Pumpkin Spice Pancakes – Low FODMAP, Gluten Free and Vegan

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes - Low FODMAP, Gluten Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free and Vegan

Well, a lot has happened since the start of January, which is why nothing has been posted here. We bought a house, packed up our rental, moved everything and are now planning improvements on our new home. We also went through a hasty visa renewal process and have applied for permanent residency, so my spare time to actually blog about what we’ve been cooking has been zero. Unfortunately, I lost some of the scraps of paper I’d written stuff down on, so now I just have photos of food I can’t remember the ingredients to. Well done, me.

To ease myself back into blogging, and to test how good the lighting is around our new house (best lighting of any place yet, hooray!), I decided to cook up some pancakes with what little we have in our just-moved pantry. I had no bananas to make my usual breakfast staple of banana oatcakes, so I had to improvise. Luckily, we had a tin of pumpkin puree lying around and we’d run out of frozen stock, so it wasn’t going to be made into soup any time soon.

Pancakes it was, then!

FODMAP Notes

  1. Pumpkin in general has been given a low FODMAP rating in servings of 1/4 cup and a moderate rating in servings of 1/2 cup. This recipe keeps the serving at 1/4 cup per person, so is considered FODMAP friendly.
  2. Oats are given a low FODMAP rating in servings of 1/4 cup, which is split between two servings in this recipe. Oats that have been processed separately than wheat are gluten free but naturally contain a protein called avenin, which is similar enough to gluten that some with coeliac disease will still react. If this is is you, replace the oat flour with quinoa or buckwheat flours, which are safe in 1/4 cup servings.
  3. Chia and flax seeds have recommended servings of  2 tbsp for those with IBS, to limit a potentially problematic fibre intake, regardless of FODMAPs. This is split in half in this recipe, so should be safe.
  4. Maple and rice syrup are low FODMAP sweeteners, with a glucose content that is either equal to or greater than fructose content.
  5. I used coconut milk, which is low FODMAP in 1/2 cup servings and otherwise higher in sorbitol. You could also use any other milk that you tolerate, such as rice or almond milk.

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

Serves 2.

Pancakes

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1 tbsp. chia seed meal
  • 1 tbsp. flax seed meal
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup or rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup dairy free/low FODMAP milk of choice (plus a little extra if required)
  • 1 pinch salt

Candied Walnut Topping

  • 1/2 cup walnuts of pecans, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup or rice syrup
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter or coconut oil (dairy free/vegan option)

Mix the chia and flax seed meals with the syrup and low FODMAP milk of your choice and let them sit for 5 minutes. Next, add in the salt, pumpkin puree and the oat flour and mix thoroughly. You don’t need to use a blender, although it does make the job easier. The problem is you need to clean it!

Heat your pan to a medium heat and divide the mixture into four parts. Spread them out into 6-8 cm diameter circles and cook for 4-5 minutes a side.

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For the optional nut topping, turn the heat to low after the pancakes have been removed and let it cool for a minute. Add the butter (or coconut oil) until it melts and then throw in the nuts and syrup and heat them all for a further 30-60 seconds. Remove from the heat and top the pancakes, pour on a little extra syrup (if you’d like) and dig in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

FODMAP Notes

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

Banana Oatcakes

Serves 1.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Strawberry and Coconut Chia Seed Puddings – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo & Vegan

Strawberry & Coconut Chia Seed Puddings - FODMAP. Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan

To further my obsession with puddings for breakfast, I combined some of my leftover strawberry sundae sauce with some leftover coconut cream and the dregs of a packet of chia seeds – I just happened to have the perfect amount of everything, lucky! It was delicious but did not make a super healthy breakfast, as there is decent amount of castor sugar in the sundae sauce, seeing as it’s intended for dessert fare.

It was so good, though, that it was worth revisiting, so the next time I made them I just used fresh strawberry puree with a little maple syrup and stevia. Bingo! They became the perfect weekday breakfast, as they’re made ahead of time. Bonus – they are also sweet enough to serve for dessert, if you wish.

