Low FODMAP Protein Walks into a Bar – Be NICE, Love Your Guts

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While the name of this blog clearly implies that most of what I eat isn’t from a packet, I’m also realistic (and human). I’m not always going to have homemade low FODMAP travel-appropriate snacks on hand, so having a box of these in the pantry for such emergencies would be super handy – you all know how hard it is to search the gluten free snacks at the store, only to put each one back as you go: “No, there’s agave; nope, honey; damn it, there’s chicory fibre. FINE, rice cakes it is. Blergh.”

So, when I saw a link to the first low FODMAP protein bar to be available in the US (and not too far behind Australia’s FODMAP Friendly logo launch, either!), it’s safe to say I was quite excited. I was also lucky enough to be chosen to sample it and let you guys know what I think!

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Well, here you go. I opened the sample sized packet (think fun-sized, the actual bar will be bigger: 50 g/1.8 oz and 211 calories) and…

  • I had a sniff – Mmmmm, peanuts. With visible chocolate chips. A good start.
  • I had a bite – Peanuts again! With a subtle sweetness (just sweet enough, not sugar headache inducing) and then pockets of chocolate. I had another bite (how could I not?); the texture is like a fudgey cookie dough. This keeps getting better. It’s actually sort of like the accidental grain free peanut butter cookie turned bliss ball that I am working on. Ev likes those, so I’m sure he’d like these, as well. I didn’t share, though. It was too good (and small) for that.
  • I thought it over – I like the cookie dough texture, it makes it seem fudge-like and I felt like I was indulging in something quite decadent.  I also really appreciate that it’s not overly sweet, so thanks, guys, for showing some restraint on that point. The serving size I got was enough for a mid afternoon snack (I had it at about 2 pm and didn’t get hungry again until 5.30 pm ish).

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The ingredients list will keep most people happy, too. It’s unfortunately not nut free but it is certified organic, gluten free, soy free, corn free and dairy free. Of course, it’s also FODMAP friendly but certification for that doesn’t exist (yet) in the USA. From Nicer Food’s most recent email to subscribers, it sounds like Monash University will be launching a FODMAP friendly certification program in the US in the near future and Nicer Foods is already lining up to participate. If you aren’t yet well versed in what FODMAPs actually are, read this.

In addition to sending me the sample bar, Jesse and Kate (the founders of Nicer Foods) also kindly answered some questions for me:

  1. When did you first hear about the low FODMAP diet?
    .
    Kate Watson RD, one half of Nicer Foods, first heard about FODMAPs several years ago from her gastroenterologist.  (She’s struggled with IBS for 20 years, and has had several bouts with SIBO.)  That said, when she looked into the diet, it just seemed too restrictive and complicated at the time.  (The fact that a registered dietitian came away with this impression tells you what a challenging diet FODMAPs is, and why it was so important to us to make it easier for people!)  She didn’t start following the diet until last year, when an especially painful IBS flare-up interfered with our honeymoon in Mexico – you can hear more about that story in our Kickstarter video if you like.
    .
  2. Why did you decide to create a low FODMAP protein bar and what made you choose a peanut butter and chocolate flavour? Great choice, by the way!
    .
    Thanks! We were both very frustrated with cooking from scratch for nearly every meal.  The lack of FODMAP friendly snacks or easy to prepare foods on the market was apparent and made travel challenging.   Also, Kate was burned out of working in clinical healthcare, while Jesse was recently laid off, so both of us were looking for business ideas that would actually make a difference in people’s lives, and yet at the same time, be actually viable.

    Why PB & Chocolate?  Mainly because it’s superior in every way to every other flavor in existence.  More seriously though, peanut butter is one of the few nut butters that’s FODMAPs approved by Monash up to two tbsp, and it’s a nice hearty choice for when you need a snack that’s actually going to stick with you. The bittersweet dairy-free chocolate chips add texture and a nice flavor contrast that complements the peanut butter, and completes the illusion that you are actually eating some sort of cookie dough.

