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.

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!

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…..

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?

My Journey, Part 3

Remember how I said that removing the foods on the food panel blood test made me feel better?  Well, that lasted.  For about 3 months. 

And then the symptoms came back again.  Slowly at first, and during the month of December. You know – the time of year where there is food everywhere.  Beautiful food.  Special food.  So delicious food.   

So at first, I didn’t know if I was truly getting worse, or just ‘accidentally’ eating foods on my forbidden list.   

But, my cramping and bloating and dashes to the bathroom were becoming more frequent.  By the time Christmas actually arrived, I was scared to eat anything.  We were spending Christmas at my Mom and Dad’s place – and my mom is a great cook.  No, scratch that – she’s an amazing cook.  She was so worried about making me sick, but I simply had too many forbidden foods for her to remember.   

And, on top of that, we were flying to go visit them.   

Now, I should mention that the symptoms weren’t really, really bad here.  I just felt tired, with weird bowel movements, lots of bloating and cramping.  Weird enough for me not to trust being on a plane without a good dose of pepto bismol to keep any surprise diarrhea under control.   

In January, I tried to talk rationally to myself.  I hate always feeling yukky.  I’m a ‘suck it up, buttercup’ kind of gal.  I’m not THAT sick, right?  So I started a ‘feeling’ diary – where I just wrote down the date, and a short comment on how the day went.  ‘Good’ if I had a good day, HLHS if I had a headache on my left hand side, BMx4, runny (4 bowel movements, runny), that sort of thing.  At the end of the month I looked back:  There was only one day where the entry said ‘Good’.   

I can’t live like this.  What to do? 

I tried my Doctor again: I just got the sad look and an offer to book me in for allergy testing.  I was pretty sure I didn’t have allergies, but put myself on the waiting list. 

I  contacted my naturopath and reviewed my food and symptom diaries.  I confirmed that I was  taking the expensive probiotics.  Yes, I was also taking the right fiber supplements.  Yes, I was (now) avoiding the forbidden foods.  I could tell the naturopath was stumped.  

It turns out that my girlfriend has a naturopath who suggests smelly powders and potions.  Have you ever heard of Slippery Elm and Marshmallow Root?  My friend swears by this combination.  I mentioned this to the naturopath and she said it couldn’t hurt (but she did look doubtful that it would help).  I purchased some at my local supplement store and tried them – I think they are just a ‘natural’ alternative to pepto bismol.  They helped a bit with the diarrhea, but they aren’t as effective as pepto bismol.   

The couple at my local health supplement store recommended a special fiber supplement.  I was desperate enough to buy it.  It ain’t cheap, and  this stuff not only tastes, really, really bad, but it stinks to high heaven.  Do I really need to do all this just to feel ‘normal’? 

And that’s when I got my February/March issue of Living Without.  Inside was an article about researchers at the Monash University in Australia who were studying IBS and investigating something called FODMAPs.  I was encouraged to see that their work was the result of actual research!  Included in the article was a small box, listing common foods to avoid and foods to enjoy.  I ripped it out and stuck it to the refrigerator. 

What the hell, I thought.  Let’s give it a try.  At this point I was desperate – I had a heating pad on my belly every evening trying to calm the pain.  And every morning was spent with repeated trips to the bathroom.  The new diet was worth a try. 

The results were almost immediate.  The bloating went away.  The cramps went away.  And, thanks to the researchers at Monash University, the diarrhea went away too.   

I’ve been following a FODMAP diet for a little while now, but it seems longer – I think because my days are so full – of doing things in the real world!  I’m not continually stuck in the bathroom, or sacked out on the couch with a headache, or walking around painfully with a belly that looks like I’m 8 months pregnant. 

Yes, there have been bumps along the way.  I know that my other attempts at a ‘cure’ only lasted for a little while – so I am a bit nervous that this good thing won’t last.  But I sure will enjoy it while it does!