FODMAP Friendly Christmas Recipe – Fruit Mince Pies

Fruit Mince Pies for Christmas - Low FODMAP & Gluten Free - by Not From A Packet Mix

I’m so excited to share these pies with all of you, they have been a long time coming.

Mince pies (or mince tarts, whatever name you know then by) are a Christmas staple in many Aussie households – as well as many other places that were colonised by the British, I suppose. Every year, Mum would stock up with Bakers’ Delight mince pies as soon as they were available and we’d freeze a bunch so that we’d have them well past Christmas, we loved them so much. Unfortunately, though, I had to cut them out long ago due to the extreme amounts of dried fruits, and often apple, that were lurking inside their delicious pastry shells.

Well, not any more! These fruit mince pies are low FODMAP (according to Monash University ratings) in servings of two pies – you can read the FODMAP information for each ingredient in the FODMAP Notes section below. They are moist, sweet enough, with buttery pastry and just the right amount of spice to finish off your Christmas meal. Enjoy them with a cup of tea, some freshly made custard or FODMAP friendly vanilla ice cream.

Don’t be scared that there are vegetables in here (yes, I know, choko is actually a fruit); the carrot is a naturally sweet vegetable, especially when small and young and the chokos, while typically used as a vegetable and not very sweet themselves, are the perfect apple substitute in a lot of recipes. Combine them with low FODMAP amounts of nut meals, dried fruit (optional) and traditional spices and we have a Christmas classic made low FODMAP.

Merry Christmas guys! Enjoy your time with family and friends, whatever you celebrate and I’ll see you in the new year for more delicious low FODMAP cooking. Don’t forget to sign up to receive each new post by email.

Natty xoxo

FODMAP Notes

  1. Choko, aka chayote squash, is low FODMAP in 1/2 cup (84 g) serves and a perfect replacement for apples in cooking. When young, they are juicy and crisp. The amount per serving of these mince tarts is well below the top recommended safe serve.
  2. A note about the fruit content: if you look online, many blogs and websites warn you to stay completely away from dried fruits. However, if you check Monash University’s Low FODMAP App, this depends on the fruit. Also, if you find that you cannot have any dried fruit (even low FODMAP serves) in the beginning, you may find that, as you progress and your gut settles, you might be able to introduce them back into your diet in small quantities. The amount of dried fruit in this recipe, spread over many small mince pies, should be well tolerated according to Monash. If you can’t handle dried fruit yet, obviously either substitute in raspberries as instructed, or don’t eat them.
    • Dried cranberries are low FODMAP in 13 g/1 tbsp. serves – much less than this is in each serving of mince pie.
    • Sultanas are listed as containing high levels of excess fructose and fructans in 13 g/1 tbsp. serves. Monash University informed me, however, that 1 tsp. of sultanas should be tolerated by most, which means that the 1.3 g of sultanas in each pie (so 2.6 g/ approx. 1/2 tsp. per two pie serve) should be tolerated as well.
    • Raspberries are low FODMAP in 45 g serves, so will be okay in the amount per serve of pie.
    • Common bananas are still low FODMAP when ripe in servings of 100 g (approx. one medium fruit). Only 50 g is required for the entire recipe, so a serving of these pies will stay well under the maximum low FODMAP serving. Make sure you get the common variety, rather than sugar/lady finger bananas, which become high in excess fructose when ripe.
    • If you are on elimination, please discuss these options with your dietitian, as they might wish you to use the extra low FODMAP method, which is to substitute in raspberries, instead of sultanas. 
    • If you are more sensitive to dried fruit than Monash University recommendations, please substitute in raspberries (fresh or frozen) for the dried cranberries and banana for the sultanas/raisins.
  3. Carrots are low FODMAP in 61 g serves, which is about one medium carrot. Much less than this is in each serving.
  4. Almond meal is low FODMAP in 24 g serves – the 50 g called for in this recipe is divided between 18 serves (36 pies), so is well within safe limits.
  5. Desiccated coconut is low FODMAP in 18 g serves – much less than this is used per pie.
  6. Maple and golden syrup are sucrose based, thus have a fructose ratio of 1.0 and are safe low FODMAP sugars in the amounts called for per serving.
  7. Whisky and vodka are each low FODMAP in 30 ml serves. Traditionally, rum would be used but, as it contains excess fructose, these are both safer options. If you know you can tolerate tiny amounts of rum, feel free to sub it back in. This is not advised while you are on elimination.
  8. Lemon/orange juice and zest are low FODMAP in the amounts consumed per serve.
  9. The spices and vanilla extract included are all low FODMAP in the amount consumed per serve.
  10. Butter is very low in lactose and Monash University has listed the typical serve (19 g/1 tbsp.) to be low FODMAP. If you include both the pastry and filling in each two-pie serve, you will have approx. 1.5 tbsp. of butter. If you are very sensitive to lactose, simply substitute the butter in the pastry and/or filling for your favourite lactose free option, such as refrigerated coconut oil or a dairy free “butter” spread.
  11. Dextrose is a form of glucose and is the most fructose/FODMAP friendly sugar out there, with a fructose ratio of 0.0. By using it in this recipe, it will help to balance out any fructose present in the rest of the pies as well as in whatever meal you ate just beforehand (as long as they go through the stomach and small intestine together).

