Addressing a table of four women in her Barrhaven home, Brandy McDevitt begins the Picky Eaters workshop, one of the many programs offered by TummyThyme, by reading Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.
While each parent is quite familiar with the book, they are even more familiar with this idea of kids being completely turned off by food. Feeling a sense of failure, Brandy assures these women that they’re trying to do the right things, just in the wrong way. Encouraging them that they’re not bad parents, Brandy, along with her business partner, Melanie Roet, know exactly what these women are going through as their own food challenges were the catalyst for the creation of TummyThyme. Both registered dieticians, Brandy and Melanie met 10 years ago. Having their first borns around the same time, the women began sharing their struggles in terms of their children’s eating.
“As we shared our frustrations, along with our successes, that’s where a lot of the discussion for growing and building TummyThyme came from,” explains Brandy. Built from their own experiences, Melanie says TummyThyme is filling a void for Ottawa parents. “There’s nothing that’s really like TummyThyme out there,” she says. “There’s a lot of information about feeding your child and a lot of it ends up being conflicting information. We wanted to be the source in Ottawa that consolidates all of that information for parents to make it a one-stop-shop for getting clear and concise, reliable information.”
But information is just the beginning of the TummyThyme experience. Brandy and Melanie believe that the proof is in the pudding-literally- and have demonstrations of nutritious meals that parents can try at a workshop and make at home.
“People live such fast-paced lives now and it’s easy to get into the idea that dinner comes from a restaurant or comes from a box,” says Melanie. “So we hope to show that you can, with little effort, put together meals that are nutritious and tasty and get them onto the table just as fast as it takes the delivery guy to get to your house.”
With a focus on newborn to school-age children, Brandy and Melanie provide recipes for even the most novice cooks. “We do try to always provide a range in the recipes,” says Melanie. “We’re mindful of including some easy ones that are encouraging and maybe some that are more complicated, that we think are worth the extra steps because of the nutrients they provide. Once parents buy into the idea that feeding your child nutritiously is of value, then they’re willing to do the extra steps.”
Depending on the parent’s preference, Brandy and Melanie also provide individual consultations.“We follow them for six months,” explains Brandy. “We work with them through a variety of stages and we adapt things as we go. This way we can really work one-on-one with people and set individual goals for them.”
While experts when it comes to nutrition, Brandy and Melanie admit the business side of starting their own company was completely foreign to them. “That was a huge learning curve for us,” says Melanie. “We knew what material we wanted to present, but running a business was a whole new ball game for us.”
“And it still is,” adds Brandy. “At the beginning when you don’t have a lot of capital, you reach out to people that you know have the experience and we’ve definitely had a lot of people help us in different areas.” Being the only two staff on the TummyThyme team and still working part time with two children each, Brandy and Melanie have had to find ways to balance their work and home lives, but at the end of the day, they say it’s all worth it.
“For me, after doing a session, it brings it all back,” says Brandy. “I feel that I made a difference and these parents motivate me to keep going and keep trying to reach out to other parents as much as possible.”
“If we wanted to, we could throw ourselves into this at a ridiculous pace and we could expand faster,” adds Melanie. “But neither of us want that. Our families are always number one, so our growth and expansion is relative to that.”
So at a steady pace with realistic goals, what do Brandy and Melanie see for the future of TummyThyme?
“I would like it when a parent in Ottawa has a question about nutrition, that TummyThyme’s the first thing that comes to their mind,” says Melanie. “I would like to have that kind of recognition, as the source for nutrition advice in Ottawa. That would make me really happy.”
For now, Brandy and Melanie are focusing on the present. And after providing tips and tricks at the Picky Eaters workshop, each parent went away with a little more confidence and with the hope that maybe tonight, they too would see their children eat green eggs and ham.
TummyThyme has Ottawa and Barrhaven locations. For further information, visit tummythyme.com.
Sweet Potato and Edamame (9 to 12 months)
4 sweet potatoes
375ml (1 ½ cups) edamame
15ml (1 tbsp) olive oil (omit
if you’d like)
1.2ml (¼ tsp) cinnamon
(or to taste)
Peel and cube sweet potatoes.
Boil or steam in a small amount of water until tender. Remove potatoes from water – reserve water.
Boil edamame in 125ml (½ cup)
water for 10 minutes. Puree edamame with 187 ml (¾ cup) to 250 ml (1 cup) of reserved sweet potato water until smooth.
Mash sweet potatoes to desired consistency. Mix both together.
Put into ice cube trays and freeze.
For older kids and adults, this can also be made into a unique soup by adding more water (or more
reserved sweet potato water if you have it) and adding a little pepper or cayenne for a little spice.