Dairy-Free Diet to Low FODMAP Diet

The Fat Foodie

The Fat Foodie

Hello there!

I thought I’d add a little blog post here to update you on the progress of my dairy-free diet, or lack of progress on the dairy-free diet, which would be a more accurate description really. I went onto a dairy-free diet at the beginning of January in an attempt to try to get my IBS symptoms under control. My GP confirmed (through blood tests) a long time ago that I am allergic to dairy, so I knew that continuing to consume it wasn’t doing me any good. I figured that the continuing problem with IBS was being caused by my dairy consumption so I cut it out. With the exception of the occasional thing that I haven’t realised had milk powder in it, I’ve been dairy-free for a long while now, but the IBS remains.

A while ago I made the mistake of eating a generous portion of onion rings and was up all night ill. I’ll spare you the grisly details, but I was in a lot of discomfort to say the least. I’ve known for ages that onions were a problem for me to eat, but I’ve never really taken it seriously and have continued to use them in my cooking. However, after being ill all night I returned to bed with a cup of peppermint tea and decided that I needed to find answers as to why my body was having this reaction so frequently. At around 4am that morning I discovered the low FODMAP diet.

Monash University researchers discovered that in the majority of cases, IBS was triggered by particular types of carbohydrates called FODMAPs:

Fermentable: (In which the bacteria in your gut breaks down undigested carbohydrates to create gas)

Oligosaccharides: (which include Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) which are found in wheat, rye, onions and garlic and Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) which are found in legumes/beans and pulses)

Disaccharides: (found in lactose products, such as milk, cheese and yoghurts)

Mono-saccharide: (which is fructose, a carbohydrate found in honey, apples, and high fructose corn syrups)

and Polyols: (Sugar polyols, such as sorbitol and mannitol, which are found in some fruit and vegetables and are used as artificial sweeteners).

Now, I know that’s quite a lot of science to digest (pardon the pun), but bear with me.

I’ve mentioned before that I work in a book shop and since the beginning of the year I’ve occasionally put FODMAP diet books out on the shelves or sold them to customers, but they’ve been in such low quantities that I didn’t really take much notice of what they were or what the FODMAP diet was. Let’s be honest, there are so many diet books out there it’s unlikely that I’m going to look in depth at them all.

However, when I started looking into the low FODMAP diet in the early hours of the morning I realised that there could be something in it. Also, by that stage I was willing to give anything a try that could possibly stop my abdomen feeling like an end of season battle scene from Game of Thrones.

Essentially there are low FODMAP foods and high FODMAP foods. The low FODMAP foods contain carbohydrates which are easy for the body to digest, whereas the high FODMAP food carbohydrates cannot be digested properly and will therefore create diarrhoea and gas. Monash University suggests that under the supervision of a nutritionist you should dedicate two months to only eating low FODMAP foods. After that time period, high FODMAP foods can start to be introduced into the diet in small quantities to see how well your body can tolerate them.

I’m not doing the low FODMAP diet under a nutritionist, but I’ve been using The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet book which has been invaluable, as has The Low-FODMAP Diet Cookbook because it’s helped me discover meals that are suitable for me to eat. I’m also going to treat myself to Emma Hatcher’s book The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen Cookbook which came out at the beginning of the year and contains some amazing low FODMAP recipes. She also has her own blog She Can’t Eat What?! which has great low FODMAP recipes on it.

Monash University also have a FODMAP app that you can download which contains a brilliant explanatory guide, a comprehensive list of low and high FODMAP foods, a collection of low FODMAP recipes and a shopping list creator. I’ve found it very useful indeed. I also found this website which lists low FODMAP foods and high FODMAP foods (both of which correspond with the Monash FODMAP app at the time of writing).

My friends, at the time of writing this I’ve been on the low FODMAP diet for a week and I feel ten times better already. My constantly bloated, rumbling, painful tummy is starting to disappear, as have the painful IBS spasms that I put up with for so long. On the third day of being on the low FODMAP diet my partner woke up and said “Wow! Your stomach wasn’t making whale song noises all night long!”, to which I replied a curt, “Thanks, I think!”.

