Orecchiette con Cima de rape – Low FODMAP

This recipe was in a newspaper supplement but wasn’t really Low FODMAP friendly so I decided to give it an update and make it suitable for those with food intolerances. It is a traditional Puglian recipe using broccoli tops (Cima de Rape), which is a winter vegetable in Italy but is a really refreshing recipe for spring in the UK using broccoli tops makes it a suitable low FODMAP version.

The other problem is that there is no suitable gluten free Orecchiette pasta that is available in the UK, so fresh gluten free pasta has to be made if you want an authentic dish. The other point to note is that only if you find cooking relaxing should you attempt to made home made gluten free pasta. An important factor is not making more work for yourself if you don’t find cooking relaxing and dried pasta is suitable for this dish.

I have decided to make a longer recipe today as it is Bank Holiday weekend and the forecast suggested that it was going to rain although it hasn’t done yet. I have also posted some bluebell images from this weekend – bluebells are everywhere at the moment and are quite a spectacle.

Ingredients

Pasta (wheat free)

250g Pure maize flour (wheat contamination free if you are coeliac)

50g Gluten free bread flour

2 Eggs

Salt

1/2 Teaspoon xanthan gum

Enough water to bring the dough together

Stock

1 Ladle of pasta cooking water – top up to 500ml with water

20g Carrot chopped

30g Celeriac

1 Bay leaf

Small amount of salt and 6 peppercorns

Sauce

1 Head of broccoli (250g) stalks removed

1 Anchovy

1 Lemon

20g Parsley

20 Bay leaves

20g Rocket

30g Parmesan

3 Tablespoons of garlic infused olive oil

25g Butter

100ml White wine

Salt to taste

Method

Pasta

Weigh the flours into a bowl and add salt and xanthan gum. Mix the dry ingredients well before adding any liquid to the mix. Add the eggs and start to mix the flour, then add water to bring the flour together into a dough. Add just enough to ensure a soft mix – it is not possible to give a volume as this will depend on the fineness the flour mix you use. Once the dough is formed work it well to incorporate it together and make a smooth mix. This will take time, don’t worry about over working – this is not the same as making standard pasta. Roll out logs of the dough to the thickness of you thumb and then slice finely. To make the orecchiette shape press your finger into the centre of the disc. Bring a pan of water to boil and add salt and the pasta. Cook till the pasta rises in the pan remove and drain.

Zest the lemon and juice.

Chop the broccoli tops, celeriac, carrot, anchovy finely and add to separate bowls.

Then chop the basil, rocket and parsley and add to a bowl with the rest of the lemon juice.

Make the stock adding the pasta cooking liquor, carrot, celeriac, bay leaves and pepper to a pan and cook for 10 minutes, drain and save the stock. You could add the carrot and celeriac to the main dish but remove the bay leaf and peppercorns.

Add the olive oil to a pan and add the broccoli, anchovy and the zest of 1/2 the lemon and cook for four minutes then add the stock, wine, 1/2 the parmesan and butter and simmer for 10 minutes until the broccoli is soft.

Add the herbs and the rest of the lemon zest to the pan and then gently mix in the pasta to warm through. Serve and finish with a tablespoon of the lemon juice and the rest of the parmesan.

Serves two

Lemon – Low FODMAP

http://www.compoundchem.com

The words of the song the Lemon Tree, the words are undeniable “Lemon tree very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.” Many people with gastro-oesophageal reflux (GORD) and IBS avoid all citrus fruit due to reporting of them making symptoms of reflux worse. Yet, citrus fruits are allowed on the low FODMAP diet. I actually love lemon, the flavour is sharp and strong but has to be handled carefully in recipes to prevent is tasting like a popular cold remedy.

One point to mention here is that the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance on reflux does not specify a reduction of citrus fruit consumption as part of lifestyle GORD treatment. The reduction of coffee, chocolate, alcohol and fatty foods are the main focus of dietary lifestyle factors. Although the date of the review of this lifestyle advice is 2004 – so somewhat old data, but this is fine if no new developments have come to light. It is also worth noting that the measure of acidity, pH, is very low for stomach acid (2-3), for lemon Juice, it is 2, so not much different than the pH of gastric juices anyway. But people do report problems, so we do treat everyone as an individual and they can be reduced to a tolerable level, when needed.

