Spelt & Chia Hot Cross Buns (vegan, wheat free, fructose friendly)

Hey YOU!
I’ve been doing some pretty extensive research over the last few years (thanks to findings and publications by a bunch of mega brainy gut experts), and I’ve recently decided to join the glutard (AKA gluten free) crusade. As such, all recipes containing gluten on my site that were written prior to 2018 are currently under reconstruction as I strive to make them all gluten free. Keep watching this space because I’ll be delving into my reasons for going completely gluten free at a later date, but all I’ll say for now is that I want my recipes to be as friendly to your gut –and the trillions of incredible microbes that inhabit it– as possible, so that you can kick your digestive issues to the curb and get back to devouring caramelised onion, apples and bulk avocado again.

Just to throw another spanner in, THIS particular recipe is an exception to the above – I’ve personally never eaten a GF/yeast free hot cross bun that I’ve remotely enjoyed, and I’m too happy with this recipe to delete it or butcher it with alterations. Besides, HCB’s are supposed to be a treat anyway. Sufficiently justified? K cool.
By the way, if anyone has ever made or bought a HCB that is genuinely healthy, gluten free, yeast free and FODMAP friendly, I’d LOVE to hear from you. But until then…

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So it’s 5pm on Easter Sunday which means two things: a) I’m in a scalloped potato/cheesecake/giant Kinder Surprise/chocolate tart-induced coma and literally typing this post through one half-opened eye, and b) it’s definitely a tad late to be posting a hot cross bun recipe. That said, ‘a tad late’ is how I go about life in general, and this recipe is too good to wait until next year to post. Besides, who doesn’t love a fresh-outta-the-oven hot cross bun at any time of year? If it’s acceptable now-days to eat HCB’s from Boxing Day until Easter Sunday, it should be acceptable to enjoy them for a few (or many) months afterward, too.

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These hot X babies do contain a little more sugar than my usual recipes (in the form of coconut sugar & dried fruit), but I really wanted them to taste and feel as close to the real deal as possible. They’ve got just the right balance of sweetness and spice, and the spelt flour lends a wonderful nuttiness and dense texture. What’s more, they’ll fill your home with the most beauuuuuuutiful aroma – the smell of any kind of bread baking in the oven is magic, but the notes of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and orange in these buns will take you to a whole new level of aromatic heaven. 

I think the key to getting these buns right is ensuring that the dough gets its full 2 hours of rising time in a warm, draught-free area. I’m certainly no baking wiz so I don’t know whether the rising time or warm environment is more crucial, but the two together resulted in a far better bun texture than the first time I attempted this recipe, when I only gave the dough 1 1/2 hours to rise in a cool kitchen.

Spelt & Chia Hot Cross Buns with Orange and Cranberries

Makes 9 buns.

Ingredients

  • ½ cups wholegrain spelt flour
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 7g instant dried yeast
  • 2 tsp dried ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried ground ginger
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ¼ cup dried unsweetened cranberries
  • ¼cup raisins
  • ¼cup dried currants
  • Zest of 1 orange (halve this if you don’t want the orange flavour to be pronounced)
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ cup organic coconut sugar
  • 1 cup milk of choice (I use no added sugar coconut or almond milk)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tbs melted coconut oil
  • 1 tbs pure maple syrup, to glaze
  • For the crosses: 40g dark chocolate of choice

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C. Line a small square cake tin (20cm x 20cm) with parchment paper.
  2. In a small saucepan, stir the milk and coconut sugar over medium-low heat until the milk is warm and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and coconut oil.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the spelt flour, chia seeds, yeast and dried spices. Wake a well and pour in the milk mixture. Mix with a spoon until just combined, then add in the dried fruit, zest and salt. Use your hands to combine fully and form into a dough with the dried fruit and zest dispersed throughout.
  4. Lightly flour a clean bench space or a kneading mat with a little spelt flour. Knead the dough for 7 minutes.
  5. Oil the original mixing bowl with a little coconut oil, place the dough back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap (to trap heat in). Place a tea towel over the bowl (to keep light out). Leave in a warm, draught free space for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size (it’s imperative that the dough doubles, and I strongly recommend leaving it for the full 2 hours regardless). My house was quite cool when I was making these, so I found that the best place to leave the bowl was on a stool right in front of the heated oven.
  6. After the dough has risen, knead for another 3 minutes. Divide the dough into 9 equal portions and roll into rough balls. Place the buns into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Brush the buns with pure maple syrup to glaze. Allow the buns to cool before piping crosses with melted dark choc. Don’t have a piping bag? See notes below.
  8. Serve the only way you ever should: toasted, warm, smothered with organic salted butter (or almond butter) and with your a cuppa. Bliss. It’s probably worth nothing that you may want to remove the chocolate cross before toasting the buns!
  9. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 weeks.

Info for the irritable

If you’re highly sensitive to fructose, adjust the amount of dried fruit to suit you tolerance levels.  You could try omitting the currants and raisins using ¼ – ½ cup dried cranberries, or leave the fruit out altogether if necessary.

