Pecan Pie – Fructose Friendly

Nataliya:

Hey guys! I promise I will have a new post up for you next Friday but for now, in honour of my parents staying with us, here’s my Dad’s favourite dessert ever. A pecan pie.

Simple, quick (after the pastry is made) and delicious, this is a real crowd pleaser. I never have any left over. I will make it again soon and update the photos, I swear!

Cheers guys and happy fructose friendly Friday!

Nat xo.

Originally posted on Not From A Packet Mix:

Firstly, sorry for not posting over the last couple of weeks. I was in Australia minus my laptop so my photos and recipes weren’t accessible… plus I was having WAY too much fun with my family and friends. This particular recipe, however, I printed out and took with me; I had promised my dad a pecan pie and he wasn’t going to let me forget it.

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Dad loves pecan pies so much that every Australia Day weekend (when we were growing up) that we stayed in Bright for the Audax Alpine Classic bike ride, we had to come home via Beechworth to go to the Beechworth Bakery. Dad would stock up on about 20 of their medium sized pies and freeze them to last through the year. He is the ultimate champion at making food last. I think that’s where my sister and I get it from, because every Easter…

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Travel Series – Flying with Fructose Malabsorption

Nataliya:

Hey guys! I’m sorry I missed Fructose Friendly Friday yesterday but I was busy flying down to San Francisco to see my parents for the first time since December.

Here is a relevant post reblogged from last year, I still follow these guidelines to travel without issue.

Follow me on Instagram @notfromapacketmix (www.instagram.com/notfromapacketmix) for San Francisco based low FODMAP eats while I’m here and have a great weekend!

Cheers, Nat. Xx

Originally posted on Not From A Packet Mix:

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I’m not a huge fan of flying. I’m not scared of it but I don’t find it enjoyable, either; long hours (15 hours between Melbourne and LAX) in cramped seating, recirculated air, mostly unsuitable foods and the bathrooms, if you can call them that, all add up to me not having a good time. I stress about connections until we make them and about whether our luggage will make it when we do.

We have had enough mishaps with changed departure gates, delayed planes and missing luggage (LAX is a disorganised hellhole) that Ev and I have become very adept at travelling light. The last time we went home to Australia, we got everything we needed for two weeks, including things for other people, in two carry on bags… and by “carry on” I mean the real carry on bags, not the giant suitcases that American based airlines let people take…

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Mashed Potato Buns – Low FODMAP & Gluten Free // A guest post from Life and Thymez

Mashed-Potato-Buns--low-fodmap-gluten-free

Hi guys! This week’s post is a guest post from Zlata over at Life and Thymez, a fun-filled low FODMAP food and lifestyle blog.

When Zlata and I were discussing doing guest posts on each other’s blogs, I couldn’t go past these mashed potato buns. I used to do something very similar with left over mash and I can’t believe I haven’t done it in years. Probably because left over mashed potatoes really isn’t a thing with Ev and the dogs in the house. But anyway. I’ll just have to start making extra.

These buns are great to snack on, work well as a side to soup (gluten free toast is so yesterday) or even just use them as dinner rolls.

A little about Zlata…

Full-time publicist, part-time writer, and round-the-clock ambassador to wit and humor, Zlata is a Jersey Girl making her way through life in South Florida with her husband, Alex, and their sweet pup, LexZ. Zlata’s a self-taught home cook who relies on taste bud science for her mostly simple, sometimes healthy/sometimes not, always delicious recipes. When she’s not crafting kitchen concoctions, Zlata can be found reading an awesome book (translation: trashy magazine), crossing the line between ‘funny’ and ‘inappropriate,’ and fantasizing about being a Real Housewife of Palm Beach.

Find her on:

FODMAP Notes

  1. Potatoes are low FODMAP in 1 cup serves.
  2. Butter is low enough in lactose that most should be fine with it but, if not, use your favourite butter replacement.
  3. Eggs, salt and pepper are all low FODMAP.

Mashed Potato Buns

  • 5 pounds organic russet potatoes
  • 1 stick butter (my preference is salted)
  • 6 eggs (3 whole and 3 yolk)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For instructions with step by step pictures, see the recipe at Life and Thymez.

Get a pot of water boiling and sprinkle heavily with salt. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes then cut them into halves or quarters and add to the boiling water.

Boil potatoes until cooked. You should be able to easily poke them through with a fork. Once ready, drain water and move them to a large round bowl and mash with butter. Add salt and pepper to taste, then let the potato mix cool slightly.

In the meantime, get a large baking pan ready with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 F/180 C.

Mix 3 eggs into potatoes using hands. (It will be messy and potatoes will stick to your hands). Form bun shapes out of the mixture and add them to the baking sheet. Wash hands and crack three egg yolk in a small bowl. Brush egg yolk on each bun, making sure the tops are well covered.

Bake in oven until browned, about 45-60 minutes.

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Which sugars and sweeteners are safe on the low FODMAP diet?

