You know there's an app for that? Monash FODMAP app.

Monday, 17 March 2014

My iphone can do everything better than me. How? Because there's an app for that. This phrase has established itself in my life just as much as "Google will know" when asked a question about...well, anything.

You can download to your handheld magic machine a programme (app) who's purpose is simply to solve your problem. Initially I thought the range was games, games and er.. games. Not the case. Can't sleep? Sleep Cycle app. Weather? Met Office app. Whether whiskey is FODMAP friendly? FODMAP app!!

This whiskey predicament I was finding increasingly troubling. Bottle in hand, ready to splash a generous amount into my cooking (boozehound) I paused .."whiskey is made from a grain...". DUH DUH DUUUUUUUUH. Having established that Jack Daniels whiskey is gluten free due to the distilling process riding it of gluten, I began to question whiskey's FODMAP properties.

This was where my new favourite app swooped in to save the day. Monash University (brains behind the FODMAP diet) have released an iphone and now android app, which "provides accurate information about foods that trigger IBS reactions and will significantly help sufferers to manage their symptoms".

The best bit about the app in my opinion? The search function for foods. Foods are listed and rated using a traffic light system. Red light - no no. Green light - chomp away.

Life pre-app involved me carrying around a double sided list of foods which I had copied out of the book I was given by my deitcian (and laminated so it would survive the depths of my bag). Now if shopping or out and need to double check something, I just whip out my iphone and have my answer in roughly a minute. Oh I love modern technology.

The Monash app has been great for increasing my understanding of the FODMAP diet, it provides recipes, allows you to filter your 'sensitivities', has a '1 week challenge' plan so you can monitor what you eat versus your just keeps giving. So following recommending it to people several times on Twitter, the time has come to dedicate a post to it!

Priced at £6.99 (so cheaper than most cook books) I think it's a bargain. Monash also states that any proceeds from the sale of the app goes towards funding more FODMAP research. 

Click here to view it on the apple app store. Click here to read more about it from the Monash people themselves. And click here to watch a YouTube clip about the app (those Monash people have really got it covered!)

VIP (Very Important Pie): Pecan Brownie Pie

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Pecan brownie pie

Thanksgiving is approaching. Now, having lived in England my whole life, Thanksgiving has never really registered on my radar.  I've seen the 'Friends' episodes and that's pretty much where my involvement in the holiday begins and ends - cultured I know. But this year that is all about to change! I've been invited to a Thanksgiving party! Now I love a party, and when it's in association with a national holiday dedicated to food, I'm all in.

So wanting something impressive but themed, I took to my favorite blog to save the day, and boy did it do me proud.

Domestic Sluttery is one of my favorite reads. Not as naughty as it sounds, but just as fun, the site offers fashion, fun and FOOD. One swift search for 'pecan' later and I was led to their Pecan Brownie Pie. Er, HELLO. By the time I'd read down too... "It's fudgy rather than cakey so it's very forgiving of substituting gluten free flour." ...SOLD. 

So not being able to wait till Thanksgiving, I made it the following evening. For er, 'testing' purposes. So whilst I was pretty sure it would be nothing short of delicious, I can officially testify to it being gooey and sweet, with the pecans providing that crunch...oh my. Served with vanilla ice cream or double cream, this pie won't fail to impress.  

Serves: 8 (dependent on slice size!)
Prep & cook time: 1 hour
Pre-heat oven: 180 degrees/ gas mark 4


For the pecan pie layer:

  • 300g pecans (this seems like A LOT when you weigh it out, but it's all needed so stick with it)
  • 55g butter
  • 110ml maple syrup 
  • shot of whiskey
  • 1 egg