I guess the point of this post is simply to let you all know that from now on my food will continue to be dairy-free (because that’s a definite in my life now), but it’ll also be incorporating gluten-free, low FODMAP diet food too. But you can bet your bottom dollar it’ll still be damn tasty!

See you in the next blog post!

Love, Jane  XXX

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A Hearty Corned Beef Soup

 Corned Beef Soup

Corned Beef Soup by The Fat Foodie’s Mum

The weather’s been overcast and freezing for days now, requiring us to put the heating on to combat the thick layer of thorn-like crisp frost that’s coating the world outside. It seems weird to feel so chilly when it’s only late November, but the other day I decided something warming would have to be on the cards for lunch after nipping out to bring in my frozen washing (which I had to break as if it was made of strong cardboard in order to fit it back in the washing basket).

I had a rummage around in the fridge and cupboards, but no inspiration struck. However, a glance in the freezer unearthed a carton of Mum’s family-famous corned beef soup, a hearty meal-in-a-bowl that’s guaranteed to warm a person up from the inside out. As Mum would say, her corned beef soup is a soup that really ‘sticks to your ribs’.

I remember having this soup one evening in late autumn when I was a young teenager. We lived in Dumfries and Galloway (the part of Scotland with the highest rainfall level on a yearly basis) and on this particular day my Dad had swung by in the car after he’d finished work to pick me and my brother up from school on his way home because the rain was so heavy that it was falling to the pavement and then bouncing back up to knee level. After relishing the warmth of the car we arrived home and, after changing out of our sodden school uniform and getting into our nightwear and dressing gowns, we joined Mum and Dad in the kitchen for dinner. The relief and excitement I felt when I realised that we were having Mum’s amazing hot corned beef soup for dinner was overwhelming and I remember feeling sorry for some of my friends whose fathers demanded a full, roasted meat-centric dinner every evening and being wholeheartedly grateful that I was blessed with a family that could come together over a simple cooking pot full of soup.

Corned beef soup is really easy to make and it’s packed full of flavour. You can adapt the vegetables to suit whatever you have on-hand to use up in the fridge. For instance, if you have them to use up, turnip, leeks and parsnips work well in this recipe. It’s perfect served with a generous slice (or two) of nice, fresh, yeasty bread slathered in plenty of good salted butter.

As a rule, I don’t really like brown sauce, but in this case I can highly recommend adding a little dollop of HP Sauce to your bowl, as evidenced in the photo, because it adds a lovely deep, fruity, vinegary note to the soup. Regardless of whether you add the HP sauce to your bowl or not, as my Mum would say, after a bowl of this soup ‘your cockles will soon be warmed up’.

Ingredients:

2 tins of good quality corned beef

3 large carrots

3 potatoes

2 or 3 Oxo cubes (to taste)

1.5 litres of hot water

Method:

Chop up your vegetables into bite-sized pieces (or grate them) and put them in a large soup pot.

Add enough hot water so it just covers the vegetables and bring to the boil.

Chop up your corned beef and add it to the pot.

Simmer gently until your veg is cooked and then add the stock cubes one at a time, tasting after stirring each one in to make sure you don’t over-season the soup. (You might not need all 3 stock cubes, depending on your personal taste.)

After simmering it for a wee while longer serve it with good bread and butter.





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Falafel (serves 4)

Falafel made by The Fat Foodie

Falafel made by The Fat Foodie

I was looking through my Happy Pear cookbook the other day to find a recipe of theirs that I hadn’t yet cooked and I came across their version of falafel. I had some lovely Mediterranean herb wraps from Morrison’s in the house which needed used up so I decided to give this a go. This is definitely the easiest recipe for falafel I’ve ever encountered. You don’t even need to fry them, you just whizz all of the ingredients together in a food processor, mould them into balls, and then pop them in the oven to bake for 20 mins or so.

Argos recently did a promotion and I received a £10 gift voucher as part of the offer, so I decided to treat myself to a food processor. I’ve always resisted buying one because I’ve never thought I’d really use it, but I have to be honest and say that it’s made my cooking a lot easier, particularly when preparing dishes which have lots of vegetables or pulses in them. I did quite a bit of investigation into the machines before I settled on my chosen one, but all of the features and customer reviews led me to purchase the cheapest one on sale (an Argos budget Cookworks one) and I’m really happy with it.

