Sunday, 29 March 2015

Easy, Wheat Free, Walnut and Rosemary Soda Bread

There's nothing like home-made bread fresh from the oven - especially when it's this easy to bake.

Hi again Fodmappers - I hope the sun is shining where you. It's officially the first day of summer here in the UK and it's cold, wet and windy! Not that I'm complaining as it's given me a chance to try my hand at something I've wanted to do for a while, and that's making my own soda bread. I've never been a big fan of bread but I do enjoy soda bread, maybe partly because it reminds me of holidays in Ireland where I've enjoyed it for breakfast - fresh from the oven. So today, I've been hiding from the weather and cooking up a storm.

If you're a regular visitor to my page (hello and thank you for stopping by) you'll remember that in my last post I talked about the difference between gluten and fodmaps and why gluten-free isn't always the best choice if you have IBS. However this recipe is gluten-free, wheat-free, lactose-free and fodmap friendly. What's more, as it's a soda bread, it's also yeast-free, so if that's something you need to avoid then this recipe is for you too. It's also incredibly easy. In fact it's so easy I added my own twist.

I took as my inspiration the Doves Farm recipe for Emmer Soda Bread, but as Emmer is a form of wheat I replaced it with their Gluten Free Plain White Flour. (In case you're wondering, I'm not being sponsored by Doves Farm, that's just what I used). I discovered you don't need to use a strong flour for soda bread (who knew?) and as I already had the plain white at home I thought it was worth a go. I really had no idea how it would turn out but sometimes you've just got to try these things. I'm pleased to say it baked beautifully, so if you fancy giving it a go, here's how I did it.

Walnut and Rosemary Soda Bread


450g Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain White Flour
1 and 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
450g of Lactose Free Yogurt
1/2 cup of Chopped Walnuts
1 Tbsp of Dried Rosemary


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/400F.
2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

3. Stir in the yogurt and bring together into a ball. Note: Soda bread doesn't have to be kneaded and only takes moments to come together.
4. Place on an oiled baking sheet and sprinkle with flour.
5. Cut an X in the top and bake in the oven for approximately 55 to 60 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and tap on the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it's ready.
7. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy with soup, cheese or a spread of your choice. Of course, if the sun is shining where you are, this would be perfect on a picnic with a glass of wine. Well I can dream. ;)

'Til next time Fodmappers - Stay Fabulous. x

Monday, 23 March 2015

Can A Gluten Free Diet Help IBS?

And how is that different from a low-fodmap diet?

Hi again Fodmappers

I've noticed that there seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding gluten and whether going gluten-free can help reduce the symptoms of IBS, so that's what I want to talk about today. I also want to look at why you need to avoid wheat, barley and rye as part of a low-fodmap diet, and, finally, why some gluten-free products are not suitable for a low-fodmap diet. But first lets look at the difference between gluten and FODMAPs.

Gluten vs FODMAPs

Gluten is a protein (or more accurately a combination of two proteins) found in grains, particularly so in wheat but also in rye and barley, and it is this which gives dough it's stretchy quality. If you have bought flour for baking bread you will probably have bought a 'strong flour' as this type contains more gluten than the flour you might use for cakes or biscuits as bread making needs the elasticity that gluten provides. It's gluten that is a factor in coeliac disease.

Approximately 1 in 100 people in the U.K have coeliac disease. 'Coeliac disease is not a food allergy or intolerance, it is an autoimmune disease. In coeliac disease, eating gluten causes the lining of the small intestine to become damaged.' (1) People who have coeliac disease need to avoid ingesting even the smallest amount of gluten as to do so can cause further damage to the lining of the gut.

Fodmaps, on the other hand, are a group of carbohydrates found, not only in grains, but also in fruit, vegetables, nuts, pulses and dairy produce. 'Current research strongly suggests that this group of carbohydrates contributes to IBS...' (2)

IBS is much more common than coeliac disease, affecting between 1 in 4 and 1 in 10 people at any given time. (3) Though it is a chronic condition, it is a functional disorder. That is to say, the problem is in the way the gut functions, rather than in any damage to the gut itself.

Though wheat, barley and rye contain gluten they are also high-fodmap, and this seems to be where the confusion arises.