Notes:

  1. Coconut cream is low FODMAP in servings of 1/2 cup.
  2. Maple syrup is contains 1:1 fructose and glucose, just make sure it’s pure maple syrup and has no additives.
  3. Pure stevia extract is low FODMAP, different brands of stevia products may or may not be low FODMAP, depending on sweetening additives used, such as polyols.
  4. Strawberries are low FODMAP in servings of 8 medium berries or less.

Strawberry Coconut Chia Seed Puddings

Makes 8 x 120 ml/4 oz. puddings.

  • 400 ml of coconut cream (your choice of full or light)
  • 300 g fresh strawberries, plus a few more for serving
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/8 cup maple syrup, or to taste
  • 5 drops of stevia extract, or to taste

Wash, hull and pat dry the strawberries, then place them in your blender with the coconut cream, maple syrup and stevia. Blend on high for 2 minutes, until smooth – or until there are only very small chunks of strawberry left, if you’d like.

Pour into a mixing bowl and stir through the chia seeds.

Divvy the mixture up between eight 4 oz ramekins, or put it all in a large serving dish, before covering and leaving them in the fridge to set for 2 hours. Top with extra strawberries, if you wish. Dig in!

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Chocolate Chia Seed Puddings – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan & Paleo

Chocolate Chia Seed Puddings - Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly and Gluten Free

A few months ago I shared with you my recipe for Coconut Chia Seed Puddings. They are my go-to for a pre-made, nutritious breakfast or snack that I can take with me on the go. How could I possibly top that?

Uhh, duh. CHOCOLATE!

As if there was any other way?! This variation on the original recipe is just as simple and delicious but has the added benefit of tasting like a chocolate mousse – making it perfect to serve as a healthy dessert. Or dessert for breakfast… I don’t judge.

Notes:

  1. Chia seeds are low FODMAP but high fibre. They are safe for FM but can trigger separate IBS issues. Read here for a full article about chia seeds and fructose malabsorption.
  2. Cacao powder is a contentious issue. Due to it being unprocessed – and thus more nutritious than cocoa powder – it contains nutrients which some with sensitive guts react to. If in doubt, use unsweetened cocoa powder.
  3. Coconut cream – full fat tastes better but fatty foods can be an IBS trigger (separate to FM). I would recommend full fat for nutrition and taste/texture but if you have to use light coconut cream, as I did until a few months ago, it will still taste good.

Chocolate Chia Seed Puddings

  • 400 ml tin of full fat or light coconut cream
  • 1/3-1/2 cup chia seeds – add more for a firmer pudding
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao powder – depending on tolerance
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Berries/fruits of your choice to top.

Whip the coconut cream (this will only work with full cream) for a good few minutes, until it lightens up. Add in the maple syrup, vanilla extract and cocoa powder and continue to whip until combined.

Add in the chia seeds and stir through gently, then share the mixture evenly between 4 ramekins/jars and place (covered) in the fridge to set for at least 2-3 hours. The chia seeds need time to develop a mucilaginous lining, which aids digestion and of course turns the mixture into a pudding.

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Cranberry, Orange and Chia Seed Muffins – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly, Dairy Free, Gluten Free & Grain Free

Cranberry, Orange & Chia Seed Muffins

Maybe two years ago Evgeny and I went on a low carb/grain free diet for 6 months and we felt good. We had extra energy, my skin cleared up and we even lost some weight but then slipped back into our old habits – I of course remained fructose friendly. A little while ago we were talking about how good we felt back then and we decided to give it another shot; this time, however, we can eat rice occasionally.

The main reason we reverted to old habits was not because we didn’t feel good – quite the opposite – but because the diet was too restrictive for us to maintain all the time and as soon as we had one treat, another one crept in and before we knew it we were eating carbs/grains full time again. Whoops! This time our emphasis is on unprocessed, rather than grains. We’re buying ingredients, rather than foods, as the saying goes. It’s much easier to stay on track and eat meals that don’t get boring and they’re probably definitely much better for us than the pre-packaged low carb desserts that we bought last time.

Aside from that, I don’t really like diets that encourage extremes – either all low/non fat, or super low carb etc. Balance is the key to health and while I do agree we rely too much on grains for today’s diet – I used to have porridge for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner until I was diagnosed with FM – I’m sure that having a bowl of rice or a slice of FODMAP friendly bread on the weekend isn’t going to ruin all my good work. Besides, I enjoy baking and sharing the goodies that come out of the oven. It’s relaxing!