Which sugars and sweeteners are safe on the low fodmap diet - sugar, sweetener, low fodmao, ibs, fructose malabsorption, sibo, irritable bowel syndrome

This list of safe sugars and sweeteners is suitable for those following the low FODMAP/fructose friendly diet for fructose malabsorption, which is also known as dietary fructose intolerance. If you have hereditary fructose intolerance (HFI), please do not use this list, as it is not strict enough for your fructose free requirements. If you have an infant/young child that is failing to thrive, has an aversion to sweet foods or continuously reacts poorly to sucrose/fructose/sorbitol containing foods, please ask your doctor about getting them checked for HFI.

There is a lot of confusion regarding the terms “sugar” and “sweetener” with regards to the low FODMAP diet. Either due to miscommunication with their dietitian – or not seeing a dietitian at all – FODMAPpers can unnecessarily over-restrict themselves. Given that the full low FODMAP diet is restrictive enough as it is, and perhaps taking into account other allergies or intolerances, I’m assuming that most of us would like to keep our diets as open as possible.

To begin with, let’s clarify something; this is what a low FODMAP diet is not:

  • FODMAP free – there’s no such thing, unless you’re eating an unseasoned cut of meat. Every plant food has FODMAPs in them, it’s the amount that makes the difference.
  • Sugar free – FODMAPs include a range of sugars (saccharides) and carbohydrates. Some sugars, such as fructose and lactose, are FODMAPs while others, such as glucose and maltose, are not.
  • Fructose free – unless you have hereditary fructose intolerance, fructose does not need to be completely eliminated from your diet, just reduced. Given their similar structures, as long as glucose is consumed in equal or greater amounts than fructose, the co-transport system will help with fructose absorption in the small intestine (up to a point, it can be overwhelmed).
  • Low carbohydrate – FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates that are readily fermentable. Many carbohydrates, however, are not, so are safe. Starch, for example, is an example of a non-FODMAP complex carbohydrate.
  • Organic/non-GMO – whether a food is grown using organic/non-GMO, non-organic or GMO farming methods holds no bearing over its FODMAP content.
  • A forever diet – the low FODMAP diet is designed to allow you, with professional guidance, to work out your individual IBS triggers (including amounts/thresholds). There is no point in completely eliminating all potentially high FODMAP foods when, you only malabsorb one or two of the individual FODMAPs. The food trial phase is an important part of the diet that should not be avoided, unless your health practitioner has advised you otherwise.

So rest easy, guys – if you are following only the low FODMAP diet, then you can still consume moderate amounts of your favourite sweet or starchy foods.

Now that we have that sorted, let’s discuss a variety of commonly used sugars and sweeteners and their FODMAP content. This is a long article but hopefully it will be a great resource for confused FODMAPpers out there!

Sugars/Saccharides

The isomers glucose and fructose combine to form the disaccharide sucrose, which is 1:1 glucose to fructose.

  • “Saccharide” is the scientific term for the word “sugar.” There are different types, including monosaccharides (single sugar molecules), disaccharides (double sugar molecules) and polysaccharides (multiple sugar molecules joint together).
  • Sugars form part of the carbohydrate macro-nutrient group, along with fibres and starches.
  • Not all sugars are considered FODMAPs.
  • Aside from potentially causing IBS flare ups, all sugar consumption should be limited for general health reasons.
  • If even modest servings of “safe” sugars continue to cause your fructose malabsorption/IBS to react, please consider getting tested for SIBO.
  • If you are diabetic, please consult your doctor or dietitian before using any concentrated glucose syrup

Agave Syrup/Nectar

FODMAP rating: unsafe.

Made from either the leaf or the root of several species of the agave plant, including Agave tequilana and Agave salmiana, agave syrup has become a popular “healthy” sugar choice over the last few years. It is approximately 90% fructose, thus some people claim that it doesn’t spike blood glucose and is a better choice for diabetics and those wishing to lose weight. This research, however, is only suggestive and is countered by studies that suggest the opposite – that too much fructose, while it won’t spike blood glucose, is still not good for you metabolically. The American Diabetes Association recommends that agave consumption should be limited, just like all the other sugars in the list.

Whichever side of this you choose to believe, the facts stand that agave syrup is just about the worst sugar a fructose malabsorber could choose, given it’s extremely high ratio of excess fructose.

Beet Sugar

FODMAP rating: safe.

Beets are one of the two most common sources of common table sugar production, the other being cane sugar (listed below). Beet sugar contains 99.95% sucrose, which is a disaccharide comprising one molecule each of glucose and fructose. Given that the fructose ratio is 1.0, beet sugar (and any other sucrose-based sugar) can be consumed in moderate amounts, relying on the glucose co-transport method of fructose absorption.

Brown Sugar

FODMAP rating: safe in 1 tbsp. servings.

Brown sugar is common table sugar (sucrose) that has either had a little molasses left in during the refinement process, or alternatively, some molasses was added back in later on. Monash University lists the safe serving of brown sugar at 1 tbsp.

