Life after the FODMAP diet: Part 1

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After almost two years, I’ve come out the other side of the low FODMAP diet infinitely more aware and in touch with my body’s responses to food. Like you I’m sure, I’ve kept food diaries, scoured hundreds of product labels, read countless articles and opinions and learnt entirely new limits to live within since embracing a low FODMAP diet.

In reintroducing FODMAPs into my daily life, I’ve concluded a few things from this gruelling test. The main thing I’ve learnt, thank God, is which foods I tolerate well and which foods I really don’t. Frustratingly, it also seems that some foods might seem fine one day, and totally screw me over another day. In this respect the test hasn’t been all that conclusive.

confused gif

Most annoyingly, a plate full of delicious, high FODMAP foods in groups that I have found I tolerate through reintroductions, can result in a lot of pain. This is because FODMAPs always build up in your stomach; so it doesn’t matter that I can tolerate glucose, lactose and GOS. If I wolf down a big bowl of lentils followed by some delicious chopped mango and a load of yoghurt – I’ll probably suffer due to the combination.

So my approach is to begin eating as normally as possible again, incorporating the FODMAPs that I can eat into my diet, while being conscious of my overall intake. Alongside this, something I’m trying to do now that I’ve completed my reintroductions is embrace a more balanced, gut friendly diet. This means making a conscious effort to eat FODMAP containing foods that are known to aid digestion and heal the gut. This means eating garlic for instance, and it means eating probiotics.

So today I thought I’d share a recipe for easy homemade kimchi. For those who don’t know, kimchi is a Korean dish, made from fermented cabbage with chilli, garlic, ginger and spring onions. Since trying it for the first time, I’ve been keen to try making it. It’s dead easy and will last a really long time. A tasty addition to salads and rice bowls, this probiotic miracle is rich in A and C vitamins and boosts the immune system generally by healing your gut.

Easy Homemade Kimchi

you will need:

A sealable 1 litre jar (e.g. Kilner)
Some food safe gloves (optional)
1/2 head of white cabbage, cut into chunks (this recipe is only suitable for those who tolerate GOS)
handful of radishes, sliced
1/2 cup sea salt
2 x chillis
3 x cloves of garlic (leave out if you don’t tolerate)
1 thumb of ginger
4 x green parts of spring onions (add the whole thing if you tolerate)
2 x tbsp fish sauce

method:

Slice your cabbage roughly into large-ish chunks and your radishes into thin slices. Pop in a big mixing bowl. Add the salt and massage into the veggies for a few minutes (do this with gloves on if you like). Salting the cabbage starts the fermentation process.

Next, add just enough cold water to cover the veggies. Pop a plate over them and weigh down with something heavy e.g. a bag of beans. Leave for 1-2 hours.

Make the paste easily by whizzing up the spring onions, garlic, chilli and ginger in a food processor (you can also chop by hand if you like). I love the smell of these ingredients together! I genuinely don’t remember the last time I cooked with fresh garlic, so this part was really exciting. If you don’t tolerate the fructans in garlic, do not substitute with garlic oil here, but rather just leave out of the recipe.

Add the fish sauce to the paste. Drain the cabbage and radishes and return to the bowl. Add the sauce to the cabbage and radishes and mix well with your hands. I really advise wearing some gloves here if you can, or using spoons instead to be sure the smell doesn’t stick to you!

You can now transfer to your sealable jar! Pack in tightly, allowing 2cm of breathing room at the top. Seal the jar and leave at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 1 – 5 days. Once you start to see bubbles, the kimchi is ready and can be refrigerated.

It’s so easy, tastes totally delicious, and looks as though it might do us a lot of good! Fingers crossed… bring on the probiotics…

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Low FODMAP pecan pie

low fodmap pecan pie

Pecan pie is one of my all-time favourite puds. With a teeth-achingly sweet filling and dense, crunchy crust … one piece is never enough. That’s why this raw, natural version has made its way into my fridge lately. I guarantee it will satisfy your craving for something sweet in a more lasting way, without the crash. Stash a couple of squares in your lunchbox for the 4pm slump.