After a month of this diet – and feeling great, I might add – I think we will be able to maintain this long term. The one thing we miss, though, is a sweet treat during the week. Now I know it’s not good to have dessert every night but occasionally we need more than a banana or orange after dinner and these grain free muffins really hit the spot. As added insurance against splurging, I recommend freezing these so you can’t just guts them all at once.

I adapted this recipe from Delicious As It Looks, a fantastic website with FODMAP friendly recipes that I highly recommend visiting. The muffins are light, fluffy and delicately sweetened and inspired by the orange and poppy seed muffins I fell in love with at Melbourne Uni.

Notes:

  1. Cranberries are low FODMAP. Dried cranberries are tolerated by some fructose malabsorbers in small amounts – there should only be 5-6 dried cranberries per muffin and the dextrose (if you use it) will reduce the fructose load further. Also ensure your cranberries weren’t dried or mixed with any fruit juices or sugars that are not low FODMAP.
  2. Orange is low FODMAP, as is a little fresh squeezed juice. Bottled juice, however, is highly concentrated and very sugary, so has a higher fructose load.
  3. Almonds are low FODMAP in servings of 10 nuts. If you are concerned about the FOS/GOS of almonds in this recipe then you can sub in some buckwheat flour or my gluten free plain flour – just remember it will no longer be grain free.

Cranberry, Orange and Chia Seed Muffins

Makes 10 x 1/4 cup muffins.

  • 1/3 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup dextrose or 1/4 cup castor sugar – or more to your taste
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Zest of 1 orange (washed!)
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup dried cranberries – depending on tolerance. If you’re unsure, stick to the 1/4 cup initially.
  • 1/8 cup chia seeds
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Note that you will reduce the heat to 300 F/150 C just before baking.

In a large bowl, cream the coconut oil and sugar together for 2-3 minutes, until they become smooth. Add in the eggs and OJ and continue mixing until combined.

Meanwhile, add the almond meal, chia seeds, orange zest, dried cranberries and salt together in a separate bowl and mix together roughly. When the wet ingredients are thoroughly combined, add in the dry ingredients little by little until you have a smooth mixture. Now combine the baking powder and white wine vinegar in a ramekin and mix quickly – it will foam. Pour it into the batter and keep mixing til combined.

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Spoon the mixture out between greased or lined muffin pans, reduce the oven’s heat to 300 F/150 C and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a centre muffin tests clean (with a skewer).

They won’t brown like a normal wheat – or even gluten free – muffin will, they stay a lighter white-ish yellow colour. This is normal, don’t leave them in the oven to brown, as they will just go dry and hard due to over-cooking.

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Let them sit for 10-15 minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack to come to room temperature. Most importantly, enjoy!

These freeze well or keep in the pantry in an airtight container for a week.

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Coconut Chia Seed Puddings – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

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Ev and I are a little obsessed with puddings and while his brother has been staying with us over the Aussie school summer holidays, he has become addicted to them as well. I bought a 6 pack of rice puddings once day and by the next night there were none left and I didn’t get to have one! Oh well, it was probably for the best. But I swear, teenage boys can eat!

These chia puddings are lower GI than rice and you can control what goes into them, which isn’t much at all – they are so simple!

To find out more about the health benefits of chia seeds and its relationship with FM, read here.

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Notes:

  1. For some with IBS, the high fibre in chia seeds can cause problems – gurgly stomachs, stomach and gut cramps and diarrhoea to name a few. It’s the typical FM case of you need to try it yourself and see. I have had no issues, luckily.
  2. Coconut cream is low FODMAP, although there are small amounts of polyols present.
  3. Some people who have low stomach acid, or just sensitive stomachs, may need to use the light coconut cream for these puddings as the higher fat content in full fat coconut cream can irritate their guts. This is not FODMAP related, however, as fats are not FODMAPs (a group of fermentable carbohydrates).
  4. If coconut is completely out for you, any sort of milk or cream (normal, lactose free, vegan option) will work.
  5. Top with fructose friendly fruits of your choice – I like berries, bananas, desiccated coconut, passion fruit or kiwi fruit.
  6. If you can’t tolerate pure maple syrup, something like glucose syrup or rice malt syrup would also work.