Reduction of acidic foods also can reduce the amount of vitamin C in the diet, as ascorbic acid is found in higher levels in citrus fruits. Vitamin C full deficiency is rare in the UK, although arguably becoming more common due to fad diets, such as complete carnivore diets. Our bodies cannot make it, unlike other animals. Not much data is available on low vitamin C intake and GORD, but the effects of deficiency include damage to skin and likely the GI tract, which has a fast turnover of cells, not that helpful for those who have sensitive guts. The requirement for vitamin C might be increased in people who have diarrhoea – although caution is advised as vitamin C supplements above 3g/day (three times the amount of a standard over the counter supplement) will increase symptoms of abdominal pain and diarrhoea. As ever, it is better to get your nutrition from food, so once your symptoms have reduced, re-introduce those low FODMAP foods you have stopped eating, try them again, you might find that you can eat them after all.

Lemon butter drops

These little biscuits are only a mouthful – just a bite – but are a divine melt in the mouth treat. Especially nice for this time of year, Spring and Easter, (when Easter does arrive in April).

Ingredients

100g butter

200g rice flour

1/2g zanthan gum

Grated rind of 2 unwaxed lemons

1 egg

50g of gluten free self-raising flour plus extra for rolling out.

Filling (lemon curd)

4 wax free lemons – juice and rind

350g castor sugar

200g butter

1 1/2 tablespoons of corn flour

4 eggs

Method

Add the butter and sugar and cream (mix) together well.

Then add the grated lemon rind and egg, mix well

Add the flour and bring together into a dough, if it doesn’t bind together add a little more flour till it does.

Roll thinly and cut out small rounds (I made 40 with the mix)

Cook for 10 minutes at gas mark 6.

cool

Make the curd

Whisk together 4 eggs

Juice and grate the lemons and weigh out the other ingredients

Warm the eggs whilst adding the other ingredients and cook till thickened

Cool and add to the jars

(This is based on a Delia Smith recipe but with additional cornflour to make the curd thick enough to sandwich between the biscuits.)

Recipe makes enough for 20 small sandwich biscuits and enough curd to add to a litre and a half volume – more than enough to add to sterilized jam jars and they will keep for a few weeks.It does go a long way so you don’t need to use much for a sweet and sharp lemon flavour.


Spinach, a superfood – fable, fact or just wartime propaganda?

If I had a pound every time a patient says spinach is high in iron in the clinic, I reckon I would be relatively wealthy. Also, if I knew what I was about to find out about this story whilst researching it, I would have looked into this much earlier. Thanks to Andy Brunning at compoundchem.com for the story background and links, a story of the importance of evidence and good referencing.

Although spinach is a green vegetable, which is particularly versatile and useful to include in a healthy balanced diet, the above infographic from Compound Chem shows the availability of iron from spinach is poor, unfortunately. So, what does it contain that is great for nutrition? Spinach is a good source of manganese, folate, vitamin A, vitamin K and fibre, which is excellent, as the fibre at least is an essential part of the diet if you are following a low fodmap diet. It is the content of polyphenols in spinach that bind with the iron rendering it insoluble, not the fact that it is a non-heam source, which is usually able to be absorbed, if a source of vitamin C is consumed at the same time.

The type of polyphenol compounds found in spinach varies but the example below accounts for the majority of polyphenol compound at 37.37 mg/100g FW. What no-one seems to have considered here is what effect microbial interaction in the bowel has on these polyphenols. Whether microbial digestion of these polyphenols affects their structure and whether this process helps the availability of iron to digestion. Interesting, Huh? Needs investigating – Yes!

http://phenol-explorer.eu

Many people assuming that spinach is high in iron is probably due in part to social history. Popeye, a cartoon character developed in 1931, ate spinach to give himself ‘strength’ – “I’m strong to the finish cause I eats mi spinach”. But an original report of the iron content of spinach was stated to have contained a decimal point error, that gave the iron content as 10 times more than the actual amount. This is what I was told, as a student from 2003-2007, although others report that this was an error of reporting the iron content of dried spinach as fresh spinach. But whatever the cause, the erroneous reporting of the content of iron from spinach being higher exists to this day and has consequences. This is a particularly pervasive nutritional myth that has been investigated and reviewed by Sutton and published in the Internet Journal of Criminology, see the link below, it is a fasinating read of failings to attribute data with references and looking for clues from original sources.

