Whoopie Pies (makes 10)

Whoopie Pies by The Fat Foodie

A while ago I made chocolate bundt cakes to celebrate my 100th blog post and the sponge I made them with was so tasty that I wanted to try making other things with it. I’ve always loved whoopie pies, but sometimes shop-bought whoopie pies can be a bit too sickly because they have too much filling inside them and the quality of the buttercream icing often leaves a lot to be desired. The beauty of baking your own therefore, is that you can control the buttercream icing to baked sponge ratio to suit your own taste.

Although I used a proper whoopie pie tin it’s not completely necessary because you could just use a yorkshire pudding tin or something like it to bake your whoopie pies in. All you’re looking for is something that’ll control the spread of the sponge as it bakes and allow it to rise. In fact, if you don’t mind your whoopies looking a little odd you could even use a traditional fairycake shallow tin to bake them in.

I made my whoopie pies traditional chocolate ones, but you could omit the cocoa powder and make them with other flavours instead, such as vanilla (using 1 tsp vanilla extract), lemon (using the zest of 1 lemon) or bake them as a plain sponge but sandwich them with strawberry jam as well as buttercream icing.

I can highly recommend making the chocolate whoopie pies though because they result in two rich, moist chocolate sponges that are bonded together with a lightly whipped decadent cocoa buttercream, creating the perfect cake for one. One whoopie pie is a low FODMAP portion, but stopping at only eating one is a different matter entirely though.

Ingredients:

220g dark brown sugar
120g fine polenta
50g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F flour because it’s made with low FODMAP ingredients whereas many other gluten-free flours are made with high FODMAP options.)
90g ground almonds
80g cocoa powder
A pinch of salt
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
120g butter (or dairy-free version)
100g coconut oil (melted)
4 eggs
60ml rice milk
For the buttercream:
150g butter (or dairy-free version)
170g icing sugar
30g cocoa
1 tbsp rice milk

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas mark 4.

Lay out your whoopie pie tins and give them a light greasing before dusting them with flour.

Measure all of the wet ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Measure all of the dry ingredients into another bowl and give it a stir.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour equal amounts of the cake mix into the whoopie pie tins.

Bake in the oven for around 10-12 mins. (They’re cooked if a skewer pushed into the middle of a couple of the cakes comes out entirely clean.)

Leave to cool on a cooling rack before taking the whoopie pies out of the tin.

Place your buttercream ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.

Once cool, sandwich the whoopie pies with the buttercream icing.

Whoopie Pies by The Fat Foodie

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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 shouldn’t be included in a low FODMAP recipe because they’re high FODMAP, even though they are actually a perfectly fine low FODMAP food if eaten at the correct serving size that’s recommended in the Monash app.

This has irritated me, to be honest, because I feel it is important to learn as much as possible about the health conditions which we suffer from. I’m all about educating myself to the best of my abilities as to what foods I can safely incorporate into my low FODMAP diet because it’s vital that we try to eat a wide variety of foods in our diet in order to get the best forms of nutrition our bodies require.

I’ve seen a lot of people online who are permanently living solely on the exclusion part of the low FODMAP diet and, as any good nutritionist will tell you, that’s not good at all because they are cutting out important nutritious dietary ingredients for no good reason. They’re also missing out on being able to eat delicious foods which would actually not cause them any digestive discomfort anyway!

Also, 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 a variety of 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 the fructans found in 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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Chocolate Orange Biscuits

Chocolate Orange Biscuits by The Fat Foodie

After giving it a great deal of thought I feel ready to announce that I’ve came to the conclusion that I definitely prefer biscuits over cake. I know it’s bold and don’t get me wrong, I love a slice of good cake, but there’s that lovely unbeatable crunch that is present in a decent biscuit that is lacking in cake (unless it’s a terribly baked one!).

One of my standby baking ingredients at the moment is dark chocolate because it’s naturally dairy-free and FODMAP friendly. I think it lends itself to being used as a biscuit topping because it’s really easy to use and the flavour complements so many different types of biscuit. In my mind, one of the best partnerships in the sweet area of the culinary world is that of chocolate and orange, with the dark, rich silkiness of the chocolate providing a wonderful counterfoil to the fresh zestiness of the orange oil. Divine.

