Classic Lasagne – Low FODMAP & Gluten Free

Italian Lasagne - Low FODMAP & Gluten Free

Hi guys! I’m sorry that it’s been so long between posts but I’m finally writing recipes for my own blog again – and this lasagne is a great way to get back into it. It’s both a delicious and hearty dish that is perfect for winter meals (hello Melbourne!); it’s also easy to assemble and either refrigerate or freeze until you need a pre-made dinner, or you can bake it and then have your lunches made for the week ahead.

Who am I kidding? You’d have enough for ten lunches if you ate it with a side salad.

I’m not going to lie, you’ll need to set aside some time for this dish as it cannot be rushed – quick Bolognese sauce is almost never good – but it is totally worth all the effort. And, really, the Bolognese is not difficult, the stove does all the work. You just need to stir it every now and then. The bechamel sauce is more involved but, again, it’s really just a matter of stirring/whisking it properly to get it smooth. If it’s still lumpy and not getting better, you could also just chuck it in the blender. 😉

Once you get to assembly, this basically makes itself.

A note for the purists – I am not Italian, and I follow a low FODMAP diet – so this is as traditional as I can get while keeping this dish onion and garlic free. So far there have been no complaints.

FODMAP Notes

  1. This lasagne, while low FODMAP, does contain large amounts of protein and fats if you over indulge. In addition to FODMAPs, these can cause issues for some with IBS, so be careful if this is you.

Classic Bolognese Sauce

  1. This recipe is onion free but if you can tolerate onion then add in up to 1 onion diced finely and brown at the beginning with the other veggies.
  2. Either infuse garlic into your own olive oil or buy it pre-made. If you can tolerate the garlic, then feel free to mince it and leave it in. You’ll notice I’ve done this.
  3. Either use tomato paste, which is not low FODMAP but some can tolerate it spread throughout multiple serves, or a fructose friendly tomato sauce (as in ketchup for those in the USA) of your choice. Monash lists a serve (2 sachets) of non-HFCS containing tomato sauce as low FODMAP. If you can tolerate neither tomato paste or tomato sauce, add in 1 tsp. of sugar and 1 tsp. of white wine vinegar, instead.
  4. If you can’t tolerate any wines, a FF chicken or beef stock or tomato juice could replace some or all of the red wine for fluid. Just use what you can cope with, even water would do, though you might need to add in a little extra salt and pepper etc for flavour.
  5. Green leek leaves are low FODMAP in 1/2 cup serves; this recipe spreads 1 full cup over 6-8 serves, so is safe.
  6. Celery is low FODMAP in 1/4 medium stalk serves, 1/2 a medium stalk contains moderate amounts of polyols. This recipe contains 1 cup of diced celery, which is approx. 2 cups, so a 1/8th serving is low enough in celery to be low FODMAP but if you are extra sensitive, feel free to replace it with celeriac (celery root), which has a similar taste to celery and is lower in FODMAPs. For a completely different (yet delicious) taste, you could replace celery with red or green capsicums that have been roasted and peeled.
  7. One whole medium carrot is low in FODMAPs, though if you consume enough mannitol can become an issue. This recipe stays within safe serving limits.
  8. Canned tomatoes are low FODMAP in 1/2 cup serves; 800 g/28 oz of tinned tomatoes equates to approx. 3 cups of undrained tomatoes, so you could safely consume 1/6th of this recipe in terms of tomatoes (fructose) – however, you must remember that 1/8th of the dish is safe in terms of celery (polyols).

Bechamel Sauce (aka White Sauce)

  1. Butter, a butter/oil blend and dairy-free margarine are low FODMAP in 1 tbsp/19 g serves, according to Monash University. Half a cup of butter is equivalent to 8 tbsp., so the amount of butter in this recipe is safe when broken down into individual portions.
  2. Lactose free dairy milk is low FODMAP in 1 cup/250 ml serves, this recipe contains less than that per person.
  3. Parmesan cheese is a hard/aged cheese, which are low in lactose. If you are sensitive enough to lactose that you need to avoid even low lactose cheese then you could replace it with a low FODMAP vegan cheese or simply leave it out, as it’s an optional extra.