This recipe is adapted from Madeleine Shaw’s Pecan Pie Bites in her first book, Get The Glow. I really like Madeleine Shaw’s food philosophy. Her approach is a sensible, fuss-free one in a world of overly-health conscious superfood-worshippers. Her books are fab for anyone who has made it beyond the reintroduction stage of the low FODMAP diet, with countless nuggets of relevant advice. She writes with an acute awareness of digestion issues having suffered with IBS herself, and her recipes are nutritious and light without leaving you feeling deprived. If you have a few alternative stapes such as buckwheat flour and ground almonds, which, let’s face it, if you’ve been following the low FODMAP diet for any amount of time you probably have acquired, most of her recipes will be accessible to you. She’s just released her second book, Ready, Set, Glow – which arrived at my door yesterday, and I can’t wait to test out some more of her inspiring recipes.

Having been a fan of these raw ‘cheesecake’ style desserts for a little while, I couldn’t resist adapting her Pecan Pie Bites into a low FODMAP, mini cake version. Whether you bring the dish to a party in pie form or slice it into mini slabs to take to work – this pie is one to try. Swap out honey and dates for maple syrup (agave would work too) if you malabsorb fructose.

low fodmap pecan pie

you will need:

For the crust:
2 x tbsp maple syrup / agave syrup / golden syrup (or 150g x pitted dates if you don’t malabsorb fructose, soaked in a bowl of just-boiled water)
100g x pecans
50g x almonds
50g x desiccated coconut
5 x tbsp coconut oil
pinch of salt

For the filling:
250g x pecans
1 x tsp cinnamon
50ml x almond milk
2 x tbsp maple syrup (or honey, or 1 x tbsp of agave)

method:

If you don’t malabsorb fructose, you can use honey and dates in this recipe – making it more nutritious. Begin by soaking 300g of dates in just-boiled water, then taking half of your soaking dates and chopping roughly into small bits. Blitz these, plus 100g of pecans,  the almonds, the desiccated coconut, 1 tbsp of coconut oil and a pinch of salt together to form a crust. If you’re not using dates, simply substitute for maple, agave or golden syrup. You just need a sweet ingredient that binds the rest of the crust ingredients together.

Once you have a consistency that will hold when pressed, push into a round springform cake tin or shallow dish with your fingers. Pop in the freezer for five minutes to set.

To make the filling, blitz the remaining dates (or your chosen syrup) with the filling ingredients, reserving a few roughly chopped pecans. Pour over the crust and scatter the pecans over the top. Pop in the fridge to set, and then slice as you fancy or chop into squares for a tasty treat on the go.

low fodmap pecan pie

Low FODMAP Thai Red Chicken Broth

Low FODMAP Thai Red Chicken Broth

There’s a little place at the end of the street I work on in Bermondsey that sells really, really good soup. I never usually buy soup for lunch because it doesn’t really move me, but I didn’t get to do my usual lunch prep last Sunday which led me to a soup that really stayed with me. I couldn’t wait to try and recreate a low FODMAP version (not least because the shallots in it gave me cramps for three whole days… I never learn).

With my weekend ritual of buying some fresh veg, roasting a chicken and making stock completed a day late, by Tuesday night stocks were replenished and I was REDDY for action.

Now, there are two very good reasons for making your own low FODMAP Thai curry pastes at home:

  1. Shop bought varieties contain garlic and usually shallots or other onion varieties, and
  2. Making it at home (unless of course you’re buying the real McCoy from a Thai supermarket or similar) yields a tastier, more authentic paste that you can use again and again. Supermarket jars are watery and far less powerful usually.

low fodmap red thai curry paste

Get your mini chopper / food processor ready! You can store any leftover paste in an airtight jar in the fridge for about a week.

you will need:

1 x stalk of fresh lemongrass
1 x red chilli (stalk removed. Leave the seeds if you like an extra kick)
1 x thumb of ginger (chopped roughly, skin removed)
2 x tbsp tomato puree
1 x pinch asafoetida powder
1 x tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp chilli powder
2 x tbsp fish sauce
1 x tsp sugar
3 x tbsp coconut milk (reserve the rest of the can for the broth recipe below)
2 x tbsp fresh lime juice

method:

Add all your ingredients to a food processor and whizz up. You can add / take away chilli powder depending on your preference for heat / which chillies you’re using.

