Vegan Pate – Christmas starter Low Fodmap

This is a spiced vegan pate starter – a really nice way to begin Christmas lunch. It has lots of seasonal flavours to remind you of the traditional Christmas. Being very easy to make it will take no time at all for you to prepare. Entertaining guests can be challenging so this dish can be prepared in advance and refrigerated till the 25th or perhaps used as a nice supper dish on the 24th if you prefer.

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Ingredients

100g pecan nuts

1/2 preserved lemon

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice

1 teaspoon of oil

4-5 sage leaves

150g roasted peppers (you can purchase these ready prepared from most supermarkets)

100g gluten-free breadcrumbs

season to taste

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Method

Cover the pecan nuts with boiling water and leave to soak for a few hours till soft .

Add the oil to a pan and fry the spice a little to release the flavour.

Then add all the ingredients to a food processor and blend well.

Serve with toasted gluten free bread

Serves 4-5

How to survive the holiday season without too many gut problems

The holiday season means many different things to different people, it is supposed to be a period of joy but often it really doesn’t live up to all those expectations that we often have. The media portray images of idealistic families around the Christmas tree having all their dreams come true. For some people the reality is somewhat different, Christmas can be a traumatic time and managing with all the family can be challenging, but it can also be a time when some people are alone too. Here are some tips to help you navigate your way through the period and avoid your gut spoiling the fun.

1. Tis the season to be jolly – really? You have my permission to be a Grinch too if you wish. You should not be expected to see people and be jolly, especially people who you never get along with during the rest of the year. If you don’t get on with someone then Christmas is not a time that somehow the ‘magic’ will make a difference, and likely if your inhibitions are lowered with the odd glass of Advocaat (add your choice of tipple here!) it will not end well! Suggest that you have other plans this year, make your apologies for not seeing them if you wish.

2. Scenes on TV cookery shows promote the domestic goddess, but don’t forget all those well choreographed scenes take time and lots of other people to help, likely months of planning too. Not so much of a goddess then! So don’t try to live up to this myth of being able to manage it all, you will only end up frazzled and this will likely make symptoms worse. You could have a Jacobs join – were everyone brings a different part of the dish. Or you could ask people to bring dishes from around the world, and think of others or you could go out to eat on Christmas day. Consider inviting someone who might be on their own on Christmas day. It really doesn’t have to be a traditional day – make new traditions!

Click on here to see what Nigella really thinks
Click on the image to see what Nigella really thinks.

3. Ensure you eat regularly on Christmas day – leaving hours between meals will not help, plan to have a light breakfast before your Christmas lunch – this doesn’t mean grazing all day either. Manage your portion sizes – use a smaller plate if you like your plate full and you will be just as satisfied and not over full and unable to move!

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4. Don’t slouch on the sofa eating snacks whilst watching those Christmas movies, let gravity help you gut and try to sit up when eating – or don’t snack, you will eat more than you realise if you are not being mindful about what you are eating. Alternatively plan how much you are going to eat and put it in a bowl so you know when you have had enough. Your body will thank you for it.

Seriously – not a good idea!!

5. Include some light activity mid afternoon if you are able – a gentle walk in the park perhaps or some games to get you moving around.

6. Family dynamics can be a rich source of conflict during the season, this can lead to arguments in the period leading up to Christmas and especially on the day itself. Arguments at mealtimes are really not advisable, this will do nothing to help your digestion. Stress causes your body to produce adrenaline, the fight or flight hormone, this is a response to conflict or dangerous situations, originally utilised so you can escape from predators. Your body is therefore NOT concentrating on digesting lunch. In the distant past a dose of indigestion was a very small price to pay to avoiding being eaten. So you might need to be assertive and lay down some ground rules for everyone to follow so that the meal can be as calm as possible.

7. Budget as much as you can. Planning is the key here and Christmas is for thinking of others, but not at the expense of experiencing anxiety at not being able to live up to their expectations. Again tell people in advance what you are planning, say that you are only going to be able to afford to do certain things – you may find that people are relieved that they don’t have to meet these expectations either.

