Claudine Keane is a breath of fresh air. The columnist, model and wife of the famous Ireland goalscorer Robbie Keane leads what the media likes to describe as a glamorous jet-set life.
Meet her in person, though, and the down-to-earth mother-of-two tells you that she spends a lot of her time trying to make sure her sons get good food and have as normal a life as possible.
It’s a challenge, particularly since Ireland assistant coach Robbie Keane was offered a similar role with Middlesbrough in June.
After six years in LA, the family had settled in Malahide, Co Dublin, where Claudine (née Palmer) grew up, but now they are on the road again.
For now, they will commute as the Keanes don’t want to uproot their boys. Robert Junior, 10, is playing with Middlesbrough Academy (he scored a hat-trick last week) but he will be back in Malahide for school next month. Younger brother Hudson, three, meanwhile, is getting ready to start pre-school.
When Feelgood meets Claudine Keane, the conversation is focused on healthy school lunches, fussy eaters and why healthy convenience food is the way to go.
“Everyone has busy lives and parents shouldn’t feel guilty for picking up something in a shop,” she says.
"Good nutrition is a key concern, particularly as we are a family on the go. That is why we want to get behind this,” she says.
When she can though, the ambassador for Spar’s Better Choices Back to School campaign, tries to cook everything from scratch as she likes to know exactly what is in her food.
“I do a huge food shop every week. My elder son is 10 but he eats like a full-grown teen.” He has also developed an interest in nutrition as the academy gives its young players a list of what they should eat. He’s aware of calcium, protein, good and bad carbs and is now even willing to try orange juice because he knows it will give him the vitamin C he needs.
That’s in stark contrast to the young boy who ate nothing but mashed potato. “He was such a fussy child. All he would eat was very simple food, mashed. He didn’t like too much colour or strong smells.
"I persisted and persisted and persisted and, lo and behold, one day I put some prawns on a plate and I think, in a daze, he picked one up and started to eat it. Now they are one of his favourite thing.”
Hudson was not as fussy but, says his mum, he still has his limitations. “I spend a lot of time in the kitchen because I like to know what we are eating. Also I know the way that they like food prepared.”
It means that breakfast can be a complicated affair. Robert senior, for instance, has poached egg with avocado, Claudine likes hers scrambled while Robert junior eats his boiled.
However, Claudine admits she will only eat her eggs scrambled. “They probably got the fussiness from me really. I get it. I’m just as bad and specific about things.”
Lunch could be a mixed chicken salad with cranberries while evening meals are anything from a quick dish of linguini and prawns to salmon or spaghetti bolognese. There is veg too, but it tends to be moved around on the plate a lot.
“Once they are doing something with it, that’s fine. There is no panic,” says their mum. It’s all about balance, she says.
Mindful of her own diet and wellbeing, she says she is not tough on herself and makes sure to have her guilty pleasures — meals out, a daily chocolate Kimberley biscuit dipped in tea or some milk chocolate.
“Everything in moderation,” she says. “Food is there to be enjoyed and life is definitely for living. If you are even thinking about being healthy, you are on the right track.”
- For Claudine Keane’s back-to-school lunch tips, see www.spar.ie/betterchoices