Menu #1

Sometimes meal planning with dietary issues can be a real drag… When I was new to following a FODMAP diet I really struggled to put a varied menu on the table.  The difficulty level went up a notch if I tried to make it appealing to The Husband and The Son –  and there were many evenings of intense frustration.  Or boredom from serving the same thing over and over again.

What's for Dinner?
What’s for Dinner?

That’s why I’m going to do a series of dinner menus, hopefully to help someone who is getting started, or just tired of thinking up the answer to:  ‘what’s for dinner?’.  The first one, appropriately, is Menu #1 :

Ham is one of the foods I found that by reading a label carefully, I could find one that had minimal additives  and ingredients – I particularly watch for garlic.  This one from Harvest meats I know my tummy can handle:

 

 

Always read the label!
Always read the label!

The slices were of nice size and easily grilled for a few minutes on the BBQ.  I didn’t brush them with a glaze – just kept it simple.

 

 

 

The Herbed pasta is really easy.  Mini Recipie:

Herbed Pasta

  • Cooked rice pasta
  • Olive Oil
  • Italiano blend (I make my own, without onion or garlic)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Toss and serve!  The trick, I found, was to use enough olive oil to prevent the pasta from cooling into a thick gooey mass.

Summer = Salads
Summer = Salads

I chose to have a Garden Salad as the veggie – my garden gave me a stellar crop of lettuce this year, and nothing says summer like a fresh salad.  Finding a salad dressing is really tough, so I make my own.  Here’s another Mini Recipe:

 

 

 

Salad Dressing

  • Orange Juice
  • Brown Sugar
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper

Shake and pour.

The salad dressing keeps for a while in the fridge, so probably the pasta takes the longest to cook and serve.  It all puts together to get this:

Menu #1
Menu #1

To rate this meal, out of 3 stars (3 being the most), I’d give the following:

Ease of grocery shopping: * * *

Ease of preparation: * * *

Family friendly rating * * *

The ease of grocery shopping is assuming that you’ve already found a place where you can buy your gluten free pasta – I have been pretty lucky and found my favourite brand in most grocery stores I’ve shopped in.  The bags of pasta (I buy Tinkyada) keep a long time and are easy to transport, so I can stock up if I think it will be difficult to find when I’m on the road.

Happy eating (yes!  even with IBS!)

 

 

 

 

 

Fodmap Free Pancakes

This is my final installment on my current breakfast options.  When I first started following a low-FODMAP diet, (also eliminating eggs, bovine dairy and beef due to intolerances) meal planning was a daunting task because I had no handy list of what menu items would be appropriate.  Breakfast is particularly tricky because, really, who wants to think that hard about a meal first thing in the morning?  At first, every morning started with a rice cake, organic peanut butter and a sliced banana on top.  It’s ok, but – every day?

This weekend when my family had pancakes for Brunch, I really felt that I’ve come a long way from those days.

Pancakes

See?  Doesn’t look too bad, does it?  The super best part about this (besides the meal being gluten, dairy, egg and FODMAP free), is that I didn’t have to make it.  That’s right!  The Husband and The Son whipped this up.  This is a looong way from when I insisted that I prepare all meals for myself.

It’s a pretty simple menu:  Orange juice or almond milk, Fruit Salad (The Son’s speciality – I just have to set out whatever fruit I want him to use), bacon (mmmm, bacon), and pancakes served with organic maple syrup.

The best part is that the pancakes are made from a mix, so super easy to prepare.  Betty Crocker, Bisquick has come out with a gluten free option and it’s pretty good.  The back of the box lists the ingredients needed for pancakes or waffles, and I just made sure The Husband knew the appropriate egg and dairy substitutes to use.

Pancake ingredientsTo be fair, The Husband is an experienced pancake maker (usually makes from scratch), so getting him to make a ‘safe’ version for me wasn’t a big stretch.  It did take some experimenting, though, as they don’t brown quite the same way as a standard recipe.

Because an entire extra set of bowls are needed to make up a batch just for me, I ask him to make a full batch, and then once they’ve cooled, I freeze them flat in a baggie.  That way, if we have pancakes for brunch again, I can just pull them out of the freezer and pop them through the toaster to warm up.

 

The Husband and The Son have their hands busy flipping two batches of pancakes and watching a pan of bacon (the first couple of times it was almost funny how stressed they got – kinda like how I get when I make a Christmas dinner for 14 people).  But after a few times, they now have the hang of it, and it is a real treat for me to see some else cooking for me.

