Urvashi Roe is a chef in her spare time and is passionate about what her children eat. She is backing Better Breakfast Week to promote a healthy start to the day.
The morning rush is one of the busiest times for working mums so how can you get everyone out the door on time and ensure they get a healthy breakfast, given that we are told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day?
Celebrity chef Urvashi Roe is a big advocate of healthy eating and is backing Better Breakfast Week next week. She’s perhaps a busier working mum than many. A former manager at Canada Life who ran a successful florist’s on the side, she has continued her busy schedule and now works full time as a contractor with Barclaycard while also being a rising figure on the cookery scene. Urvashi has been in the Great British Bake Off and has a blog where she regularly posts new recipes. She also works with different brands, does cooking demonstrations and teaches Indian cooking on a freelance basis.
She is passionate about the food her two children – aged nine and eight – eat. They go to their primary school’s breakfast club in the morning, but she gives them food beforehad because she distrusts the nutritional content of the food at school. She also prepares a packed lunch for them for similar reasons. “You can see a change in them when they come home if they haven’t eaten well,” she says. “They are tired and they don’t wake up refreshed.”
Urvashi’s interest in food began when she was weaning her first daughter. She was getting conflicting information from family and expert sources. Her family is Indian and she followed a strict ayurvedic diet when she was pregnant and breastfeeding, for instance, avoiding acidic citrus fruit. When her daughter was being weaned she was encouraged to give her banana by western experts, but ayurvedic tradition states that bananas are the most complex fruit and are difficult to digest. “My mum freaked when I suggested giving my daughter banana,” she says.
Urvashi was approached by Better Breakfast Week through Twitter because she regularly tweets pictures of what she is eating.
She says the two key things that drew her to the Week are its focus on botanical baobab. “My family is from Africa and I like to support African trade,” she says. “Baobab is an amazing product. It’s nutritious and easy to use and very tasty.” She also likes the ethics of the not-for-profit organisation behind it, PhytoTrade Africa, which represents producers of the baobab fruit.
Interestingly, she says that she used to be very lazy about breakfast. “It was only when I became pregnant that I made a point of eating breakfast,” she says. Now she wakes up half an hour early to have breakfast with her husband and she plans her breakfast the night before.
Urvashi is keen to get the right work life balance. She’s already tried to do this before. She set up the florist’s to do this, but found things went the other way. The business was so successful that she ended up working every weekend and spending less and less time with her children. “It was emotionally painful to make the decision to sell, but it was the wrong life stage for us to launch a business,” she says. “I had bitten off more than I could chew.”
Three years ago, she and her husband decided to change their lives. He was managing director of an fruit import/export company. Urvashi says the two were fed up with spending so much time pouring over spreadsheets to organise who was picking up or dropping the children off. Her husband, who she met while the couple – who now live in London – were teaching in Japan, decided to do a PGCE. He now works 15 minutes from home. Urvashi is a contractor so can have holidays off and the family can spend the summer travelling.
She says part of the change in their lifestyle was prompted by an incident when she was in Manchester for work and her husband was in Nottingham. One of their daughters cracked her chin. “Neither of us could get to her,” she says.
Now her husband picks the children up from school and does the evening meal, although Urvashi prepares it earlier. She often discusses with the children at breakfast what they will have for dinner. All their food is on shelves so the children can see it. Urvashi encourages her children to be interested in food. She takes them to the market every weekend and they try to go monthly to a pick your own garden. She has a strict no snacks between meals policy.
For breakfast the children might have muesli with nuts, berries, baobab powder and honey or something like rye bread, scrambled eggs and tomatoes from the garden.
Urvashi does allow them sweets, but only at weekends when they do gymnastics and they are kept in a special drawer.
She says she educates them carefully about what they are eating. “Knowing what they are eating gives them confidence,” she says. “Education is really important for heatlhy eating and helping parents understand that breakfast doesn’t need to be complicated.”
*Better Breakfast Week, which starts on 24 September, are offering a hamper of breakfast goods worth seventy pounds to Workingmums.co.uk readers. To take part in the competition click here. Urvashi’s recipes for Better Breakfast Week can be found on www.betterbrekkie.com.