Balsamic Rosemary Chicken Risotto – Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly and Gluten Free

Balsamic Rosemary Chicken Risotto - low FODMAP, fructose friendly, gluten free and lactose free

As always, my predictable stomach began to crave warm, hearty meals right about the time the weather started to cool down. Instead of light salads, it seems to be nagging for all the proteins and fats and carbs. Thanks stomach, I wasn’t planning on going up a size this winter but you seem to have other ideas. Of course, you shouldn’t always give in to cravings but occasionally it’s alright – say, for instance, after you had been sick for a week and could finally stay out of the bathroom for long enough to cook a meal (this gluten challenge is almost over, my immune system can see the light!).

After said week, I couldn’t stomach much but I could manage chicken and rice… but how appetising (or nutritious, really) is boiled chicken and rice? This risotto is pretty basic, so it’s easy on the stomach; you don’t need much to fill you up and it packs in more nutrients than its plain cousin thanks to the homemade stock and vegetables it contains. Oh and it’s pure comfort food. Ready. Set. Nom.

FODMAP Notes

  1. Balsamic vinegar is low FODMAP in 1 tbsp. servings. The 1/3 cup in this recipe will give 3/4 tbsp. per serving if divided between six people, less if shared among eight. Make sure you have real Balsamic vinegar, as the cheaper imitations might not all be FODMAP friendly – check the labels and use what you can tolerate.
  2. Rosemary is a low FODMAP herb.
  3. Chicken is of course low FODMAP – just be careful you don’t buy pre-seasoned chicken, which might have high FODMAP spices added.
  4. Zucchini is a FODMAP friendly vegetable.
  5. Mushrooms contain large amounts of the polyol mannitol in 1 cup servings. The 6 crimini mushrooms called for in this recipe would be just under 1/4 cup in size each, so you would be ingesting at most 1/4 cup of mushrooms if you divided this recipe among six people, less among eight. Of course, if you are sensitive to mannitol in any amount, substitute it with more zucchini, or even some cherry tomatoes.
  6. One serving of a dry white wine is considered low FODMAP.
  7. Arborio rice is a low FODMAP and gluten free grain.
  8. Butter is low in lactose, as FODMAPs are water soluble and butter is mostly fat. However, if you cannot tolerate any butter, either add in your favourite butter replacement or simply omit. For a less creamy version (i.e. when you’re recovering from a stomach bug and can’t tolerate rich foods) omit the butter. It’s what I did for my recovering stomach but any other time I would add it in.

Balsamic Rosemary Chicken Risotto

Serves 6-8

  • 5 cups/1.25 L of fructose friendly chicken stock
  • 700 g chicken, diced into 2 cm chunks
  • 1/6 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil to seal pan
  • 2 cloves of garlic – to be removed before cooking the rice
  • 1 cup diced green leek tips
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 6 medium crimini mushrooms, diced (see FODMAP notes)
  • 300 g arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup/125 ml dry white wine
  • 1/6 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh minced rosemary
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter (optional, see FODMAP notes)

Prepare the chicken and vegetables, wash the rice and set everything aside. If you have time/thought ahead, marinate the chicken in the 1/6 cup of Balsamic vinegar overnight, otherwise, just add them together while cooking. Obviously, in this case you would prep the chicken the day before all the other ingredients.

In a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer and reduce to low. Put the lid on and leave until required.

Fry the chicken pieces in a large fry/saute pan and add the Balsamic vinegar (if it wasn’t added earlier for marination – time constraints and all that). Cook over a high heat until the chicken pieces are all fully sealed and then remove the meat and juices from the pan into a clean bowl.

Next, add in a little more olive oil and add in the leek tips and garlic cloves. Fry over a medium/high heat until the garlic becomes fragrant, then remove and discard the garlic cloves. Add the diced zucchini and mushrooms and cook over a medium heat until the vegetables are mostly cooked.

Push the vegetables to the side and tip in the rice; fry the rice to coat it in the oil/pan juices and then pour in the white wine and last 1/6 cup of Balsamic vinegar. Cook over a medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated and then begin adding the warmed chicken stock, one ladle at a time.

Reduce the heat to a low/medium setting and stir occasionally, letting the stock gradually absorb into the rice. Add a fresh ladle of stock when the previous batch has almost dried out and keep going until the rice is fully cooked (soft) or the stock runs out. The chicken and its juices should be added back into the pan when the pot of stock is about half-used, so it can finish cooking with the rice. Season with the rosemary, salt and pepper when you add in the chicken and then tinker with a little more if required at the end. Finally, add in the optional butter and stir through, for a rich and creamy dish. For pictures of not-quite-cooked vs. cooked risotto, see here.

Serving suggestions: freshly grated Parmesan cheese, minced chives (green parts only) or a sprig of rosemary or parsley. Don’t forget the wine.

