Which Sugar Should You Choose?

Just a quick re-post today – this is a great blog post by the Nutrition Guru and the Chef. I highly recommend checking their blog out for some much needed common sense nutrition. The recipes aren’t intended to be low FODMAP, so make sure you tweak as required. But back to sugar…

Excepting – of course – a FODMAPper’s requirement for the glucose concentration to be greater than that of the fructose, no isolated sugar is inherently “healthier” than any other and it should always be eaten in moderation.

If I ever say a sugar – or any food – is “evil/bad/the devil” on this blog, you can safely assume I’m referring to its excess free fructose content, which would cause me personally to have an IBS-type reaction. I do my best, though, to stay away from that sort of language, because (plant-based) food isn’t sentient, so can’t wish us harm.

Stay tuned for a new post this Fructose Friendly Friday! Have a great week, guys!

The Ultimate Guacamole – Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free & Vegan

The Ultimate Guacamole - fructose friendly, gluten free and vegan

Guacamole is one of my favourite things in the world. creamy yet chunky, soft and full of plant-powered nutrition and flavour, it’s a win-win-win in my book. Luckily for me (and I really don’t mean to gloat), I flew through the sorbitol challenge with flying colours instead of flying to the loo and I can consume reasonable amounts of avocado without issue, which is good, because 1/4 of an avo contains about 8% of your daily folate requirements, as well as good amounts of vitamins B2, B5, B6, C, E and phosphorous and magnesium. See below for avocado’s FODMAP information.

Now, I realise that the claim to the ultimate guacamole is pretty extreme but this, to me, is the best way to make it. This is not the awful stuff you peel the lid off from the supermarket, this is fresh avo mixed with other flavours like tomato and lime to play on your taste buds. The bonus of adding in the tomato is that, besides tasting great, it also allows you to spread (pun intended) the avocados further, which is important when you live in Seattle and the decent avocados cost an arm and a leg. It works well with breads, chicken, corn chips or veggie sticks; and don’t you dare think of skimping on the corn chips. Go hard or go home.

So, the next time you have an impromptu gathering and/or need an entree (“appetiser,” in US lingo) in an instant, give this guac a whirl. The only downside is you won’t have leftovers. Unless you make yourself a secret batch for later. Do it.

PS. Sorry for the dodgy, red onion-speckled photos, they are from a previous batch of guacamole (when I was testing out red onion, which is high in fructans – yay, pass) and this time I didn’t have a chance to take photos before the guac was devoured. I’ll update the photos as soon as I can, which, given how much I love this dip, will be in the pretty near future! Stay tuned, folks.

FODMAP Notes

  1. Avocados are considered low FODMAP in 1/4 fruit servings, any more and sorbitol is an issue. Keep this in mind if you are okay with consuming more sorbitol but are sensitive to fructose, as sorbitol can inhibit the co-transport method by which fructose malabsorbers absorb most of their fructose. Don’t go nuts, figure out the balance that works for you.
  2. Tomatoes are FODMAP friendly in the amount called for in this recipe.
  3. Garlic infused olive oil is free of fructans, as FOS are water soluble, thus do not seep into the fatty oil. I really like Nicer Food’s garlic infused olive oils, available here.
  4. Limes are a low FODMAP fruit.
  5. Corn chips are low FODMAP and gluten free, as long as they’re not seasoned with anything high FODMAP.

The Ultimate Guacamole

Serves 8-10 as part of an entree/appetiser course.

  • 2 large, ripe avocados
  • 1 cup diced vine ripened or cherry tomatoes – cherry are best but use what you have
  • 1 tbsp. garlic infused olive oil
  • Juice of 1 medium lime
  • Salt to taste

Mash (don’t whip, then it’s like baby food) the avo’s  until 75% smooth, then add in the diced tomatoes, lime juice, garlic oil and salt. Mix through and tinker with more oil – if required for texture – and salt if needed. Cover it, with the stone in the bowl, until you want to serve it. For best results, don’t make it more than a couple of hours ahead of time.

