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.

 

Gluten Free Bread

Dairy, egg, gluten free breadOne of the trickiest food products I’ve had to search for is bread.  I’ve discovered that there are many options when it comes to selecting a gluten free bread – and that’s a good thing….

The only trouble is that I am also dairy free and egg free.  Finding a bread that meets those two dietary requirements has been pretty tricky.  I do have my favourite brand and I’d like to share it with you.

Glutenull Bakery is a small bakery out of Coquitlam, BC, Canada.  They have three bread products that I adore: Brown Rice, Quinoa and Buckwheat (they also have an Amaranth zest).  The first time I bit into a piece of toasted quinoa bread I thought I was in heaven.  The texture is light and fine and feels decadent on the tongue!

These products are vegan, and have an ingredient list that sounds more artesian than science experiment (the Buckwheat ingredients are listed as: Organic buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, organic flax, baking powder, xanthan gum, water, sea salt).

I usually try to have a slice of the Buckwheat bread for my toasty breakfasts – it’s a pretty hearty loaf.   The loaves are rounded and I’m not a huge fan of the heels, but I save them and chop them up for breadcrumbs.  Especially the quinoa and rice loaves  – I’ve found that they make great breadcrumbs that are perfect for breading fish or chicken.  I even made Christmas turkey dressing – took a loaf of the quinoa bread, cut off the crust, chopped the bread into chunks and mixed it with poultry seasoning.  Sauteed some green onions in olive oil and tossed in the bread chunks.  Smashed the whole lot in a small casserole dish, and poured on a little of the juices from the roasted turkey.  Baked for a half hour and bam!  Fabulous FodMap free turkey dressing!

I find this bread at my local Planet Organic.  Once, when a clerk there told me that they wouldn’t carry the Quinoa bread anymore, I ordered an entire case of it.  It still sits in my freezer, and I’m slowly chipping away at it.  Planet Organic is still carrying the product too…. So much for my attempt at hoarding!

It’s getting easier to find gluten free bread, but still very challenging to find a vegan or dairy and egg free bread as well.  I’m so pleased that bakeries are taking up the challenge!

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.

Coconut Milk

I’m always surprised at the amazing things a manufacturer can throw in a simple food product.  When I’m trying to compare oranges to oranges, it seems they are doing their best to throw in some apples.  This week I had coconut milk on my grocery list and thought I’d take the time to compare a few brands.

3 types coconut milkI picked up all three brands at my local Safeway.  The Tosca brand of coconut milk cost $2.99, the Compliments brand cost $1.79, and the Thai Kitchen brand was $3.49, so there was a considerable price difference between the three.

Not surprisingly, the Thai Kitchen brand, though it was the most expensive, was the purest product.  As you can see on the label, just three ingredients.

thai coconut milk ingredientsThe product at the next price level was the Tosca.  Besides good old water, it also contains some of my favorite scrabble words:  Potassium Meta bisulphate and polysorbate 60.

tosca coconut milk ingFinally, at the lowest price, the Complements brand contains carboxmethyl cellulose, along with the polysorbate 60.

compliments Coconut milk ingredientNow, I find that living on a low FODMAP diet is challenging enough – squinting at labels to see if they contain things like honey, onion or apple is quite enough effort thank you.  I don’t really want to become fluent with ingredient names like carboxymethyl or polysorbate.  A food product should be just that.

I will take the time to do a taste test on these three products, though. I’ll just make sure that the two products with ‘mystery ingredients’ will be used on an evening when I know that the following day I can wear my ‘bloat pants’.

I’m sure there are many other brands of coconut milk on the shelves, with many other additives that may or may not be pronounceable.  I’m also sure that the manufacturers will say that these additives are totally safe.  But living with IBS and a few food intolerances has taught me that a body is very sensitive to what we put into it and sometimes it’s difficult to determine what side effect is caused by what item we’ve put into our mouth.

It will probably be a while before manufacturers start to label products as ‘low FODMAP’, so in the meantime, I think I’ll stick to the products that are the purest.  Even though Thai kitchen is the most expensive, it’s probably what I’ll reach for first.

Roasted Coconut Chips

I found what sounds like the most delicious ingredient in my local organic food store this week:  Milanaise Roasted Coconut. These Roasted coconut chips look delicious!

Roasted Coconut

The product is attractively wrapped, with a little window to show the large flakes of roasty-toasty coconut.  Best of all, according to the back of the package, it’s the only ingredient.  I was very surprised when I discovered my old brand of shredded coconut was really a cocktail of ingredients!

According to the Monash FODMAP App, a half cup of shredded, dried coconut gets a yellow warning light, as it contains a moderate amount of polyol-sorbitol. (Incidentally, I had a tough time finding the coconut on the FODMAP App, as raw coconut isn’t included – just the dried and shredded type, which is considered a ‘processed’ food.  So it’s listed towards the bottom of the list.  Incidentally, coconut milk is given the green light).

I usually add shredded coconut to a recipe, so I don’t think I’d eat more than a quarter cup at a time, which is given the green light by the app.

So what should I do with my new package of Roasted Coconut?

Review of the Living Without magazine

I have been wanting to do a review of the Living Without magazine for a while now, as it is an important part of my life with IBS.  Living Without is published bi-monthly by Belvoir Media Group LLC and is a fantastic resource for people who are living with food allergies and intolerances.

 

My copies of the Living Without magazine
My copies of the Living Without magazine

At the beginning of this year, I was pretty much at the end of my rope – I had diarrhea and cramps all the time, my bloating was painful, I was exhausted and very discouraged with the help I was getting (or not getting ) from my physician and naturopath.  I discovered the Living Without magazine on the shelf of a shop that I didn’t normally go into, and was intrigued by its tag line: “The magazine for people with allergies and food sensitivities.”.