Spinach does have the same iron content as some meat, but the important point to note is the availability of the iron from both foods. Spinach is a poor source, and as I have stated before in this blog, micronutrients need to be absorbed for them to be useful to us, it is no good just looking at the bare numbers. Also, Sutton states it was, in fact, the vitamin A content that Popeye was eating spinach for. This may be true, as spinach is a good source of vitamin A, from carotenoids. But also reminds me of another UK wartime ‘fable’ of eating plenty of carrots to improve eyesight. Improved eyesight only occurs if someone has a severe vitamin A deficit and night blindness, no improvement is gained with those who have adequate vitamin A stores. I wonder if spinach was the USA wartime equivalent of the UK carrot propaganda? How ironic that would be!

Why are these stories essential to debunk? Wikipedia states that during the first world war spinach was given to soldiers who had suffered haemorrhage, presumably to ‘replace’ iron. It was delivered in red wine – presumably to ‘help’ absorption, by chemical conversion to increase the solubility, by the acidity of the red wine. Red wine also contains iron – but also contains polyphenols, which will also inhibit the absorption of iron – likely a double error occurred in this case, then. Another point to make here is that diet alone currently cannot be used to treat anaemia. Usually, iron sulphate supplements are the chosen option, containing 65mg per dose, (which can, by the way, have devastating effects on digestive symptoms for those with IBS. Iron federate is perhaps a better choice and if you have low iron/anaemia and IBS ensure your doctor has investigated the cause.) Although less of a ‘tonic’ than it was supposed to be, a ration of wine during World War 1 was probably welcomed by the soldiers.

What does this have to do with IBS you might ask? Well actually, rather a lot, particularly for those people who are vegans. The Low FODMAP diet is low in iron as many foods such as pulses and dried fruit – good sources of iron for vegans are limited on the diet. This shows the importance of proper knowledge and the impact of following such a diet has on nutrition and health. The importance of seeing a registered dietitian cannot be underestimated. Other sources are watercress, kale and include allowed portions of pulses with a source of vitamin C – although to what degree the overall polyphenol content of the vegan diet might affect absorption is not established and unlikely to be so. Digestion is complicated, this is a fact.

Spinach does have some really great other nutritional benefits, but it is no more a superfood concerning vitamin A content than the cheaply available carrot, (spinach has marginally more vitamin A content) or a good source of iron. It is, however, a source of vitamin K that can prevent blood clotting problems. The recipe below can be made for those who respond to a low fodmap diet and others who are just interested in tasty recipes!

Cream of spinach soup

  • 100g Broccoli tops
  • 35g carrots
  • 70g celeriac
  • 200g spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of lactose-free mascarpone cheese
  • 600ml water

Method

  • Chop the vegetables finely
  • Add them to a pan with 600ml water and spices
  • Cook till soft
  • Blend with a hand blender
  • Add the mascarpone cheese just prior to serving
  • Serves 4

https://www5.in.tum.de/~huckle/Sutton_Spinach_Iron_and_Popeye_March_2010.pdf

  1. Neveu V, Perez-Jiménez J, Vos F, Crespy V, du Chaffaut L, Mennen L, Knox C, Eisner R, Cruz J, Wishart D, Scalbert A. (2010) Phenol-Explorer: an online comprehensive database on polyphenol contents in foods. Database, doi: 10.1093/database/bap024. Full text (free access)
  2. Rothwell JA, Urpi-Sarda M, Boto-Ordoñez M, Knox C, Llorach R, Eisner R, Cruz J, Neveu V, Wishart D, Manach C, Andres-Lacueva C, Scalbert A. (2012) Phenol-Explorer 2.0: a major update of the Phenol-Explorer database integrating data on polyphenol metabolism and pharmacokinetics in humans and experimental animals. Database, doi: 10.1093/database/bas031. Full text (free access)
  3. Rothwell JA, Pérez-Jiménez J, Neveu V, Medina-Ramon A, M’Hiri N, Garcia Lobato P, Manach C, Knox K, Eisner R, Wishart D, Scalbert A. (2013) Phenol-Explorer 3.0: a major update of the Phenol-Explorer database to incorporate data on the effects of food processing on polyphenol content. Database, 10.1093/database/bat070. Full text (free access)


