During my heavenly stay at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat back in February, I couldn’t believe how many fellow guests suffered from fructose malabsorption. Out of 50 visitors, I’d guestimate that around a THIRD of us were plagued by FrucMal, and the majority of the others had some type of food intolerance or a combination of them. At first I found comfort in knowing so many other individuals shared the frustrations associated with fructose intolerance. Let’s just say the short-lived comfort (aka: the calm) came before the unendurable (aka: the storm)…
Boy oh boy did these women like to vocalise to anyone within ear-shot the catastrophic burden Fructose Malabsorption had forced on their once-idyllic lives. If I didn’t have such a wicked sense of humour, I might have been embarrassed by their relentless whinging, since I was, technically, “one of them”. Truth be told, it was just downright hilarious. At all meal times, I’d watch in amusement as they screwed up their faces in disgust and used their forks to prod dramatically at their custom made meals as if dissecting a rotten sheep’s brain. Then, when the waiters would come around again to serve the ‘digestively normal’ diners their lentil dahls, coconut prawn curries and plum and apple crumbles, my dear fructose malabsorbers would drop their jaws and ogle –practically drooling–over their fellow diners’ meals. They’d then spend the next two hours complaining about how miserable fructose malabsorption has made them and the massive injustice of it all. While I politely smiled and nodded (and zoned the hell out), it took all my composure not to tell the Housewives of the Gold Coast to get some real problems.
Oh, you poor little lamb, you can’t eat onion or watermelon? Golly, you were really given the shit end of the stick, weren’t you? Pahhh-lease.
It’s worth noting that 90% of the fructose-friendly meals served to us at Gwinganna were absolutely divine, and they were always more than satisfying. The lovely chef put a great deal of effort into accommodating our individual needs and creating tasty meals that didn’t leave us feeling like we were missing out. Or at least he tried to. To be honest, I don’t think the main issue for these people was fructose malabsorption itself, but rather wholesome, clean foods in general. Most of them had never before tasted quinoa, almond milk, unbattered fish, tahini, activated nuts, baked sweet potato chips, pure green vegetable juice, unsalted soups or sugar-rife desserts. The majority of them were also coming down off major caffeine addictions. They didn’t find their meals unpalatable because they’d been tailored to suit their intolerances; they found the food awful simply because they were so used to stuffing themselves with processed and refined foods full of added salt, saturated fat, sugar and chemicals. They weren’t used to eating REAL food. Simple as that.
Anyway, moving on from whinging about whingers… Another thing I found perplexing was the amount of sweet potato being served on the ‘fructose friendly’ menu. Between the mounds of silky smooth mash, baked-to-perfection crisps, dehydrated chips, dips, chunky soups and roasted veg medleys, I was quite literally being served the equivalent of one mammoth-sized sweet beauty, or two regular-sized ones, every day. And I felt absolutely FINE – no crippling cramps, nausea, fatigue, reflux or **ick alert** repugnant wind.
After going 10 melancholy months without it (post-diagnosis), I only reintroduced sweet potato back into my diet late last year. I was still limiting myself to pathetically puny portions in the fear that I’d react to its then-perceived FODMAPs [fructose (F) and polyols (P)]. When I first developed FructMal, every web page, blog post or forum I came across painted a danger haze around sweet potato. Even my dietitian at the time, who specializes in food intolerance, said to stick to 1/4 cup of sweet potato in a sitting, and to not eat any other potential irritants with it (like avocado), to decrease the likelihood of having an adverse reaction. The dietician at Gwinganna, however, said that sweet potato is now thought to be safe for those with sensitivities to fructose and polyols (naturally-occuring sugar alcohols in certain fruit and veg, such as sorbitol and mannitol). I was over the moon, and I’ve been stuffing my face with sweet potato ever since.
What better way to celebrate the rekindled flame with my sweet lover than with an over-stuffed baked sweet potato in all its fluffy, comforting, flavourful glory?
Overstuffed Baked Sweet ‘Tato
Ingredients Stuffed baked potato:
- 1 large sweet potato, washed and dried thoroughly with paper towel
- Shredded roasted chicken breast (about 100g)
- 1/4 cup chopped chives or spring onions (green part only for low FODMAP)
- 1 hard boiled egg
- 15g Danish feta, crumbled (omit for dairy free)
- small handful fresh coriander springs
- 1/4 avocado
- 1/4 cup full fat organic natural or Greek yoghurt (I use five:am organics brand – omit for dairy free and replace with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil)
- 1 tsp lime juice (use lemon if you don’t have lime)
- 1/2 tsp ground sumac
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- pinch of paprika
- pinch of Himalayan sea salt, or to taste
Optional additional toppings: sundried tomatoes, corn kernels, grated carrot, pickled beetroot. Method
- Preheat oven to 230’C. After washing and drying the sweet potato, prick all over with a fork or sharp knife. Place sweet potato on an oven tray and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until soft throughout. Cooking times will depend on your oven and the size of your sweet potato. If the skin begins to burn, cover with aluminium foil.
- In the meantime, blend the avocado cream ingredients in a food processor. Season to taste.
- Take the hard boiled egg and use a grater to creating soft white shavings. It’s up to you whether you use the egg yolk too, but I don’t like hard yolk, so I didn’t.
- When the sweet potato is cooked through, sit it on a plate and cut a slit down the length of it. At this point, it’s up to you how you stuff your potato. So many baked sweet potato recipes ask you to scoop out all the flesh, season it with a myriad of herbs and spices and then stuff the flesh back in, before topping it with all your goodies. That’s all a bit arduous for me – when my grumbling tummy has already waited an hour for the potato to bake, the last thing I’m going to do is tease myself more by stuffing around (ha! Punny) with the flesh, only to put it back in to serve, and scoop it back out to eat. Sweet potato flesh is such a natural beauty on its own anyway, it hardly needs to be masked with complex flavours. I like to chuck all the toppings over the baked ‘tato and sprinkle extra spices (such as sumac, cumin, paprika etc.) over at the end if I want more kick.
- Serve the sweet potato topped with shredded chicken, spring onion/chives, feta, shaved egg white, coriander, dollops of avocado cream and any other additional toppings you’re using. You can also finish it off with a sprinkle of extra sumac, cumin and paprika if you wish.