Fruit Mince Pies

Makes approx. 36 small pies | 18 low FODMAP serves

Pastry

Fruit Mince Filling

  • 160 g choko (approx. 1, aka chayote squash) or zucchini, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely grated
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) sultanas or very ripe mashed banana
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) dried cranberries or fresh/frozen raspberries
  • 50 g (1/2 cup) almond meal
  • 50 g (1/2 cup) unsweetened desiccated coconut shreds
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) pure maple syrup
  • 75 g (1/3 cup) dextrose powder
  • 1 tbsp. whisky or vodka
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon or 1 tsp. dried peel
  • Zest of 1/2 an orange or 1 tsp. dried peel
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 30 g melted unsalted butter
  • 1 pinch salt

To Serve

The day before baking, make the fruit mince filling by mixing all the ingredients together in a container, then put the lid on and store it in the fridge overnight. This allows the dried fruit to soak up the juices from the carrots and choko and lets the flavours meld together. It makes a huge difference in terms of flavour, so don’t skimp.

The pastry can also be made one day ahead, if you wish. If you are using my pie crust pastry, don’t store it in the fridge – instead, keep it wrapped in plastic wrap in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. If you put it in the fridge for more than 30 minutes, it will turn into a solid brick, as most gluten free pastries do, and will need to be re-hydrated once more with a little ice water and your stand mixer.

Pre-heat your oven to 180 C/350 F and grease two small (24 hole) muffin pans.

On a pastry mat or a lightly floured bench, roll out your pastry until it is approx. 2-3 mm thick, then slice it into rectangles measuring 5 x 10 cm. Gently pick up each rectangle and line the muffin holes, trimming off the excess pastry as you go. Once all the muffin holes are lined and the pastry trimmed, re-roll the excess pastry and cut out little stars or leaves to top the pies.

Place the completed muffin trays into the freezer for 10-15 minutes, in the meantime clean your work space and get the fruit mincemeat filling out of the fridge.

Place approx. 1 1/2 tsp. of the fruit mince filling in each pie crust – they should be only slightly heaped, not overly full. Next, place a star or leaves on each pie and brush with your milk of choice.

Bake at 180 C for 15 minutes, until the stars toppers are slightly golden brown. Do not wait for them to turn a true golden brown as this often doesn’t happen with gluten free pastry and you’ll just end up over-cooking your pies.

Remove them from the oven and let them cool completely before you remove them from the muffin pans. If you are storing them, place them in an airtight container in the pantry for up to a week but they taste best if eaten in the first couple of days.

Lightly dust the pies with icing sugar or icing dextrose just before you serve them, then enjoy with your favourite vanilla bean custard or ice cream and a cup of tea or coffee.