The Aubergine

Aubergines have to be my favourite vegetable. I love that they marry well with other vegetables such as tomato and potato. They have a velvety texture and a creamy taste and more than earn their title as the vegetarian steak.

Although in some quarters they are suggested to produce intolerance, as along with potato, peppers and tomato, the aubergine is a member of ‘the nightshade family’ or Solanaceae, a deadly associated name for a wonderful group of vegetables (and fruit, if you count the tomato, which is technically a fruit). We have little evidence for the problems of the ‘nightshade family’, concerning the above group of four as a whole, and why would you want to exclude these versatile vegetables from your diet? Some are however known as histamine producing – the aubergine and tomato – but histamine intolerance is a rare occurrence and can be identified by knowledgeable practitioners, plus aubergine is only classed as a moderate inducer. Another possible consideration for reactions to the Solanaceae group is the alkaloid solanine, which is found in green potatoes, so store your potatoes well, covered in the dark to avoid sprouting and this should not be a problem.

I have not had experience of the bitter flavour with aubergine so wouldn’t usually resort to salting them, but the above infographic is useful as once salted they will not absorb as much oil, so it might be worth taking the time to do it. Segnit’s flavour thesaurus matches the aubergine with walnut and tomato and a sprinkling of nutmeg. So, here is my recipe for you – please tell me how you like it!

Ingredients

1 aubergine

1 tablespoon of olive oil

100g carrots

1 tin of tomato

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of paprika

1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

150g walnuts

150g of sharply flavoured cheese (if vegan you can use alternative vegan cheese here) but I used Manchego.

Method

Chop the vegetables and walnuts

Fry the spices in the oil to release their flavour.

Add the vegetables to a casserole dish with the tomatoes and mix in the spices and salt to taste

Cook for 1 hour at gas mark 6, 200 degrees C

Crumble the cheese, sprinkle on the top of the casserole and grill to melt

Serve with crusty bread (gluten free or otherwise for those following a low fodmap or gluten free diet.)

Meat free Sausages – Low fodmap

This recipe was devised as a result of trying to find low fodmap meat-free sausages and failing to find a suitable option easily. They are very tasty – although they do not taste the same as standard sausages – perhaps they are better as a result, give them a try and see! Just in time for meat-free Monday.

Ingredients

100g walnuts

2 slices of vegan gluten free bread

90g celeriac

190g roasted peppers

1/4 teaspoon of asafoetida

1/4 teaspoon of paprika

salt & pepper to taste

Method

Add all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz till fine. This should be a thick paste texture, but it will depend on the size of the slice of bread, just add more bread if it is too thin. Dust gluten-free flour on your hands then roll handfuls of this mix into a sausage shape, or they can also be rolled into balls if preferred. Shallow fry in vegetable oil and serve. It couldn’t be easier really!

This recipe was made at the end of a day out at The Piece Hall at Halifax – as the pictures show below, we had a great day out, but it was freezing!

Do you have a problem with lactose?

The-chemistry-of-milk

The following script is based on an article I wrote for the Allergy & Free From show magazine last year. With some updates!

What is lactose?

Lactose is a sugar, for this sugar to be used by us, the walls of our lower digestive system produce a digestive enzyme called lactase. This enzyme helps to break down the sugar so it can be made small enough to be taken into the body and used as energy. See the above infographic.

What causes lactose intolerance?

Congenital lactose intolerance occurs because of the gut not being able to produce any lactase enzyme from birth – this is very rare. Primary lactose intolerance is where the gut loses the ability to create the lactase enzyme over time. Secondary lactose intolerance can occur with a digestive disease, gastrointestinal infections and food poisoning, which may or may not be short term.

