Chestnut pies – an alternative to mince pies (low FODMAP)

Mince pies are quintessentially Christmas. Normally mince pies have a large amount of dried fruit which can cause problems for people with fructose malabsorption if enough are eaten, plus they are made from pastry, a source of fructans. This is the reason I decided to develop a nut based pie instead and chestnut was just the right choice (along side the fact I had 1/2 tin of chestnut puree left from the previous recipe!) I am probably going all out to trash the traditional mince pie – but needs must!

Again this is a Christmas recipe and not one necessarily for health – the addition of lard really should be part of a true shortcrust pastry, the recipe standard is 1/2 fat to flour and 1/2 lard to butter/margarine. The lard in the pastry is also traditional in mince pie but usually added as suet to the filling. This recipe is made a rich shortcrust with the addition of an egg and the sugar. A recipe for a treat occasionally and when else can you have a treat except Christmas?

Ingredients

  • Pie filling
  • 50g Candied Ginger
  • ½ Can chestnut puree
  • ¼ teaspoon Vanilla
  • 40g pecan nuts
  • ¼ teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Pastry
  • 200g gluten free plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 50g margarine
  • 50g Lard
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 egg beaten for egg wash

Method

  • Sieve the flour into a bowl add the xanthan gum and mix well.
  • Add the sugar.
  • Cut the margarine and lard into small pieces and add to the flour.
  • Rub the fat into the flour until it forms a small crumb.
  • Add the egg and bring the crumb together into a pastry – you may need to add a small amount of water if it is too dry but be cautious – you can always add more but you can’t remove too much!
  • Chill the pastry whilst you make the filling.
  • Chop pecan nuts and add the filling ingredients into a pan and warm through till blended well, chill.
  • Roll out the pastry and cut out the pie bases and tops
  • To a well oiled pie tin add the pastry base, some filling (don’t overfill) and then add the top and glaze with beaten egg wash (it will not brown without this addition.
  • Cook at gas mark 6/200 degrees C for 15-20 minutes.
  • Serve with sprinkled icing sugar.

Chestnut and herb stuffing

Is it too soon to be thinking of Christmas? It’s hardly past Halloween and Bonfire night but if you are like me and make your food for Christmas then perhaps we do need to start. I love chestnuts, and they are suitable for the Low FODMAP diet. Although I have used bacon and butter – with a small change to these ingredients the recipe and removing the bacon, the recipe can also be made suitable for vegans, plus it is rich enough to form the centre dish for a vegan Christmas.
As I was writing this recipe it reminded me of the song ‘Are you going to Scarborough fair – parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme’ I had inadvertently used this reverent combination in the recipe. I love this song; it’s a traditional ballad, a melancholy tale of loss and the impossible demands of love steeped in the legend of herbs anthropomorphic emotional properties. Being a scientist at heart, I don’t generally ascribe to flowers or herbs changing someone’s emotions however I am, I think, also a romantic too to some extent – so I can recognise and appreciate the sentimentality of the song. Can you be both? I think so.
This stuffing is not necessarily a healthy recipe, but Christmas is a time where a treat is allowed, it is a time to cook for friends and relatives and flavour is essential.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tin (200g) of chestnut puree
  • 10 Walnuts
  • 3 Sprigs thyme
  • 130g Grated celeriac
  • 100g Gluten-free bread
  • 1 Sprig of rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons of parsley
  • 20g Sage
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 90g Streaky dry cure bacon
  • 100g cooked whole chestnuts
  • 40g butter
  • Seasoning

Method

  • Grate the celeriac
  • Chop the walnuts, whole chestnuts and herbs
  • Grate the lemon rind
  • Using a loaf tin lined with butter and the bacon rind – allow the rashers to drape over the edge – long enough so the slices can be folded back over the loaf when the tin is full.
  • Warm the oven to 180 degrees C.
  • Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the celeriac, fry for five minutes then add the chestnut puree. Add the chopped nuts, herbs lemon rind and seasoning and mix well till combined.
  • When combined spoon the mix into the loaf tin till full, then fold over the rest of the bacon rashers to cover the top of the loaf.
  • Place the loaf tin in a tray of water to prevent the sides from burning and cook on the central shelf for 10 minutes.
  • Serves 6-8.

The Perfect Watercress Soup – low FODMAP

Watercress soup is sublime and tradition in our household means that we have it as a starter every Christmas. I have considered the fact that we can’t use onion – the complete taste profile onion gives to the dish – including the slight amount of sweetness it provides and I have replaced the onion with alternatives in hope of retaining it’s benefits without its nasty gut side effects.

Watercress is a member of the brassica family of vegetables, therefore it is related to broccoli, cabbage, radish and rocket. Watercress has lot’s of peppery goodness, but although it is rich in some nutrients you would only gain benefit if you include it in your diet regularly – luckily it has lots of uses. It tastes excellent with salmon and watercress is great to use as the leaves for a salad, if you enjoy it’s slightly hot taste! It contains some vitamin A, vitamin K and folate, plus iron (plus is a reasonable source of vitamin C to help absorption of the iron – it is probably better eaten as a salad leaf to achieve this benefit.) As it is a source of iron it is therefore useful for vegans to include in their diet alongside other sources – but this recipe would have to be made with almond milk and dairy free margarine instead of butter to make in suitable. Perhaps I could try that next!

