An alternative low fodmap Christmas cake

If you have fructose malabsorption and/or fructans malabsorption and you are really missing a Christmas celebration cake – look no further. Christmas cake is exceptional – like the Wedding cake, but in recent years the heavy fruit cake has gone out of favour somewhat. It is also not really suitable for the low fodmap diet despite only a small slice being recommended, being packed with dried fruit and made using wheat flour. This alternative has ingredients that provide a Christmas taste and is packed full of flavour.

This is a spiced whiskey ginger and chestnut cake


225g Dairy free margarine

340g Dark muscovado sugar

2 eggs (or 40g egg alternative if you have an egg allergy)

240g Self-raising gluten free flour

100g Chestnut flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 1/2 Teaspoons of nutmeg

1 1/2 Teaspoons of ground cloves

2 Teaspoons of ground cinnamon

2 Teaspoons of ginger

100g of crystallised ginger pieces


Weigh out the dry ingredients and sieve them well into a bowl.

Cream the butter and sugar in another bowl. Add the eggs to a measuring jug and beat them with a fork, then slowly add the egg to the wet mix while beating.

If the mix looks slightly curdled (grainy) than add a tablespoon of flour to the wet ingredients and continue to mix it well.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mix and stir them in using a metal spoon and a cutting and folding action, to not lose the air you have already added.

Chop up the ginger pieces finely and add to the mix. 

Place the mix into a greased 18cm cake tin.

Cook in an oven for 2 hours at gas mark 4 or 180 degrees C or until a cake skewer comes out of the mix clean (the surface of the cake was dry, and this might give a false  reading with the skewer, ensure you pierce the surface with a wider hole to allow wet mix to come out.)

I soaked the cake with whiskey to give it an added depth of flavour!

Is ginger useful for treating IBS?


The next ingredient to be reviewed is ginger. Ginger has many studies into its use to treat vomiting in pregnancy and to treat nausea during treatments such as chemotherapy or reducing sickness after surgery. Ginger has a long history of being used as a natural treatment for nausea, so one might expect that it could be used to reduce some of the symptoms of IBS. It is one of the most common herbal treatments used by patients to attempt to ameliorate symptoms of IBS (1). The action of ginger on the digestive tract is suggested to be an increase in prokinetic action of the tract (increasing movement or contractions without disrupting the rhythm) and it has also been suggested to be useful in pain reduction. The active ingredients in ginger can be seen in the diagram above and a placebo-controlled RCT parallel study in IBS (2) used the pharmaceutical grade ginger containing 2.29 mg/g of gingerols and 6-shogaols.  Raw and cooked ginger contain different chemical compounds and may have different modes of action on the digestive tract.


The study had a good choice of placebo (brown sugar) tolerated by most patients with IBS. Study numbers were small – a larger trial with at least 100 patients per group would give a chance of better results. Larger doses appeared to give poorer results from this study, but the numbers in each group were small. We are aware that IBS is a very heterogeneic condition (wide variation in symptoms between people) and studying those people reporting more upper GI symptoms of IBS such as nausea and reflux plus constipation might improve results if the mode of action is to increase stomach emptying and increase digestive tract motility. The study, unfortunately, did not show that ginger was effective compared with placebo so we have therefore no evidence that ginger is an effective treatment for IBS.


Does it cause harm?

Side effects in the study chosen were greater in the placebo group, the relevance for this is unknown – IBS is a challenging condition to treat with relapsing-remitting symptoms – no significance can be seen in regard to side effects as no statistics were applied to check whether this was significant in the study reviewed. Ginger is thought to be a safe treatment – ginger is also suitable to be used for the Low fodmap diet.  So a great tasting low fodmap ingredient – but don’t expect it will stop your IBS symptoms.

Just the ticket for a recipe then!


This is a very easy recipe to prepare and these biscuits can be stored in an airtight tin. They may go soft if not stored correctly.


325g Gluten Free self-raising Mix (I used Doves Farm)

1 tsp. xanthan gum

a beaten egg

75g muscovado sugar

75g golden syrup

75g butter

2 tsp. ground ginger


Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan then cool till the mix is only just warm

Beat the egg

Add the dry ingredients to a bowl and ensure the xanthan gum is mixed into the flour.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well till the mixture forms a dough.

Work this well.

Roll out the pastry dough into a thin sheet on grease-proof paper or a Teflon sheet and cut out the biscuits.

Add the biscuits to a greased baking tray and cook till golden brown in a moderate temperature oven – gas mark 4 or 180 degrees C

Makes around 30 biscuits (depending on what size cutter is used.)

1.Van Tilburg MA, Palsson OS, Levy RL, et al. (2008) Complementary and alternative medicine use and cost in functional bowel disorders: a six month prospective study in a large HMO. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2008; 8:46.

