New Year, New Resolutions

I started this blog 1 year ago, as a way to keep track of my digestive issues, what I was eating, and my moods. I wanted to see if there was any connection between what I ate, and how I felt. I thought being on the brink of 2015 would be a good time to reflect on the blog. Below, my absolute goal for 2014:

I’m hopeful that by limiting starch and refined sugar, I’ll feel better, both physically and mentally. I am tired of feeling stressed and angry. Even if things in my life aren’t going well, I’d like to be able to take pride in the way I care for myself, and eating more healthfully will hopefully uplift my spirits and give me something to feel good about

NAILED IT. No seriously, I did! I feel so much better about myself. I changed my diet, and I changed my mood. The food didn’t necessarily change anything, it was the idea that I prioritized myself, put my health first, and stayed the course, no matter what life threw at me. I continued to try to eat well, exercise, and I saw my confidence soar. When I eat healthier, I feel happier. The FODMAP diet has reduced many dietary symptoms that I found upsetting or painful, which has improved my mood on a consistent basis. I feel much happier living without the daily issues of stomach pain and bloating. I may still get depressed or anxious, but I don’t let it derail my efforts to take care of ME!

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image courtesy of Happy New Year Whats App

I started thinking about resolutions, about how this all started as a resolution of sorts; attempting to keep weekly notes on my health. I had never done that before, and it thrills me that I was able to mostly keep that going. After doing this, I realize that resolutions should be just beyond what you’re already doing; go too far, and you’re likely to quit. Don’t push yourself enough, and nothing changes.

In therapy, I frequently help people make changes in their lives, and the clients who often have the most success are those who make realistic goals for where they are at in their life at that time. When you experience success, you’re more likely to stay motivated to maintain the change and build on it. Experience failure, and it becomes demotivating; why change if it won’t work? The idea is to set the bar slightly higher than your present, and keep reaching from there. I applied the ideas that I use with clients to myself. It worked for me to attempt to keep track of this blog weekly/consistently, as opposed to daily. I also resolved last year that I would read more, and instead of keeping it vague, I joined a virtual book club with my friends, where we read 1 book every 8 weeks, which was much more achievable than 1 book each month. Resolutions should also be specific. Vowing “I will exercise more” may not be enough to keep you motivated, where was resolving to “exercise 3 days each week” gives expectations.

What will my resolutions be for 2015? Take a peek….

1. Eat 3 servings of vegetables daily

I presently eat at least 1-2 servings of vegetables each day, depending on how much spinach goes in my morning smoothie. Beyond that, all bets are off. I could eat 5 servings each day, or just 1. As a person with IBS and who eats low FODMAP, it’s really important to gain fiber from other sources outside of grains. I slip on this a lot; most of my snacks consist of FODMAP-friendly fare but that doesn’t always mean it’s that healthy!

2. Use planner daily

Organizing is not a strong trait of mine. At work, I find organizing to be easy and necessary. When I get home, the last thing I want to do is organize, and yet it is necessary. I’m hoping that by using a planner, I can keep track of projects, deadlines, and my “to do” list, which is often just floating around in my head or jotted down on scraps of paper.

3. Cook meals 3x per week

Cooking is a passion of mine, and yet I’ve neglected it A LOT this year. When I started the FODMAP diet, I felt frustrated by all the limitations and my passion for cooking dwindled. Cooking is my stress reliever; it’s incredibly rewarding to create a delicious, soul-filling meal from my own kitchen. It’s also like a big chemistry experiment to me, which is fun!

I also plan to keep reading and keep up this blog. I’m going to continue to exercise using TONE IT UP, a plan that has different daily workouts, contests, and schedules to keep things interesting! I have been participating in their program since September and I love it.

I’d love to hear what some of your resolutions are! Wishing all of you an amazing and healthy 2015; I hope it’s your best year yet!

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Happy Holidaze!

The holidays are here! This is my first holiday season as a FODMAP free person. Over Thanksgiving, I decided I would eat whatever I wanted without consideration for my IBS. I had the works: sausage stuffing, oatmeal bread, cranberry/apple/celery relish, and chocolate cream pie. Immediately after consuming my dessert, I got an intense migraine and my husband and I had to leave the family party. For five days after Thanksgiving, I got migraines regularly. I was achy, tired, and had stomach problems. The biggest issue was brain fog, which I got after eating every meal. At times, it would get so intense that I’d have to lay down and take a nap for an hour. I rarely nap and it’s usually a sign that there’s something wrong with me, health-wise!

