Revenge of the Green Tea!

Entering week 6, and I feel great! My next appointment with my GI is in mid-July, and I have to admit, I’m a little nervous about coming off this diet. It has worked so well for me, and I’m worried about how I’ll feel when I start incorporating FODMAPs. I recently told a friend of mine that I feel like a different person since beginning this diet. I have so much more understanding of my body and my digestive system, even though I don’t really know what had been causing issues. I have understanding that something was, and now I know how I can feel better. I didn’t know that I didn’t have to feel sick, bloated, gassy, and awful after every meal, and this realization is life-changing.

This past week, I’ve struggled with planning. This has always been an issue for me, even before the low FODMAP diet. I either don’t plan well and I’m scrambling to make lunch, make dinner, and get snacks together, or I over-plan and buy a ton of food that never gets eaten. It’s an ongoing struggle! I have managed to have several high points in the past week:

HIGHLIGHTS!
I made a really delicious strawberry smoothie for a snack, that tided me over for several hours before my next meal. Strawberries can be so filling!

strawberry

1/2 c. frozen strawberries
Alternate pouring in fresh orange juice and coconut water to the blender until the liquid amount reaches 8 oz.
Add coconut flakes (or chips).
Blend until smooth, and enjoy!

The other highlight was a 5 ingredient BACON pasta dish! There are two things that have really gotten me through the low FODMAP diet: potatoes and meat. I like that I don’t have to cut out carbs, just gluten. I love that I don’t have to cut out meat. Whenever I can find a meat dish that I can make low FODMAP, I get really excited. The bacon pasta dish came from this recipe from Gimmie Some Oven. I omitted the real pasta and asparagus, and added GF pasta and green beans. The result was light and full-flavored, and a great pasta dish for summer.

mmmbacon

5-ingredient Bacon LOW FODMAP pasta
1/2 lb. (8 oz.) uncooked gluten free pasta (I used Sam Mills corn pasta)
1/2 lb. (about 8 strips) uncooked bacon, diced
1/2 lb. (8 oz.) fresh green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
1/2 cup grated or flaked Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water al dente according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, add bacon to a medium saute pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add green beans to the pan and saute in the bacon grease for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked. Remove green beans with a slotted spoon, and set aside with the bacon. Slowly add the white wine to the pan, and scape the bottom of the pan with a spoon to deglaze the pan. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until the wine has reduced by about half.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it. Then add the pasta, green beans, bacon and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese to the saute pan, and toss until combined. Sprinkle pasta with the remaining Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

So good and bacony!

With every highlight, a little low light must fall…

I read all the time that green tea is supposed to be so good for us. Fights free radicals! Speeds up metabolism! Slows down the aging process! Fights cancer! I am not a tea drinker, with the exception of Trader Joe’s Candy Cane green tea. I like it because it doesn’t taste like tea, it tastes like a melted candy cane. But I found a recipe in Women’s Health for a green tea cooler that sounded good. It contained mint, ginger, and lemon, three things I love! It was really hot this weekend, so I decided to give it a try.

greentea
looks delicious!

The tea was OK, and had a very strong lemon taste (I probably put in too much lemon juice). It was refreshing. However, it wreaked havoc on my digestive system. This may be due to the fact that I hardly drink green tea, or the amount that I had, but it’s not an experience I wish to repeat. I’ll stick with iced lemon water for a refresher!

My birthday is at the end of this week, and I decided when I first got on this diet that I would cheat and eat cake. I’ll be curious to see how my body responds. But, happy birthday to me! My gift to myself is to allow cake into my body for one day, since real cake is one of my favorite foods.

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Experimentation Abounds in Week 5!

This is my 5th week of Low FODMAP elimination, and as I move toward acceptance (ie. I accept that I can’t eat that bagel…grrr), I am experimenting with more food. There are a few things I find frustrating about this diet, despite how good I feel. One is acceptance, which I wrote about last week. Two is having to explain to people what I can and can’t eat. Everyone is always astounded by the “no onion/no garlic” rule, often exclaiming, “But why?? Garlic is SOOOO GOOOD for you!”. Or having to explain to people that I am not a vegan, or that just because something is gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s low FODMAP friendly. Maybe if I were living in Australia or the UK, this wouldn’t be an issue. But in the US, this diet is not very common, so it’s very confusing to many people.
The third frustration is finding pre-packaged food that I can eat. Although I love to cook, I sometimes need food on the go, especially if I wasn’t good about planning my meal that day. This is where experimentation comes into play: I experiment by trying to find pre-packaged food I can eat, and I experiment by cooking. I love to cook, so this is not much of a frustration.

