IMG_2587There are a consort of complicated things about navigating life with a small side kick. If what is currently plaguing you is the quest to find some easy nut-free, refined sugar, gluten free, earnest snacks that you can feel smug about stocking your children’s lunchboxes with, skip straight to the bottom.

In this house there are a couple of things blurbling on. For one, Will is threatening to abandon his midday nap. This is frankly, unacceptable. That oasis of unfettered time in the middle of the day, to tidy, to work, to regroup, to thumb through cookbooks and fritter away time on Instagram is worth its weight in saffron. Will’s ability to go down with his bunnies for at least a good stretch felt like the universe making amends for the scores of hours I spent leaning awkwardly over his cot, thumping a mattress with my right hand 20 cm away from his head between months 4 and 8, teaching him how to sleep (for those who are curious, I still have an overdeveloped right bicep from that repetitive movement).

The solution seems to jam the mornings with such business that by the time the clock strikes 12, if he won’t go to sleep, at least he’ll happily lie in his cot for a spell and listen to his music.

One simple way to keep him entertained is to bake together. He’ll happily stand up on a stool and mash and muddle, help me use the scissors to snip dried apricots (aka ‘COTS!’) into tiny pebble-pieces and sift together dry ingredients.

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 IMG_2577It’s not always Instagram friendly. It’s often messy and chaotic, but years ago when I imagined, misty eyed while searching desperately for two lines on a stick what parenthood might feel like, this is what I hoped for in my heart of hearts.

These cookies have emerged as a recent favourite shared project. They’ve got a little bit of protein from the rolled quinoa, are full of energy-sustaining oats and are sweetened only with bananas. They’re safe enough for us to take along to playdates with our nut-allergic friends (or to pack in a lunchbox to school). And they’re easy enough that even a two and a bit year old can make them with a bowl, a masher and a spatula.

If these don’t take your fancy, or you need a few other nut-free, refined sugar free, wheat-free lunch box options, consider the below.

(Nb, the wheat-free isn’t essential for everyone but I think it’s worth considering that if you’re deploying something else in place of wheat flour, then the likelihood is that replacement, whether it be oat flour, coconut flour, a pulse or a seed is going to provide a more sustained release of energy – which when we’re talking about small, active bodies, can be a good thing).

Eggless, Easy to Remember Muesli Cookies (choose a nut-free muesli)

Recipe here

Coconut Flour Blueberry Banana Bread

Recipe here

Blackberry Apple Oatflour Muffins

Recipe here

Flourless Nut Free Pomegranate and Coconut Brownies

Recipe here

Ginger, Pear, Ricotta and Borlotti Bean Loaf

Recipe here

Blueberry Quinoa Cookies

Recipe here

Apricot Oat Cookies

IMG_2587Makes 10-12 cookies. These freeze well and will also keep in a tupperware in the fridge for a week.

Shopping/foraging

IMG_25583 ripe bananas
2 tbps melted coconut oil/melted butter
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup/ 50 g rolled oats
1/2 cup 50 g rolled quinoa (can also replace with 50g oats)
2 tbsp desiccated coconut (can replace with 2 tbsp extra oats, ground flax or chia seeds if need)
1/2 cup/65 g dried apricots, snipped into small pieces (can replace with raisins, craisins, sultanas or dried cherries)
2 tbsp ground flax (or 2 tbsp chia seeds)
1/2 tsp baking powder

Here’s how we roll

1) Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2) Mash the bananas well in a large mixing bowl.

IMG_2568 2) Muddle in the remaining wet ingredients.

3) Add the dry ingredients.

IMG_25744) Stir to combine.

IMG_2575 5) Allow the mixture to sit for five minutes to help thicken. 

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6) Use an ice cream scoop or a a tablespoon to portion the cookies out onto the baking sheet. Flatten them slightly with the heel of your hand.

IMG_25817) Bake for 20-25 minutes until they are firm to touch. Allow to cool on baking parchment and store in the fridge for up to a week.

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