FODMAP Progress Update

The Fat Foodie

I’ve now been following the low FODMAP diet for a couple of months and I have to say that I’m feeling much better overall. I navigated the 6 to 8 week elimination phase without too many hiccups and have started to reintroduce some higher FODMAP foods back into my diet. Sadly, some foods remain difficult for me to process, a list that’s quite lengthy unfortunately, but the overall benefits of eating low FODMAP foods is reward in itself.

I think the FODMAP diet journey is an incredibly individual one and everyone will respond differently to it, just as they will respond differently to certain foods. I’ve had a few encounters online recently in which people have stated that particular foods either shouldn’t be included in a low FODMAP recipe because they’re irritating to the gut (even though they are actually low FODMAP foods) or that the portion sizes and quantities should be adjusted because in high numbers they become a high FODMAP food.

This has irritated me, to be honest, because if there’s one thing that’s abundantly clear when it comes to the FODMAP diet it’s that everyone is different! That’s the whole freakin’ point of the FODMAP diet! Individuals will be able to tolerate or not tolerate different foods differently! I don’t understand why people can’t just assess their own potential response to recipes or a meal and make suitable adjustments. For instance, if you know that you can handle a small amount of oats then have one small Anzac biscuit. If you can’t, then don’t eat them! It really doesn’t have to be hard.

Anzac Biscuits by The Fat Foodie

One thing that has been hard is that I miss bread a lot. I’ve tried a number of shop bought gluten-free loaves, but I find it difficult to get past their grainy texture and general lack of flavour. (I’ve found the £3 price point for a Genius loaf pretty hard to swallow too). I’ve also made my own gluten-free loaves. They’ve turned out okay and have been tasty enough, but they still don’t compare to a normal wheat loaf.

Wholemeal Seeded Gluten-Free Bread by The Fat Foodie

I recently tried sourdough bread, but I don’t think my system liked it. It’s quite an acquired taste at the best of times due to its sour aftertaste, but I suspect my body still isn’t that keen on processing either gluten or wheat. I’m in the process of getting a sourdough bread culture on the go which I intend to use to make a spelt sourdough loaf, so I’ll see what my body makes of that.

Sourdough Bread Starter by The Fat Foodie

As I said at the start of this post, it’s clear that the FODMAP diet is very much a personal endeavour and I think the journey’s very much about identifying what your own personal triggers are. All I can say with certainty is that I feel infinitely better as a result of finding out about the FODMAP diet and I’m happy to help spread the word to other IBS sufferers in order to help them too.

The Fat Foodie

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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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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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Delia’s Spiced Apple and Pecan Crumble Cake

Apple and Pecan Crumble Cake

Apple and Pecan Crumble Cake

A while ago, I was killing time before I started work and I picked up a bag of apples to take in for the staff room. After watching them sit untouched for two days I realised that they weren’t going to get eaten unless they were transformed into something a bit more appetising. As a result, I brought them home with me that night and the following day I transformed them into a spiced apple cake.

Years ago, my partner and I visited her aunt who served us each a delicious slice of apple cake to accompany our coffee. It was a really unusual cake because it had a crisp, crumbly, nutty topping. When I asked her for the recipe she admitted that it was, in fact, a Delia Smith recipe taken from her classic cookbook Delia’s Complete How To Cook.

As with all good cakes, the memory of it remained entrenched in my taste buds, so when I was searching for inspiration for something exciting to do with the excess apples I’d brought home this cake popped into my head.

Delia describes this as an apple muffin cake, but asks for a number of convoluted steps to be taken to ensure it rises with a light and airy muffin texture. I don’t have the time (or the inclination) for that. I just made it as I would with any normal sponge cake and it turned out just fine.

It’s a gorgeous cake, particularly if you serve it warm with ice cream, but it’s best eaten quite quickly because the crumble topping loses its crispness as days go by.

Ingredients:

350g diced apples (weight after peeling and coring)

75g sugar

175ml milk

110g butter

275g plain flour

1 tbsp plus 1 level teaspoon baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon

1 level tsp ground cloves

½ a whole nutmeg, grated

2 eggs

For the pecan crumble topping:

50g chopped pecans

75g self-raising flour

75g demerara sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

25g butter

A tbsp. or two of water

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 190°C, 375°F, gas mark 5.

Grease, or line with greaseproof paper, a large cake tin.

Place the flour, sugar and cinnamon from the pecan topping in a bowl and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the chopped pecans. Add the water a little at a time until it just starts to clump together. Remember, you’re aiming for the loose texture of a crumble topping, not a dough.

In a separate large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together and then add the eggs, milk, salt and spices and mix again.

Add the flour and baking powder and mix again.

Fold the apple pieces into the cake mix.

Pour the cake batter into your cake tin and then evenly sprinkle your crumble topping over the cake mixture.

Bake for a good 1 hour 15 mins or so. You’ll know it’s cooked when a skewer pushed into the very middle of the cake comes out clean.

Best eaten slightly warm with a dollop of whipped cream, crème fraiche, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Apple and Pecan Crumble Cake

Apple and Pecan Crumble Cake

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