Leek Chimichurri – Low FODMAP, Gluten Free & Vegan

Leek Chimichurri - Low FODMAP, Gluten Free and Vegan, fructose malabsorption, irritable bowel syndrome, healthy, low carb

When we moved into our new house in February just been, there was a run-down little veggie patch by the front door. I looked at it in dismay – I had just left behind the gorgeous wooden planter box that Ev built for me the year before at our last rental – and then proceeded to ignore it every time I walked by it. The box was cheap plastic, the soil full of weeds and the dried out remnants of what was once a zucchini plant were splayed out on a trellis.

After a couple of weeks, I looked at the “garden” tab of the house folder the previous owners had left us and got a little shock. Apparently, the veggie patch was full of leeks, chives and kale. Yum. I checked the garden again and there were the leeks and chives, hidden among the weeds; no kale, though, it obviously hadn’t made it through the winter. There was one problem, though. There was grass growing up throughout the chives and the leeks were apparently planted next to some small agapanthus, whose leaves look a lot like a leek but are not edible. Why on earth? Anyway, it was still February, so these hardy little plants hadn’t begun to flower yet. I was reasonably confident that I could tell them apart from the bulb/lack of bulb (agapanthus vs leek) but, to be sure, I wanted to see the flowers.

Finally, the leeks and agapanthus flowered a week ago and last weekend we decided it was time to get rid of the sad little veggie patch and replace it with a lawn, instead. Unfortunately, our backyard is surrounded by pine trees and gets very little sunlight, so I understand why they chose the front yard for the veggie garden – I just wouldn’t have done it in quite the same way. Also, because our backyard gets basically no sunlight, the “lawn” is about 95% weeds, so we’re going for a forest/path/hidden surprise backyard with shade loving plants and we want to get as much lawn out of the front yard as possible. But I digress. Even after ditching the leeks that were growing so close to the agapanthus that they were intertwined (and all the chives, because they were thoroughly knotted together with grass and nobody had time to sort that mess out), we had a sink-full of leeks. I’m not even kidding, our extra deep, double-sized kitchen sink was overflowing.

This wasn’t even half of what we kept, which was half of what was there. Please excuse the weeds, the garden is a work in progress.

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What on earth could we do with so many leeks? It’s warming up, so it’s no longer really soup weather and simply processing the leeks and freezing them seemed like a cop out. A few weeks ago we had watched an episode of No Reservations (Anthony Bourdain’s show) and they had dipped leeks into chimichurri. Why not make leeks into chimichurri, instead?

Chimichurri is a very versatile sauce. It’s primary use is for grilling meats but you can use it as a dipping sauce, a condiment, a sandwich spread (mixed with mayo – yum!), a pasta sauce, a salad dressing, to spice up omelettes and add flavour to mashed potatoes. You can also use it as a base from which to build an entirely new sauce. It’s definitely handy to have around, as it allows you to cut some corners during dinner prep – I won’t say no to that!

FODMAP Notes

  1. Green leek tips are considered FODMAP friendly in 1 cup servings.
  2. Garlic olive oil must be made ahead of time and cooled, or it can be pre-bought. If you are buying garlic olive oil, make sure you choose an oil quality that is more suited to how you plan to use your chimichurri. For example, we grilled the chimichurri marinated beef kebabs we made, so a refined olive oil was more suited to this particular dish than if we had used the chimichurri as a dipping sauce, in which case extra virgin olive oil would have been fine (due to the heat resistance/smoke points of different oils).
  3. As all FODMAPpers are different, if you can tolerate a bit of actual garlic, feel free to replace the garlic olive oil with the same amount of olive oil plus 1-2 cloves of garlic, to taste.

Leek Chimichurri

Makes about 600 ml of sauce, depending on how firmly packed the leeks are.

  • 4 cups green leek tips
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup pre-made garlic olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional – 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes or fresh oregano

Place the garlic oil (or actual garlic if you can tolerate it), roughly chopped leek tips and red wine vinegar into the bowl of your food processor and blitz until combined. Add some salt and pepper (and the optional herbs if you like) and keep blitzing until smooth. Taste the chimichurri, then add in more salt and pepper (or garlic oil or red wine vinegar) to get the exact taste and consistency that you like. We like ours a little thicker, so feel free to add more oil if you see fit.

That’s it. It’s very simple. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks, or freeze for up to two months. It’s especially important to practise safe food handling if you’ve used an homemade infused oil, due to the risks of botulism that rise when infused oils are stored incorrectly/for too long. Store bought infused oils have been prepared in such a way that they have a much longer shelf life.

But please don’t let that put you off making chimichurri! The simple measure of freezing extra jars right away will keep the sauce safe for a couple of months. I know our batch won’t last longer than that, and it made 10 jars. It’s that good.

Here is our leek chimichurri, served with a yolk porn-worthy poached egg on top of polenta and wilted spinach. Simple, delicious and nourishing. The perfect meal.