The Husband cooking for me!
The Husband cooking for me!

Sitting down to a full and decadent brunch is a long way from my peanut butter/rice cake/banana slices.  Yes, I know the calorie count is crazy higher too, but once in a while it’s ok.  Just because one has IBS, doesn’t mean they need to live off of tree bark and water, do they?

 

 

So, there you have it – my menu ideas for FODMAP friendly (and dairy and egg free too!) breakfasts.  It’s not a long list, but I’m not someone who demands a lot from breakfast.  Protein, some fruit, and some energy to start the day….

  • Toast and peanut butter (and bananas) (splurge on the expensive bread that tastes the best to you, it’s a huge psychological start to the day).
  • Granola, goat yogurt, and berries
  • Scones
  • Fodmap free Pancakes for brunch (and fruit salad and bacon!)
  • ok, ok, ok – I still have the Spartan rice cake/peanut butter/banana breakfasts when I’m travelling.  So, I guess it’s still on my list!

 

Scones

This installment tells about my most favourite treat for a weekend breakfast – Scones.

scones baked

 

 

 

I save these for the weekend, because who has time to bake on a weekday morning?  Before I developed IBS, I loved to bake on the weekends and the thought of never being able to do that again really brought me down.  One morning I thought I’d give it a try and pulled out one of my old favourite cookbooks – Company’s Coming.  I pulled this recipe right from the book:

scone recipeI had to substitute out some ingredients that weren’t FODMAP friendly.  The flour I replace with a gluten free baking mix, I leave out the currants, replace the egg with an egg replacer product and use vegan margarine and almond milk.  As you can see from my messy writing, I add cinnamon – more on that later.

I’ve also found that it’s easy to halve the recipe.

Once the ingredients are mixed as instructed, forming them into two ‘wheels’ on a parchment lined paper goes a lot easier if your hands are wet.  Once the dough is patted into the flat circles, I sprinkle a mixture of cinnamon sugar on top. (that’s what my messy note refers to).  I then score the discs with a large knife, so they do look like wheels.

scone formOnce this is done, I pretty much bake according to the instructions as well.

I was so pleased the first time I made these!  It sounds funny, but I felt ‘normal’ again.  Who knew a scone had that power!

Because of the substitutions, these are a little more crumbly than the originals, but I eat them with a fork anyway.  This scone is delicious topped with a jam or jelly or marmalade (The Monash FODMAP app gives marmalade a green light, but I’ve found that it still pays to read the ingredient list).  They keep pretty well, too.  I’ve nuked leftovers in the microwave and they come out fine.

Once I had a pantry stocked with the basics for this recipe, it became really easy to do a bit of baking on a weekend morning.

Granola for Breakfast

Granola BreakfastOn the days I don’t have toast, I usually have granola for breakfast.  I love the crunchy, nutty flavour, and bursts of berries!  When I first discovered that I reacted badly to dairy I thought I’d have to give up my habit, but I was soooo grateful to discover that my system tolerates yogurt made from goat’s milk.  It definitely was an ‘hallelujah’ day for me…

 

I have found an off-the-shelf product that is FODMAP friendly – I found many granola mixes on the market have ingredients that are off-limits for those of us on a low-FODMAP diet.  Honey, apples, dried fruit, almonds… you name it.  My go-to product is Nature’s Path Coconut Chia Granola.

Store bought granola

 

 

 

 

 

For variety, I also make my own granola.  A recipe that I’ve been using for a couple of years now is:

Gutsy Broad’s Home-made Granola

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups of any combination of nuts, seeds, coconut
  • 1/4 tsp each of ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg

Mix well.

  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Heat the liquids in a small saucepan until warm (not hot).  Pour over the dry mixture and stir to combine.  Spread over a parchment lined pan, bake at 325 degrees, stirring every 10 minutes, for 30 minutes.  Cool and store.

I can’t remember who authored the base for this recipe – I found it in our local newspaper the Herald a long while back.

For breakfast, I’ll use a small scoop of yogurt, about half a cup of granola and then a handful of washed berries.

granola extrasHaving granola for breakfast is one of my ‘I don’t have to think about it’ meals – which I find important on busy mornings.  Granola keeps well in the cupboard and is easy to have around, or transport.

 

Eating out for Lunch

Happy New Year!