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FODMAP Friendly Christmas Recipe – Spiced Gingerbread Cake (also Gluten Free & Dairy Free)

Spiced Gingerbread Cake - FODMAP friendly, gluten free and dairy free - Copy (2)

Christmas is fast approaching – the last time I checked, it was the start of November and I was still comfortably in my mid-twenties. I’m now what most people would call “mid to late” twenties and it’s scaring the hell out of me! Where does the time go – and can I rewind it please? While I sit here and panic not-so-silently, I’ll take the opportunity to share a new recipe for a cake that is a combination of my two favourite Christmas desserts: gingerbread and plum pudding. I don’t think you could get a more Christmas appropriate low FODMAP recipe, if you tried.

But first of all, merry Christmas! Or rather the all encompassing term I heard a couple of years ago: Happy Chrismakwanzakah!

Secondly, I am a HUGE fan of fruit cakes and puddings – I absolutely love them. If there were Beliebers for fruit cakes, I’d be right at the front, wearing a t-shirt and screaming my heart out… but, by some cruel twist of fate (damn you, GLUT-5 fructose transporters), if I was to have a slice now, I’d probably have to down a glass of glucose syrup afterwards to ward off any reactions – which is not a healthy thing to do.

As for gingerbread, it’s quite easily made gluten free and low FODMAP, the instructions for which can be found here.

For me, Christmas is all about food and family. It’s just a pity that so many traditional Christmas desserts aren’t easily adaptable to a low FODMAP diet, as they rely so heavily on fruits higher in fermentable carbohydrates. It’s also especially hard being literally half way around the world from the rest of my family at this time of year but it’s alright… I never cook alone. Or eat alone. Or unwrap my presents without an audience, because every dog knows that the rustling of paper and plastic equals treats.

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Obviously, a proper plum pudding/Christmas pudding/cake would not be FODMAP friendly. In fact, I don’t know if even the best chef in the world could turn a recipe that asked for ONE KILOGRAM of dried fruit per cake into a low FODMAP recipe. Seriously – challenge issued to anyone out there. Jamie Oliver? Stephanie Alexander? Helloooooooooo?

I made this spiced gingerbread cake for Christmas 2014 at a friend’s house. After the flop that was the gingerbread house I had made the year earlier (apparently nobody else liked gingerbread), I decided to tone down the ginger and amp up the other spices, to give it a more well-rounded Christmas taste. In all seriousness, I also wanted to challenge myself a little last year, knowing that my Friendsmas hosts were going all out to make the meal Nat-friendly (thanks Kendal and Raymond, much appreciated), so I decided to add in just a little dried fruit to this cake, in the spirit of festiveness and, really, because whiskey and sultanas need no explanation.

FODMAP Notes

  1. Whiskey is low FODMAP in 30 ml servings.
  2. Sultanas (aka raisins for those in the USA) are tricky. Grapes are low FODMAP in quite generous servings but the drying process means that the amount of sugar per volume of the grape (now sultana) increases. Monash University lists sultanas (very similar to raisins) as high FODMAP even in 1 tbsp. serves. The 1/4 cup of sultanas called for in this recipe, when divided by 12 (the number of servings it makes), means you will get 1 tsp. of sultanas per slice. As a safety measure, the added dextrose should help to balance out the concentrated sucrose but you can always leave them out if you are on elimination or know you react/for peace of mind.
  3. Dried cranberries are a low FODMAP alternative to sultanas, they are safe in 1 tbsp. serves and contain moderate amounts of fructans in 2 tbsp. serves.
  4. Coconut oil contains no carbohydrates, so is low FODMAP.
  5. All the sweeteners used are FODMAP friendly, the dextrose should balance out the extra fructose from the brown sugar (minute amounts) and the extra sucrose from the sultanas.
  6. Make sure your vanilla extract contains no high FODMAP additives.
  7. Use your favourite gluten free plain flour blend, or a self raising blend and omit the baking powder. Spelt flour is low FODMAP enough for some fructose malabsorbers but not for all – it is also NOT gluten free, as it is an ancient variety of wheat. Use what you feel comfortable with, as this cake batter performs equally well with either flour.
  8. Chia seeds are low FODMAP but still a great source of fibre and other nutrients. They work well as a xanthan gum replacement, for those sensitive to gums. If you only have xanthan gum, feel free to use that.
  9. The spices are all low FODMAP.
  10. Coconut milk (watered down coconut cream) is low FODMAP in 1/4 cup servings, which would be adhered to unless you ate 1/5 of this cake in a sitting.
  11. If you are still in the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet, don’t include the optional sultanas/raisins or whiskey.

