The Guide to FODMAP Friendly Sugars and Sweeteners

Please view this article, “The Guide to FODMAP Friendly Sugars and Sweeteners,” at it’s new location on The Friendly Gourmand.

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

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

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

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

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

Genetic Modification

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

Sweet Corn/Corn on the Cob

Variety: sweet corn.

FODMAP rating: safe in 1/2 cob servings.

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

Corn Meal, Polenta/Grits and Popcorn

Variety: dent and flint corn.

FODMAP rating: safe in 1 cup servings.

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

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

Cornflour/ Corn Starch

Variety: waxy corn.

FODMAP rating: safe.

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

Corn Syrup

Variety: dent corn (amylose starch).

FODMAP rating: safe but use in moderation.

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

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

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Variety: dent corn (amylose starch).

FODMAP rating: high, avoid.

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

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

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

Corn/Maize Oil

Variety: made from the germ of corn kernels.

FODMAP rating: safe.

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

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

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

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

Overnight Chia Oats – Low FODMAP, Gluten Free & Vegan

Overnight Chia Oats - Low FODMAP, Gluten Free and Vegan

I have a confession to make: I’m a lazy breakfaster. If that’s even a word. When I drag myself out of bed on a weekday, I’m only interested in eating something that is already made, small and light. My stomach doesn’t wake up until about 10 am on most days. Weekends are another matter… brunch, come at me!

That’s why I like to bulk make breakfasts that are ready to eat – and portable, so, if the need arises, they can double as on the go snacks.

My usual go-to breakfast in a jar would be one of any variety of chia seed pudding (recipes all found here) but I suppose I felt I was getting into a (nutritious) breakfast rut and wanted to give something else a go. I’d been meaning to try overnight oats for absolutely ages, so now was my chance.

FODMAP Notes

  1. Oats are low FODMAP in 1/4 cup servings, higher than that and you will ingest higher amounts of fructans.
  2. Chia seeds are low FODMAP. Read about them in more detail here.
  3. Banana, strawberries and blueberries are all FODMAP friendly in the amounts required.
  4. Maple syrup is 1:1 fructose/glucose, so is fructose friendly.
  5. Coconut and almond milk are low FODMAP in 1/2 cup servings, rice milk is another safe option.
  6. Desiccated coconut is low FODMAP in 1/4 cup servings, which is split into five jars.

Overnight Chia Oats

Makes 5.

  • 1 cup oats (gluten free if required)
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1 1/4 cup dairy free low FODMAP milk of choice (I used coconut milk)
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup diced strawberries
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt

Prepare the fruit and set aside. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl with a pouring edge. Pour in the wet ingredients and stir through thoroughly.

Decide how you want to arrange the fruit in the oats:

  1. Mix them through with the other ingredients.
  2. Arrange them into alternating layers with the oat mixture.

I chose option two but either would work, depending on how much time you have. I mean, it tastes the same no matter what, right? Divide the mixture and fruit over five jars and refrigerate overnight before serving. The oats and chia seeds will soak up much of the liquid and soften in the process, the sweetness from the fruit will also seep into the mixture and the oats can be served cold straight from the fridge or even warmed up for a couple of minutes (as long as it’s in a microwave safe jar).

Enjoy! Now you can take an extra five minutes for yourself every morning.

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Further Food: Eat Better, Go Further

Hi everyone! I’m sorry for the long break between posts but I’ll explain why in my next entry, which will be out tomorrow. Long story short, we’ve had an exciting couple of months.

I just wanted to take some time to share with you that I’ve been collaborating with Further Food, a website that encourages good health through nutritious (and delicious!) recipes. They started up last year and have grown from a handful of initial contributors (of which I was lucky enough to be one) to a community of like-minded people who aim to manage their health (and any conditions) through food.

Food bloggers like myself submit recipes and the team at Further Food tests them out and has one of their nutritionists or registered dietitians provide comments on the nutritional breakdown. A few of my recipes have been featured and I’m even working on another couple of related articles with the staff. I encourage you to head over, check out my profile and the recipes I’ve shared there…

My pumpkin pie recipe is delicious and apparently quite healthy, too! Who’d have thought?… Just kidding, I intended it to be a not-so-junky dessert.

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This cast iron cornbread recipe is a favourite of mine, it goes well with any warm and nourishing soup or stew, or even just spread with your favourite low FODMAP jam.

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This balsamic and rosemary chicken risotto is both nourishing and easily digestible, for those days when your stomach isn’t quite up to a full meal.

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These strawberry and coconut chia seed puddings pack a nutritional punch and double (actually, triple!) up as a tasty breakfast, snack or dessert. I mean, really, they’re dessert for breakfast without the guilt. You can’t beat that.