Needless to say, I think I learned a valuable lesson: everything in moderation, especially if you’re on a restrictive diet! This Christmas/Hanukkah, I wanted to indulge, but be mindful of my health. I decided to try to find as many food items as I could that would be easily modified for low FODMAP needs. Without further ado, here are two great low FODMAP items to bring to your next holiday party!

Nim Nam
serves 6-8
adapted from Bojon Gourmet

nimnam

Ingredients:
750 ml vodka
1/3 c. grated fresh ginger
4 oz of ginger juice, or juice from several large ginger roots
zest and juice from one lemon
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/3-1/2 c sugar/sweetener of choice
1/2 c. boiling water
fine mesh sieve
funnel
empty 750 ml bottle

a few notes: I live by a raw juice shop that sells 4 oz ginger shots, so I was able to add that into the drink as opposed to juicing ginger root. For the sweetener, I used plain white sugar. The original recipe calls for honey, but in order to keep this low FODMAP, I omitted it. You could use coconut sugar or maple syrup, but keep in mind maple syrup may change the overall taste to something gingery-mapley.

Instructions:
1. Combine vodka, grated ginger, ginger juice, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla scrapings, and vanilla pod in a large mason jar. Screw on lid, and give several good shakes.
2. Put in refrigerator, and let steep for 24 hours. Give the jar several strong shakes every few hours.
3. After it has fully steeped, strain vodka mixture through a fine sieve into a large bowl, and discard solids.
4. Put sweetener of choice in a large glass measuring cup. Add boiled water, and stir until sweetener is fully dissolved.
5. Using a funnel, pour the vodka mixture into an empty 750 ml bottle. Tightly cap the bottle and refrigerate for a few hours or until completely chilled.

nimnam2
Nim nam in process!

Mix with fizzy water, like club soda or sparkling water, and enjoy its subtly sweet, spiciness. Be sure to add only a shot into your glass! Don’t make the mistake I did: I poured it like a real drink and topped with a little bit of fizzy water. It was really strong and intense!! Next drink I have will be the other way around!

Next recipe: this GLUTEN FREE, decadent, PECAN PIE!

Coconut Chocolate Pecan Pie
serves 8-10
adapted from My Humble Kitchen

pie

Ingredients:

CRUST
2 c. shredded unsweetened coconut
5 tablespoons full fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons solid coconut oil

PIE FILLING
3.5 oz dark chocolate chips
5 tablespoons of butter or solid coconut oil
2 large eggs
1/2 c. maple syrup
1/2 c. coconut sugar
7 oz. pecans

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Add unsweetened coconut, coconut milk, and coconut oil to a food processor outfitted with a “S” blade. Blend for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture is sticky.
2. Place coconut mixture in a 10″ pie plate or tart dish. Spread the coconut mixture to cover the pie dish.
3. Press the coconut down into the dish and up the sides, until it’s all well covered.
4. Using parchment paper or foil, cover the edges of pie crust while showing the middle.
5. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool slightly.

Next, turn oven up to 375F.
6. Add chocolate chips to the bottom of the pie crust.
7. In a medium bowl, whisk the two eggs, set aside.
8. Add butter to a large saucepan, and melt over medium-low heat. Once completely melted, add coconut sugar and maple syrup. Whisk for 2-3 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes.
9. Once cooled, whisk the butter mixture with the eggs in the medium bowl. Stir in pecan pieces.
10. Pour pecan mixture over chocolate in pie crust. Bake for 22-25 minutes. Place a large cookie sheet on the rack directly under your pie pan to catch any spills that may occur.
11. Once set, remove from oven and allow to cool completely before serving.

I just served this pie at my family Christmas party and it was a huge hit! Plus, no one missed the classic pie crust; everyone kept talking about how amazing the coconut crust was. I had two pieces myself! When I find gluten free dessert that tastes amazing, there’s no stopping my need to pig out!

I also had to throw in a picture of this antipasto salad that I made to share with my family…it just looks so festive!

salad

Wishing all of you a happy, healthy holiday season! I hope you all enjoy these recipes and can bring them to your gatherings. I’d love to hear about any holiday food adaptations you’ve had to make!

Journey to the Center of Low FODMAP

I can’t believe it’s been a month since I last updated this blog! Fall is always a very busy time of year for me, so it’s easy for me let things like this slip through the cracks of life. However, last week I realized that I have been on the FODMAP diet for over 6 months! And I realized that I’ve never detailed my journey with IBS.