Spiced Gingerbread Cake

Serves 12-14.

Cake

  • 3/4 cup coconut oil, softened
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or rice malt syrup
  • 1/4 cup castor sugar
  • 2 tbsp. dextrose
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 500 g gluten free plain flour or spelt flour (not gluten free, omit chia or xanthan gum)
  • 1 tbsp. chia meal or 3/4 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 3 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • Zest of 1/2 an orange
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • Optional: 1/4 cup sultanas or up to 1/2 cup of dried cranberries soaked in 1/8 cup whiskey for 4 hours

Royal Icing

  • 1 egg white
  • 1-1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Decorations

  • Nonpareils (the edible silver balls)
  • Strawberries or fruit of choice

At least four hours before you plan to make the cake, start soaking the sultanas or dried cranberries in whiskey. This is an optional step, you can omit the sultanas if they trigger your IBS, or swap in the dried cranberries.

Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F and grease your bundt pan, grease and line your 20 cm/9 in cake tin, or line your 12-hole muffin tin with patty pans.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, add in the coconut oil, maple syrup, castor sugar, dextrose and brown sugar and beat for 1 minute at a low speed, followed by 2 minutes on high. Stop, add in the eggs and vanilla extract, then continue to mix for another minute at a medium speed. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, sieve the flour of your choice, chia meal (if using gluten free flour), ground spices and salt and roughly mix them together.

Get the coconut milk ready and then alternate adding thirds of the dry mix and the milk and mixing, until everything is used. If you feel the batter is too runny, don’t use all the milk – coconut milks don’t have a uniform consistency, unfortunately, so yours may be different than mine.

Mix the freshly squeezed orange juice, white wine vinegar and baking powder together and quickly pour it into the cake batter, then mix on high for 30 seconds. Next, add in orange zest and the optional sultanas/dried cranberries and whiskey and mix through until combined. Pour the mixture into your prepared cake tin and bake according to the instructions below.

Baking instructions:

  • Bundt pan – bake at 180 C/350 F for 45-50 minutes, or until cake tests clean with a skewer. Remove from the oven and let come to room temperature.
  • Round tin – bake at 180 C/350 F for 50-60 minutes, or until cake tests clean with a skewer. Remove from the oven and let come to room temperature.
  • Muffin tin – makes 12, bake at 180 C/350 F for 15-18 minutes, or until a centre muffin tests clean with a skewer. Remove from the oven and let come to room temperature.

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Once the cake has cooled, flip it out onto your serving dish of choice and make the royal icing.

Beat the egg white until it forms a soft peak (it will look like sea-foam), then slowly add in the sieved icing sugar, until the batter just begins to form stiff peaks. If you add in too much, the icing will be quite stiff and harder to spread – this quality is great when you want to pipe fine details, like on gingerbread biscuits but not when you want to spread the icing easily over an entire cake.

When your icing is ready, immediately ice your cake and sprinkle with the nonpareils, or decorations of your choice. Royal icing dries very quickly when exposed to air, so it becomes rough, harder to spread and less sticky for your decorations. It will keep well for up to one week in an airtight container in the fridge.

This cake can be made a day or two in advance, just ice it no earlier than the night before you want to serve it. Enjoy this cake with freshly made warm vanilla bean custard, vanilla ice cream, lactose free yoghurt or fresh FODMAP friendly fruit. Merry Christmas!

