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This post was brought to you because Autumn.
During the winter months back at school, I happily handed over my $1.20 for an instant noodle cup in whatever flavour they had left. If you’ve ever had to wear a school uniform, they’re not that warm in winter. Tights only do so much, and the wool is itchy. Combine that with the renovations to the senior school centre that went on throughout the entirety of my senior school career – meaning we lost our common room, so had nowhere to hide from the cold – and instant noodles warmed me from the inside and out.
Nowadays I don’t have to sit outside while I eat in all seasons – thank goodness! – but that doesn’t mean that I want to say goodbye to noodle cups. Problem is, I think I can say with confidence that every instant noodle cup out there is very high in FODMAPs, even the gluten free versions.
Enter these little beauties. I got the inspiration from a post by Gluten Free on a Shoestring (love her blog) after watching Ev devour yet another pack of 2 minute noodles and decided to FODMAPify it/give it a bit of an Asian twist. I plan to try a different version soon, using a homemade stock paste… I just need to make the paste.
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Serving size: 1 tsp makes 1 cup of stock.
Measure all the ingredients into the bowl of your food processor and then blitz for 30 seconds to turn the chunky ingredients (sage, nutritional yeast, pepper flakes) into a fine powder.
Put into an airtight jar and store in a cool dark place for up to 6 months. When you wish to use it, dissolve 1 tsp. of bouillon powder in 1 cup of boiling water.
Serves 1 (multiply for more servings).
You will need one heat proof, seal-able container capable of holding 2 cups (500 ml) of fluid.
In a small bowl, mix the miso paste, chili sauce and infused oils together, then spread them along the bottom of your jar.
Layer the rest of the ingredients as follows: bok choy, carrots, sweet corn, vermicelli (or other) noodles, bouillon powder, your choice of protein, coriander leaves, green chive tips and finally the wedge of lime. You might need to press them into the jar to fit properly but don’t worry, the hot water will shrink them down later.
Put the lid on and store in the fridge until required. For work/school lunches, make enough for the week and they’ll last in the fridge just fine.
When you’re ready to enjoy them, simply boil your kettle and pour 1 1/2 – 2 cups of piping hot water into the jar (depending on how soupy you like it), place the lid on and wait for a couple of minutes. It’s that simple. Enjoy – and make all your coworkers jealous.
A few days ago I had a brain wave. It started off with me getting really annoyed, as I couldn’t find a decent looking dry bouillon recipe that didn’t contain onion or garlic powder. Green leek tips are my go-to onion replacement method in most meals… why couldn’t there be a green leek tip powder?
Why couldn’t there, indeed? I just had to make it myself.
It worked beautifully in the bouillon powder and I am sure it will work just as well in any dry rubs and spice blends in the future. This method would also work for the green parts of chives/spring onions, just beware that it will probably take a lot less time and the temperature might need to be lowered – I have not done it myself, so I can’t give exact numbers.
Serving size depends on the difference between the initial amount and final amount (see notes).
Preheat your oven to 90 C/200 F.
Slice your leek where the green becomes white. The more sensitive you are to fructans, the less white you should allow to bleed into the greens you keep. Give the white bits to a neighbour, or anyone else who can use them.
Separate the leaves and wash them thoroughly. Pat dry.
Arrange them in a single layer on lined baking trays, then put into the oven. Shut the oven door – we are not truly dehydrating them here but also roasting them a little. The intensifies and adds to the flavour, both good things.
Set the timer for two hours, then check them every 15 minutes thereafter. They are ready when they are crispy and snap easily when bent.
Let them cool to room temp, then smoosh (for lack of a better term) them into your food processor and blitz until a fine powder forms. I needed to use my coffee grinder to get the fine powder you see above, as my small food processor is on its last legs.
Use as required as a substitute for onion powder, like in a low FODMAP bouillon powder or instant noodle cup. Enjoy!
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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/
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.
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!
Makes about 600 ml of sauce, depending on how firmly packed the leeks are.
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.