It’s that simple. You’re done. Go and have a (low FODMAP) beer while you wait for your friends to arrive. To serve, I like to surround the small bowl of guac with my favourite corn chips (Juanita”s or Chipotle).

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Maureen’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Brownies – Low FODMAP, Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Old Fashioned Chocolate Brownies - low FODMAP, gluten free, dairy free

When I was younger, a friend of Mum and Dad’s always made a plate of her amazing chocolate brownies on special occasions. At Christmas and on birthdays, Sharon would turn up with an ice cream container filled with chocolatey goodness – and Dad would then say that they weren’t made for the kids. He was terrible at hiding them, though, so it all worked out in the end. The second drawer in the garage filing cabinet wasn’t such a clever place, after all.

For years, I’ve been trying to work up the courage to try out brownies. It’s not that they’re an exact science, or really fiddly, like pastry but they weren’t ever made in my house, so I didn’t have any tried and true recipes to go from/convert to be gluten free and FODMAP friendly…

… Which is why I snagged someone else’s (not so) secret family recipe and FODMAPified that, instead. Apparently it’s at least 75 years old! I’ve been following Maureen, the Orgasmic Chef, for a few years now and am continuously wowed by what she creates – and her pace of blogging. Fair warning, it’s not a blog for those with food intolerances, so you’ll have to put on your thinking caps and tweak the recipes yourself but, really, I like that, as it allows me to give my own flare to meals at the same time.

After my first attempt, I was a little disheartened, as my brownies hadn’t developed the crispy/flaky crust that I love so much. After a bit of searching, I discovered that the more you beat your eggs, the more pronounced this crust will be, as it’s actually a thin layer of meringue. Well, I decided to go all out and whip the egg whites and sugar together before adding them to the mixture and voila! Batch number two had a perfect layer of brownie crispiness on top.

These little beauties take almost no time at all to whip up and you’ll end up with cake-like brownies; just chocolatey and sweet enough to satisfy a mid-afternoon or late night craving without making you feel sick and guilty. Perf. Maureen very kindly allowed me to share my altered version with you guys here, so thank her!

FODMAP Notes

  1. Unsweetened dairy free dark chocolate is low FODMAP in the amounts called for in this recipe.
  2. Coconut oil is FODMAP friendly (it’s 100% fat, no carbs) but it can be replaced with butter if you can tolerate dairy. PS. Butter is low in lactose, just not lactose free.
  3. I’ve reduced the sugar called for in Maureen’s original recipe, both to suit my tastes and to reduce the overall fructose load of the brownies. Feel free to up it back to 2 cups if you want and you know you can tolerate it.
  4. Almonds and walnuts are low FODMAP in the amounts called for in this recipe.
  5. I use milk in this recipe (even though the original doesn’t call for any), as gluten free baked goods are notoriously dry and need a little extra moisture to keep them soft. Use coconut/almond/rice milk etc if dairy free is required, or lactose free dairy milk if not.
  6. The chocolate chips are optional, just, as above, use chocolate that follows your dietary requirements.

Maureen’s Old Fashioned Brownies

Makes approximately 32.

  • 120 g unsweetened dark chocolate
  • 4 tbsp. coconut oil or butter
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup gluten free flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 heaped tbsp. cacao powder
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup low FODMAP milk of your choice
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F and grease and line a 9×13″ baking tray – or two 9×9″ cake tins (or there abouts), if you’re like me and don’t have the full sized pan.

Melt the chocolate and coconut oil together over a very low heat (so as not to burn the chocolate). Mix thoroughly and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until fluffy and soft peaks form, then add in the castor sugar beat for another minute. Pour in the melted chocolate mixture, along with the egg yolks and vanilla, and mix until combined.

Add in the flours, cacao powder and xanthan gum and stir through, before adding in the milk. Finally, thoroughly stir through the chopped nuts and the optional chocolate chips, before pouring the mixture into the prepared baking tins and baking for 20-25 minutes, or until they just test clean with a skewer.

