FODMAP Friendly and Gluten Free Plain Flour Blend

FODMAP Friendly and Gluten Free Plain Flour Blend

After telling myself for the last two months that I would attempt to make my own gluten free flour blend – and then putting it off because every time I baked it seemed to be for an event and I didn’t want to serve up a gluten free disaster – I bit the bullet and bought some individual flours.

It was actually quite spontaneous, as I had gone to the supermarket for ice cream ingredients and to replace the dismal biodegradable dishwashing detergent (Planet brand, FYI) for the better performing 7th Generation brand, and I was on my way to grab some bananas as I passed the health food section and the Bob’s Red Mill display caught my eye.

While I can’t stand their gluten free all purpose flour blend (bean flours, gross), I do like their individual flours, some of which are reasonably priced. I whipped out my phone and did a quick search for “make your own gluten free flour blend” and the Gluten Free Girl’s post on making your own plain flour blend popped up. I didn’t watch the video in the middle of the supermarket – I’m not that weird – but the text gives their ingredients, as well as listing different flours in classes:

  • Whole grain – brown rice, sorghum, millet, buckwheat, oat etc.
  • White flours and starches – white rice, tapioca, potato etc.
  • Nut – almond, coconut etc.
  • Bean – chickpea/garbanzo, fava etc.

The complete lists are on her website, and information is available on many other websites and articles about the specific flours. But the idea is that you need to replicate both the protein and starch content of wheat flour to succeed in gluten free baking. By following her guidelines of 40% whole grain flour blended with 60% white flour/starches, I subbed in flours that were both available to me at the time and that wouldn’t break the bank (the purpose of this venture being to save money), then experimented with recipes that had worked well for me previously with King Arthur’s GF flour blend.

I found that the mix the Gluten Free Girl recommends was a little too heavy for light baked goods like cakes and scones but it worked well in pastries. I will post my version of her recommended blend as another recipe – Low FODMAP and Gluten Free Wholemeal Flour. The specific  blend I ended up using is somewhere between the Gluten Free Girl’s recommendation and King Arthur’s GF flour blend, which is my favourite pre-made blend available in Seattle.

King Arthur GF flour goes for around $7/lb ($15.4/kg) on average – depending on the supermarket you go to. I buy spelt flour (which is NOT gluten free but can be made low FODMAP via fermentation) online for between $2.50-3/lb ($5.5-6.6/kg), which I think is reasonable, as a good wheat flour will cost almost that much, in Seattle at least. I can tolerate non-sourdough spelt products in small amounts but I don’t want to overdo it and end up reacting to it as well as wheat – it’s a sometimes food for me. So I still need a gluten free flour that performs well and falls within a certain price point. I would have been happy with under $4/lb ($8.8/kg) but I got this flour blend for around $2/lb ($4.4/kg)! That’s SO much cheaper than I had hoped for, and back in line with regular wheat flour’s price point.

Anyway, this flour blend produced fluffy, moist and delicious banana nut muffins and carrot cake without any funny textures or bad tastes (bean flour, ugh, I can’t emphasise that enough). Next stop, testing it out on a pastry recipe!

FODMAP Notes

  1. Brown rice is a contentious issue in the FODMAP world but Monash has it listed as low FODMAP (green light) in up to 1 cup servings, which, given it is only 20% of this flour blend and that you are unlikely to eat 5 cups of this flour, I think it’s safe.
  2. If you can’t tolerate brown rice flour, then buckwheat flour is a good alternative.
  3. Potato starch is different to potato flour. It is the starch of, rather than a milled potato (just as corn meal/flour and corn starch are different, even though in Australia corn starch is called cornflour – on this issue, I will admit we are wrong).
  4. White rice is low FODMAP in 1 cup servings.
  5. I do not include xanthan gum in this blend because I like to add that in separately for each recipe, adjusting the amounts based on whether it is a cake, biscuit/cookie, or more of a bread/dough.