If you have IBS you may have discovered that you feel better if you eat gluten free products rather than wheat-based breads, biscuits, cakes, pastas and cereals. However, this is likely to be because, by choosing gluten free, you are also removing high-fodmap grains (such as wheat, rye and barley) from your diet.

A Gluten Free Caution

But if you have IBS, you do not need to avoid gluten, you need to avoid fodmaps. In fact fodmappers need to be careful when choosing 'gluten-free' as these products are designed for people with coeliac disease not IBS. Just because they are gluten-free doesn't mean they are necessarily low-fodmap. Remember fodmaps are found in more than just grains, and gluten-free products may also contain soya flour, apple fibre or inulin (from chicory) all of which are high-fodmap.

So the short answer to the question, 'can a gluten free diet help IBS?', is yes. But it has nothing to do with gluten. I hope that's cleared things up a bit?

'Til next time Fodmappers - Stay Fabulous. x


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Low FODMAP Rebellious Ratatouille

And a quick lesson in using garlic as part of a low-fodmap diet.

Hi again Fodmappers - Today I want to share another simple vegetarian and vegan recipe idea that's so yummy, you'd never know it was low-fodmap, or vegetarian. But first I want to talk to you a little about garlic, particularly as I know some of you have asked ...

Can I have garlic as part of a low-fodmap diet?

It dawned on me recently that I rarely talk much about the ingredients I use and why it's ok (or not ok) to include them. For me, getting myself well has been as much about what I've learned as what I've eaten because, as I've mentioned before, low-fodmap is not about cutting back on what we eat, it's about replacing high fodmaps with low ones. I'm sure that understanding what I can incorporate, and how, has been a vital part of my success. So I'd like to pass on something which I think you'll find helpful too.

I like my food to have plenty of flavour and unfortunately garlic is high-fodmap (don't run away Fodmappers, there is good news to follow) so it's not surprising that I discovered it to be one of my main triggers. But there is a way we can still enjoy a little garlic flavour in our food. I shan't baffle you with science, but if you just want to skip to the recipe, feel free.

(If you're new to fodmaps you might like to read this.)

In a nutshell, garlic (along with onions and pulses) is a type of oligosaccharide and is water soluble. This means that when you add garlic to soups, sauces, stock etc, the oligos (the O in fodmap) will leach into your food. It is the oligos, along with other fodmaps, that trigger symptoms of IBS.

However, they are not soluble in oil. (I remember this seemed like a revelation when I learned this). This means we can still enjoy a little garlic as garlic infused oil. You can buy garlic infused oil but it's easy enough to make. And by making garlic infused oil we can safely include what is a high-fodmap ingredient in a low-fodmap diet!

So here is my simple ratatouille recipe. I'm calling this Rebellious Ratatouille as that's how I feel when I add 'naughty' ingredients like garlic to my recipes. I think you'll see that I've just made a couple of tweaks to make it low-fodmap. So easy when you know how. I hope you like it.

Rebellious Ratatouille


Olive Oil
A few garlic cloves
1 red pepper
2 courgettes
1 small aubergine
4 or 5 spring onions
1 small carton of passata
Fresh basil
Black pepper


1. Chop garlic into fairly large pieces to make them easier to remove.
2. Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic. Cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes allowing the garlic to infuse.
3. Remove the garlic from the oil. You' now have garlic infused oil. (Didn't I say it was easy?)
4. Cut the white parts from the spring onions and discard. (This part is high in oligosaccharides).
5. Roughly chop the spring onion greens (leaves) peppers, courgettes and aubergines and add to the oil. Cook until softened, stirring continuously.
6. Add the passata and heat through.
7. Add the pepper and basil and simmer.

Serve with wheat free pasta and a side salad alongside a little grilled halloumi (watch portion size) or tofu sprinkled with paprika for extra yumminess.

'Til next time Fodmappers - Stay Fabulous. x

Monday, 9 March 2015

Low-FODMAP Rhubarb and Ginger Crumble

You know how sometimes you promise yourself you'll just have a little dessert, and before you know it you're having seconds?

