Has it always been this hard to get it right?

(Firstly, for those of you who find my habit of writing a missive about life and how it connects to what I’m cooking tiresome, feel free to jump straight to the recipe at the bottom).

Right, back to it then. Particularly when it comes to what we use to fuel ourselves I’m finding the choices increasingly loaded. A morning snack is no longer simple fodder, it can be self defining- particularly if scoffed in public or shared with offspring. We are what we eat. (Though it seems these days in many more ways we are what we won’t eat).

In one respect; bravo. Any decision not to support monolithic agribusinesses and cram our bodies with empty carbs, preservatives and transfats is a positive thing. On the other hand, some days being so GOOD can seem exhausting.  Convenience food didn’t get its moniker by being hard to get.

It’s also tiring when things are repeatedly framed by a negative. These days to do what I feel is right, I find myself saying ‘no’ a lot (and not just to a small person who is determined to climb on the glass coffee table).

It’s no to unsustainable fish. No to HFCS and preservatives.  No to excesses of sugar. No to meat and chicken and eggs that aren’t ethically sourced. No to cans with BPA.  No to nuts, if you’re sending food to school or playgroup. And then, well, if you live in this house (both real, or ideological), then it’s more often than not no to high GI white stodge.

So how about we start focusing on some ‘yeses’.

I say yes to shortcuts if they help. If taking a squeezy tube of purees out with me helps me get through the day with Will with a little more grace then I now happily do it (Only Organics are currently a favourite-   I may have also once or twice got stuck into one of their sachets of  blueberry, banana and quinoa when I was starving).

Certainly, from an environmental perspective it would be better if I decanted some organic home made puree into a recyclable sachet to tote with me. But I find it hard to be prefect-perfect every day.

I say yes to life hacks.  Here are some other food based hacks in high circulation in this house.

1) Once a week I boil a bunch of eggs in bulk and keep them in the fridge (place the eggs in a pot with a pinch of bicarb to help the shells shirk away and cover with cold water.  Bring to the boil, take off the heat and then leave to cool in the water. Alternatively, if you have a thermomix, then put them in the steamer basket with 500 g of water beneath. Cook on Varoma, speed 1 for 14 minutes, then plunge into cold water). They’re excellent fast food when you’re flagging, or you need a new source of protein for a small one who suddenly just flung his fish  onto the floor. They’ll keep for a week. If  sleep deprived, write the date on the shell before you put them in there.

2) I keep a bag of frozen blueberries in the freezer at all times. Smoothies, bircher and chia pudding  all taste good when there are some cheerful pops of purple involved. They are also excellent for when you trip over a stack of wayward blocks in the middle of the night and stub your toe badly.

3) When in doubt at the supermarket, I buy bananas. If they go brown and look traumatised, I throw them in the freezer for a head start on an ice cream, smoothie, cakes or no nonsense bakes. But the likelihood is they won’t get to that point- at sometime you’re going to wish you had one to quickly inhale before you skip out the door, or to feed a small fry.

3) I make a tupperware of quinoa on a Sunday night in the microwave. Lunches or speedy suppers with tuna, some greens and feta, or a much needed second breakfast with melon and yoghurt are then quickly sorted.

It also means you’re half way to making some delicious snacks ( like this one, or what follows).

Some sloggish days it’s the shining horizon of a 10 am latte and a snack that gets me through.

Maybe your spouse is away for work, your baby has had a gastro of sorts since last Thursday and the battery in the car just died. Maybe your teenage neighbour is skipping school again, spending his afternoons in his sunny backyard smoking spliffs- and while a splinter of you would like to go and join him,  his bongo playing is driving you bonkers.

What we need on those days are a backlog of snacks from recipes which are virtually indestructible.

This one says no to a handful of things; no flour, no nuts, no added sugar, no dairy. But it says yes to lots of other stellar ingredients. It says yes to slow release energy from oats, flax and quinoa. Yes to sneakily hidden protein. Yes to using up the sad bananas and the last of Sunday’s quinoa. Yes to sweet pops of blueberry and all of their antioxidant goodness. Yes to the gleaming zip of lemon.  They are also a terrific template; swap the quinoa for ground almonds or hazelnuts (if nuts are ok). Switch the blueberries and lemon for some chocolate and cinnamon, or raspberries and coconut. After putting it to use in rolling meatballs I now use an ice cream scoop to easily portion out the batter, flatten them gently with the heel of my hand and then bake them for 20 minutes. They keep happily in the fridge for a week and make an excellent snack (or dinner, when you’re on your own and really just can’t be stuffed).

Yes? Good.

Blueberry Quinoa Cookies

Makes approx 20 cookies

Shopping/foraging

2 ripe bananas
1/4 cup/60 ml neutral tasting oil, melted butter or coconut oil
1 egg, beaten
1 cup of cooked quinoa (150 g) – replace with equal volume of almond or hazelnut meal or wholemeal flour
2 cups of oats/180 g
1/2 cup/ 50 g ground flax
1 tsp baking powder
Zest of 1/2 lemon
125 g fresh or frozen blueberries

 Here’s how we roll

1) Preheat the oven to 180C/350 F and line one large, or two medium baking sheets with greaseproof paper.

2) In a large bowl muddle together the mashed banana, oil and beaten egg.

3) Add in the remaining dry ingredients and the lemon zest.

4) Stir until you have a cohesive batter.

5) Rain in the blueberries and stir to combine. Be careful not to stir too vigorously, or else you’ll end up with blue batter.

6) Use an ice cream scoop, or a tablespoon to portion out the batter into cookies the size of golfballs.

7) Use the heel of your hand to flatten them slightly. Bake for 20 minutes, until firm to touch and golden brown.

8) Store in a tupperware in the fridge. Enjoy with a coffee or a cup of tea, either on your own, or shared with little ones or friends.