This chocolate orange biscuit recipe is really quick and easy to make and produces little crispy biscuits that are a doddle to top with melted chocolate. The inclusion of custard powder and a little bit of cornflour ensures that they have a good crunch, but still have a bit of crumble to them. I used a triangular cookie cutter which gave great results, but you can cut them out into any shape you like.

The real struggle lies in waiting for the dark chocolate to cool and harden on the biscuits before you eat them. I’ll bet you can’t.

Ingredients:

70g dairy-free butter

30g coconut oil

80g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

20g cornflour

50g custard powder

70g caster sugar

The grated zest of 1 orange

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp orange flavouring

1 tsp orange juice

1 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp baking powder

200g dairy-free dark chocolate (for the topping)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Melt the coconut oil and butter in a microwavable bowl.

Add all of the other ingredients and mix until a smooth dough is formed.

Chocolate Orange Biscuit Dough

Roll out the dough onto a floured work surface and use the triangular cookie cutter to cut your biscuits out and place them on the baking trays.

Chocolate Orange Biscuit Dough

Chocolate Orange Biscuits About to be Baked by The Fat Foodie

Bake the biscuits in the oven for 12 to 15 mins, or until they are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Freshly Baked Chocolate Orange Biscuits by The Fat Foodie

Once the cookies are cold, melt the dark chocolate in a bowl in the microwave (stirring very frequently so that the chocolate doesn’t burn).

Generously spread the chocolate over the cookies and leave to harden before serving. Or dive right in and get your chin and fingers covered in melted chocolate. It didn’t happen to me, you understand, it was a friend one time…

Chocolate Orange Biscuits by The Fat Foodie

Chocolate Orange Biscuits by The Fat Foodie

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Free-From Lasagne (serves 4-6)

Free From Lasagne by The Fat Foodie

Everyone loves lasagne, it’s just one of those universally adored dishes that Italy’s renowned for. However, when I went dairy-free and onto the low FODMAP diet I was concerned that it would be off the cards because it normally has lots of onion, garlic and cheese in it, but I made a conscious effort to adapt my usual lasagne recipe into a FODMAP friendly one and it seemed to have been successful.

When I started looking into the FODMAP diet and for ways to incorporate onion and garlic flavours into my cooking I discovered that you can use chives without it having any impact on your IBS and that garlic-infused oil is fine to use too, as long as you don’t consume the actual garlic itself. During my onion-based investigations though (forgive me, I’ve been reading a lot of old-school crime novels lately), I also found out that there is an Indian spice called asafoetida which mimics the flavour of onion. I was pretty sceptical to be honest, but I ordered some asafoetida online and was thrilled to find out that it genuinely does taste like onion!

Now, you’ve got to be careful when buying asafoetida because some of the spice mixes are blended with gluten flours to make it less potent (it’s a very strong spice), but there are some, such as this one, which are blended with other spices like ground fenugreek instead.

I’d really recommend trying asafoetida if you’re on the low FODMAP diet and you ordinarily enjoy onion and garlic flavours in your cooking because it definitely does what it says on the tin. As a result, my lasagne sheets were layered between a rich, thick, onion-infused meaty ragù that was just as satisfying as the standard version. This free-from lasagne is also topped with a creamy, cheesy dairy-free white sauce that definitely doesn’t make you feel like you’re missing out on dairy (although if you’re not dairy-free you could just use a couple of sachets of cheese sauce mix instead).

I served the free-from lasagne with a fresh green salad that was liberally dotted with fat, plump little jewel-green caperberries whose piquancy cut through the richness of the lasagne and added a tart freshness to the dish, but feel free to just serve it with chips if you’d prefer. You’ll find no judgement here from me, my friends.

Ingredients for the pork ragù:

450g pork mince (use beef if you’d prefer)

200g red bell pepper (diced)

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tsps dried oregano

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

2 tbsps tomato puree

1 tsp salt

1 tsp asafoetida

Gluten-free lasagne sheets

Dairy-free cheese for lasagne topping

For the white sauce:

25g dairy-free butter

25g gluten-free flour

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tbsps Engevita

1 egg

200ml rice milk

Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/ Gas mark 5.