For the brownie layer:
  • 55g dark chocolate
  • 110g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 55g gluten-free self raising flour (I used Doves Farm)
  • 170g brown sugar
  1. Line a 8 inch springform tin
  2. Put all your pecans in a separate oven proof dish and cover in half the maple syrup. Toast them in the oven for 7 minutes.
  3. Once gloriously toasted, remove and jig those pecans about. Otherwise the molten maple syrup has a tendency to stick those pecans to your dish and you will be there attempting to carve them off the bottom for the next 20 minutes ...ain't no body got time for that.
  4. Place half to two thirds of the toasted pecans evenly in the bottom of the lined cake tin. You want to keep aside enough toasted pecans for your decoration of choice (I held back about half).
  5. Turn the oven down to 160 degrees/ gas mark 3.
  6. Add to a pan the butter, remaining maple syrup, sugar and whiskey. Melt together at a low heat.
  7. When consistent, remove from heat to cool.
  8. When cooled, beat in the egg and pour over the waiting pecans in the cake tin.
  9. Put in the oven for 15 minutes until slightly set.
  10. Whilst this is cooking, it's brownie time! Melt the butter and chocolate together in a pan.
  11. Allow to cool, then add in the remaining brownie ingredients.
  12. Mix it up!
  13. Pour the brownie mixture over your set pecan layer.
  14. Cook for a further 30 minutes!
  15. Remove, allow to cool a little and then ...FLIP IT. Yes this bit filled me with fear a little too, but your pecan layer needs to sit on top. So flip, release the spring tin then step back in awe at the glorious gooey goodness before you! 
  16. Decorate with remaining toasted pecans.

pecan brownie pie 4

Check out my cooking in action on my Instagram

Twitter Chat: #RDUK & #FODMAPS

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

I have a plethora of social media accounts. I tweet, I Facebook, I 'connect' on LinkedIn. I blog, I log, I carry around people's wardrobes in my pocket...Fitocracy, What I Wore Today and I'm considering becoming a Platter-er, oh how I love it all.

So when I got 'invited' to a Twitter chat about FODMAPs I was immediately on board. 

I imagined this to be technology's take on networking events! But instead of toddling your way to a London bar and mingling with names badges all the evening, you sat down to your computer at 8pm, wrapped up in your dressing gown with a bevvie in hand!! ...Or where ever your evening slob attire and snack routine takes you!

So what is it?

Well the website explains it all, but I've copied it below so you can see:

How does #RDUK work?
#RDUK is a monthly moderated Twitter conversation related to the latest headlines, new studies or controversial topics, in collaboration with the British Dietetic Association. Anyone with a twitter account can participate!

First Monday of each month at 8-9pm UK time. Each month we cover a different topic
Search Twitter for #RDUK for news and views, or come back to this page for updates.

The chat happens live on Twitter and you can join in or just watch at any time during the hour. Simply tag your tweets with #RDUK.

Sasha Watkins RD (@TheFoodCoachRD)
Azmina Govindji RD (@AzminaNutrition)
Emma Carder RD (@EmmaCarderRD) 

So the chat titled: Can FODMAP diet help IBS? Had a 5 question structure:

  • Q1: FODMAP's are receiving a lot of media attention in the UK. What should we be advising people who enquire about trying a low FODMAP diet?
  • Q2: Eating out or takeaway meals can prove tricky on the low FODMAP diet. How can we raise awareness with chefs, restaurants, cafes etc?
  • Q3: Many people miss their onions and garlic on the low FODMAP diet. Any top tips for  FODMAP friendly ways to flavour meals instead?
  • Q4: Reintroducing  FODMAP's after the initial trial is a key stage in the process. Why is this important? Any experiences to share?
  • Q5: It can be hard to remember all the FODMAP foods while shopping. Any top tips or personal experiences to share?

The moderators would tweet out the question (each question had 10 minutes) and if you had a response you would start your tweet A1, A2 and so on, and let your opinions flow!

By tagging each tweet #RDUK (and Emma Carder tweeted on the night to use #FODMAP too) you could follow the 'stream' of conversation. 

The main people answering seemed to be Dieticians. But there were quite a few patients out there who tweeted out, that whilst they wouldn't be tweeting, they would be 'listening in' to learn more. 

What I loved was how some patients piped up that they were very interested to read what was going on but had their: "15 year old daughter by my side to explain the Twitter bit"
So clearly there is some way to go in explaining the use of such Twitter conversations so they are easier to understand and accessible to all.

We were told the archive of the chat will be posted on Sasha Watkins RD BSc website in a couple of days. This is a fab idea in my opinion and I'm really looking forward to reading it! It will be interesting to read back to see if I missed any tweets, and delve more into the links that people posted offering advice.

But below is my summary, and what I personally gained and learnt from the chat. 