FODMAP Friendly Plain Flour Blend

  • 400 g potato starch
  • 400 g white rice flour
  • 200 g brown rice flour (replace with buckwheat if you can’t tolerate brown rice)

It really couldn’t be easier. Weigh each of the flours out and then mix them thoroughly, either by hand or with your stand mixer on a low speed with either the whisk or paddle attachment. Use either your stand mixer – which would ultimately do a much better job – and let it mix on the “stir” speed for 5 minutes.

You could also weigh everything together into a container, close the lid and shake to mix thoroughly – but you will have to shake it for a while. I have tried this before and it’s a lot less reliable, as I don’t feel it mixes as well.

FODMAP Friendly Flour

Usage

To use this flour as a cup for cup replacement of wheat flour, you will need to add in xanthan gum, or a chia gel (1 tbsp. chia meal mixed into 1 tbsp. water). I didn’t add xanthan gum into the flour blend because the amount that I add to baked goods depends on what I am baking.

This is a general guide, taken from the Bob’s Red Mill xanthan gum packet. I don’t always follow this exactly, as I don’t like the way that too much xanthan gum binds up a cake and makes it chewy.

  • Biscuits/cookies – 1/4 tsp xanthan gum per cup flour
  • Cakes – 1/2 tsp per cup flour
  • Muffins/quick breads – 3/4 tsp per cup flour
  • Breads – 1 to 1 1/2 tsp per cup flour
  • Pastry/doughs – 2 tsp per cup flour

This blend is a “plain” or “all purpose” flour. Some recipes require a leavening agent, such as baking powder or bicarb soda, to allow the batter to rise. In this case, add the required leavening agent in at the time of baking, not into the flour blend when you first make it. This is because not all recipes want or need such additives – you wouldn’t want crepes that get fluffy!

Storage

Store your flour blend in an air tight container and then boast to your friends the next time they scoff at expensive gluten free baking is that, actually, you mix your own flours and don’t pay much more than they do. Give them a nice, big grin as you do it.

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Pan Fried Tofu with Chili Marinade and Stir Fried Vegetables – Low FODMAP & Gluten Free

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One of Ev’s and my favourite restaurants is a Szechuan place about a 5 minute walk from our apartment. It’s dangerously close, so our rule is that we can’t buy dinner more than once a week. It’s right next to the sushi restaurant that we used to spend all our money at… for all our neighbourhood could never be described as the most desirable one out there, it is not lacking in cultural diversity, which makes for a great selection of restaurants… I just wish I could eat at more of them! But if I’m careful then it’s normally doable – I just need to research the menus beforehand.

One of the best meals we’re had at this restaurant is the “choose your meat and tofu dry pot;” They even let us do a “tofu and tofu” dry pot, though it’s not on the menu and we got a few confused looks. About a month ago we decided to replicate this meal at home, or at least try to. It worked out quite well, so we’ll definitely be making it again.

FODMAP Notes

  1. Tofu, while made from soy beans, mainly contains the proteins, so most fruct mals can tolerate a moderate serving of it. Make sure you only buy firm tofu, not silken tofu, which hasn’t been strained and is higher in the FODMAP galactans.
  2. Both chili paste and oil can sometimes contain garlic – make sure you read the labels and choose one without.
  3. The stir fry veggies that are shown below contain onion (Ev doesn’t have fruct mal); however it’s in such big chunks that it’s easy to pick out. This is fine for me, as I know my limits. If you are still on elimination, or are very sensitive to onion, do not cook with it in the pot to the end, as FODMAPs are water soluble and, if you do not stir fry properly (high heat, very fast) then water will leech out from the veggies, including fructans from the onion.
  4. Chinese five spice powder is low FODMAP in 1 tsp. serves, which is fine, because you normally don’t need more than that through an entire recipe.
  5. Garlic infused oil is FODMAP friendly.
  6. Sesame seeds are low FODMAP.