I have always heard stories from my mom about how, as an infant, I appeared to have digestive problems. I was always getting sick, I had colic, I had inconsistent bowel movements, etc. I distinctly remember as a little kid feeling nauseous frequently, and always having to go to the bathroom. This continued throughout childhood and adolescence, with my parents concluding that I probably was lactose intolerant and no further follow up was needed.

bbt
Here I am, a concerned baby, no doubt worrying about my next meal!

Cut to my adult years, I decided to start asking doctors about my ongoing digestive problems. I have had some doctors appear supportive yet clueless (“Oh, you poor thing! Going to the bathroom 5 times a day?? You should eat less fiber.”), and some doctors who clearly lost their zest for the profession years ago (“You probably have IBS. What do you want me to do about it? Just eat more fiber.”). Due to the medical system in the states, I could not seek out a GI on my own with the insurance that I had; I needed a referral. Since my doctors were insistent that referring me to a GI would be pointless and a time-waster for all involved (a particularly jerky doctor told me that one), I never went.

I decided to take more control of my health, and got better insurance. But I put off going to the GI, the last doctor’s words (“time waster” and “annoyance” specifically) had really gotten to me and I thought my digestive problems were silly and something I should just deal with. In April of this year, I experienced debilitating stomach pain in my lower right abdomen. This went on for several days, with no relief from any bathroom experience. My stomach was bloated and distended, and I would get sharp, stabbing pains on and off all day long. After experiencing this for 3 days, I went to the ER, assuming I had an appendicitis. 8 hours and x-rays, CT scans, and a physical exam later, the ER doctor determined that I was “blocked” and needed an enema and some laxatives. This was his conclusion, despite saying my x-ray and CT scans were clear and showed no blockage. You make sense of that one, I’m still puzzled….

He also suggested I go to a GI. This was his only accurate medical advice; I turned down the enema and the laxatives and left armed with a proper referral to the GI.

Going to the GI, I was nervous. For one thing, the words POINTLESS! and TIME-WASTER! were running through my head. I was also nervous to find out if there was something actually wrong with me. My GI listened to all of my symptoms, went over the ER report, and ordered some blood tests for celiac. When we talked about the stomach pain that sent me to the ER, her theory was that I had inflammation and tenderness caused by a bout of constipation several days before my hospital visit. My GI believed I had IBS, and that I wouldn’t need to take medication to manage it. She didn’t want to scope me unless it was necessary. She suggested that I try the FODMAP diet for 8 weeks, and see how I feel. For once, I felt relieved that someone listened to me and appeared to take my symptoms seriously!

Going on this diet has been one of the best things I’ve done for my health. During the 8 week elimination process, I felt like a giant weight had been lifted off my stomach. I wasn’t bloated, I didn’t have this gross “heavy” feeling, nausea was a thing of the past, and my heartburn stopped. I still used the restroom frequently, but my bowels weren’t variable anymore. It has been so helpful for me, but it has had its ups and downs:

UPS!
Recipe experimentation, decreased physical symptoms, learning more about my health, feeling connected to my body in a way I hadn’t experienced before, trying all kinds of new food, finding a supportive IBS/FODMAP online network

fodmapbfast
typical FODMAP breakfast for me: Gluten Free oat smoothie bowl, topped with natural peanut butter

DOWNS!
Having to explain why the FODMAP diet works. Everyone assumes I have celiac disease and as long as something is gluten free, I can have it. Or that I have a wheat allergy. Or that garlic and onion are probably fine, there’s probably just gluten mixed somewhere in there. UGH! That has been hard to explain that it’s not celiac, that many people with IBS have difficulty digesting certain carbs, etc. Other lows have been bad recipes, crying over pizza, and throwing a temper tantrum about hot dogs. Not my finest moments, for sure!!

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I have a major sweet tooth…giving up forbidden foods was hard! This pastry shop is one of my favorite “cheat” places

If you read this blog and are new to this diet, have hope! Stay focused, find your motivation (mine was realizing my pants no longer cut off my circulation), and find recipes that you like and you can make. There are so many on the internet, not to mention, a few on this blog! Also know that FODMAP may reduce symptoms, but not eliminate them entirely. It is best to go through this diet with a GI, dietician, or nutritionist monitoring you. It would be very hard to try to do on your own without someone’s help or guidance.

My next step in this diet is to visit a dietician. When I reintroduced foods back into my diet, I didn’t do it properly, and as a result, I have no idea what triggers me. I’ve been experiencing more symptoms lately, including bloating, change in bowel movements, and nausea. I’m also experiencing headaches and fatigue, a lot. I’m looking forward to this next step, and to follow the advice of a dietican.

I’d love to hear from other readers about their FODMAP experiences! What have been the best and most challenging things about this diet?

awesomeness
Changing your diet and lifestyle is hard work! Keep trying and remember that YOU ARE AWESOME!

