I’d say it’s fairly well known that I prefer my salads to be on the robust, substantial side, so it’ll not come as a surprise to you that this Cucumber and Mint Salad can be eaten either as a side dish to accompany a piece of grilled fish or chicken or on its own as a fresh lunch.
This Cucumber and Mint Salad in itself is very simple, comprising of just cucumber wedges, sliced bell pepper and cubes of salty feta cheese, but it’s elevated to something quite wonderful by the minty vinegarette it’s dressed in.
The standard vinegarette ingredients of white wine vinegar and olive oil are enhanced by the addition of dried mint and lime juice, creating a salad dressing which is tart, but herby at the same time. I’m not a big fan of salad dressings with a strong vinegar flavour, so I tend to make my vinegarette on the conservative side, but feel free to add more white wine vinegar or dried mint to yours, if you wish.
I make this Cucumber and Mint Salad a great deal because it’s perfect on the side of a piece of grilled salmon or chicken breast, but it also satisfies my appetite as a packed lunch at work. It’s just a great all-rounder salad choice.
Ingredients for the Salad Base:
1 cucumber (diced)
160g feta cheese (or non-dairy cheese)
1 red or yellow bell pepper
Ingredients for the Salad Dressing:
2 tbsps olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp dried mint
The juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
Prepare the salad ingredients as directed and then place them in a large bowl.
Mix all of the salad dressing ingredients together and then toss it through the salad and serve.
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Last weekend I visited the Allergy and FreeFrom Show in Glasgow and I had the pleasure of meeting Lesley Reid, a registered dietitian who specializes in FODMAPs. Lesley was giving a talk at the show on recent developments in the FODMAP world and I’d arranged to have a chat with her afterwards.
Lesley’s talk was a brilliant whistle-stop tour through the basics of the FODMAP diet and I saw a lot of people taking photos of her slides and writing down notes of what foods were low/high FODMAP. However, another thing I noticed which made my heart sink was that when Lesley asked how many people were on or had tried the FODMAP diet and then asked how many had successfully gone through the reintroduction phase (I’m paraphrasing a little bit here, but it’s hard to remember the exact words), there were significantly fewer hands up for those who had reintroduced.
this mirrors a concern I’ve had for quite some time now, that far too many
people are going into the exclusion phase of the low FODMAP diet, feeling the
benefits of cutting out high FODMAP foods, but aren’t going through the reintroduction
phase to identify their own FODMAP tolerance levels.
blogger, I’m in a huge number of groups and channels on social media and I’ve
noticed that a huge amount of people won’t try the reintroduction phase because
they’re frightened that their IBS symptoms will come back.
I can sympathize
with this, I really can, but the problem with staying in the exclusion phase is
that it diminishes the number of foods people will eat which, as a result, has
a detrimental effect on their gut bacteria and can lead to nutritional deficiencies
in the long-term.
When I met Lesley I approached her with an idea I’d had for a while – that she, as a FODMAP trained dietitian, guide me through the elimination and reintroduction phases so that I can identify my new FODMAP tolerance levels while under the assistance of a trained dietitian, all the while documenting my experience of the whole project on my blog. Thankfully, Lesley empathizes with and understands my concerns about the number of people who won’t reintroduce and happily agreed to the project.
Why I’m doing it:
been a couple of years since I put myself through the elimination and
reintroduction phases and I’m noticing that foods I’d previously thought safe to
eat are now sometimes causing me discomfort. Equally, there are foods I’d
previously excluded from my diet in the belief that they were a FODMAP group I
couldn’t tolerate, which I’m now able to eat. As a result, I think my gut
microbiome has changed over time and I strongly believe that doing the
elimination phase again, however difficult it might be, is the best way
forward. Trust me, I’m not doing this lightly!
other reason I’m doing this project is that when I first started the low FODMAP
diet I did not consult a dietitian. This was for a number of reasons:
couldn’t afford to see a private dietitian.
waiting list to see a dietitian on the NHS is long and it would have taken a
long time to get an appointment.
wanted to start ASAP because I was in so much discomfort.
a qualified researcher, so I knew I could educate myself in how the FODMAP diet
in all of its phases worked before I began the diet.
The main reason I want to go through the elimination diet a second time under the tutelage of a FODMAP trained dietitian, such as Lesley, is so that I can live the experience and communicate to others the importance of going through the elimination and reintroduction phases.
Why I chose to do the elimination and reintroduction phases with Lesley:
I asked Lesley Reid if she would be open to doing the project with me because she trained in the Low FODMAP diet at King’s College London, so she’s entirely qualified as a dietitian to take someone through the intricacies of the FODMAP diet.
also very passionate about the importance of the reintroduction phase of the
low FODMAP diet and shares my concern about the number of people living in the
to emphasise to everyone who follows the low FODMAP diet the importance of
properly going through the elimination and reintroduction phases, so that a
proper understanding of our own FODMAP tolerance levels can be understood with
the long-term aim of being able to incorporate higher FODMAP foods within our
diets to encourage good bacteria growth in the gut microbiome.