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Homemade Strawberry Sundae Sauce – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

Strawberry Sundae Sauce

I made this sauce for the first time to serve with dessert at a friend’s house a few months ago. My friend isn’t a fan of baked goods, so she decided we’d have sundaes for dessert instead. I bought the ice cream – I didn’t have time to make it, toasted and diced the almonds and got a chocolate sauce for everyone else to have (I couldn’t find a Nat-friendly option at the last minute) but I decided I’d make the strawberry sauce. Not only did I know – from previous experience – that the only suitable options would be ridiculously expensive, “artisan” style sauces that I could just as easily make at home, we also had a tonne of frozen strawbs in the freezer.

This sauce takes only about 15 minutes of attention, as it just needs to simmer for the rest of the time. The result is a rich and flavourful strawberry sauce that can be served with ice cream, Pavlovasbanana cake or even pancakes and crepes.

Notes:

  1. Strawberries are a low FODMAP fruit.
  2. Make sure you use pure vanilla extract, to rule out any additives that might irritate your gut.
  3. Dextrose is less sweet per gram than sucrose, as it only contains glucose, whereas sucrose is 50% fructose, which gives it added sweetness. This is why the amounts required differ. However, you can make this to your own taste by adding more or less of either sugar, as you see fit.

Strawberry Sundae Sauce

Makes approx. 750 ml of sauce

  • 750 g strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Up to 1/3 cup castor sugar dextrose or 1/2 cup dextrose (I prefer less, you could also combine it with Stevia)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Weigh, hull and dice (if fresh) the strawberries, before putting them in your saucepan with all the other ingredients. Turn the heat up to medium and simmer until the strawberries have softened enough to smoosh them with the wooden spoon – about 5 minutes. At this point, take the pot off the heat either use your blender or immersion blender to puree the mixture, before returning the mixture to the medium heat and bring to a gentle boil.

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Strawberry before and after

Watch it like a hawk, as it can boil over easily… been there, done that; the clean up isn’t fun.

As the sauce comes to the boil, you will need to spoon off the foam that develops, as this will add a bitter taste to the mixture that you want to avoid. After boiling gently for 5 minutes, finish spooning off the foam and drop the heat to low. Let the sauce simmer for at least an hour, an hour and a half is best to really thicken. You may need to spoon off a little more foam at the end.

Either pour this sauce (piping hot) straight into a sterilised canning jar and use your choice of canning techniques to preserve it or let it cool and serve warm (for that awesome semi-melted ice cream effect).

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Sunday Pizza Craving Satisfaction – Low FODMAP & Gluten Free

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After taking Bailey and Nellie to Marymoor Dog Park this morning, Ev and I decided that we had pizza cravings.

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Post park happy faces – at least, I’m sure Nellie looks as happy as Bailey does under all of her fluff

However, anyone who has tried pre-made GF pizza bases can attest that they are very hit and miss… mostly miss. Usually bland (or just plain gross), lifeless and with questionable textures; I have never had one that can be held like a proper pizza slice once cooked. They always turn soggy. In fact, you might as well be putting the toppings on top of cardboard.

The last time I tried to make GF pizza dough was a complete failure. Largely due to the fact that I forgot to add xanthan gum in as the gluten replacement, it also probably had something to do with me not activating the yeast. But the recipe I was following mentioned nothing about that, so I maintain that it’s not my fault 🙂

Faced with the dilemma of a pizza craving and no reliable way to satisfy it, I began to formulate a recipe on our drive home. Often after making scones, I would think to myself that they weren’t far off being a slightly breadish pizza base. So that is where I started my planning. When we got home, I researched pizza recipes (gluten free and normal) as well as yeast, which is where I discovered that you had to activate it… duh! Thank goodness for the internet!

So, I give to all of you my…

FODMAP Friendly and Gluten Free Pizza Base

Makes two approx 12″ pizza bases.

  • 3 cups GF plain flour
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal (for the colour and a little flavour interest)
  • 2 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. castor sugar/dextrose
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 eggs

Activate the yeast in 1 cup warm water/dextrose mixture (I used 1/4 cup boiling mixed with 3/4 cup tap – you should be able to comfortably hold your finger in there). Let it sit for 10 minutes and allow it to build a foam. If it doesn’t, either the yeast might be too old or the water was too hot and damaged it. You can see the before and after shots below.

GF Pizza

Pour all of the dry ingredients, into the bowl of your stand mixer and blend them thoroughly for 2-3 minutes on a low speed.

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Pour in the activated yeast and blend thoroughly on a slow speed for 2-3 minutes, until it resembles bread crumbs.

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Add in the wet ingredients and mix on a slow speed, then a medium speed, until well combined. Tinker with flour and water as necessary to reach the elastic texture required of pizza dough.

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Place the dough in a warmish location, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise for 2-3 hours. I only had time for two hours, it definitely rose – before and after shots below – but not by as much as normal pizza dough does when I’ve made that. However, our kitchen was quite cold today, which was very out of character but I’m sure it contributed.

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Next, go to town kneading that dough. This is where I let Evgeny step in; he was punching, throwing/catching and smooshing it until it really did resemble real pizza dough! Exciting! This took between 5 to 10 minutes.