Coconut Chia Seed Puddings

Makes 4.

  • 400 ml can of light or full fat coconut cream – full fat tastes better
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds – add 1-2 tbsp. more if you like a firmer pudding
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Berries/fruit of your choice to top

Mix the coconut cream, maple syrup and vanilla extract vigorously until combined, then stir through chia seeds. See, I said it was simple!

Share the mixture between four ramekins and refrigerate for 2 hours, until set. Once set, top with whatever you’d like; I used mixed berries and desiccated coconut shreds.

I like to use canning jars (or left over jam jars) to store my chia puddings as they come with lids, which keeps the pudding air tight – this means it lasts longer in the fridge and is already in a travel friendly case. Just don’t forget your spoon!

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Chia Seeds and Fructose Malabsorption

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Chia seeds (from the desert plant Salvia hispanica) have become quite mainstream in the health food world over the last couple of years. They have many touted health benefits, due to them being such nutrient dense little seeds.

The nutrient profile of chia seeds can be found here.

I am always wary of so called super-foods – are they really just a scam or is there some merit to the claims? Doing a quick Google search of “chia seeds health benefits,” the first response was the Huffington Post’s “10 Reasons to Add Chia Seeds to Your Diet.” Well, what a reliable source this must be! The reasons were:

  1. They are being researched as a potential treatment for type 2 diabetes.
  2. High in fibre.
  3. High in Omega 3 FA’s.
  4. Increase tooth and bone strength.
  5. High in manganese.
  6. High in phosphorous.
  7. High in protein.
  8. Fight belly fat.
  9. Get full faster.
  10. Improve heart health.

Stating that something is high in a certain nutrient is easy enough to check on – see the nutrient profile linked above – but numbers 1, 4, 8, 9 and 10 need a little more in-depth research, which I hope to cover below. Just because something sounds plausible, doesn’t mean the evidence is there to back it up.

Chia Seeds

High in:

Dietary fibre

  • Soluble fibre helps to slow  the passage of food through the digestive system, allowing greater absorption of nutrients.
  • Insoluble fibre provides bulk, absorbing water and easing the movement of food, including during defecation.
  • The RDI of fibre is 30 g/day for adult men and 25 g/day for adult women.
    • Chia seeds contain 34.4 g total dietary fibre in a 100 g sample, or 9.8 g/28 g (1 ounce).
  • Chia seeds can absorb 10-12 times their weight when soaked in a liquid.
    • Many people claim that chia seeds can aid in weight loss, as they expand in the stomach, thus increasing the feeling of satiety. However, there are limited studies on the medical benefits of chia seeds and none have described an increased rate of weight loss, however plausible the hypothesis is.
  • The gelatinous outer layer that forms when chia seeds are exposed to liquid (they become “mucilaginous”) helps to bind the food together and slow its transport through the digestive tract, thus allowing more efficient absorption of nutrients and prevention of blood sugar spikes.
    • More stable blood sugar levels will lead to less hunger pangs and more constant energy levels, thus less sugar/food cravings – this lends plausibility to the Type II Diabetes treatment theory but it isn’t going to mean that a Type II diabetic can eat a dose of sugar along with some chia seeds and get away with it.
    • As the mucilaginous chia seeds can increase feelings of satiety, the claim of getting full faster does seem  accurate – however there are many factors that contribute to feeling hungry; a full stomach is only one and it can be hard to differentiate between low blood sugar and an empty stomach when all you can think about is being hungry. The speed with which you eat is another factor – the seeds need time to become mucilaginous and thus make your stomach feel fuller.
    • The link between chia seeds and fighting belly fat was also a weak one, as the article they cited didn’t even mention chia seeds – rather it stated that abdominal fat can be a precursor for insulin resistance, especially in women. Seeing as the article I linked above stated that NO studies have demonstrated that chia seeds have a direct link to weight loss, I think this claim is tenuous at best, for now at least. Who knows what further research will show?