  3. What made you choose these particular ingredients? Aside from them being low FODMAP, of course.
    .
    Well, PB & chocolate I’ve already explained.  Rice protein protein is the other major source of protein in the bar, along with quinoa flakes — Neither have much flavor on their own, the quinoa gives the bar some body and a nice chewy texture.  We wanted to use rice protein specifically because it is easily digested and is vegan for those who can’t or don’t do dairy at all.
    .
  4. What do each of you bring to the table? So to speak. :)
    .
    Kate is an RD with IBS who has had specialized training on the FODMAPs diet with 2 of the top FODMAP dietitians in our country.  She’s not only well informed on the diet, she lives it every day, so she’s a pretty obvious choice to design and implement a product like this.  Jesse is a jack of all trades: He’s a software developer, web designer, published author, and has experience in management, entrepreneurship, and business.  And in a small business where much of our business will be done online, all of those things end up being pretty useful.
    .
  5. When do you expect these bars to be commercially available and where? Do you have plans to expand to the rest of the US and perhaps internationally?
    .
    If all goes well, we plan to be shipping throughout the US before the end of the year.  That said, we’re not willing to compromise on quality, and we want to take the time necessary to get this right.  The best way to find out when we’ll ship is to visit http://fodmapbar.com and sign up for a notification.  We also hope to get them into stores, but can’t say where just yet.  And yes, our vision for the future includes international plans!
    .
  6. Do you hope to release new flavours and products if (and when) this bar is a success?
    .
    Absolutely. We already have two other bar flavors in development, and another low FODMAP product in a different category. We’re extremely excited :-)
    .
  7. Any tips for those following a low FODMAP diet?
    .
    It’s best to consult a dietitian who is experienced with this diet to help navigate the various phases of it, so that you can ensure you’re getting proper nutrition.

    FODMAPs is not a “forever” diet (there is a reintroduction phase), and that’s important because the goal is for people to eventually bring back in as many FODMAPs as they are able to tolerate and get as much variety in their diet as possible.  FODMAPs has been called a “learning diet” because it helps people learn their individual sensitivities so they don’t have to avoid all FODMAPs forever.  Also, your tolerance to FODMAPs may change over time, so if you fail a “challenge” to a groups of FODMAPs, try it again later.

    It’s important to stick as closely as possible to the diet during challenge and elimination phases so you can get a clear sense of what foods are triggers for you. Planning ahead and having appropriate low FODMAPs foods available when you will be traveling, while at work or school is an important part of that.  And that is part of the challenge with the diet as well.With that said, it’s our hope that our bars will make a great tool for people on the low FODMAPs diet, as well as for people with celiac, food sensitivities, allergies, and sensitive digestive systems in general.

Finally, here are the details:
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  • Company – Nicer Foods; a brand new, family owned company from right here in Washington State.
  • Phone – +1 877 248 2995
  • Email – questions@fodmapbar.com
  • Have a look at their official website.
  • Like Nicer Foods on Facebook.
  • Follow Nicer Foods on Twitter.
  • Check out Nicer Foods’ Kickstarter campaign (and score some free bars and other goodies, if you choose to back them).
  • Last but not least, here’s their Google Plus profile.

Disclaimer: Please note that while I did receive a free sample of the NICE bar, I was not under any obligation to give a review that I didn’t truly believe. These opinions are my own – and this bar is nom-worthy.

Maple Lemon Butter – Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo & Vegetarian

Maple Lemon Butter - low FODMAP, fructose friendly, gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, no refined sugar, paleo

A few months ago, I posted my Gran’s lemon butter recipe with a promise to attempt an healthier version soon. Well, better late than never, right?

As much as I love baking, photographing the end results and posting them up here for you, sometimes life gets in the way. Over the last few months my IBS was getting worse, no matter if I took it back to basic FODMAPs or not, after which I discovered that spelt, unfortunately, had begun to make it worse. I then embarked on a gluten challenge for ten weeks, to get retested for coeliac disease and wait for an endoscopy, which also took its toll and left me feeling constantly fatigued and with a shoddy immune system to boot.

Well, on Monday I had the endoscopy and I’m already feeling better now that I’m back to being wheat and spelt (fructan/gluten) free. It sounds like a quick turnaround but, given that I stopped eating on Saturday evening for the Monday afternoon procedure, used a colonoscopy prep (those things clean you out!) and knowing what I do about my reactions normally taking about 2-3 days to clear, I’m not surprised that I’m feeling so much better by Wednesday morning. I’m just glad to be able to get on with everything and not be in a brain fog haze.