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Make a Pup Cake for your Furry Friend’s Birthday – Low FODMAP, Gluten Free & Dog Friendly

Pup Cakes - Dog Friendly Birthday Cakes

What do you get the dog who already has everything?

He has more tennis balls than he knows what to do with, plenty of tug-of-war ropes, as well as a few bones buried in the backyard, where Nellie can’t find them… you make him a cake, of course.

You might remember the last birthday cake we made Bailey. They definitely enjoyed it but I wanted to make this year’s cake a little healthier.

These cakes are nutritious, dog-friendly and pretty tasty, too – when you make the “human-friendly” alterations; before that, they are understandably bland, as dogs’ stomachs can be upset by human food and they shouldn’t really have salt or red wine… poor things.

Speaking of “poor things,” Bails is having surgery today to remove a lipoma in his right groin region, so maybe I’ll have to make him some get-well-soon pup cakes this weekend. He won’t be able to do his usual off leash walk, so we’ll have to bribe him to stay still, somehow. I’m dreading the next week… a bored Bailey is a force to be reckoned with and they always feel better before they are safe to run and jump again.

FODMAP Notes

  1. According to my own research, all the ingredients are dog-friendly.
  2. Carrot and zucchini are low FODMAP.
  3. Celery contains polyols, if they bother you in the amount required, omit them and replace with green leek tips (not dog friendly).
  4. Sweet potato contains mannitol, if you can’t handle 2 tbsp. of mash, swap it out for mashed potatoes or yams.

Pup Cakes

Makes 12.

Cake

  • 800 g lean mince beef
  • 4 rashers of bacon, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced celery
  • 3/4 – 1 cup rice flour (or dog friendly flour of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup onion free/fructose friendly chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. ground chia seeds
  • Optional (if you’re cooking this for yourself) – use garlic infused oil, swap the chicken stock for red wine, and add 1 tbsp. minced fresh thyme, 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, and 1 tsp. dried chili flakes.

Icing

  • 400 g of sweet potato, pureed (tinned or fresh)

Prepare, then saute, the bacon, carrot, celery and zucchini in the olive oil for 15 to 20 minutes, adding in the chicken stock about halfway through, until most of the fluid has cooked out. Remove it from the heat and then let it cool.

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Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F and grease a 12 hole muffin pan. Once the veggies have cooled, thoroughly mix all the ingredients together and divide the mixture between the muffin pans. Bake for 20 minutes and then let sit for another 20 minutes, before turning them out onto a cooling rack.

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To make the icing, roughly dice and boil 400 g of sweet potato until it’s fork tender – about 15 minutes. Drain the water, then blitz it with your immersion blender until smooth. Spread it on top of all the pup cakes before serving to the lucky dogs (or humans!).

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Poor Bailey, he had to pose for photos before he got to eat his birthday cake last month.

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Going, going… gone. Bailey and Nellie thoroughly enjoyed their cake and had left overs for the next few days, as well. Spoilt rotten!

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Travel Series – Road Tripping with Fructose Malabsorption

Along the Petaluma-Point Reyes Rd.

Road trips are possibly my favourite way to travel; you get to see so much more of the landscape than if you fly everywhere and I find that cities tend to look the same after a while. To be able to drive down the west coast of the USA and see lush greenery and snow-capped mountains turning first into farm land and then into a more arid landscape complete with mesas is pretty awesome. Also, California is full of eucalyptus trees, which reminds us of home and smell amazing, as well.

In my opinion, road trips are also the easiest type of holiday to take while on a low FODMAP diet, as you can really be in control of your food if you plan ahead and pack an Eski (cooler) with sufficient supplies.

I will outline below how I manage my meals on a road trip:

Step 1: Make an itinerary and food list

I am a list maker, so is my sister. It’s something we’ve always done, as we’re OCD control freaks who can’t bear to be disorganised. Plus, it’s fun. Luckily for me, Ev is the same… although he hates packing his own bag. But he’s not the one with FM, so that’s not such a big deal.

Being a list maker means that I like to plan each leg of the road trip with hours and distances and town names. This is good, as it will help you with step 2. Another way to make step 2 easier (well, the act of eating at the restaurants that you’ve researched) is to call ahead or go armed with a list of foods that you CAN EAT (make sure it’s labelled clearly, so you don’t get a plate of onions sauteed with apples on whole wheat toast) to make both your life and those of the wait staff and cooks much easier.

Step 2: Research local restaurants and eateries

Before you go out to dinner, you would find online menus or call the restaurant you’re thinking about going to and see if they can provide a meal for you; travelling is no different. The key to a relaxed holiday (and gut!) is planning. I know lots of people who like to wing it – I have never been one of them – but a “we’ll find something, don’t worry” attitude is more likely to lead you to either an irritated or hungry gut later on if you are following a FODMAP friendly diet.

Either before you leave home, or each day of your trip (if you have internet connectivity), scout out a few potential cafes and restaurants and note their locations with regards to your itinerary. What town will you be driving through at lunch time? Does the town you plan to spend the night at have a restaurant or supermarket that you can source meals from?