Old World Sauce with a New World Diet

I wanted to cook a big family dinner this Sunday, reminiscent of my childhood, when my mom would cook a delicious, drawn out meal, usually an Italian dish. One thing that has been really difficult about going low FODMAP is not being able to eat Italian food the way I want to. I’ve experimented with sauce, and with meatballs, but it always tastes like something is missing….something specifically being garlic! This weekend, I decided to try my hand at modifying our family bolognese sauce recipe.

spaghettisauce3
the humble beginnings….

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phase 2: add the meats!

spaghettisauce
ready to consume! look at that beautiful color!

This sauce recipe has been a part of my family for generations. My great grandmother came from Northern Italy, and brought this recipe with her. All who make it modify it a little bit, for personal tastes or food allergies. Now, it’s my turn! I made this completely low FODMAP friendly and it tastes just like the original! My great grandma would be proud!

Great Grandma’s Bolognese Sauce
Serves 10

Ingredients:
3 garlic cloves, slightly crushed
1/2 onion, cut into large pieces
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 bunch of chives, chopped
1/2 bunch of scallions, chopped
1 lb ground sirloin
1/2 lb ground Italian sausage*
1 c. water
1 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
1 tsp rosemary
28 oz. can of tomato sauce
14 oz. can tomato puree
1 inch parmesan cheese rind

Instructions: Heat a large pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil. Heat for 2-3 minutes. Add onion pieces, stir. Add garlic and carrot. Cook for 10 minutes, remove onion and garlic pieces. Add chives and scallions. Add ground sirloin, cook until brown and crumbly, stirring frequently. Add Italian sausage, cook until no longer pink. Add garlic pieces back in. Add water, basil, salt and pepper, and cook for 2 minutes. Add in Italian herbs, rosemary, tomato sauce, tomato puree, and cheese rind. Bring to a low simmer and cook covered for 1-2 hours. Uncover and remove garlic pieces. Serve sauce over your favorite gluten free pasta! I made buckwheat-sweet potato gnocchi to go with the sauce, but I ate it before I could take pictures. But it seems the process pictures speak for themselves!

This sauce is best when it’s been cooked over low heat for 2-3 hours, but is quite tasty and delicious after just 1 hour of simmering.
*Italian sausage is not always low FODMAP, because it usually has garlic and/or onion in it. However, it is easy to identify and pick out of the sauce. I added it in because my husband loves it, but this recipe would be just as yummy without it.

How’s your low FODMAP life going?

When the gluten-eater is away, the FODMAP eater will play….

This past weekend, my husband went out of town, which left me plenty of time to cook and experiment. We are not on the same diet, and at times, I feel bad forcing him to eat low FODMAP food when he doesn’t have to. I decided to experiment with breakfast, dinner, and dessert.

For breakfast, I made Coconut Creme French Toast, and it was great! Fluffy, slightly coconutty, and decadent. Not to mention, incredibly easy! Dinner consisted of Butternut Squash Bacon Macaroni and Cheese, which is sweet, smokey, and perfect for a cold day. Finally, I made Strawberry Pineapple “Ice Cream” with coconut milk and maple syrup. Again, incredibly easy, and just sweet enough to cleanse the palate after dinner. See below for all recipes!

Coconut Creme French Toast
serves 2

coconuttoast

Ingredient:
1/2 can of full fat coconut milk
1/8 c. unsweetened almond milk
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. vanilla
pinch of cinnamon
4 pieces of gluten free bread (I like this brand)
coconut oil
maple syrup
coconut flakes

Heat skillet or pan over medium heat. Add coconut oil and swirl around the pan to grease it. Combine coconut milk, almond milk, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon in a shallow square dish, and whisk until eggs are completely combined. Adding bread one piece at a time, coat bread with this mixture on both sides. Let excess run off, and add bread to the skillet, and cook for about 3-4minutes on each side. Move bread to a plate. Top with maple syrup and coconut flakes. Enjoy!

This recipe is merely a variation on my standard french toast recipe. What I love about it is that the recipe is versatile. You can make any kind of french toast you want just by slightly changing the liquid and spice involvement.

Why use full fat canned coconut milk? Simply because it is fluffy, creamy, and rich! I have used boxed coconut milk before and found it did not give the same texture or coconut taste.