Molasses (listed below) is generally considered unsafe as there is a fructose ratio greater than 1.0 however, the ratio is small at approx 1.075 (according to Nutrition Data) and not a lot of molasses is added into the brown sugar. For this reason, a little bit of brown sugar in a baked good every now and then should be tolerated by most. More molasses is added into dark brown sugar than the light brown sugar, so I’d stick to the latter. As with everything to do with FODMAPs, if you are extra sensitive and find that you react to brown sugar, just leave it out. Alternatively, use a combination of brown sugar and dextrose and the dextrose (glucose) will bring the fructose ratio back to well under 1.0, while allowing you to take advantage of the rich, caramel-like flavours that brown sugar can bring to your food.

Cane Sugar/Syrup

FODMAP rating: safe.

Cane sugar is made from sucrose, which has a fructose ratio of 1.0 and is considered safe in terms of FODMAPs.

Monash University suggests that the amount found in a glass of diluted cordial mix, or a small handful of lollies, should be well tolerated by most but that those who are more sensitive should limit large doses. Given that lollies are mostly sucrose, the amount of sucrose found in a slice of otherwise low FODMAP cake should be within those limits.

Coconut Sugar

FODMAP rating: unsafe.

Coconut sugar, produced by dehydrating the sap of coconut palms, contains a good amount of inulin. Inulin is a group of fermentable carbohydrates to which fructans belong, they are mildly sweet and can reduce the rate of glucose absorption in the gut, which is potentially one of the reasons why coconut sugar is touted as a healthier, lower GI option.

It is best to stay away from inulin – and thus coconut sugar – during the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet. Afterwards, you may choose to attempt a reintroduction with the help of your health professional.

Corn Syrup

FODMAP rating: safe.

Corn syrup is made by extracting glucose from corn starch, using a multi-step enzymatic approach. It is anywhere from 93-96% glucose (as maltose, a disaccharide of two glucose molecules), so is one of the safest sweeteners available, in terms of FODMAPs. For more information on FODMAPs, corn syrup and other corn products, read this article.

Please note that high fructose corn syrup is different to corn syrup and has been listed separately below.

Fructose (isolate)

FODMAP rating: unsafe.

Isolated fructose is anywhere from 90-100% fructose and, as such, is unsuitable for consumption by symptomatic fructose malabsorbers.

Fruit Sugar

FODMAP rating: unsafe.

Refers almost only to fructose; avoid it like the plague if you are a symptomatic fructose malabsorber.

Glucose Syrup

FODMAP rating: safe.

Depending on the country you live in, glucose syrup can be produced from corn, wheat, rice, potatoes or tapioca. In the USA, corn syrup is used synonymously with glucose syrup and, in Australia, it’s typically produced from wheat glucose. The starch from the base ingredient is isolated and, via a multistep enzymatic process, is converted to a concentrated glucose solution.

Given that glucose is the safest form of sugar for fructose malabsorbers to consume, glucose syrup is a good choice of sugar to use during the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet. It is less sweet than sucrose, due to the absence of fructose, and you will find that the flavour lacks a little volume but this can be corrected by using either a combination of glucose syrup and a sucrose-based sugar or adding low FODMAP spices to your food.

If you have coeliac disease, please confirm with the product manufacturers that the glucose syrup produced from wheat (or any other gluten containing grain) is considered gluten free. 

Golden Syrup

FODMAP rating: safe.

Golden syrup, also known as light treacle, is a sucrose-based inverted syrup produced during the process of refining the juice of either sugar cane or sugar beets into common table sugar. As it is mostly sucrose, it has a fructose ratio of 1.0 and is considered safe in moderate consumption by Monash University for those following the low FODMAP diet.

In terms of cooking and baking, it is a great substitute for honey and molasses, which should be restricted due to excess fructose levels, and also for maple syrup, which can be outrageously expensive in certain places, like all of Australia. It lends a rich, distinctive flavour to dishes that is milder than molasses, which can be quite bitter.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

FODMAP rating: unsafe.

Once corn syrup (which is mostly maltose/glucose) has been produced, the reaction is taken a step further and the corn syrup is processed with the enzyme glucose isomerase, to convert some of the glucose into fructose. This produces HFCS-42. Liquid chromatography is used to further convert glucose into fructose, to create HFCS-90, which can be blended with HFCS-42 to create HFCS-55.

Regardless of your opinion of the health dangers of HFCS, it is NOT low FODMAP. As the varieties (42%, 55% and 90% fructose) are not labelled differently, it’s best to stay clear of it completely.

Other names include: isoglucose, glucose-fructose syrup, fructose-glucose syrup, isolated fructose and fructose syrup (the latter two refer to HFCS-90).

Honey

FODMAP rating: unsafe.

Honey is produced from the nectar that honey bees collect from flowers. For this reason, it is not vegan. Different varieties of honey contain vastly different fructose ratios, with a rare few possibly being as low as 1.0, which would be considered safe in terms of FODMAP consumption. However, unless honey is specifically labelled as FODMAP friendly, it would be safer to assume that is has a high fructose ratio and should therefore be avoided until such a time that you and your dietitian decide it should be tested.