So, Tuesday evening I decided to get cracking with this healthier lemon butter. Now, I say healthier, which it is, compared to traditional lemon curd – but it’s still definitely not an health food, so don’t go guzzling it down like water! Maple syrup (used instead of castor sugar) is unrefined and the grade B syrup (not pictured but delicious and flavourful) even contains many nutrients but it is still sugar. Luckily, using stevia allowed me to cut the sugar in half. The reason I did not use a stevia product as the only sweetener is that I find it can get too bitingly sweet and leave a distinctive aftertaste; by combining a natural sugar like maple syrup with the stevia drops, you get the best of both the flavour and low calorie worlds.

The result is a creamy looking curd with a nice balance of maple and lemon, both tart and sweet but not too sweet, with very minimal stevia taste.

FODMAP Notes:

  1. Maple syrup is a natural, low FODMAP sweetener. Make sure you’re not buying maple flavoured syrup.
  2. Stevia is FODMAP friendly, however many products that contain stevia also contain other sweeteners that may not be. Read the labels. I use SweetLeaf stevia drops, which contain water, organic stevia leaf extract and natural flavours. Seeing as only 1 tsp. is required to reach the sweetness of 1/2 cup of sugar, the natural flavours are not present in large enough amounts for me to be affected, if any of them are not low FODMAP. Use the sweetener that you are happy with.
  3. Lemon is a low FODMAP fruit.
  4. Eggs do not contain FODMAPs.
  5. Coconut oil is an oil, therefore contains no carbohydrates, so cannot contain FODMAPs. This is the dairy free option.
  6. Butter is lower in lactose than other dairy products due to its very low water content.

Maple Lemon Butter

Makes approx. 1 pint.

Option 1: maple syrup and stevia combination, paleo

  • 25 g virgin coconut oil or 20 g grass fed butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 tsp. SweetLeaf stevia drops (equivalent sweetness of 3/8 cup sugar)
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Juice of 2 large lemons

Option 2: maple syrup and raw turbinado sugar combination

  • 25 g virgin coconut oil or 20 g grass fed butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup raw turbinado sugar
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Juice of 2 large lemons

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Gently beat the coconut oil (or butter), maple syrup and stevia (or turbinado sugar) in an heat proof bowl until well combined, then add in the eggs and continue to whisk until mixed through. Add in the lemon juice (using a sieve to keep out pulp and pips), then place the bowl over a double boiler on a medium heat.

Mix with a whisk until the coconut oil (or butter) has completely melted and the mixture is smooth, then keep stirring and slowly increase the heat until the mixture thickens. This should take 2-3 minutes.

Maple Lemon Butter Double Boiler

Keep stirring for another 2 minutes at that temperature, then divide it between two clean half pint-sized/235 ml jars and let it come to room temperature before refrigerating. It will thicken further as it cools, though is a little runnier than the original recipe. But don’t worry, it won’t run sideways off your toast!

All that’s left to do now is enjoy your treat on some gluten free/FODMAP friendly bread, on a scone as part of afternoon tea or use it to fill up tart shells. Yummo!

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Caprese Sticks with a Balsamic Glaze – Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

Caprese Sticks

If you’re after a quick canape/appetiser type dish that is also low FODMAP, then look no further. This classic combination needs no alterations – other than to watch out for over consumption – to be FODMAP friendly, which is awesomesauce.

This can also be turned into a tossed salad with small amounts of the Balsamic glaze drizzled on top. Just as delicious, with much less work.

FODMAP Notes:

  1. Balsamic vinegar is low FODMAP in servings of 1 tbsp and contains moderate amounts of fructose in 2 tbsp. servings. As the glaze is reduced by half, so should these measurements. You don’t need much of the glaze, anyway.
  2. Cherry tomatoes are low FODMAP in servings of 1/2 a cup, so don’t consume more than four or five sticks is you are still figuring out your tolerances.
  3. Mozzarella cheese is lower in lactose, so small servings are permissible. Each stick should only have a very small amount – say, 1/2 a tsp. of cheese – so four to five sticks should still be okay.
  4. Basil is low FODMAP.
  5. Choose good toothpicks, so they don’t splinter in your mouth. Been there, done that.

Caprese Sticks with a Balsamic Glaze

Serves 16.

  • 1 large punnet of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup lightly packed sweet basil leaves
  • 1 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • Toothpicks

Pour the Balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring it to just below the boil, before reducing to s simmer. Watch it while it slowly reduces by a third to a half (stop at your desired consistency) and then take it off the heat immediately and pour into a ramekin.

