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!

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

Gluten free, low lactose Portuguese custard tarts

Gluten free, low lactose Portuguese custard tarts

These gluten free and low lactose Portuguese inspired custard tarts are quick, easy and tasty – adjectives I don’t tend to associate with free-from baking!

While food shopping last week I spotted a product I got really excited about.

Silly Yak gluten free ready to roll pastry block

Silly Yak’s gluten free, Ready to Roll Pastry Block.

That’s going straight in my basket.

This is something I haven’t really seen before, and because every homemade GF dough/pastry I’ve attempted so far hasn’t really worked, I was definitely ready to roll with this.

One thing I will say is that this isn’t suitable for freezing, so you will need to buy it and use it within the sell by date. Seeing that I had reached this date and the pastry was indeed starting to look a little sad, I decided to make some quick little Portuguese style custard tarts, inspired by Jamie Oliver’s recipe video from 30 Minute Meals. These are gluten free, low in lactose (just a little yoghurt but we’re allowed 2 tbsp a day, so even if you went ape and ate all the tarts at once… you’d probably be ok). They’re almost totally low FODMAP – be aware there is soya flour in the pastry block.

Gluten free, low lactose Portuguese custard tarts

You will need:

1 x block of Silly Yak Gluten Free Ready to Roll Pastry Block
sprinkle of cinnamon..
butter (for greasing)

For the custard:
1 large egg
2 tbsp plain yoghurt
2 tbsp caster sugar
grated zest of 1/2 an orange
1 tsp vanilla paste

Method:

Makes 6 custard tarts.

Heat your oven to 200C.

Roll out your pastry on a lightly floured surface – I used gluten free but a little plain flour would have been ok too. This pastry is quite sticky so you may want to flour your rolling pin too. Roll it out to about a centimetre thick – and then sprinkle a good pinch of cinnamon over the pastry.

Using a large circular cookie cutter (or floured glass if you don’t have), cut out as many tarts as your pastry will allow. I made six, but had some leftover custard so just see how you go – it’s likely that if you stick to the sell by date (unlike me), you won’t have to trim any pastry away (like me!)

Now grease a muffin tin (or better yet, use a silicone one) and press each pastry circle into the base of each hole and pull them up the sides too. Blind bake for about ten minutes.

Gluten free, low lactose Portuguese custard tarts

Now it’s time to make the custard.

In a bowl, whisk together your custard ingredients. Again I can’t stress enough how much better this recipe will be if you use the vanilla paste rather than just vanilla extract. Trust me – invest in the paste, it’s so much more potent and will go way further than vanilla extract anyway in anything you’re making.

Once the tarts are almost baked (prick the bottoms to see if they’ve firmed up before adding the custard), spoon your custard into each one – be brave and fill nearly to the top! The custard will set and they will firm up once in the oven.

Bake for about 8 minutes – just keep your eye on them.

These really are so quick and easy to make and it feels like a real treat to be able to eat something warm and comforting straight from the oven – I think largely because it’s a very convincing pastry – which I’m not used to nowadays. I think this kind of product is a testament to the fact that wheat free products are really coming along – and it’s exciting!

Gluten free, low lactose Portuguese custard tarts

Beetroot and orange quinoa, millet and red rice salad with fried halloumi

Beetroot and orange quinoa salad with fried halloumi

How cheerful does this blushing beetroot salad look on an Autumn day?

Our family had a rare girls-only dinner last week when all the males were away – so we wanted to make the most of it with a meat-free dinner that was healthy but still hearty. Enter this little number.

This used a lot of weird, lonely looking ingredients in our kitchen which is extremely satisfying: three pitiful portion sizes of quinoa, millet and red rice, dwelling miserably at the bottom of three separate plastic packets… as well a sad looking orange, some parsley and some halloumi which, although it was well in date, was on its way to becoming a fridge relic, in danger of soon being forgotten about I think.

Beetroot and orange quinoa salad with fried halloumi

Herby, earthy, zesty, salty and dare I say it… wholesome.