Q1:  FODMAP 's are receiving a lot of media attention in the UK. What should we be advising people who enquire about trying a low  FODMAP  diet?

FODMAPfree A1: Receive professional guidance, support& help so you understand, can cook happily + don't get caught out eg stock cubes!


This is will mean your diet is not too restrictive and you will be able to work with the diet, as you properly understand it. The diet is individualised to each patient taking into consideration usual dietary intake and symptom profile. Careful implementation is needed to ensure the diet is effective and nutritionally adequate.  Sasha Watkins RD (@TheFoodCoachRD) tweeted out the King's College London link which is well worth a read.

Q2: Eating out or takeaway meals can prove tricky on the low FODMAP diet. How can we raise awareness with chefs, restaurants, cafes etc?

FODMAPfree A2: Checking menus before you go, explaining clearly & asking politely provides an amazing response.

You can't just expect to turn up to a restaurant and send them into a frenzy whirlwind as they try to clobber something to suit your diet whilst trying to give you an equally enjoyable customer experience. 

Food takes preparation, so give restaurants time. Simply be organised! Check the menu online before you go, ring the restaurant, let them know what you would like to order *insert yummy food dish here*,  and ask is there any way it could be tailored to meet your dietary requirements! I've found this to provide an amazing response. After all, restaurants business survive on providing for their customers, so spread the FODMAP word! 

Emma Carder RD (@EmmaCarderRD)  made an important point however: 
"Not always possible to avoid FODMAP's completely when eating out, won’t do u any harm but their effects may b felt after the meal"

SO TRUE. If you're tempting to 'cheat', expect a food hangover.

Q3: Many people miss their onions and garlic on the low FODMAP diet. Any top tips for  FODMAP  friendly ways to flavour meals instead?

FODMAPfree A3: I blogged about my fav alternatives. 'Life beyond onion & garlic'' Asafoetida :)

Asafoetida came out top here. But also popular were: fresh herbs; garlic, basil & chilli infused oils; the green part of spring onions and making batches of stock to freeze and use as needed.

Q4: Reintroducing  FODMAP's after the initial trial is a key stage in the process. Why is this important? Any experiences to share?

Now I kept quiet on this one as I am not a trained Dietician but just a patient! So I wanted to let the professional advice get seen and not let my anecdotal tales get in the way!

What this question highlighted was the importance of the guidance and monitoring of your Dietician

As was wisely advised:
  • Emma Carder (@EmmaCarderRD): Everyone’s gut is different & reintroductions will vary person by person! 
  • Azmina (@AzminaNutrition): Fear of eating needs to be addressed. Re-introduce foods when calm, not stressed out! 
  • Kate Scarlata (@KateScarlata_RD): Go slow with re-introduction to isolate foods that are particularly problematic. This varies from person to person.

Q5: It can be hard to remember all the  FODMAP  foods while shopping. Any top tips or personal experiences to share?

FODMAPfree A5: I typed a chart up, laminated it & it lived in my hand bag & came shopping with me! Would also make a weekly menu!

I got a re-tweet (RT) for that answer! *gold star for me*

On one side of a piece of paper I put all the foods in red that I needed to avoid, and then in green on the other side, all the foods I could eat!

And voila! A little aide-mémoire for when I'm out and about to make sure I don't slip up!

And that was it! Everyone politely thanked one another and wished each other goodnight! It was a really informative exercise and great to connect with other patients and Dieticians. I hope it will help raise awareness of the diet, and place it prominently on Dieticians' and Gastroenterologists' agenda.



p.s. What do you think of Twitter conversations? Are they the way to an informative future or  a technological fad? 

The low FODMAP cookbook!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Hey all! Long time no post, apologies for the hiatus all. Illness decided to strike my household and it was like man flu BUT WORSE. 

But now I'm back, and I'm back WITH A BOOK!

Not my own sadly but little Ms Natalie Nott's!
(But oh hiii publishers! I'm keen if you are!)

This is the holy grail for all on a restrictive diet: a recipe book tailored to your requirements! And this one really ticks all the boxes. 

Fantastically laid out, big pictures and easy to follow YUMMY recipes! 
And it's thorough too. All the recipes are reviewed by the Dietitian Dr. Jane Muir of the Eastern Health Clinical School at Monash University. 