Classic Lasagne

Makes 8-10 low FODMAP serves.

Both sauces can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen until you plan to use them.

Bolognese Sauce

  • 1/4 cup olive oil to seal pot
  • 3 cloves of garlic – to infuse oil
  • 1 cup green leek tips
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup fructose friendly stock – chicken, beef or vegetable.
  • 500 g/1 lb beef mince
  • 500 g/1 lb pork or chicken mince
  • 800 g/28 oz tin of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste or FF tomato sauce (ketchup)
  • Oregano – approx. 1/4 cup fresh or 1/8 cup dried.
  • Thyme – 1/8 cup fresh or 1 tbsp. dried
  • Rosemary – 1/8 cup fresh or 1 tbsp. dried
  • 1/2 cup finely minced chives

Follow these instructions to make the Bolognese sauce.

Bechamel Sauce

You will most likely have left over bechamel sauce. It freezes well in an airtight container, or can be kept for a week in the fridge – it goes really well with broccoli and zucchini as a side dish.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 113 g) of butter or dairy free substitute
  • 1 cup of gluten free plain flour, potentially more or less if you use a different blend
  • 4-5 cups of lactose free milk or dairy free substitute
  • 2-3 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese (optional)

Slowly melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan (a heavy base is best), over a low-medium heat. Once it has melted, create a roux by sifting in the gluten free flour a quarter cup at a time; whisk it through the butter until it forms a smoothe paste, then add each further quarter cup. Keep the heat to low/low-medium at the most, we don’t want the roux to brown as this is a white sauce.

The paste will eventually thicken so much that you might need to change to a spoon (depending on the quality of your whisk). You are aiming for a dough-like consistency, a thick paste that will keep its shape, as demonstrated here.

Once you have the thick paste, begin adding in the milk a bit at a time and whisk/stir each portion through well, before adding in the next. The mixture will begin to resemble soft mashed potatoes and, eventually, a smooth white sauce. If your sauce isn’t smooth, just use a stick blender to get rid of any lumps.

Keeping the heat low, season the sauce and feel free to stir through the grated cheese for a little extra oomph (though that’s not strictly traditional).

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Assembly

  • One pack of Tinkyada brown rice lasagne sheets (or similar – corn tortillas will also work in a pinch)
  • One batch of my low FODMAP Bolognese sauce
  • One batch of my low FODMAP bechamel sauce
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil or oregano, shredded (to add after cooking)

Bring a large fry pan of water to the boil and pre-cook the lasagne sheets as per the packet instructions. Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 190 C/375 F and get out a large baking dish.

Once you have all of your ingredients (except for the basil) in front of you, you can begin to layer your lasagne like so:

  • Bolognese sauce (1 cm thick)
  • Lasagne sheets
  • Bolognese sauce (1 cm thick)
  • Bechamel sauce (thin layer)
  • Lasagne sheets
  • Bolognese sauce (1 cm thick)
  • Bechamel sauce (thin layer)
  • Lasagne sheets
  • Bechamel sauce (thin layer)
  • Tomato slices and Parmesan cheese

Your lasagne is now ready to cook, or to refrigerate or freeze for cooking later on. Cover the lasagne with foil and bake for 30 minutes, before removing the foil and baking for another 20-30 minutes until the top edges have browned nicely (but not burnt).

Remove the lasagne from the oven and let it cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving with a healthy side salad or cooked veggies and a nice glass of the red of your choice.

Enjoy!

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Instant Noodle Cups – Low FODMAP, Gluten Free & Vegan

Homemade instant noodle cups - low fodmap, gluten free, vegan

This post was brought to you because Autumn.

During the winter months back at school, I happily handed over my $1.20 for an instant noodle cup in whatever flavour they had left. If you’ve ever had to wear a school uniform, they’re not that warm in winter. Tights only do so much, and the wool is itchy. Combine that with the renovations to the senior school centre that went on throughout the entirety of my senior school career – meaning we lost our common room, so had nowhere to hide from the cold – and instant noodles warmed me from the inside and out.