Not much more than an hour or two before they’re required, cut the cherry toms in half, tear up the basil leaves and dice the Mozzarella cheese. Skewer them onto the toothpicks in the following order: top half of tomato, basil, cheese, bottom half of tomato.

Arrange however you’d like and refrigerate until 15 minutes before they’re served, to take the chill off.

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Balsamic Rosemary Chicken Risotto – Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly and Gluten Free

Balsamic Rosemary Chicken Risotto - low FODMAP, fructose friendly, gluten free and lactose free

As always, my predictable stomach began to crave warm, hearty meals right about the time the weather started to cool down. Instead of light salads, it seems to be nagging for all the proteins and fats and carbs. Thanks stomach, I wasn’t planning on going up a size this winter but you seem to have other ideas. Of course, you shouldn’t always give in to cravings but occasionally it’s alright – say, for instance, after you had been sick for a week and could finally stay out of the bathroom for long enough to cook a meal (this gluten challenge is almost over, my immune system can see the light!).

After said week, I couldn’t stomach much but I could manage chicken and rice… but how appetising (or nutritious, really) is boiled chicken and rice? This risotto is pretty basic, so it’s easy on the stomach; you don’t need much to fill you up and it packs in more nutrients than its plain cousin thanks to the homemade stock and vegetables it contains. Oh and it’s pure comfort food. Ready. Set. Nom.

FODMAP Notes:

  1. Balsamic vinegar is low FODMAP in 1 tbsp. servings. The 1/3 cup in this recipe will give 3/4 tbsp. per serving if divided between six people, less if shared among eight. Make sure you have real Balsamic vinegar, as the cheaper imitations might not all be FODMAP friendly – check the labels and use what you can tolerate.
  2. Rosemary is a low FODMAP herb.
  3. Chicken is of course low FODMAP – just be careful you don’t buy pre-seasoned chicken, which might have high FODMAP spices added.
  4. Zucchini is a FODMAP friendly vegetable.
  5. Mushrooms contain large amounts of the polyol mannitol in 1 cup servings. The 6 crimini mushrooms called for in this recipe would be just under 1/4 cup in size each, so you would be ingesting at most 1/4 cup of mushrooms if you divided this recipe among six people, less among eight. Of course, if you are sensitive to mannitol in any amount, substitute it with more zucchini, or even some cherry tomatoes.
  6. One serving of a dry white wine is considered low FODMAP.
  7. Arborio rice is a low FODMAP and gluten free grain.
  8. Butter is low in lactose, as FODMAPs are water soluble and butter is mostly fat. However, if you cannot tolerate any butter, either add in your favourite butter replacement or simply omit. For a less creamy version (i.e. when you’re recovering from a stomach bug and can’t tolerate rich foods) omit the butter. It’s what I did for my recovering stomach but any other time I would add it in.

Elimination diet safe: No.

Balsamic Rosemary Chicken Risotto

Serves 6-8

  • 5 cups/1.25 L of fructose friendly chicken stock
  • 700 g chicken, diced into 2 cm chunks
  • 1/6 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil to seal pan
  • 2 cloves of garlic – to be removed before cooking the rice
  • 1 cup diced green leek tips
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 6 medium crimini mushrooms, diced (see FODMAP notes)
  • 300 g arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup/125 ml dry white wine
  • 1/6 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh minced rosemary
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter (optional, see FODMAP notes)

Prepare the chicken and vegetables, wash the rice and set everything aside. If you have time/thought ahead, marinate the chicken in the 1/6 cup of Balsamic vinegar overnight, otherwise, just add them together while cooking. Obviously, in this case you would prep the chicken the day before all the other ingredients.

In a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer and reduce to low. Put the lid on and leave until required.

Fry the chicken pieces in a large fry/saute pan and add the Balsamic vinegar (if it wasn’t added earlier for marination – time constraints and all that). Cook over a high heat until the chicken pieces are all fully sealed and then remove the meat and juices from the pan into a clean bowl.

Next, add in a little more olive oil and add in the leek tips and garlic cloves. Fry over a medium/high heat until the garlic becomes fragrant, then remove and discard the garlic cloves. Add the diced zucchini and mushrooms and cook over a medium heat until the vegetables are mostly cooked.

Push the vegetables to the side and tip in the rice; fry the rice to coat it in the oil/pan juices and then pour in the white wine and last 1/6 cup of Balsamic vinegar. Cook over a medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated and then begin adding the warmed chicken stock, one ladle at a time.