The soup does contain butter and uses full cream milk – but this is a soup for special occasions – so it is OK to have this amount of fat occasionally and you could change to semi skimmed milk and 20g fat, if needed, if you do find that rich foods result in symptoms. The garnish I have used is watercress leaves, radish sprouts and dried seaweed – radish sprouts and seaweed are not integral to the dish, however – and the conkers in the picture are not edible. I hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of fresh watercress
  • 500ml of full fat lactose free milk
  • 1 sprinkle of asafoetida
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 40g butter
  • 1 tablespoon of corn flour

Method

  • Melt the butter in a pan and add the cornflour whilst mixing and the sprinkle of asafoetida and the sugar. This will not form a traditional roux, but not to worry.
  • Slowly drizzle in the milk – note that it will start to thicken at this stage and a whisk might be a better tool to use to ensure that no lumps are formed.
  • When all the milk is added then bring to a slight boil to thicken.
  • Add the watercress and cook until wilted then blend the soup
  • Season to taste.
  • Serves 1-2

Carrot and nut cake – vegan and low fodmap

This cake is a real treat, it also has a good degree of fibre which should help people with BS-C – however do be aware of the fibre and introduce slowly if your bowel is not used to it. It is sweet, vegan, egg and wheat free and low fodmap.

Ingredients

50g ground flaxseed

100ml water

400g Gluten Free self-raising flour

125g chestnut flour

100ml water

1 teaspoon ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon of ground cloves

100g chopped pecan nut

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

150g castor sugar

200g brown sugar

500g carrots

150ml hazelnut oil

1 ¼ teaspoons gluten free baking powder

Method

Prepare 2, 7 inch cake tins

Mix the flaxseed with water and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Add the dry ingredients (flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and ginger) to a bowl

Grate the carrot using a food processor using the grating accessory and add to the flour – mix well.

Chop the pecan nuts and add to the flour, mix.

Add the flaxseed and water mix to the food processor using the usual blade and blend for 20 seconds.

Add to the processor the sugar and vanilla essence and blend for 20 seconds and then whilst the processor is mixing drizzle in the oil slowly.

Pour this mix into the flour, nuts and carrots and mix well. If too stiff add 100ml of water – the mix should look like a cake mix.

Add the mix to the two cake tins and bake at gas mark 3 (165 degrees C) until a skewer/cake tester comes out clean from the mix.

The cake will rise and may crack a little on the surface but trim off the and turn the cake upside down for decorating.

Vegan ‘chicken’ and pumpkin couscous – low fodmap

An autumn favourite is pumpkin and numerous varieties can be found. When I was young pumpkin in the UK was unheard of – in fact we used to make Halloween lanterns with a swede! That certainly was a recipe for injury – although the pumpkin isn’t always easy to carve.

I have also decided to venture into a vegan recipe using vegan ‘chicken’ low FODMAP suitable products are based on soya protein or alternatively you could use Quorn ‘chicken’ pieces.

This was a fairly easy recipe to make and was lightly spiced – if you want a heavier spice then you can add more Ras El Hanout. Do check your spice mix has no high fodmap ingredients such as onion or garlic. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 200g Pumpkin
  • 30g Pumpkin seeds
  • 30g Pine nuts
  • 20g Sunflower seeds
  • 30g Course peanut butter
  • 200ml Water
  • 1 teaspoon of Ras El Hanout Spice
  • 200g Soya protein based chicken pieces
  • 250g Corn couscous
  • Spray oil
  • 30g mint leaves
  • Seasoning (salt and pepper) to taste

Method

  • Chop the pumpkin and boil in water till soft.
  • Spray oil into a frying pan and add the Ras El Hanout and fry gently with minimal oil to release the flavours, add the chopped mint leaves.
  • Add the peanut butter, seeds and water to the frying pan and cook till thickened
  • Add the ‘chicken’ pieces and cooked pumpkin
  • Weight the couscous and pour over the same amount of boiling water (250 ml) and leave to cook – run a fork through the mix to give texture to the couscous
  • You can either serve the ‘chicken’ sauce and couscous separately or mix the ‘chicken’ sauce through the couscous, as I have done.
  • Serves 5-6 enjoy!

A nice cup of tea

There is nothing more quintessentially English than a nice cup of tea. We debate the nuances of how to make it properly – milk before the tea or after, warm the pot before adding the hot water and tea or not, or how much tea to add to the pot. Tea also has lots of reported health benefits but does it help people with IBS? If you are interested, please read on…

Tea is culture, it’s refreshing, herbal tea is reported to be calming, relaxing – we all could do with a little of that, surely? Well perhaps all is not as it first appears.