Butternut Squash Bacon Mac n Cheese
serves 8
adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

butternutmac

Ingredients:
3 cups of cubed butternut squash
8 oz. of smoked hard cheese (I used cheddar at the recommendation of the original recipe), shredded
2 1/4 c. lactose-free 2% milk
1/4 c. gluten free flour
12 oz. gluten free pasta
2 slices of bacon, cooked and diced
2 tbsp scallions, chopped
1 tbsp parsley, chopped

Preheat your oven to 425F. Heat a large, deep pan over medium heat. Add squash and 2 cups of milk. Cook until squash is very tender, about 30-40 minutes. You’ll know when it’s done when you can push a spoon or fork through it with very little effort, and your pushing causes the butternut squash to fall apart. While this is cooking, get your pasta going. In my opinion, it’s not ideal to start the pasta first, especially gluten-free pasta. If you cook it too soon, then have to wait until the squash part is done, you’ll end up with very clumpy, gooey pasta. As the squash process takes about 30-40 minutes, start the pasta at the 35 minute mark.
Once squash is “squashable”, add 1/4 c. milk and 1/4 c. flour in a slurry, stirring frequently. Your sauce will thicken up at this point, and more of the squash will start to fall apart. I found that gluten free flour gets really clumpy, so make sure to stir and break up all the little flour clumps. Add in 6 oz of smoked cheddar, stir until melted and blended. Add in the pasta, stir to coat pasta completely. Add bacon, stir again.

Add the pasta mixture to a 9×13 baking dish greased with coconut oil, and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Put in oven and cook for minutes, or until cheese has melted and is getting bubbly and brown. Remove from oven, and sprinkle scallions and parsley on top. Serve!

NOTE: there is mixed information out there about butternut squash being appropriate for a low FODMAP diet. If you are triggered by polyols or just starting on the diet, this recipe may not be for you

Strawberry Pineapple “Ice Cream”
serves 4-6

icecream

Ingredients:

1/2 can of full fat coconut milk, chilled in the fridge for 2 hours
1 c frozen strawberries
1 c frozen pineapple
1 tbsp maple syrup
scant amount of coconut water

Add milk, strawberries, and pineapple to a food processor. Pulse until you get a soft-serve ice cream consistency, adding a little of bit of coconut water to help facilitate blending. Stir in maple syrup, and serve. Keep leftovers in a plastic container in the freezer.

And there you have it! I love experimenting with food and making it low FODMAP, or using leftovers (hence the coconut milk) and finding other uses for them. This weekend helped buoy my spirits that you can be creative in the kitchen and eat low FODMAP. In fact, you might have to be MORE creative in order to eat the same things you used to enjoy! I’d love to hear about others low FODMAP experimentation, please share with me!

Fitness first!

I’ve had a bit of difficult week, with some personal issues going on. This happened to coincide with my dedication to an 8-week fitness program, through Tone it Up. There’s a workout to do every day, and contests to win via check ins with social media, so it really keeps me motivated and holds me accountable to complete the challenges. Normally, when I experience a personal crisis or emergency, I give up eating well and taking care of my body. I figure my mental resources are more important and being tired is a viable excuse to stop taking care of myself. Sometimes, being tired isn’t an excuse, it’s a reason, and I need to relax in order to engage in proper self care. But other times, it is just an excuse. While I’ve only been committed to the program for a week, I’m proud to say that my personal issues haven’t gotten in the way. I’m trying to view fitness and eating well as something that is really important to do when I’m tired and emotionally exhausted.

In terms of FODMAP, it’s been good and bad. I purposefully slipped on Friday, when I indulged in a Reese’s Ice Cream sandwich. My office was sweltering, and I had drank a lot of water but still wasn’t feeling any relief. I decided I needed ice cream! On the plus side, it was gluten free….I also slipped on Saturday when I ordered fries, asked if they were battered or breaded, was told “no”, then started eating them and realized that some of the crust on the fry wasn’t from being burned but from breading. My stomach was really unhappy after that!

The good: I found yet another great gluten free pizza at Benitos!The small was so good, I ate the whole thing…whoops! I made a delicious filling breakfast after my Sunday run, of gluten free oatmeal with peanut butter, maple syrup, and granola topping. Just look!

lemongingeroats

Gluten Free Maple Peanut Butter Oatmeal
serves 1

Ingredients:
1/2 c. Gluten Free Rolled Oats (not quick oats)
1 c. liquid (water, almond milk, regular milk, etc)
1/8 tsp. sea salt
pinch of cinnamon
1 tbsp. natural peanut butter
1 tbsp. maple syrup

To Make
Bring your liquid (I used unsweetened almond milk) and salt to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to medium, and add oats. Cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Pour your oats into a bowl. Add peanut butter, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Stir until well combined.

