I should eat more vegetables. I should be more flexible. I should spend more time whimsically painting with my toddler, then file my mail like an adult and sew up the diminutive holes where moths have feasted on my favourite shirt. I should spend less time falling down google-holes about whatever happened to the cast of ‘Centre Stage’.

If what you need in your life right now is an answer to at least two of those quandaries, in an ever switchable savoury loaf, skip straight to the bottom for the recipe.

Here’s an update from this neck of the wood. This recipe is proving something of a godsend right now.

This past week has seen some searing highs  of parenting.

I’ve been toying with the notion that perhaps one child is what the universe has in store for us. So I’ve been taking that idea out for a spin, chewing it over in my mind and seeing what it feels like.  So of course, instead of just trundling on like a normal person, I threw myself into a frenzy of ‘appreciate what you have while you have it’. What kind of madness does that look like, you may ask? A little like this. You get into a habit of going to stealthily pick up your near-comatose toddler son while he’s sleeping, just to snaffle a quiet cuddle – because he’s not getting any younger (yes, the fact that this skims a little too close to non-consensual physical contact isn’t lost on me. I’m a mite uncomfortable on reflection too). Then you become infected with the zeal of being an ‘engaged parent’ during waking hours; you set up painting easels and stamps in the backyard, you go on nature walks in the neighborhood and pick flowers together, you let him stir the bechamel (hang the mess) and make airplanes out of the empty boxes from the wine delivery.

Then by 6.30 pm that evening you’re spent  in a way that belies reason or sense and can’t get your hands around a glistening glass of pink wine fast enough.

And then there were some lows; that morning a few days later when your toddler is sent home from daycare with a suspicious cough, that turns out to be asthma. What followed were eight hours of a toddler with ‘roid rage inside with teeming rain and a leaking roof. (Once again, wine o’clock couldn’t come fast enough.)

A few iterations of this loaf have fueled us through all of the above. It’s proved a nifty way to get more goodness into myself and my offspring- particularly since all he will happily eat is cake (in the midst of a ‘roid frenzy he looked me clear in the eye and indignantly flung a cherry tomato clean across the room). It’s a great substitute for bread, since some tedious hormonal glitches right now mean my body is less happy with wheat and sugar than it’s been in a while (happy Easter to you too).

I can cheerfully report it’s terrific sliced into fingers and toted off to parks in petite tupperwares for a mid morning snack. It’s grand toasted in a panini press and adorned with avocado, a fried egg and coriander when you get a moment to yourself.  And it’s just the thing to keep in the freezer for a rainy day, or for a crummy day that’s felled a friend.

But the really genius thing is how flexible it is. If it attended my weekly yoga class it would take the place of the blonde girl in the far right corner, who can curl herself into poses that make me grimace, without sweating a bead. How is it flexible you ask? For one, the starring vegetables are open to being usurped by all sorts of understudies- so long as they’re of the root – ish  variety. You could cast two cups of pumpkin and one cup of courgette, or one cup of sweet potato, another of carrot and one of parsnip. Essentially, raid your crisper and put the dregs to good use. (The only thing that is mandatory is that you squeeze them out before you mix them, otherwise you’re going to have a more sodden result. And a sodden loaf is a sad thing). Then there are the dry ingredients; the same principle applies. Use all ground nuts, use rolled quinoa and oats blitzed to a flour, use chickpea flour, use cooked quinoa or a combination of the above. Make your decision based on who you need to feed (gluten free, folks on FODMAP, nut free etc). The good thing is that all of the options have a good portion of added protein in them and will contribute a balance of nutty sweetness.

This loaf has quickly become a favoured staple in this house. It’s one of those few prized recipes that I’ve scrawled on a piece of paper and kept in the spice drawer, for easy access until I’ve committed it to memory.

Some days I may not be able to remember which way is up, or be certain of what’s around the corner- but I still know what good food tastes like. And it’s a little like this.

Switchable Savoury Loaf

Makes 10-12  slices

Shopping/foraging

2 cups of grated (or blitzed in a food processor) butternut pumpkin/ sweet potato/ carrot/ parsnip (or combination of the above)
1 cup of grated courgette ( or pear/ apple or additional pumpkin/sweet potato/carrot/ parsnip)
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup/60 ml olive oil/ coconut oil/ melted butter
1 cup/100 g almond meal/ hazelnut meal (if nut free replace with any of the other options below)
1 cup/100 g oat flour/ chickpea flour/ quinoa flour
1 cup/100 g rolled quinoa/ cooked quinoa/ rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

Here’s how we roll

1 Preheat the oven to 160 C/320F and line a 20 x 12.5 cm loaf tin with baking paper.

2. Combine your grated or food processed vegetables and place in a clean chux/J cloth/ piece of muslin. Squeeze tight to remove as much liquid as you can (you can reserve this juice and drink it/ add it to soup/ cook quinoa in etc).

3. Combine your squeezed vegetables with the eggs and olive oil in a bowl.

4. Stir to combine.  Fold in the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

5. Press the mix into a lined loaf tin. Sprinkle the seeds over the top.

6. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the top is golden and firm and a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin.

7. Slice and eat as is, or toast it in a panini press and top with smashed avocado and fried eggs, or slather with butter, or hummus, or whatever else makes you happy.