How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Puree – Low FODMAP and Gluten Free

How to make homemade pumpkin puree - low FODMAP, fructose friendly, gluten free, healthy

Tinned pumpkin puree is extremely useful to have around – I normally have a few cans on hand for lunch or dinner time emergencies (for example, to make pumpkin soup, or a pumpkin and tomato soup) – but really, when you’re trying to impress guests, it doesn’t help you bring your A game to the table. Freshly roasted pumpkin is miles ahead in terms of taste, so, at this time of year, when desserts apparently have to follow the pumpkin theme, too, it’s handy to have some freshly roasted pumpkin puree in the fridge or freezer to whip up your favourite pumpkin pie or cheesecake.

Speaking of this time of year, it’s starting to get dark at 3.30 pm already! Not that lighting has been great during “daylight hours,” anyway. Seattle is notorious for being dark and gloomy, though it doesn’t rain quite as much as Hollywood would have you believe. So I’ve been chasing it around the house for photos… you do what you have to! Though I don’t think Bailey was too impressed that his kennel was being used for a prop.

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FODMAP Notes

  1. Pumpkins/squash generally contain some level of polyols, usually sorbitol. I would not eat them if I was on elimination but if you are in the reintroduction phase of the low FODMAP diet, I’d test 1/4 cup of pumpkin first, as that is what is listed as safe for all varieties except Jap/Kent pumpkins, which are safe in 1/2 cup servings. Of course, if polyols are not a trigger for you, eat as much as you can/like.

How to roast a pumpkin

This method works for any pumpkin/winter squash variety.

  • One pie pumpkin, around 1-1.5 kg/2.2-3.3 lb
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 sharp knife
  • 1 spoon
  • 1 large baking tray
  • Cooking oil

Choose a smallish pumpkin that is brightly coloured – this will give you the best chance of a strong taste. The bigger pumpkins with duller colours tend to be a bit bland. The pumpkins I chose were around 1.1 kg each and yielded approximately 450-500 g of puree.

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Preheat your oven to 200 C/400 F. If you have not done so, rinse the pumpkin of any obvious chunks of dirt, before chopping it into four or five pieces and scooping/scraping out the seeds.

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Spread the pumpkin evenly around a lightly oiled baking dish of your choice and fill a small, oven-safe dish with water – this keeps the oven environment moist and prevents the pumpkin from drying out as it bakes.

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Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until it is fork tender (think boiled potatoes). Remove the dish from the oven, let it cool for 30 minutes or so, then scoop the flesh out and transfer it to a large bowl. Discard the skin.

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Either mash or blend the pumpkin flesh to form a puree and then store it in glass jars or zip-lock bags in the fridge (for up to a week) or the freezer (for no more than two months before quality begins to suffer).

Now you can use it for any cake, pie, bread, soup or custard recipe that calls for pumpkin puree. Easy peasy!

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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 low FODMAP in 1/4 cup serves but is given a moderate rating for GOS and mannitol in 1/2 cup serves. Jap/Kent/Kabocha pumpkin (squash) is low FODMAP in 1/2 cup (60 g) serves, with all green lights and no upper limit listed. 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. Worcestershire sauce is FODMAP friendly in 2 tbsp. servings, despite the onion and garlic that might appear at the very end of the ingredients list. The 1/4 cup called for in the recipe, divided by many servings, is a very small amount and should 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

Serving size: 1/2 to 1 cup (125 – 250 ml).

  • 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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Roasted Pumpkin and Tomato Soup – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free and Vegan

Roasted Pumpkin and Tomato Soup

Over winter I came to love a simple, yet delicious soup that I would often make for myself if I was home for lunch, or as a “pre-dinner snack.” What began as a way to get rid of opened tins in the fridge evolved into a tasty and warming dish that I really enjoy eating.

This soup requires no alterations to be fully vegan, though you can sub in chicken stock for the vegetable stock if it’s all you have. I often make my soups vegetarian; I think we rely too much on meat in our diets and, while I have unsuccessfully tried to go vegetarian twice now (every time I’d spend 6 months with cold after cold and the last attempt I believe triggered my gastritis) I do my best to limit meat intake to smaller amounts and free range whenever possible.