Let them cool to room temperature before slicing and serving, or they might crumble while you cut them. Enjoy them with some fresh strawberries and tea or coffee. Yum.

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And a behind the scenes shot… it’s almost warm enough for the poor, shaggy man to get a hair cut.

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Overnight Chia Oats – Low FODMAP, Gluten Free & Vegan

Overnight Chia Oats - Low FODMAP, Gluten Free and Vegan

I have a confession to make: I’m a lazy breakfaster. If that’s even a word. When I drag myself out of bed on a weekday, I’m only interested in eating something that is already made, small and light. My stomach doesn’t wake up until about 10 am on most days. Weekends are another matter… brunch, come at me!

That’s why I like to bulk make breakfasts that are ready to eat – and portable, so, if the need arises, they can double as on the go snacks.

My usual go-to breakfast in a jar would be one of any variety of chia seed pudding (recipes all found here) but I suppose I felt I was getting into a (nutritious) breakfast rut and wanted to give something else a go. I’d been meaning to try overnight oats for absolutely ages, so now was my chance.

FODMAP Notes

  1. Oats are low FODMAP in 1/4 cup servings, higher than that and you will ingest higher amounts of fructans.
  2. Chia seeds are low FODMAP. Read about them in more detail here.
  3. Banana, strawberries and blueberries are all FODMAP friendly in the amounts required.
  4. Maple syrup is 1:1 fructose/glucose, so is fructose friendly.
  5. Coconut and almond milk are low FODMAP in 1/2 cup servings, rice milk is another safe option.
  6. Desiccated coconut is low FODMAP in 1/4 cup servings, which is split into five jars.

Overnight Chia Oats

Makes 5.

  • 1 cup oats (gluten free if required)
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1 1/4 cup dairy free low FODMAP milk of choice (I used coconut milk)
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup diced strawberries
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt

Prepare the fruit and set aside. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl with a pouring edge. Pour in the wet ingredients and stir through thoroughly.

Decide how you want to arrange the fruit in the oats:

  1. Mix them through with the other ingredients.
  2. Arrange them into alternating layers with the oat mixture.

I chose option two but either would work, depending on how much time you have. I mean, it tastes the same no matter what, right? Divide the mixture and fruit over five jars and refrigerate overnight before serving. The oats and chia seeds will soak up much of the liquid and soften in the process, the sweetness from the fruit will also seep into the mixture and the oats can be served cold straight from the fridge or even warmed up for a couple of minutes (as long as it’s in a microwave safe jar).

Enjoy! Now you can take an extra five minutes for yourself every morning.

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Pumpkin Spice Pancakes – Low FODMAP, Gluten Free and Vegan

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes - Low FODMAP, Gluten Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free and Vegan

Well, a lot has happened since the start of January, which is why nothing has been posted here. We bought a house, packed up our rental, moved everything and are now planning improvements on our new home. We also went through a hasty visa renewal process and have applied for permanent residency, so my spare time to actually blog about what we’ve been cooking has been zero. Unfortunately, I lost some of the scraps of paper I’d written stuff down on, so now I just have photos of food I can’t remember the ingredients to. Well done, me.

To ease myself back into blogging, and to test how good the lighting is around our new house (best lighting of any place yet, hooray!), I decided to cook up some pancakes with what little we have in our just-moved pantry. I had no bananas to make my usual breakfast staple of banana oatcakes, so I had to improvise. Luckily, we had a tin of pumpkin puree lying around and we’d run out of frozen stock, so it wasn’t going to be made into soup any time soon.

Pancakes it was, then!

