Berkshire mum Shikha Gill on the inspiration behind @my.little.food.critic – and why she is launching an app
Congratulations on launching your first app – how excited are you about it?
Thank you, I am so excited that this app has come to fruition, from idea to delivery it’s been 18 months and a labour of love. It was important for me to balance providing a super appealing and functionally rich app yet keeping it very affordable. The feedback has been overwhelming, and it’s been wonderful to see the recipes come to life and families enjoying them.
When you first sat down to plan the app, what did you want to make sure was featured on there?
I wanted to ensure that I continued providing the same delicious, nutritious, flavoursome, and healthy recipes and meals for the whole family to enjoy. I wanted to make life easier for parents and thought about important functionality such as automatically generated shopping lists, a weekly meal planner, lifestyle articles from industry experts as well as play and learn activities as a useful resource to help support learning through play.
I know so many parents struggle with finding recipes to suit dietary and allergy requirements, so I worked hard to offer alternatives for the majority of the recipes and cater for different dietary needs. I also wanted to incorporate an advanced search functionality so users can filter recipes, for example, gluten free, dairy free, quick meals under 20 minutes etc.
Looking at the recipes, why do you think it’s important to come up with dishes that work for all the family?
In my own experience and what my followers have shared with me on Instagram, having to prepare different meals for different family members is time consuming, tiring and often results in mealtimes not being a family experience. Family mealtimes are such a fantastic bonding experience and eating together allows positive role modelling, exposes little ones to a wider variety of food and can help reduce picky eating. It also allows families to connect with each other without other distractions.
A key focus has been to cater for all age ranges and different dietary and allergy requirements. For example, a Thai Green Curry that the whole family can enjoy (from 6 months+) through to quick and easy snacks like cheesy broccoli bites and brunch recipes like shakshuka.
What will we find in the lifestyle section?
The lifestyle section offers articles from industry experts on a range of parenting topics, for example baby sleep, potty training, and the importance of movement for children. There also exclusive special offers for app subscribers.
Going back to the very beginning Shikha, what inspired you to start @my.little.food.critic?
It started as a hobby – my family and friends suggested I share my recipes on Instagram, and it evolved quickly when I started to get lots of amazing feedback. These comments inspired me to do more and start the website and create recipe books. I love sharing my ideas, developing new recipes, and hearing from other parents through my online community.
I wanted to introduce my son to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and world flavours that would stay with him for life, and this is the ethos behind my recipes. I wanted my son to enjoy eating what my husband and I enjoyed, and for our meals to be healthy and flavoursome.
I understand how busy life is for parents and this has always been a consideration when I develop recipes, they are always easy and quick but aim to encourage a love of real, home cooked food.
How did your son respond to the new food he was being given?
I introduced flavour from the very beginning, so he has been exposed to a variety of flavours from the start of our weaning journey. Now at four years old, he is an adventurous eater and of course my chief taste tester!
Do you think it’s important children are exposed to different flavours at a young age?
Yes, it is. Use the opportunity when you’re first weaning to offer lots of different flavours – babies are definitely more receptive. There are some important things to remember: no salt for little ones and no chilli to start with as it can irritate their tummies. But other than that, don’t be afraid of world spices – they can quickly elevate simple meals and add so much depth of flavour. Start small with aromatic spices and build up flavours over time. The other great thing is that spices are a great talking point – you can chat about different flavours, colours and where they come from.
Do you have plans to take @my.little.food.critic further?
Absolutely, the intention is to continue to be innovative in developing recipes, content, products, and services for the receptive audience I have, and to tune the aforementioned according to what people demand.
There are some very exciting conversations happening with a few things in the pipelines. Watch this space!
Banana & Cardamom Muffins
The easiest muffins you’ll ever make; just throw all of the ingredients into a blender, pop into a muffin tin and bake! These soft and fluffy muffins are bursting with earthy flavour and warm spice. They also freeze well and are perfect for lunchboxes and days out.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Serves: 12 muffins
Can be frozen – Yes
What do you need?
2 cups/ 180g rolled oats
1/2 cup/ 60g buckwheat flour (or substitute 60g spelt or wholemeal flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 ripe bananas
1 heaped tsp Ceylon cinnamon
Crushed seeds from 3-4 cardamom pods
1 tsp vanilla powder/extract/paste
1/3 cup/80ml maple syrup
1/2 cup/120ml coconut oil (at room temperature)
2 eggs (or substitute 2 flax eggs for vegan alternative)
- Preheat your oven to 180°C/ 360 °F and line 2 muffin tins.
- Add all of the ingredients into a blender and whizz until smooth.
- Pour into the muffin tin and bake for about 18 minutes until golden brown.
- Store in an airtight container for a week.
Mix it up:
Add a handful of walnuts into the blender for a delicious spin!