My experimentations this week include: strawberry banana coconut milk ice cream from Vikalinka, peanut butter banana chocolate muffins from Averie Cooks, Immaculate Cookies which I found at Whole Foods, and Wellshire Premium Beef Franks, also found at Whole Foods.

Let’s start with the highlights of the week!

These muffins are amazing, and they were very easy to make. I hardly notice the absence of flour, and I don’t mind the banana flavor. I made regular sized muffins since I don’t have a mini-muffin tin, so the cooking time went from 12 minutes to 20 minutes. Also, to be FODMAP friendly, I used maple syrup instead of honey for the sweetener.

muffin

Ok, so the hot dogs.

hotdogs

My first (and hopefully, only) meltdown about trying the low FODMAP diet came when my husband and I had planned to eat hot dogs for dinner, and I couldn’t find one hot dog brand that didn’t have garlic, onion, or high fructose corn syrup somewhere in them. I literally threw a temper tantrum about this. It’s not that I love hot dogs that much, but it just really hit me that I would be limited to some food items and have to work harder to make meals. We came across these Wellshire Beef Franks at Whole Foods, and they do not contain onion or garlic! I had them this weekend with gluten free bread and mustard, and it was great. I’ve come full circle!

And now, the lowlights of the week…

The strawberry banana coconut ice cream tasted just fine, but I overblended, then had to freeze it. And it took over an hour to thaw! Not ideal for when the ice cream craving strikes! I’d make it again, but blend it less. Nevertheless, I ate it with coconut flakes and cacao nibs on top, and it was tasty! Plus, it just looks good:

icecream

Finally, the Immaculate Gluten Free Dairy Free cookies….oh, I had such high hopes for these cookies.

cookies

Break and bake cookies that I could eat! How bad could it be? Well, they taste just delicious. But something in them triggers my IBS. I have read and re-read the package, and I can’t find the culprit. But the gas and bloating I experienced is something I haven’t had in over 5 weeks. After pawning them off on some friends (and eating two more, just to make sure I wasn’t just imagining things), I threw them out.

Other trials and tribulations: I am loving my favorite juice snack, which is a homemade kale and pineapple juice. I love my juicer, and I love making homemade juices. I used to love the green lemonade that my husband and I would share, but it has a lot of apples in it, so now I just make that for him, while I indulge in this deliciousness:

Pineapple Kale Juice
1/2 c. cubed pineapple
1/2 cucumber
5 large handfuls of kale (from large pre-bagged kale. It would be roughly 3 big leaves)
1 inch knob of ginger
1/2 lemon

*a little bit of parsley or mint is a great addition to this as well!
Run all through the juicer and enjoy. It makes roughly 16-20oz.

Looking forward to more experiments next week!

When Life Hands You a Low FODMAP Diet, Make Pizza!

This week has been an experiment in acceptance. Earlier in the week, I ate gluten-free pizza again, and realized that I just don’t like it that much. On this diet, I find most gluten-free bread or cracker items taste like corn, and I’m getting sick of corn. Case in point: we had pizza from my favorite pizza place, and I got a red pepper, tomato, and feta pizza, on gluten-free crust, with no sauce. All I could taste was corn! This might have more to do with the lack of sauce, but either way, it was a slap in the face that I must accept that there are some things that shouldn’t be gluten-free and are trying to fake the real thing. This must be accepted so I can either a) start experimenting with other foods, or b) just realize that when I eat pizza, it’s not going to taste the way I remember it. I don’t need to fake it. If I’m going to enjoy pizza, I might as well splurge once in a blue moon and eat real pizza, instead of forcing myself to consume a product that I don’t enjoy, just so I can say “Look! I CAN eat pizza!”

On Saturday, my husband and his friend got REAL pizza to enjoy while they watched the World Cup. I decided to make my own pizza crust, with leftover juicer pulp. I’ve made this several times before going low FODMAP, just as a way to get more vegetables and reuse the pulp instead of throwing it out. I originally found the veggie crust pizza receipe on My GI Journey, but modified it for low FODMAP purposes, and for juicer pulp purposes. The result: a delicious, semi-vegetable lasagna-like pizza, that I really enjoy eating. I can eat a lot of it and not feel like I’m bursting at the seams, and I know I’m getting a lot of fiber. The juicer pulp pizza is so colorful and festive! It looks so much better than any gluten-free pizza I’ve had so far. I’m not entirely sure anyone follows this blog, but just in case, I’m including the recipe, for my own reference and maybe others as well.