Monash University lists 1 tbsp. of honey as high in excess fructose and thus unsafe for those with fructose malabsorption.

Invert Sugar

FODMAP rating: tentatively safe but potentially problematic for some.

Invert sugar is a tricky beast. The term refers to sugars that have been converted to syrups using heat and an acid-based chemical reaction. You can mimic this by creating golden syrup at home by melting table sugar with a slice of lemon (the acid). Honey is another invert syrup, though obviously bees don’t have stoves and lemon slices on hand to create it.

The problem is that when “invert syrup” or “invert sugar” is listed, it is impossible to tell which invert syrup is being referred to and thus it has an unknown fructose ratio. Many people in the fructose malabsorption groups online state that invert syrup is a trigger for them. As invert syrup hasn’t officially been tested yet, I can’t say for sure but Patsy Catsos, a well-known dietitian and a FODMAP expert, says that invert syrup is “tentatively okay.” I understand this to be that if the fructose ratio is safe, the invert syrup would be safe. If you are unsure and don’t want to risk a reaction, simply avoid it.

Maple Sugar/Syrup

FODMAP rating: safe.

Maple syrup is produced by boiling and dehydrating the sap from sugar maple trees, until a viscous, delicious syrup has formed. Luckily for fructose malabsorbers, it is a sucrose-based syrup, with a fructose ratio of 1.0, so is safe in moderation on the low FODMAP diet.

It lends a rich, distinctive flavour to foods that only gets better when you buy grade B, rather than grade A maple syrup. Please ensure that you are buying pure maple syrup and not a “table syrup” or “pancake syrup,” which could contain higher FODMAP ingredients.

Molasses

FODMAP rating: unsafe.

While Monash University has not tested molasses just yet, other reliable sources suggest that it has a fructose ratio greater than 1.0, and so is unsafe for those with fructose malabsorption.

Raw Sugar (Turbinado/Rapidura/Demerara)

FODMAP rating: safe.

Raw sugar is a partially refined version of crystallised table sugar. Each variety has varying degrees of molasses left in from a shortened refinement process. Typically found in coarser grains, they provide similar caramel notes to brown sugar. Also like brown sugar, they are safe in moderation. I would stick to the 1 tbsp. serving size of brown sugar, or combine the raw sugar with glucose or dextrose powder to achieve the rich flavour with a more favourable fructose ratio.

Rice Malt/Brown Rice Syrup

FODMAP rating: safe.

Rice malt syrup is glucose/maltose syrup that has been produced from (typically brown) rice. In the modern/industrial method of rice malt syrup production, the brown rice is fermented in the presence of enzymes, to separate the starch from the other components, after which it is strained and heated to achieve the concentrated glucose/maltose syrup that we can buy in most health food stores or online. In the traditional method, barley sprouts are used in the first step, so please make sure you complete further research on traditionally made rice syrups and gluten content if you have coeliac disease.

As rice malt syrup contains approximately 3% glucose and 45% maltose (a disaccharide of two glucose molecules), it is considered safe to use by those with fructose malabsorption and is lower GI than sucrose and pure glucose. If you are diabetic, please use caution and consult your doctor or dietitian before using any alternative syrup for the first time.

Sucrose

FODMAP rating: safe.

Sucrose is the scientific name for any disaccharide (double sugar molecule) that contains a molecule of fructose and a molecule of glucose (see image above). As fructose and glucose are present in equal amounts, the fructose ratio is 1.0, so sucrose is considered safe for fructose malabsorbers to consume in moderation, because the glucose co-transport method of fructose absorption will take care of the fructose present, up to a point. Be careful, as this method can be overwhelmed, so symptoms would resume if you over-consume sucrose-based products.

Table/Castor/White/Icing/Baker’s (etc) Sugar

FODMAP rating: safe.

Common table/white sugar is the product of completely refining sugar cane of sugar beet juice. They resulting product is entirely sucrose, so the fructose ration is 1.0 and they are considered safe for FODMAPpers to consume in moderation, according to Monash University.

The varying names refer to the different grain sizes and uses that the refined sugar product has been ground into. For example, White/table sugar is coarse (though not as coarse as most raw sugars), followed by baker’s sugar, castor sugar and then finally icing/powdered sugar. Icing/powdered sugar can often be found cut with corn starch to prevent clumping – this is not a FODMAP issue but it is something to keep in mind if you have additional intolerances to corn.

Sweeteners

This section covers both artificial and naturally occurring sweeteners, which are commonly used instead of different sugars to provide sweetness in foods without the calories. No comment or judgement is being made about an individual’s choice to use artificial/zero calorie sweeteners, as we must fuel our bodies as we see fit.

Aspartame

FODMAP rating: safe.

