The Guide to FODMAP Friendly Sugars and Sweeteners

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The Ultimate Guacamole – Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free & Vegan

The Ultimate Guacamole - low FODMAP, fructose friendly, gluten free, vegan, ibs, irritable bowel syndrome, healthy, low carb, healthy fats

Guacamole is one of my favourite things in the world. creamy yet chunky, soft and full of plant-powered nutrition and flavour, it’s a win-win-win in my book. Luckily for me (and I really don’t mean to gloat), I flew through the sorbitol challenge with flying colours instead of flying to the loo and I can consume reasonable amounts of avocado without issue, which is good, because 1/4 of an avo contains about 8% of your daily folate requirements, as well as good amounts of vitamins B2, B5, B6, C, E and phosphorous and magnesium. See below for avocado’s FODMAP information.

Now, I realise that the claim to the ultimate guacamole is pretty extreme but this, to me, is the best way to make it. This is not the awful stuff you peel the lid off from the supermarket, this is fresh avo mixed with other flavours like tomato and lime to play on your taste buds. The bonus of adding in the tomato is that, besides tasting great, it also allows you to spread (pun intended) the avocados further, which is important when you live in Seattle and the decent avocados cost an arm and a leg. It works well with breads, chicken, corn chips or veggie sticks; and don’t you dare think of skimping on the corn chips. Go hard or go home.

So, the next time you have an impromptu gathering and/or need an entree (“appetiser,” in US lingo) in an instant, give this guac a whirl. The only downside is you won’t have leftovers. Unless you make yourself a secret batch for later. Do it.

FODMAP Notes

  1. Avocados are considered low FODMAP in 1/8 fruit servings, any more and sorbitol might be an issue. If you are okay with consuming more sorbitol but are sensitive to fructose, keep in mind that sorbitol can inhibit the co-transport method by which fructose malabsorbers absorb most of their fructose. Don’t go nuts, figure out the balance that works for you.
  2. Tomatoes are FODMAP friendly in 1/2 cup servings, the amount called for in this recipe once split into the eight servings would be safe.
  3. Garlic infused olive oil is free of fructans, as FOS are water soluble, thus do not seep into the fatty oil. I really like Nicer Food’s garlic infused olive oils, available here.
  4. Limes are a low FODMAP fruit.
  5. Corn chips are low FODMAP and gluten free, as long as they’re not seasoned with anything high FODMAP.

The Ultimate Guacamole

Serves 16 FODMAPers – of course, you can eat more if you tolerate it.

  • 2 large, ripe avocados
  • 1 cup (200 g) diced vine ripened or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. garlic infused olive oil
  • Juice of 1 medium lime
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: 1-2 tbsp. minced chives or coriander leaves (cilantro)

Mash (don’t whip, then it’s like baby food) the avo’s  until 75% smooth, then add in the diced tomatoes, lime juice, garlic oil and salt. Mix through and tinker with more oil – if required for texture – and salt if needed. Cover it, with the stone in the bowl, until you want to serve it. For best results, don’t make it more than a couple of hours ahead of time.

It’s that simple. You’re done. Go and have a (low FODMAP) beer while you wait for your friends to arrive. To serve, I like to surround the small bowl of guac with my favourite corn chips.

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Peach Crumble – Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free & Vegan

Peach Crumble - Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free & Vegan

I thank my lucky stars quite often that polyols don’t seem to affect me. Avocados, blackberries, peaches… I can still eat them all in reasonable amounts without making myself sick. I think I’ve had to give up enough, without resorting to cutting out those, as well. Of course, I realise that others have had to cut out much more than I – one of the reasons that I am so thankful. No matter how bad you or I may have it, someone else is always worse off.

This peach crumble came about because it’s summer, peaches are in season, I needed a dessert that I could make ahead of time and forget about, and peaches are delicious! A little prep work the day before you need this dessert and you can keep it in the fridge until 45 minutes before you need to bake it (your baking dish, if glass or ceramic, will need time to get back to room temperature before baking or you’ll most likely have a shattered crumble on your hands).

