No Flour Courgette and Seed ‘Bread’


Change is not something I’m good at. Growing up, my sister would rearrange the furniture in her bedroom up to three times a year, relishing the new spaces and angles it opened up.

I never once willingly elected to move my bed from its nook against the far right wall.

I take comfort in continuity. To wit; I tied the knot with my first serious boyfriend. I haven’t altered my hair since I was 17 (following a rather disastrous experiment with flippy layers just before my first big trip overseas).  I can easily recite the  childhood home phone numbers of my closest clutch of friends- because that’s how long I’ve known them.

Yet there have been some significant shifts that have washed over us in the last twelve months. We packed up one life and moved back across an ocean or two. We popped out a baby  (a small person who somehow thinks he is royal and sits in his pram with one arm constantly raised, waving slowly at everyone we walk past). I wrote another book (out in July!)  But all of that upheaval has been steadied by the fact that we returned to something we knew. We came back to the very same flat The Hungry One and I first shared together in a once-semi industrial area of Sydney, with its expanse of shimeji mushroom carpet linking the edge of the kitchen through the  living area. We put up the same Papunya Tula paintings above the same worn leather couch and unpacked the scores of Riedel wine glasses that were our wedding presents (we’ve drunk out of them less than a dozen times. Fine stem ware and grabby little hands aren’t such a happy marriage).

But two more major things have happened in the last six months. There is signed paperwork in the filing cabinet to remind me that one sunny Saturday in January, when I was rattling about on about five hours of broken sleep, we drove north across the harbour bridge. We went and looked at some houses. And three hours later, after a few first coy conversations and increasingly strident negotiations, we had effectively bought one.  We’d been inside it for all of fifteen minutes (welcome to the pace of real estate in Sydney).

There’s a rollicking expanse of grass out the back of the house. A gluttonous excess of bedrooms for this family-of-three. A bathroom with mottled blue tiles which we later discovered didn’t actually contain a toilet. A kitchen which is something of a compromise. But it’s a twenty minute walk from the beach- a beach most charmingly referred to as Freshwater.


It’s the spot where surfing was first introduced to Australia. There among the salt and the sand I’m hoping we’ll find space for Will/Captain Hectic to roam. And there’s the promise of a kitchen garden to come.

We negotiated for an extended settlement. We found ourself with five months in which we could sell our little flat and extricate ourselves from the bustle of cafes and inner city life we’ve come to know.

And now, that time is nearly up.  And despite how easily everything else seems to have passed in our stride, I’m stumbling a little.

I should be packing, yet I’ve been distracting myself by looking at wallpaper to cover the narrow, rather ghastly school uniform maroon feature wall which greets anyone as soon as they step through the front door. I’ve ordered a bed for the guest room. And I’m losing  hours weighing up the options of freestanding stoves and ovens to replace the child-sized device that is currently in the kitchen.

And I’m occasionally ducking up to our new ‘hood, to reassure myself and see if there are decent cafes up there to help ease the transition. Turns out there are a few. And it was at one of them that I discovered this sort of loaf. They had it scribed on the menu as  toasted ‘ancient grains’ bread. It was as substantial as a doorstop, but was sweet from the oats and busy with a bounty of nuts and seeds. It was dense, but unlike the ballast that arrives after eating a lot of wheat toast, after I ate it I still felt light. I was surprised to find out it was bound together by the soldering properties of psyllium husk and water.

For reluctant, slow burning adapters like me, baby steps are important. I realise that same principle can also apply when adapting to a new way of eating. When I turned away from my beloved white carbohydrates as the basis of most of my meals it was bread I really missed the most.  The ease of  a sandwich. The relaxed simplicity of avocado on toast with scrambled eggs. In its stead I started making lots of warm salads, crowded with pulses and protein, vegetables and a whisper of dairy (often instagramming them as #lunchfromaslowcarbplace along the way so I could remember what worked and what didn’t).  It was good. It forced me to be more creative. But now I have this loaf in my arsenal and with so much other change afoot, I’ve resorted to the comfort of old.

This loaf is something that I easily make at the beginning of the week and have stored in a tupperware in the fridge. I’ve usually got bulk amounts of the nuts and seeds in the cupboard (and the psyllium is available in the health food aisle of the supermarket- or else in a health food store). The courgette is there for a little extra moisture and a sneaky hit of hidden veg. I’ll most often top thin slices that I’ve toasted in a sandwich press with smashed avocado, salt and pepper (it’s an Australian thing). Sometimes there’s feta, coriander and hot sauce as well. Sometimes there are scrambled eggs. And most recently I’ve turned to making a tuna ‘aioli’, by whizzing a tin of tuna in oil with a raw egg in the food processor until it’s emulsified.

It’s old but it’s new. It’s comforting, but a little exciting. It’s a whole bunch of seeds of change, bound together in a familiar package.

It’s all about baby steps. I think we can do this.  Next week we leap into the unknown. Wish us luck.

No Flour Courgette and Seed ‘Bread’

Recipe inspired and adapted from Sarah Britton.

Makes 1x 21 cm loaf, with about 14 slices.


1 courgette, grated (around 200 g)
2 tbsp olive oil (plus a little extra for greasing the pan)
65 g almonds
100 g sunflower seeds
90 g flax seeds
145 g oats
50 g pepitas/pumpkin seeds
30 g/ 3 tbsp chia seeds
25 g psylium husk
315 ml water
1 tsp salt

Here’s how we roll

1) In a  lightly greased 21 cm loaf tin combine the grated courgette (or blitzed in a food processor) with the olive oil.

2) Place the tin over some digital scales and measure in the remaining ingredients.

3) Stir very well to combine.

4) Pat the mixture down firmly into the tin, trying to ensure that the liquid is evenly distributed across the mix (if it is not, then some bits make break off like shale).

5) Let the mix sit for two hours, or overnight, to allow the psyllium and chia to swell and bond everything together.

6) Preheat the oven to 180C/350 F.

7) Bake the loaf for 25 minutes, then gently turn out upside down onto a baking tray lined with baking paper (if by any chance any edges get stuck in the pan, just gently scrape them off and pat them back onto where they came from. Bake out of the tin for another 25 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave it inside to cool.

8) This loaf is best when sliced and then toasted in a toasted sandwich press, leaving you with a crisp exterior. Nb, this is more fragile than ordinary bread, so it pays to be a little gentle.

  1. Break a leg for your big move… I am also not great at change, I need some slow adjusting. But this sounds very exciting! On another note, I am really into trying this bread, but don’t think I have ever seen psylium husk here… it seems like a pretty important ingredient to bind all the seeds and nuts, any suggestion what I could use to substitute it?

  2. Oh I’ve been waiting for the recipe for this one after seeing your Instagram pictures – on the list to make this weekend. Any suggestions in absence of a sandwich press? I don’t have one at home, and the work one was confiscated following someone enthusiastically cleaning it on the plates with Jif…

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