Also known as NutraSweet and Equal, and coded as E951 in Europe, aspartame is a zero calorie, non-saccharide sweetener that is approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar. It was approved for use by the FDA in 1981 and since then has been the source of many health debates – I won’t go into them here, as it is not within the scope of a FODMAP blog and I am not a food scientist.

Aspartame is a methyl ester of two amino acids: aspartic acid and phenylalanine, to which form it is returned during digestion in the human body. Regardless of your opinion on whether aspartame is carcinogenic or suitable to consume, it is low in FODMAPs, so is safe to use on the low FODMAP diet.

Phenylketonurics should avoid aspartame.

Polyols

FODMAP rating: unsafe.

Polyols refers to the P in FODMAPs, consisting of sugar alcohols that are commonly used as “sugar free” low calorie sweeteners. They can be naturally occurring or man-made, and include erythritol, isomalt, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. It is well-known that polyols can have a laxative effect (you’ve all seen the warnings about the side effects of over consumption on the back of sugar-free gum), so it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that polyols can be malabsorbed in the human small intestine, just like fructose and lactose.

The size of the sugar alcohol will determine the extent to which it is likely to be absorbed in most people; erythritol, a four carbon polyol, is generally well absorbed, where as those that are six carbon or greater in size are unable to be absorbed via simple diffusion. In addition to being malabsorbed themselves, polyols, when consumed in combination with fructose, will bind to and block GLUT-5 fructose channels, thus increasing fructose malabsorption and worsening symptoms. For this reason, you should watch your intake of polyols, regardless of whether you malabsorb them specifically, as well as your fructose load.

Saccharin

FODMAP rating: safe.

Also known as Sweet ‘n Low, and coming in at approximately 300-400 times sweeter than regular sugar, saccharin is considered to be low FODMAP. It is unstable when heated but doesn’t interact chemically with other ingredients, so is otherwise shelf stable. A couple of studies suggest that the sweet taste can trigger an insulin response under fasting conditions, even though there is no glucose present.

Stevia

FODMAP rating: safe.

Derived from the leaves of the plant Stevia rebaudiana, pure stevia, whether produced from the whole leaf or extracted, is around 100-300 times sweeter than table sugar. The active ingredients in stevia leaf extract are steviol glycosides, which are heat stable and are not fermentable, making them FODMAP friendly. Brand names of the leaf extracts include Natvia, Truvia, Rebiana and PureVia.

The two main components that provide sweetness are stevioside and rebaudioside. Rebaudioside A has the least bitterness of the two, and is preferentially extracted in commercially produced Stevia products, such as those listed above. The whole leaf version of stevia can impart a slightly more bitter flavour to drinks and bakes goods, etc but some people prefer it, as they can grow the plant easily and then dry and grind the leaves themselves.

Sucralose

FODMAP rating: safe in terms of FODMAPs but potentially problematic in terms of influence on gut bacteria.

Also known as Splenda, sucralose is low in FODMAPs. One study, however, suggests that extended sucralose use might reduce colonies of beneficial gut bacteria, as well as increasing foecal pH and reducing the bioavailability of certain orally administered drugs. This is not something that someone who is already prone to functional gut disorders would want to play with, so please discuss the use of sucralose with your health practitioner, to determine the right course of action for you.

Disclaimer: Although I come from a health science background, I am not a dietitian or a medical doctor; I have just researched this topic myself. If your health professional has advised you to avoid certain or all sugar-based products or sweeteners, please do so, as it might not be for a FODMAP-related reason.

Title photo credit goes to: Unsplash.

The FODMAP content of different varieties of corn/maize and their derivatives

low fodmap, maize, corn, gluten free, irritable bowel syndrome, IBS, fructose malabsorption, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, corn meal, cornflour, popcorn, sweet corn

For a grain that is used in so many gluten free/IBS friendly recipes and products, corn tends to be a topic of contention in terms of FODMAPs. But why? It’s gluten free (unless contaminated with the protein through processing methods), that much we know, but why do some people react to corn and others not, or, even more confusing, why do different types of corn cause issues for an individual when others are well tolerated?

One of the obvious answers is that all of us react differently to different fermentable carbs, which is true – but it goes deeper than that. The problem with corn is simple – corn is not simple at all. People have sensitivities, intolerances and allergies to different aspects of corn, and not all corn is created equal. This article will deal with the fermentable carbohydrates that corn can contain, as corn allergies and intolerances are not within the scope of this blog. If you are concerned that you have an allergy to corn, please see your doctor.

Since the Native Americans domesticated corn thousands of years ago, it has been extensively bred into many varieties, all of which contain different amounts of FODMAPs, as well as different physical characteristics that lend themselves to certain uses in cuisine and industry. Obviously, for the purpose of this article, I will stick to the species of corn that are intended to be eaten.

Genetic Modification

This needs to be said. Corn is commonly found as a genetically modified (GMO) product. You may choose to consume non-GMO varieties of corn for personal beliefs, however, genetic modification does not affect FODMAP content. Unless a variety of corn is bred to contain large amounts of fructans, or have a higher fructose:glucose ratio than sweet corn (etc), the GMO corn you find at the supermarket will have the same recommended safe serving size as it’s non-GMO counterpart.