YOU WILL NEED:

200g mixed quinoa, red (or brown) rice, millet (whatever you have really)
4 cooked beetroots (unpickled), and remember to keep portions down to 4 slices
1 orange
handful of chopped parsley
handful of chopped mint
glug of olive oil
big squeeze of lemon juice
1 x packet of halloumi, sliced.

Firstly, rinse and cook your grains / psuedocereals / whatever they may be, so that you have a filling, comforting cooked base for your salad.

While they are cooking, chop your beetroot and herbs. Zest your orange, then chop it up into smallish, bitesized chunks. Heat a griddle pan on a very high heat. Add your salad ingredients to the grains and mix well. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over it, along with a good squeeze of lemon, adding pepper, but not too much salt (remember halloumi is going on top).

The grains will turn a gorgeous pinky colour (thanks to the beetroot) – be sure to taste it and play with the dressing depending on what you think it needs. The orange I used turned out to be very sweet which was a bit of a shame, so I had to compensate with more acidity – but if your orange is particularly tart and the zest is coming through, then you may want to add more oil, or indeed nothing at all.

Once it’s hot, toast some mixed seeds in the dry pan. Remove from the pan once popping around a little. Now it’s time to add some oil and fry your halloumi. This is best done in a scorching hot pan – be careful with the oil, which will spit as you add it, and you just want to sear both sides of the cheese, at which point you can turn down the heat if you want to.

Add the halloumi and the seeds to the salad when you’re ready to serve.

 

Butternut squash and sage risotto

butternut and sage risotto

Since I learnt to cook, risotto has been my go-to comfort food. I always find it more satisfying than pasta (which no longer ranks highly on my comfort food list, sob). Sometimes it’s nice to earn your comfort food; risotto has to be made with love but you are deeply rewarded (I think often because you can eat it with a spoon if no one is watching. Or if they are…who cares). Risotto is a great post-Sunday roast dish when you have the leftover chicken bones for chicken stock and a few little bits of meat left over.

Now, do not fret about the star ingredient in this dish. Limit your serving to a 1/4 cup of butternut squash and this will be low FODMAP. That may not seem like a lot, but you really only need a very small amount of roasted / cooked squash to stir through the risotto towards the end. The flavour here comes from a good chicken stock, a good parmesan and sage.

butternut and sage risotto

You will need:
1/3 cup aborio risotto rice
1/4 roasted butternut squash
small bunch of sage leaves
1 litre chicken stock (or vegetable)
knob of butter
25g parmesan
garlic oil
splash of white wine
handful chopped chicken (optional)

See our recipe for low FODMAP chicken stock – it takes less than 10 mins to prep and can just bubble away on a low heat with the lid on in the oven for a few hours or even overnight. Once you have stock to hand, go go risotto!

Start by roughly chopping your sage leaves (leave in fairly large chunks) and frying them in a small amount of butter. Remove a few pieces of sage when crispy and set aside on some kitchen towel. Add in the chicken. As this will already be cooked, this is just to infuse the chicken with the sage so you don’t need to cook it for long really. Give it a whiff and if it smells deliciously buttery and sagey you may remove, and add to a bowl.

Add another dollop of butter and a glug of garlic oil to the pan and melt together. Add the rice and stir so that it is coated, at which point you can add the white wine. After a minute or so, add enough stock so that the rice is covered. Keep stirring constantly and each time the liquid is absorbed into the rice, top it up again. It’s time consuming, but important because you don’t want it to be a soup (which happens if you add all the stock at once) or stodgy (which happens if you just add a bit and don’t stir it).

After a few top ups, and usually about 20 minutes, test the rice and see if it’s cooked. If it isn’t, keep adding stock. If it is, wait until most the liquid is absorbed but so that it still has movement and stir through half of your parmesan. With a fork, mash up your butternut squash and stir this through too. You can leave a few pieces to top the dish with if you like. Add the chicken, removing any sage pieces as these might have gone soggy.