Now you’re ready to top it off! I added Secret Squirrel Food Lemon ginger granola to mine, but I can imagine this topping with bananas, coconut, strawberries…any fruit, really! I cooked some bacon with it for extra protein, and it kept me full for about 4 hours!

This week, I’m going to be experimenting with sweet potato gnocchi, butternut squash mac and cheese, roasted chicken, and tomato soup. Butternut squash is on the “watch out!” list for FODMAP’s, but I’m hoping it’s something I can consume occasionally.

Can’t wait to update with more great recipes!

Potatoes: Changing your life, one meal at a time

My digestive system is finally back on track. Things are looking up and my mood has been really positive! I’m going through some big changes in my life: the FODMAP commitment/diet, another new year at work (I work at a university, so each fall is a new year), and I’m going back to school in the winter.

I contemplated continuing my education way before FODMAP, and my new lifestyle changes just fueled my desire to build onto my knowledge and degrees. I’ll be starting a post-bacc program in integrative holistic health and wellness, and I’m really excited. Not only will this build upon my present degree (counseling), it will expand my career opportunities and possibilities. I’m really looking forward to learning more about nutrition counseling, wellness coaching, and other holistic methods for total health and wellness.

After going low-FODMAP, I really, really REALLY wanted to try to get a master’s in nutrition or a post-bacc in dietetics, so I could become a dietitian. Being that I have a professional degree and a license, I felt somewhat uppity about having a “legitimate” degree to advise people in nutrition. But, after looking at the pre-requisite requirements, and how many classes I’d have to take during the workday (that would ALL of the classes!), I decided to do something else. It was a tough pill to swallow; at this stage of my life, I don’t want to tell myself “no” or that it’s not possible for me to do what I want to do. But there is always plan B, and plan B is a better fit for me!

This week, I made few awesome things:

Roasted Potato Nachos
I love roasted potatos, and I make 1.5lbs at a time (from a 3lb bag) so that I have potatos leftover to put in salads and eggs. Potatoes are filling, versatile, and really satisfy my gluten cravings. Roasted potatoes don’t have to be limited to a side dish! In this recipe, they are the main event!

Potatonachos

fresh and exciting!

Ingredients:
1.5lbs of quarted roasted potatos (for that recipe, see below)
1 tomato, diced
1/8 c. scallions
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, diced
diced red pepper
1/8 c. shredded cheddar cheese
lime juice (I just like to squeeze a lime half over the dish at the end of cooking)

Heat oven to 400. Put potatoes, jalapenos, red pepper, and cheese on a baking sheet lined with foil. Place in the oven and cook until cheese is bubbly, about 5-8 minutes. Remove from oven. Add tomato, cilantro, and scallions over the potatoes. Squeeze lime over the potatoes. And….you’re done! Not going to lie, I have eaten an entire sheet of this!This is about 2-3 servings. I like to eat it straight from the baking sheet, but if you’re more civilized, it’s great on a plate too.

This recipe would be great with pre-made bagged roasted potatoes, too!

Roasted Potatoes
1.5 lb potatoes
olive oil
salt
pepper
paprika
rosemary

Heat oven to 400. Quarter the potatoes. Spread out on a baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes. Sprinkle salt, pepper, paprika, and rosemary over the potatoes. Mix with a spoon or hands, until all potatoes are coated evenly. Bake for 25 minutes, turning halfway through.

This weekend, I tried to make snacks so I would have some things to eat at work. I made those delicious hazelnut brownies again (with chopped nuts this time!!!), and The Secret Squirrel Ginger Lemon Granola. I love the recipes on this website! They are easily low-FODMAP adaptable, and delicious! The granola calls for honey, and I subbed maple syrup. It suggests using any nuts or seeds that you’d want for the granola, so I used all low-FODMAP friendly seeds and nuts (hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pepitas). I had to cook mine a little longer than suggested, so I don’t think I did the Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion correctly. I also sprinkled some lemon zest over the granola right when I took it out of the oven. Mmmm, mmm!

I think I’m getting the hang of this low FODMAP stuff! I feel great, and I realized I’m eating healthier than I ever have! How’s your low-FODMAP journey going this week?

Cook Better to Take Care of IBS!

