The other day I was contacted by the publisher Modern Books and asked if I’d like to review a copy of Calm Belly Cookbook by the Norwegian low FODMAP writer Cecilie Hauge Ågotnes who runs the website Low FODMAP Blog. I jumped at the chance to have a read of Cecilie’s book and got my copy a few days later. Now, hand on heart, I promise I’m going to write an honest, fair and balanced review of the book. Yes, I have included Amazon affiliate links to the book, but it’s entirely up to you as to whether or not you’d like to use them.
One of the things I liked about the book is that Cecilie makes it very clear from the start that she is not a dietitian or nutritionist and advises IBS sufferers to consult a doctor before starting the low FODMAP diet. She’s just a follower of the low FODMAP diet who wants to share the recipes she’s created, much like myself or Alana Scott over at A Little Bit Yummy.
I thought the design layout of the book was great and the food photography was lovely. The recipes could be described as quite basic, but who am I to comment when I too sometimes share simple recipes such as potato wedges. After all, it’s often the simplest of recipes which we tend to repeatedly fall back on and they are, in fact, often the tastiest ones too.
I think my only concern with Calm Belly Cookbook is the inclusion of a number of recipes which have, what I understand to be, high FODMAP levels of some ingredients. I use the Monash app as my bible when it comes to making low FODMAP food because it was Monash who discovered and created the low FODMAP diet and it seems to be Monash who is devoted to continually testing new ingredients for the app. I also like the fact that Monash test individual foods and ingredients rather than pre-packaged foods because this ensures that we understand exactly what FODMAP levels an ingredient contains. I also think it encourages you to cook from scratch because it gives you the power to create your own low FODMAP meals.
In terms of my concerns about the FODMAP levels of some of the recipes in Calm Belly Cookbook, I found myself wondering if the problematic ingredients had been tested differently in Norway or if Norwegian FODMAP scientists had discovered differing results to those found by Monash. Essentially, do Norwegian dietitians and nutritionists possibly class them as being lower FODMAP than Monash does? I know there can be variations between the Monash app and other apps on the market, so perhaps that’s the case here? Maybe Cecilie uses a Norwegian app that has different results from Monash.
Either way, personally, I’m going to trust Monash’s FODMAP level results to keep me right. I’m not saying don’t buy the book, but if you want to buy or have bought Calm Belly Cookbook email me at email@example.com or contact me on Facebook or Twitter and I’ll send you a note of the FODMAP level concerns I had with some of the recipes.
After having a good read of the book I decided to make Cecilie’s Lemon Muffins, but I added poppyseeds to my cake batter because I love the slight crunch it adds to the soft cake. One thing that Cecilie does that I never would have thought of doing is using lactose-free yoghurt and cream in her lemon muffins. This is a brilliant idea because it ensures that the muffins remain soft and moist and they don’t dry out as fast as gluten-free baking normally does. Cecilie also points out that you can make these muffins with oranges instead of lemons, should you wish to.
In Calm Belly Cookbook Cecilie tops her muffins with buttercream icing, but I just made a thin lemon icing to top my lemon and poppyseed muffins with because I just wanted a light, sweet glaze on top which I sprinkled with poppyseeds for decoration and more crunch. All in all, the muffins are lovely, with just the right amount of lemon in them and they’re perfect to accompany a cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon.
115g butter (or a non-dairy version)
150g caster sugar
60g lactose-free plain or vanilla yoghurt
60g lactose-free cream
4 tsps lemon juice
The grated zest of 1 lemon
185g plain 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.)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp black poppyseeds
50g icing sugar
2 tsps lemon juice
2 tsps black poppyseeds
Put all of the wet ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk together before adding the dry ingredients and whisking again.
Divide the muffin mixture between the 12 muffin cases and bake in the oven for 15-20 mins or until a skewer pushed into the middle of one comes out clean.
Leave to cool. While they’re cooling make the icing by mixing the icing sugar with the lemon juice.
Once the muffins are cool spread a little bit of lemon icing on top of each one before sprinkling them with poppyseeds. Serve.