It looks like we’ve successfully rang in the new year… I had a great Christmas, quiet but not boring, wintery but not too frigid, and most importantly, everyone came down with the flu AFTER Boxing day (actually, I haven’t gotten it yet – thank you thank you thank you).

The Husband surprised me this year by wrapping a couple of gifts for me that were a nod to  my ongoing efforts to follow a low FODMAP diet.

The Mother-In-Law lives in a Seniors residence, and the family often takes her out for lunch.  We go to a typical pancake house, which makes it a challenge for me to select something that’s gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free and low FODMAP.  I don’t want to make a spectacle out of ordering, so I managed to come up with something that’s become ‘the usual’ for me.

My 'usual' for lunch out with the family.  I bring my own dressing!
My ‘usual’ for lunch out with the family. I bring my own dressing!

I order a side salad (often a regular salad is entire head of lettuce and that’s just crazy), checking to see that no shredded cheese or onion is added.  Usually, a side salad at these places is pretty predictable: head lettuce, grated carrot, tomato, maybe some shredded red cabbage.  All ok.   For protein, I ask for a side of bacon.  Hold the dressing.

I bring my own dressing – I make it up at home and bring it with me.  A real challenge to get it there without marinating the inside of my purse!

I picked up a ‘Dressing to Go’ container at my local grocery store – it works pretty well, but is a pain to put the top on – the container itself is soft silicone so pressing down on the lid results in a geyser of the contents…

 

Handy, but be careful getting the lid on!
Handy, but be careful getting the lid on!

The Husband, bless him, has been paying attention to my cursing and picked these travel containers up at a shop that specializes in camping/backpacking gear.  They aren’t supposed to leak, and will carry just enough dressing for a lunch-sized salad.

Travel Containers - from a backpacking specialty store.
Travel Containers – from a backpacking specialty store.

The dressing I make is typically (and these measurements are approximate, I just eyeball it):

Gutsy Broad’s Dressing To Go

  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-4 Tbsp orange juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

It’s incredibly yummy over the bacon and greens, and also works well over tuna on the salad (I admit to bringing a small pop-top tin of tuna to a restaurant if I’m looking for a change).

It’s always a relief to figure out another piece of the ‘living with IBS’ puzzle.  Eating out for lunch – my solution isn’t a fancy solution, but it’s doable, stress free and lets me join in on family time.

Christmas Cookies

I can’t believe it’s time for Christmas again….  I have to admit that this year I’ve fretted less about my health at this time around.  I’ve attended office Christmas parties, house parties, lunches out and am planning the annual family Christmas dinner…. and it’s been awfully nice to not have a ‘delicate tummy’ to fret about.  What am I fretting about? – I need some Christmas Cookies!!

I am a sucker for a treat.  And Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without some sort of special treat on the table that was ok for me to eat – despite having an intolerance for dairy and eggs, and following a low (LOW) FODMAP diet – that means gluten free, preferably.  And, I want it to be nice enough to serve to others.

One of the wonderful things about this time of year is the scent of rich spices.  My mothers gingerbread cookie recipe was a staple in my house for many years (I still make them, even though I can’t eat them), so I wanted something that had that gingery/nutmeggy flavour.

I’ve come up with a chocolatly spicy cookie, and attempted the ‘yule log’ theme.  Mash it all together and I’ve got:

Chlogs

Spicy Chlogs

(ok, the name needs a bit of work.  I am terrible at naming things – any suggestions?)

For the Cookie

  • 1 Box gluten free vanilla cake mix (I use Betty Crocker)
  • 1/2 c margarine (I use  Earth Balance dairy free)
  • 1 extra large egg (I use egg replacer)
  • 1/3 cup almond milk (I use the regular, not the unsweetened kind)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

For the coating

  • dark baking chocolate (I use Camino semi sweet) for melting
  • icing sugar (to dredge)

Instructions

Mix the cookie ingredients as usual.  Roll by hand on waxed paper into thin ropes, cut roughly as long as your pinky finger.  Bake on parchment at 350 for about 12 minutes.

cookie dough size

Once cooled, dip one end into the melted chocolate, and then dip in bowl of icing sugar.  Let dry on a rack (over some waxed paper to catch the drips).  Can be frozen.

chocolate dipped

So, unless someone can come up with a better name, my Spicy Chlogs are a new part of my holiday baking.  They are crunchy, chocolatey and spicy… rather good dipped!  I hope everyone is able to find a Christmas Cookie that they enjoy this year….