Once you have the paste, you can of course go on to make a curry, but this was a lighter and more refreshing option for me this week. Recipe below …

low fodmap thai red chicken broth

(pictured above)

you will need:

1 x tbsp coconut oil, for frying
3 x tbsp low FODMAP red curry paste
2 x cans coconut milk (you can use the remainder of the milk used to loosen the paste above)
2 x cups of chicken stock
2 handfuls of cooked chicken, roughly chopped
2 x peppers, sliced finely (sweeter ones like red and yellow work best)
2 handfuls of fresh coriander, chopped finely
pinch of salt

method:

Begin by adding coconut oil to a hot pan. Add the curry paste and fry until fragrant. Chuck in the sliced peppers and fry until soft.

Add the coconut milk, followed by the chicken stock. Then add your cooked chicken and a good heap of fresh coriander. Season with some salt and allow to simmer gently for about 15 minutes so that the flavours infuse nicely.

If you tolerate GOS, you can chuck in some cooked lentils, too. This made a whole load of soup that will keep well in the fridge; don’t be put off by the coconut milk curdling, just stir and re-heat the soup to its former glory.

Miss onion? Time to try asafoetida powder!

asafoetida

Just a quick post this week to sing the praises of something I’ve only recently welcomed to my kitchen. You might have heard of asafoetida powder, hailed by many as a low FODMAP onion substitute. I gave it a go recently and am pleased to confirm the rumours; this stuff really does give your recipes that  onion-y kick that the small amount of celery we’re permitted in one serving doesn’t quite achieve.

Popular in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking, asafoetida powder is related to fennel. It’s potent stuff though, you’ll only really need a pinch of it in most cases. And don’t be put off by the smell; it disappears when cooking and will give your meals a lot more depth, I promise. So far I’ve tried it in stock, cooking up lentils, risotto, soup and stews; I’m definitely a convert.

So good.

Oh and P.S. If anyone has tried garlic leaves, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you felt – I’m looking into them as a garlic alternative but can’t find any concrete info yet on whether they’re low FODMAP. I’ll keep you all posted!

Low FODMAP Meatballs

low fodmap meatballs

For the last few weeks I’ve been roasting a chicken every Sunday, so that I have a good base to work from for my lunches during the week. It means I can make some chicken stock up the same evening, which I use for all sorts of meals during the week: soup, stews … or even just cooking ‘grains’ like rice or quinoa in to add some extra flavour.

Last week though, I got a little sick of chicken. I often do this with food; find an ingredient I love and eat it, and eat it, and eat it until I’ve totally ODd. But unlike Sesame Snaps, which I haven’t been able to eat since year 9 following an 8-week lunchbox obsession, a roast chicken can’t really be replaced in my eyes.

Acting quickly following this realisation, I decided to try a new kind of meat-feast. I like meat in my lunches, and I l-o-v-e meatballs. Meatballs with rice … with slaw … with salad … I repurposed these guys each day last week with joy.

you will need:

1 x 250g pack of lean beef mince
a big handful of fresh basil
a not so big handful of fennel seeds
1 x egg
1 x pinch of asofatedia powder (optional)
garlic oil (for frying)

method:

Start by beating an egg in a large mixing bowl. Roughly chop up your mince on a board so that it is a little easier to work with. Finely chop up your basil, and crush the fennel seeds (either roughly with the base of your knife or with a pestel and mortar if you have the energy). Add all the remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix together with your hands. If you want to get an oniony flavour coming through in these, you can add a pinch of asofatedia powder to the mix. But be warned – it’s strong stuff! You only need a pinch.

Roll into balls, frying in garlic oil when you’re ready. I like to cook the whole lot (3 mins on each side should do it) in one pan and then just either freeze or keep in the fridge for the week, eating as I need them.

These really do take hardly any time at all – and when you consider that most off-the-shelf meatballs contain onion, it might be worth giving them a go!

low fodmap meatballs

Comforting sausage cassoulet

Comforting sausage cassoulet

I love making this dish. It’s so simple but the flavours are everything you want in a big bowl of mid-winter comfort food. And although it’s almost Spring in England … it’s still coat and glove weather, which means cassoulet remains firmly on my mid-week menu.