Standard tea (black, white, green, yellow and oolong) are the true teas

Tea contains caffeine, a stimulant, not as much as coffee but certainly enough to have a systemic effect if sufficient is consumed. It is worth changing to decaffeinated if you have IBS, caffeine can not only stimulate the gut causing diarrhoea type symptoms it also disrupts sleeping patterns and poor sleep can be a symptom of IBS for some people. Some individuals with IBS also have overactive bladders, symptoms which can be influenced negatively by caffeine intake. Tea has lower levels of caffeine than coffee and certainly less than energy drinks, but do consider reducing or slowly swapping to decaffeinated if you drink caffeinated versions.

Oolong tea is high fodmap so will need to be avoided for the low FODMAP diet and tested as part of a re-introduction protocol, if you wish to drink it.

One study reported hard stools for tea in people with IBS (Simren et al 2001) but this was a prospective self reported study and has not been tested directly by a true randomized controlled study. This probably should be investigated but there are fewer studies in people with IBS with constipation for all treatments, unfortunately.

Rooibos

Rooibos is not a true tea and as such does not contain any caffeine and lower levels of tannin’s than true teas. It does however contain some of the poly-phenol compounds found in true tea. For the Monash version of the low fodmap diet it is categorized as low in FODMAP.

Herbal teas

Peppermint

Peppermint has been widely investigated for IBS symptoms. It acts as a smooth muscle relaxant so it can reduce those lower digestive tract spasms. Many people use the tea for the same effect. A number of people with IBS will also experience reflux, or upper gastrointestinal symptoms. Peppermint may also relax the sphincter (a ring of muscle) that prevents stomach acid from traveling up the food pipe (oesophagus). If someone has reflux it is probably not a good idea to drink peppermint tea. However it is good to help with lower abdominal pain so feel free to try it for that. If you want to read more about peppermint and IBS see my other blog post here:

https://clinicalalimentary.blog/2018/01/21/peppermint-and-ibs/

Camomile

Camomile is often stated as a treatment for IBS and ‘helps’ abdominal pain and induces sleep. Camomile acts as a neuroendocrine modulator so it has been suggested as a possible treatment to help with anxiety, insomnia and stress. This does suggest that it could be helpful for IBS type symptoms however Camomile contains FODMAP sugars therefore for those people with fodmap intolerance it is probably best avoided. Camomile also interacts with some drugs – please discuss this with you doctor or pharmacist before trying camomile tea. Common interactions are suggested with sedatives, blood thinners, anti-platelet drugs, aspirin, NSAID painkillers like ibuprofen and naproxen, but also others too (source: WebMD)

Fennel

Fennel is another herbal tea that is suggested to be a good option for those people with IBS. It again, also contains FODMAPs so if you are following the diet, perhaps this is one to avoid.

Dandelion tea

This tea has lot’s of anecdotal suggestions that it helps digestive symptoms, from increasing appetite, soothing minor digestive ailments and relieving constipation. There is no evidence that any of these symptoms are improved. Dandelion tea is another tea that it high in FODMAP so this might be the reason for the anecdotal reports of improving constipation, as lots of FODMAP containing foods are prebiotic (food for gut bacteria) and can help increase bowel function. Dandelion tea has also implications for drug interactions so it is best avoided for people taking diuretic medications, lithium and ciprofloxacin (an antibiotic.) Discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist before considering dandelion tea.

Fruit teas

Many people love fruit teas – they are naturally low in caffeine, however for me, they always promise more than they give. The odour of them is very tempting and I always feel disappointed that they are not more highly flavoured when drunk. If you like them though fruit teas should be fine to use. Use flavours suitable for the low FODMAP diet, if you are following it.

Testing tolerance to teas

For people following the low fodmap diet if you want to test the tea’s above which are high in FODMAP, to see if you can tolerate them, you can. Everyone has an individual tolerance to teas high in fodmap. Once your symptoms are reduced to a good level you could re-introduce the teas above and see how you get on. Use a standard cup as a portion and increase to three over three days, monitoring your symptoms as you go.

Following a Low FODMAP diet and adding milk to tea?

If you are following the low FODMAP diet then lactose is a problem for some people and if you need to exclude lactose then you can use lactose free cows milk – this is suitable for the low fodmap diet and the calcium it contains is slightly better absorbed than from milk alternatives. If you have been tested for lactose intolerance and you are not intolerant, you can use standard milk. Lactose free cows milk also marries with tea very well and you will not notice a difference in taste. This also means that Chai tea (milky tea with spices also added) is not suitable for people following the Low FODMAP diet, as it will contain lactose. You could make your own Chai tea with lactose free milk, if you wish.

Needing a milk free diet and have milk in tea? Which is the best option?

Well, for tea without sugar the best option is cashew milk, and for those who have sugar in their tea then coconut or almond milk are the better choices, according to people who have to follow milk free diets. I can attest to the cashew milk being suitable for tea without sugar, I tried it and really couldn’t taste a difference. Please ensure that your milk alternative is fortified with calcium, as cow’s milk forms a very good source of calcium in the diet and changing to milk alternatives may reduce your calcium intake. You could choose ones that are also fortified with B12 if you are following a vegan diet.

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