Along with good health, family and friends!

FODMAP-Free Blueberry Chia Jam

FODMAP-Free Blueberry Chia Jam

This is a recipe I tried this summer on a whim, and I have to admit it’s pretty cool.  I bought the package of Bob’s Red Mill whole seed chia to include with some granola bars I was making.  On the back of the package is a recipe for a rather unique jam.  With some slight modification I was able to turn it into a FODMAP Free Blueberry Chia Jam.

 

Chia Package
Chia Package

 

According to Authority Nutrition, Chia is loaded with fiber, protein and antioxidants, and we all know how good blueberries are for you!  After checking out the  Bobs Red Mill website, I see they note that the recipe is High in fiber, lactose free, Low Cal, Low Carb, Low Fat, Soy Free and Vegan.

The interesting thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t call for pectin – the package notes that chia is a ‘nutrient rich substitute for pectin’.  Because of this, it doesn’t call for much in the way of sugar either.  The 1/4 cup of Agave syrup was easily swapped for a more FODMAP friendly Brown Rice syrup.

Here’s the recipe, right off the package with the minor sugar substitute:

FODMAP Free Blueberry Chia Jam

  • 3 Cups fresh Blueberries
  • 1/4 cup Brown Rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup Chia Seed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Ingredients
Ingredients

Combine berries and syrup in a small saucepan.  Cook on medium heat until berries soften.  Add chia seed and cook, stirring often, until very thick, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and add vanilla. Store in refrigerator. Makes 10 servings.  Keeps best refrigerated or frozen.

The resulting jam has a mild flavour and fun texture.  I love it loaded on a piece of my toasted gluten, egg and dairy free bread.  Or a rice cracker for a snack!.  I find that regular jam is often overwhelmingly sweet and this is a nice alternative.  It also makes a smaller batch than most jam recipes, so is a little more convenient for a home cook like me.

Blueberry Chia Jam on a rice cracker
Blueberry Chia Jam on a rice cracker

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

FODMAP-Free Rhubarb Crumble

Summer  is here and it’s time to enjoy fresh food from the garden or farmers market!  I have a rhubarb plant tucked into the corner of my yard and it’s the first thing I can harvest each year.  One of the things we look forward to is a warm Rhubarb Crumble, spooned over ice cream (or frozen coconut, rice or soy milk for those of us with dairy intolerances!).  A FODMAP-Free Rhubarb Crumble is a wonderful spring and summer treat…

FODMAP-Free Rhubarb Crumble
FODMAP-Free Rhubarb Crumble

I adapted this recipe from the one printed on the back of the GoGo Quinoa package.  Apples are a no-go, so it took just a little tweaking to make this into a FODMAP-Free Rhubarb Crumble recipe.

 FODMAP-Free Rhubarb Crumble

  • 8×8 pan
  • Chopped rhubarb, enough to fill at least 1/2 the depth of the pan
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. Earth Balance dairy free baking margarine

Grease the pan, add the chopped rhubarb.  Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the rhubarb.  Add small dots of margarine to the top.

For the crumble:

  • 4 tsp Earth Balance dairy free margarine
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup gluten free flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flakes

Melt the margarine and toss with the sugar, flour and flakes.  Spoon this over the rhubarb in the pan.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Uncover and bake until crust is golden and rhubarb is tender (approximately 25 minutes).

This is a terrific way to use rhubarb.  Rhubarb is given the green light on the Monash FODMAP app, so it’s nice to have this option for fresh fruit!

Chopped Rhubarb

 

FODMAP free Granola Bars

Living on a special diet, no matter if it’s for diabetes, IBS, or other reasons brings it’s own special challenges.  Once I was able to figure out WHAT I could eat safely (this took me about 2 years), I was then left with the challenge of making sure that I could have safe foods easily accessible.  One thing I really missed was being able to toss a granola bar into my purse.  I needed to discover a FODMAP free granola bar!

Most easily available granola bars are filled with ‘healthy’ ingredients that don’t sit so well with my tummy.  Apples, honey, dairy, wheat and even sometimes ingredients that I can’t pronounce, let alone try and spell!

I did discover the granola bars from Nature’s Path, and found two types that are safe – but one of them is pumpkin flavoured, and I’m not a real fan of pumpkins in anything except pie (and that will now be a memory from my pre-IBS days).

