocks. Fact.
Now I’ve been to a few PR events in my time as Blogger Extraordinaire … *cough* …. but I have to say, to be met at St. Pancras by my ‘own’ car was a sure fire way to put a smile on my miserable face. (I’d had to get up before 8am … this never goes down well.)
Once I’d calmed down, and we’d collected Michelle and her clan, (her mum was hilarious!), we headed over to the Atheneum Hotel where Disney had laid on childminders, toys and refreshments for our children! Had I known, I would have brought Dexter … so ssshhh … don’t tell him – I’m already in his bad books for not letting him watch Harry Potter today!
We then headed over to the La Cucina Caldesi Cookery School where I met up with Danielle from Blog By Baby, Pippa from A Mothers Ramblings and Tracy from White Lily Green … there were probably about ten of us bloggers with representatives from women’s magazines. I have to say, the representatives of Disney and their PR were all so welcoming that I really felt comfortable – you know sometimes these events are a little awkward to start with … but this was nothing like that and then … THEN … we all got to have our photos taken with Annabel! I have to say, apart from being totally gorgeous, she was so friendly. She asked us all about our children and was happy to chat and let us all babble on.
After orders for lattes were taken …. (the Cookery School is run by the adjacent coffee shop,) we took our places and the Disney representatives introduced themselves, welcomed us and spoke about Annabel, (everyone knows who Annabel is though, right?)
We then watched the most incredible video footage of very young children in America being asked to decide which they would prefer for breakfast. They were then offered a banana, or a rock with a Spiderman sticker on it. Yes … a rock. And can you guess what they chose? *Head Desk.* They chose the rock. Which goes to prove … no, I won’t say it … which goes to prove that kids are suckers for cartoons and comic book characters. Suffice to say, the power of branding is huge! The great thing about Disney, is that they take this responsibility seriously. In fact, at one point they were advertising their competitions on chocolate bars but have now stopped this. They follow strict guidelines both here and in the US and adhere to rules such as only using natural sugars and keeping sodium levels low.
The aim of the discussion was to find out what parents pack for their children’s packed lunches and to offer up suggestions of how to get children to eat more healthy and we swapped tips and tricks on how to get them to do this. Pippa, being Top Mum that she is, told us how one week, when the theme at school was ‘Flags,’ she made her children’s sandwiches into a different flag each day. Now that’s dedication! Dexter’s lucky to get lemon curd on toast every day. I kid you not.
Some of the salient points raised were:
- Cut fruit up into bite sized pieces: children like holding wedges of fruit. Peel clementines so they’re easy to eat.
- Try raw vegetables: many children like sticks of cucumber, carrot or sweet pepper. Make sure you wrap them in dampened kitchen towel to keep the vegetable from drying out.
- Make food look interesting: use cookie cutters for different shaped sandwiches.
- Use leftovers from the night before.
- Use different carbs: pasta and rice is good in salads.
- Give pure fruit juice or water: many drinks contain little juice and added sugar.
- Use wraps and pitta bread instead of bread.
- Pop an ice pack into your child’s lunch box – helps to keep it fresh.
- Some Mums even put post-it notes inside their child’s lunchbox … think mine would die of embarrassment, but I think younger children would love it.
After our discussion, we were lucky enough to take part in a cooking lesson with Annabel. We made Apple, Carrot & Raisin Muffins (in the shape of Mickey Mouse of course,) and two different types of tortilla wraps – one with pesto, mayonnaise, mozzarella and tomato and another with plum sauce, mayonnaise, cold chicken, spring onions and cucumber – neither of which made it home.
As I put eleventy billion Mickey Mouse muffins in my new Phineas & Ferb packed lunch box, I wondered whether Dexter would ever eat anything other than cheese or lemon curd sandwiches. At least I now had a few more alternatives to think about and you never know, I might even let Dexter have one of the Winnie the Pooh bottles of juice I brought home!
For more Annabel Karmel recipes, visit her website here … and I’m sure you all know it, but the Disney website is always fun to look round.