My version contains a high amount of GOS thanks to the white beans here, however I’ll pop a few suggestions in the recipe for those who are going through eliminations / can’t tolerate the beans.

you will need:

(makes enough for two people)
2 cups white beans (e.g. cannellini), soaked and cooked*
half a packet of good quality pancetta
4-6 good quality sausages
1 x tin of tomatoes
4 cups low FODMAP bone broth / chicken stock
splash of red wine
a few bay leaves, sprigs of thyme and rosemary
garlic oil

* substitute for white beans: use a few potatoes (boil first) or two finely diced carrots, to be fried in the pan with the sausages.

method:

If you aren’t using canned beans, the first step is to soak the beans, and cook them. If you are cooking them, do so in a good amount of chicken stock – about 2 or 3 cups. This will make sure they start out full of flavour. Cook them in a big enough pot – you’ll be adding other bits to this later.

Take the leaves off a few spriggs of rosemary and thyme, reserving the stalks. Pop the stalks into a frying pan with the pancetta. Once the pancetta is crisp, remove it from the pan and reserve.

*If not using white beans, ensure that a) your potatoes are cooked or b) that your diced carrots have been fried in the pancetta fat and reserved before the sausages have gone in.

Chop the sausages into meatball sized chunks; it’s up to you whether or not  you leave the skin on. I like to take it off and just use the sausage meat. Pop these into the pan (still with the herb stalks), adding a little garlic oil if you need. You’re just browning the sausages here, but I would advise cooking them most of the way through.

When your beans are cooked, or have been cooking in chicken stock for at least a little bit if they were from a can, you can start to add the other elements to your cassoulet.

The way I like to do it is this; add a tin of tomatoes, followed by a splash of red wine and the remaining cup of stock, and all the leaves and stalks of the herbs (chop the rosemary really finely and crack the bay leaves to help release their oils). Let this bubble and reduce a bit.

Once you’ve got a slightly thickened, gorgeous smelling base for your cassoulet, add the sausages. I like to add the pancetta here too because I think the longer it has to kind of melt into the stew the better, but if you like it crispy you can add this at the end too. Give it a taste, it may want some pepper.

This is comfort food …if you’re anything like me, hugging a bowl of this close to you as you eat it will always make your day a little bit better.

Salmon and parsley pesto salad

Salmon and parsley pesto salad

Mondays are hard. I know that before the low FODMAP diet, the way I felt tonight when I came through the door… there would’ve been one thing on the menu tonight. It would’ve been pizza. I’d have stopped into Tesco on the way home, I’d have bought a Hawaiian pizza and a beer, and I’d have eaten the whole thing in one sitting.

Alas. This isn’t a Hawaiian pizza and a beer – it’s not really even worthy of comparison to a Hawaiian pizza and a beer, but it is comparably quick to make, delicious to eat – and it outranks the Hawaiian when it comes to health, post-meal smugness and of course – the bloat factor.

You make a salmon parcel in foil – which takes all of two minutes. While that’s cooking in the oven, whizz up the pesto. On a bed of rocket, rests your salmon, under a heap of fresh, fragrant pesto. What a cracking mid-weeker.

you will need:

1 x salmon fillet
1/2 a lemon
knob of butter
Couple of glugs of white wine (1 in the sauce, 1 for you)
handful of parsley
5 or 6 brazil nuts
handful of grated parmesan
garlic oil
a few generous handfuls of rocket leaves

method:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. On a baking tray, lay out some foil. Pop your salmon fillet on the foil, with a knob of butter on top. Pour on a little white wine, a good squeeze of lemon, and season well. Wrap the salmon up and pop in the oven for about ten minutes. You can check it isn’t drying out after 7 minutes and just spoon over some of the sauce to keep it moist.

While the fish is cooking, take a mini chopper / food processor and add your brazil nuts, a good drizzle of garlic oil, one  handful of rocket and one handful of parsley (include the stalks). Whiz it up. Next, squeeze lemon juice into the mix and grate a small amount of parmesan in there too. You can zest some lemon if you like too and add a little bit of black pepper. I don’t like my pesto too wet but if you prefer the texture, simply add more garlic oil – or just regular olive oil. Be sure to use a good quality one if you can though as it does make a real difference.