The reason for this slight digression is because I wanted to stress that with the aid of a food processor I made the falafel in under 10 minutes. The hummus took another 5. For me, that’s £25 well spent. (I’ve also used it to make cakes and biscuits and the results have been excellent.)

As you can see in the photo, I served the falafel on Mediterranean wraps and accompanied them with beetroot hummus and a carrot salad. This combination resulted in a hearty, but light and fresh, wrap which was filled with a myriad of textures and tastes. I also had the beetroot hummus for lunch the following day on a piece of toast with diced avocado and it was divine. As far as I’m concerned, long live the Happy Pear!

Ingredients:

For the falafel:

2 tins of chickpeas (drained and mashed)

1/2 a fresh chilli (finely chopped)

50g coconut concentrate (the blocks you can buy)

2 tbsps ground flax seeds (aka linseeds)

2 tsps ground cumin

A small bunch of fresh coriander (chopped)

2 cloves of garlic (minced)

1/2 a red onion (diced)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

The juice of 1 lemon

50g toasted cashew nuts (finely chopped)

For the beetroot hummus:

5 cloves of garlic (minced)

3 tins of chickpeas (drained and mashed)

150ml lemon juice (approximately the juice of 3 lemons)

6 tbsps of light tahini

2 1/2 tsps salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp ground cumin

9 tbsps water

1 or 2 grated beetroots (depending on how ‘rooty’ you want your hummus to taste. I used the vacuum-packed cooked, but not vinegared, ones.)

For the carrot salad:

Grate 2 large carrots into a bowl.

Sprinkle the juice of 1/2 a lemon over the carrots and mix in 1/2 a tsp of ground cumin and 2 tbsps of sunflower seeds.

Method:

To make the falafel:

Put your cashew nuts in a frying pan and toast them until they are lightly browned.

If you have a food processor just chuck all of the falafel ingredients into the mixing bowl without preparing them at all and blend until it’s mostly smooth. If not, prepare the ingredients as directed and then mix them all together in a large bowl.

Form little golfball-sized falafel patties and bake them in the oven for about 20 mins or until they’re golden brown.

To make the hummus:

Again, if you have a food processor just chuck all of your hummus ingredients into the mixing bowl and whizz together until smooth and blended.

If not, prepare the hummus ingredients as directed and then mash them all together in a large bowl.

Serve your falafel with wraps or toasted pitta breads, salsa, guacamole or avocado slices, hummus, tzatziki, cubes of feta cheese, salad or whatever takes your fancy.

Beetroot Hummus made by The Fat Foodie

Beetroot Hummus made by The Fat Foodie

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The Happy Pear’s Puy Lentil Coconut Dahl (serves 4-6)

Puy Lentil Coconut Dahl

Puy Lentil Coconut Dahl

This is without doubt the tastiest recipe I’ve cooked so far from either of The Happy Pear’s cookbooks. It’s incredibly easy to make and doesn’t take long to cook, but it is so rewarding in flavour. It’s packed full of rich coconut and works really well with the vegetables they’ve suggested.

Puy lentils are little French greeny-slate blue coloured pulses which are only grown in the Le Puy region of France. They’re considered to be the king of all lentils because they have a unique delicate nutty, peppery flavour.

The beauty of using Puy lentils is that they keep their shape upon cooking so, unlike a normal Indian red lentil dahl which pulps down into a paste upon cooking, the Puy lentils retain their body and unique texture. You can buy Puy lentils from most supermarkets now. I’m particularly fond of Merchant Gourmet’s lentils because I think they have a really good nutty taste, but any Puy lentil will do.

Yes, I’ll admit the ingredients list for this dish is long, but if you enjoy good hearty richly-flavoured curries, vegetarian food, or coconut I’d encourage you to give this recipe a go because it’s truly outstanding. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Ingredients:

3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

1 butternut squash (peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces)

3 large potatoes (peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces)

1 leek or 1 onion (finely chopped)

400g Puy lentils (or other green or brown lentils)

2 tbsps. oil

1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

2 ½ tsps. of salt

6 tbsps. of soy sauce

The juice of 1 lemon

1 head of pak choi (cut into bite-sized pieces)

150g cherry tomatoes or 2 normal tomatoes (cut into bite-sized pieces)

Spices:

2 ½ tbsps. ground coriander

2 ½ tbsps. ground cumin

½ tsp ground black pepper

2 tsps. ground turmeric

2 tsps. ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3 tsps. curry powder

1 tsp paprika (not smoked!)