Reduce the heat to a low/medium setting and stir occasionally, letting the stock gradually absorb into the rice. Add a fresh ladle of stock when the previous batch has almost dried out and keep going until the rice is fully cooked (soft) or the stock runs out. The chicken and its juices should be added back into the pan when the pot of stock is about half-used, so it can finish cooking with the rice. Season with the rosemary, salt and pepper when you add in the chicken and then tinker with a little more if required at the end. Finally, add in the optional butter and stir through, for a rich and creamy dish. For pictures of not-quite-cooked vs. cooked risotto, see here.

Serving suggestions: freshly grated Parmesan cheese, minced chives (green parts only) or a sprig of rosemary or parsley. Don’t forget the wine.

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Creamy Roasted Pumpkin and Sage Soup – Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly, Lactose Free & Gluten Free

Creamy Roast Pumpkin and Sage Soup - Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly and Gluten Free, with a vegetarian option

The leaves are finally starting to change in Seattle, huzzah!

I’ve always loved soups in Autumn – okay, okay, “Fall” – and pumpkin soup was a firm favourite of mine growing up; it was one of the dishes that my Mum had nailed (another being Spanakopita – I can’t believe I haven’t posted that one yet).

Well, just my luck to marry a guy who isn’t a pumpkin fan… or a spinach fan, either, for that matter. Hmm… I kid. It’s not that he dislikes them, there’s just plenty of other foods he’d rather eat, like a spicy chili or a really spicy Szechuan dish. I like those things, too, so mostly I don’t mind the compromise but every now and then, well, once or twice each pumpkin season, I make this soup.

The recipe below isn’t exactly my Mum’s recipe, as Ev hates nutmeg. The poor soup, it just can’t win. Instead, I went for a mix of oregano and sage, as we have a handy dandy supply of those in our herb garden. I love the traditional mix of the pumpkin and sage and the addition of a little bacon and Worcestershire sauce (see notes) really brings it all home. Top nosh. Although, be warned, this soup might look light and innocent but it is definitely filling. If you’re serving it as a first course, keep the servings small. Just FYI.

PS. Apologies for the lack of “during” photos, both my camera and phone batteries had carked it.

FODMAP Notes:

  1. Butternut pumpkin/squash is given a moderate rating for GOS and mannitol in 1/2 cup serves, whereas Jap/Kent/Kabocha pumpkin (squash) is given a green light for the same amount. If you are sensitive to GOS and mannitol, go for the Jap pumpkin but otherwise, use either or a combination of both.
  2. Garlic infused olive oil is considered low FODMAP, as carbohydrates are water soluble, so the FODMAPs can’t leech into the oil, like it would into a water based dish. Either use store bought or saute garlic cloves with the oil and bacon (or butter) at the beginning and discard before the other ingredients are added.
  3. Bacon is low FODMAP, as long as no spices like onion or garlic powder are added into its cure.
  4. Green leek tips are low FODMAP in 1/2 cup servings. Beware the white bulb, which is high in FOS.
  5. A large amount of Worcestershire sauce would be high FODMAP, due to the spices at the end of its ingredients list. However, 1/4 cup in the recipe, divided by 8 servings, is a very small amount (about 1 tsp. each) and may be tolerated. If you are concerned, or cannot tolerate even a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, sub in Balsamic vinegar to taste, 1 tbsp. serving of which gets a green light from Monash. This will alter the flavour a little but will still taste delicious.
  6. If you want to make this paleo, use unsweetened almond milk instead of the cream and Balsamic vinegar instead of the Worcestershire sauce.

Roasted Pumpkin and Sage Soup

Serves 8.

  • 2 kg approx. Butternut or Jap/Kent pumpkin (works out to 1 large Butternut)
  • 2 tbsp. garlic infused olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced bacon (replace with 1 tbsp. butter for vegetarian version)
  • 1 cup diced green leek tips
  • 1.0 L of fructose friendly chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce (or Balsamic vinegar if required)
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt (or more to taste)
  • 2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cream (lactose free or almond milk if required)
  • 1 cup water (maybe a little more)

Preheat your oven to 200 C/400 F.

Cut the Butternut/Jap pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and go to town (carefully!) stabbing it with the knife, to facilitate even cooking. Lay the halves skin side down on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt. Bake in the oven for approx. 90 minutes, until a fork will easily penetrate the flesh. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until it’s comfortable to touch. Alternatively, refrigerate it until required, for up to 2 days.