Some tips:

  • To reiterate – PLAN AHEAD.
  • Restaurants that already cater to other dietary requirements (gluten free, vegan, nut free etc) will generally be more likely to be able to create a meal for you.
  • Fast food chains can still provide salads – just request no dressing or croutons etc – and hot chips/fries will do in a pinch, as long as they’re suited to other non-FODMAP issues you might have.
  • Choose simple meals that require minimal alterations to be suitable – it’s both ridiculous and rude to think they’ll be able to make you an onion free lasagne but to whip up a salad sans onion and dressing is much easier and many restaurants make their salads as ordered, anyway.
  • Don’t forget about supermarkets, as you can always find gluten free breads/crackers, cheese and suitable veggies etc to fill your stomach.
  • Busier restaurants will find it harder to tailor a meal to you, so eat at quiet times, even if that does mean sitting down to dinner before 6 pm.
Breakfast - an omelette with potatoes and green capsicum.

Breakfast – an omelette with potatoes and green capsicum.

Dinner - a chicken salad sans croutons and dressing on the side.

Dinner – a chicken salad sans croutons and dressing on the side.

Step 3: Pack emergency foods

If you’re driving down a deserted highway and you can’t find anywhere to eat, things can get ugly; this is true even if you don’t have a food intolerance. I tend to become very irritable when I’m hungry (more like a 6 year old than a 26 year old) and I’m sure I’m not pleasant to be around when I’m like that. In fact, even when we’re not road tripping, Ev will tell me to eat something if I’m beginning to get grumpy.

I think packing an emergency food supply is a good thing to do for road trips, regardless of FM. Things to consider when packing a food kit include:

  • A variety of foods for different meal times – I know I wouldn’t want a tin of tuna for breakfast but would be happy to eat it any time after lunch.
  • Non-perishable foods (or at least foods that will keep for a few days outside the fridge) are best.
  • Easily digestible foods that won’t tax your gut too much.
  • Pack the food in an Eski/cooler/freezer bag/car fridge (whatever you’d like to call it) to prevent any mishaps of food left in a car on a hot day. Besides going hungry if your food has gone off, it’s also a waste of money.

Examples of what I might pack:

  • FODMAP friendly veggies of your choice, such as carrot sticks, celery (if you can tolerate polyols), cucumber etc.
  • FODMAP friendly fruits, to a lesser extent, such as bananas and berries. These will need to be kept in a hard case, as they’ll bruise easily while travelling.
  • Muffins, as sometimes a piece of fruit or a carrot stick just isn’t enough. Some good options include my banana nut or pumpkin and chive muffins.
  • Pre-packaged snacks, such as corn chips, rice cakes or gluten free pretzels.
  • Suitable GF or sourdough bread and sandwich fillings, such as ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato, or even just jam and Vegemite (though never together!).

Step 4: Be prepared for the worst

Even the most diligent planning can’t prevent a slip up here or there. A waiter might not take your request seriously, or simply misunderstand you; or you might sneak a food in and hope that your FM has gone on holiday elsewhere. Go prepared with a kit containing methods you know will help to alleviate your symptoms.

My emergency FM kit would include some or all of the following but yours may be different:

  • Paracetamol (acetaminophen in the USA) – ibuprofen is a known gastric irritant, so I personally don’t take it. I’m not recommending that you do take paracetamol but it’s my preferred method of choice for helping to ease intense cramps, which aren’t fun even when you’re not on holiday. At home I might try another method first (such as water or tea) but when I’m away from home I’ll go straight to the Panadol.
  • Dextrose – to help offset any excess fructose that you may have ingested, swallowing dextrose (glucose-glucose) ASAP will help to even out the glucose/fructose ratio and potentially prevent a reaction. This all depends on how much fructose you consumed, how much glucose you followed it with and your gut’s own behaviour.
  • Any supplements that you take, so for me this would include my probiotic and multivitamin. For you it may include digestive enzymes, ACV, bicarb soda etc.
  • Any other methods that you can take with you that is feasibly going to be useful in case of a reaction. For example, I will often drink tea with ginger, lemon and mint to help settle my gut but am I always going to have access to a kettle? Something along the lines of Buscopan or Beano would be more suitable for a road trip but I do not recommend relying on a product you haven’t tested before to stop a reaction unless you have no other choice. Buscopan (etc) might help some with IBS but it might not help at all or even worsen your symptoms.
  • Water and lots of it. Not only is it healthier for your gut and body to remain hydrated but if you have to take a tablet, it’s a lot easier to take it with water than dry. You could crush up some ginger, mint leaves and lemon slices and leave them sitting in your water bottle (remember to change them daily) to infuse the water and help keep your gut happy. Water is also useful for washing things… and on that note,
  • Wet wipes/baby wipes, in case of an emergency cleaning situation.

