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.

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.

 

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!

Meal Planning for Breakfast

I’ve been doing some thinking on how far I’ve come from when I first figured out I had IBS and discovered the FODMAP diet.  Besides the constant threat of diarrhea and the pain associated with it, what I remember clearly is the panic I felt around the question ‘what can I eat today?’. I didn’t start out consciously meal planning for breakfast, but I do have a small list of go-to menu items that make it easy for me to start my day AND to grocery shop for.

I can readily admit that I’m not a health nut.  I try to eat balanced, nutritious meals, but I don’t calorie count.  Maybe I’ll get there, but for now, I’m mostly just concerned about the basics about feeding myself.  I love eating for pleasure (having candles on the table makes food taste better, somehow), and can’t see myself gulping down a kale smoothie just ‘because it’s good for me’.  Maybe someday, but not today.

If anyone reads this and is starting out on their FODMAP journey, I hope you can get some inspiration from this post.  I shop at two stores: Safeway and Planet Organic.  Hopefully the ideas will make life just a teeny bit easier for you…. I’ll include recipes in later posts…

Granola Breakfast

toast

 

 

 

 

Breakfast – Weekdays

I tend to alternate between two menus during the week.  Easier to buy groceries for, easy to prepare on mornings when I need to eat before I’m fully woken up.

  • allergen free (gluten, egg, dairy, FODMAP free) bread, toasted, spread with organic crunchy peanut butter and topped with slices of bananas.
  • a dollop of goats-milk yogurt (for some reason my body can handle milk from goats but not a cow), granola (either a low-FODMAP kind from the store or home-made), and fresh berries sprinkled on top (I alternate between raspberries and blueberries, and have discovered that I can tolerate a small amount of blackberries (high on Polyols on the Monash FODMAP app).

scones baked

Breakfast – Weekends

If I’m lazy, I stick to the above.  But I do enjoy baking, and preparing foods with my family so will have one of the following for a special breakfast on a weekend.

Pancakes

  • Oat scones topped with marmalade.
  • Allergen free pancakes, with fruit salad (made with whatever I have on hand that’s got a green light from the Monash FODMAP app), and bacon. Served with pure maple syrup.

Breakfast – on the road

  • Travelling can be a real challenge for someone with IBS.  If I’m staying in a hotel, I make sure I have my rice cakes and organic peanut butter with me.  I’ve found that as long as I’m at a table of people who are ordering off the menu, my bringing food doesn’t cause much of a stir (I do try to be a little discreet, though). If I get an odd look, I’ll order a side of bacon off the menu and that seems to make everything OK.  On the bonus side, crispy bacon on a peanut butter slathered rice cake is incredibly yummy.

And those are about it.  I’ve experimented with other options, but these seem to be my go-to menu items.  At first, deciding what to eat can be daunting, but I’ve discovered that meal planning for breakfast doesn’t have to be a mind-bending, expensive or earth shifting experience.  Good luck to your own breakfast plans!

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!

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.