Sweet Corn/Corn on the Cob

Variety: sweet corn.

FODMAP rating: safe in 1/2 cob servings.

Sweet corn is the corn we eat prepared as a vegetable – on the cob, or find tinned in the grocery store. It is picked when immature, before the simple sugars have a chance to convert to starches. Delicious with butter, salt and pepper, it unfortunately has a very close fructose:glucose ratio, as well as a large amount of sucrose, so should therefore be limited to half-cob servings, according to Monash University. Of course, if you know you can eat more without reacting you may continue to do so.

Corn Meal, Polenta/Grits and Popcorn

Variety: dent and flint corn.

FODMAP rating: safe in 1 cup servings.

Corn destined to be consumed as a grain is picked and processed once it has matured, which means the water content in the endosperm is greatly reduced and the simple sugars have largely been converted into starch. Starch is not a FODMAP, which means that products made from corn meal, polenta and popcorn kernels (such as corn tortillas, corn bread and mamaliga) are safe in terms of fermentable carbohydrates, as long as no other FODMAP-containing ingredients have been included in the recipe.

Dent corn has a greater water content than flint corn, which has a much harder, less digestible endosperm; this is due to the differing amounts of floury vs vitreous starch (see Figure 3). For this reason, they are turned into corn meal/polenta and popcorn, respectively.

Cornflour/ Corn Starch

Variety: waxy corn.

FODMAP rating: safe.

Waxy corn contains a different type of starch (amylopectin, rather than the amylose found in the previously mentioned corn varieties), and is more effective as a thickener and stabilising agent in foods. This product doesn’t come from the entire corn kernel but is the isolated amylopectin.

Corn Syrup

Variety: dent corn (amylose starch).

FODMAP rating: safe but use in moderation.

Consisting of approximately 93-96% glucose (in the form of maltose, a disaccharide of two glucose molecules), corn syrup is considered safe in terms of FODMAPs, though it should still be consumed in moderation, as it is a sugar and very high GI. Corn syrup is produced via a multi-step enzymatic process, which breaks the corn starch down into varying products, including maltose. Corn syrup is available in light and dark varieties; the dark corn syrup is mixed with some molasses, which, while it has a slightly elevated fructose:glucose ratio, should be evened out by the extremely concentrated glucose in the corn syrup.

In the USA, corn syrup is synonymous with glucose syrup, as glucose syrup is nearly always made from corn. In other countries, glucose syrup can be made from wheat, rice, potatoes or tapioca.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Variety: dent corn (amylose starch).

FODMAP rating: high, avoid.

Once corn syrup (which is mostly maltose/glucose) has been produced, the reaction is taken a step further and the corn syrup is processed with the enzyme glucose isomerase, to convert some of the glucose into fructose. This produces HFCS-42. Liquid chromatography is used to further convert glucose into fructose, to create HFCS-90, which can be blended with HFCS-42 to create HFCS-55.

Regardless of your opinion of the health dangers of HFCS, it is NOT low FODMAP. As the varieties (42%, 55% and 90% fructose) are not labelled differently, it’s best to stay clear.

Other names include: isoglucose, glucose-fructose syrup, fructose-glucose syrup, isolated fructose and fructose syrup (the latter two refer to HFCS-90).

Corn/Maize Oil

Variety: made from the germ of corn kernels.

FODMAP rating: safe.

FODMAPs are a variety of fermentable carbohydrates. Pure corn oil is 100% fat, so contains no carbohydrates, thus no FODMAPs and is safe to use.

So, there you have it. Different varieties of corn (maize) and their derivatives all have different FODMAP ratings; however, as usual, if your tolerances vary from what Monash has suggested is safe, follow your gut.

Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or a medical doctor; I have just researched this topic myself. If your health professional has advised you to avoid corn, please do so, as it might not be for a FODMAP-related reason.

Title image credit goes to: http://pixabay.com/en/users/margenauer-271373/

Leek Chimichurri – Low FODMAP, Gluten Free & Vegan

Leek Chimichurri - Low FODMAP, Gluten Free and Vegan, fructose malabsorption, irritable bowel syndrome, healthy, low carb

When we moved into our new house in February just been, there was a run-down little veggie patch by the front door. I looked at it in dismay – I had just left behind the gorgeous wooden planter box that Ev built for me the year before at our last rental – and then proceeded to ignore it every time I walked by it. The box was cheap plastic, the soil full of weeds and the dried out remnants of what was once a zucchini plant were splayed out on a trellis.