Now you experienced low FODMAP-ers may be thinking: 
"...Isn't that the University that developed the low FODMAP diet?" 

Sure is clever clogs!!! 
You don't really get a better stamp of approval than that for a low FODMAP cookbook now do you?

The only downside to the book in my opinion is that it's Australian. Now don't get me wrong, I love the Australians. After all they are the Kings of the BBQ, the home to cute kangaroos and remain the travel destination of choice for my adventurousness Uni pals... 

 Two snaps from where one of my best pals is RIGHT NOW: 
Margaret River, Western Australia. 
Photographs used with the permission of Chloe Evans.

But cookbook wise there are some ingredients us Brits don't have immediately to hand. But this really is a minor niggle, and the ingredients or alternatives can easily be sourced. But this does also mean the book comes with a hefty postage price tag ($35.75 AUD when I ordered mine).

However in my opinion it's worth it. I've become quite the dab hand at automatically adjusting recipes to fit my low FODMAP diet. But sometime's its quite nice to not have to put so much brain power into cooking and just follow along. But if the price tag is off putting (£46.39 GBP total), but you're still interested, Natalie Nott has a fantastic website, which you can 'subscribe' to and receive free updates which hold recipes! What a lovely lady.

So step aside Jamie, Nigella and Delia, there's a new kid in town!




p.s. Have you bought the book? What's your favourite recipe? Take a peak at page.50 for the meatloaf. My new favourite dinner for sure!

Secret Genius Mission

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

I've been really rather under the weather recently. And there is literally nothing that frustrates me more. So like every good technology reared youth, when I finally have to admit defeat and succumb to the sofa, my good friend Internet comes with me. 

So there I was, having a casual stroll on the net when I noticed Genius Gluten Free had a released a mission. But not just any mission, a SECRET mission. Always one to think I would make an excellent Spook, CSI agent, general kick-ass kinda gal, I delved in.

"Pssst! Fancy being one of the first to try and review some secret new Genius products?"

Err yes!

Would this not be the ultimate 'pick you up from feeling poorly present' ...Free food?! 

And tasty food at that! I've been a big fan of Genius products for some time now and eat them pretty much daily. I love the image, that the product stems from a mother's desire for her children not to miss out and that their products are available in the majority of big name stores.

Plus I needed an activity. My body may have been saying "no" but my brain was saying "BORED" and shriveling by the second. And Genius had laid it out so nice and simple. 

  1. Write a short product review
  2. Take a photo of you enjoying the product
  3. E-mail review and product. 

Well you don't get nothing if you don't try eh!? So (admittedly after a nap) I smiled sweetly at my Dad to round up all our Genius Gluten Free bread and set about my entry for the competition....and voila!

And really, what says I love your product more than a jammy heart lovingly spread on a seeded slice of bread?! 

Apparently nothing.

'Cos by damn folks, they only went and picked me to join their troop of Genius Secret Mission participants! I never get picked for anything!! Now maybe I was the only one that entered, maybe they felt sorry for my little makeup smeared 'I'm not feeling poorly, I'm feeling HAPPY' face, who knows. Either way, I am one happy chappy!!

The lovely people at Genius have told me I will receive my secret Genius product by the end of the week. I presume it will arrive under the cover of darkness, a secret hand signal, lots of nodding and knowing looks will take place (told you I was a fan of the secret agent shows...)

In the meantime, check out my entry on the Genius Gluten Free Facebook page

Or for your convenience, here is what I had to say about Genius Gluten Free bread...

Genius started with the simple desire to bring back the small but mighty egg and toast soldiers. And now the perils of food intolerance have been removed for the masses. Genius you are so good to us! Convenience is back as this bread comes sliced in white, brown or seeded. So whether you're feeling simple, healthy or nutty; the satisfaction of jammy toast, a BLT or a more indulgent bread and butter pudding, is all at your fingertips. 

The pitfall of most gluten free bread is the stability of said bread on the journey from packet to mouth. It's risky business. And one that can end in heartbreak if that tantalising toast, sandwich or pud can't make the distance. But Genius have taken Lucinda's humble homemade loaf to mass bakery production, and in my opinion have done it better than all the rest. It holds! It's triumphant! And oh boy is it tasty. Its uniform crumbly texture with a certain sponginess is the perfect backdrop for your staple needs. 