This sounds like a lot and if it overwhelms you, I’m sorry. Just please remember that you can still enjoy a road trip while on the low FODMAP diet with some extra planning; just like road tripping with kids or dogs… but we still do that!

If you have any other tips that I have forgotten, please let me know in the comments section below. Happy holidaying!

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Coconut Chia Seed Puddings – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

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Ev and I are a little obsessed with puddings and while his brother has been staying with us over the Aussie school summer holidays, he has become addicted to them as well. I bought a 6 pack of rice puddings once day and by the next night there were none left and I didn’t get to have one! Oh well, it was probably for the best. But I swear, teenage boys can eat!

These chia puddings are lower GI than rice and you can control what goes into them, which isn’t much at all – they are so simple!

To find out more about the health benefits of chia seeds and its relationship with FM, read here.

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Notes:

  1. For some with IBS, the high fibre in chia seeds can cause problems – gurgly stomachs, stomach and gut cramps and diarrhoea to name a few. It’s the typical FM case of you need to try it yourself and see. I have had no issues, luckily.
  2. Coconut cream is low FODMAP, although there are small amounts of polyols present.
  3. Some people who have low stomach acid, or just sensitive stomachs, may need to use the light coconut cream for these puddings as the higher fat content in full fat coconut cream can irritate their guts. This is not FODMAP related, however, as fats are not FODMAPs (a group of fermentable carbohydrates).
  4. If coconut is completely out for you, any sort of milk or cream (normal, lactose free, vegan option) will work.
  5. Top with fructose friendly fruits of your choice – I like berries, bananas, desiccated coconut, passion fruit or kiwi fruit.
  6. If you can’t tolerate pure maple syrup, something like glucose syrup or rice malt syrup would also work.

Coconut Chia Seed Puddings

Makes 4.

  • 400 ml can of light or full fat coconut cream – full fat tastes better
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds – add 1-2 tbsp. more if you like a firmer pudding
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Berries/fruit of your choice to top

Mix the coconut cream, maple syrup and vanilla extract vigorously until combined, then stir through chia seeds. See, I said it was simple!

Share the mixture between four ramekins and refrigerate for 2 hours, until set. Once set, top with whatever you’d like; I used mixed berries and desiccated coconut shreds.

I like to use canning jars (or left over jam jars) to store my chia puddings as they come with lids, which keeps the pudding air tight – this means it lasts longer in the fridge and is already in a travel friendly case. Just don’t forget your spoon!

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Sushi Revisited – Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

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Sushi, for us, is pure bliss. Made well, the flavours blend as much as the textures do and the whole thing just fits together – no odd tastes here or there.

In Australia, sushi shops are like Starbucks in Seattle – they are everywhere but aren’t always great, however you can easily get your sushi fix for under $5. You can’t just go up to a sushi stand in Seattle (that I’ve seen, anyway) and to get our sushi hit we have to go out to a proper restaurant or make it ourselves. The problem? It takes about 2 hours to make from beginning to end and we can eat our fill in 20 minutes tops… it’s not really value for time but damn it’s still worth it.

In my previous sushi post, I discussed your typical maki sushi, the roll that most people will know about and have probably eaten. In this post, I will discuss a couple of other sushi styles that we have added to our repertoire, Nigiri and Gunkan sushi.

Our sushi/sashimi fish of choice is the sockeye salmon, which is wild caught around the ocean and rivers here in the Pacific Northwest. It has enough fat for flavour but isn’t as fatty (we’ve found) as the coho salmon that we’ve also tried. The colour is a striking red, due to the salmon’s diet of almost 100% zooplankton; this diet has another bonus, besides the amazing colour – because the sockeye don’t feed on larger aquatic creatures, they have been found to have much lower mercury levels than other fish their size. We really are spoilt for choice with seafood in the PNW.

Notes:

  1. Be careful with sashimi (raw fish). It can be safely prepared with a fresh fish that has been handled well but there are a few pointers that you should follow: the fish shouldn’t smell fishy (after the skin and the thin layer of flesh next to the skin has been discarded), the fish should be washed with water and dried properly and the fish should never be eaten raw after the first day. And of course, store it in the fridge when it’s not being handled or eaten.
  2. Rice, nori and fish are all low FODMAP but be careful of anything else that is added, such as chili pastes in dynamite sauce, which shouldn’t contain onion or garlic if you can’t tolerate them.
  3. Wet hands make handling the sticky rice much easier – it stops it sticking to you.

Nigiri Sushi

Makes 8.

  • 1 cup cooked sushi rice
  • 8 strips salmon sashimi, cut approximately 2 x 5 cm, with the grain of the fish running lengthwise down the slice (see photo)
  • Wasabi

Take a heaped tbsp. worth of the cooked rice and form it into a rounded oblong in the palm of your hand. Take the strip of sashimi and spread a tiny dab of wasabi along its length, then place the wasabi side of the salmon down onto the rice you shaped earlier. Squeeze the whole thing together, gently, with your palm and two fingers of your other hand, before placing it down on the serving dish. Watch this video for a good visual on how to form Nigiri sushi.