Before Toppings:
pizzacrust

After Toppings:
pizzacrust1

Juicer Pulp Pizza (low FODMAP)
Adapted from MY GI JOURNEY

Ingredients:
-Leftover juicer pulp. I used leftover spinach, kale and carrot pulp, which I juiced first, put into a baggie, and then juiced my fruits afterward. I don’t measure this out, so I will say the pulp leftover from roughly 10 baby carrots, and 6 large handfuls of spinach and kale (we get ours in a combined bag).
-1 egg
-Dried Italian spices. Make sure there’s no garlic salt or onion salt in the mix! I use an Italian herb mix with basil, oregano, marjoram, and rosemary. Again, no measuring, I just shake in a bunch.
-1 cup shredded mozzarella or 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese. I’d err on the side of the parmesan because it’s a “harder” cheese, but I’ve used both of these before and have not had any lactose or casein issues.

1. Heat oven to 425F. Line a pan (square or round) with parchment paper. This is crucial so your pizza crust doesn’t stick.
2. Put pulp into food processor, break down a bit by pulsing several times. Add spices, egg, and cheese. Pulse until fully combined.
3. Arrange pulp mixture onto parchment-lined pan, either in a square or circle. You may have to squish down the pulp a lot to get it to spread evenly and across the pan. I have never successfully made a pulp pizza that covered an entire pan, probably because I don’t measure, so if you want a large pizza, use a lot of pulp.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes so crust gets somewhat crispy. Again, crispyness will depend on thickness of crust. It will get shiny on top when done.
5. Remove from oven, and top with your desired toppings. I used Rao’s Sensitive Stomach spaghetti sauce, red and yellow peppers that were sauteed in olive oil, and mozzarella cheese.
6. Return to oven and cook until cheese melts and is browning, about 8 minutes
7. Remove, cut into desired shapes, and consume. I added tomatoes at this point too.

*Note regarding the pulp: I freeze all my pulp until I’m ready to use it for crust, so I take the frozen pulp out of the freezer several hours before making crust and put it in the fridge, or thaw it in the microwave. If you also do this, you will have strain water from your pulp before processing it, or else the crust will not get crispy. Just a FYI. I put the pulp in about 5 paper towels and squeeze over the sink until water ceases to come out.

The juicer pulp crust pizza is a huge highlight for me this week! I already loved it, and now I love it even more as part of a low FODMAP diet. Also, my planning is improving, as evidenced by my low FODMAP lunch and snacks from last Friday. I made it all, and brought it all to work. Never once did I have to run downstairs to the general store and try to find a low FODMAP or FODMAP free snack item!

fodmaplunch

One low light:
This week, I was also trying to make gluten-free, dairy-free sweets, so I tried to make the Detoxinista peanut butter bars with her mounds truffle recipe for the middle, instead of peanut butter. The result was good, but the peanut butter recipe is just easier. Also, I’m not sure how low FODMAP coconut actually is. Again, this is my journey into acceptance: I love coconut, but I might have to save it for special occasions only. Boo hiss.

Goals for this week: Continue to eat more fiber. I’ve been eating more vegetables and incorporating chia seeds into my smoothies, which seems to be helping. Also, continuing my journey of acceptance. As long as I am living low FODMAP, I need to wrap my head around the idea that things will be different, and sometimes a substitute is just that, and it’s not going to be as good as the real thing. And that’s OK!

The Fiber Guessing Game

I can’t sing the praises of low FODMAP enough. I still feel great, and am experiencing considerably less digestive issues. With one caveat…the fiber guessing game. I’m not sure if I’m eating enough fiber. I used to rely on whole wheat everything and KIND bars to fulfill my fiber intake, but cutting out gluten and chicory root means I have to find other sources. I think I’m eating enough fiber through fruits and vegetables, but my digestive tract would beg to differ. I’ve been trying to set weekly goals, even before low FODMAP came into my life, so my goal for week 4 is to monitor how much fiber I’m actually eating. Kate Scarlata R.D. has some great ideas for getting more fiber, so I’ll be trying to follow her suggestions for the next week.