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Low FODMAP & Gluten Free Treats to Spoil your Mum this Mothers’ Day

Mother's Day, low fodmap, fructose malabsorption, gluten free, ibs, irritable bowel syndrome, love, family

As much as I love Seattle, it does suck a little bit (at least), living literally half a world away from your family. Even more-so around holidays; Skype is great but it’s not the same as being there in person. It might be just another Hallmark Holiday to some but I do like having a chance to show my mum (and my dad, when it’s his turn) how much I am grateful for the time they spent caring for and raising me as a kid.

Given that I’m not going to make it to Melbourne by Sunday, even if I could, a phone call will have to do until we’re next together and I can make Mum her chocolate cake and Dad his pecan pie. But for those of you lucky enough to live in the same city as your family, here’s a collection of low FODMAP and gluten free recipes with which you can spoil your mum, whether you chose morning tea, brunch (my favourite) or just fitting it in whenever you can. Hopefully there’s a variety to suit everyone’s needs, including vegan/dairy free, some healthy and others not so much.

There are twenty-seven recipes, one for each year that my beautiful Mum has put up with been graced by my presence.

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We scrub up alright

Sweets

I have my priorities sorted, thank you.

Breakfasts

Salads

Main Meals

Drinks

  • Sangria – Not From A Packet Mix
  • Freshly squeezed mimosas – Inspired Taste (It’s basically the same recipe that I make but have never published… I’ve never measured in the triple sec, though. Use freshly squeezed OJ and limit to one serving)
  • Purple basil lemonade – Fructopia

A FODMAP Friendly Veggie Garden for Summer

Fructose Friendly Veggie Garden, low fodmap, fructose malabsorption, ibs, irritable bowel syndrome, gluten free, healthy, organic, pesticide free, spoodle, cockapoo, homegrown

I apologise for the delay in today’s Fructose Friendly Friday post. I intended to share a low FODMAP/gluten free crumpet recipe but – unfortunately – it wasn’t quite ready to share. Hopefully next week! Anyway, I had to whip up something quickly and spring seemed the perfect time to talk about gardening.

Last year I was able to do something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time – grow my own veggies. For the previous three years, I have been growing my own herbs in pots on our balcony, which was thankfully south facing (equivalent to north facing in Australia), so it got a lot of sun. It was great to be able to grow our own herbs but this year, we have a garden! Well, more like a patch than a full-on yard but it’s a start.

I wanted to grow my own veggies for a few reasons:

  • Price: organic veggies are expensive, as are some non-organic versions, such as zucchini and cherry tomatoes.
  • Quality: *fingers crossed* our home grown veggies will be better than store bought.
  • Control: even organic vegetables use pesticides, some of which have not been thoroughly tested (they just need to be deemed “natural”) and many are reported to be less effective than normal pesticides, so more has to be used; if we grow our own, we can be completely pesticide free. Please note, I am not anti-organic, I just wish that the organic industry was held to the same standards as the regular industry that uses synthetic pesticides. You’ll never experience judgement here for what sort of produce you choose to consume.
  • The experience: hopefully one day we will have a backyard big enough to grow most to all of our fruit and vegetable needs, as we plan to have a completely edible garden.

So, now we have a little yard. What next?

Firstly, we had to move in! We didn’t get started on our garden for two whole months, as we had to fix up inside the place – previous residents had left holes in the dry wall that needed spackling/painting and clearly had little darlings that were fond of wall art. Then we drove down to San Francisco to meet my parents for a road trip back up the west coast, which had some spectacular views.

My mum loves to garden (so much that we drove up to the Butchart Gardens – pictured below – in Victoria, B.C.) and had been telling me for months that she would be giving us a Backyard Blitz while she was staying with us. Awesome.

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Prepare your garden beds

It really was a huge do-over; I didn’t take a before photo – in retrospect, I should have – but the place was essentially a grass patch with three garden beds full of rubble, a hose with holes in it, decomposing flower pots and a random butcher’s knife that had belonged to previous tenants. It made me angry just looking at it – and a little concerned about the knife, though the scariest thing to happen was the lawn-mowers leaving the gate open, which meant the dogs almost got out.