After a couple of weeks, I looked at the “garden” tab of the house folder the previous owners had left us and got a little shock. Apparently, the veggie patch was full of leeks, chives and kale. Yum. I checked the garden again and there were the leeks and chives, hidden among the weeds; no kale, though, it obviously hadn’t made it through the winter. There was one problem, though. There was grass growing up throughout the chives and the leeks were apparently planted next to some small agapanthus, whose leaves look a lot like a leek but are not edible. Why on earth? Anyway, it was still February, so these hardy little plants hadn’t begun to flower yet. I was reasonably confident that I could tell them apart from the bulb/lack of bulb (agapanthus vs leek) but, to be sure, I wanted to see the flowers.

Finally, the leeks and agapanthus flowered a week ago and last weekend we decided it was time to get rid of the sad little veggie patch and replace it with a lawn, instead. Unfortunately, our backyard is surrounded by pine trees and gets very little sunlight, so I understand why they chose the front yard for the veggie garden – I just wouldn’t have done it in quite the same way. Also, because our backyard gets basically no sunlight, the “lawn” is about 95% weeds, so we’re going for a forest/path/hidden surprise backyard with shade loving plants and we want to get as much lawn out of the front yard as possible. But I digress. Even after ditching the leeks that were growing so close to the agapanthus that they were intertwined (and all the chives, because they were thoroughly knotted together with grass and nobody had time to sort that mess out), we had a sink-full of leeks. I’m not even kidding, our extra deep, double-sized kitchen sink was overflowing.

This wasn’t even half of what we kept, which was half of what was there. Please excuse the weeds, the garden is a work in progress.

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What on earth could we do with so many leeks? It’s warming up, so it’s no longer really soup weather and simply processing the leeks and freezing them seemed like a cop out. A few weeks ago we had watched an episode of No Reservations (Anthony Bourdain’s show) and they had dipped leeks into chimichurri. Why not make leeks into chimichurri, instead?

Chimichurri is a very versatile sauce. It’s primary use is for grilling meats but you can use it as a dipping sauce, a condiment, a sandwich spread (mixed with mayo – yum!), a pasta sauce, a salad dressing, to spice up omelettes and add flavour to mashed potatoes. You can also use it as a base from which to build an entirely new sauce. It’s definitely handy to have around, as it allows you to cut some corners during dinner prep – I won’t say no to that!

FODMAP Notes

  1. Green leek tips are considered FODMAP friendly in 1 cup servings.
  2. Garlic olive oil must be made ahead of time and cooled, or it can be pre-bought. If you are buying garlic olive oil, make sure you choose an oil quality that is more suited to how you plan to use your chimichurri. For example, we grilled the chimichurri marinated beef kebabs we made, so a refined olive oil was more suited to this particular dish than if we had used the chimichurri as a dipping sauce, in which case extra virgin olive oil would have been fine (due to the heat resistance/smoke points of different oils).
  3. As all FODMAPpers are different, if you can tolerate a bit of actual garlic, feel free to replace the garlic olive oil with the same amount of olive oil plus 1-2 cloves of garlic, to taste.

Leek Chimichurri

Makes about 600 ml of sauce, depending on how firmly packed the leeks are.

  • 4 cups green leek tips
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup pre-made garlic olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional – 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes or fresh oregano

Place the garlic oil (or actual garlic if you can tolerate it), roughly chopped leek tips and red wine vinegar into the bowl of your food processor and blitz until combined. Add some salt and pepper (and the optional herbs if you like) and keep blitzing until smooth. Taste the chimichurri, then add in more salt and pepper (or garlic oil or red wine vinegar) to get the exact taste and consistency that you like. We like ours a little thicker, so feel free to add more oil if you see fit.

That’s it. It’s very simple. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks, or freeze for up to two months. It’s especially important to practise safe food handling if you’ve used an homemade infused oil, due to the risks of botulism that rise when infused oils are stored incorrectly/for too long. Store bought infused oils have been prepared in such a way that they have a much longer shelf life.

But please don’t let that put you off making chimichurri! The simple measure of freezing extra jars right away will keep the sauce safe for a couple of months. I know our batch won’t last longer than that, and it made 10 jars. It’s that good.

Here is our leek chimichurri, served with a yolk porn-worthy poached egg on top of polenta and wilted spinach. Simple, delicious and nourishing. The perfect meal.

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Meet Nicer Food’s Infused Olive Oils – Low FODMAP Flavour for your Dishes

low fodmap, nicer foods, garlic infused oil, fructose malabsorption, irritable bowel syndrome, IBS, gluten free, organic

About a month ago, Jesse and Kate Watson of Nicer Foods contacted me and asked me if I’d like to test drive their newest product. Given how much I liked their last effort (chocolate peanut butter flavoured protein bars, mmmmmmmm…….) I of course said yes. Please realise, though, that the opinions here are my own; even though they very generously sent me a full-sized version of each of the four flavours, I was not bound to give them a good review.

Firstly, 10 points to Gryffindor – I mean Nicer Foods – for great customer service; they have always replied promptly to my enquiries and these little beauties reached me just two days after I agreed to review them, in a well padded parcel.

