Blue cheese potato skins with crunchy butter walnuts

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These potatoes are perfect for cold evenings when you can’t quite summon the strength to make dinner. The recipe below is for one person.

Make time to fry the walnut pieces;  they add a buttery crunch that makes this meal extra indulgent!

you will need:

1 x large baking potato
20g x butter
1 x tbsp double cream
30g x gorgonzola cheese
2 x handfuls of fresh spinach
a handful of walnuts, broken into pieces

method:

Bake your potato at 220C for about an hour until cooked through.  Take them out the oven, cut in half and scoop out the potato from the skins into a bowl. Pop the skins to one side.

Add a knob of butter, the cheese and a good pinch of salt and pepper to the potato. Add cream here if you tolerate lactose. Stir well and dollop back into the skins.

Put your potato skins back on the baking tray and brush a little melted butter on each of the skins. Pop into the oven to crisp up for 5 minutes more.

While they’re crisping, add spinach to a pan of boiling water until wilted. It should only take half a minute! Drain the spinach, squeezing as much water out of it as possible. If you’re skipping the cream in this recipe, don’t worry too much about squeezing the water out completely, as this will help loosen your potato filling!

Remove the skins from the oven. Add the spinach to the potato mixture, stir well and dollop back into the potato skins once. Pop back into the oven for a further 10 minutes until the tops look crispy.

One last thing to do … pop another knob of butter into a small frying pan and allow to melt on a high heat, browning it slightly. Drop your walnut pieces in and fry for half a minute, tossing constantly to stop them from burning!

Scatter the walnut pieces over your potatoes once they look irresistibly crispy and serve with some leaves.

 

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Book review: The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen by Emma Hatcher

fodmap friendly kitchen review

I was so thrilled to learn a few months ago that the lovely Emma Hatcher (aka @shecanteatwhat) was working on a recipe book for the low FODMAP diet. Her book, The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen, is out now and contains 100 low FODMAP recipes that span breakfast, dinner, snacks and sweet treats to boot.

Em starts the book by sharing an experience that many of us relate to, walking us through the perils of IBS: the social stigma that exists around the syndrome and the journey that followed after she learned of the low FODMAP diet. I LOVE that Em talks about breaking the taboo around IBS. It’s not an easy topic to speak out about, and with 1 in 7 suffering from the syndrome it’s so important that we start talking openly about our experiences and the steps we can take to make our bodies feel better!

At the start of her book, Em takes the time to walk us through the diet, explaining how best to go through the various phases. She goes on to talk about this new way of cooking, and lists out staple kitchen ingredients which is hugely useful.

Then come the recipes. First, we get a good grounding in low FODMAP essentials like how to make fluffy quinoa and grains that many will be unfamiliar with, i.e. buckwheat. Very useful for those embarking on the diet for the first time.

There are then a whole host of yummy looking recipes, including low FODMAP juices if that’s your thing, snacks and sides and lots of sweet things in there too.  The mains look deliciously light and fresh, but the majority don’t look to be huge portions so I’m not sure how well the recipes would cater to those needing more hearty meals and bigger portion sizes.

A note on lactose! The materials my dietician supplied me with, distributed by the NHS, did make it clear that you can enjoy 2 tbsp of regular yoghurt (i.e. not lactose free) in one portion. This is a bit of a life saver but it didn’t come through in the book. Em also uses lactose-free butter, which is confusing to me as butter contains no carbohydrate and therefore no lactose. Too much fat can irritate your tummy if you have IBS, but there is no need to switch to dairy-free butter, just use sparingly if fat is a trigger for you.

What’s really useful is Em’s sample menus at the back of the book, where she combines recipes for five occasions i.e. having the girls round for dinner. It’s a really nice idea – it would have been brilliant if she’d included a weekly sample menu too!

The recipes I can’t wait to make…

  • Breakfast: Fluffy banana cinnamon pancakes
  • Lunch: Aubergine quinoa rolls
  • Dinner: Creamy polenta with mozzarella & burst tomatoes (right up my street!)
  • Sweet treat: Hippie bars

thoughts

I think this is a wonderful book, filled with inspiring recipes and content that make a hugely bewildering diet accessible and fun. This is a great step in the right direction for the low FODMAP diet and I’m confident that Em’s book will encourage many, many people wherever they are on their FODMAP journey!

The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen is published by the same publisher who brought us the Deliciously Ella series and a host of other aspirational diet books. Because of this, my fear is that this fantastic book might result in the low FODMAP diet being unfairly lumped together with these lifestyle fads so currently in vogue, potentially drawing the wrong kind of attention to what currently is the only proven long-term treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. This is a diet that should only be followed with the support of a GP and registered dietician. Em does stress this repeatedly, however if a book as aspirational as this one is published alongside books on clean eating, I can see its contents falling into all sorts of the wrong hands. Please only buy this book if you have already sought the proper medical guidance following your IBS diagnosis; the low FODMAP diet is not one to be adopted because you sometimes feel bloated after a big meal (we all do!).