What’s happened so far:
This morning Lesley said that she’d be sending me documents to fill out, so that our project can proceed just like it usually would for any of her professional consultations and we’ll have our first telephone consultation on Friday.
to say, she’s so friendly and approachable that I already feel reassured that
she’s going to be the dietitian taking me through this process.
elimination phase is restrictive, so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous
about going back through it, but I know that it’ll benefit me in the long run
by informing me of my new tolerance levels and improving my gut health.
This Banana and White Chocolate Cheesecake could be described as an amalgamation of a banoffee pie and a soft cheese cheesecake. The base is composed of crushed gluten-free digestive biscuits which are packed down to form a crunchy layer before being topped with sliced bananas and a creamy white chocolate cream cheese mixture.
I really like this Banana and White Chocolate Cheesecake because, unlike a lot of desserts, it’s very light and yet it has no problem satisfying my sweet tooth. I use dairy-free white chocolate in my cheesecake mixture, but you could use dark chocolate if you’d prefer. It’d make a beautiful contrast to the light colour of the sliced fresh bananas.
If you’re looking for a delicious low FODMAP dessert to make then I’d highly recommend this Banana and White Chocolate Cheesecake. I’ve made it countless times and it’s loved by the whole family.
Ingredients for the Base:
160g gluten-free digestives
60g melted butter (or non-dairy)
Ingredients for the Filling:
200g dairy-free white chocolate
160ml tinned coconut milk solids
100g lactose-free soft cheese (or non-dairy)
1 firm yellow banana (with no dark spots on the skin)
Put the tin of coconut milk in the fridge overnight. (This helps the coconut fat solidify and makes it easier to remove it from the tin the next day.)
Line an 7 inch circular removable base baking tin with greaseproof paper. (If you don’t have a removable base tin then just line a normal one with greaseproof, but make sure the greaseproof goes over the edges, so you can lift it out of the tin.)
Crush the digestives until it resembles sand and then mix in the melted butter. Pour it into the baking tin and press down to form a base. Put it in the fridge to solidify.
Melt the white chocolate in the microwave, stirring extremely frequently to ensure it doesn’t burn. (I stir it every 10-15 seconds because it can burn really fast!)
Place the tinned coconut milk solids (the firm white coconut fat from the tin) and soft cheese in a microwaveable jug and heat it until it is warm. Stir the white chocolate into it.
Line the digestive base with sliced bananas and then pour the white chocolate cheesecake mixture on top and then put it back in the fridge. (I decorated mine with some dried strawberries, but you could use some dark chocolate, if you prefer, or leave it plain.) Serve.
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This Cod and Potato Traybake is one of those all-in-one traybake dinners that are really handy for weekday meals. Aside from prepping the vegetables there’s actually very little work involved in making it because the oven does the work for you.
I like to use cod for this traybake because it holds its shape well upon cooking and I feel that the delicate flavour of the fish allows the vegetables to sing, but feel free to substitute cod for any other fish you prefer.
I sometimes feel a bit bored with eating meat throughout the week, so a meal based around fresh fish makes a delightful change. Particularly one which is so easy to make!
I use a mixture of new potatoes, bell peppers and tomatoes for my roasted vegetables, but you could add other vegetables to suit your own tastes too. For example, whole broccoli florets and green beans are very tasty roasted (both are low FODMAP up to 75g per serving) and I never tire of the natural sweetness that can be found in roasted carrots.
I like to make a quick tartare sauce to accompany my traybake which is simply made by mixing chopped gherkins and capers into mayonnaise and then squeezing a little lemon juice into it. A sprinkling of dill never goes amiss in the mayo either.
If you’d like a low FODMAP fish dish for dinner I’d highly recommend this Cod and Potato Traybake. It’s tasty, filling and can be made in under an hour. What more could you need during the week?
600g new potatoes (thinly sliced or diced)
1 red bell pepper (cut into bite-sized pieces)
1 green bell pepper (cut into bite-sized pieces)
4 tbsps green spring onion tips
4 common tomatoes (diced)
4 tbsps olive oil
1 lemon (sliced)
4 cod fillets
Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6 and have a large baking tray to hand.
Prepare the vegetables as directed and then coat them in the oil and season with salt and pepper.
Roast the vegetables for 35-40 mins until the potatoes are soft and then place the cod fillets on top and sit the lemon slices on top of the fish.
Bake in the oven for 6-8 mins until the fish is cooked to your liking and then serve.
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