What do you make when you don’t feel like cooking? This is a serious question. It’s a question that inspired a hot bed of discussion on Food52 when it was first posed – and even led to a follow up episode of their podcast Burnt Toast. If what you need is an instant – fix, breakfast/ lunch/ dinner/ it’s 3 am I’m starving and I can’t be bothered to cook eggs hunger salving solution, skip straight to the recipe at the bottom. This Grimace-hued concoction is the answer to all of your problems.
It’s a curious curse to be uninspired by cooking when your ability to make a crust depends on it. To be fair, there’s quite a lot of food that belongs in the ‘Salon des Refusés‘ of my Instagram feed. It’s the scrambled eggs and smashed avocado on toasted corn tortillas or spelt sourdough (because nobody needs to look at that again, no matter how you try to gussy it up with a different green herb- coriander, parsley, sage fried in brown butter, tarragon, what have you). It’s the hastily made quesadillas cut into pleasing 6ths, stuffed with waifish slivers of red onion, two types of cheese (mozzarella and feta or goat for tang) and a small pond of chipotle sauce on the side for swiping through. It’s the swift heat and serve straight out of a fry pan of a drained tin of chickpeas, tuna in olive oil and whatever greens you have languishing in the crisper, topped with some dried chilli flakes and plenty of cracked pepper.
And that doesn’t even begin to scrape the top of the dwindling dregs of inspiration when it comes to feeding an opinionated toddler night after night – one who would happily exist on slices of avocado, blueberries, raw salmon and prawns sauteed in coconut oil for the rest of his life – and has no qualms with telling you why what is currently on his plate doesn’t meet his standards. (My kingdom for a child who would eat a piece of roast chicken,) The negotiations to get him to consume broccoli or carrot are up there with the Dayton Accords. A meal can now stretch to more than 70 minutes in duration, as I perch awkwardly at his eye level on a matching chair, 30 cm high off the ground and we painfully trade one blueberry for one bite of an item he considers contraband. (Thank god for podcasts, is all I can say).
When those days arrive when food holds little appeal, I’m grateful for the freezer stash. It’s the trove of things I prepare when I’m feeling flush and organised to tide me over on days that can go in the bin (and often end with me wrangling a large amount of refuse out to the curb). There’s sometimes cup size portions of my favoured black bean and sweet potato chilli, perfect for ‘nachos for one’ (another not-so-photogenic option that doesn’t make it online). There’s often ziplock bags of carrot, lentil and ginger soup. And then there are bags that look like this.
They’re ready portioned with bananas that are sometimes past their prime, blueberries, oats, cinnamon and chia seeds. All that’s needed is for me to empty the contents straight into the belly of a blender and add yoghurt and milk.
The end result is luridly purple, pleasingly sweet and satisfyingly filling. It works perfectly as breakfast on-the-hop, but has enough substance that I can kid myself it works fine as an occasional dinner substitute (more so when I’m flying solo).
I strongly believe that some days deserve to end with meals drunk with a straw, while you lie prone on the couch. Of course if you wanted to up the protein count you could blend through some silken tofu, or add a raw egg straight to the mix (immune compromised/elderly/ pregnant etc that’s not for you). If you wanted some additional good fats then some avocado or a dollop of almond butter would blend right down and add a pleasing silkiness. But I find the muddle of yoghurt, oats, banana and blueberries is more than enough to settle a stomach until such a time arrives when I can again corral the energy to be enthused about food once more.
Blueberry, Oat and Chia Smoothies
1 ripe banana
2 tbsp/10 g rolled oats/ rolled quinoa
1 tbsp/ 10 g chia seeds/ ground flaxseeds
1/2 cup/ 85 g blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup/ 140 g Greek Yoghurt (or coconut yoghurt)
1 cup/ 250 ml milk (cow, almond etc)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Here’s how we roll
1) Place all of the ingredients in a strong blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.