The FODMAP free challenge: two weeks to go!

So, I’ve been following the elimination phase for almost four weeks now. It really is much easier the second time around. My body doesn’t crave the things it did the first time, i.e. wheat, sweet fruits etc… but that’s not to say it’s been easy or that I’ve been a saint.

I have slipped up once or twice, as expected … although it made me feel considerably worse than it has done previously. I put it down to ruthlessly cutting out the FODMAPs again; I guess my body has become especially intolerant to these things for not being exposed to them at all in recent weeks.

The times that I have cheated have been when I’m out and about, and in need of sustenance. This is always my vice: if there isn’t a totally low FODMAP option, I tend to take the next best option, which normally incorporates some lentils, or some garlic, or some fructose… FODMAPs I choose because generally I know I tolerate these relatively well.

One key message, which if I could, I would illuminate with blinding, flashing bulbs?

SMALL PORTION OF TOLERATED FODMAP + ANOTHER SMALL PORTION OF TOLERATED FODMAP = HIGH FODMAP PORTION 

That is to say, me diving into a lentil salad with a very large portion of red cabbage alongside it in order to avoid all the wheat-smothered cafe foods whilst out in London last weekend might actually have done me more harm than if I’d just scoffed the scotch egg, with its delicious (but negligible) breadcrumbed exterior.

As soon as I’d been FODMAP free for three days though, I felt fine again. And so onwards with the elimination phase, with the revised knowledge at the front of my mind for reintroductions: only challenge ONE FODMAP at a time, and do so in regulated portion sizes as instructed by Monash and your dietitian. 

Lunch in a flash: Fennel and tuna salad

Fennel and tuna salad

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find low FODMAP lunchtimes can be a tedious affair if you’re prepping meals at work.

If I haven’t made anything ahead, lunchtime means looking for quick fixes; an easy lunch that I can throw together with minimal ingredients and fuss. The trouble is, to stick to a raw low FODMAP lunch, the options open to us are few. I only really ever eat salads, sushi, or oat and rice cakes slathered with cheese. All of the above are great! But it’s easy to lose the variety, meaning often I’ll fall in love with one kind of salad, eat it until I can’t stand it, and so begin to search for the next option.

This isn’t a great way to eat of course, especially when options are so limited for us low fodmappers. So, since deciding to re-do my eliminations, I’ve been trying to embrace some different ingredients throughout my week.

For salads, I like to keep a few staples at work like olive oil, vinegar and a lemon, so that there’s always a something to form a decent dressing – no matter how bland the salad beneath! This salad is anything but bland though. By slicing half a fennel bulb finely, stirring through tuna and lemon zest, it’s instantly so much more fresh than what I usually serve myself up at lunchtime.

you will need:

1/2 a fennel bulb, raw.
zest and juice of half a lemon
1 small tin of tuna
olive oil

method:

Finely slice your fennel and place in a bowl. Grate your lemon zest over it, then squeeze the juice in. Add your tuna, and finally drizzle with plenty of olive oil. Season well, and enjoy!

Low FODMAP Banoffee Pie

low fodmap banoffee pie

I picked my brother up from the airport yesterday – he’s been away in Hong Kong for five months and so today we had a huge roast dinner with all of the family to welcome him home; it was such a great day.

I wanted to make a cheek-achingly sweet pudding he used to love as a kid – banoffee pie. Of course – we’re about to start the third week of the FODMAP free challenge – so no cheating allowed!

Thanks to the Monash app though – I was able to double and triple check, and we are allowed up to two plain sweet biscuits in a portion, and cream, so long as it’s whipped. So you have two options with this pie if you’re making a low FODMAP version: either use plain rich tea biscuits for your base, or use gluten free digestives. Digestives make a more robust base with texture, but rich tea work well too. The star of this pie though, is the pecan. Don’t make it without them, they bolster the base with crunch and flavour that marries beautifully with the banana and once candied, they bling up the topping with their glistening coats.

low fodmap banoffee pie

the evolution of pie

you will need:

(for the base:)
225g rich tea biscuits OR gluten free digestives
100g pecans
125g salted butter (melted)

(for the filling:)
125g salted butter
100g soft brown sugar
400g dulce de leche or caramel
1/2 tsp salt

(for the topping:)
60g pecans
15g icing sugar
4 ripe bananas
juice of half a lemon
275ml double cream
1/4 tsp coffee granules/ground coffee

method

To make the base: crush up your biccies into crumbs (you can use a food processor or just throw into a sandwich bag and smash with a rolling pin).
Chop the pecans roughly, keeping the pieces fairly small.
Add the melted butter and stir through. Press into a medium sized pie dish or spring form pan. Pop it in the fridge to stiffen a little while you make the filling.

To make this, add the butter and brown sugar to a pan and melt together on a low heat – being sure to stir constantly. Pour in your dulce de leche / caramel and salt and stir through, allowing to bubble. If you want to make this a salted caramel affair, add an extra few twists to your liking. Take off the heat, and then pour onto your biscuit base. Pop back in the fridge to cool for about an hour.