Pan Fried Tofu with Chili Marinade

Serves 3-4

  • 2 cups extra firm tofu
  • 1 1/2 cup soy sauce/tamari
  • 1/4 cup chili paste
  • 1/4 cup chili oil, make sure you get a good amount of seeds in there if you like it spicy
  • 1 tsp. 5 spice powder – see above
  • 1-2 tsp. of garlic infused olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

About an hour and a half before you want to eat the tofu, slice them as shown and place them sandwiched between two chopping boards with paper towel in between, so that the layers go: chopping board, paper towel, tofu, paper towel, chopping board. Place a weight on top, it shouldn’t be more than a kilo. Leave the tofu like this for 20 minutes, so that as much of the liquid inside is squeezed out as possible. This allows it to soak up as much of the marinade as possible in the next step.

While you’re waiting, mix the soy sauce, chili oil, 5 spice powder and garlic infused oil together in a tall/narrow container and set aside. When the 20 minutes is up, carefully place each of the tofu slices in the marinade container, ensuring that they are fully covered, and leave it to soak up all the flavours for another half an hour. While this is marinading, wash the rice and prepare the vegetables for the stir fry listed below.

Once the marinading process is complete, remove the tofu and pat them down/wipe off as many seeds etc as you can. Seal a fry pan and pan fry the tofu over a medium-high heat for about 3-4 minutes a side, until they are slightly crispy. Serve with a garnish of the toasted sesame seeds and dried red chili peppers.

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Stir Fried Vegetables and Chinese 5 Spice Rice

Serves 3-4

  • 4 cups of vegetables suitable for stir frying, such as julienned carrots, sliced zucchini, red capsicum etc – basically 1 cup per person
  • The left over marinade from the tofu dish above, with the garlic picked out if necessary
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked Basmati rice, washed
  • 1-2 tsp. five spice powder – see “notes” above

Cook the rice according to these instructions, stirring in the 2 tsp. of 5 spice powder (bought or homemade with the recipe above in “notes”) before you bring it to the boil. This cooking process takes 30 minutes from the time you have finished washing the rice and it has come to the boil, so make sure you time it so that the individual dishes are done as close together as possible.

Stir fry the vegetables over a high heat for a minute (you want them still slightly crunch) before adding in the leftover marinade from the tofu dish. Keep on the heat for another 30 seconds or so to heat the sauce through properly and then transfer to a serving dish.

The best way to time this dish is to wash the rice and start its cooking process before you begin to pan fry the tofu, due to the time the rice requires to cook as well as the tofu requiring more attention. The stir fried veggies only take 5 minutes at the most to cook and plate, so they should be done last. If you need a more in-depth description of how to stir fry vegetables, then look at this recipe.

If you like spiced and spicy foods, then this is the dish for you. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

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Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry with a Chili Sauce – FODMAPs, Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

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The following recipe is quick and easy, and uses a simple chili sauce to give the flavours a little oomph. The first time we made it was early on in Ev’s stint as a vegetarian, and we boiled (for 10 minutes) and cut up two corn cobs into 2 inch chunks before stir frying them with the rest of the veggies. He coined the phrase “vegetarian ribs” for the corn cobettes and it has stuck.

For this post I omitted the corn – as I know that many of you following a low FODMAPs diet have issues with it unless it is in meal or starch form – and replaced it with the tofu. If you want to add the corn back in, rather than/as well as the tofu, then feel free.

Notes:

  1. If you use castor sugar, 4 tbsp. should be plenty. Dextrose is less sweet than sucrose, so you might need to add a little more to taste.
  2. You can play around with ratios in this sauce, as in any sauce, to make the flavour combinations you prefer best.
  3. If you wish to try the original version I mentioned, with sweet corn on the cob, please be aware that sweet corn contains polyols, so it might trigger your FM symptoms.

Simple Stir Fry

Serves 2 adults.

Chili Sauce

  • 6 tbsp. GF soy sauce
  • 6 tbsp. rice wine
  • 4 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp. chili paste sans onions/garlic
  • 4 tbsp. castor sugar/dextrose – to taste
  • 1″ freshly minced ginger – approx. 2 tsp.
  • 2 tsp. corn starch

Other Ingredients

  • 1 cup extra firm tofu
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 1 small head bok choy
  • 2/3 cup uncooked white rice

Firstly, place all your sauce ingredients in a jar – with a well fitting lid – and shake until they are combined. This might take a little effort to combine the cornstarch properly – I find that adding the cornstarch into the half of the soy sauce and stirring vigorously, before any of the other ingredients are added in, is a faster process.