Recipes

To stay up to date on my contributions and more health-supportive recipes, like them on Facebook and sign up for their newsletter!

Cheers, guys! I’ll be back tomorrow with another healthy breakfast recipe. See you then!

Oven Baked Sockeye Salmon with Herb Lemon Butter – Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free & Paleo

Oven Baked Sockeye Salmon with Herb Lemon Butter - Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free & Paleo

Ev and I have been on a bit of a salmon kick lately, making the most of the last of the fresh caught salmon this season. It’s still available over winter, just frozen and a little more expensive – though the price here in Seattle has nothing on how much even farmed Atlantic salmon would cost in Australia.

When my parents were visiting us over Easter this year, they went through the same shock that we did when we moved to Seattle – Salmon is how cheap? There are so many varieties! You can get wild caught salmon in the supermarket, without going to a fishmonger?! Bliss. I have a feeling that the reason they are going to visit us again next summer has something to do with the salmon (and the dogs) and less to do with us. When we eventually move from Seattle, we will definitely miss the fresh seafood. Not that we don’t have a plentiful supply of fresh seafood in Australia, it’s just much more affordable over here.

Salmon is a very healthy and abundant source of omega 3/healthy fats, protein – with all the essential amino acids present (22 g/100 g), vitamins B-6 and -12, and selenium, as well as containing moderate amounts of potassium, phosphorous and the other B group vitamins. Definitely something that should be a regular part of an healthy diet for those who eat meat.

Notes: 

  1. Lemon is a low FODMAP fruit. Use slightly sweet, juicy lemons, not bitter lemons, which can impart the bitterness onto the salmon – been there, done that. It can really spoil an otherwise delicious meal.
  2. Oregano is low FODMAP but does contain salicylates, which can also cause IBS symptoms. But once again, low FODMAP.
  3. Butter is lower in lactose due to its reduced water content, though for a dairy free/lactose free version you could use coconut oil or a dairy free spread of your choice for a different, though just as tasty flavour.
  4. Fresh fish will always taste best – a fresh fish shouldn’t smell of much at all. If your fish smells “fishy,” it probably is. We normally buy whole fresh fish, as they are considerably cheaper per pound and you can make stock with the skeleton.

Baked Salmon with Herb Lemon Butter

Serves 10.

  • 2.5 kg/5.5 lb whole sockeye salmon
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed oregano leaves
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. garlic infused olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 4-5 lemons, sliced into rounds
  • 2 lemons, sliced into wedges for serving

Clean and fillet your salmon, if not already done – leave the skin on. Rinse and pat dry the salmon, before slicing 4-5 x 1 cm deep slices into the skin. This will require a sharp knife, as the skin can be quite tough.

Choose your baking dish and lay down a bed of the lemon slices, on which you will later lay the salmon.

In a food processor, combine the oregano leaves, butter, garlic oil, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper and blend until smooth, the leaves should end up finely shredded. Rub the mixture on both sides of each salmon fillet, before placing them skin side UP on the lemon rounds. Cover in foil and store in the refrigerator for at least an hour, to let the flavours seep into the fish.

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Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F; when ready, place the covered tray on the middle shelf and bake for 20 minutes, at which point you’ll remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes. If your fish is smaller, it might not need any more time, or 5 minutes at the most. Keep an eye on it.

Once the fish is flaking apart, remove it from the oven and carefully lay it on a bed of greens. The skin will peel off easily, for those who don’t wish to eat it. The lemon livens up the salmon’s natural flavours, while the butter and oregano play very well with everything. Delicious and a definite crowd pleaser… enjoy!

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Oven Baked Sockeye Salmon with Fennel and Lemon – Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free & Paleo

Oven Baked Sockeye Salmon - Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free and Paleo

Ev and I had people over a few weeks ago to welcome a couple of friends to Seattle and we decided that it was going to be too hot to have the oven on all day to prepare our usual dinner party staples. What to do, what to do?

Then it hit us.

We’re nearing the end of Sockeye Salmon season here in the Pacific Northwest (*sobs uncontrollably*), so it’s the perfect time to get our Sockeye fix in while we can. In my humble opinion, Sockeye is the best value salmon you can get, at least in Seattle, in terms of taste for the price; and just take a look at the colour of this beauty! You can’t beat wild caught salmon.

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Once your salmon has been filleted, there is very little prep work involved with this dish, making it a quick and easy meal to cook for a lot of wow factor. The beauty of this cooking method is that you don’t have to adjust it much for a smaller fish, especially if the fillets are the same thickness. The skin and the foil help to keep the moisture in – you’ll just need less marinade.