Nowadays I don’t have to sit outside while I eat in all seasons – thank goodness! – but that doesn’t mean that I want to say goodbye to noodle cups. Problem is, I think I can say with confidence that every instant noodle cup out there is very high in FODMAPs, even the gluten free versions.

Enter these little beauties. I got the inspiration from a post by Gluten Free on a Shoestring (love her blog) after watching Ev devour yet another pack of 2 minute noodles and decided to FODMAPify it/give it a bit of an Asian twist. I plan to try a different version soon, using a homemade stock paste… I just need to make the paste.

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FODMAP Notes

  1. Nutritional yeast and all the other herbs and spices used in the bouillon powder are well and truly low FODMAP in a 1 tsp. combined serving size, as most either have no designated upper limit or are allowable in 1-2 tsp. servings individually.
  2. Rice vermicelli noodles are low FODMAP and gluten free. I chose vermicelli as they are truly “instant.” If you would prefer to use normal rice noodles, or gluten free ramen (they do exist!) then they should be precooked before going into the jar, as the boiling water won’t stay hot for long enough to cook them.
  3. Bok choy is low FODMAP in 1 cup serves, half of which is used here.
  4. Firm tofu and tempeh are FODMAP friendly in 1 cup and 150 g serves respectively.
  5. Carrot is low FODMAP up to eating one medium vegetable – about a quarter is used here, if that.
  6. Sweet corn is low FODMAP in 1/2 cup serves, much less is used in this recipe.
  7. Miso paste is made from fermented soy beans and water. The fermentation breaks down the oligos within, so it’s considered low FODMAP.
  8. Oils infused with garlic and onion are FODMAP friendly, as FODMAPs are water soluble, thus do not leech into the oil during production, whereas the flavour components do.
  9. Sambal oelek (chili sauce) can be found in onion and garlic free varieties – of course use one of those, unless you’re okay with onion and garlic (fructans).
  10. Coriander leaves are low FODMAP.
  11. The green parts of chives are FODMAP friendly, avoid the white bulb as it contains high levels of fructans.
  12. Lime is low FODMAP in general, especially in the small wedge you’ll be using.
  13. Please make sure any meat you use is cooked completely before going into the jar – the hot water will not cook it, just reheat it. If you choose to add meat, this will obviously no longer be vegan.

Vegan Bouillon Powder

Serving size: 1 tsp makes 1 cup of stock.

  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. dextrose or castor sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. green leek powder
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tsp. dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika (smoked is best but normal is fine)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander seed
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric

Measure all the ingredients into the bowl of your food processor and then blitz for 30 seconds to turn the chunky ingredients (sage, nutritional yeast, pepper flakes) into a fine powder.

Put into an airtight jar and store in a cool dark place for up to 6 months. When you wish to use it, dissolve 1 tsp. of bouillon powder in 1 cup of boiling water.

vegan bouillon powder

Instant Noodle Cups

Serves 1 (multiply for more servings).

  • 1 bundle vermicelli noodles (or equivalent gluten free noodle, precooked if necessary)
  • 1/2 cup sliced bok choy
  • 1/2 cup protein (cooked chicken, tempeh, tofu puffs etc)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated carrot
  • 2 tbsp. rinsed tinned sweet corn
  • 1 tsp. vegan bouillon powder
  • 1/2 tsp. chili sauce (sambal oelek)
  • 1/2 tsp. miso paste
  • 1/4 tsp. onion infused olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic infused olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp. fresh minced green chive tips
  • 1 wedge lime

You will need one heat proof, seal-able container capable of holding 2 cups (500 ml) of fluid.

In a small bowl, mix the miso paste, chili sauce and infused oils together, then spread them along the bottom of your jar.

Layer the rest of the ingredients as follows: bok choy, carrots, sweet corn, vermicelli (or other) noodles, bouillon powder, your choice of protein, coriander leaves, green chive tips and finally the wedge of lime. You might need to press them into the jar to fit properly but don’t worry, the hot water will shrink them down later.