By the time you’ve done this, your salmon should be cooked. Take it out and have a look, and if it flakes away in the middle slightly, you can serve up. Pop your salmon onto a bunch of salad leaves (be it rocket or otherwise) and top with your pesto. Monday is saved!

Posts will resume on MONDAY!

I have to begin this post with an apology for falling off the low FODMAP map these past few weeks! I started a new job recently, and after travelling four hours a day to and from said job for a month, I’ve finally made the move to the big city.

Wifi was installed TODAY – so I’ve dusted off my keyboard to bring you nothing really… except a promise of some tasty, inspiring low FODMAP recipes in the coming months as we step into spring.

I’m so excited to say that I now live a stone’s throw from a whole load of markets and ethnic food stores – treasure troves of fresh herbs, spices and some really impressive looking veg – yesterday I spotted spring onions the length of my arm … I’m pretty excited!

I also plan to walk you through the reintroductions process when I commence that next week, let you know how I got on using asafoetida powder as an onion substitute and share my top tips for weekend meal prep – saving you time, money, and keeping you on the straight and narrow!

Weekly posts will resume next Monday!

alright

Smoked mackerel salad with orange

Smoked mackerel salad with orange

Have we seen the back of the ‘new year, new you’ salad drive yet? Apparently not. But this is a game changer, I promise.

Mackerel and orange are a seriously good duo. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – I’ve been repeating versions of this all week. And with all the winter disease rife in any workplace, you’d be a fool to shun the vitamin C.

YOU WILL NEED:

1/2 an orange, sliced
2 x smoked mackerel fillets
Handful of chicory leaves or shredded iceberg (anything with some bite, basically)
Drizzle of olive oil

METHOD:

There isn’t one really. Shred your salad if you need to, and arrange on a plate with mackerel and orange slices. Drizzle with olive oil and season well!  If it’s not orangey enough for you, you can zest some of the skin. Whoever said salads were boring…

Mackerel salad with orange

 

Banana and cinnamon buckwheat bread

Banana and cinnamon buckwheat bread

Buckwheat is a flavour that, in my experience, needs a little consideration. It’s a strong, unusual one that tends to dominate.

Buckwheat flour though, is one of the few grain-free flours that creates convincing baked goods I think. I’ve had great success with it in terms of consistency, just not that flavour…

So recently when subbing in buckwheat flour I’ve had a think about ways to fight back with flavours from other ingredients. The spotlight here is on cinnamon.

The trick to buckwheat bliss is to match its power with something that doesn’t just rival its strength, but rather provides a contradictory flavour e.g. something sweet, or spiced, or sour. The former is at work in these low FODMAP quinoa and courgette fritters.

So I give you this banana and cinnamon loaf, whose sweetness and spiced flavour doesn’t attempt to beat the buckwheat, but instead works with it, so that the best parts of both ingredients come through in every heavenly bite.

Banana and cinnamon buckwheat bread

you will need:

110g coconut oil / butter (melted)
160g brown sugar
4 x bananas, preferably ripe (but if not just mash with a fork until they change their minds)
4 x tbsp almond milk
1 x egg
1 x tsp vanilla paste
275g buckwheat flour (another grain-free flour would work)
1 x tbsp cinnamon
1 x tsp baking powder
1/2 x tsp bicarbonate of soda

METHOD:

Preheat your oven to 180C. This is going to be very easy.

Get that coconut oil / butter melting somewhere. Take one large bowl, and add all your dry ingredients to it. Once the fat has melted, add it along with all your other liquid ingredients to the bowl. Fold the mixture until combined.

If yours was anything like mine, the mixture is quite wet, so I didn’t need to grease or line my loaf tin. Take a call, and then pour! Pop into the oven for 50 minutes, checking after the first 15 that it isn’t catching. After 20 minutes I had to put some foil over to allow the rest to cook.

Take out, allow to cool and make sure you cut yourself a slice while it’s still warm. Delicious slathered in butter,  or with this raspberry chia jam.

Banana and cinnamon buckwheat bread with chia raspberry jam