So what is my favourite Genius bread backed snack? Well I'm a student so for me a fry up is a necessity. A daily right. A greasy power meal that can recharge even the most tired souls. And Genius allows me to make THE BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS!! 

This nommy mega meal allows me to fulfill my uttermost greasy desires, with a little bit of a twist. And that's why I love Genius, they give you the stepping stone to, well, get on with it! To get creative, get eating and get enjoying! 

So thank you Genius and thank you for your bread.


FODMAP free x

p.s. Disclaimer: No harm came to FODMAP free in the taking of these photos...although a loaf avalanche was an evident possibility...

Life beyond onion & garlic

Friday, 24 February 2012

As featured in my guest blog on the fabulous Gluten Free Blogger!

If you have found some relief from following a gluten free diet, but continue to put up with the symptoms of a ‘funny tummy’, then the low FODMAP diet could be for you!

FODMAPs are found in a wide variety of foods, and have been identified as dietary triggers of IBS. Those pesky FODMAPs travel to the large intestine where they are fermented by bacteria. This fermentation produces a build-up of gases which can lead to bloating, flatulence, pain, nausea, constipation and various other less than fun ‘sensitive’ gut symptoms.

In my blog post: ‘Well if it’s on the telly it must be good…’ there is a clip from Channel 4’s ‘Food Hospital’. This shows an excellent experiment of how a FODMAP ‘full’ food causes a balloon to blow up, whereas a low FODMAP food doesn’t!

Thus research has shown that restricting FODMAPs in the diet can help reduce symptoms, like those mentioned above.

No onions and garlic
There are a host of foods that you avoid or restrict when on a low FODMAP diet, and your  Dietitian will go through them with you.

But two of the big ones to avoid are onions and garlic. It turns out these comforting kitchen staples are FULL of fructans. Typical eh?

When my Dietitian first revealed the no onion and garlic rule, I was initially, well, stumped! Onion and garlic are in a lot of stuff. And we’re not just talking the obvious (garlic bread, red onion chutney etc). These two are hidden in gravy, flavourings on crisps etc and included in the majority of recipes. We live in an onion and garlic filled society, very little is safe.

But it’s ok. Because us humans are resilient, adaptive types. So once you’ve accepted and realised how much your body and health benefits from reducing these two, you just choose other things. And mother nature has graced us with HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS of other spices and herbs to give us a helping hand. So wave onion and garlic goodbye, and welcome into your life food that likes you, as much as you like it.

Low FODMAP foods
Have you ever heard of asafoetida? You have now! 

Not only is it a joy to pronounce but this spice transforms when cooked, delivering an onion-garlicy aroma and taste. It is a fantastic flavour substitute. It is traditionally used in Indian and Middle-Eastern cooking, and is very much under appreciated by us Brits. Uncooked however this spice would be described'pungent' if you're being polite, or 'devil's dung' if you're German ("Teufelsdreck", their translation, not mine!) So when cooking your spag. bol. for example, swap that onion with all its concealed fructans for a pinch of asafoetida instead!

And for delivering the texture that onion would give to dishes as opposed to just the flavour? Celery! Now I'm not going to pretend this is an adequate substitute for the onions on your hot dog or for caramelised onion pâté .... But celery works fantastically in sauces and casseroles! So in all those recipes where you read: 

"Add one peeled and  finely diced onion"

You now think: "Ahh no no friendly recipe, it's one peeled and finely diced stick of celery now".

And if you are currently not a celery fan thus think it would taste weird, firstly, it doesn't, so please try it. And secondly, have you ever eaten a raw onion? 
Yeah, not all that great either. Celery, like onion, transforms when cooked into whatever culinary delight you have embarked on. 

So being on a low FODMAP diet is not about not having certain dishes or flavours anymore. It is simply about choosing different ingredients to get those flavours. That's why I'm not a massive fan of the phrase "restricted diet" because it makes people go all:

*humph* "That means I can't eat this and this...". 

To which I say: 
"Get outta ya humph grump!" 

You can have whatever you want, just find a different way to get it.