Nigiri sushi is the simplest to put together, as it does not require the sourcing of nori (which can be expensive at non-Asian grocers) or a bamboo rolling mat (a maki).

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Nigiri sushi – front

Gunkan Sushi (Gunkan Maki)

Makes 8.

  • 1 cup cooked sushi rice
  • 8 strips of nori, approx. 5 x 15 cm
  • Your topping of choice – spicy salmon or tuna, masago (basically anything finely diced)
  • A ramekin of water

Take a heaped tbsp. of the cooked rice and shape it into a rounded oblong. Next, wrap a strip of the nori around, with the rice sitting at one end and the other end empty – dab your finger in water and rub it onto the nori where the seam will meet, because this will help it stick to itself and seal the roll.

Finally, take a tbsp. of your filling and dollop it into the top (empty) half of the gunkan, before placing it on the serving dish. Our filling was a spicy salmon sashimi (finely diced salmon mixed with mayonnaise and chili paste).

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Serve with soy sauce (gluten free if necessary) to dip. Alternatively, you could add a drop of lemon juice or sesame oil to the soy sauce to change things up a little bit.

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Ryce Bread – Lower Fructans but NOT Gluten Free

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My quest to create fructose friendly crumpets this week was delayed after Evgeny requested that I make him some fresh bread; wheat, seeing as he can eat it. I agreed but I thought why on Earth am I making him bread I can’t eat more than one tiny mouthful of? So I decided to  attempt the next phase of my fructose friendly – at least for me – bread at the same time. Why clean the kitchen twice, right?

I used the Virtuous Bread 100% Rye Bread recipe as a starting point and knew that I wanted to substitute half of the flour for a non-rye, non-wheat flour, to achieve a lighter loaf with less fructans in it than full rye. I chose white rice flour, as I wanted this to be easy for anyone to replicate and GF flour blends can be so different that they don’t reliably perform in the same way. By choosing a single type of flour that you could buy, rather than a brand of gluten free flour, I hope I have done this.

As to adding the gluten powder (which I had found a week earlier at the supermarket, with something like this bread in mind), I had to make an educated guess that luckily worked out. I couldn’t find relevant instructions anywhere on adding gluten to gluten free flours, because who would be crazy enough to do that?! Too little gluten and bread will crumble – we’ve all had to deal with structurally inadequate gluten free bread; too much and the bread will be very dense and won’t rise. I knew I had to add more than the general rule of 1 tbsp./2 cups of flour, because half of my flour didn’t have any gluten at all. Luckily my “guesstimate” paid off, because the bread rose well and was moist, not crumbly.

For a fantastically detailed look into bread making, watch this video of Alton Brown’s Good Eats bread episode, Dr. Strangeloaf. While it is talking about wheat bread, I like the science he brings to his baking and I was able to use much of his information to make this bread. One example is the use of cooler water – this lets the yeast ferment the carbohydrates at a much slower rate, giving the gluten present a chance to develop enough to successfully “catch” the gas, which generates more fluff in the bread.

Notes:

  1. As I have mentioned before, studies show that rye flour contains more fructans than wheat but evidence suggests that the chains are longer, thus taking longer to ferment. It is generally less of an irritant than wheat to those with FM, although many still cannot tolerate it. I am lucky enough to be able to tolerate a small serving of 100% rye. I suppose I should explicitly say that this won’t be tolerated by everyone but if you want to try it, or know that you are okay with rye, then go ahead.
  2. Rye is not gluten free, so neither is this recipe – especially as I have added vital wheat gluten. If you have issues with gluten specifically, this bread is not for you.
  3. Rye flour requires more water/hydration than wheat flour, and the dough it will make tends to be stickier and requires less kneading than wheat flour. Rye is easier to over knead than wheat flour, so it requires gentler handling. However, I added wheat gluten to this recipe – while I did knead it less than I did the wheat loaf that I made Evgeny, I kneaded it more than the 100% rye loaf I had previously made.
  4. Some with FM cannot tolerate brown rice flour, so make sure you use white rice flour if you are one of those. At any rate, I used white rice flour in this bread and I don’t know if brown rice flour would replicate the results.
  5. The IBS dietitian Patsy Catsos mentions – on her website – that vital wheat gluten isn’t recommended during the elimination/testing phase but after that it could be beneficial in your baking. As long as you’re not gluten intolerant, of course.

Ryce Bread

  • 300 g white rice flour
  • 300 g whole meal rye flour – or light rye
  • 2 cups/500 ml room temperature water
  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/3 cup flax seeds – optional
  • 3 g dry instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp. castor sugar/dextrose
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • Extra flour to dust surfaces for kneading
  • 1 tbsp. corn starch mixed in 1/4 cup water

Combine the white rice flour, rye flour and vital wheat gluten in the bowl of your stand mixer and combine thoroughly with the dough hook for a good minute. Once done, add in the flax seeds, salt and instant yeast and mix for another minute.