Notes:

  1. Use a pumpkin that is low in FODMAPs/that you tolerate. Jap pumpkins, or the American style pumpkin (think Jack-o-lanterns) are safe.
  2. Tomatoes are low FODMAP – just make sure, if you aren’t using fresh toms, that you use tomatoes that have not been concentrated at all, such as tomato paste. Your best bet for tinned tomatoes is to buy whole peeled in a tin and puree them yourself.
  3. Tinned pumpkin and tomatoes can be used in a pinch but fresh always tastes better. Use whatever you have time for!
  4. If you do not need it to be vegan, you can use this FODMAP friendly chicken stock recipe and add the sour cream at the end – if you can tolerate lactose, of course.

Pumpkin and Tomato Soup

  • 425 g roasted pumpkin, pureed (fresh or tinned)
  • 425 g tomatoes, peeled and pureed (fresh or tinned)
  • 500 ml FODMAP friendly vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper

If you have not done so already, peel your pumpkin, weigh out 425 g, dice it and roast at 180 C/350 F for about 30 to 45 minutes, or microwave until done. Once cooked, puree the pumpkin in your blender/food processor.

In the mean time, weigh out your tomatoes, bring a pot of water to the boil and score from top to bottom, dividing the tomatoes into quarters. Score, do not slice. Fill another large bowl up with ice cold water to halt the cooking process once the tomatoes are out of the pot. Reduce the water to a simmer and then drop in your tomatoes; count to 30 seconds, remove the tomatoes and put them quickly in the cold water for 5 minutes. This is called blanching. To peel the tomatoes, stick your finger or the handle of a tea spoon under the scored edges – which should have lifted – and work the skin off. Next, de-core the tomatoes before pureeing them in your blender.

Now to the soup!

Combine all the ingredients (in order) in a sauce pan over a high heat and bring to the boil. Let the mixture boil for a couple of minutes before reducing it to a simmer and cooking for an hour with the lid ON – it doesn’t need to reduce much. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

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To keep it warm until required, just leave it over a low heat with the lid on, to prevent further reduction.

Enjoy it with a slice of suitable bread (if you can tolerate a little rye, have you tried my ryce bread?), cornbread or a savoury muffin (pumpkin muffin recipe to come soon).

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How to Make a Basic Meat/Bone Stock – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly

Making a stock is such a basic skill to have, yet it can translate to so many other dishes. Soups, sauces, stews, pie fillings – anything savoury can have its flavour boosted with a good stock.

But why should we bother making stock, you ask, when there are perfectly good bullion cubes and stock concentrates on the supermarket shelves? Firstly, these are often very high in sodium – although granted, you can get reduced salt stocks that can be quite flavourless – but there are also preservatives in store bought stocks/powders, they aren’t anywhere near as tasty, wouldn’t have as many nutrients and the big one… ONION.

I admit, you can now get onion and garlic free stock cubes – in Australia, at least, I haven’t seen them in the US at all – but, given all the health and flavour benefits of homemade stock, and seeing how easy it is to make, to me the choice is obvious. The only downside that I see is that our freezer is so small that we can’t make too much at once.

Notes:

  1. Onion and garlic – the fructans are water soluble, so some will leach out into the stock water. Some can tolerate it, others can’t. You can easily omit the onion, though, as you get a lot of flavour from other ingredients.
  2. Meat/bones – use an entire chicken or fish carcass, including the wings and skin (great flavour and you can skim unwanted fat off later); alternatively, use soup or marrow bones (the same thing) typically from a cow but lamb shanks or pork hock will also work – whatever you can get a good price on, go with it.
  3. White wine vinegar can be replaced with white vinegar, apple cider vinegar etc. It helps to draw nutrients and flavours out of the bones and vegetables.

Stock Flavour Variations

These are only suggestions, you do not need to use all at once and of course, if you like a flavour that is not included here, go ahead and add it in.