Put the lid on and store in the fridge until required. For work/school lunches, make enough for the week and they’ll last in the fridge just fine.

When you’re ready to enjoy them, simply boil your kettle and pour 1 1/2 – 2 cups of piping hot water into the jar (depending on how soupy you like it), place the lid on and wait for a couple of minutes. It’s that simple. Enjoy – and make all your coworkers jealous.

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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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Spelt and Flax Seed Bread Rolls – Lower FODMAP & Vegan

Spelt and Flax Seed Bread Rolls

About 6 months ago, I accidentally bought 25 lbs of spelt flour instead of 5 lbs. Whoops. The moral of this story? Always check your orders before submitting them.

Anyway, it’s been 6 months and I am being generous if I say I’ve used half of it. I don’t want it to go bad – not that flour usually goes off within 6 months, it’s just a lot of flour to lose if it does – so lately I’ve been baking and freezing. Spelt flour works well in my banana cake recipe (just omit the xanthan gum), I’m working on a sourdough starter made of spelt (and rye but Ev isn’t a huge fan of rye) and then there’s these little rolls.

These rolls are soft, flavourful and can be used as a lunch roll, or as a dinner roll when you’re having a party, with some good extra virgin olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. May I also suggest that they go really well with soups like this roasted pumpkin and tomato soup.

Notes:

  1. Spelt (Triticum aestivum subsp. spelta) is an ancient form of wheat that has not been tinkered with and contains gluten that is said to be more readily digestible (due to it being more water-soluble than that in modern day wheat), so is potentially better tolerated by many who react to normal wheat. More information here.
  2. Like rye, spelt flour is generally better tolerated than wheat flour among fructose malabsorbers. Also like rye, spelt does still contain fructans and is not tolerated by everyone on a low FODMAP diet. For this reason, I would recommend not overdoing it until you know your spelt limits.
  3. Spelt is NOT gluten free. The gluten it contains is different than that in wheat. If you have coeliac disease or non-coeliac gluten sensitivity then spelt is not safe for you, regardless of the different fructans. There is some evidence that completely fermenting wheat will degrade gluten such that it is safe for gluten sensitive people, however not enough research has been done yet to say so definitively.

Spelt Dinner Rolls

Makes 8.

  • 250 g + 1 tbsp. white spelt flour
  • 155 ml filtered water, chilled
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. activated yeast
  • 2 tbsp. mixed seeds – optional, I chose flax and sunflower seeds

Add all the ingredients into a mixing bowl (except for the 1 tbsp. spelt flour) and thoroughly combine. I use my stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and knead for 5 minutes on a medium speed, let the dough rest for 10 minutes and then knead it for a further 10 minutes on a low to medium speed.

Next, lightly dust your bench with the 1 tbsp. spelt flour and knead the dough (with your hands this time) for 2-3 minutes. Roll it out into a log and then divide into 8 even chunks. Arrange them on an oiled baking tray (I use a 9 inch cake pan or pie dish) and then place into a cold oven with a dish of boiled water – this will help the rising process. Leave the rolls in the oven for an hour, until they have doubled in size.

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Remove the rolls from the oven and let them sit on the bench while the oven pre-heats to 230 C/450 F, then place them in the oven on the bottom shelf (leaving the water dish in their to help keep them moist) and bake for 15 minutes, until they have turned a light golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.

Let them cool for 30 minutes before serving, or cool completely for 2 hours until you store them in an airtight container in the pantry.

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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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Oregano, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Spelt Focaccia – FODMAP & Fructose Friendly for Some, NOT Gluten Free

Oregano, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Spelt Focaccia - FODMAPs and Fructose Friendly for Some

Who doesn’t love a focaccia?

When I first started my science degree (pre-FM diagnosis), my Mum informed me that I needed to learn to take care of myself and that part of that was to make my own lunches from now on. Say WHAT?! I had to be an adult? Initially, my dad took pity on me and made some awesome sandwiches with Mama’s (his mum) homemade bread; I think that making a “school lunch” was such a novelty for him that he even had fun. Well, it turns out that Mama’s little bread maker couldn’t keep up with the increased demand – more like the doubled fruit in the fruit loaf that she also made for Dad – and it carked it not long after. Nice work, Dad!