Meanwhile, add the sugar to the water and stir until combined. This shouldn’t take long. Once done, add it slowly to the dry ingredients while the dough hook is still turning. You don’t want the dough to be swimming in water but it won’t look like normal wheat dough, either. It will be tacky – i.e. stick to your fingers if you haven’t floured them – but because we have added the gluten, it will have a lot more structure than 100% rye. Use the mixer to knead it for 5 or so minutes on a medium speed.

It is difficult to explain but it should look like the dough ball directly below, minus the flour dusting from me giving it a light knead (1-2 minutes, with my hands) before I left it to rise in a lightly oiled straight sided container – it makes it easier to see how much the dough has risen. Leave your dough (covered with a tea towel) to rise for 2 hours, until it has visibly doubled in size.

After initial machine kneading

Pre-rise, in an oiled container

Once the dough has doubled in size, use your knuckles to knead it out into a flat rectangle. Hearing the gas bubbles pop is normal, although the wheat dough made more sounds than the ryce dough. Fold each outer third into the middle, like a wallet, and then repeat once more.

Let it sit for 20 minutes and then knead it again with your knuckles. Pick it up and fold the edges underneath; imagine you are creating a jelly fish or the top of a hot air balloon – if you have trouble picturing this in your head, watch the video I linked above. Once done, place it on a lightly floured surface and use your hands to roll it over the bench top without picking it up. I recommend watching the video for this step, too. I also suspect that my hands are a little too small to do this step well but that could also be a lack of skill on my behalf.

Let is rise for another hour, covered with a tea towel, on a lightly floured wooden cutting board. Below is the loaf after its second rise.

After rising, and two stages of kneading

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F and if you are using any sort of stoneware to bake the bread on, make sure it heats up with the oven or you might end up with a crack through it later on from the rapid temperature change.

Give the dough a light coating with the corn starch/water mixture to help with browning later on. Scoring the top to a depth of about 5-10 mm is not only decorative but functional as well; it gives the inner dough an escape route as it rises during baking, allowing it to expand even more, rather than become trapped inside and thus denser. Scatter a little more flour onto the chopping board, as the corn starch solution will have moistened everything and the dough won’t slide properly for the next step.

Cornstarch glaze and slices before baking

Using the wooden chopping board, first make sure the dough can slide around easily on the scattered flour and then slide it onto a pizza stone if you have one, or an upside down, unglazed 12″ terra cotta pot base if you don’t (mine cost $6 from a hardware store) that is sitting in the oven. Allow enough headroom for the dough to rise as it bakes – I need to remove the upper shelf but it isn’t really necessary, anyway.

Bake at 200 C/400 F for 40 minutes. It should be done when it sounds hollow when tapped – some people use internal temperatures but we don’t have a thermometer, so tapping it is for us. Below is the loaf, fresh out of the oven.

Ryce Bread - half each white rice flour and whole meal rye.

Let the bread cool for at least half an hour before cutting into it – don’t worry, it will still be lovely, warm and fresh. It is so delicious! I was really happy with this bread; you get enough rye flavour without the full load of fructans and – as the slices are big – I’ve eaten one slice for each of the last three days and had no issues. I would test more to see my limits but that much of any bread in one sitting isn’t good for anyone.

Hopefully some of you can tolerate it as well, if you’re willing to test it out.

I spread some of my stewed raspberries and rhubarb on it for a delicious breakfast yesterday and had some of my basil pesto on it with sliced turkey for lunch today. What will you do with your freshly baked bread?

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Chili Tofu Skewers – Fructose Friendly and Gluten Free

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Kebabs, kabobs, skewers… whatever you like to call them. Food on a stick is fun, convenient and a change is as good as a holiday, right?

While trying to think up some vegetarian food ideas – stir fries get a little boring after a while – my friend, who used to be vegetarian, gave me some cook books to look at. Thanks, Gill!

This recipe is adapted to be FF and GF from Family Circles’ ‘Fast Vegetarian,’ guaranteed to be ready in just 30 minutes. That I like.

Notes:

  1. While mushrooms are low fructose and fructans, they do contain polyols. You could swap them out for extra zucchini/capsicum or for another vegetable.
  2. To make your own chili paste: to yield 1 cup, blitz a large handful of red chili peppers, 1 tsp. lemon juice, 1 tsp. freshly minced ginger and extra virgin olive oil as required in a food processor until smooth.
  3. For an intense chili taste, marinade the tofu and veggies for at least an hour, or overnight, to allow the tofu to take on the chili paste’s flavours. This of course will mean that it’s not really a 30 minute meal but it does make meal prep the next night even faster.

Chili Tofu Skewers

Serves 4, or one couple for two nights if you refrigerate half pre-cooking.