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In a large saucepan, heat the garlic infused olive oil and fry the bacon until crispy. Meanwhile, scoop out the cooked pumpkin flesh. Remove the bacon and set it aside for later. Add in the diced green leek tips and saute til translucent, then throw in the pumpkin flesh, chicken or vegetable stock, oregano, sage, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil for 1 minute, before reducing to a simmer for 30 minutes, with the lid on.

After 30 minutes, use your stick/immersion blender to puree the mixture until it’s completely smooth. Then, add in the cream and 1 cup water and stir through – if it needs a little more fluid, add in a bit more water.  Play with the salt and pepper, until the seasoning suits your tastes. Simmer for a further 20 minutes with the lid on, before serving warm with the bacon bits sprinkled on top or keeping it on a low heat until it’s required.

I like to serve with a dollop of sour cream and some finely minced chives. A fresh slice of crusty ryce bread (or your favourite low FODMAP/gluten free bread) also goes down a treat. Dig in!

This soup, like most, is better the next day and it lasts in the fridge for five days, so you can divvy it up for weekday lunches. Alternatively, it also freezes well.

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Banana Oatcakes – Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free, Dairy Free & No Added Sugar

Low FODMAP Banana Oatcakes - fructose friendly, gluten free, dairy free, no added sugar, vegetarian

Ahh, pancakes; we have a long and complicated history. At the tender age of twelve, I scored a free meal for my entire table at a restaurant in Mordialloc, thanks to the dodgy ice cream that your banana-laden brethren was served with. Maybe my pancakes for breakfast obsession stems from me trying to recreate that scenario at every restaurant and cafe possible (it hasn’t happened yet). Or, maybe, it’s just because you’re so delicious. I guess I’ll never know. My dad’s clever suggestion was to start carrying around a sachet of glass chips (the offender from the ice cream), as he liked not paying for his meal that day and, “could get used to it.” He’s always setting the best examples – though we both know that neither he nor I would do that; karma is a bitch.

Poor Mum, she really had three kids to deal with.

It stands to reason, then, that one of the things I miss most while eating low FODMAP (and nominally gluten free) is being able to safely order pancakes or waffles when out for breakfast. Don’t get me wrong, I realise that it’s really a good thing – scrambled eggs and veggies is a much healthier and more nutritionally balanced option than a mixture of carbohydrates, more carbohydrates, some nutritious sugar (a fruit-based compote) and syrup thrown on top – but every now and then, a sweet treat for breakfast is okay in my books.

I have previously made flourless banana pancakes, which are delicious and also easy to prepare but almond meal can get expensive and I like to mix things up every now and then. Enter these banana oatcakes! Easy peasy to whip up and cook in 15 minutes and they contain what any kitchen – even a normal one – is likely to stock… everyone has chia seeds nowadays, right? Quick, delicious, nutritious and guilt free – that’s exactly what I want in a breakfast. Bonus – they also keep well, to make ahead of time and take for a portable lunch or snack. I haven’t tried freezing them, though you could always make the batter ahead of time and cook as required.

FODMAP Notes:

  1. Oats are low FODMAP in 1/4 cup servings, according to Monash University. Use gluten free oats if you are sensitive to gluten.
  2. Common bananas are likewise low FODMAP in servings of one medium fruit, at all stages of ripeness. Lady Finger (aka Sugar bananas) do become higher in FODMAPs as they turn brown, just FYI.
  3. Eggs are low FODMAP, though are obviously unsuitable for those with egg allergies/intolerances.
  4. Cinnamon is low FODMAP.
  5. Chia seeds are low FODMAP; they are also little nutritional powerhouses.
  6. I served these with low FODMAP strawberry freezer jam and Greek yoghurt.

Banana Oatcakes

Serves 1.

  • 10 g (1 tbsp.) chia seeds (or sesame seeds, also delicious)
  • 30 g (1/4 cup.) traditional oats, gluten free if required
  • 1 medium ripe banana (common variety)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

In a clean spice/coffee grinder, blitz the chia seeds and oats to a flour like texture. If you can’t get them fine enough, that’s okay – the oatcakes will still work, they’ll just have visible chia seeds and a few chunks of oats (see last two photos). In a separate small food processor, or by hand, mash the ripe banana and briskly whisk the egg and cinnamon through until smooth. Add the oat/chia flour to the banana batter and blend until thoroughly combined, then set aside.