What was I going to do? I’d gone from Wonder White bread to fresh, thick cut deliciousness and I didn’t want to go back. I hit on focaccia bread as a good solution and went from there… for about 4 more months until my FM diagnosis meant no more wheat for me. It was a good run while it lasted.

I haven’t had focaccia since then (2006)… until now. It took a few attempts but I’ve finally perfected a spelt focaccia loaf. All is right with the world.

This focaccia has a light oregano flavour, combined with a crispiness from the olive oil and a delicate sea salt finish. Evgeny and I might have finished one in a day. Whoops.

Notes:

  1. Spelt (Triticum aestivum subsp. spelta) is an ancient form of wheat that hasn’t been tinkered with and contains gluten that is said to be more readily digestible (due to it being more water-soluble than that in modern day wheat), so is potentially better tolerated by many who react to normal wheat. More information here.
  2. Like rye, spelt flour is generally better tolerated than wheat flour among fructose malabsorbers. Also like rye, spelt does still contain fructans and is not tolerated by everyone on a low FODMAP diet. For this reason, I would recommend trialling a small piece before you go all out and scoff the loaf.
  3. Spelt is NOT gluten free. The gluten it contains is different than that in wheat. If you have coeliac disease or non-coeliac gluten sensitivity then spelt is not safe for you, regardless of the different fructans. There is some evidence that completely fermenting wheat will degrade gluten such that it is safe for gluten sensitive people, however not enough research has been done yet to say so definitively.

Oregano, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Spelt Focaccia

Makes one 12 inch/30 cm focaccia.

  • 250 g spelt flour
  • 125 ml/g filtered water
  • 50 g + 1 tbsp. olive oil – and more for oiling the pan
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. activated yeast
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1-2 tsp. sea salt

Place your mixing bowl on a set of scales and weigh in the spelt flour, water and olive oil. Add in the rest of the ingredients (except for the sea salt) and, using the dough hook, knead on a low speed for 2 minutes until everything has combined. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it sit for 10 minutes.

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Now, knead on a medium speed for a further 7-10 minutes before the dough is left to rise. Alton Brown has a really nifty trick – he boils water and pours it into a baking dish placed on the bottom rack of the oven. Put your mixing bowl with dough in the oven and close the door, leaving the oven OFF. The warmth and humidity will help the dough rise; this normally takes 1-2 hours, just keep an eye on it.

If you want to start this the night before, cover it with a slightly damp tea towel and leave it in the fridge overnight before continuing on the next day. If you do this, the dough should double in size overnight but if it hasn’t, just leave it in a warm spot (or use AB’s oven trick) until it has doubled from its original size.

Pre rise

Pre rise

Post rise

Post rise

Once the dough has doubled in size, knead it gently on a lightly floured bench for a couple of minutes and then dump it into a well oiled cast iron pan (or your pan of choice). Press the dough softly to gradually spread out over the base of the pan – it should end up approx. 3 cm thick and it doesn’t have to reach the very edges of the pan. Let the pan sit in a warm (neither hot nor cold) location for about an hour and let it rise some more but it won’t rise much.

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Pre-heat your oven to 230 C/450 F – this is important, bread must go into a piping hot oven to help a crust form. Meanwhile, if you like your focaccia to have the dimples in it, just press your fingers in and make evenly spread holes. I like mine to remain a little fluffier, so I don’t do this. Finally, sprinkle the sea salt over the top of the unbaked focaccia.

Bake for 30 minutes. The focaccia should be a light golden brown colour and it will smell amazing. One important thing to remember is that there will be residual cooking after you remove it from the oven, so if it looks completely done just out of the oven, it will be over done by the time it’s cooled.

Enjoy fresh as is, pair it with a hearty soup, or use it as a sandwich bread once cooled.