I have continued to have stomach issues/a flare up for the past week, and it’s been awful. I can’t pinpoint what could be causing, or could have, caused the problem. In order to combat the issue, I’ve been eating as strictly low FODMAP as possible: no possible/hidden gluten, refraining from dairy, staying away from HFCS, etc. I am slowly getting back on track, but it’s been a rough road. Here’s what I ate this week to “reset”:

1. Green smoothie for breakfast every day
2. Polenta with low FODMAP meatballs and FODMAP free sauce (mmm mm! This was so good)
3. FODMAP free hot dogs
4. Vegetarian stir fry with brown rice and FODMAP free stir fry sauce (again, MMMM MMM! SOO GOOD!)
5. Beef tacos with low FODMAP taco seasoning, and a vegetable mix stir fried in spices (always good!)
6. Gluten free pizza
7. Lots and lots of salads

Again, I’m slowly getting back on track. Also, while I’m getting a little misty-eyed that summer is coming to an end, I’m also getting a little excited for all the low FODMAP comfort food that I’ll be making as it gets colder! Looking forward to trying my hand at shepherd’s pie, minestrone, spinach pasta bake, and meatloaf.

I went out on a limb this weekend and decided to try a gluten free, vegan pancake recipe. Buckwheat Flour/Oat Flour pancakes filled me up, and I had plenty leftover. In fact, I packed some for my lunch today! I’ve been somewhat dissatisfied with pre-made gluten free pancake mixes, and have been searching for homemade, gluten free mixes. I also had a ton of buckwheat flour to get rid of. I put that all into Pinterest, and this recipe came up! It is from The Glowing Fridge. This blog has many, many recipes that are healthy, vegan, and easily low FODMAP modified. Check out my modified pancake recipe below!

Buckwheat Oat Flour Pancakes
total cook time: 30 minutes
serves 4 (or 8 if everyone has 1 pancake)

Dry ingredients
1 cup oat flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Wet ingredients
1 1/2 cups almond milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (*note: NOT FODMAP FRIENDLY, but such a scant amount that I don’t think it did me any harm. If you don’t want to use this, you could use an egg)

Peanut Butter Syrup
4 tablespoons peanut butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons warm water

1. Preheat a skillet, griddle, or pan over medium heat
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix. Add in wet ingredients and mix well.
3. Coat pan or skillet with coconut oil
4. Scoop out pancake batter (about 1/4 cup) and spread out in a circle on the skillet. These pancakes are quite thick, so use the back of a spoon or flat measuring cup to help spread the batter. When edges of pancake appear “stiff” and no longer liquidy, flip over. Cook for a couple more minutes, until pancake appears completely stiff and without liquid.
5. Add more coconut oil and repeat for the rest of the pancakes.
6. Prepare peanut butter syrup by adding all ingredients together, and stir until completely mixed. Add to microwave and cook for 20-40 seconds, or until desired consistency. Alternatively, you could make this on the stove top and heat all the ingredients together.
7. Pour syrup on pancakes, and add toppings, if you so desire.

This recipe above is my modified version. The original recipe calls for ground flaxseed instead of chia seeds, which I didn’t have, so I used whole chia seeds. It also called for coconut sugar or sugar of choice, and I had white sugar, so I used that. The original recipe also indicates that my pancakes will turn “golden brown”. I used buckwheat flour as opposed to grinding my own groats, so my pancakes were the color of cement…no golden brown there. But don’t let the color deter you. They’re amazing, fluffy, and hearty. I would definitely make a few more adjustments, by adding an egg somewhere along the line and maybe grinding my own groats to limit the grainy texture of buckwheat.

Check out the process!

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How’s your low FODMAP life going? What do you do when you have a setback or flare up?

Back on Track

The past few weeks have been WILD! First, our basement flooded and we had to get rid of everything down there, and then disinfect it (thank you sewer water). Then, we went on a week-long, much needed vacation. It was very relaxing and I’m so happy we were able to take the time off to spend with our families.

I cheated A LOT on vacation. I had a McDonald’s hamburger (with the bun), donuts, real pizza, bottled salad dressing, coleslaw, and potato salad with onion. I barely glanced at a vegetable. While I loved my vacation, I have felt awful for the past 5 days. I have had migraines, bloating, gas, and constipation. We got back in town on Friday, and I’m just now starting to feel normal!

In order to get back into the swing of things, I shopped for all low-FODMAP friendly items, and made food. Planning out my meals is the biggest challenge I have, and I work hard to make it happen. Having things that I’ve already cooked make this ordeal a little easier.

For lunches, I bought a big plastic box of salad greens. I made low FODMAP pesto (see recipe below) to add to salads and proteins. I also made some polenta for dinner, and had enough leftover for a to take for lunch for the next few days.