To make the candied pecans, rinse them under water, drain and cover with the icing sugar. Pop them into the oven at about 180 degrees and bake for 10-15 mins, being sure to check them every couple of minutes to ensure they don’t catch. Remove and leave to cool – the sugar will harden and form beautiful, sparkling crystals.

Ok! When you’re about ready to serve, whip your cream, adding the coffee as you go. It’s just a subtle flavour through the cream, but it works with all the sweetness this pud has got going on.

Slice your bananas thinly, and drizzle your lemon juice over them. Place them in circles over the pie. Dollop the whipped cream on top, smoothing out as much as you like. Finally, decorate with your sparkling pecans, and you’re ready to serve!

Gooey, gorgeous, gluten-free banoffee heaven. Sunday wouldn’t be Sunday without a treat, would it?

low fodmap banoffee pie

Low FODMAP pesto

Low FODMAP pesto

Low FODMAP pesto

Pasta and pesto. Two of my old dear friends.

Like most of us low fodmappers, I had to kiss those two friends goodbye when I started the diet, due to the fact that when combined, they create a fructan-filled recipe for disaster – literally.

I don’t just miss pasta and pesto because it was tasty, I often pine (nut) for it because it’s a convenient meal choice when you’re in a hurry, being indecisive, or are low on ingredients and inspiration. That’s why pasta and pesto are old dear friends.

Last night I resolved to resurrect them in my diet – and having made my own pesto, I can’t believe I hadn’t done it sooner.

You’ll need a mini chopper or food processor for this recipe!

Low FODMAP pesto

YOU WILL NEED: (makes one small jar)

A handful of nuts (I used Brazil nuts – but you could use almonds or a smaller amount of toasted pine nuts)
Two handfuls of rocket
A handful of fresh basil
A handful of Parmesan
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp garlic oil
zest and juice of half a lemon
A pinch of sea salt

 

Method

Pop all your ingredients in your food processor, in stages if necessary and blitz until smooth. The pesto will have a grainy texture – you can keep going if you like but I think it’s better this way!

And hey presto, pesto!

No garlic, no sugar, NO FODMAPS!

My favourite thing about making your own pesto is the variety of flavours waiting to be whizzed up! I made a sundried tomato and almond one, too. That one turned out more like a concentrated paste – you can add water to thin it out, although it also works to just stir through cooked pasta with some of the cooking water reserved. Play around, tasting as you go, and once your happy stir through gluten free pasta. Will keep in the fridge for up to a week. Delicious!

6 Week FODMAP Elimination Challenge

6 week fodmap elimination challenge

Happy New Year to all of you!

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted anything … of course it’s been crazy over the holidays with family, friends and a tonne of other distractions I won’t bore you with… and all of a sudden, it’s all over!

As I woke up bleary eyed in 2016 I started reminiscing a bit about all of the mince pies, sauces, sausage rolls, crackers, Christmas pudding, cream and excessive amounts of booze I consumed in December. If you can check a couple of these guys off your list of FODMAP containing foods eaten over the holidays, you might know how I’m feeling.

The New Year is always a time for rethinking diets and lifestyle choices. However for us fodmappers it’s doubly hard I think. Not only do we feel guilty about the regular December indulgences, the cheese, the wine, the chocolate … we have to feel guilty about the onion gravy, or the chutney, or the honey roasted cashews we ate too.

Upon reflecting on my December choices I remembered it wasn’t the first time I’d slipped up with the diet. I started my low FODMAP journey in February 2015 and within a couple of weeks of my eliminations, I felt amazing. I had more energy, I felt slimmer, I didn’t get any IBS related pain or symptoms. It was like a miracle cure. But once you’ve been on a diet for some time and you start to see results, it’s easy to get complacent. This is what happened to me. I started eating the odd FODMAP containing food, a muffin here, some houmous there. When I ended up in Italy, of course I ate all the wheat I could get my hands on! And when it came to my reintroductions, I got them wrong, which led to inconclusive results. It made me feel lousy, and I was really annoyed at myself.

These experiences taught me a few lessons, though:

  1. We all slip up sometimes. This is a really hard diet to keep up with. It’s relentless, inconvenient and awkward. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall down, but be conscious of how it made your body feel.
  2. Slipping up doesn’t mean you have to go back to square one. You can (and should!) return to the diet if you eat any illegal food. Be sure to follow it strictly from that moment and take a few days to monitor your symptoms. As soon as you’re symptom free for 3 days, you can continue monitoring things as normal.
  3. Listen to your body. This experience is different for everyone. The only person who can truly tell you what works and what doesn’t, is you!
  4. Reintroductions = scientific experiment. i.e. you have to follow ALL of the rules during reintroductions or your results aren’t conclusive. A key mistake I made during reintroductions was introducing the foods that I had tested and tolerated straight away, while carrying out the remaining reintroductions. This can cause a build up of FODMAPs and essentially void your results. This is the main reason for my number one New Year’s resolution…

my new year’s resolution

Having been through the elimination diet once, I have decided it’s time for me to re-do it. I constantly find myself dreaming of the way I felt back in March – so why not try again?

It’s so daunting, especially after enjoying so many forbidden fruits recently (literally…) but it’s going to be worth it I’m sure.

If you want to join me, please do – and let me know how you’re getting on!