So I checked out recipes on the internet and from my cookbooks.  I mucked about in my kitchen.  My biggest disappointment was ending up with a crumbly mess that didn’t stick together – I made the mistake of putting one of these (wrapped in saran) in my purse and it didn’t survive the morning before disintegrating.

After some experimentation, I did end up with my go-to recipe, that I’d like to share with you.

Home made, from pronounceable ingredients that are FODMAP friendly!
Home made, from pronounceable ingredients that are FODMAP friendly!

There are three secrets to making a granola bar that sticks together and doesn’t fall apart:

  1. I use Organic Brown Rice Syrup by Lundberg (no doubt there are other suppliers of this product).  I can find this at both my local health food store as well as Safeway, and it is a FODMAP free substitute for corn syrup.
  2. Be cautious of how many ‘dry’ ingredients (particularly the oats) that you add to the recipe.  Adding a little ‘extra’ can result in a dry bar with not enough ‘stick’.  The total amount of dry ingredients should not exceed 6.5 cups.
  3. Boil the ‘wet’ ingredients for about 2 minutes, before adding dry ingredients.  If you’ve ever made candy, you know this is an important step.

The nice thing about this recipe is that it’s really flexible.  I change it up all the time.

Granola Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Earth Balance or other margarine substitute
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Brown rice syrup
  • 3 cups rice crispies
  • 1.5 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 cup diary free chocolate chips
Simple and fast granola bars that won't crumble!
Simple and fast granola bars that won’t crumble!

In a large, heavy pot set on medium heat, combine the margarine, brown sugar and rice syrup.  Stirring constantly, bring to a light boil and simmer for about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in dry ingredients.  Press into a 9×13 lightly oiled pan.  Let set, remove from pan and cut into bars.  Individually wrap bars in saran, store in freezer until needed.

As I mentioned, one of the key things to not having a dry crumbly bar is to control the urge to add too many dry ingredients (particularly the oats).  I usually measure out the dry ingredients beforehand to make sure I’m not over the magic 6.5 cup amount.

Don't add too many dry ingredients!
Don’t add too many dry ingredients!

The fun part of this recipe is that if you remember this rule, you can mix up the ingredients for variety.  I’ve removed the chocolate, increased the coconut and added chia seeds:

Chia granola bites
Chia granola bites

I’ve added the candied orange peel that I’ve had left over from my Christmas baking:

Granola bars with candied orange peel.
Granola bars with candied orange peel.

 

Other tips:

  • If you don’t want your chocolate chips to melt into the bars, you can add them just before you turn the batter out into the pan.
  • If you add peanuts, be aware they may be oily and not stick to the bar.  I find if I use Spanish peanuts and chop them up they stay put.

I take large Ziploc bags of these whenever I travel.  One of these and an orange or banana will do me for lunch if there’s no other safe options available.  They keep well, are convenient to have on hand and are definitely a sanity saver!

Chicken Chili and Pasta

I have to admit that this winter is wearing on me.  It takes a great deal of effort to talk myself out of wearing my oversized flannel shirt every day!  I’m so lazy that I might as well be hibernating – and that’s why this recipe for Chicken Chili and Pasta is perfect.  It’s very, very easy and is one of my go-to recipes for when my tummy isn’t feeling well.  Very FODMAP friendly!

It’s also quick and uses so few ingredients that I almost always have them on hand.  It’s a good recipe for beginner cooks to learn.

Chicken Chili and Pasta
Chicken Chili and Pasta

Chicken Chili and Pasta

  • 1 Package of ground chicken (you could substitute ground turkey as well)
  • 1 can of Aylmer Accent Fire Roasted diced tomatoes (they have no onion or garlic included)
  • 1 Tsp Cumin (I add more because I like it)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooked Rice Pasta (I use the Tinkyada brand)

That’s it!  That’s all the ingredients!

Chicken Chili Pasta ingredients
Chicken Chili Pasta ingredients

First brown the ground chicken in a frying pan (I sometimes use a bit of olive oil).  Once browned, stir in the cumin, salt and pepper and tomatoes.  Simmer for about 5 minutes and serve over cooked pasta!

This recipe serves 3 hungry people and I often will double the recipe to make extras for leftovers to keep in the fridge.  Because the Aylmer diced tomatoes are so chunky, I will sometimes add half the can as is, and then blend the rest with my hand blender in the can before adding it.

Here’s hoping for an early spring!