Also, I apologise for the grainy photos, I was using my phone camera.

Notes:

  1. All peaches contain sorbitol in large enough amounts to be considered high FODMAP (according to Monash University) but Clingstone and Yellow peaches are low in FOS, GOS and fructose in servings of one peach. White peaches, on the other hand, contain enough FOS to get a high rating for that FODMAP, as well as sorbitol, in servings of one peach. So, if you only have issues fructans, Clingstone and Yellow peaches are safe; if you have issues with sorbitol, peaches are not advised. I would stick to one slice of this crumble, so as not to over-do the fruit portion of your FODMAP bucket.
  2. Almonds are considered low FODMAP in servings of 10 nuts and high in GOS in servings of 20 nuts. The crumble topping in a single serve of pie doesn’t contain that many almonds, so should be safe – unless of course you have separate issues to almonds.
  3. Desiccated coconut is considered low FODMAP in servings of 1/4 cup and a moderate rating (overall) in servings of 1/2 cup; any more than that and sorbitol becomes an issue.
  4. Pure maple syrup is low FODMAP, watch out for any added ingredients that may cause digestive issues, such as polyols.
  5. This crumble is low in excess fructose, fructans/FOS, GOS, mannitol and lactose. It is not low in sorbitol.

Peach Crumble

Serves 10.

Fruit Filling

  • 6 large ripe peaches (yellow or cling)
  • 1/4 cup castor sugar or 1/3 cup dextrose
  • 1 tbsp. potato or corn starch
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Crumble Topping

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

To peel the peaches, score four evenly spaced lines from top to bottom and place them in boiling water for 60 seconds, then strain them and dunk them into an ice bath for a further 60 seconds; the skins should peel right off. If all else fails, use a peeler.

Dice the peaches into bite-sized chunks (approx. 1.5-2 cm) and mix through the rest of the fruit filling ingredients, until well combined; dump the lot into a pie dish.

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To make the crumble topping, mix all the ingredients together, either by hand or in your food processor, until they begin to clump together. Easy! Cover the fruit evenly with the crumble mix and you’re ready to bake or store the pie before baking.

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When you are ready to bake it, pre-heat your oven to 180 C/350 F and bake the crumble for 55-60 minutes, when the peaches should have cooked until soft and the topping browned nicely. If you notice that the crumble is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a sheet of foil to prevent further browning.

If I am serving this as a hot dessert at a dinner party, I put it in the oven as dinner is served, so we have an hour to eat dinner and digest/chat before the crumble is ready to eat. Serve with vanilla ice cream (vegan or lactose free if required), vanilla bean custard, coconut yoghurt (vegan) or plain Greek yoghurt. Enjoy!

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The FODMAP content of coconut-based products

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Is coconut high in FODMAPs? There is so much confusion out there, even now.

Many websites still say that coconut is indeed high in FODMAPs – according to www.lowfodmap.com this is “pre-2010” research – while others say no. Throw in all of us having our say and clogging up the airwaves of peer-reviewed research with personal complaints about symptomatic foods and no wonder people are confused. We’re all guilty of it. In fact, I’m planning to have a little whinge later on… but hopefully what I write first will help to clear things up.

Coconut Products

Coconut Flesh is the white layer of the fruit, just inside the husk. It is comprised of cellular layers of endosperm that deposit throughout the fruit’s development. It can be eaten fresh, desiccated or toasted, among other ways.

  • FODMAP rating (fresh) – low in 1 cup serves.
  • FODMAP rating (Desiccated/dry and unsweetened) – low in 1/4 cup serves, 1/2 cup serves contain moderate amounts of the polyol sorbitol.

Coconut Milk or Cream is made when you process the coconut flesh with water and strain it. Less water gives a thicker cream, more water produces a thinner milk.

  • FODMAP rating (milk) – low in 1/2 cup serves.

Coconut Oil is typically extracted by cold-pressing coconut flesh. As it is an oil, it contains no carbs, so it is low FODMAP.

  • FODMAP rating – low/safe.