Protein

  • Proteins are macromolecules that consist of chains of amino acids and perform many functions within a human (or any organism), such as enzymatic activity, DNA production and translation and acting as transporter molecules across cell membranes (GLUT-5 fructose transporters are a prime example).
  • Essential amino acids are amino acids that humans cannot synthesise themselves from scratch.
    • Chia seeds contain histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine.
  • Non-essential amino acids are amino acids that humans can produce endogenously, except in the case of an illness/genetic predisposition.
    • Chia seeds contain alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glycine, proline, tyrosine, serine.

Omega 3 FA’s

  • 55% of the fat content are Omega 3 FA’s.
  • Omega 3 FA’s are essential fatty acids (cannot be synthesised endogenously) and are vital for metabolic processes in humans.
  • Omega 3 FA’s may have a positive effect on systolic blood pressure, can stimulate blood circulation, increases the breakdown of fibrin (involved in clotting) and can reduce blood triglycerides, among other things (evidence here). However, a large intake can also increase LDL’s (so-called “bad” cholesterol) – however the LDL’s become larger and less atherogenic (prone to clotting).
    • One study suggested that the omega 3 FAs in chia seeds help to support cardiac health, however more extensive research is required.
    • Another study suggests that Omega 3 FA’s can have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, which can reduce the risk of “thrombotic infarction” (blood clot related strokes).
    • It seems that, given the link between omega 3 FA’s and cardiac health, and the high percentage of omega 3 in chia seeds, that this might turn out to be true – just remember that there is a difference between  preventing cardiac disease and dealing with it once you already have it. Omega 3 FA’s aren’t a magic pill to fix cardiac disease over night.

Omega 6 FA’s

  • 18% of the fat content are Omega 6 FA’s, which are present in a favourable ratio to Omega 3 FA’s (less).
  • Omega 6 FA’s convert to Omega 6 eicosanoids (signalling molecules), which play a crucial role in both inflammatory and immune system processes.
    • Some evidence suggests that the overly high ratio of Omega 6:Omega 3 FA’s in a modern Western diet can lead to pro-inflammatory conditions within the body – however, other evidence suggests that it the signalling proteins are acting in response to damage caused by modern exogenous toxins. Either way, it is generally agreed that the current average ratio of 15:1 is much too high, and should be minimised to at least 4:1, or even more optimally 1:1 to 1:4.

Calcium

  • Calcium is an important mineral for the human body; it supports bone growth and strength, can stimulate stomach acid production, can act as a buffer for other minerals in the blood, can help to control hypertension and plays a part in electrical activity within the body – among other uses (read more here).
  • The average human over 4 years old should consume at least 1000-1300 mg of calcium/day.
    • Chia seeds contain 631 mg of calcium in a 100 g sample, or 179 mg/28 g (ounce). For such a small seed, combined with a healthy diet this will easily allow you to maintain adequate calcium intake. However, there are more traditional ways of getting enough calcium and thus supporting healthy teeth and bones (which isn’t hard), such as a the “glass of milk, piece of cheese and a yoghurt” that was recommended when I was a kid. Pick whichever method works for you.

Boron

  • A trace mineral that aids in calcium absorption.

Manganese

  • Manganese is an essential mineral, and helps to promote good bone density while reducing anaemia and osteoarthritis, among other conditions (read more here).
  • There is no RDI for manganese but the adequate intake (AI) for adult men is 2.3 mg and for adult women is 1.8 mg. Pregnant women require 2.0 mg and breastfeeding women 2.6 mg.
    • Chia seeds contain 2.72 mg or manganese in a 100 g sample, or 0.772 mg/28 g (ounce).

Phosphorous

  • Phosphorous works with the B group vitamins to generate the energy that powers our cells, as well as being essential for bones and teeth, muscle contractions, nerve conduction and kidney health (read more here).
  • The RDI for a healthy adult is 700 mg/day, and you should not exceed 4000 mg/day (this reduces to 3000 mg/day after age 70, due to the increased chance of kidney malfunction).
    • Chia seeds contain 860 mg of phosphorous in a 100 g sample, or 244 mg/28 g (ounce).

B vitamins

  • B group vitamins are water soluble and play an important role in cellular energy production along with phosphorous, as well as preventing anaemia (read more here).
  • The B group vitamins in chia seeds include B-1 (thiamin), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (niacin), folate and B-12.