Begin cooking your rice as per the instructions on this page. You can use a rice cooker if you have one – we have had rotten luck with rice cookers and the best rice we have made has only been since our rice cooker died 2 years ago. This cooking process takes 30 minutes, so get it going early to avoid a delay later on.

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Now that your rice has started cooking, dice the zucchini, capsicum and the tofu into 1 inch chunks, and julienne the carrots so that they are appropriate for chop stick use. Slice the bok choy so that you separate the stalk from the leaves. Dice the stalks into 1 inch chunks and the leaves into strips. Sit them aside. You should begin the process of cooking the tofu/veggies when the rice only has 10 minutes left, otherwise you will have either cold rice and hot vegetables, or vice versa.

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Seal a saucepan (or a wok if you have one) with olive oil and quickly sear the vegetables over a high heat. Stir frying is all about cooking quickly over a high heat, rather than stewing slowly over a lower heat.

After a minute, add in the chili sauce and tofu continue to cook for another minute, slowly folding the sauce and tofu through – tofu requires gentle handling and it shouldn’t take long to begin to thicken, once the heat activates the cornstarch. Once you see it thickening, remove the dish from the heat and add in the bok choy leaves, mixing through.

If you have timed it correctly, the rice should also be done. Perfect! If your vegetables are a little too well done – i.e. they don’t retain much of a crunch – then don’t worry. It can take a little practice to get this right and not be worried about the veggies not being fully heated through. Mine still don’t turn out perfectly every time, so stress less. Practice makes perfect, even for something as simple as stir frying veggies.

If you want the sauce to be much thicker, then pre-thickening it in a small sauce pan would be the way to go. Bring it to the boil and simmer until it visibly thickens, before removing it from the heat and setting it aside to wait for the veggies.

You have a couple of options for serving:

  1. Pour the vegetable and tofu mix into a serving dish and give everybody a serving of rice in a bowl. People can then take what they want with their chop sticks – this prevents the rice from getting soggy if too much sauce soaks in.
  2. Place a serving of rice in a bowl and top with vegetables/tofu. Just make sure you don’t let too much extra sauce go in or the rice will get too mushy for easy chop-sticking.

You can see I chose option #2, because I was photographing it – we normally would go with option #1.

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Ryce Bread – Lower Fructans but NOT Gluten Free

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My quest to create fructose friendly crumpets this week was delayed after Evgeny requested that I make him some fresh bread; wheat, seeing as he can eat it. I agreed but I thought why on Earth am I making him bread I can’t eat more than one tiny mouthful of? So I decided to  attempt the next phase of my fructose friendly – at least for me – bread at the same time. Why clean the kitchen twice, right?

I used the Virtuous Bread 100% Rye Bread recipe as a starting point and knew that I wanted to substitute half of the flour for a non-rye, non-wheat flour, to achieve a lighter loaf with less fructans in it than full rye. I chose white rice flour, as I wanted this to be easy for anyone to replicate and GF flour blends can be so different that they don’t reliably perform in the same way. By choosing a single type of flour that you could buy, rather than a brand of gluten free flour, I hope I have done this.

As to adding the gluten powder (which I had found a week earlier at the supermarket, with something like this bread in mind), I had to make an educated guess that luckily worked out. I couldn’t find relevant instructions anywhere on adding gluten to gluten free flours, because who would be crazy enough to do that?! Too little gluten and bread will crumble – we’ve all had to deal with structurally inadequate gluten free bread; too much and the bread will be very dense and won’t rise. I knew I had to add more than the general rule of 1 tbsp./2 cups of flour, because half of my flour didn’t have any gluten at all. Luckily my “guesstimate” paid off, because the bread rose well and was moist, not crumbly.