FODMAP Notes

  1. Pumpkin in general has been given a low FODMAP rating in servings of 1/4 cup and a moderate rating in servings of 1/2 cup. This recipe keeps the serving at 1/4 cup per person, so is considered FODMAP friendly.
  2. Oats are given a low FODMAP rating in servings of 1/4 cup, which is split between two servings in this recipe. Oats that have been processed separately than wheat are gluten free but naturally contain a protein called avenin, which is similar enough to gluten that some with coeliac disease will still react. If this is is you, replace the oat flour with quinoa or buckwheat flours, which are safe in 1/4 cup servings.
  3. Chia and flax seeds have recommended servings of  2 tbsp for those with IBS, to limit a potentially problematic fibre intake, regardless of FODMAPs. This is split in half in this recipe, so should be safe.
  4. Maple and rice syrup are low FODMAP sweeteners, with a glucose content that is either equal to or greater than fructose content.
  5. I used coconut milk, which is low FODMAP in 1/2 cup servings and otherwise higher in sorbitol. You could also use any other milk that you tolerate, such as rice or almond milk.

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

Serves 2.

Pancakes

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1 tbsp. chia seed meal
  • 1 tbsp. flax seed meal
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup or rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup dairy free/low FODMAP milk of choice (plus a little extra if required)
  • 1 pinch salt

Candied Walnut Topping

  • 1/2 cup walnuts of pecans, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup or rice syrup
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter or coconut oil (dairy free/vegan option)

Mix the chia and flax seed meals with the syrup and low FODMAP milk of your choice and let them sit for 5 minutes. Next, add in the salt, pumpkin puree and the oat flour and mix thoroughly. You don’t need to use a blender, although it does make the job easier. The problem is you need to clean it!

Heat your pan to a medium heat and divide the mixture into four parts. Spread them out into 6-8 cm diameter circles and cook for 4-5 minutes a side.

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For the optional nut topping, turn the heat to low after the pancakes have been removed and let it cool for a minute. Add the butter (or coconut oil) until it melts and then throw in the nuts and syrup and heat them all for a further 30-60 seconds. Remove from the heat and top the pancakes, pour on a little extra syrup (if you’d like) and dig in.

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Further Food: Eat Better, Go Further

Hi everyone! I’m sorry for the long break between posts but I’ll explain why in my next entry, which will be out tomorrow. Long story short, we’ve had an exciting couple of months.

I just wanted to take some time to share with you that I’ve been collaborating with Further Food, a website that encourages good health through nutritious (and delicious!) recipes. They started up last year and have grown from a handful of initial contributors (of which I was lucky enough to be one) to a community of like-minded people who aim to manage their health (and any conditions) through food.

Food bloggers like myself submit recipes and the team at Further Food tests them out and has one of their nutritionists or registered dietitians provide comments on the nutritional breakdown. A few of my recipes have been featured and I’m even working on another couple of related articles with the staff. I encourage you to head over, check out my profile and the recipes I’ve shared there…

My pumpkin pie recipe is delicious and apparently quite healthy, too! Who’d have thought?… Just kidding, I intended it to be a not-so-junky dessert.

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This cast iron cornbread recipe is a favourite of mine, it goes well with any warm and nourishing soup or stew, or even just spread with your favourite low FODMAP jam.

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This balsamic and rosemary chicken risotto is both nourishing and easily digestible, for those days when your stomach isn’t quite up to a full meal.

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These strawberry and coconut chia seed puddings pack a nutritional punch and double (actually, triple!) up as a tasty breakfast, snack or dessert. I mean, really, they’re dessert for breakfast without the guilt. You can’t beat that.

Recipes

To stay up to date on my contributions and more health-supportive recipes, like them on Facebook and sign up for their newsletter!

Cheers, guys! I’ll be back tomorrow with another healthy breakfast recipe. See you then!

How to Complete a Gluten Challenge while remaining Low FODMAP (with Seitan Recipe)

How to complete a gluten challenge while remaining Low FODMAP - NOTFROMAPACKETMIX

For reasons that I have mentioned before, it is crucial to get tested for Coeliac disease (CD) before you begin any elimination diets that cut out the gluten containing grains – this includes the low FODMAP diet, which eliminates wheat, barley and rye for the two month elimination period due to their fructan content. Oats also contain a protein called avenin, which is very similar to gluten and can also cause issues in overly sensitive individuals. There are many reasons why it’s important to be correctly diagnosed (which includes ruling possible differential diagnoses out) but I’ll expand on the most relevant to fructose malabsorption (FM) or the low FODMAP diet.