Inside this issue was an article written by Rory Jones titled: FODMAP: Road Map for IBS.  Rory included a small ‘cheat sheet’ listing of foods to avoid and foods to enjoy.  I had nothing to lose at this point so decided to give it a try.  It was my hallelujah moment – within a week my symptoms eased off and I felt hugely better.

This article literally changed my life.  I now really look forward to the Living Without magazine arriving at my door.

Every issue contains a variety of articles on a wide range of IBS related issues.  Asthma, infertility, and backpacking have been just a few of the topics covered this year.  I particularly enjoy reading the Research Round Up Department and always get a laugh out of We’ve Got Issues (irreverent solutions to your real life allergy drama), written by April Peveteaux.

April Peveteaux's hilarious "We've got Issues" in the Living Without magazine
April Peveteaux’s hilarious “We’ve got Issues” in the Living Without magazine

Living Without is one of the few magazines that I actually am interested in the advertising!  The new products that are being made available to folks with Celiac, IBS, Food intolerances and allergies are a ray of sunshine, and I’m appreciative of this place to see what’s new to the market.

And the recipes!! In the April/May issue Lisa Stander Horel authored a fabulous article on baking Big, Fat, Soft Cookies that was so exciting to me.  I plan on using her Vanilla Soft Cookies as a base for my Christmas baking experiments this year.  With a dairy, egg and FODMAP intolerance, my baking options are slim – but Lisa’s ideas have given me something to work with.

Lisa Stander Horel's inspiring cookie recipes in the Living Without magazine
Lisa Stander Horel’s inspiring cookie recipes in the Living Without magazine

If I have one concern about the magazine is that the latest issue doesn’t have the tag ‘the magazine for people with allergies and food sensitivities ‘ on it, but has replaced it with ‘gluten-free living at it’s best’.  I hope it’s not going to focus on just the gluten free aspect of food issues, as I find there are a large collection of publications dedicated to this area already.  The rest of us, with wider ranging issues, really can benefit from a magazine that includes us too….

If you can’t find Living Without on the news stands, check out their website Living Without .  Hopefully you will find this resource as fantastically helpful as I have!

Product Review: Italian Seasoning Blend

One of the things I miss about my old way of cooking is how easy it used to be.  I could use anything that came off the shelf!  Once I discovered that most pre-prepared foods and ingredients in the grocery store contain some sort of item that’s on the FODMAP danger list, my frustration grew as my food stayed boring.  I wanted flavour!!

 One of my biggest frustrations was with cooking savoury dishes.  I used to always reach for our handy ‘italian seasoning blend’ when I was cooking meats and sauces – a practice that had to stop when I discovered it had  onions and garlic added in. 

 I’ve done a little checking and discovered that not all ‘Italian Seasoning Blends’ are created equal.  Not in taste, and certainly not in price!

 To do a small comparison at home, I challenged The Husband, The Son and Myself to a taste test of 4 Italian blends:

 1) Clubhouse italiano ($5.76 for 125 g).  This was our ‘go to’ Italian spice seasoning in the past.  Its ingredient list is: Salt, dehydrated vegetables (red and green pepper, onion, garlic), sugar, spices and herbs (including oregano, basil), modified cornstarch, yeast extract, high oleic sunflower oil.

2) McCormick’s Italian seasoning ( $5.49 for 18 grams). The ingredient list is: Marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savoury, sage, oregano, basil.

3) McCormick’s Italian seasoning (organic) ($6.65 for 15 grams).  The ingredient list is the same as the regular McCormick’s Italian seasoning.

4) Homemade blend of equal parts of :Marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savoury, sage, oregano, basil.  Most of these have been sitting in my spice drawer for a while, so I wasn’t sure if their flavour would still be potent.  I’m calling this blend ‘free’, because I didn’t have to buy anything.

italian spice

 I prepared rice pasta and tossed equal amounts with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of spice mix.  Results of the taste test:

 The Husband and The Son both preferred the Clubhouse blend.  I think if I had added salt to the other dishes, and maybe the olive oil was infused with garlic that the comparison would have been closer.

I myself didn’t like the Clubhouse blend.  I haven’t eaten garlic or onions in 5 months and found the flavour too overpowering.  Among the other blends, I couldn’t tell a difference!

 So, I think in the future, once I have used up my purchased bottles of Italian seasoning, I might start just adding a pinch of each of the listed herbs to my Italian flavoured dishes.  Once I get lazy, I’ll probably purchase the McCormicks regular blend –  I’m not really hung up on the organic aspect of the product – I know from experience growing these herbs in my garden that most of the herbs listed in the blend don’t have huge problems with pests, so I’m guessing (hoping?) that they wouldn’t have a lot of pesticides sprayed on them in the first place.  The exception would probably be basil – my home grown basil always looks like I’ve been sharing it with something else.

 Once again I have discovered how important it is to read labels…. A year ago I wouldn’t have guessed that the ingredient list in the Clubhouse blend would be so different from the McCormick blend.  And the labels can tell you a lot about how much you are paying or overpaying for something.  I was surprised that the 2 matching bottles of McCormick’s contained different amounts of product!  At about 5 cents/g, the Clubhouse brand is the cheapest – but that’s probably because of all the ‘filler’, with the McCormick’s organic coming in at the most expensive at 44 cents/gram.

 Next update, I’m hoping to write next about some upcoming road trips we are planning to take as a family.  Travelling with IBS isn’t for the faint of heart, or the unprepared….