Some people’s ethnic background puts them more at risk of lactose intolerance because in South America, Africa and Asia, over half of the indigenous population have primary lactose intolerance and in some Asian countries almost everyone can have primary lactose intolerance.

What symptoms might I have?

The symptoms from lactose intolerance can be unpleasant and embarrassing and range from loose, watery poo, wind, bloating and a distended tummy. Some people get stomach cramps, loud digestive gurgling noises, feeling sick and occasionally are sick. These symptoms occur because undigested lactose in the bowel pulls fluid from the body as it moves through the lower digestive tract, causing diarrhoea. Then lactose is then used for energy by the bacteria usually found in the bowel – this causes bloating and wind.

milk-3253674_1920

When do I need to see my doctor?

Usually, digestive symptoms because of food poisoning are often quick to resolve (lactose intolerance after a digestive system infection usually resolves after six weeks), if you still struggle with symptoms, see your doctor, don’t be tempted to self-diagnose. Don’t be shy in talking about your symptoms – doctors have heard them all before. You can always write down your symptoms before you go if you just find them too difficult to talk about.

The following symptoms are not expected with lactose intolerance if you have swelling of your lips, mouth or face; rashes or wheezing within minutes to a few hours of drinking milk. This might suggest an allergy – see your doctor. Or, alternatively, blood mixed in your poo with a temperature and feeling unwell. These are not symptoms generally associated with lactose intolerance and may be due to another medical problem.  Contact your GP and don’t make drastic changes to your diet.

All children should be seen by their doctor and lactose intolerance because of cow’s milk protein allergy should be considered. Because babies and young children are more vulnerable, any symptoms of blood or mucus in poo, green vomiting, a temperature and severe tummy pain in young children call NHS 111 for advice or discuss with your doctor urgently.

milk-3231772_1280

What tests are available for lactose intolerance?

No blood tests can identify lactose intolerance. Sometimes your doctor might advise a test called a hydrogen breath test – but often they will recommend following a full lactose-free diet for one month and then introduce lactose to test that symptoms return, which is usually very useful in identifying this intolerance. Testing food is also essential to find your own level of lactose tolerance. Most people can have a small amount without having any symptoms at all, and this knowledge can make following a lactose-free diet a little bit easier. A registered dietitian can help you do this effectively and check you are getting the correct nutrition from your modified diet.

Might symptoms be caused by something else?

Occasionally, it’s possible to have lactose intolerance along with other digestive complaints, such as:

Coeliac disease (autoimmune gluten enteropathy) this is because gluten, a protein in wheat, barley and rye, damages the bowel surface so it cannot make the lactase enzyme very well. See your doctor, and your doctor will complete tests for coeliac disease if it is suspected. It is vital to continue to eat food containing gluten to make quite sure that the tests used can identify coeliac disease well. Lactose intolerance usually resolves with treatment for coeliac disease.

milk-1760353_1920

A few people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD – Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), which causes the bowel wall to become swollen and ulcerated, can also occasionally have problems digesting lactose. Due to inflammation of the bowel wall sometimes it cannot make the lactase enzyme very well. This lactose intolerance can resolve with treatment for IBD.

People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can have problems digesting lactose, this might occur because of the gut microbe fermentation of some foods (called FODMAPs.) Lactose is a FODMAP. FODMAPs are sugars found widely in the diet that are poorly digested and result in symptoms for people with IBS. If you wish to try a low fodmap diet ask your doctor for a referral to a registered dietitian to help you. Don’t be tempted to exclude all carbohydrates from your diet. Wholegrain starchy carbohydrates are essential for long-term gut health.

Where is lactose found?

In animal milk, some cheeses, some yoghurts, processed foods made from animal milk and some medications. Most medications contain tolerable amounts so don’t stop taking them. Discuss alternatives with your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking a few medicines containing lactose, as this might be enough to cause symptoms.

Lactose-containing ingredients can be recognised on the food package ingredients list by the following words – milk, lactoglobulin, milk solids, buttermilk, lactose, artificial cream, whey powder, cheese, condensed milk, curd, skimmed milk powder, cream cheese, modified milk, evaporated milk, margarine and butter. As milk is an allergen, it will be listed as bold, in italics or in a different font or colour on the ingredients list. But lactose is not an allergen as such, so it doesn’t need to be listed separately to milk. Lactose-free animal milk products will be explicitly stated on the packaging by the manufacturer.