For a fantastically detailed look into bread making, watch this video of Alton Brown’s Good Eats bread episode, Dr. Strangeloaf. While it is talking about wheat bread, I like the science he brings to his baking and I was able to use much of his information to make this bread. One example is the use of cooler water – this lets the yeast ferment the carbohydrates at a much slower rate, giving the gluten present a chance to develop enough to successfully “catch” the gas, which generates more fluff in the bread.

Notes:

  1. As I have mentioned before, studies show that rye flour contains more fructans than wheat but evidence suggests that the chains are longer, thus taking longer to ferment. It is generally less of an irritant than wheat to those with FM, although many still cannot tolerate it. I am lucky enough to be able to tolerate a small serving of 100% rye. I suppose I should explicitly say that this won’t be tolerated by everyone but if you want to try it, or know that you are okay with rye, then go ahead.
  2. Rye is not gluten free, so neither is this recipe – especially as I have added vital wheat gluten. If you have issues with gluten specifically, this bread is not for you.
  3. Rye flour requires more water/hydration than wheat flour, and the dough it will make tends to be stickier and requires less kneading than wheat flour. Rye is easier to over knead than wheat flour, so it requires gentler handling. However, I added wheat gluten to this recipe – while I did knead it less than I did the wheat loaf that I made Evgeny, I kneaded it more than the 100% rye loaf I had previously made.
  4. Some with FM cannot tolerate brown rice flour, so make sure you use white rice flour if you are one of those. At any rate, I used white rice flour in this bread and I don’t know if brown rice flour would replicate the results.
  5. The IBS dietitian Patsy Catsos mentions – on her website – that vital wheat gluten isn’t recommended during the elimination/testing phase but after that it could be beneficial in your baking. As long as you’re not gluten intolerant, of course.

Ryce Bread

  • 300 g white rice flour
  • 300 g whole meal rye flour – or light rye
  • 2 cups/500 ml room temperature water
  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/3 cup flax seeds – optional
  • 3 g dry instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp. castor sugar/dextrose
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • Extra flour to dust surfaces for kneading
  • 1 tbsp. corn starch mixed in 1/4 cup water

Combine the white rice flour, rye flour and vital wheat gluten in the bowl of your stand mixer and combine thoroughly with the dough hook for a good minute. Once done, add in the flax seeds, salt and instant yeast and mix for another minute.

Meanwhile, add the sugar to the water and stir until combined. This shouldn’t take long. Once done, add it slowly to the dry ingredients while the dough hook is still turning. You don’t want the dough to be swimming in water but it won’t look like normal wheat dough, either. It will be tacky – i.e. stick to your fingers if you haven’t floured them – but because we have added the gluten, it will have a lot more structure than 100% rye. Use the mixer to knead it for 5 or so minutes on a medium speed.

It is difficult to explain but it should look like the dough ball directly below, minus the flour dusting from me giving it a light knead (1-2 minutes, with my hands) before I left it to rise in a lightly oiled straight sided container – it makes it easier to see how much the dough has risen. Leave your dough (covered with a tea towel) to rise for 2 hours, until it has visibly doubled in size.

After initial machine kneading

Pre-rise, in an oiled container

Once the dough has doubled in size, use your knuckles to knead it out into a flat rectangle. Hearing the gas bubbles pop is normal, although the wheat dough made more sounds than the ryce dough. Fold each outer third into the middle, like a wallet, and then repeat once more.

Let it sit for 20 minutes and then knead it again with your knuckles. Pick it up and fold the edges underneath; imagine you are creating a jelly fish or the top of a hot air balloon – if you have trouble picturing this in your head, watch the video I linked above. Once done, place it on a lightly floured surface and use your hands to roll it over the bench top without picking it up. I recommend watching the video for this step, too. I also suspect that my hands are a little too small to do this step well but that could also be a lack of skill on my behalf.

Let is rise for another hour, covered with a tea towel, on a lightly floured wooden cutting board. Below is the loaf after its second rise.