We spent an entire day with the shovel and rake pulling out the weeds and the weed mat (awful things) and discovering that we only had about 40 cm of soil depth and the rest was building rubble that had been thrown in to raise the gardens to the second story, which was our lower living area, as the garage is at ground level, underneath it all. Your to-do list may differ but ours included:

  • Pull out as many of the rocks in the soil as possible, so we could use them in flower pots for drainage and for decoration. I’m not going to turn my nose up at free river rocks!
  • Get rid of the weed mat – not only do they mess with drainage but they stop the plants’ roots from getting deep enough to really stabilise and get at nutrients.
  • Weed like crazy and get rid of the chunks of cement that were close enough to the surface to get in our way.
  • Build the garden beds up with a decent soil and compost/fertiliser, so the plants have a chance at surviving.

We did all of the above for the two side garden beds, which were empty. The rear garden bed we just pulled out the surface rocks and weeded, as there were already some box hedges planted and, considering that we’re still renting, we couldn’t pull out the plants that belonged to the owners.

Plan your garden

What will you grow?

What do you want to get out of your garden, aside from pesticide free produce?

To narrow down which fruit and veg that we would actually grow, I did some research about the climate in and around Seattle, as well as the soil type. Seattle doesn’t have a huge growing season for summer crops, so I had to be on top of this in April. We used the following criteria to decide on what we’d grow:

  • Expensive at the supermarket.
  • Doesn’t last long in the fridge.
  • Suited to Seattle’s climate.
    • Fast growing, so they’ll be ready in Seattle’s short growing season.
    • Hardy enough to survive the Pacific Northwest’s climate.
  • Dog-friendly – so sadly rhubarb was out.
  • We need to eat a lot of them.
  • FODMAP (or Nat) friendly, see list here.

If you choose to grow your own fruit and veg, you’ll need to do some research for your own area.

Where will you grow it?

Unfortunately, our back yard is north facing, so it doesn’t get full sun. If we could pick the perfect spot, it would have:

  • Adequate sunlight.
  • Well-drained, nutrient rich soil.
  • Sheltered from the wind.
  • Close to a water source.
  • In a built up planter box, rather than rows – saves both space and your back.

But, that wasn’t the case, so we had to be realistic. Considering that flowering plants require lots of sunlight, we chose:

  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Coriander (cilantro)
  • Sage
  • Oat grass (for the dogs to nibble on)

And because why the hell not…

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Zucchinis
  • Strawberries

Start your garden

To combat our short growing season in Seattle, I sprouted the seeds indoors, in front of a warm, sunny window in our kitchen.

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When the weather was warm enough to transplant the seedlings, I put them in the planter box that Ev built for me. Side note – we’ve since moved house, so the lucky people that buy our old rental will inherit it. It was sad to leave it but there was no way we were going to get it into the U-haul.

  • Feed and water your garden as required. Be careful not to over-water it, as excess moisture can lead to rotting stems and dead plants.
  • Do NOT over-plant an area of garden bed. I got a little greedy and then we had to transplant our cherry tomato plants halfway through the growing season. Though, to be fair, my last two attempts at growing cherry toms hasn’t been half as successful and the rate of growth of these two plants shocked both of us.
  • Get any support systems (stakes and cages) in place BEFORE you need them. See above.
  • Prune/maintain as required.

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The results

  • Cherry tomatoes – very successful. We didn’t buy tomatoes for 5 months.
  • Lettuce – also did really well. Best lightly sprayed with water and refrigerated for a day before use, to help it crisp up after the summer sun.
  • Chard – didn’t survive the seedling stage. There might have been a problem with the seeds, as everything else was fine.
  • Carrots – showers, not growers. They tasted alright but were small underneath.
  • Zucchinis – the plants were prolific flower-ers but they didn’t grow any successful fruit. They zucchinis would reach about 10 cm long and then begin to decompose. I was really disappointed.
  • Strawberries – the squirrels really enjoyed these. We didn’t get to taste any, as the little buggers would eat them before they were ripe enough to pick. At least it provided the dogs with some entertainment.
  • Herbs – all did pretty well in the pots/garden bed.
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This wasn’t even the biggest that the cherry toms got. They ended up three times this size – insane!