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Split your dough in two and press into two greased pizza pans/fry pans/biscuit trays or anything that can take a round shape and is oven safe. Stab some holes in there for good measure.

I love our cast iron skillets, you can make stir fry, pizza, bread and even cakes in them! Multifunctional cookware is great, especially for our tiny kitchen. Sorry, back to the recipe…

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Dress your pizza up however you’d like it. I used a tomato based pizza sauce (recipe at the bottom of this page), basil leaves (which should have gone under the cheese), cheese and sliced tomato. I was really testing out my stomach tonight – I’ve had new-found reflux issues over the last month… oh joy.

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Bake for 40 minutes at 190 C/375 F. If you can’t fit both pans on the one shelf, swap them halfway through baking. If you have a fan-forced oven, maybe this isn’t necessary? Our oven is pretty ancient so I can’t help you with that one, sorry.

And voila!

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PIZZA YOU CAN HOLD! FINGER FOOD IS BACK!

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But we were civilised and used plates 🙂

It got a “not bad” – think tone of disbelief – from Ev and he is pretty hard to please/can still eat wheat 🙂 I definitely enjoyed it.

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If you try this, please let me know how it turns out and if you can suggest any improvements.

Pizza Sauce

  • 1 x 340 g/12 oz can tomato puree (or diced tomatoes that you can blend into puree)
  • 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (optional)

Combine the above, bring to the boil and let simmer for 20 minutes to half an hour. Stir thoroughly to recombine ingredients before using on your pizza base. Go back to following the steps above.

Of course, if too much tomato is a trigger for your FM you don’t have to use a traditional pizza sauce. Try a basil pesto sauce or even some infused olive oil after blind baking the pizza a little; I’ve even heard of cream based sauces being used as a pizza sauce but I’m not sure I’d enjoy that very much… you might, though!

How To Preserve Acidic Foods

Making your own preserves can be both rewarding and fun. Doubly rewarding, really, because if you buy your produce in season, it is generally much cheaper than buying a pre-preserved version later on.

Example: I paid $5 for 1.8 kg/4 lb of strawberries and ended up with 10 half pint/240 ml jars of jam… Each jar was about 50 cents but they can also be re-used. $10 for ten jars of jam? Yes please! And what’s better is you can dictate how much sugar, if any, that you add.

How you handle the preserving of different foods depends on their acidity, which helps to protect them from developing bacteria:

  • Acidic foods, like tomatoes and strawberries, need to be “processed” (boiled) for 10-15 minutes and then left to cool completely over night.
  • Non-acidic foods must be pressure-canned to really super-heat the contents of the jar and thoroughly eliminate any nasties that might be present because they don’t have the innate defense of acidic foods. I will go into more detail on non-acidic foods here.

The following will outline the steps required to safely preserve acidic foods, which if followed correctly should be safe for up to 12 months. However, be smart about it. If, in a few months time you open the jar and it looks/smells off – don’t eat it.

How to Preserve Acidic Foods

Equipment required:

  • Canning jars and lids
  • Ingredients
  • Large saucepan, small saucepan, pot to prepare filling
  • Wide-mouthed funnel
  • Non-metal spatula
  • Jar tongs
  • Jar wrench
  • Magnet
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Jar tongs, tongs, wrench, magnet, spatula with incremental measurements, wide-mouthed funnel

Place jars in a large saucepan with a stand in the bottom (to keep them raised off the base) and fill with water so that they are immersed. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer to await whatever filling you are preserving.

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Place the lids in a separate saucepan and simmer. This will both sterilise them and soften the sealant that is around the rim. If you are using store bought canning jars that come with lids and rings, you only need to sterilise the lids, not the rings.

Prepare your filling; examples include strawberry jam, raspberry puree, cranberry sauce or tomato puree/sauce. Make sure you keep it hot.

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Using the jar tongs and wrench to manipulate the hot glassware, remove each jar from the boiling water and empty it. Fill each jar using the wide-mouthed funnel, leaving 2 cm between the filling and the mouth of the jar. Sterilise the spatula for 2 minutes in boiling water, then use it to remove any air bubbles from the jars by scraping the inside edges.

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Wipe the jar rim and place on the lid, then the ring and tighten – only use your hands to do this, do not over-tighten the ring with any implement.

Replace the jars in the simmering water, ensuring they are fully submerged by about 4-5 cm. Bring to the boil and process for 10-15 minutes to kill off any remaining bacteria that might be present.

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More water must be added to submerge these jars before processing

Let the water stop boiling and the jars sit for 10 minutes further to let the glass cool slowly, then use the jar tongs to remove each jar and place them on a cooling rack. Dry the metal lids/rings to prevent rust and leave them to sit for 12 hours at least. After this time, test each seal with the magnet; if it pops up then either re-process or refrigerate/freeze the jar immediately. Refrigerated jars should be used within 2-3 weeks of opening.

* There is nothing preventing you being doubly certain about killing bacteria and pressure-canning acidic foods instead of water-bath canning them – you can do this, but the colours will not be as bright in the end.