About a month ago, Jesse and Kate Watson of Nicer Foods contacted me and asked me if I’d like to test drive their newest product. Given how much I liked their last effort (chocolate peanut butter flavoured protein bars, mmmmmmmm…….) I of course said yes. Please realise, though, that the opinions here are my own; even though they very generously sent me a full-sized version of each of the four flavours, I was not bound to give them a good review.
Firstly, 10 points to Gryffindor – I mean Nicer Foods – for great customer service; they have always replied promptly to my enquiries and these little beauties reached me just two days after I agreed to review them, in a well padded parcel.
For the uninitiated, the low FODMAP diet restricts garlic and onion, among other foods, based on their high quantities of fermentable carbohydrates, known as fructans (or fructooligosaccharides/FOS, part of the O group), which aren’t absorbed in the small intestine, so travel on into the colon, where your resident gut flora digest them, leading to gas production, bloating, cramps and altered bowel movements. You know, exactly what you want to read about in the review of a gourmet food product. Sorry.
For the less than savoury reasons mentioned above, those following the low FODMAP diet for relief of digestive complaints will eliminate garlic and onion varieties, which for some might seem like the end of the world for their taste buds. However, luckily for us, FODMAPs are water soluble, so foods like garlic and onion can be sauteed in oil until their flavours have seeped in, leaving the fructans behind. This means that oils infused with the essences of higher FODMAP foods can impart the flavour into your meals, without the FODMAPs. Sounds great and easy enough, right? Well, the down side to this is that you really shouldn’t store your homemade infused oils; you can make them but only if you plan to use them right there and then. Botulism, a potentially fatal bacterial infection, is caused by the food-borne bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which thrives in low oxygen, alkaline, warm environments – just like infused oils.
Personally, I’m not happy to risk a case of Botulism to have the convenience of homemade infused oils lying around and, while I’m happy to throw a couple of garlic cloves into simmering oil when I’m cooking, I most likely won’t be bothered when I am making a heat-free-prep meal, like dips or salad dressings.
So, what to do? Supermarkets and websites sell varieties of infused olive oils that we can take advantage of. But what makes Nicer Foods’ infused oils stand out from the crowd? Firstly (and most importantly), they are made with the intention of being completely FODMAP friendly, so you don’t have to worry about garlic or onion “juice” getting into the oils, like you do with others. Have you ever seen the garlic infused oils on the supermarket shelves that have bits of garlic sitting at the bottom? Chances are you may react to that particular oil – depending on how sensitive your gut is. Secondly, they taste great – more on that later – and thirdly, I’d happily support a family owned start up company over a chain-brand that probably doesn’t care as much about quality control and its customers.
So, to the oils!… Which are available online for purchase at Nicer Foods’ website for a reasonable price.
Great taste, a little strong but pleasant. It works wonders as a simple salad dressing with a pinch of sea salt or as part of a cooked meal. Just beware, though, that as it’s an “extra virgin olive oil,” (EVOO) I’d keep your heat low, so don’t use it while stir frying, or simply add it in at the end of the cooking process.
I like the shallot oil so much that it has earnt it’s own pouring spout. If I had to pick, it’d be my favourite.
A pleasant and mild garlic flavour. I’ve tried store bought garlic oils before and some have had an obnoxious garlic taste but this one, thankfully, does not.
Pictured here in a green leek chimichurri sauce.
Refreshingly zingy. I like the other oils a lot, too, as the steadily emptying bottles can attest – but this one speaks to my inner baker and dessert-aholic. The flavour reminds me of a lemon biscuit (cookie) that my Gran used to buy and that I now want to replicate. I wish it came in a bigger bottle!
Herby! I love the versatility of this oil. Good quality oil – as are all the others – that can be used in a variety of ways.
All in all I can safely say that I recommend these oils. The team at Nicer Foods has done a great job. The fresh flavours, combined with no ill reactions on my behalf, and a friend’s rave review of my shallot oil/sea salt salad dressing (“That’s all that was in the dressing?!”) makes this a win-win product in my books.