Now you experienced low FODMAP-ers will know that you can just leave the garlic whole, and the onion chunky, to infuse your meal, and then you pick them out. This is a method that I find works well if you are a guest at meal-time, or when eating out. But when cooking in the home, this makes me feel fussy, plus I think "What happens if some of the pesky fructans have sneaked out all the same!?!" So I prefer to just opt out. Plus we're in a recession, so waste not, want not people. It pains me to throw out otherwise edible food. But the infusion option is an option if you choose to take it. But make sure 'infusion' doesn't result into 'dissolved'....thus making your meal not so low FODMAP after all!

So those are just two of the simplest, 'staple' substitutes which I use, and allow us to replicate the majority of dishes in a low FODMAP way. 

And so to bring these two new ingredients into practice, I bring to you the dish that is enjoyed time and time again by all generations, and for which I cannot thank the Italians enough:

Spaghetti alla bolognese aka...

Spaghetti Bolognese!

Serves: 4
Prep & cook time: 1 hour

I have linked up the majority of ingredients to where they are available to buy/ so you know what to look for on the shelf! 

The brand of asafoetida I use is from our local Indian store and is available to buy online. However if you don't have a store nearby, Schwartz manufacturer the spice, which is available from Tesco here.

  • 500g mince beef
  • 4 carrots - peeled & diced
  • 1 stick of celery - peeled & diced
  • 2 courgettes - diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 1 tablespoon of dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Bovril dissolved in 1/4 pint of hot water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 250ml red wine
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour dissolved in 2 tablespoons of cold water
  • Salt & pepper to season
  • 4 'wraps' of 'King Soba' brown rice noodles

1. Heat large frying pan/ wok & add mince. Fry without adding any extra oil/fat till brown.

2. Add asafoetida, basil, bay leaf, salt & pepper & stir for a minute.

3. Measure Bovril mixture, then add to the meat, herbs & spices with the wine & tomato paste. 
4. Bring to the boil.

5. Add chopped carrots, celery & tinned chopped tomatoes.

6. Simmer for 40 minutes.

7. Add the courgettes.

8. Bring to the boil.

9. If needed to thicken the sauce, ensure the cornflour mixture is of a smooth consistency, pour into the bolognese mixture whilst stirring. Turn the temperature back down till the mixture is simmering.

10. In a separate pan, cook the rice noodles to the manufacturer's instructions. 

11. Serve simply by spooning some of the bolognese mixture over the rice noodles.

12. Some garnish ideas include fresh basil, or some freshly ground (shaved is even more impressive) parmesan, depending on tolerance!



P.S. This sauce keeps fantastically, so make a little extra and welcome back that amazing dense herby smell by microwaving it up for an easy lunch the next day!

P.P.S What's your favourite leftover creation with bolognese sauce? 
...Me? I'm a jacket potato gal! 

Are you a one pan fish fan?

Thursday, 23 February 2012

This fish stir fry is a simple yet delicious dish. 
Just perfect for when you arrive home after a long, hard day and want something really tasty, really fast

Prepare for your taste-buds to be titillated.

Serves: 4
Cooking time: 30 minutes

I have linked up the majority of ingredients to where they are available to buy/ so you know what to look for on the shelf! 

Under the FODMAP friendly guidelines the oyster sauce I use has gluten in it because in that quantity I am fine with it. But please be aware if you are not at that stage of re-introduction. 

1. Cut the frozen fish fillets into chunks.

2. De-seed & slice the red pepper.
3. Cut off ends & rinse leaves of pak choi.

4. Add olive oil & sauces into pan & heat under a high heat until gently simmering.
5. Add frozen fish chunks & stir so they are coated in the sauce mixture.
6. Cover & cook on a high heat for 1 minute.

7. Add pak choi leaves, frozen sweetcorn & red pepper slices.
8. Cover & cook on a high heat for a further 2 minutes.
9. Microwave rice noodles in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. 

10. Add bean sprouts to fish & veg mixture. Cover & continue cooking on a high heat for 2 minutes. 

11. Stir & serve on bed of rice noodles.

Bon Appétit!

Have a lovely evening.

FODMAP free 

P.S. Are you a one pan fish fan? What alternative veggies would you bring to the mix?