Pecan and maple syrup marzipan – low fodmap

Ok, so why do we need a marzipan based on pecans? Well, marzipan is based on almonds and these are limited on the low fodmap diet, it also contains honey – it would be very difficult to know how much FODMAP sugars are ingested with most Christmas marzipan containing dishes – so I thought I would see if I could make an option where amount consumed doesn’t matter (from a FODMAP content anyway!) Now, although Italians probably would balk at this statement but I think my version is actually better than the original. It is really tasty and a good treat for a Christmas winters evening whilst avoiding the winter weather. Or gift wrapped for friends or family – everyone likes a home made treat.

This dish is certainly not a healthy option – despite being high in nuts and containing a natural sugar – maple and ‘brown sugar’ – it is a sweet and should be treated as such. Too many people on Instagram post recipes for ‘energy balls’ and state they are healthy because they are based on natural ingredients – sugar is sugar – despite the source. Eat sparingly and Christmas is a good time to partake.

Ingredients

  • 200g finely ground pecans
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 3 Medium egg yolks
  • 2 tsp liquid glucose
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp glycerine
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Grind the pecans in a food processor until smooth and place them in a bowl with the sieved icing sugar – then mix together.

In a saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, egg yolks, glucose, maple syrup, glycerine and vanilla, then cook over a low heat whisking constantly until pale, light and boiling. Take care as this is HOT.

Pour the above liquid over the pecan mixture and stir well to make a smooth paste. Leave to cool, then wrap in cling film.

Makes 20 balls – I have coated them in gold and silver powder to make them great for a gift. They are just as nice eaten with a bit of hygge – curled up in front of a roaring fire with a good book . Enjoy.

Maple Syrup

Canada-Day-–-Maple-Syrup
The Chemistry of maple syrup

A great infographic from compound chemistry about maple syrup http://www.compoundchem.com

Maple syrup is a sweet tree sap that is high in sucrose and low in other sugars, so it is suitable for the low fodmap diet. Maple syrup may be derived from a natural source but it is still a sugar and therefore should be consumed as a treat – more important perhaps when considering the cost! The syrup has lots of health claims attached to it and has been proposed by some to be a ‘superfood’ and to be superior to table sugar in nutrients. The additional minerals and vitamins that are found in maple syrup, when compared with table sugar, are also found widely in other foods consumed in the diet at much higher levels. So a healthy balanced diet does not depend upon maple syrup to provide vitamins and minerals. Maple syrup also will usually be used in small amounts therefore will not likely contribute massively to nutrient status. There is no such thing as a ‘superfood’- I have stated this before, some of you will be fed up with me harping on about it :-). But I feel an overwhelming dietetic urge to repeat – superfood status is marketing concept to allow a high price to be attached to more unusual food items. Although maple syrup is derived in a way that might attract a higher price than other sugars, I don’t have too much of an issue with this – but please don’t call it super.

Other reported beneficial ingredients in maple syrup are Phenolic compounds, they are suggested to have an antioxidant effect – more evidence is needed to test out this hypothesis. Also, the recent proposed use of Maple syrup in prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, has only been shown in the test tube and animal models and not a randomised control trial (RCT) in humans – the gold standard method. Completing studies in the test tube is very different to the human body, which is much more complex. Therefore much more research in humans should be completed to study the benefits (or not) of the phenolic compounds found in maple syrup.

So my suggestion is – eat maple syrup if you want a low fodmap sweet flavouring and enjoy it for what it is – a flavoured liquid sugar, use it occasionally as a treat. The benefits are of course it’s low fodmap status and it does have a really nice flavour. Should you buy the pure version? Yes, using the pure version is advisable, cheaper varieties can contain fructose based sugars, so you should certainly check the label for ingredients prior to purchase.

Maple syrup is from Canada and is widely used in the United States but it is not so frequently used in the UK. Although with the development of the fodmap diet it is becoming more widely known. It can be used in recipes and goes particularly well with pecans, one of my favourite nuts! It is also commonly drizzled on pancakes and waffles.

What about other tree saps? Well birch syrup is produced from another sap that it harvested  – it contains fructose as one of its main sugars (42-54%) therefore this is not suitable for individuals with fructose malabsorption or on the exclusion part of the low fodmap diet.

pancakes with syrup

Buckwheat blueberry pancakes with maple syrup

Don’t be mistaken – buckwheat is not wheat, it is related to rhubarb and is therefore suitable for a gluten-free , low lactose, wheat free diet. Buckwheat is used widely in Europe and makes the most wonderful pancakes, hence the following recipe. I also find that blueberries make a very tasty addition to pancakes, cakes and biscuits. So an occasional treat for a special breakfast – these pancakes won’t be around for long!

DSC00595Ingredients

2 eggs

175g Wholegrain buckwheat flour

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

2 teaspoons of cream of tartar

300ml of lactose free milk (or other dairy free alternative)

200g fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons of castor sugar

salt

spray oil to fry

maple syrup to serve

Method

Mix together eggs and milk.

Weigh out buckwheat flour, bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar and salt. Mix together and add to the milk & egg mixture and mix well.

Add blueberries and mix well.

Spray oil into a non stick frying pan and drop some of the mix into the pan and turn when the base is cooked. Remove from the pan and place in an oven at gas mark 5 till cooked through.

Serve whilst still warm with maple syrup.

The pancakes are not too sweet but are obviously sweet when the syrup is poured over!

**Please be careful and DO NOT try to eat these when hot from the oven – the blueberries get very hot and will burst and leak hot juice if eaten too soon** Also buckwheat has been the cause of some allergic reactions, so if you have not eaten it before just try a little to start with.

Updated 22.11.14