It’s been a while since my last Universal Parenthood interview, but this one is well worth the wait. I’ve had the privilege of interviewing Caroline de Souza of Hungry Little Bears, an account that focuses on something very close to my heart… food! Shining a spotlight on healthy family meals, Caroline provides weekly meal plans that are a tantalising mix of fun, easy to prepare and very, very tasty. At least twice a week I find myself hitting the save button on her posts because I’m desperate to try out her meals!
I particularly like the accessibility of her account, including the creation of the Family Food Tribe hashtag alongside other foodie insta star, rupertandmummy. As someone who only started cooking two years ago (shameful I know) a lot of accounts that boast healthy eating recipes get a bit complicated and use ingredients that can feel a little esoteric. Hungry Little Bears feels a lot more inclusive and doesn’t pretend to have all the answers when it comes to fussy eaters either.
If you don’t follow Caroline already, have a read of her interview and then go and have a look, you won’t be disappointed!
1) Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?
I’m a stay at home mum to Maisie 7 and Alfie 4. We live in Surrey having moved out of London 5 years ago, pretty much to the day! My husband is Canadian with Goan roots..and we’ve been happily married for 9 years! Time has flown…It really does when you have kids! We met in our local pub!…we knew of each other but it wasn’t until the night before he was due to go back to Canada to make plans to move back there permanently when he plucked up the courage to ask for my number!! The rest they say is history – he didn’t go back!! I was born in Jersey in the Channel Islands where my parents and brothers still live. We visit Jersey a LOT, it is a big part of me and I absolutely love it there!
2) If you could give one piece of advice for an expectant mother ? what would it be?
Oooh that’s a tricky one! So many pieces of advice out there!…the one thing I probably would say is that everything’s a phase! Sleep regressions, terrible two’s, teething, fussy eating!…at the time you think it is totally all consuming and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and that it’s never going to get better…but it does get better, it does get easier…you just move on to another phase! So enjoy the phases you’re in and don’t worry if you’re in a difficult one…it will pass!
3) All of us parent differently and have different values. What is your most important parenting value?
There are so many things I want to pass on to my children. First and foremost, though I would like my kids to be kind, thoughtful, postitive and have good manners!
4) what motto do you try and live by?
Hmm I think mine would have to be try and live in the moment, in the present and be grateful for what you have. I personally find this quite hard to do..I’m constantly looking forward to things in the future, holiday’s, the next phase!…when my kids are older they’ll be able to do XYZ…I can’t wait for…But while it’s good to have things to look forward to it’s also important to appreciate what you have today..right now! Especially with kids because as cliche as it sounds they do grow up so fast and you’ll never get that time back!
5) What are your hopes for your children?
I want my children to be happy, confident and healthy. It’s heartbreaking when your child is upset or hurting…you just want them to be happy!! So yes that’s my hope that they grow up to be happy and confident.
6) what prompted you to start an account focusing on fun, healthy, family meals?
My best friend and my husband!! My friend was the one who suggested I start an instagram account and that was around a year ago now. It was also a time when my hubby was on gardening leave, we had lots of time together and we wanted to use this time to get fit and healthy. We had a bit of a lightbulb moment when we realised that just focusing a little more on food prep and planning could save a ton of morning stress with the kids and also with meal time in general. We also wanted our kids to eat healthily like we did..why couldn’t we all eat the same thing!?…and the success of that little experiment snowballed into what is now hungrylittlebears!
7) Do you think enough emphasis is placed on healthy eating by wider ‘powers’ like the government and media? Do you think these people have a responsibility to help parents with family meals?
I think the responsibility lies with both the wider powers and the parents but in answer to your question no I don’t think there is enough done by the wider powers to make sure the nation is eating healthily. Don’t get me wrong I think the responsilbity also lies with the parents and families themselves but it doesn’t help when you’re bombarded with unhealthy snacks wherever you turn…Jamie Oliver is running a campaign at the moment actually, #adenough to try and curb advertising on junk food aimed at kids! The more kids are targeted by these ads and the more they see these ads the more they’re going to want to eat these unhealthy snacks!…there are aisles and aisles of snacks in supermarkets all aimed at kids! It’s pretty crazy!…I do think the government should take some responsibility for this and the media too as well as the producers and retailers…we should all be working together…is it entirely necessary to pack a ton of sugar into things?? – Why would we want to create an obese nation?!
8) How easy do you find it to be as organised as you are in terms of meal planning? Is it something you’ve always done?
I have dipped in and out of meal planning over the years. The actual planning isn’t the hard bit, I enjoy that part! Coming up with interesting new meals, trying out new recipes etc…The planning actually makes the rest of the week so much easier! It takes away the daily task/panic of “argh what am I going to cook tonight” and saves you from constantly popping into the shops and spending way more money than you had originally planned…the amount of times I’ve popped in for a few ingredients and come out with 10 more!!! It’s the writing it up which is the time consuming bit but if I can help just one busy mum then that makes it all totally worth it!…and that’s why I do it and why I share! We’re all busy so if I can help with one aspect of a mothers busy day then that’s pretty amazing!
9) It could be argued that there was a shift away from home cooking and family meal times. Do you think it’s coming ‘back into fashion’ recently?
Yes I do! I think there definitely was a shift to tv dinners etc but there is definitely a shift towards home cooking…people are staying in more rather than going out…having fakeway meals and I do think there is a shift towards healthy eating and family meals…I hope so anyway! There is such a trend these days with paleo diets, plant based diets…it’s all pointing in the right direction I think!!… Family meal times are so important to us…not just the cooking and eating part but it’s the conversations you can have all together when you’re all sat around a table….that is when you’re not telling your youngest to sit back on his bottom!!!
10) Parenting is tough and beautiful all at the same time. Can you tell us about a tough time and a shining moment that you’ve had as a parent?
Let’s start with the tough time so we can end the interview with a shining time!!
So tough time – that was definitely when I had Maisie and the first 3 weeks of her life…i found it incredibly difficult to feed her, with mastisis and all sorts of pain and fever….that coupled with hormones raging made the first few weeks really tough. I had no idea what I was doing and thought that I was failing. It was hard to bond with Maisie..and the whole world tells you breast is best which I do think it is if you can do it but if you can’t you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it because as soon as I switched to a bottle and my body recovered Maisie was a different baby and I was totally a different mum. The first few weeks were really tough.
As for the peaks!…well we have shining moments all the time. As they are still so little I don’t think they’ve had their one shining moment but it’s all the natural milestones that you’ll remember…learning to ride a bike for the first time. Alfie has just learnt and I remember Maisie’s first go too! Losing their first teeth, doing well at school, cooking with me in the kitchen and being interested in that is a shining moment! I love that they love food too! haha they’re not called hungrylittlebears for nothing!!!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading Caroline’s interview as much as I did, I agree with so much of what she says!
Find her here –
Instagram – @hungrylittlebears
Blog – Hungry Little Bears