Method to make the ragù:

Put the pork mince in a saucepan with 1 tbsp olive oil and cook until done.

Add the red peppers, oregano, salt, asafoetida, chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and cook until hot.

To make the white sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat before whisking in the flour, black pepper and Engevita.

Slowly add a little rice milk at a time, stirring continuously, so that eventually a thick sauce is created. (Don’t panic if it looks really lumpy, just keep stirring and adding more milk and it’ll come together.)

Once the white sauce is thick take it off the heat .

Take a rectangular casserole dish and put a layer of ragù on the bottom and top it with lasagne sheets. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the ragù.

Whisk the egg thoroughly into the white sauce mixture, pour on top of the lasagne, top with the dairy-free cheese and bake in the oven for around 45 mins.

Serve with a salad (and/or chips!).

Free From Lasagne by The Fat Foodie

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Fruit Custard Tarts (makes 4)

Fruit Custard Tarts by The Fat Foodie

Now that we’re starting to see a bit more sun on a daily basis thanks to the arrival of spring I’m finding myself more inclined to make desserts that incorporate lighter flavours, such as these fruit custard tarts. When I started eating dairy-free one of my best revelations to come from the vegan community was finding out that Bird’s Custard Powder doesn’t contain dairy. I found this really surprising, but I suppose it’s just because you expect such a sweet vanilla-based substance to be already creamy even before you add anything to it. Regardless, I’m grateful!

It feels a bit cheeky to be posting the recipe for these fruit custard tarts because they’re so easy to make, especially when I haven’t made my own custard, but they are really delicious so I figured I’d share it anyway. The pastry is very light and a bit crumbly, but I think that works very well with the sweet custard and berries.

It makes life so much easier if you bake the pastry in tart tins which have a removable base, but it’s not absolutely essential and you can just use a piece of greaseproof paper in the base to help take the pastry cases out of the tins instead. Also, don’t try to take the pastry cases out of the tins until they’re completely cold otherwise they’re more likely to break.

You can use any fruit you like in these tarts. I’d bought some raspberries and blueberries that were reduced to a ridiculously cheap price and that’s what I used, but you could make them more exotic by using coconut oil instead of butter for the pastry tarts and topping them with chunks of fresh pineapple. Whatever you choose to top them with, these fruit custard tarts are light, creamy and filled with flavour, perfect for dessert on a warm summer’s evening (or an optimistic Scottish spring night).

Ingredients for the tart cases:

70g gluten-free plain flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F flour because it’s made with low FODMAP ingredients whereas many other gluten-free flours are made with high FODMAP options.)

30g ground almonds

1 tsp xanthan gum

20g caster sugar

3 tbsps rice milk

40g butter (or dairy-free version)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for the custard filling:

80g Bird’s Custard Powder

40g sugar

1 pint (580ml) rice milk

Method:

Make the custard in accordance with the instructions on the pack and set it aside to cool.

To make the pastry for the tarts, put everything except the milk into a mixing bowl and rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers until it looks like fine sand.

Preparing the Dough for the Fruit Custard Tarts

Add the milk a little at a time, stirring all the while, until it forms a dough. (You might not need to use all of the milk. It can depend on the individual batch of flour you’re using.)

Preparing the Dough for the Fruit Custard Tarts

Set your tart tins out on a large baking tray and cut out two little squares of greaseproof paper for each tart that are big enough to line the base of your tart tins. (See the photo below if necessary.)

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Put a piece of greaseproof paper in the bottom of each tart tin. Divide your dough into four and place a small lump of dough in each tart tin and mould to fit the tart tin.

Put another piece of greaseproof paper on top of the pastry and put baking beans on top.

Putting the Dough in the Tart Tins

Bake in the oven for 15 mins and then remove the baking beans and bake for another 10 mins (or until the pastry cases are golden brown). Leave the tarts to cool on a cooling rack.

Baked Tart Cases

When the tarts and custard are cold, fill each tart case with custard and top with fresh fruit. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Freshly Filled Fruit Custard Tarts by The Fat Foodie

Freshly Filled Fruit Custard Tarts by The Fat Foodie

Freshly Filled Fruit Custard Tarts by The Fat Foodie

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