While the batter thickens a little, preheat your fry pan and melt your choice of oil (olive, coconut, butter etc). Keep the heat at just above medium temperature, as the natural sugars in the banana will burn easily.

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Divide the batter into three or four dollops on the pan and spread to about 5-6 cm in diameter. Cook over the medium heat for 4-5 minutes on the first side and about 3-4 minutes on the second side, until golden brown. Any bigger than this and the oatcakes will probably break as you flip them.

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Remove them from the heat when done and plate them up. Serve immediately, so that they are warm. If you are making a large batch, keep the cooked oatcakes on a plate in the oven on a warm setting until you’re ready to serve them.

I like to spread small amounts of strawberry jam between the oatcakes and place a dollop of natural Greek yoghurt on top. You could of course go for more traditional pancake toppings, if you wished. I just do my best to save those for special occasions. Enjoy!

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Oven Baked Sockeye Salmon with Herb Lemon Butter – Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free & Paleo

Oven Baked Sockeye Salmon with Herb Lemon Butter - Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free & Paleo

Ev and I have been on a bit of a salmon kick lately, making the most of the last of the fresh caught salmon this season. It’s still available over winter, just frozen and a little more expensive – though the price here in Seattle has nothing on how much even farmed Atlantic salmon would cost in Australia.

When my parents were visiting us over Easter this year, they went through the same shock that we did when we moved to Seattle – Salmon is how cheap? There are so many varieties! You can get wild caught salmon in the supermarket, without going to a fishmonger?! Bliss. I have a feeling that the reason they are going to visit us again next summer has something to do with the salmon (and the dogs) and less to do with us. When we eventually move from Seattle, we will definitely miss the fresh seafood. Not that we don’t have a plentiful supply of fresh seafood in Australia, it’s just much more affordable over here.

Salmon is a very healthy and abundant source of omega 3/healthy fats, protein – with all the essential amino acids present (22 g/100 g), vitamins B-6 and -12, and selenium, as well as containing moderate amounts of potassium, phosphorous and the other B group vitamins. Definitely something that should be a regular part of an healthy diet for those who eat meat.

Notes: 

  1. Lemon is a low FODMAP fruit. Use slightly sweet, juicy lemons, not bitter lemons, which can impart the bitterness onto the salmon – been there, done that. It can really spoil an otherwise delicious meal.
  2. Oregano is low FODMAP but does contain salicylates, which can also cause IBS symptoms. But once again, low FODMAP.
  3. Butter is lower in lactose due to its reduced water content, though for a dairy free/lactose free version you could use coconut oil or a dairy free spread of your choice for a different, though just as tasty flavour.
  4. Fresh fish will always taste best – a fresh fish shouldn’t smell of much at all. If your fish smells “fishy,” it probably is. We normally buy whole fresh fish, as they are considerably cheaper per pound and you can make stock with the skeleton.

Baked Salmon with Herb Lemon Butter

Serves 10.

  • 2.5 kg/5.5 lb whole sockeye salmon
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed oregano leaves
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. garlic infused olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 4-5 lemons, sliced into rounds
  • 2 lemons, sliced into wedges for serving

Clean and fillet your salmon, if not already done – leave the skin on. Rinse and pat dry the salmon, before slicing 4-5 x 1 cm deep slices into the skin. This will require a sharp knife, as the skin can be quite tough.

Choose your baking dish and lay down a bed of the lemon slices, on which you will later lay the salmon.

In a food processor, combine the oregano leaves, butter, garlic oil, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper and blend until smooth, the leaves should end up finely shredded. Rub the mixture on both sides of each salmon fillet, before placing them skin side UP on the lemon rounds. Cover in foil and store in the refrigerator for at least an hour, to let the flavours seep into the fish.

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Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F; when ready, place the covered tray on the middle shelf and bake for 20 minutes, at which point you’ll remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes. If your fish is smaller, it might not need any more time, or 5 minutes at the most. Keep an eye on it.

Once the fish is flaking apart, remove it from the oven and carefully lay it on a bed of greens. The skin will peel off easily, for those who don’t wish to eat it. The lemon livens up the salmon’s natural flavours, while the butter and oregano play very well with everything. Delicious and a definite crowd pleaser… enjoy!

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