Highlights of the Week:
1. We tried gluten-free pasta, and it was good! It took a little longer to cook than gluten pasta, but the taste was the same. GF pasta + Rao’s Sauce for Sensitive Stomachs=a happy Italian! I’m so glad I don’t have to cut pasta out of my diet. We had Rozini pasta, and I added some leftover hamburger meat that I had cooked earlier that week.

2. I found several restaurants in the Detroit area that have a lot of gluten free products, including Bigalora, which not only has gluten free pizza, but their white pizzas contain NO SAUCE (yay!) and can be made without garlic and onion! It was an awesome treat. Again, gluten free pizza=a happy Italian!

3. I had breakfast with my best friend at an omelette shop that puts GREEN ONIONS in their omelettes! I could request them! The omelettes were made without milk, and they were served with potatoes, not bread. So happy!! I had a spinach and tomato omelette with unspiced homefries.

Lowlights of the Week
As mentioned above, the fiber issue! And, I have been neglecting my exercise routine which may explain why I’m having a slower digestive tract. Also, while I’m thrilled to have found two restaurants that are low FODMAP “safe”, I still need to find more. It’s my understanding that the low FODMAP idea is more common outside of the US, so it is difficult at times to find information about it, recipes, and places to eat. When I tell dietitians and nutritionists about this diet, most of them have never heard of it! There are a few really good US-based blogs that focus on FODMAPS, and I’m still scouring those sites to see which ones work well for me.

Goals: Eat more fiber! Exercise! And rejoice for the green onion omelette!

Beginning Week 3, and some ideas…

Week 3 begins! I feel great, physically. My stomach has remained calm, cool, and collected. I’m going to start recording what FODMAP free recipes I’ve tried, and how good they’ve been, as well as identifying items at different restaurants that low FODMAPpers can eat. That has been the biggest struggle. Why does everything I love have garlic and/or onion in it?! I can live without the bread, as long as there’s potatoes, rice, and gluten-free bread products to fill the void. But living without onions or garlic? Meh. It’s a lot harder than I thought. Scallions and chives are a decent replacement, but it’s not like a lot of restaurants are offering this as a replacement. If I can chronicle low FODMAP, mass produced restaurant food, it will help me figure out where I can eat and what I can have there, without having a lot of frustration.

This past week, I had a few successes, and a few failures. I successfully made hamburgers, without onions, without bread crumbs, and they were delicious! Organic ground beef, salt, and pepper is all anyone needs to make a delicious burger. With a side of rosemary roasted potatoes and topped with pickles, I hardly noticed the absence of a bun. Also, I made AWESOME peanut butter chocolate bars, courtesy of Detoxinista. These lasted about 2 days before being completely consumed. I enjoy finding recipes that remind me that being low FODMAP doesn’t mean I have to give up everything I love.

Another success was the chocolate strawberry shake I made as a snack. It’s a variation from this recipe from Gluten Free Goddess , with FODMAP free vanilla almond milk, cocoa powder , maple syrup, cacao nibs, and frozen strawberries. It really hit the spot on this hot day. Not overly sweet, and chocolatey.

The failure: I made a salad from ohsheglows, and while it was good, the dressing was too thick. And I omitted garlic, which was pretty obvious. It just tasted like peanut butter over lettuce, ick. So, the dressing needs more finagling. I also tried the trendy “salad in a mason jar” trick, which was a beautiful display, but not practical for mixing or eating (talk about finagling…wedging my fork to the bottom to try to mix the salad…Oof).

Finally, I thought id try this recipe from William Sonoma for polenta pizza crust. I was really, really excited about this one. But both my husband and I were disappointed. Granted, my husband is a pizza expert, and I didn’t completely follow the recipe (made it square instead of round) , but it left much to be desired. It was pretty spongey, which makes sense for polenta, but we were hoping it would crisp up a bit. While I am willing to make it again, I think I lost my husband forever on the “polenta as a pizza crust substitute” idea. Adjustments to try:
1. Follow directions and make it round.
2. Cook less polenta
3. Add Parmesan cheese and Italian herb mix to polenta after it cooks for better pizza flavor.
4. Cook crust first, then put toppings on and cook again.

This week: we try gluten free pasta! Looking forward to that, and trying polenta pizza crust again.