When ready to serve, add the remaining parmesan and crispy sage leaves from before. Season if it needs it, and enjoy your well earned comfort food!

‘Miso hungry’ red cabbage and black rice salad

Miso hungry red cabbage and black rice salad

This Asian inspired (and it’s a complete fusion… I guess of Japanese and Thai) black rice salad is a recipe to celebrate my finding out that Monash has recently announced 1 cup of red cabbage is low FODMAP. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … if you haven’t already, please get the official app. I also recently heard on the FODMAP grapevine that they’re about to announce a new wave of low FODMAP foods that they’ve recently tested. Huge.

The diet is changing constantly – things once condemned are now allowed. Often it’s just a case of thinking harder about portion sizes. And that’s fine, because usually 1 cup of red cabbage is plenty.

Miso hungry red cabbage and black rice salad

Mmmmmm… miso hungry!

You will need:
For the red cabbage salad:
3 x cup shredded red cabbage (only eat 1/3 of this at a time remember!)
1.5 x finely sliced green parts of spring onions
1 x cup black Thai rice

For the dressing:
1 x tbsp dark miso (sometimes called red miso)
1 x tbsp soy sauce
1 x tbsp sugar
1 + 1/2 x tbsp walnut oil (sesame would work too)
1/2 tbsp garlic oil
1 x tsp grated ginger
juice of 1 lime
few shakes of Tabasco (yes really!)

Put your black rice on to boil but be careful – it turns the water very dark almost instantly and looks like it would stain clothes.

Place your shredded cabbage and spring onion in a bowl. Mix up your dressing and be sure to taste. Once happy mix through the cabbage, let it sit for a few minutes before sprinkling with some black sesame seeds.

Drain the rice when cooked, and serve with the salad. I made up an extra batch of rice and had this for my lunch at work for the following couple of days – it just soaks up the yummy dressing and is super filling. The cabbage is raw remember, so be careful – limit your portions if you’re not sure it’s your thing.


 

10 things you previously thought were illegal

  1. Black tea with 250ml cow’s milk
  2. Chocolate Bourbon, shortbread and Digestives – 1 biscuit (I KNOW!!!)
  3. Savoury crackers (e.g. Ritz) – 2 crackers
  4. Chutney (without onion/garlic)
  5. BBQ sauce
  6. 1/2 tbsp pesto (enough to coat a whole three of your gluten free pasta pieces)
  7. Milk chocolate  & WHITE CHOCOLATE – 1 fun-size bar
  8. Haloumi – 2 slices
  9. Coconut – 1/4 cup shredded
  10. Celery – 1/4 stalk

Miso hungry red cabbage and black rice salad

Salted cocoa coco bliss balls

Salted Cocoa Coco Bliss Balls

If you’re yet to try a bliss ball, you might be wondering what the fuss is all about. I have to say though, having made them (and eaten them) in such a short amount of time I am fully on the bliss ball bandwagon. Come join.

You will need:
A food processor/mini chopper

1 x cup nuts (I used a mixture of almond, hazelnut, walnut and pecan)
2 x tbsp coconut oil
1 x tbsp peanut butter
1 x tbsp cocoa powder
1 x tsp maple syrup
1 x tbsp desiccated coconut
1 x tbsp flax
1 x tsp chia seeds
good pinch of salt

Whack your nuts in a food processor and pulse until combined and roughly but quite finely chopped.

Add all the other ingredients. I just use my mini chopper and find I have to add things in stages as it’s so diddy. The more liquid ingredients, particularly the coconut oil, really help the mixture pack down so I would add that after the nuts, along with the cocoa powder first of all. The salt is what makes the chocolate taste more chocolatey and makes them really delicious so I recommend a generous twist.

The best thing about bliss balls is that you can mess with the recipe to please yourself – nuts / nut butters are pretty essential, but you can use cocoa, cinnamon, oats, protein…dried fruit if your stomach permits you… the list goes on. I strongly encourage you to lick the mix and make them to your taste. I think it needs the sweetness from the maple syrup but if you’re ok with dates add a couple to the mix as they do wonders for the texture too.

