Christmas Eve tear and share Low FODMAP

Christmas eve is a time to start the celebrations but it is often very busy wrapping presents, last minute gift purchasing and perishable food shopping. I would usually do my food shopping perhaps a day before Christmas Eve as the supermarkets can be just too busy for me. However, every year I plan to have it all finished by Christmas eve and I have never achieved my goals. So, if you are entertaining guests you perhaps might need a stunning dish that’s easy to prepare? The pastry can be made earlier and frozen and then all the preparation is in rolling out the pastry and decorating the top. Which means chopping vegetables and grating cheese – what could be easier?


  • 200g Plain flour
  • 150g Butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 Teaspoon baking powder
  • 50mls water
  • Salt
  • Flour to roll out the pastry
  • 100g cheese
  • 2 Heritage carrots purple and orange (or standard ones will do just fine!)
  • 1 small parsnip
  • 30g pine nuts
  • Spray oil


  • Sieve flour, Baking powder, xanthan gum and salt into a bowl, mix.
  • Weigh out the butter and divide into three.
  • Rub 1/3 of the butter into the flour and then add the water.
  • Bring the ingredients together and roll into a rectangle, mark out into three sections – to the bottom 2/3 and add blobs of butter to the dough.
  • Bring the bottom 1/3 of the pastry over the middle third and then fold over the top third. Rotate a quarter turn, roll and repeat the above at least three times.
  • Rest for 30 minutes before use. Or freeze at this stage if planning to use the pastry later.
  • Roll out the pastry into an oblong and score around the edges with a sharp knife taking care not to score through.
  • Where you are planning to place the vegetables prick the pastry with a fork.
  • Grate the cheese and sprinkle over the pastry.
  • Wash and slice the carrot and parsnips thinly.
  • Arrange the carrots on the pastry and spray with oil.
  • Cook in an oven at 220 degrees C or gas mark seven for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Five minutes before the end of the cooking time sprinkle the pastry with pine nuts.
  • Serve.

Inviting Salmonella to your festive dinner this year? A dietetic holiday lecture (you were warned!)

This post is about how to keep your gut healthy this christmas and avoid an infection of your digestive tract. What do I mean by this? Well, you might be at risk of an infection resulting in severe diarrhoea, abdominal pain and sickness during the holiday if you are not observing some food hygiene tips when preparing or eating food. No one would want this and we do have evidence that some people have a legacy of functional gut symptoms (irritable bowel syndrome) after such infections – worth a little bit of care then, to avoid.

Here is what the Food Standards Agency and NHS choices advises: (mercilessly ripped from their websites – but they are the experts!! Thank you to both organisations, see below for links)

Understanding ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates
‘Use by’ dates appear on foods that go off quickly. It can be dangerous to eat food past this
date, even though it might look and smell fine.
Check the ‘use by’ dates on the food in your fridge on a regular basis and be sure to use (eat, cook or freeze) food before its ‘use by’ to help you avoid throwing food away unnecessarily.

You can freeze food anytime up until the ‘use by’ date. Check the packaging to make sure
it’s suitable for freezing.
Once food with a ‘use by’ date has been opened, follow any storage instructions such as ‘eat
within 3 days of opening’, but not if the ‘use by’ date is tomorrow.
Best before’ dates appear on food with a longer shelf life. They show how long the food will
be at its best quality. Using food after the ‘best before’ doesn’t mean it will be unsafe. The
exception to this is eggs, providing they are cooked thoroughly, they can be eaten a day or
two after their ‘best before’ date.

Fridge looks like this at Christmas? Seriously – asking for an infection!

Use leftovers safely
Eating leftovers can be a good way of making food go further.
If you are going to store leftovers in the fridge, cool them as quickly as possible (ideally
within 90 minutes) cover them and eat them up within two days.
If you are going to freeze them, cool them before putting them in your freezer. Once food is
in the freezer, it can be safely stored for a considerable time – but the quality will

Eurgh! Cover your food – even if close to serving!

deteriorate so it’s best to eat it within three months.
Make sure you defrost leftovers properly before reheating. Defrost them in the fridge
overnight, or in the microwave if you intend to cook them straightaway.
Eat leftovers within 24 hours of defrosting and do not refreeze. The only exception is if you
are defrosting raw food, such as meat or poultry, once it’s cooked it can be refrozen.
Cook leftovers until steaming hot throughout.
Don’t reheat leftovers more than once.