For the uninitiated, the low FODMAP diet restricts garlic and onion, among other foods, based on their high quantities of fermentable carbohydrates, known as fructans (or fructooligosaccharides/FOS, part of the O group), which aren’t absorbed in the small intestine, so travel on into the colon, where your resident gut flora digest them, leading to gas production, bloating, cramps and altered bowel movements. You know, exactly what you want to read about in the review of a gourmet food product. Sorry.

For the less than savoury reasons mentioned above, those following the low FODMAP diet for relief of digestive complaints will eliminate garlic and onion varieties, which for some might seem like the end of the world for their taste buds. However, luckily for us, FODMAPs are water soluble, so foods like garlic and onion can be sauteed in oil until their flavours have seeped in, leaving the fructans behind. This means that oils infused with the essences of higher FODMAP foods can impart the flavour into your meals, without the FODMAPs. Sounds great and easy enough, right? Well, the down side to this is that you really shouldn’t store your homemade infused oils; you can make them but only if you plan to use them right there and then. Botulism, a potentially fatal bacterial infection, is caused by the food-borne bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which thrives in low oxygen, alkaline, warm environments – just like infused oils.

Personally, I’m not happy to risk a case of Botulism to have the convenience of homemade infused oils lying around and, while I’m happy to throw a couple of garlic cloves into simmering oil when I’m cooking, I most likely won’t be bothered when I am making a heat-free-prep meal, like dips or salad dressings.

So, what to do? Supermarkets and websites sell varieties of infused olive oils that we can take advantage of. But what makes Nicer Foods’ infused oils stand out from the crowd? Firstly (and most importantly), they are made with the intention of being completely FODMAP friendly, so you don’t have to worry about garlic or onion “juice” getting into the oils, like you do with others. Have you ever seen the garlic infused oils on the supermarket shelves that have bits of garlic sitting at the bottom? Chances are you may react to that particular oil – depending on how sensitive your gut is. Secondly, they taste great – more on that later – and thirdly, I’d happily support a family owned start up company over a chain-brand that probably doesn’t care as much about quality control and its customers.

So, to the oils!… Which are available online for purchase at Nicer Foods’ website for a reasonable price.

Shallot Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Great taste, a little strong but pleasant. It works wonders as a simple salad dressing with a pinch of sea salt or as part of a cooked meal. Just beware, though, that as it’s an “extra virgin olive oil,” (EVOO) I’d keep your heat low, so don’t use it while stir frying, or simply add it in at the end of the cooking process.

Meal ideas:

  • Salad dressing, with a pinch of sea salt and perhaps a dash of white wine vinegar.
  • Drizzle over your pasta of choice and throw on a few cherry tomatoes, some shredded basil and Parmesan cheese.
  • Onion replacement in hot meals, if used carefully – would work in combination with the garlic oil in any Italian or Mexican dishes that you wanted to try, such as this Bolognese sauce.
  • Jazz up your favourite low FODMAP dip recipes – this would go well in a roasted capsicum dip.

I like the shallot oil so much that it has earnt it’s own pouring spout. If I had to pick, it’d be my favourite.

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Garlic Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil

A pleasant and mild garlic flavour. I’ve tried store bought garlic oils before and some have had an obnoxious garlic taste but this one, thankfully, does not.

Meal Ideas:

  • Salad dressing (as above).
  • Use carefully in cooking, such as garlic free carnitas or Napoli sauce (after sauce has been reduced from the boiling point).
  • Whip up a delicious garlic infused guacamole.
  • Bake some spinach and Feta muffins, or mini quiches, using the garlic oil as part of the fat content, to spice up the flavour.

Pictured here in a green leek chimichurri sauce.

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Lemon Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Refreshingly zingy. I like the other oils a lot, too, as the steadily emptying bottles can attest – but this one speaks to my inner baker and dessert-aholic. The flavour reminds me of a lemon biscuit (cookie) that my Gran used to buy and that I now want to replicate. I wish it came in a bigger bottle!

Meal Ideas:

  • Drizzle over seafood as it’s removed from the heat.
  • Use it as part of a zesty summer salad dressing.
  • Use it as part of the fat component in a lemon-infused baked goods – I’m planning a recipe right now.

Basil Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Herby! I love the versatility of this oil. Good quality oil – as are all the others – that can be used in a variety of ways.

Meal Ideas:

  • Make an extreme basil pesto, or add it with a bit of the garlic oil to a spinach or kale pesto for some basil flavour when basil is out of season.
  • Drizzle it into a bowl of plain EVOO and Balsamic vinegar (which is low FODMAP in 1-2 tbsp. servings) and use it as a dip for your gluten free or FODMAP friendly bread for a simple appetiser.
  • For a super simple lunch or dinner, drizzle some over freshly cooked gluten free pasta, add in some chopped cherry toms and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and you’re done.

All in all I can safely say that I recommend these oils. The team at Nicer Foods has done a great job. The fresh flavours, combined with no ill reactions on my behalf, and a friend’s rave review of my shallot oil/sea salt salad dressing (“That’s all that was in the dressing?!”) makes this a win-win product in my books.