Hi again Fodmappers

I've been longing for rhubarb crumble for a while and finally remembered to buy in what I needed. After dinner this evening I finally got my wish. I love the simplicity and the sharpness of rhubarb. It's real comfort food. And it tastes even better than I remembered.

But I imagine you might be a little cautious about rhubarb. After all, doesn't it have a reputation for being a laxative? Well that's true, but it is also low-fodmap. Confused? Keep reading ...

Without getting too complicated, rhubarb is high in fibre and can be a gentle laxative. Some Fodmappers might find this beneficial as a low-fodmap diet can in fact be low in fibre. However, it can also reduce diarrhoea by adding bulk to stools. (This is not unlike the effect of some prescription laxatives.) But most importantly from our point of view, as it is low-fodmap, we know that it isn't likely to trigger symptoms of IBS. In fact Monash (who we have to thanks for developing the low-fodmap diet) states that up to a cup of chopped rhubarb 'should be tolerated by most individuals with IBS'. (1)

Up to a cup? That sounds like a generous portion of rhubarb to me! And I like rhubarb! So, with rhubarb given the green light, here's my recipe for a tasty crumble.

I used stem ginger instead of sugar to sweeten the rhubarb, partly because I love the combination of ginger and rhubarb, and partly because there is plenty of sugar in the crumble topping. If you don't like ginger, just leave it out and maybe add a little sugar or maple syrup instead.

I also added a little ground almond to the crumble. Up to 10 almonds are low-fodmap and though I haven't calculate how many almonds are equivalent to 1/4 cup of ground, I figure that as the recipe serves 4 this should still be within the 'safe' limit for most people. Of course, if you know you're sensitive to nuts, just leave them out.

One final word of caution - this is yummy! (Even though I say so myself). And as you'll be aware from the discussion above regarding the acceptable amount of rhubarb and almonds, portion size is vitally important when it comes to keeping your tummy happy. If you think you're going to find this crumble hard to resist you could cook it in little ramekins and limit yourself to just the one. And they'd look cute too.

Rhubarb and Ginger Crumble

Serves 4 - 6

For the filling

500g of frozen rhubarb (defrosted)
4 pieces of stem ginger
Approx 2 Tbsp of water

For the Crumble

1 cup of Doves Farm gluten free plain white flour
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of butter or vegetable margarine
1/3 cup of oats
1/4 cup of ground almond
1 tsp of cinnamon

1. Place the rhubarb in a pan with the water to prevent it burning.
2. Cut the stem ginger into small pieces and add to the pan.
3. Cover the pan and simmer until the rhubarb begins to soften. Remove from heat.
4. Add the flour and butter to a bowl and rub together until it forms large breadcrumbs.
5. Add the sugar, oats, ground almonds and cinnamon to the flour and stir through.
6. Put the rhubarb and ginger filling into a greased ovenproof dish.
7. Spoon the crumble filling on top.
8. Cook in the oven for approx. 30 minutes.

Enjoy with lactose free cream or yogurt.

'Til next time Fodmappers - Stay fabulous.

(1). From the Monash phone app.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Low FODMAP Veggie Noodle Pot To Go

Hi again Fodmappers

Today I've got an easy hot lunch idea for you. And because I often forget the vegans amongst us - this one is vegan friendly.

You may remember a few weeks ago I shared a recipe for a Veggie Noodle Soup. Well it occurred to me that it would be easy to make something similar as a noodle pot to take with you to work or college. All you need is access to a kettle or a microwave and a few minutes of preparation the night before.

Vegetarian Noodle Pot

Suggested Ingredients

1 small to medium carrot
1 small courgette
Small piece of sweet pepper
Some spring onion greens
1/2 block of rice noodles
A few small cubes of firm tofu
A pinch of ground ginger
1 tsp of garlic infused oil
A dash of soy sauce
A pinch of sugar
A little salt and pepper


Shred or grate the carrot and courgette.
Finely chop the spring onion greens and red pepper.
Pop all the ingredients into a microwavable plastic soup pot and snap on the lid.

When you're ready for lunch, simply pour on boiling water and allow to stand for a few minutes or add water and pop into a microwave. You'll have a quick, easy and nutritious lunch in no time. Low fodmap to go!

Have a great week - and stay fabulous! x