8. Stick rigidly to your Low Fodmap foods (or other tolerated foods) before the day, so if you eat something that you react to, you possibly won’t have as severe symptoms as you would have with eating as you please for the full season.

9. Drink plenty of fluids through the day – a least six to eight cups of non carbonated drinks and if you do drink alcohol, match every alcoholic drink with a non alcoholic one – this will mean you drink less and stay hydrated at the same time. Drinking whilst eating slows the absorption of alcohol into the body. Stay within the healthy drinking guidelines (no more than 2-3 units per day) and watch mixers for fodmaps and fizz. Make a glass of water the final drink before going to bed to counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol. Remember alcohol is a gut stimulant and hangovers won’t help your IBS symptoms although some people can tolerate small amounts. Try not to over indulge – intoxication can remove your resolve and you might be tempted to have more than you planned. Check out Drink Aware for details of how much alcohol is in your favourite tipple. https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/understand-your-drinking/unit-calculator

The true toll of Christmas tipple how excess plays havoc with mind and body

10. The best tip is – remember to enjoy yourself – it is not money that makes the difference but being in the presence of friends, family and company on the day – spending time with others.

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Happy Holiday!

Celeriac Soup – low fodmap

I have half a celeriac left so as promised I have made a soup. This was very easy to do and is based on home made chicken stock and has a topping based on bacon, pecan and sunflower seeds. If you want a vegetarian version just omit the bacon and chicken stock and use vegetable stock instead. I really like soup, it is filling and yet low calorie and this soup has a very refreshing flavour due to the added tarragon.

Ingredients

Half a celeriac

1 courgette

2 carrots

A small cup of home made chicken stock

2 teaspoons of chopped fresh tarragon (use one if dried)

1 pint of water

Seasoning to taste

For the topping

1 rasher of bacon

1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon of chopped pecan nuts.

1 teaspoon of vegetable oil

Method

Chop vegetables and add stock, water and tarragon and bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes till the vegetables are soft.

Blend

Chop the bacon after remove fat and rind. Fry the bacon in a teaspoon of oil, add the pecans and sunflower seeds and toast.

Sprinkle on the top of the soup and serve

Serves 2-3

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Why your wind smells of roses – The Life of Poo book review

Well now, a book all about poo, why would anyone want to read this you may ask, surely the grim subject of poo is not something to read about – certainly not in public or polite company, I imagine you thinking. This thought briefly entered my head as I picked up the book in the bookstore and I do confess, even as a professional working in the area of digestion and more than happy to talk about poo in clinic, I purchased it online – it came in a brown package. If you are wondering whether to read on – this is not a post for those with a ‘delicate’ disposition (who perhaps belong in the eighteenth century) or one to read on your tablet at the breakfast table. You have been warned.

It might surprise you to know, you really ought to read this book. How can I persuade you to take a quick peek? How about the post title? Have you ever said, with an air of superiority, ‘my wind smells of roses, that smell cannot possibly be down to me’? You are correct it seems, at least in very small doses anyway. The ‘flower’ odour usually appears at much lower doses than is produced by a ‘silent but deadly’ however, but I’d bet you didn’t expect that did you? Adam writes that skatole and indole, the gases found in malodorous wind, smell of flowers in small concentrations.

A very surprising incident happened whilst out walking yesterday, my hubby stated this very fact when smelling hawthorn blossom. Wow, I thought, how does he know that? I really couldn’t believe it, I had only read this fact in Adams book the day before.  Well the story behind his knowledge is a bit more grim than Adam’s fascinating publication. So now I have told you about my husbands experience you want to know about it, don’t you? My husband is a chemist, he worked in a company making pharmaceutical products, one of which utilised the chemicals indole and skatole – “oh, good grief”  I exclaimed, “what sort of pharmaceutical product uses those?” “dog trainer liquid” was the response – the mind boggles. My husband had the unfortunate experience of contaminating his lab coat with these very chemicals and not only that, then proceeded to wander down to the restaurant in said lab coat, at lunch time. Chaos ensued, this had the effect of teaching him the very good lesson of removing his lab coat before dining, which one should always do, to prevent ingestion of nasty chemicals and nauseating diners. He showed absolutely no sense of embarrassment though, surprisingly enough and regaled the story with a good degree of relish.