Plan your meals
Before you go shopping check what’s in the fridge and freezer.
Think about what you are going to eat that week, plan your meals and write it down.
Make a list of what you need to buy and stick to it! Impulse buys can be expensive and, if not part of your plans, could lead to something else being wasted.
If you do get tempted by special offers in the shop, such as ‘buy one get one free’, think
about adjusting your meal planner for the week to add it in, or freeze the extra pack before
the ‘use by’ date, ensuring that it is possible to freeze the food. Or you could cook larger
portions and save some for another time.
Label food and date it before it goes in the freezer, so you know what it is and how long it’s
been frozen for.

Preparing and cooking your turkey here is what NHS Choices recommend:

Defrosting your turkey

If you buy a frozen turkey, make sure that the turkey is properly defrosted before cooking it. If it’s still partially frozen, it may not cook evenly, which means that harmful bacteria could survive the cooking process.

Defrosting checklist:

  • Work out defrosting time in advance, so you know how much time to allow – it can take at least a couple of days for a large turkey to thaw.
  • When you start defrosting, take the turkey out of its packaging, put it on a large dish and cover. The dish will hold the liquid that comes out of the thawing turkey.
  • Remove the giblets and the neck as soon as possible to speed up the thawing process. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw turkey, giblets or any other raw meat.
  • Before cooking, make sure there aren’t any ice crystals in the cavity. Test the thicker parts of the turkey with a fork to tell whether the meat feels frozen.
  • Turkey (and any other poultry) is best defrosted in a covered dish at the bottom of the fridge so that it can’t drip onto other foods.
  • Pour away the liquid that comes out of the defrosting turkey regularly to stop it overflowing and spreading bacteria. Be careful not to splash the liquid onto worktops, dishes, cloths or other food.
  • If the bird is too big for the fridge, put it somewhere out of reach from animals and children, and where it won’t touch other foods. For example, a cool room, shed or garage.
  • If you’re not using the fridge, watch out for sudden changes in room temperature as they could prevent the turkey from thawing evenly.

Defrosting times

To work out the defrosting time for your turkey, check the packaging for any guidance first. If there aren’t any defrosting instructions, use the following times to work out roughly how long it will take to thaw your turkey.

  • In a fridge at 4ºC (39ºF), allow about 10 to 12 hours per kg, but remember that not all fridges will be this temperature.
  • In a cool room (below 17.5ºC, 64ºF), allow approximately three to four hours per kg, or longer if the room is particularly cold.
  • At room temperature (about 20ºC, 68ºF) allow approximately two hours per kg.

When your turkey is fully defrosted, put it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it. If this isn’t possible, make sure you cook it immediately.

Preparing the turkey

Wash you hands before preparing or touching food.

Keep the uncooked turkey away from food that’s ready to eat. If raw poultry, or other raw meat, touches or drips onto these foods, bacteria will spread and may cause food poisoning.

Bacteria can spread from raw meat and poultry to worktops, chopping boards, dishes and utensils. To keep your Christmas food safe, remember the following things:

  • After touching raw poultry or other raw meat, always wash your hands with warm water and soap, and dry them thoroughly.
  • There’s no need to wash your turkey before your cook it. If you do, bacteria from raw poultry can splash onto worktops, dishes and other foods. Proper cooking will kill any bacteria.
  • Always clean worktops, chopping boards, dishes and utensils thoroughly after they have touched raw poultry or meat.
  • Never use the same chopping board for raw poultry or meat and ready-to-eat food without washing it thoroughly in warm soapy water. If possible, use a separate chopping board just for raw meat and poultry.
  • Cooking times The cooking times below are based on an unstuffed bird. It’s better to cook your stuffing in a separate roasting tin, rather than inside the bird so that it will cook more easily and the cooking guidelines will be more accurate.If you cook your bird with the stuffing inside, you need to allow extra time for the stuffing and for the fact that it cooks more slowly. Some ovens, such as fan-assisted ovens, might cook the bird more quickly – check the guidance on the packaging and the manufacturer’s handbook for your oven if you can.As a general guide, in an oven preheated to 180ºC (350ºF, Gas Mark 4):
    • Allow 45 minutes per kg plus 20 minutes for a turkey under 4.5kg.
    • Allow 40 minutes per kg for a turkey that’s between 4.5kg and 6.5kg.
    • Allow 35 minutes per kg for a turkey of more than 6.5kg.

    Cover your turkey with foil during cooking and uncover for the last 30 minutes to brown the skin. To stop the meat drying out, baste it every hour during cooking. There is some debate over the cooking times so have a look at the Live Well website comments below – and also check out the time for other birds.


Best not to watch this next one if you have a sensitive disposition! I don’t remember this video being released – very good though!

