Four years ago, Polly Byles took a chance and followed her heart from London to the Middle East.
The founder of luxury lifestyle blog Follow Your Sunshine packed her bags and headed halfway across the world for a new beginning with her husband-to-be, Richard. Now the couple is happily married and proud parents of a bubbly, feisty 18-month-old daughter, Sophia Molly.
It’s obvious from Polly’s blog that the subject of food is important to her. A whole section is filled with brunch photos, enticing restaurant reviews and inspiring dining adventures from around the globe. But what about at home? “I love simple, wholesome ingredients. Especially with good quality products like extra virgin olive oil, herbs and spices. All of these items are becoming more accessible, which has really helped,” she says.
For Polly, nutrition always comes first when creating meals for her daughter, although little Sophia has now become more assertive regarding food choices, so the texture and look of meals have become more important. “This is something I never thought I would find myself dealing with before I had a baby, but as long as it’s not too sloppy, rubbery or chewy, we’re ok! There are still days when her entire meal ends up all over the floor no matter what I make.”
Being a mum of a young, active toddler can be challenging when preparing daily meals. As most families will know, it is vital to have a trusted arsenal of well-loved, easy-to-make meals. For Polly, convenience is key. “I’ve become a lot more relaxed about what we eat—as long as we are hitting the main food groups in a meal then that’s fine!” she says.
To save time, Polly loves preparing meals that can be easily stored in the freezer to be defrosted and reheated later. She’s also a huge fan of simple nutritional breakfast items prepared as meals throughout the day such as smashed avocado and eggs or a big bowl of porridge with fruit, seeds and honey. At the end of the day, less time in the kitchen equals more time to spend with her family and to dedicate to her blog.
These dishes are some of Polly and Sophia’s favourites. Both recipes can be frozen in serving-size portions and then left to defrost in the refrigerator the night before you plan to use them.
Banana and blueberry breakfast fritters
Makes 8–10 fritters
A simple, sugar-free recipe to start the day right!
- 2 ripe bananas
- Dash vanilla extract
- 1 sprinkle cinnamon
- 1/3 cup buckwheat flour or all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup blueberries
- Coconut oil for the pan
- Mash the bananas in a medium bowl. Mix in the vanilla extract.
- Stir in the flour and cinnamon.
- Fold in the blueberries carefully.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and add a little coconut oil to coat the pan.
- Spoon one tablespoon of batter per fritter into the frying pan. Fry for one to two minutes until golden brown on each side.
- Remove fritters and allow to cool before serving.
Cheesy quinoa balls
Makes 40 balls
Made with the superfood quinoa and gluten-free breadcrumbs for a nutrient-packed anytime meal or snack. Serve on their own as a snack or in tomato sauce over spaghetti.
- 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed, drained
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small finely chopped brown onion
- 2 finely minced garlic cloves
- 1 peeled and grated carrot
- 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves plus extra for garnish
- 2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan
- 1 egg, whisked
- 1 lightly packed cup gluten-free multigrain bread crumbs
- 100g bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls), cut into 1cm pieces
- Place quinoa and water in a saucepan over high heat. When the water begins to boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 12 minutes or until the water is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Drain, then set aside to cool.
- Heat two teaspoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Saute the onion for three to four minutes until softened.
- Add the garlic and carrot, and cook, stirring, for two minutes or until aromatic. Set aside to cool.
- Process the chickpeas in a food processor until they resemble coarse crumbs. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Add the quinoa, onion mixture, basil, parmesan, egg and breadcrumbs to the chickpeas. Mix until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Using 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mixture, shape the chickpea and quinoa batter into flat rounds. Place a piece of bocconcini in the centre of each round. Shape mixture around the cheese to form a ball.
- Heat the remaining oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. In batches, cook the quinoa balls, turning frequently for six to eight minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a plate. Set aside to cool before serving.
Polly’s Top Tips
- Cook large portions to store as leftovers in the freezer
- A good quality knife with a sharpener is always a sound investment
- Cook with simple, wholesome ingredients
- Have a cupboard filled with classic child-friendly staples such as pasta and passata (strained tomatoes)