Courgette fries with dill hummus

courgette fries with dill hummus

It might be January, but even the most virtuous amongst us have need for an indulgent snack now and then. These courgette fries are healthier than they look, with a light batter crisped in the oven rather than fried.

I love hummus, and luckily tolerate GOS pretty well so don’t need to cut it out of my diet. The freshness of the dill in this hummus works really well with the sweet courgette. If you are still in the elimination phase of the diet, or know you don’t tolerate GOS, try the low FODMAP dill mayonnaise below.

you will need:

For the courgette fries:
A good handful of breadcrumbs (fairly chunky breadcrumbs work well for this batter)
1 x free range egg, beaten
1 tbsp plain flour
2 x courgettes, cut into finger sized batons
Zest of 1 lemon

For the dill hummus:
1/2 a can of chickpeas (100g)
1 tbsp tahini
1 x garlic clove
2 x tbsp good quality olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
A handful of fresh dill, chopped

Low FODMAP alternative to hummus:
Of course, to make this a strictly low FODMAP snack, skip the hummus and dip the courgette fries in a tasty dill mayonnaise instead.

For a quick dip, mix 2 tbsp of good quality mayo with a small bunch of dill and a good squeeze of lemon juice.

 method:

Turn on your oven to 200°C (180°C fan). Place some foil on a baking tray. Lay the breadcrumbs and a tbsp of flour out on two separate plates, with the beaten egg in a bowl. Grate the zest of one lemon into the breadcrumbs and season with some salt and pepper.

One by one, dip your courgette batons in flour so that they are evenly coated, then dip into the egg before rolling in the breadcrumbs. Place the batons on the oven tray and pop into the oven to bake until golden (around 15 minutes).

While they’re in the oven crisping up, make your dill hummus (or mayo, as above). To make the hummus, throw all the hummus ingredients into your food processor and blend until smooth.

Enjoy while still hot!

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My favourite low FODMAP pasta sauce

 

My favourite low FODMAP pasta sauce

Today I’m sharing my favourite low FODMAP pasta sauce. This really is a mid-week marvel; something you can knock up in ten minutes if you have to – but I like to let the sauce reduce for a good twenty minutes at least, to let all of the flavours really come through.

It doesn’t need much introduction … it’s a tomato pasta sauce with butterbeans, kale and anchovy – if you don’t like anchovies of course you can leave them out, or swap in with some quality pancetta. For those who can’t tolerate the GOS found in the butterbeans, you can leave these out – for me they add more texture than they do flavour. This sauce would be delicious with onion (which I can’t eat, but please do add at the start if you can), and garlic too, which I added here via infused oil, of course.

you will need (makes 2-3 portions)

a good lug of garlic oil
3 x bay leaves
1 x tin of anchovies in olive oil (if you tolerate garlic, buy the ones in herbs and garlic for a bit of extra flavour)
1 x can of butterbeans
3 x big handfuls of kale
1 x tin of chopped tomatoes
a good quality parmesan cheese

… and pasta of course – be it gluten free, wholegrain, or the delicious regular kind that I now feel blessed to be eating again. While we’re on the topic, I found a VERY delicious gluten free pasta last month – my favourite yet. You can buy it from some supermarkets in the UK, or from Dove’s Farm directly. Don’t be put off if you don’t like wholegrain pasta, I don’t either. I can vouch that this silky, brown rice fusilli doesn’t taste grainy, or dull. I’d actually opt for it over the regular kind, in many instances – like when paired with this sauce.

method:

Heat the garlic oil in a pan. If you laugh in the face of fructans, you can add garlic and onion here and fry until soft and golden. I can tolerate garlic, and not onions (more on the science behind this soon) – so I just grated a clove into some regular olive oil. Roughly crush the bay leaves in your hand and add to the pan, stirring constantly.

Chop the anchovies really roughly (they’re just going to melt away into the sauce) and add to the pan. Fry lightly for a couple of minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, along with the drained butterbeans and stir through. If you have some to hand, you can add some chicken stock here, to add a bit more depth to the sauce.

Stir well and turn down to a low heat. Simmer for around 15 minutes, until the sauce reduces and thickens slightly. Put your pasta on to boil. At this point you can add the kale, stirring through until it goes limp. Season the sauce well, once it has thickened to your liking.

Once your pasta is cooked, drain all but a tablespoon of water from the pan, then coat the pasta with a good olive oil and stir through. Add half the sauce to the pasta (if you’re serving just yourself) and coat with lashings of parmesan cheese.

If you manage to keep hold of it, the remaining portion(s) make a very tasty lunchbox treat, which you can add to pasta again, giant couscous, extra helpings of kale… it’s pretty versatile. Tasty, too.

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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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.

Chocolate dream cake

Chocolate dream cake

I could eat this pud every day. IT IS SO GOOD. The recipe is from My New Roots, who made this stunning layered raspberry creation  – which I’ve tried too and can assure you is fantastic. I had to pull out some serious stops recently for a dinner party though so thought I’d bling it up and make a crowd-pleasing chocolate version.

Now, beware … this recipe is high in GOS as its main ingredient is cashew. It’s also moderately high in fructose thanks to the honey but you can substitute for agave nectar. I am lucky to tolerate these FODMAPs and take a great deal of comfort in the fact that it’s still a lactose free, gluten free dessert which you can serve a group of friends and not feel self conscious about your free-from option; most people won’t even know the difference. I made a raspberry version for my team at work once and they spent about ten minutes guessing the ingredients; cashew was not high on the list.

Chocolate dream cake

you will need:

Base:
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup soft dates
1/4 tsp sea salt

Topping:
1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked in cold water (for at least 5 hours, soak overnight if you can. You can speed the process up by soaking in boiling water.)
juice of 2 lemons
2 tsp vanilla paste
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup honey / agave nectar
1/3 cup cocoa powder

Decoration:
Choose anything you’d like to bling it up. Chocolate shavings…chocolate chips…some berries… I  used some candied hazelnuts and a glittery chocolate bar which I smashed up. If you want to be a show off like I did you might add some chocolate work (easier than it looks if you haven’t tried – just pipe melted chocolate onto a baking sheet and refrigerate until solid)

method:

Chuck your almonds and dates together into a food processor or mini chopper with salt and pulse until you can press the mixture with your fingers and it holds its shape. You may wish to do it in batches. I quite like the base to have a grainy, crunchy texture, but if you feel otherwise then pulse until smoother.

Press the base into a 7″ spring-form tin (or cling film a flat-based bowl) with your fingers, I find you have to persevere with the mixture to ensure it’s properly packed down.

Now dig out your blender (or clean your food processor if that’s what you used for the base – it needs to be quite large though!). Warm the coconut oil and honey in a small pan on a low heat until it melts down, whisking it to combine. It might stay a little separated but don’t worry too much.

Add this liquid to the blender / food processor and all the other topping ingredients plus extras, in this case cocoa powder. Blend until very smooth – this does take some effort. I have to keep scraping the sides of the blender and stirring the mixture round to ensure evenly blended. Do not scrimp on lemon juice; as My New Roots explains, this is what gives the dream cake its cheesecake-like tang.

You can freeze the dream cake to set it – just take out 30 mins before serving.  I’ve always just popped it in the fridge to set for a few hours before serving and it’s been perfect every time. Leftovers can be frozen too, which is a dream indeed.

Chocolate dream cake