Skewers

  • 200 g/6.5 oz extra firm tofu, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 150 g/5 oz button mushrooms, halved
  • 2 red capsicums, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 zucchinis, thickly sliced
  • 12 or so wooden skewers, soaked in water to prevent splintering

Marinade

  • 1/2 cup FF chili paste – sans garlic or onion
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch asafoetida
  • 2 tsp. grated ginger

Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F.

Prepare all vegetables and tofu and put all marinade ingredients in a jar, put on the lid and shake til combined.

In whatever order you’d like, place the veggies and tofu on the skewers. Place finished skewers on a lined baking tray and brush generously with the chili sauce.

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Cook for 15 minutes or so, until vegetables look properly cooked. Baste once more with chili sauce after 10 minutes.

Serve on top of a bed of white rice or quinoa – if you can tolerate it. These skewers look good, taste great and are so quick and simple to put together that I think they will become a new go-to meal.

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Crumbed Basil & Feta Stuffed Chicken – Low Fructose

A week-ish ago it was Ev’s birthday and the inevitable birthday dinner was planned. He decided that he didn’t want a party, claiming it was because he dislikes being the centre of attention but we all know he loves being listened to so that’s not quite true. He just didn’t want people singing to him, I suppose.

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I normally go for quick and easy meals when I’m cooking dinner but a birthday is a bit special, so some effort was involved. Not that these are that difficult but they are time consuming because you have to fill, roll and dip. Then bake.

I don’t have anything against fats and oils but I do believe everything in moderation and considering these are stuffed with pesto, in which olive oil is a significant ingredient, they don’t really need to be fried – which is what a lot of people do with chicken kiev (chicken stuffed with garlic butter).

If you want really moist chicken, do the following after you have sliced your chicken breasts in half (or sliced the thigh meat off the bone) and tenderised them – soak in brine for 30 minutes to an hour (ratio 1 cup water to 1 tbsp. salt and 1 tbsp. black pepper). Rinse and pat dry before you move on. I didn’t have time to do this but brining chicken is always a good idea.

Crumbed Basil & Feta Stuffed Chicken

  • 3 chicken breasts/6 chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto (if store bought – watch for garlic and onion)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup corn flour/starch
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups GF bread crumbs (I used corn cereal crumbs)
  • Wooden Skewers or kitchen twine

Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Slice your chicken thighs so that the meat comes off the bone in one piece, or your chicken breasts in half, through the middle so that you end up with two reversed pieces. Like so…

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A chicken breast that has been sliced in half along it’s breadth.

Using a kitchen mallet or the back of your soup ladle – I wish we owned a mallet! – lay a plastic bag over your chicken and beat it to about 7.5 to 10 mm thick. It doesn’t have to be perfect but it just means that the meat will cook faster and won’t be as chewy as a thicker roll would.

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Lay the chicken out flat and dollop on a tbsp. of pesto and a pinch of feta crumbs. Either take the pesto you are planning on using out of its jar beforehand or use a separate spoon for dolloping than you use to spread the pesto over the chicken. Nobody wants salmonella poisoning next time they use the pesto from the jar. Ouch.

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Roll the chicken breast with the fillings on the inside – duh – and either use skewers or kitchen twine to hold them together.

You can snip the skewers to a more appropriate length... which is what I should have done beforehand.

You can snip the skewers to a more appropriate length… which is what I should have done beforehand.

I find it is easier to make and secure all the rolls before progressing to the next step of dipping and crumbing them. That way, when you get your hands dirty – and you will – you can do it all at once and you won’t need to clean your hands between chicken stuffing or crumbing.

Set your dipping bowls up like so - close together so you don't get your benches too dirty

Set your dipping bowls up like so – close together so you don’t get your benches too dirty

Dip each roll into the corn flour and cover it lightly but completely. Then dip the floured roll into the beaten eggs and let the excess drip off. Finally, roll it around in the corn cereal (or other substitute of GF bread crumbs) to thoroughly coat it.

Place each roll on the lined baking tray and refrigerate til they need to be baked. You could even make these a few days ahead and freeze them at this stage. They will need to be baked for 5-10 minutes longer, most likely, if you do this.

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Bake at 180 C/350 F for 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven and how thick the chicken rolls are. The bigger the roll, the longer it will take to bake. Test one of your thicker rolls at 30 minutes – if the fluid runs clear, that indicates the chicken is cooked. If not, leave it in and check at ~5 minute intervals.

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Serve with a salad, scalloped potatoes, blanched veggies – anything you like.

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Enjoy!

How to Cook Perfect Rice without a Rice Cooker

Rice is a staple in most GF/FM households. GF pastas are very handy but also more expensive and they aren’t all made equal. Buying a rice cooker was the worst mistake we ever made. Yes, it was cheap(ish) but it always burnt the rice and it was always slightly gluggy, even if you followed the water to rice ratio.

This should not fail you. Since perfecting this technique, we have not had anything but perfect, fluffy rice. WHITE rice. We haven’t perfected this for brown rice, yet. I imagine it will take more water and more time.

