Guernsey mum, founder of Busy Belly Bakes and PPBF Secretary, Fiona Gomes, chats about her links with the charity, the inspirations behind her new book series and how it can help families with their meal prep.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your connections with the PPBF?
I am wife to Rick and mother of 3 beautiful boys. Jacob is 20 years old and Luke and Cameron are identical twins, now 15 years old. I am sister to PPBF co-founder Andy Priaulx and therefore sister-in-law to Jo! I have always enjoyed baking and cooking from scratch to accommodate my belly ache. I didn’t realise belly ache wasn’t ‘normal’ until I met my husband at the age of 20.
The PPBF has always been a charity very close to my heart. My twins were also the first babies to use the PPBF hot cots – you can read their story here. The twins had to attend some appointments in Southampton just before Covid-19 and then Luke had further examinations in Southampton just recently. We were so fortunate to have use of one of the PPBF flats for a night. It was such a comfort and to be so close to the hospital was fantastic.
What does your secretarial/ambassador role at the PPBF involve?
Not long after this experience, a role was advertised to assist the charity with the minutes of their meetings, so I jumped at the chance to help. We hold quarterly meetings and I prepare the agenda, take minutes and manage the trustees’ action items.
You launched ‘Busy Belly Bakes’ earlier this year – what is your book series all about?
Primarily, my books are to help my 3 boys remember their favourite food dishes, food tips (called Belly Boost) and mindful techniques (called Belly Bliss) to accommodate belly aches!
My books are based on age progression so the first in the ‘Busy Belly Bakes’ series is the ‘Minis’.
These recipes are all the dishes that the boys enjoyed as toddlers. I will shortly be releasing the ‘Family’ series followed by ‘Teens’ and then ‘Uni’. Each of the books are my children’s favourite recipes from that period in their lives.
What was the main inspiration behind your writing and recipes?
My books were inspired from my mother’s side of the family as we all suffer with similar belly aches. I sat with my Granny Short to write down her recipes and I have further tweaked these recipes to accommodate our belly aches i.e. dairy-free milk as a substitute and I don’t use as many eggs.
Family and food are naturally intertwined. How do you think ‘Busy Belly Bakes’ will help parents and their little ones with day-to-day meal prep?
The recipes are simple and easy to follow, and the ingredients can be easily sourced. In this modern world, we have a huge variety of food and recipes but actually sometimes our bellys need to do the talking. My belly dictates what I can eat day to day, and I have learnt that it is ok to have days of eating ‘plain and simple’ dishes.
What has the response been like from families so far?
My lovely friends and family have made some of my dishes and really enjoyed them. I think the main feedback is that they would like to buy the book as a hard copy rather than an e-book. So, I will be printing the ‘Minis’ and ‘Family’ series and selling them at the new PPBF office.
Have you got any tips for parents with fussy eaters?
Yes – buy my books! I learnt that it is ok to rotate meals that the children enjoy. Don’t worry if it’s pasta bolognese 3 times a week, as long as the dishes are nutritional.
What’s your favourite recipe from the book?
I would say carrot and turmeric risotto as I nearly always have the ingredients, so it seems to be my ‘back-up.’ My boys would most definitely say ‘Ginger Cookies!’
In collaboration with A7 Design and Guille-Alles Library, the PPBF gifted new book bags for families of premature or seriously ill babies on the local Neonatal Unit in Guernsey. They contain specially-chosen picture books and rhyme sheets for families to enjoy together. Thank you to Fiona for gifting Belly Bakes for inclusion in these book bags – we can’t wait for the Belly Bakes series to grow!