  • Chicken: onion, garlic, bay leaf, carrot, celery, chives, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme.
  • Beef: onion, garlic, basil, bay leaf, carrot, celery, chives, ginger, mint, oregano, rosemary, tarragon and thyme. Red wine also goes well with beef.
  • Lamb: onion, garlic, basil, bay leaf, carraway seeds, carrot, celery, coriander leaves (cilantro), coriander seeds, dill, marjoram, rosemary, sage and thyme.
  • Pork: onion, garlic, bay leaf, carraway seeds, carrot, celery, cumin seeds, dill, fennel bulb, fennel seeds, rosemary, sage and thyme.
  • Fish: onion, garlic, basil, bay leaf, carrot, celery, coriander leaves (cilantro), coriander seeds, fennel bulb, fennel seeds, ginger root, tarragon. White wine also goes well with fish/seafood.

Basic Meat/Bone Stock

  • Carcass of the chicken/fish or 3-4 “soup”/marrow bones that are about 10 cm in length
  • Optional – 1 onion, quartered
  • Optional – 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, quartered
  • 2 stalks of celery, cut into chunks
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 lug olive oil/cooking oil of your choice
  • 2.0 L water
  • 1 dash white wine vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • Extras – for this chicken stock I used bay leaves, ground peppercorns, sage, rosemary, thyme

The following pictures were taken when I made a batch of chicken stock.

Heat the oil in your sauce pan and sear the bones, optional onion and garlic, celery and carrot until they have browned and a fond has developed on the bottom. The fond is the layer of brown that has stuck onto the base of the pot and it is a huge flavour bomb – just let this happen, because as soon as your pour in water, the layer will deglaze and dissolve, lending its flavours to the stock and amping up whatever dish you use the stock in.

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Once a good fond has developed, after 5-10 minutes of frying the meat and vegetables, pour in 2 litres of water and add in any extras of your choice, then bring it to the boil. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes, and spoon off the scum that develops if you would like a clear broth. This is the blood boiling – not everyone likes it, as it can impart a bitter flavour and cloud a stock, but some do. Whatever you choose to do is okay.

Reduce the pot to a simmer and leave it for at least 45 minutes, preferably 2 hours. The longer the pot simmers, the more intense the flavour will be and the more nutrients will leach from the bones and vegetables into the stock liquid. When you are about to remove it from the heat, taste a little and adjust flavours as required to suit your palate.

Place a heat-proof sieve over a heat proof bowl (this stuff is boiling hot) and pour the contents of the sauce pan over the top. The sieve will catch the solid ingredients. Remove the sieve and its contents and either discard them or if you have dogs, pick out the boiled bones, carrots and celery and blend them into a nutritious puree that your pups will love. Onions have been shown to cause anaemia in dogs, so be careful to pick out only the bones, carrot and celery.

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Once the stock has cooled, skim off any unwanted fat (this does contain flavour and nutritious substances as well but some either don’t like the taste, can’t tolerate the fat or are counting calories) and transfer the stock to a container to freeze right away if you won’t be using it in the next 1-2 days tops. Fish stock should be frozen if not being used within 24 hours. I like to freeze it in 2 cup measurements, as that is useful for makings soups and stews. Another idea is freezing it in ice cube trays, that way you can just flip them into a container and pick out as many as you like. Once thawed, the stock should be used within 24-48 hours or discarded – fish stock should only sit in the fridge for 24 hours.

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Since this photo was taken, we have begun using glass jars instead of plastic to freeze our stocks. Freezing glass is risky but I am not comfortable with plastics potentially leaching chemicals into the liquids – BPA free plastic containers are safe but make sure that the stock is completely at room temperature when you fill them.

We have Pyrex and canning jars, which are freezer safe; just make sure to leave about 20% empty space at the top to allow room for expansion when the stock freezes, because glass can crack and shatter in the freezer if its contents expand too much – be warned! Of course, I am not telling you that you have to use glass jars, just that this is what we do. You can make up your own mind. 🙂

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If you have dogs, don’t ditch the solids – pick out the onion and make a bone and vegetable slurry for them to enjoy with their meals. It’s nutritious and delicious; they’ll love you for it.

You can also follow the same principles to make a bone broth, which is full of nutrients and great for healing the gut – but I’ll cover that in another post.