But firstly, a brief explanation of CD and non coeliac gluten sensitivity.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition in which your body’s immune system reacts to the plant-protein gluten (found in wheat, barley, rye and their derivatives) in such a way that your small intestine lining becomes the target, causing damage to your small bowel and villous atrophy. Villous atrophy in turn leads to a reduced surface area for nutrient absorption, which can contribute to malnutrition, malabsorptive disorders, osteoporosis and many other secondary complications, such as an increased risk of certain cancers. To rule CD in or out, a blood test to check for tissue transglutaminase antibodies is performed and followed up with an endoscopy to confirm any damage to the small intestine.

Non coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), on the other hand, is not as well understood. It is the label given to those who test negative for CD, yet are still apparently affected by gluten. One study suggests that it is not the gluten in the grains but the fructans (acting alone or in combination with the gluten) that are causing sufferers to be symptomatic. Other research hints that it might be an innate immune response, rather than the adaptive immune response of CD, which causes the reaction to gluten-full foods and leads to symptoms that are very similar to those experienced by Coeliacs. Because there is no science-based standardised test to check for NCGS, the diagnosis is one of elimination – other conditions, like CD or a wheat allergy, are ruled out but you find you still improve on a gluten free diet – and NCGS is the possibility that is left.

If you do in fact have undiagnosed CD or NCGS, the low FODMAP diet isn’t anywhere near strict enough to be considered safe for you, as after the elimination phase comes the reintroduction phase, in which you are encouraged to test out foods higher in fermentable carbohydrates – this includes offending grains, which will just make you sick again. If you have CD, you must limit your gluten exposure to basically nothing (less than 20 ppm in the USA is considered safe), so even a contaminated chopping board or deep fryer could make you sick, let alone testing out a full slice of bread. If you have already been diagnosed with CD, you can skip those foods, saving you time and gut hurt… or any of your other symptoms that are caused by gluten.

Furthermore, if you have undiagnosed CD or NCGS once you have finished the elimination phase and begin to test out wheat, rye and barley, you’ll realise that they bring on symptoms (either IBS or other) and you won’t know whether FM or CD is behind them – and to test for CD, you need to have gluten in your system for an established autoimmune reaction to be visible. If you haven’t been eating gluten for as little as two weeks, any damage from CD, or any sign of the relevant antibodies, will most likely have disappeared, meaning that you will test negative, regardless of whether you have active Coeliac disease or not. This is called a false negative.

If, for one reason or another, you find yourself having been on a long term gluten free diet, yet needing to test for Coeliac disease, there is unfortunately no other way to confirm the diagnosis than to complete a twelve week gluten challenge. Instructions vary slightly but in general, it is recommended that every day, for twelve weeks, you must consume the equivalent of four slices of bread if you’re an adult, or two slices of bread if you’re a child. This works out to be 6.0 g of gluten for an adult and 3.0 g of gluten for a child, daily.

After writing the previous post, it seems almost hypocritical to tell you that I had to complete a three month gluten challenge in 2014. You can read my diagnosis story here but, long story short, I tested negative to Coeliac disease (both the antibody blood test and endoscopy) back in 2006 but then tested positive for fructose malabsorption. However, after eating largely gluten free (I didn’t worry about minute levels of contamination), I found myself, at the beginning of 2014, experiencing worsening IBS symptoms and extreme fatigue/brain fog. Ev even asked if I was broken. Now, I felt pretty certain that the culprit was the spelt flour (non-sourdough) that I had been consuming, after reading that it was low FODMAP – note, only sourdough spelt is considered low FODMAP, I had just read inaccurate information. However, the question stood: was it the fructans or the gluten that was causing this relapse?

