Menu #2

I’m back with another menu.  Menu #2 is Coconut Shrimp Curry, served with rice.

Menu #2
Menu #2

This dish is a nice mid-week recipe especially mid-winter – it’s warm and most of the ingredients are easy to pull from the pantry or freezer.

I usually stock up on the bags of pre-cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp when they come on sale as I find them really handy to have on hand.  I’ll thaw them overnight in the fridge (if I remember to pull them the day before), or just in a large bowl of cool water if (as usual) I am just trying to pull things together quickly.

The shrimp curry is just a variation of the recipe that I’ve posted before. I’ve found that it’s a very flexible recipe  – in this version, I’ve added some organic grated coconut to the coconut milk.

In a previous post I’ve talked about comparisons between different coconut milk, and I have to say that in a recipe like this, where some stronger spices are used, that the slight flavour differences between the brands that I’ve tried wouldn’t really matter.

3 types coconut milkOf course, the other differences (organic or not) play a factor as well.  I find that I reach for the Thai brand most often.

I love using coconut milk because it adds creaminess to dishes, without adding dairy.  It’s usually fairly well tolerated by those on a FODMAP free diet, and with my dairy intolerance it’s a godsend.

The rice, of course, could just as easily be switched out for pad thai noodles.  The noodles give it a different texture and are actually preferred by The Son, but we had the noodles with another dish the night before, so I switched it up.

I like this particular recipe, because I can add whatever veg is kicking around in my fridge or freezer.  Some diced peppers or tomatoes, or frozen chopped spinach all work well with the creamy sauce.

Menu # 2
Menu # 2

So, for the ratings, (with 1 star at the low end and 3 stars at the better end) I would say:

Ease of grocery shopping: * * *

Ease of preparation * * *

Family friendly * * (The Son ate the curry, but not the rice!)

I also like this recipe because it’s easily adjusted and is an excuse to eat seafood.  I find that without butter in my ingredient repertoire that traditional ways of eating shrimp and shellfish are out for me.

Happy Eating!  I hope you find Menu #2 easy to work into your menu rotation.

Coconut Milk (part 2!)

Well, I did eventually get around to opening up my 3 tins of coconut milk and giving them a taste test.   In my last post, I compared the cost and ingredients of three types of coconut milk purchased at my local Safeway – Thai, Tosca and Compliments brands.   I did consider (very briefly) cooking the same recipe with each tin, just to give a scientific comparison, but I just couldn’t do it.  There is such a thing as too much of a good thing!

So, as far as rigorous scientific testing, here’s what I did….

I had The Son open up all three cans and empty the contents into a clear glass.  We then discussed the consistency and colour of the three brands.  Opinion, I must say, was affected by the fact that The Son is a teenager and never seen coconut milk in a can before – he was initially grossed out by the solid coconut cream that had risen to the top of the can.  I tried to explain to him that that was ‘the good stuff’, but he would not be swayed.

coconut milk comparison

I liked the Thai brand (the most expensive of the three). It had the best colour (the Compliments brand was an unnerving greyish colour) and smell (most coconutty).  I would have liked to compare the amount of coconut cream that had risen to the top but The Son moves faster than I and scooped out the cans before I had a chance to check it out.

We then did a taste test.  The Son preferred the taste of the Thai brand, but actually, I found the Tosca brand to be the most full flavoured.  Using a mathematical analysis, we felt that the Thai brand came out on top, though…

I used all three cans of coconut milk, but I made three different recipes…

Coconut Fish

coconut fish

Thai Chicken

Thai Chicken

and Chocolate coconut cupcakes (yum)

chocolate coconute cupcakes

The Coconut Curry fish is a recipe that I’ve blogged about before, the Thai Chicken is an excellent recipe I’ve gotten from another blogger (I printed out the recipe without any identifying information, so now I have to hunt it down so I can give proper credit!), and the Chocolate coconut cupcakes is something I’ll blog about later…  mmmm, Chocolate!

All three recipes came out well, so I can’t really say that one brand of coconut milk is preferred over another in this regard.  I do know that I prefer the Thai and Tosca over the Compliments brand, even though they are more expensive.  I love the flavour of coconut milk, and it is a low FODMAP product.  According to the Monash Fodmap app, Coconut milk and coconut oil both get a green light.  Curiously, the coconut water (250 ml serving) gets a red light for being high in Polyols.

Jennifer Nelson for the Mother Nature Network gives a nice summary of the differences between coconut milk and water.  I wasn’t comparing calories or fat types, just the different brands.

Until next 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.

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!

Gutsy Broad’s Coconut Fish

This recipe for Gutsy Broad’s Coconut Fish is a bit of work in progress.  I had wanted to develop something that had a bit of a different flavour (with a limited variety of ingredients, I didn’t want all my food tasting the same!), was easy to make, and was very, very gentle on my tummy.  When I have an IBS flare up this is one of my go-to recipes – I put it together after learning about the FODMAP diet this spring.

Yummy and gentle on the Tummy.
Yummy and gentle on the Tummy.

I had read that coconut and ginger are both good for the digestion system, so I wanted to incorporate both.  You can change this up a bit, to suit yourself.  I did find that I needed more salt than I was used to adding to food.  I think I’ve discovered just how much salt is in prepared foods now that I am making everything from scratch!  My taste-buds miss salt, so I’m slowly trying to wean myself off it (that being said, when I’m feeling icky, I crave salty foods!).

At the time I put this recipe together, I was mourning the loss of Indian curry dishes from my diet.  Too much butter, garlic and onions!  I found that pre-packaged curry spice mixes often have garlic and onion in them, so I experimented with just using the Tumeric, wich has a mild flavour but gives the dish a very curry yellow colour.

This FODMAP friendly recipe serves 2 to 4 people, depending on how big your serving sizes are.  It takes about 25-30 minutes to prepare.  The Son is suspicious of curry sauce, so I pan-fry the fish in a separate pan and add to the sauce at the end.  You could easily modify the reicipe and cook it all in one skillet.

Gutsy Broad’s Coconut Fish

  • 4 fillets of fish, chopped into large chunks. (I use whatever I have on hand – salmon, basa, cod, even shrimp (though shrimp takes a shorter time to cook))
  • Olive oil
  • 5-6 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp Tumeric (more or less to taste)
  • 1 Tsp paprika and or chili powder (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1-2 handfuls of washed and chopped spinach (optional)
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, chopped (optional)
  • dash of lime juice (optional)

In skillet, sauté the fish in olive oil until cooked and a bit crispy.  It will get very crumbly, but this is ok.

In another skillet, start with sautéing the tomatoes, ginger, and spices in olive oil.  It will get very liquidy, but keep boiling until all the moisture has been steamed off (otherwise this dish is too watery).  Add the pepper and spinach if desired and sauté for a minute or two.  Add the coconut milk and cooked fish and then heat through.  Sprinkle with lime juice if desired.

I serve this with rice or quinoa, and have a side of broccoli or carrots.

If you have a picky eater (ha!  That’s coming from someone who’s following a FODMAP diet!) like The Son, I reserve some coconut milk and heat it with some pan-fried fish, salt and pepper.  Served over rice with a side of veggies, it’s pretty good.  Once his taste buds mature, I’ll be able to do this all in one pan, which will make the washing up easier.

Next post I hope to update you on my ongoing efforts to keep my symptoms in check.  We’ll see what I’m trying and how I’m doing…