2. VAN TILBURG MA, PALSSON O S, RINGEL Y and WHITEHEAD WE (2014) Is ginger effective for the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome? A double blind randomized controlled pilot trial Complement Ther Med. 22(1): 17–20. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2013.12.015


Adventures with Quinoa Flour

Due to a fortuitous reduction in the price of Quinoa flour at a local health shop I have purchased some to try baking with it, for you. I decided to bake some blondies – ginger ones, or may be I should call them gingies! I love the flavour ginger – in fact ALL things ginger. Now THIS particular quinoa flour, according to the packet, is sugar-free, saturated fat-free, cholesterol free, trans fat-free, sodium free, low-fat, (as is all flour – nothing new here, then ) non-gmo, gluten-free AND ‘caution extremely organic’ – but not that funny – or clever! What they forgot to tell me was wheat free, milk free, egg free but unfortunately no mention of nuts. Really great then? The protein content of the flour is not really that high at 4g /100g but quinoa has a good amino acid profile as a grain, although the flour is a fine milled white flour (- contains some fibre though at 3.5g/100g,) so it cannot be assumed that the amino acid profile is exactly the same as the raw grain. It has not been tested for fermentable carbohydrate content although quinoa grain itself is completely suitable for people following a low FODMAP diet.


So how easy was it to use? My first attempt was a bit of a culinary disaster. I added some zanthan gum and 2 teaspoons of ginger and a small amount of chopped stem ginger. This resulted in a very gloopy texture and after baking, on tasting, the slice was really strongly flavoured, not that pleasant in fact. The taste reminded me of the taste of chickpea flour, again this is fine to use, but I would suggest that as both these flours impart a very strong flavour to baked items it might be better to use them for very strongly flavoured dishes. My second attempt was better and as I increased the ginger flavouring the taste was very much improved.

IMG_1570As part of a flour mix this flour would be suitable, as other free from flours, such as rice or gluten free flour as these should reduce the flavour. So was it worth the purchase – at full cost, or even discounted? I feel that the ‘benefits’ of this type of flour should not command such a high cost. Most people will not be able to afford to purchase and include it in their diet on a regular basis, so nutritionally you are not likely to see the benefits of the amino acids; gut ‘calmness’ wise – there are other options to choose, which do not impart strong taste or flavour. So I will not be buying this flour on a regular basis. However for your enjoyment I have included the recipe for you – you could try it with other flour mixes! Also as this recipe is high in fats and sugars the gingie is really just suitable for an occasional treat. The random images in the post are my whistful desire for summer – it’s really cold today.



135 g Quinoa Flour (or other free from flour)

120 g dairy free margarine

2 eggs

100 g of dark muscovado sugar

1 tablespoon of crystallised ginger liquor

3 teaspoons of powdered ginger

40 g of chopped crystallised ginger

Pinch of salt

Chopped dried ginger to decorate

Melted dark chocolate with ginger to decorate (milk free if needed.)



Add the flour, ginger & salt to a mixing bowl

Melt the margarine in a pan with the sugar, and chopped crystalline ginger and ginger liquor, warm slowly do not boil.

Cool the melted mixture slightly, add the two eggs and mix well.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients then add the mix to a paste. Add this to a tray and bake at gas mark 5 for 25 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack and melt the chocolate and pour this over and sprinkle with finely chopped dried ginger pieces.


Low fat tandoori chicken – made with Low FODMAP spice masala!

IMG_1732 It is intensely frustrating following the Low FODMAP diet and visiting the supermarket and looking for an easy sauce or dry powder spice mix when lots of the sauces and spice mixes contain onion and garlic powder. How on earth are you to make a flavoursome dish with gut friendly ingredients? Make your own perhaps! The following recipe is a masala mix for tandoori food. For a tasty spice mix use the following recipe – it makes about 140g of mix that can be stored for up to six months in an airtight container. Some tips on shopping for spices before we start with the recipe – check out your local asian supermarket and purchase spices in large packets, this is much more cost-effective than buying small jars. If you are following a completely gluten-free diet check all spices for gluten including your asafoetida (some spices can be adulterated by addition of fillers such as wheat flour.) It might be better to purchase spices from suppliers that do label their mixes with allergens and suppliers that understand that even small amounts of gluten can be problematic for coeliac, for example.

IMG_1735Choose sweet paprika if your gut is sensitive to spicy food and you may want to use a mild heat chili powder too, or omit it all together. Use smaller amounts of the powder in your recipe, if you find that spices tend to increase your IBS symptoms.

Ingredients for the dry masala

40 g Coriander

30g Cumin

20g PaprikaIMG_1733

20g Ginger

15g Dried Mint

5g Asafoetida

10g Chilli powder

Mix the dry ingredients together and store in an airtight tin.

Tandoori Chicken

Two dessert spoons of dry masala powder (above)IMG_1734

Juice of 1/2 lime

150g lactose free greek yoghurt

4 skinless chicken breasts

Salt & pepper to taste

Weight out the yoghurt and squeeze half a lime into the yoghurt and mix well.

Dry fry the spice mix till the aroma is released, cool and add the powder to the yoghurt.IMG_1736

If you want to have the authentic indian restaurant colour you can add red food colouring the mix (as I did.) Ensure that the food colouring is not based on beetroot powder, this is a fodmap.

Don’t be tempted to try the uncooked mix – it really needs cooking to bring out all the flavour, it doesn’t taste nice raw – believe me!

Spread the yoghurt onto both sides of the chicken breasts and leave to marinade in the refrigerator for a few hours or at the very best overnight.


Now time for cooking………

Scrape off excess yoghurt from the chicken breasts and place in a hot oven and cook for 30 minutes till cooked through. Serve with boiled rice (add some turmeric and cassia bark to your boiling rice to add colour and flavour) and Low FODMAP salad.


A low-fat tasty dish that is not too hard on your digestive tract, just the ticket for a Saturday night meal.