Coconut Sugar is made from the sap of the coconut palm. Monash has not tested it, but it is reportedly high in inulin, a type of fructo-oligosaccharide, so it should be consumed with caution after the elimination period is over. For more information, read this post about sugars and sweeteners suitable for the low FODMAP diet.

  • FODMAP rating – unknown.

Coconut Water is what pours out of the coconut when you pierce it. It contains 6.0 g of “sugars” per cup of liquid. It is quite refreshing and contains many vitamins and minerals, however, it does contain varying amounts of different FODMAPs.

  • FODMAP rating – 100 ml is low FODMAP, 250 ml is high in the sorbitol and contains moderate amounts of oligosaccharides.

The Research

In an attempt to make sense of all the conflicting information available, I tabulated all the weight estimates of sugars in coconut that I could find, as well as Monash University’s more recent additions. There weren’t too many that were reputable sources – most were health websites spouting who knows what – and of those that seemed reliable, only one broke the sugars down into their different types.

I used a few sources to create the following table, from which it appears that coconut in unsweetened forms is in fact a safe food in terms of fructose, with fructose not in excess of glucose, which has more recently been backed up by Monash University. Fructans were never mentioned, until very recently; they seem to only be an issue in coconut water. The polyol sorbitol comes into play in coconut flesh. Monash doesn’t release the exact grams of a FODMAP per 100 g, though it does use the traffic light system to visually represent a food’s safety.

Those who are malabsorb fructose should still monitor their coconut intake, as over consumption of the polyol sorbitol can further inhibit fructose absorption in the small intestine, leading to increased symptoms of fruct mal/IBS. This is important to note even if you aren’t sensitive to sorbitol alone.

Coconut Table of FODMAP Content

My Whinge

I can eat a moderate amount of unsweetened coconut flesh in its fresh or desiccated form and not have a reaction. I haven’t tested a large amount of the flesh before, mostly because I haven’t come across a situation in which I would want/need to gorge myself on coconut. My situation with coconut flesh seems to fit with Monash University’s research (link above) that lists a moderate amount of coconut flesh as low FODMAP. As for coconut water, as long as it’s not mixed with anything I can’t have, then I can drink 200 ml without issue, though I don’t do it often, as it’s expensive!

Coconut milk/cream is low FODMAP in serving sizes up to 1/2 cup, at which point sorbitol becomes an issue, for those that malabsorb it – I do not. Coconut cream is made by processing the flesh in a blender – the more water you add, the thinner it will become and you will eventually reach “milk.”

Here is my problem with coconut milk: I get stomach aches within an hour of consuming it but the low fat version doesn’t affect me. I have no idea why. I am not sensitive to sorbitol (blackberries, cherries) but full cream coconut milk makes me double over. The Finish Food Composition Database also lists coconut milk as having 1:1 glucose and fructose, so it shouldn’t set off fructose malabsorbers unless you have enough to overwhelm the co-transport system, which at lot. Maybe there are fructans present? Who knows. I would like to.

If anyone out there has a theory about coconut milk, I’d love to hear it. I’m currently about to test freshly made coconut cream, to see if it is potentially the canning process, or perhaps the can lining, that is causing my symptoms. Or maybe it’s the higher fat content rather than the saccharides present.

UPDATE: A bout of gastritis last year led me to see a nutritionist, who diagnosed me with low stomach acid. After being put on a vitamin, mineral and probiotic regimen for 6 months, my stomach acid levels have increased and my ability to digest fatty and high protein foods has improved dramatically, so I can now tolerate 1/2 cup of full fat coconut cream; I haven’t eaten any more, as it’s so calorie dense and filling I haven’t needed or wanted to. Thanks, Sharon! I promise to write more about this at some point!

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I’m not a dietitian and I didn’t participate in any of the research, so I’m not in a place to judge whether coconut is or isn’t low FODMAP – however, Monash University is a reputable source, who’s reports fit with the Finish Food Composition Database’s list of carbohydrates that are present in coconut.

What have your experiences with coconut flesh and cream/milk been?

Title image credit to: http://pixabay.com/en/users/Lebensmittelfotos-13/