Where can I find lactose free products?

milk-2594538_1920

Much lactose-free milk and alternative milk products can be found at larger supermarkets and can also be sourced online. Some manufacturers are Lactofree (Arla), Candia, supermarket home brands, free from milk (Alpro, Oately, Rice Dream, Good Hemp, Koko and Provamil.) Please note rice milk should not be given to children under 4 ½ years of age.

Other products, due to the processing methods used, might be lower in lactose naturally and some people can eat them with no problem such as standard hard cheeses and some yoghurts. Many other foods are typically free of lactose.

soy-milk-2263942_1920

The new ‘alternative’ on the block:

Tiger nut milk is a new marketed product trend, and I really don’t see the point of having this milk, unless you are from Spain and have Horchata as a cultural drink. Tiger nuts are tubers, and you can buy tiger nut milk ready made – but often making your own is advocated by bloggers and companies alike. Marketed as paleo – with little other nutritional content in the milk except for carbohydrate this marketing ploy seems a bit odd. Neither has it been tested for fodmap content.

So, people who have food intolerances and IBS, or those with inflammatory bowel disease, who may have associated conditions that result in extreme lethargy are required to make their own milk? You have to be kidding, right? There is no advantage to having this product nutritionally over and above other milk, and it does not naturally contain reasonable levels of calcium. This is exploitative of vulnerable patients in my opinion and risks long-term low calcium intake.

Is animal milk bad for me?

poison milk

No, quite the opposite in fact – lactose-free animal milk contain good levels of calcium iodine and vitamin B12. Unless you have any religious, cultural or ethical reasons to avoid it, you could just swap to lactose-free animal milk products. These products contain the same level of nutrition found in regular animal milk and have the added advantage of tasting the same. We also know that the calcium found in animal milk is slightly more readily absorbed into the body than the calcium used to fortify plant-based milk.

The internet is full of alternative articles scaremongering around the consumption of cows milk. While I have no issues at all with people who decide to avoid animal products for ethical, cultural or religious reasons, scaremongering others to avoid cows milk due to spurious health risks and unevidenced harms is unacceptable.

You might have heard that animal milk leaches calcium from the bones, this is just untrue, and stories of milk being ‘too acidic’ for the body has no basis in science. Neither does milk cause excessive mucus production in the body or inflammatory bowel disease.

However, if you have changed to plant-based milk for religious, ethical, cultural or personal choice, do ensure these are fortified with calcium and ideally vitamin D (plus vitamin B12 if you are vegan.)

Another nutritional consideration for those avoiding animal milk is that milk and dairy products are the primary sources of iodine for most people. So, avoiding cows milk and/or fish can also risk low levels of iodine in the body. Adults need 150 micrograms per day, pregnant and nursing mothers slightly higher at 200 micrograms, most milk alternatives are rarely fortified, too much-added iodine can also be problematic so ask your dietitian if you feel you are not getting adequate amounts.

What about raw milk?

Raw milk contains lactose and is therefore unsuitable for people with lactose intolerance and can risk gastroenteritis (food poisoning) if it is not properly treated. I would not take the risk of drinking raw milk, particularly if you have any other digestive complaints.

Can I buy a supplement to help me digest lactose?

Yes, they are available online or from health food shops. However, the effectiveness of them varies. But they might be useful to have to hand when eating out and travelling when it might be a little more challenging to avoid lactose.

Does having lactose intolerance affect my future health?

Not generally, but not getting adequate calcium in your diet because you have stopped having all milk products long term can lead to weakened bones. Adults should ensure they have at least three portions of lactose-free dairy or calcium-fortified alternatives a day (a portion size is a glass of lactose-free milk, a small matchbox size of hard cheese, or a yoghurt.) People with bowel diseases and teenage boys need more than this, and other children less. Discuss with your doctor or dietitian. A useful calcium information sheet can be downloaded free from the British Dietetic Association website under ‘food facts’.

I do not have any affiliations with the dairy industry and have never been funded or paid by them.