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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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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Balsamic Rosemary Chicken Risotto – Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly and Gluten Free

Balsamic Rosemary Chicken Risotto - low FODMAP, fructose friendly, gluten free and lactose free

As always, my predictable stomach began to crave warm, hearty meals right about the time the weather started to cool down. Instead of light salads, it seems to be nagging for all the proteins and fats and carbs. Thanks stomach, I wasn’t planning on going up a size this winter but you seem to have other ideas. Of course, you shouldn’t always give in to cravings but occasionally it’s alright – say, for instance, after you had been sick for a week and could finally stay out of the bathroom for long enough to cook a meal (this gluten challenge is almost over, my immune system can see the light!).

After said week, I couldn’t stomach much but I could manage chicken and rice… but how appetising (or nutritious, really) is boiled chicken and rice? This risotto is pretty basic, so it’s easy on the stomach; you don’t need much to fill you up and it packs in more nutrients than its plain cousin thanks to the homemade stock and vegetables it contains. Oh and it’s pure comfort food. Ready. Set. Nom.

FODMAP Notes

  1. Balsamic vinegar is low FODMAP in 1 tbsp. servings. The 1/3 cup in this recipe will give 3/4 tbsp. per serving if divided between six people, less if shared among eight. Make sure you have real Balsamic vinegar, as the cheaper imitations might not all be FODMAP friendly – check the labels and use what you can tolerate.
  2. Rosemary is a low FODMAP herb.
  3. Chicken is of course low FODMAP – just be careful you don’t buy pre-seasoned chicken, which might have high FODMAP spices added.
  4. Zucchini is a FODMAP friendly vegetable.
  5. Mushrooms contain large amounts of the polyol mannitol in 1 cup servings. The 6 crimini mushrooms called for in this recipe would be just under 1/4 cup in size each, so you would be ingesting at most 1/4 cup of mushrooms if you divided this recipe among six people, less among eight. Of course, if you are sensitive to mannitol in any amount, substitute it with more zucchini, or even some cherry tomatoes.
  6. One serving of a dry white wine is considered low FODMAP.
  7. Arborio rice is a low FODMAP and gluten free grain.
  8. Butter is low in lactose, as FODMAPs are water soluble and butter is mostly fat. However, if you cannot tolerate any butter, either add in your favourite butter replacement or simply omit. For a less creamy version (i.e. when you’re recovering from a stomach bug and can’t tolerate rich foods) omit the butter. It’s what I did for my recovering stomach but any other time I would add it in.

Balsamic Rosemary Chicken Risotto

Serves 6-8

  • 5 cups/1.25 L of fructose friendly chicken stock
  • 700 g chicken, diced into 2 cm chunks
  • 1/6 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil to seal pan
  • 2 cloves of garlic – to be removed before cooking the rice
  • 1 cup diced green leek tips
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 6 medium crimini mushrooms, diced (see FODMAP notes)
  • 300 g arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup/125 ml dry white wine
  • 1/6 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh minced rosemary
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter (optional, see FODMAP notes)

Prepare the chicken and vegetables, wash the rice and set everything aside. If you have time/thought ahead, marinate the chicken in the 1/6 cup of Balsamic vinegar overnight, otherwise, just add them together while cooking. Obviously, in this case you would prep the chicken the day before all the other ingredients.

In a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer and reduce to low. Put the lid on and leave until required.

Fry the chicken pieces in a large fry/saute pan and add the Balsamic vinegar (if it wasn’t added earlier for marination – time constraints and all that). Cook over a high heat until the chicken pieces are all fully sealed and then remove the meat and juices from the pan into a clean bowl.

Next, add in a little more olive oil and add in the leek tips and garlic cloves. Fry over a medium/high heat until the garlic becomes fragrant, then remove and discard the garlic cloves. Add the diced zucchini and mushrooms and cook over a medium heat until the vegetables are mostly cooked.

Push the vegetables to the side and tip in the rice; fry the rice to coat it in the oil/pan juices and then pour in the white wine and last 1/6 cup of Balsamic vinegar. Cook over a medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated and then begin adding the warmed chicken stock, one ladle at a time.

Reduce the heat to a low/medium setting and stir occasionally, letting the stock gradually absorb into the rice. Add a fresh ladle of stock when the previous batch has almost dried out and keep going until the rice is fully cooked (soft) or the stock runs out. The chicken and its juices should be added back into the pan when the pot of stock is about half-used, so it can finish cooking with the rice. Season with the rosemary, salt and pepper when you add in the chicken and then tinker with a little more if required at the end. Finally, add in the optional butter and stir through, for a rich and creamy dish. For pictures of not-quite-cooked vs. cooked risotto, see here.

Serving suggestions: freshly grated Parmesan cheese, minced chives (green parts only) or a sprig of rosemary or parsley. Don’t forget the wine.

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Strawberry Pepita Muesli Bars – FODMAPs, Fructose Friendly, Paleo & Gluten Free

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At the request of someone who cannot eat almonds – hence the last muesli bars I made were unsuitable – I promised to attempt an almond free version.

Well, here it is… and isn’t. I submitted the recipe to Yummly, a recipe/food/cooking website that I absolutely love for the reasons I listed here. It is like a big community of professional food writers, chefs, cooks and the likes of us. If you make your own account, you can start searching for delicious recipes with ingredient filters and saving them to try later… because of course you’ll be making these beauties first!

These are lower GI than your store bought muesli bars, and wont have any nasty preservatives in them. I kept mine in the fridge, in a sealed container and they lasted one month until I had finished them without spoiling.

As I mentioned in my last post about muesli bars, low GI is important not only when you’re not doing anything – to avoid a blood sugar spike, years of which can lead to insulin resistance and put you at risk of Type II Diabetes – but to help you maintain energy levels while you’re exercising, or even during the day if you eat one of these as a breakfast bar. Once reason I don’t eat any cereal other than whole oat porridge is because I was tired and hungry within an hour or two. Just ask Ev what I get like when my blood sugar drops… very grumpy 🙂

Notes:

  1. Use pure maple syrup, which shouldn’t have any extra sugars or sweeteners in there that could potentially elicit a FM reaction.
  2. I used raw nuts and seeds but you could use roasted for a little extra crunch.
  3. Strawberries are a FODMAP suitable fruit, with fructose concentration of 3.0g/100g and a glucose concentration of 3.1g/100g. Monash University lists them as safe.
  4. Most seeds are safe in moderate amounts, however they can affect some people because they are high in fibre. These bars will pack a caloric punch – they are intended for workout/hiking food, not for dieters – so you won’t need more than a single serving, anyway.
  5. Almonds have been listed by some as higher in FODMAPs, so to play it safe I excluded them.
  6. You could add in a quarter cup of dried cranberries if you can tolerate them – just watch for any juices used to sweeten them.
  7. Nuts are not safe for dogs, so please don’t share them with your furry hiking buddies.
  8. If you want a nut free version, simply remove the nuts and then add in the same volume of seeds. I still wouldn’t be sharing them with your dogs, though. We normally take chicken jerky for the dogs when we go hiking, as well as extra water.

The recipe is over on Yummly’s blog, please head over and have a look! I like to eat these as a breakfast bar with plain yoghurt and some berries. They are quite filling and keep me going until lunch time. Enjoy! Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

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