You can move the mixture to a larger bowl before adding the desiccated coconut, flax and chia if your processor is weeny like mine. Mix together with your hands and roll into bitesized balls before laying them out on a tray / plate.

Pop in the fridge to set for 20 mins. They are then yours to enjoy for as long as you can make them last!

 

Your new stir fry obsession: peanut sauce

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This peanut sauce is not satay. It’s better.

For me, stir fry is a go-to meal. It’s quick, easy, healthy and it uses up the lonely carrot hiding in the back of the vegetable drawer. The only problem is, ALL of the off-the-shelf stir fry sauces that I can get my mitts on are loaded with illegal ingredients such as glucose syrup, garlic, onion … etc.

Because of this I’ve resorted to just splashing a bit of soy over my stir fry these days… until now. This is my new obsession, and makes otherwise dull rice noodles totally irresistible. A welcome change from the soy/chilli stir-fry combo.

Your new stir fry obsession: peanut sauce

You will need:
For the stir-fry:
2 x handfuls of your choice of veg
2 x handfuls of chicken/Quorn chicken-style pieces (optional)
sesame oil (for frying)
1 x nest of rice noodles

For the peanut sauce (makes enough for about 3 servings: this is also a great lunchbox meal – you might find yourself making it a few times in the week if you’re anything like me):
1 x tbsp soy sauce
3 x tbsp lime juice
1 x thumb of ginger, chopped into small chunks
2 x tbsp chunky peanut butter
1 x tsp sesame oil
good pinch of cayenne pepper

Prep your veggies so they’re ready to fry. To make the sauce, add all the sauce ingredients to a food processor (I use my mini chopper) and whizz up. Give it a taste and alter the ingredients if necessary. If the sauce is too thin or salty, add some more peanut butter. I find it does taste salty on its own, however for me it’s totally perfect once added to the stir fry.

Once you’re happy with your sauce, fry up the veggies in some sesame oil and cook up your rice noodles. 1 minute before the veg is ready to serve, stir in a third of your peanut sauce (or half if you’re feeling indulgent). Add to the rice noodles and enjoy!

 

Sweet and sticky balsamic tuna steak with traffic light tomatoes

 

Sweet and sticky balsamic tuna steak with traffic light tomatoes

For those rare occasions where you just don’t fancy a plateful of carbs (they do happen once you’ve been on the low FODMAP diet a while, I promise).

This is a sticky, sweet and healthy low FODMAP dinner that you can have on the table in half an hour. Don’t worry if you don’t have tomatoes in varying colours – these are our little babies from the greenhouse and we’re (almost) down to the last bowl. On the vine cherry tomatoes would work beautifully too.

Serves: 1
Total time: 30 mins

You will need:
2 x small tuna steaks
a good handful of ripe tomatoes
handful chopped basil
garlic oil (for frying)

For the marinade:
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 x chopped chilli

Sweet and sticky balsamic tuna steak with traffic light tomatoes

Mix the marinade in a medium sized bowl and place your tuna steaks in it. Leave for 20 mins, turning and spooning the marinade over every five minutes.

Chop your basil. If you’re not using on the vine tomatoes, make little crosses in the tops of the tomatoes. This just helps them to cook down and release some of their juices, which melds with the garlic oil in the pan – yum.

Once the tuna has almost soaked up enough goodness, heat a griddle pan on a very high heat.

Start by griddling your tomatoes in the garlic oil. Season with some salt and pepper. Once they look like they’re starting to smush down a bit, remove the tuna from the marinade place in the hot pan alongside the tomatoes. Watch them super carefully if you’re like me and like your tuna quite rare – they cook up quickly. A nice sticky glaze will start to form and after about a minute (depends on the size and shape of your fillets and your taste of course), you can turn ’em over.

Have your plate ready, and load the contents of the pan on once the fish is ready. Sprinkle some basil over the tomatoes and you’re good to go!

Sweet and sticky balsamic tuna steak with traffic light tomatoes