Vegetarian Chili – FODMAPS, Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

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I first made this chili last winter when Ev and I were practicing being vegetarians before my little sister came and stayed with us. We wanted to be able to cook interesting meals for her, rather than just feeding her salads. Rabbit food just isn’t satisfying during winter.

Since then, Ev has decided to switch back to a vegetarian diet. Considering that the weather is about to change, although you wouldn’t have guessed it from the grasp that summer is attempting to have on the weather over the last couple of days, this seemed like an appropriate recipe to dust off and make again. Hearty and nutritious – beans are a vegetarian source of protein, plus all the vitamins and minerals from the veggies – this stew really hits the spot on a cold night and makes an easy lunch for the next day.

Notes:

  1. Being a chili, this recipe contains chickpeas (garbanzo beans), kidney beans and black beans. In total, these contain enough galacto-oligosaccharides to be problematic for someone who is sensitive to oligosaccharides – the O in FODMAPS. If you wanted to make this FODMAP safe, eliminate some or all of the beans and replace them with more of the safe veggies so it bulks up again. This would be the FODMAPs “safe” option, rather than the original recipe below.
  2. The fructans in onion and garlic are contained within the skin of the layers, so theoretically you should be able to fry them in the first stages of this recipe for flavour and then remove them afterwards and have no ill effect as the fructans content will be drastically reduced. If you are too sensitive even for that or simply don’t want to risk it, either omit the onion and garlic entirely or replace with asafoetida powder.
  3. Celery contains some mannitol; if you are sensitive, replace it with celeriac, which is low in all FODMAPs.
  4. Sweet corn can be problematic for some, eliminate it if it triggers your IBS.
  5. Adobo peppers are smoked jalapenos.
  6. You could sub in any sort of “chili powder” if you can’t find the cayenne or adobo peppers – just make sure you read the ingredients and look out for onion and garlic powders.

Vegetarian Chili:

  • 1/2 onion, diced if you can tolerate it or in quarters if you cannot.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced if you can tolerate it or halved if not. Alternatively, you can replace the garlic and onion with a 1/2 tsp. of asafoetida.
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp. dried oregano or 1 tbsp. fresh, minced
  • 1 tbsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground adobo chili pepper
  • 2 large celery stalks or equivalent celeriac, diced
  • 2 large capsicums, diced – red or green
  • 2-3 jalapeno peppers, diced and de-seeded if you don’t like too much spice; you could sub in 1 habanero if you really want to up the heat
  • 2-3 green chile peppers, minced – de-seeding optional
  • 3-4 x 28 oz/800 g cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 x 15 oz/425 g can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 x 15 oz/425 g can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 x 15 oz/425 g can black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
  • 1 x 15 oz/425 g can corn kernels, drained – optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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Seal your pot and then fry the asafoetida/onion, garlic, bay leaves and spices for 15 minutes over a med-high heat. You can either leave the diced onion and garlic in after this if you can tolerate them, or if you cut them into thick slices then you can remove them at this point. As you can see, I have left them in.

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Add in the chopped fresh vegetables and fry over a medium heat until they are well softened – another 15 minutes approximately. You do not need to keep stirring as long as you have sealed your pan properly. As there isn’t much protein in here yet, so the risk of sticking is minimal. Just make sure the heat is not so high that it will crisp everything to the bottom.

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Add in the canned beans and corn – drained! – and the crushed tomatoes; 3 cans for a thicker chili and 4 if you like it runny. Season with salt and pepper and then bring it to the boil for 30 seconds before turning it down to a low heat and simmering for at least an hour before serving.

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If you have time to think ahead, chili is best the second day – as are most stews – because the flavours have more time to combine and intensify.

If your chili hasn’t thickened as much as you’d like, a quick trick to thicken it up is to add a handful or two of crushed corn tortilla chips and continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes. It’s a much quicker option than waiting up to an extra hour for the dinner that you want now!

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Serve with natural sour cream or cheddar cheese and garnish with sliced green onions or coriander leaves. If you omitted the sour cream and cheese then this dish would be vegan as well.

Most importantly, dig in!