This week we spoke to food stylist and home economist Amie Harper, the author of Baby Pip Eats and Little Pip Eats The Colours of the Rainbow.
Thanks for featuring Amie! Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a healthy and happy Sagittarian who loves my family (Pipi 4 years, Jimmy 21 months, and husband Phil), living by the water in Torquay and working for myself. Pipi often asks if I’m the boss at my work and I reply ‘yes, of course!’, I’m my own boss! I freelance food style & recipe writing and it works well whilst I have small children as I can do this from home. I love exercising as a part of our daily lifestyle, if I can either a walk or run to a park or the beach. I also ocean swim when the weather and water warms up. We used to live in Sydney and I loved swimming in the ocean baths daily. I really miss a good pool to swim in!
You’ve had a fantastic career as a food stylist, product developer, and recipe writer. What inspired you to become an author?
I think a few things inspired the beginning of my books. Firstly, I had the background and experience and it was on my bucket list of things to do one day. When Pip arrived, I reassessed everything. I had 12 months off on maternity leave from a job. I literally thought ‘why not write a cookbook in my maternity leave!’ Crazy now when I look back but I decided to do it around when Pipi was 7 months old and finish it when she was 12 months. I did it and sent the files off for printing a month after her first birthday. I also remember working for a ‘celebrity chef’ on a recipe/ styling job. She said to me ‘I’m so lucky to have all your food fairies working behind the scenes for me’! That sparked something in me also, that I’d write my own books and not always someone else’s one day…. I decided on kids’ food because I was passionate about child nutrition and at the time (2014) there wasn’t a lot of inspiring cookbooks for families based on introducing babies to food/solids that weren’t just purer. I saw a niche and jumped at it…
Your recipe books are a great way to educate parents about healthy meal and snack options for their youngsters. What do your two recipe books mean to you?
They mean a lot to me and my family. It’s a food story of our food journey with our new family. I wrote, styled, photographed and edited both books with babies under 12 months. There were a lot of challenges along the way and I gave up a lot of time with friends for work. My own family took priority in these years. I really believe in my books and love their simplicity in helping families broaden their healthy food experiences, and give their young families the best possible start to life.
How did you decide on the ‘colours of the rainbow’ theme of your second book?
The first book was focused on the A, B, C of foods and the recipes very simple to coincide with the introduction of food to a baby’s development (learning words and talking!) Colours Of The Rainbow 🌈 was a natural next step onwards and upwards. Toddlers become more aware of colours developmentally and learning about whole foods in terms of colour is a fantastic nutrition platform for everyone to live by.
It’s clear from both ‘Baby Pip Eats’ and ‘Little Pip Eats’ that the responsibility of introducing your daughter to food was a motivator in creating some beautiful recipes. How has becoming an author influenced or inspired you as a mother?
I think becoming an author has just allowed me to continue to work on my career whilst having babies. I could do it from home and not go back to commuting stress! I wanted a slower life but still wanted to fulfil my professional Amie life also. This allowed me to do that. I wanted Pip and now Jimmy to see that I loved being a mum to them but I was also a food expert and a professional in my line of work. That was important to me. Pipi is understanding this. She often says: Mum, I’m just doing some ‘food science work’, I love it. I want them to think and believe they can do anything they want if they work hard, which is what I’ve done and always believed in.
How do you think your books have influenced others?
I hope in a positive, simplistic and ‘give it go’ attitude! I want parents to not be afraid to try something new with their family, and my books to give them confidence in the kitchen and their cooking.
What sort of feedback have the recipe books received?
Really positive! I hear and see lots of lovely comments and images from great people on social media. It’s wonderful to see children enjoying eating my recipes as well as their parents.
Is writing more recipe books something you would like to pursue in the future?
Defiantly. I’ve always wanted to write three in the Pip series, so watch this space!
Your daughter Pip features many times throughout your recipe books. Has she enjoyed being part of these projects?
Yes. She’s quite the cook now. And quite the poser too at times. But she has a great passion for cooking and good food. Something I want for my children is to grow up and have a healthy relationship with food, and understand what good food is and how it impacts your body and mental state.
Although there are many delicious, healthy dishes in each recipe book, which is your personal favourite and why?
I love the sweet potato gnocchi. It’s so simple and so yummy.
On your website, you mention having fond memories of eating fruit and vegetables from your grandparents’ back paddock. Do you think younger generations today are often missing out on healthy experiences like these?
Yes, but I think it’s turning around and we are wanting and doing this life again. People are connecting again with where their food comes from a lot more again. This is great!
Lastly, you recently relocated from Sydney to Torquay. How do the two compare?
It’s chillier in Torquay! I miss the water temp and the ocean pools (I’m a water baby!). I’d swim daily but it’s just too cold for me here! Lol I grew up in western district Victoria, so I’m well aware of crisp and frosty mornings! It’s a quieter lifestyle in Torquay, a fantastic spot to bring up a family. People are warm and friendly and I’ve really enjoyed meeting mums at parks and coffee shops! It has had its lonely moments during winter mainly, but it’s nice too! Once we had children, living in the city just wasn’t appealing to us anymore. My husband surfed and I had family down this way so Torquay was our compromise! Not a bad compromise!!!
+Intern, Jacqui Thebes