After rising, and two stages of kneading

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F and if you are using any sort of stoneware to bake the bread on, make sure it heats up with the oven or you might end up with a crack through it later on from the rapid temperature change.

Give the dough a light coating with the corn starch/water mixture to help with browning later on. Scoring the top to a depth of about 5-10 mm is not only decorative but functional as well; it gives the inner dough an escape route as it rises during baking, allowing it to expand even more, rather than become trapped inside and thus denser. Scatter a little more flour onto the chopping board, as the corn starch solution will have moistened everything and the dough won’t slide properly for the next step.

Cornstarch glaze and slices before baking

Using the wooden chopping board, first make sure the dough can slide around easily on the scattered flour and then slide it onto a pizza stone if you have one, or an upside down, unglazed 12″ terra cotta pot base if you don’t (mine cost $6 from a hardware store) that is sitting in the oven. Allow enough headroom for the dough to rise as it bakes – I need to remove the upper shelf but it isn’t really necessary, anyway.

Bake at 200 C/400 F for 40 minutes. It should be done when it sounds hollow when tapped – some people use internal temperatures but we don’t have a thermometer, so tapping it is for us. Below is the loaf, fresh out of the oven.

Ryce Bread - half each white rice flour and whole meal rye.

Let the bread cool for at least half an hour before cutting into it – don’t worry, it will still be lovely, warm and fresh. It is so delicious! I was really happy with this bread; you get enough rye flavour without the full load of fructans and – as the slices are big – I’ve eaten one slice for each of the last three days and had no issues. I would test more to see my limits but that much of any bread in one sitting isn’t good for anyone.

Hopefully some of you can tolerate it as well, if you’re willing to test it out.

I spread some of my stewed raspberries and rhubarb on it for a delicious breakfast yesterday and had some of my basil pesto on it with sliced turkey for lunch today. What will you do with your freshly baked bread?

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How to Cook Perfect Rice without a Rice Cooker

Rice is a staple in most GF/FM households. GF pastas are very handy but also more expensive and they aren’t all made equal. Buying a rice cooker was the worst mistake we ever made. Yes, it was cheap(ish) but it always burnt the rice and it was always slightly gluggy, even if you followed the water to rice ratio.

This should not fail you. Since perfecting this technique, we have not had anything but perfect, fluffy rice. WHITE rice. We haven’t perfected this for brown rice, yet. I imagine it will take more water and more time.

Step 1: Wash your rice!

In a bowl, place a measured quantity of dry rice and proceed to fill the bowl with water, swish it around and top it out until the water from the bowl runs clear. It should only take about 5 minutes, absolute max. Depending on how much rice you have, of course.

This step removes the starchy outer layer of the rice grains, which will cause your finished rice to be starchy and have a thickened coating. Not very nice.

Step 2: Boil your rice

Pour the uncooked rice into a pot and pour in water in a 1:1 ratio. Essentially, if you washed 1 cup of rice, pour 1 cup of water into the pot. Easy done.

Water and rice in a 1:1 ratio

Water and rice in a 1:1 ratio

Place the pot on the stove and put the lid on. NOW. Do not forget this or remove it inadvertently while cooking. The lid keeps all the steam in the pot, which helps with the cooking.

Bring the pot to the boil, let it simmer for 10-20 seconds and then turn it down to a low-medium setting. We turn our stove so that the dial is only a 1/4 turn from the off setting.

Set your timer for 15 minutes from the moment the water boils.

This rice has just come to the boil

This rice has just come to the boil

Step 3: Let your rice sit

As easy as it sounds. DO NOT remove the lid yet. Simply take the pot off the hot stove top and let it sit for 15 minutes (set your timer).

Step 4: Serve and enjoy

After the second 15 minute wait, your rice should be finished. You may now remove the lid! What should emerge is fluffy, soft white rice that hasn’t stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Fluffy white rice

Fluffy white rice

A side note – We have Scanpan and Raco cookware – pretty reasonable quality, not super heavy duty but definitely much better than cheap cookware – if you have lightweight, cheap cookware then I don’t know how this will affect the rice.