I know that many people out there would happily re-eliminate the spelt flour and move on with their lives – but I’m not one of them. If there’s a question, I’m the type of person who needs to know the answer. So, I spoke to my GP, who referred me to a gastroenterologist and I began a twelve week gluten challenge. However, I know that fructans in wheat (and to some extent, rye) make me sick – what was I to do? The answer to your low FODMAP gluten challenge question is: SEITAN.

Seitan is a vegan protein/meat replacement that is made from vital wheat gluten, which is normally 75-80% gluten – and coincidentally, registers as low FODMAP. Now, let’s do some maths… stand back.

  • An adult needs to consume 6.0 g of gluten per day, a child 3.0 g.
  • Let’s assume that the vital wheat gluten (gluten flour) was only 75% gluten, to be safe. However, if you can get a more pure version of it, do so, as the more gluten it contains, the less likely it is to contain any FODMAPs.
  • 6.0 g / 75% = 8.0 g, so we need to consume 8.0 g of the vital wheat gluten, daily, to ensure we are getting at least 6.0 g of low FODMAP gluten. A child would obviously only need to consume 4.0 g.
  • The recipe below is in grams, to keep it simple: 240 g of VWG will give thirty 8.0 g servings or sixty 4.0 g servings.

You could just pop your seitan chunks like a form of medicine and be done with it but it was fun to experiment with it in cooking and I probably ended up consuming more than the 6.0 g of gluten on the days when we did so… which might have contributed to my gut’s unhappiness and the fatigue.

Seitan with Italian Herbs and Spices (based off Bob’s Red Mill’s basic seitan recipe)

Seitan Dough

  • 250 ml FODMAP friendly stock or water
  • 1 pinch asafoetida
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • 240 g gluten flour/vital wheat gluten

Broth

  • 1.5 L of water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

In a large pot (I cannot emphasise this enough, seitan balloons!) bring the broth mixture to a boil.

Meanwhile, mix the gluten flour, herbs, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Slowly add in the stock and stir/knead until it’s a sponge-like dough. It should be tacky to the touch but not wet. Tip it out onto a well floured bench (use more gluten flour) and knead it for a minute or two, until it becomes tougher and more elastic.

Cut it into sixths, then roll them out into logs and divide each one into twenty. There you go, you now have 120 pieces and four pieces equals one daily serving of gluten for an adult.

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Place the seitan dough in the boiling water and boil for one hour. Watch how it expands – I needed to swap saucepans halfway through.

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After boiling, the seitan still isn’t good to eat. At this point, I like to think of it as “raw” meat. The flavour is nice, thanks to the spices, but the texture isn’t great. Spread the seitan out on a tray to dry, then use it in stir fries, pan fry it, bake it – it all works.

Baked seitan:

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Pan fried seitan with mirepoix as a dipping sauce:

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For those who were just curious, I hope you found this piece interesting. For those who have fructose malabsorption or IBS and need to complete a gluten challenge – good luck. I didn’t find it fun, in terms of fatigue, but I hope you fare differently. After getting back to a normal diet (still no active Coeliac disease, yay), I have learnt that I can cope with a bit of gluten every now and then, so it’s clearly not as big of an issue for me as the fructans are. Luckily, that means that I can still enjoy (proper) sourdough breads in moderation. Yum.

This post is intended for educational purposes only. Please run anything that I have written here by your doctor or dietitian (etc) to make sure it is suitable for your individual case.

In terms of FODMAPs, vital wheat gluten is generally considered low but it is not recommended for consumption during the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet. As always, it’s best to not need to do a gluten challenge at all, by testing for gluten/wheat related conditions before an elimination diet has begun but this isn’t always possible, for a variety of reasons.

Unfortunately, you might react during a gluten challenge (that’s the point, after all); this method just minimises the chance of that reaction being due to the fructans in wheat as much as possible.