Have IBS food intolerances and only eating gruel? How to avoid a Dickensian diet this holiday!

Christmas and the holidays are a time of celebration and food usually takes a central role, so what if you need to avoid certain foods to prevent having symptoms over the Christmas/holiday period? You can eat food and take some steps to reduce the effects, should you wish. It is possible to eat nice food and prevent spending boxing day never off the loo and with a covered hot water bottle strapped around your stomach. You just need to plan ahead – a reason why this post is going to be published early. First lets talk about Christmas lunch – skinless turkey, carrots, parsnips (use spray oil to roast) and potatoes are fine to have. When making gravy use stock from the turkey and spoon off or pour off the fat that settles on the top of the stock, thicken with corn or rice flour to make a nice gut-friendly gravy. For roast potatoes you could parboil the potatoes for about 5 minutes and then drain off the water, keeping the potatoes in the pan, shake the pan to soften the potato surface – spray with oil and then place in the oven to roast. Trimmings such as cranberry sauce is OK – only have a small portion, wheat free stuffing is also possible using herbs and wheat free bread crumbs (see the LOFFLEX Christmas post for the recipe – although you can use whole fresh herbs) or rice crumbs (available from larger supermarkets.) Again it might be better to trim any bacon fat and grill bacon to reduce the fat levels and prevent diarrhoea, and grill wheat free sausages. These are ideas to help, but of course, if you know your IBS well, you may want to eat normally, it may possibly be uncomfortable for a short while but won’t necessarily do any lasting harm. The following recipe is for Low FODMAP christmas cakes, hope you enjoy!


150g dairy free margarine

150g soft brown sugar

3 eggs (room temperature)

1 cap full (1/2 tsp of vanilla essence)

150g of the wheat free self-raising flour blend.

1tsp of mixed spice

1 flat tsp of cinnamon

1 flat teaspoon of ginger

2 tablespoons of chopped roasted pecan nuts

5 tablespoons of lactose-free milk.

Icing sugar,  ready-made fondant icing sugar (check label for fructose) and water to decorate.


Cream together the butter and sugar till the mix is pale in colour.

Add one egg at a time and one tablespoon of flour, mix well till all three eggs have been incorporated. Add vanilla essence.

Sieve the spices and flour into the mix and fold in till well incorporated, add the milk and nuts and mix well.

Spoon mix into paper cases.

Bake in a preheated oven gas mark 6/200 C until risen and browned.

Allow to cool, add some water to icing sugar to make a thin coating. Using ready prepared icing, roll out and cut shapes. ‘Stick’ the icing sugar shape to the cake with runny icing made from icing sugar and water and decorate as wished.

Eat one – (or maybe two if you must! ;-))

I hope all my readers have an enjoyable Christmas (or holiday) and here are some tips that might help –

You DON’T have to be a domestic goddess this Christmas, plan ahead and remember that having time with your family is the most important thing – they will appreciate you just being there, not frazzled or tired after trying to be perfect. Remember that being a perfect ‘housewife’ or ‘househusband’ is a marketing concept and these concepts are usually impossible to attain, no matter how you try (or, in fact, how much you spend!) Children, in particular, appreciate time with their parents more than anything.

Plan ahead if you can – now is the time to take a break and sit and plan your shopping and meals for over the holiday period. Shop online if you don’t like large crowds.

Plan a short walk with the family after Christmas lunch – will help constipation and stop the slump in energy levels after lunch.

Don’t slouch on the sofa eating snacks whilst watching the afternoon or evening movie, try to keep your posture and sit up straight if you can.

Moderate your alcohol intake – who wants to spend boxing day with diarrhoea, abdominal pain and a hangover?

Eat slowly and chew your food well, savour your meal – you have worked hard for it!

Christmas can be a stressful time and this won’t help your gut, IBS is not ‘all in your head’ but stress produces hormones that affect your gut, this can make symptoms worse. Avoid arguments over the dinner table, this may be difficult if you have critical family members. Tell them beforehand that arguing or criticising is NOT acceptable, you are making an effort for them and that should be appreciated, if it is not, then perhaps they are not welcome at the lunch? Be assertive and stay calm!

Don’t have unrealistic expectations, setting yourself up for disappointment, do what you can – nobody will or should expect more.

Here is some fun stuff

Does your granny always tell ya that the old songs are the best?

Santa Claws – Simon’s Cat – Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, your ornaments are history! (Simon Amaranth)

A beautiful rendition of In The Bleak Mid Winter

Updated 22.11.14