A pinch of chilli powder or 1/3 tsp of chilli flakes

Method:

Put the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and once it’s hot, add the garlic and leek/onion and fry for 5 mins.

Add all the spices and fry for another 3 mins, stirring all the while. (If they start to stick to the pan, turn the heat down and add a little bit of water to loosen it.)

Add to the pan the butternut squash, potatoes, coconut milk, tinned tomatoes, salt, soy sauce, lemon juice, the lentils and 1 litre of water.

Simmer for between 30 mins to 1 hour, stirring regularly. (Basically it’s cooked once the lentils are soft when you bite them.)

Add the pak choi and fresh tomatoes to the pan and cook for another couple of mins. If you think the dahl is too thick then just add a bit of boiling water until it’s the consistency you’d prefer.

Season with salt and pepper as required and serve with naan bread or poppadums.

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The Happy Pear’s Puy Lentil and Coriander Bake (serves 6-8)

Lentil and Coriander Bake

Lentil and Coriander Bake

I’ve been dying to try this Happy Pear cookbook recipe for ages, but I’ve never had enough fresh coriander in the house to make it, so when I picked some up the other day I decided that it was time to try this bake. Let me tell you, it was sooooo tasty! It’s very hearty because it’s packed full of well-seasoned Puy lentils, but it’s not stodgy in any way and the large amount of coriander makes it taste incredibly fresh and keeps it surprisingly light.

The recipe calls for carrots and green beans to be stirred through the lentil base, which breaks up the starchiness of the lentils and keeps each mouthful varied, and the addition of a layer of crisp, melted cheddar on the mashed potato topping really adds texture to the meal. I added 100g of soft cheese (Philliadelphia) to my mash because I had some in the fridge that needed used up, but I’d happily add it again the next time I make it because it made the potato much richer and really creamy.

I served this on its own in a bowl because I felt that it didn’t need anything at all to accompany it. At a push I might serve it with crispy potato wedges when I make it again (and I definitely will!). The recipe produces a large flat casserole dish worth of food, leaving lots of leftovers, but thankfully it’s a comforting meal in a bowl that’ll taste even better the next day.

Ingredients:

2 carrots (cut into bite-sized pieces)

150g green beans (cut into thirds)

250g potatoes (cut into bite-sized pieces)

750g sweet potatoes (cut into bite-sized pieces)

400g Puy lentils

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp of dried thyme

2 tsps salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

50ml soy sauce

100g Philliadelphia

150g of grated cheddar

For the pesto:

50g fresh coriander

3 cloves of garlic

1 tsp salt

100ml sunflower/vegetable oil

100ml water

Method:

Prepare the vegetables as directed in the ingredients list.

For the potato topping: Put the sweet potato and normal potato into a big pot filled with salted boiling water and put on the stove to boil. Simmer until they are tender and then drain. Add the soft cheese to the potatoes and mash them. Season with salt and pepper to your own taste.

For the lentils: Rinse the lentils and place them in a large pot along with the carrots, bay leaves, thyme, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and 1 litre of hot water. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down to a slow simmer. Cook for about 25-30 mins or until all the liquid has been absorbed by the lentils.

Preheat the oven to 200°C, 400°F, gas mark 6.

Put your fresh coriander (the leaves as well as the stalks because the stalks have loads of flavour in them too) in a food processor, Nutribullet, or blender and add the garlic cloves, salt, oil and water. Blend until liquid.

Stir the coriander pesto through the lentils and add the green beans. Put in your casserole dish, top with the mashed potato and sprinkle the grated cheddar over the top.

Bake for about 25 mins or until the cheddar is nice and crisp and golden brown. And enjoy!

Lentil and Coriander Bake

Puy Lentil and Coriander Bake

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