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Yup – showers, not growers.

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This year we probably won’t have much more than herbs, as we are heavily DIY renovating the inside of our new house, as well as turning the (very poorly sunlit) back yard into something nicer than a weed pit. The front yard gets a lot of sun, so potentially could be the site of  a future veggie patch, if we get the front fence up. We already know that the neighbourhood has resident bunnies, though, so it might end up being a feeding ground for them instead of us.

So give it a go. Get gardening and let me know what you’re growing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FODMAP Notes

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

Maureen’s Old Fashioned Brownies

Makes approximately 32.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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FODMAP Friendly Christmas Recipe – Shortbread Biscuits

Gluten free & low FODMAP shortbread - yum

It’s that time of year again! Crack out the tinsel, put on your Chrissy hats and get ready for temptation from all corners. Fa la la la luck. At times like this, I just have to remind myself what will happen if I tuck into a traditional mince tart and walk around with blinders on.

Christmas is my favourite time to bake. Not only do I get to make gingerbread (one of my favourite things, ever) or other types of biscuits (cookies), I get to spend time decorating them and generally being crafty. I love it but I was concerned that going wheat free would ruin my fun.

Fear not, though, as shortbread will come to your rescue. This recipe will produce buttery, crumbly, sweet biscuits that taste and look just like the real thing. Your family and/or co-workers will be none-the-wiser when it comes to your Christmas party contribution.

Oh and here’s a nifty trick – use this as a gluten free biscuit pastry base for any sweet tarts you’d like to make, just roll it out to 5 mm thick and blind bake for approx. 10 minutes at 190 C, until lightly golden. Easy!

FODMAP Notes

  1. Be sure that you use BOTH a gluten free flour blend (or spelt flour, if you can tolerate it) and white rice flour – both their properties are required in this recipe, so using 100% white rice flour wouldn’t give the best results.
  2. Use coconut oil instead of butter for a dairy free biscuit.

Low FODMAP and Gluten Free Shortbread

Makes approx. 30-40 biscuits, depending on size.

  • 1 cup dextrose or 3/4 cup castor sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups/300 g softened unsalted butter/coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup gluten free flour blend
  • 1/2 cup white rice flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum or 1 tbsp. ground chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Sieve the sugar, 3/4 cup gluten free flour blend and 1/2 cup white rice flour into the bowl of your stand mixer and add in the butter, then beat on a low to medium speed until smooth.

Meanwhile, sieve the second cup each of gluten free flour blend and white rice flour, the xanthan gum (or ground chia seeds), baking powder and salt into a separate bowl.

When the wet mixture is smooth, scrape down the edges and add in the egg. Beat on medium until it is smooth once more, before adding in the rest of the dry ingredients and mixing thoroughly for 5 minutes. Wrap the mixture tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour before you want to bake them.

When you’re ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 190 C/375 F and line two or three baking trays with baking paper before rolling the dough out to approx. 2 cm (3/4 in) thickness. Cut the biscuits into 2 cm by 4 cm rectangles, or use your favourite cookie cutters to make fancier shapes and use a fork to poke holes, if you wish.

Shortbread

Bake for approx. 15 minutes, until the bottoms have browned slightly but the biscuits are still soft to the touch while warm – they will harden as they cool. I normally bake in shifts, with no more than two trays in my oven at the one time, or the heat will not circulate properly – if your oven has a fan mode, you might be able to back more at once. Just do whatever works best for your oven.

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Once the biscuits have cooled to room temperature, store them in airtight containers in the pantry for up to five days, until they are required. They do last longer but will taste a little stale – it’s best to serve them before the five day mark.