Notes:

  1. Lemons are a low FODMAP fruit.
  2. Fennel leaves are low FODMAP in servings of 1/2 a cup.
  3. Fresh fish will always taste best – a fresh fish shouldn’t smell of much at all. If your fish smells “fishy,” it probably is. We normally buy whole fresh fish, as they are considerably cheaper per pound and you can make stock with the skeleton.

Baked Salmon with Fennel and Lemon

Serves 10.

  • 2.5 kg/5.5 lb whole sockeye salmon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (approx. half a lemon)
  • 1 tbsp. ground sea salt
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp. ground cumin
  • 4 lemons, sliced into rounds
  • 6 sprigs of fennel leaves

Clean and fillet the salmon, if it has not already been done – leave the skin on. Rinse and pat dry the salmon, before slicing 4-5 x 1 cm deep slices into the skin. The skin can be a little tough, so this will require a sharp knife.

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Wash and dry the lemons and fennel sprigs. Next, slice 3.5 lemons into rounds and juice the remaining half. While your hands are clean, get a baking tray ready and line it with baking paper, before laying out two rows of lemon slices and fennel sprigs, on which you will later bake the salmon. Reserve 8-10 lemon slices for the garnish.

Briskly combine the olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper and cumin together to emulsify the ingredients and then rub the mixture thoroughly all over both sides of the salmon fillets. Lay each fillet skin side UP on the rows of lemon/fennel and cover the tray with foil. Store in the fridge for at least one hour, to let the marinade work its magic.

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Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F. When ready, place the covered baking tray on the middle shelf and bake for 20 minutes, at which point you will remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes. The fish will be perfectly cooked and flake apart, so be careful when you move it to the serving dish!

To serve, lay out a bed of greens on a long plate and carefully transport each fillet to the dish, along with the lemons/fennel, if you wish. The skin will peel off easily, if you don’t like to eat it and the simple marinade really enhances the flavour of the salmon. I could eat this every day.

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Miniature Pavlovas – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

Miniature Pavlovas - FODMAP, Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

Ignore the dietary guidelines that these Pavs suit in the title… these are not  a health food.

I didn’t think it was possible to love a dessert more than I love a good Pav but I found one. I suppose it might not really count, as these are still Pavlovas… but they’re mini, cute and you don’t feel like such a guts after eating one, as I find it easier to have just one of these than to cut a small slice from a big Pav.

Sweet, with a crispy outside and a perfect marshmallowy inside… what more could you want? Whipped cream and fruit on top? Of course you can.

These are perfect for a dinner party or a high tea (I really want to host one of those!), as you can bake them a day ahead and store them (once cooled) in an airtight container in a cool, dark place (aka. the pantry). They will turn a little soft in the fridge (though they still taste amazing) but once the whipped cream has gone on, that’s where they need to be stored.

Notes:

  1. Sucrose (castor sugar) is 1:1 fructose/glucose but if eaten in excess can overwhelm the co-transport method of fructose absorption, so for this reason I would recommend stopping yourself at one mini Pav per day. Which even normal people should do, really.
  2. Normal double cream can be swapped out for lactose free double cream or full fat coconut cream (both of which can be whipped) or lactose free yoghurt.
  3. Two raspberries and 1-2 tbsp. of strawberry sauce would fall within the label of a “single serving” of fruit.

Miniature Pavlovas

Makes approx. 16

  • 4 eggs whites
  • 1 pinch table salt
  • 250 g castor sugar
  • 2 tsp. corn or potato starch
  • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 300 ml double cream – lactose free if required
  • Fruit of your choice to top

Pre-heat the oven to 150 C/300 F.

In a cool, airy kitchen (no dishwasher running!) beat together the egg whites and salt on a medium speed for 2 minutes, then a high speed for a further 3 minutes, or until satiny peaks form.

Then add in the sugar (in thirds) and beat on a high speed until stiff peaks form. This is important, as you need the batter to hold its shape or it will just pool once you’ve piped it onto the baking tray.

Finally, add in the potato starch, white wine vinegar and vanilla extract and stir on a slow speed for a minute to combine everything.

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Transfer the mixture to a piping bag (or a large zip lock bag with a 1 cm snip off the corner) and pipe about 1/3 cup batter in a swirl onto the baking tray. As Ev said, they will look like Pavlova dog poo – have a laugh and keep going. I spaced mine evenly and had eight mini Pavs per baking tray.

Bake for 50-60 minutes at 150 C/300 F, swapping the bottom/top trays half way through to ensure equal cooking.

Once they have cooled, top with whipped cream and berries and serve with this strawberry sundae sauce or passion fruit pulp drizzled over the top.

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