Step 1: Wash your rice!

In a bowl, place a measured quantity of dry rice and proceed to fill the bowl with water, swish it around and top it out until the water from the bowl runs clear. It should only take about 5 minutes, absolute max. Depending on how much rice you have, of course.

This step removes the starchy outer layer of the rice grains, which will cause your finished rice to be starchy and have a thickened coating. Not very nice.

Step 2: Boil your rice

Pour the uncooked rice into a pot and pour in water in a 1:1 ratio. Essentially, if you washed 1 cup of rice, pour 1 cup of water into the pot. Easy done.

Water and rice in a 1:1 ratio

Water and rice in a 1:1 ratio

Place the pot on the stove and put the lid on. NOW. Do not forget this or remove it inadvertently while cooking. The lid keeps all the steam in the pot, which helps with the cooking.

Bring the pot to the boil, let it simmer for 10-20 seconds and then turn it down to a low-medium setting. We turn our stove so that the dial is only a 1/4 turn from the off setting.

Set your timer for 15 minutes from the moment the water boils.

This rice has just come to the boil

This rice has just come to the boil

Step 3: Let your rice sit

As easy as it sounds. DO NOT remove the lid yet. Simply take the pot off the hot stove top and let it sit for 15 minutes (set your timer).

Step 4: Serve and enjoy

After the second 15 minute wait, your rice should be finished. You may now remove the lid! What should emerge is fluffy, soft white rice that hasn’t stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Fluffy white rice

Fluffy white rice

A side note – We have Scanpan and Raco cookware – pretty reasonable quality, not super heavy duty but definitely much better than cheap cookware – if you have lightweight, cheap cookware then I don’t know how this will affect the rice.

Roasted Capsicum and Leek Risotto – Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

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Risotto is a delicious meal in itself but is also a great substitute for pasta for those who can’t eat wheat or wheat derivatives. And the bonus? It’s really not as hard as you think it is to make. I’m not kidding. It’s time consuming and you have to be patient but it’s easy peasy.

I make risotto each night before I do my long run for the week. It is filling and full of carbohydrates that I’ll need the next morning for my run. This also makes it quite high in calories so be careful how much you eat! Adding vegetables will also up its nutrition value to more than carbs and fat. So, Monday’s are risotto night. And this Friday night, too, because I’m doing the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon on Saturday morning… EEK!

FODMAP Notes:

  1. The green parts of leeks and spring onions are lower in fructans than the white part, so are safer for FMers. Please note that some people are extra sensitive and even this reduced amount will cause them to react. Follow what works for you. Asafoetida (hing) is a spice that replicates the flavours of onion and garlic once cooked, so that could be substituted instead.
  2. Fructose friendly vegetable stock is that which has been cooked sans onions/garlic, as the FODMAPs will leech out into the water. Either make your own or find a brand that is safe.
  3. FODMAPs are water soluble, so infusing your oil with garlic before any water based ingredients are added is the safest way to impart the garlic’s flavour without the fructans.
  4. Capsicums are low FODMAP in servings of 1 cup.

The following is a basic risotto recipe that you can flavour however you’d like – some flavour variations are listed below.

Basic Risotto:

  • 5 cups/1.25 L FF vegetable stock
  • Olive oil to seal your pan
  • 2 cups green leek tips, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed – to be removed before cooking the rice
  • 300 g/10 oz arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup/125 ml dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 cups roasted capsicum, sliced into 1 cm cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (or a vegetarian hard cheese) to serve.

Wash your rice.

Heat the veggie stock in a separate pot until it is simmering. Leave it there to use later on.

Seal your pan with olive oil by placing it on a high heat until the oil is smoking. Let it smoke for about 15-20 seconds and then remove it from the heat and tip your pan so that the oil covers the entire bottom surface.

Meanwhile, reduce your stove to a medium/high heat to saute the garlic. This step is optional – some people are too sensitive to fructans for even garlic infused oil – but should take only a few minutes and will give the dish some garlic flavour without a huge load of fructans. Remove the garlic before adding in the green leek tips, then saute until softened before adding in the rice.

Next, reduce the heat to medium, then add rice and wine and stir until the wine has evaporated – about 1 minute.

Now for the time consuming part. Add the stock to the rice one ladle at a time, stirring occasionally. Each time the stock has almost disappeared, add another ladle. Keep the heat to no more than just above medium because we don’t want too much of the liquid to evaporate; the rice needs to absorb it to cook. Keep doing this until the stock has gone; the rice should be tender and creamy but not “sloppy.” When you are halfway through the stock, add in the roasted capsicums and stir through.

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The stock isn’t fully absorbed here, and the rice will retain a little crunch

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Here the stock is fully absorbed and the rice is soft and tender. The risotto also keeps its shape as it is pushed around. It’s ready.

Add the butter, then season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle your serving with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

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