Enjoy them with a nice cup of tea and seasonal fruit – in Australia this would mean fresh summer berries, as the closest thing we have had to a white Christmas was an hail storm on Christmas morning 2006 that left a nice covering of white hail stones all over the ground. In Seattle, you might be lucky enough to get a white Christmas but they unfortunately don’t come with seasonal low FODMAP fruits – apples, anyone? – so we’d have to spread on some preserves like a strawberry freezer jam.

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Mockapple Crumble – Low FODMAP, Gluten Free, Dairy Free & Vegan

Mockapple Crumble - Low FODMAP, Dairy Free, Gluten Free and Vegan

Ahhh Autumn. The markets are full of bright and shiny balls of temptation known as apples. Everyone’s Thanksgiving and Christmas menus always include apple in some form of pie, cake, crumble or salad – at which point I have to calmly remind myself of what will happen if I partake: pain and misery. Good bye, apple pie; Bakers Delight’s fruit mince tarts are a distant memory. Sigh.

For years I had to be strong (or pretend I was wearing blinders) when walking past the dessert buffets at family/friend meals but no more! Enter the choko. I can’t remember how I came across chokos (also known as chayote squash in some parts of the world) but they also happen to be in season during late Summer to Autumn and they make fantastic apple substitutes. To the person or website that first mentioned them to me, I will say a massive THANK YOU!

Chokos are a low FODMAP variety of gourd that, when eaten peeled and raw, resemble an apple in texture (crisp and juicy), with a very mild taste that can be accentuated with the right sugars and spices. They are exactly what you need to make a mockapple pie or crumble and, in my humble opinion, are a much better option than peeled zucchini. So good, in fact, that in Australia there’s an urban legend that states that McDonald’s used to use chokos in their apple pies, because they were cheaper than apples and nobody could tell the difference!

The first time that I made this crumble, I treated the choko like an apple and baked it from a raw state – that was mistake number one. Choko takes a lot longer to soften than apple does, so you need to stew or poach it first, otherwise the crumble topping will be overly brown by the time it’s soft in an incredible 1 hour and 40 minutes. Yikes. I also added the same amount of starch that I would have added to an apple crumble – mistake number two. Mistakes are good, though. We learn from them and – hopefully – don’t repeat them.

After a third attempt I feel I have mastered the choko mockapple crumble; just sweet enough, the choko has the texture of cooked apple and a mild flavour that lets the traditional apple pie spices shine through, while still bringing something of its own to the dish. This filling would also work well with your favourite gluten free/FODMAP friendly pastry for a mockapple pie.

FODMAP Notes

  1. Chokos are a FODMAP friendly gourd in 1/2 cup servings.
  2. Dried coconut flesh is low FODMAP in servings of 1/4 cup, 1/2 cup contains potentially problematic amounts of sorbitol.
  3. Almonds are FODMAP friendly in servings of 10 nuts, while 20 nuts gets a high rating for oligos.
  4. Maple syrup, when pure, is 1:1 fructose/glucose, thus is considered fructose friendly.
  5. Cinnamon, ginger, all spice and cloves are low FODMAP spices.

Mockapple Crumble

Serves 10-12

Crumble Topping

  • 1 1/4 cups almond meal
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour
  • 1/3 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger

Mockapple Filling

  • 1.0 kg sliced chokos
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/3 cup castor sugar or 1/2 cup dextrose
  • 1 tbsp. potato starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. all spice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 pot of water for poaching

Peel, then slice or dice your chokos (discarding the large centre seed) into 2 cm or so chunks. Poach them in a pot of simmering water until soft – around 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine all the crumble topping ingredients and mix until they are well combined, using your food processor (or by hand/with a pastry mixer). The result will slightly resemble a sticky cookie dough. Keep it in the fridge until you need it.

Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F. Drain the choko and mix through the sugars and spices. Pour the now runny choko mix into a 9 inch pie dish and then top evenly with the crumble dough. Bake at 180 C for 45-50 minutes, until the choko filling has thickened and the crumble has turned a lovely golden brown.

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Serve warm, with whipped coconut cream (or normal whipped cream) or your favourite FODMAP friendly ice cream (vegan if required). Enjoy!

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