I was at Em’s launch of The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen last week over at Borough Market, trying all sorts of wonderful sweet treats from her book. I’ve pictured some of these below so you can see for yourselves how tasty these look! Em, I wish you all the best for this book; it’s fab to see something like this in print and a brilliant achievement that I know will inspire many people.

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fodmap friendly kitchen review

Another delicious low FODMAP sauce!

low fodmap pasta sauce

A good pasta sauce is a great thing and when you’re following the low FODMAP diet, that’s even more true.

This easy sausage pasta recipe is a weekday favourite of mine. You can serve up on wheat free pasta, courgetti or regular pasta if you’re lucky enough to tolerate wheat!

In this recipe I tried out a new type of courgetti from a brand called Uniqueitalia. It caught my eye because it was sat with the spaghetti in store and was dehydrated to form two  nests (much like how you’d buy egg noodles). Worth a try, because the texture was firmer and so a totally different eating experience to the watery mess that can sometimes ensue with regular courgetti. You can buy these from good old Sainsbury’s, and I’d advise using both nests for one portion.

low fodmap pasta alternatives

you will need:

Serves you, another, and leaves some leftovers for lunch.

3 servings of your favourite regular or wheat free pasta, or courgetti (if you like the stuff).
1 x pack of good quality, free range sausages (I like Heck)
1 x onion, diced (leave out if you’re eliminating or don’t tolerate oligo-fructans and include a pinch of asofoetida powder instead)
2 x tins of tomatoes
1 x tsp tomato puree
1 x chilli, chopped finely
handful of fresh rosemary, chopped finely
garlic oil
parmesan, to serve

method:

Begin by frying your onion or asofoetida powder in some garlic oil. If using the powder, be careful to only add a pinch – this stuff is strong. Allow to cook down and then add your chilli and rosemary. Fry on a low heat and be careful not to burn.

On a chopping board, use a knife to squeeze the sausage meat out of its skin and then chop into meatball sized parts. This is much nicer than if you simply slice the sausages; you’re essentially creating sausage meatballs. Add all of these to the pan, and season well with salt and pepper. These sausages have less fat than cheaper ones and so you may want to add a dash of garlic oil as they brown to prevent them from burning.

After a couple of minutes, add your tinned tomatoes and stir in your tomato puree. This sauce is so low maintenance and your work here is nearly done; simply cook on a low heat with the lid off for 30 minutes. When the sauce is reduced and smelling fabulous, cook up your pasta / courgetti according to packet instructions.

Serve up your sauce with lashings of parmesan and black pepper.

low fodmap pasta sauce

Snacking on the low FODMAP diet

snacking on the low fodmap diet

This diet isn’t about denying yourself treats, so when the snack attack strikes it’s essential that you’ve got some low FODMAP options around. There’s no need to turn your treat into a tummy ache!

If you’re a snacker like me, preparation is vital. These are some of my low FODMAP life savers:

sweet

  • dark chocolate
  • flapjacks (buy ones made with golden syrup rather than honey or fructose syrups)
  • peanut butter
  • fresh low FODMAP fruit such as raspberries, strawberries, banana, clementines, pineapple

savoury

  • plain tortilla chips (make sure they’re free of the ambiguous ‘flavouring’ which often contains onion and garlic)
  • crisps (don’t have too many veggie crisps and watch out for flavouring!)
  • rice cakes and oat cakes
  • low FODMAP cheeses such as cheddar
  • low FODMAP nuts such as brazils, pecans, macadamias

my favourite low FODMAP snack products:

  • Pip & Nut nut butter sachets – expensive, but handy on the go!
  • Kallo dark-chocolate covered rice cakes
  • Sainsbury’s basics tortilla chips
  • Lindt Excellence dark chocolate with sea salt
  • Itsu crispy seaweed thins (yes, really!)
  • Lazy Day Foods free from tiffin

low fodmap snacks

Sneaky snacks high in FODMAPs:

  • Dried fruits such as apricot, banana chips, dates, coconut chips, cranberries, papaya

Limit your intake of dried fruits to:

13g dried cranberries
5g dried papaya
1 piece of dried pineapple
13g raisins

Also watch out for…

  • Milk chocolate
  • Most cereal bars, which often contain added fructose syrup, cashews, pistachios, dates and dried currants
  • Yoghurts with fruit compote, which is often high in fructose syrup
  • Coffee! Although this is low FODMAP if made with almond milk, caffeine is a big aggravator for IBS. If you’re finding you still have symptoms on the low FODMAP diet, trying cutting down on your coffee intake, too.

GET mAKING

Life is easier on the low FODMAP diet if you can start making some of your own snacks. Shop bought options that claim to be free of one FODMAP can often include another. Many free-from items are also expensive and not necessarily very tasty – so it’s wise to embrace your kitchen. I am a terrible baker and have had countless disasters (coconut flour is not my friend),  but once you get a few go-to recipes you’ll be glad you made the effort.

View some of my favourite recipes for low FODMAP treats and snacks.

 

why not treat yourself to wheat?

Did you know, you can still enjoy moderate amounts of wheat on the low FODMAP diet? See my menu below of goodies that can be enjoyed in moderation:

eat wheat low fodmap diet

eat wheat low fodmap diet

Happy snacking!