LOW FODMAP PESTO
makes about 6 oz
1 bunch of basil, washed
1/4 c. pine nuts, roasted (you can do this by putting pine nuts on a baking sheet, and roasting at 400F for about 4 minutes)
salt and pepper
grated lemon peel (at your discretion)
grated Parmesan cheese (again, at your discretion)
garlic-infused olive oil

Add all ingredients, except for the garlic-infused olive oil, into a food processor. With the lid on, and the food chute open, slowly add olive oil while pulsing the mixture. Add olive oil to desired consistency. Use it immediately, or store in a container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Simple and delicious! I added it to some GF pasta and chicken.
pesto

I admit, I miss the taste of a big hunk of garlic in there, so next time I may add green onions to the mixture as well.

I also made a delicious batch of Detoxinista’s pumpkin seed granola. I love to sprinkle it in my smoothies, or have it for breakfast with almond milk and a banana. It’s very filling and satisfying. I ran out of coconut, so I added GF oats to the granola as well.

granola

Speaking of breakfast, I didn’t totally blow it on vacation. I made this amazing raspberry french toast instead! Topped with real maple syrup and raspberries, it was decadent but healthy.

Raspberry GF French Toast

serves 2
4 slices of GF bread (I use this brand)
2 eggs
4 raspberries, mashed completely
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Almond milk (or soy, or coconut, or dairy milk)
whole raspberries
maple syrup

Heat skillet or griddle over medium heat, and grease with preferred greaser (I like coconut oil). In a very shallow square dish, add eggs, mashed raspberries,vanilla, cinnamon, and milk. I don’t have a milk measurement because I think it depends on how milky you want your toast to be. I prefer about a 2-3 second “pour” of milk. Using a fork or a whisk, combine until the mixture is frothy and the eggs and raspberries have been well mixed. Dunk bread into egg/milk mixture, one slice at a time, and make sure to turn over in the dish so you get both sides coated and drain off excess. With GF bread, I notice I need to leave it in the dish a little longer to make sure it’s all saturated. Add bread to your skillet, one by one, and cook for 4 minutes.
Using a spatula, turn over to other side, cook 3-4 minutes. Top with whole raspberries and maple syrup. Devour!

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*note: you may notice that as you are dunking bread, the milk mixture is running low. Feel free to add another healthy “glug” of milk, and more vanilla.

That’s a Spicy Meatball!

I finally made spaghetti and meatballs! One of my biggest challenges as a low FODMAPper is cooking Italian food. I am Italian, and it’s the food I know how to cook best. I’ve been eating it 4 times a week my entire life, and while I’d found a decent substitute for jarred pasta sauce, and a great substitute for pasta, I wasn’t sure how to tackle my beloved bolognese sauce. My bolognese sauce is a family recipe, passed on through the ages. It is loaded with garlic and onion, and I’ve missed it.

This weekend, I decided to make low FODMAP meatballs from Low Fodmap Ninja, and attempt some sort of bolognese. The meatball recipe does have milk in it, but I do not have a lactose or casein intolerance, so I used it.

The meatballs turned out really well! Flavorful, and they didn’t fall apart. I could never get my other meatballs to stick together, so this was a personal victory for me. Check out those beauties:

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Here is the recipe below:
Low FODMAP Meatballs from Low FODMAP Ninja
Ingredients:
1 thick or 2 thin slices of gluten-free bread
1/3 cup milk (you can try substituting rice or soy milk)
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 cup finely chopped green spring onion (just the green part!)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
2 T fresh chopped parsley or 1/2 T dried parsley, ground
Instructions:
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Soak bread in the milk until soggy, about 5 minutes.
Squeeze the milk from the bread and combine with all other ingredients. Break up the bread into small bits while mixing.
Shape mixture into 1-inch balls (about 1 rounded tablespoon), pressing no more than necessary. Important! – don’t make the balls too big.
Place meatballs on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 7-8 minutes until no longer pink on the inside.

Rather than using two different meats, I just used 1 lb. of ground beef. I cooked the meatballs for about 11 minutes, and put foil on the baking sheet for easier clean up. They were really good, and I have a ton left over for future meals.

I had some meat leftover from the package of ground beef, and decided to attempt bolognese. I sauteed some cut chives in olive oil, added the beef, threw in salt, pepper, and italian seasoning, and stirred it until the beef was brown and crumbly. I then added Rao’s Sensitive Spaghetti Sauce, and some additional Italian spices. It was really bland compared to my usual bolognese. I need a little more tweaking to make it almost as good as my family version.

This week has been a good low FODMAP week! I made a concious decision to avoid all gluten because I really wanted to eat pizza this weekend, and my recovery from gluten was much quicker and less painful.

Any have some bolognese suggestions to share? I already plan on adding Italian sausage and garlic infused olive oil to my next batch….