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Cast Iron Cornbread – Low FODMAP & Gluten Free

Cast Iron Cornbread - Lower FODMAP

I had never eaten corn bread before moving to the USA, which isn’t really that surprising. I suppose back home our cheat’s bread is damper and many Americans wouldn’t have tried that, either.

The first corn bread I tried was a sweet version that I’m pretty sure had corn grits in it as well, judging by the texture. It was moist and chewy and sweet and delicious but really only a one trick pony. The savoury version you can use as sandwich bread, as the base to a stuffing, serve it with soup etc. Much more versatile.

The following recipe I based from reading about corn bread in general – to get an idea of ingredients, as well as the method. The website I found most useful was The Paupered Chef, as I particularly liked the idea of soaking the corn meal in the buttermilk (they used milk) beforehand. Some say that true Southern corn bread is 100% corn meal, others say that that’s untrue. Not being from the South, let alone the country, I have absolutely no opinion on what is or isn’t traditional, I’m just making what I find tasty.

FODMAP Notes:

  1. Corn is a tricky one. The FODMAP content depends on the variety; sweet corn can be troublesome for some with FM due to the high sugar content and some people are sensitive to GMO crops, of which corn is the poster child (I’m not going to enter the GMO debate here, though). However, the sweet corn that is grown for eating on the cob isn’t the same corn that is used for corn meals, flours or starches and it’s different again to corn that is grown for use in plastics and bio-fuels. Corn meal is not made from sweet corn, thus is much better tolerated. There are specific corn allergies, though, so watch out for those.
  2. Rye can be substituted in for the GF plain flour, if you can tolerate it. As I have mentioned beforestudies show that rye flour contains more fructans than wheat but evidence suggests that the chains are longer, thus taking longer to ferment. It is generally less of an irritant than wheat to those with FM, although many still have problems.
  3. If you have a gluten issue or are very sensitive to fructans, replace the rye flour with your favourite gluten free blend and 1/2 tsp. of xanthan gum (or 1 tbsp. chia seed meal).
  4. Buttermilk contains lactose, which is water soluble. If you malabsorb lactose then replace it with the same volume of LF milk with a dash of lemon juice.

Cast Iron Corn Bread

This quantity cooks well in a 12 ” cast iron skillet.

  • 2 1/4 cups corn meal
  • 2 cups buttermilk or lactose free milk
  • 1 1/2 cups rye flour OR a gluten free plain flour blend with 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum or 1 tbsp. chia meal
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large or 3 small eggs
  • Optional – 1/4 cup roughly cut fresh herbs, such as rosemary

Combine the corn meal and buttermilk in a large mixing bowl – everything will end up in here eventually – and let it sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 230 C/450 F. Place your cast iron skillet (or any skillet with an oven safe handle, the heavier its base the better) in the oven to heat up. Please remember to now use gloves whenever you handle the skillet!

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While the corn meal is soaking, sift the flour (with any necessary xanthan gum or chia meal), baking powder, salt and the optional herbs into a separate bowl, and combine the eggs and softened butter (the softer, the better) in another.

When the corn meal and buttermilk have been sitting for the ten minutes, add in first the wet ingredients and then gradually add and mix in the dry ingredients – depending on your particular flours of choice, etc, you may or may not need all of it. The mixture should resemble a thick cake batter.

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Now, take the skillet out of the oven and grease it up with either a dollop of butter or olive oil, or even lard – I used butter. Spread your lipid of choice all around the base and at least half way up the sides of the pan and tip out any excess. Plonk the batter (it is too thick to pour) into the waiting skillet, make sure it is evenly spread out and pop it in the oven.

Baking instructions:

  • 12″ cast iron skillet – 25 minutes at 230 C/450 F.
  • Loaf tin – 50 minutes at 180 C/350 F (until a skewer tests clean).

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Let it sit in the skillet for 10 minutes to cool slightly and then turn it out onto a wire rack. Let it sit for half an hour before cutting, or it may crumble. This corn bread works well as sandwich bread (in a loaf pan), served with soup etc, it goes very well with my cranberry sauce/jam and can be used in a corn bread stuffing, the recipe for which I will be posting next. Stay tuned!

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