Lamb Rendang (serves 6)

Lamb Rendang by The Fat Foodie

I developed this Lamb Rendang recipe because, in the spirit of spring, I treated the family to a Sunday dinner which consisted of a leg of lamb with the usual roasted vegetables etc, but I didn’t realise just how much meat was actually on it! There was loads of tender meat left over so I thought it’d be nice to use it in a slow cooked curry. One of my favourite ways to cook lamb is in a Lamb Dansac, but I wanted to make something new for a change so I went for a lamb rendang instead.

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Stuffed Aubergine Parcels (serves 4)

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels by The Fat Foodie

I bought an aubergine the other day and I’ve been waiting for inspiration to strike ever since. The problem was that although there are plenty of aubergine recipes that just ask you to chop it up and add it into stews and tagines, I really wanted to showcase (and try to celebrate) the vegetable itself. That’s when the lightbulb switched on and I realised that the robust texture of the aubergine flesh would be ideal for making stuffed aubergine parcels.

I’ve written before about how I don’t think aubergines are a very exciting vegetable, but I think I might have changed my mind after using them in this meal. The aubergine slowly cooks down to produce the silky soft, creamy texture that I’ve read others applauding so loudly about and it’s further enhanced by the presence of the rich, tangy tomato ragu.

I really enjoyed the large amount of vegetables I used in this dish and I think an argument could be made that, unlike many other recipes which include meat in them, the sausagemeat wasn’t the star of the show. It’s just there to add a meaty richness to the meal. Also, although I made my stuffed aubergine parcels with sausagemeat I think you could make an awesome vegetarian version by using strips of halloumi cheese to stuff the parcels with instead. I served two parcels per person, which is a low FODMAP portion size, but you might find that one is quite sufficient.

However you decide to make these stuffed aubergine parcels, I’ll guarantee you’ll love it. How could you not when you’ve got soft, silky aubergine wrapped around strips of sweet red and green peppers, smooth courgette slices, and rich well-seasoned sausagemeat that’s all coated in a thick tomato ragu and a crisp topping of grated parmesan. It’s a real winner in my book.

Ingredients:

1 aubergine (sliced into thin strips length ways) – no more than 160g in total of prepared aubergine

1 large courgette (sliced into thin strips lengthways) – no more than 240g in total of prepared courgette

200g red bell peppers (sliced into thin strips)

12 green olives (halved)

50g dairy-free parmesan (or normal)

Ingredients for the sausage stuffing:

6 gluten-free pork sausages (remove the skins)

1/2 tsp white ground pepper

A handful of fresh parsley (chopped finely)

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp asafoetida powder

To make the tomato ragu:

360g of tinned chopped tomatoes

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 red chilli (finely chopped) (optional)

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp asafoetida

1 tsp dried oregano

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels by The Fat Foodie

Method:

Prepare your vegetables as directed.

Vegetables Prepared for the Stuffed Aubergine Parcels

Cook the slices of aubergine and courgette in the microwave so that they become soft.

Make the tomato ragu by putting the ragu ingredients into a microwavable jug and cooking in the microwave for 4 – 5 mins.

Place a strip of aubergine on your chopping board and add a slice of courgette on top. Add a lump of sausagemeat and some strips of red pepper before rolling up into parcels.

Repeat until all of the aubergine is used up. (If you have any vegetables left over then just add them to the tomato ragu.)

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels Ready to be Wrapped

Place the aubergine parcels in a casserole dish and pour over the tomato ragu before topping with the halved olives and parmesan cheese.

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels Ready to be Topped with Tomato Ragu

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels Almost Ready to be Cooked

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels Ready to be Cooked

Bake in the oven for 40-50 mins and then serve with a fresh green salad.

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels by The Fat Foodie

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels 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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Free-From Custard Creams

Free-From Custard Creams

When I first went gluten-free and dairy-free one of the free-from products that astonished me at their cost was biscuits. I mean, £3 for a Genius gluten-free loaf from Sainsbury’s is ridiculous, but £1.80 for 8 chocolate chip biscuits from the Sainsbury’s free-from range is just obscene. I know you’re paying for the convenience factor, but fresh biscuits cost next to nothing to make at home so I felt really cheated and ripped off at the cost of free-from versions from a number of shops.

These free-from custard creams are so cheap to make (I’d estimate that a batch of around 12 custard creams cost considerably less than £1 to produce) and they’re really easy to whip up in a hurry. I just measure all of my ingredients into a plastic jug and use an electric whisk to blend it together into a biscuit dough. You don’t even need to roll out the dough and cut them out because you just roll them up in your palms and flatten them out on the baking tray. You can’t get any easier, can you?

I normally sandwich my custard creams with buttercream icing, but these have a little bit more caster sugar in them than my standard custard cream recipe so they’re really nice plain without a filling, but by all means sandwich them if you like. My buttercream recipe can be found here and you can just use dairy-free butter to keep the mix free-from. Equally, you could drizzle melted chocolate over the top of them or icing sugar.

Whether you decide to use the filling or use a sweet drizzle over the top of the biscuits, they’ll still save you a huge amount of money compared to buying them ready made in a shop.

Ingredients:

70g dairy-free butter (or normal butter)

30g coconut oil

80g 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.)

20g cornflour

50g custard powder

70g caster sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp xanthan gum

Method:

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

Measure all of your ingredients into a plastic jug and then mix it all together with an electric whisk.

Lay greaseproof paper out onto two baking trays.

Take small handfulls of custard cream dough and roll into a ball before flattening between your palms and placing them on the baking trays. Continue until the mix is all used up.

Press the tines of a fork onto the top of each biscuit to create the distinctive mark of a custard cream and bake in the oven for 12 to 15 mins or until they are golden brown.

Free-From Custard Creams About to be Baked

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

Once cold you can sandwich them with buttercream icing or drizzle with a topping if you like.

Freshly Baked Free-From Custard Creams

Free-From Custard Creams

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