Now, back to the topic in hand. This book is factually correct, very amusing in places and does have a small reference to irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease in it’s chapters – something for everyone then! It discusses the microbiota, antibiotics, prebiotics, probiotics and the microbiota’s relationship with health and disease. Very topical and containing everything of interest to me. I really like the examples used in the book to describe some complex concepts in simple easy to read form. If you want to know more about poo – yes you really do, think of it this way, it’s like looking in the bowl before flushing, you know you really should (but DO put the lid down before the flush, read a lot more about that in the book) – then I can’t think of a better book to buy.

 

This book was purchased by myself.

Which path will you choose?

You might consider that this post is not relevant to IBS, but everyone has to make some changes, when diagnosed with a medical condition. Changes perhaps try a new diet, a new medication or treatment, these naturally will require some change to a persons usual lifestyle. I was lucky enough to train with an inspirational dietitian during my clinical placements and one experience I had during training was listening to my mentor explaining to a patient, using the metaphor of a path, for explaining the challenges of changing any behaviour that we need to, in life. She explained that choosing to change a behaviour is like choosing a path to walk and the path we all use as a default, as human beings, is often the easy, well trodden route. Or the path of least resistance. This is a human trait – it is certainly not being lazy, a comment I often hear from people – you are not lazy – you are human. Making changes is challenging, a difficult path to follow, often with steep slopes, an uneven, meandering, overgrown path – a formidable terrain. Initially both paths follow close to each other.

Often, when starting out on a demanding route, it is very easy to start to follow the more difficult path and step from the difficult route back to the easy one. This is very much to be expected – but when this happens, look behind you – how far have you come? You now have a decision to make – and this decision is solely yours, so take full ownership of it. You can continue to follow the well trodden route, consider what this will ultimately achieve – weigh up the costs and benefits of staying on your chosen path. If you choose to stay on the well trodden path then do not feel disappointed, don’t berate yourself for your choice. You have made a choice and there will be very good reasons for it. Maybe this is not the time for difficult challenges and believe it or not, it is perfectly acceptable to reach such a conclusion. Walk a little further and consider again whether you are ready to try the more difficult path, it will always be possible to step back onto it, from the easy route. People can hop from one path to the other a few times before they find that they are actually some way down the tough route and realise that the path actually does have very manageable sections. Now the easy path is some way in the distance and this tougher path has surprisingly become the new default. Think about the achievement you can make and the views you can expect to see, when following the challenging paths in life!

Why does asparagus make your wee smell? – Book Review

My husband has received this book as a Christmas present and I am afraid he has not had much chance to read it yet! I am a bibliophile and I also have a passion for graphic design and chemistry (I gained a degree in polymer science and technology before I studied dietetics.) This book covers all my passions and as such I’m afraid I pinched it on the very day he received it and have not put it down yet. Of course he can have it back 🙂 – but he doesn’t usually settle down to read a book present immediately he has opened it (unlikely a bibliophile then!) and he does know I have it, so I am not being that mean!

Now back to the book, it is written in a very clear and understandable way, very important for a book covering the chemistry of popular food science and the info-graphics are a great way of showing the compounds involved. I wish info-graphics were available when I learned about chemistry, as my method of learning is very much visually I would have found this process a little easier. The author Andy Brunning is a chemistry teacher in Cambridge who is also the author of the website http://www.compoundchem.com/ which has similar blog posts, the website is really worth a visit if you have an interest in chemistry. I cannot find any negative aspects to this book, even the price is affordable for a hardback.

Some of the questions that particularly attracted my attention were:

Why do some people hate Brussels sprouts? – this might not be the reason you are thinking of!

Why do beans give you flatulence? Yes, this is the very reason you are thinking – I have also written about this very problem here, they are a fodmap!

Why are some people allergic to nuts?

Does MSG cause Chinese restaurant syndrome?

Of course, other posts might be more interest to you. The book has references at the back for all you scientists out there to do some further reading – although I guarantee this will be a little less stimulating.