Antioxidants

  • Antioxidants do just what their name suggests – they prevent oxidation of molecules within the body.
  • Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals (unpaired valence electron for those who are interested), which in turn makes the molecule more likely to want to react with something else, as electrons like to be in pairs and an atom is happiest when its outer shell is full.
    • When oxidation reactions occur within cells, they can damage it or even cause cell death – thus it is good to have an adequate intake of antioxidants to maintain cell health.

Low in:

Cholesterol

  • Cholesterol is a member of the sterol family and is essential to bodily structures and functions such as cell membranes and steroid compounds, as well as being an atherosclerotic compound. It is either synthesised endogenously or obtained in our diet (read more here).
    • High density lipoproteins (HDL) or the so-called “good” cholesterol  carries cholesterol away from the arteries and back to liver, where it is eliminated from the body.
    • Low density lipoproteins (LDL) or the “bad” cholesterol carries cholesterol throughout the circulatory system – when too much is present, it can begin to build up along the lumens of blood vessels and form a plaque, along with some other compounds. This plaque hardens and narrows blood vessels, increasing the risk of cardiac disease, myocardial infarction and stroke.
  • There is so much contention surrounding cholesterol/hypercholesterolaemia and its management at the moment. There’s either the low fat/cholesterol intake approach (read more here) or the saturated fats are good/eat low carb approach (read more here and here). This is not the time to discuss the merits of either of those methods but if cholesterol in food worries you, you will be happy to know that chia seeds do not contain much.

Carbohydrates

  • They contain no sugars and 42.12 g/100 g carbohydrates by difference. Subtracting the 34.4 g/100 g of fibre, this leaves us with 7.72 g of carbohydrates other than fibre in a 100 g sample.
  • FODMAPs – low carb hints at this but obviously low FODMAP is good for the fructose malabsorbers out there. Patsy Catsos, of IBS – Free at Last fame, recommends them as a good source of fibre, with a serving size of no more than 2 tbsp. chia seeds per meal.

Sodium

  • Sodium (Na) is an essential nutrient that plays a role in many bodily functions, including electrical activity, metabolic processes, acid-base balance and maintaining blood plasma volume (read more here).
    • Too much sodium can lead to hypertension and an increased risk of cardiac disease and stroke.
  • The minimum requirement for sodium is 200-500 mg/day.
  • The RDI for sodium is a maximum of 2400 mg/day.
    • Chia seeds contain 16 mg of sodium in a 100 g sample, or 5 mg/28 g (ounce) – in other words, they are very low sodium.

Chia Seeds and Fructose Malabsorption

Chia seeds are a good source of fibre, even for those with FM, as there is no inulin or other FODMAP fibres present. A low fibre diet, which some FMers can fall into the trap of following, can lead to unformed stools, as there is nothing there to bind the waste together – Patsy Catsos recommends ground chia seeds as a good source of fibre to combat this.

For some with IBS as a separate issue to FM, the high fibre in chia seeds can cause problems – gurgly stomachs, stomach and gut cramps and constipation or diarrhoea to name a few. It’s the typical FM case of you need to try it yourself and see – which isn’t really an answer but it’s just something that we need to accept as part of our life. Fructose malabsorption is not as cut and dry as Coeliacs disease.

I have had no issues, luckily, so I can add chia seeds to my diet in a few ways:

  • Chia seed puddings – perfect for a breakfast or snack on the go.
  • Salads – replace the sesame seeds in this strawberry salad, or any salad.
  • Add them to homemade muesli bars.
  • Grind them and use them as a xanthan gum substitute in baking – I have not tried this personally.
  • Throw them into your breakfast muffins.

The Verdict

All in all, chia seeds are a great addition to your diet if you can tolerate them. They are packed full of many important nutrients, which in a reasonable serving size would help to maintain health.

Just don’t expect to eat chia seeds for one week and see the weight fall off/heart disease disappear and osteoarthritis improve if you aren’t also following a healthy eating and exercise plan – and even then it will take much longer than that. There is no such thing as a magic pill to fix all these problems and while chia seeds certainly contain the right components, they are by no means going to fix these issues if you aren’t using them in combination with a healthy lifestyle.

My motto: take everything with a grain of salt. Just not too much or you’ll increase your blood pressure. 🙂