Other notes

  • I used normal organic dark choc for the crosses because I knew it would set and photograph better, but vegans can substitute raw chocolate
  • If you don’t own a piping bag, spoon the melted choc into a snap-lock bag and snip the corner with scissors. Voila!Healthy Spelt and chia hot cross buns

Vegan Lemon, Macadamia and Coconut Slice

Hey YOU!

If you made this recipe prior to 2018, you may notice it’s a little different now. I’ve been doing lots of research over the last few years, and thanks to the findings and publications by a bunch of brainy gut experts, I’ve recently joined the glutard (AKA gluten free) crusade. As such, this recipe is now gluten free. It’s still FODMAP friendly, low in fructose and full of nutrients, but calls for gut-lovin’ gluten alternatives that your bod and brain will thank you for! Ax

Photo: Lemon, Macadamia and Coconut Slice

Throughout my primary school years, my favourite afternoons involved a visit to the local bakery where I’d leave with a choccie Big M in one hand, and either a sausage roll or lemon slice in the other. Sometimes all three, depending on how much Mum wanted to shut me up until dinner. My irrepressible love for lemon slice continued into the early years of high school –as did sausage rolls, unfortunately– when I’d make a batch most weekends, using half the sweetened condensed milk for the biscuit base and drinking the rest straight from the tin…

Photo: Lemon, Macadamia and Coconut Slice Photo: Lemon, Macadamia and Coconut Slice

To this day, I can never knock back a traditional lemon slice when the opportunity arises, and I still revel in its delectably citrusy, melt-in-your-mouth glory, but I try not to chow them down on the regular like I used to. FYI I’ve also stopped drinking sweetened condensed milk from the can.

It’s quite easy to find healthy gluten free lemon slice alternatives these days, but as with all healthy spins on traditional desserts, it’s difficult to find ones that are suitable for the digestively challenged. Most health-ified lemon slices I’ve come across, delightful as they are, rely heavily on nuts, dried coconut and dates in the base, and cashews in the cream topping. Great for some; not so great for us FODMAP malabsorbers.

My Lemon, Macadamia and Coconut Slice, albeit not FODMAP free (because that’s not the point of the low FODMAP diet), has been very carefully formulated to use enough coconut and lower-FODMAP nuts and seeds so that it has a nice flavour and texture and is nutrient dense, but is still at the ‘low’, and thus ‘safe’, end of the FODMAP spectrum so long as the recommended serving size is adhered to. The base is bulked with quinoa flakes and buckwheat grouts, and soaked macadamias make for a lovely cream (not as creamy as cashews would, granted, but we can’t have it all). This slice is also vegan, gluten free, grain free, paleo, and packed with quality proteins, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.

Photo: Lemon, Macadamia and Coconut Slice

Lemon, Macadamia and Coconut Slice (vegan, gluten free, Paleo)

Makes 24 squares

FODMAP friendly serving size: 1 square

Ingredients

Biscuit Base:

  • 1 cup (70g) quinoa flakes 
  • 1.5 cups (82g) unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut plus a little extra, to serve 
  • 1 cup (100g) raw pecans
  • 1/2 cup (80g) buckwheat groats
  • 2 tbs linseeds (chia seeds would also work)
  • 1/4 cup (85g) pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup (70g) melted coconut oil
  • Generous pinch of sea salt

Lemon and Macadamia Cream Topping:

  • 1.5 cups (180g) macadamias
  • 2/3 cup (120g) coconut cream (100% coconut and guar gum free)
  • 3 tbs pure maple syrup
  • 3 tbs melted coconut oil (this is an option for a slightly firmer topping – see notes in step 4 below)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1/2 – 1 lemon plus extra, to serve

Method

  1. Place the macadamias in a small bowl and cover with filtered water. Cover the bowl with a small plate and allow to soak overnight at room temperature.
  2. Line a rectangular slice tray (mine is 18 x 27cm) with baking paper.  
  3. To make the biscuit base, use a high-powered processor to process the quinoa flakes, dried coconut, pecans, buckwheat grouts, linseeds and salt until a crumb forms. Add the coconut oil and maple syrup and process until it all comes together, scraping the bowl down with a spatula as necessary. Spoon the mixture into the tin and use your fingertips to press it down firmly and evenly. Place in the freezer to set while you make the topping.
  4. To make the lemon cream topping, drain the soaked macadamias and discard the liquid. Place the macadamias into the cleaned processor bowl/jug and process until as smooth as possible. Add the coconut cream, maple syrup, lemon juice and a quarter of the zest, and process until smooth and creamy, scraping the sides down with a spatula as necessary. At this stage, taste the cream and add more lemon zest if you wish. Please note: this topping is designed to be quite soft and creamy once set, but if you want it to be a bit firmer you can add 3-4 tbs melted coconut oil, which will help it set more in the fridge as the coconut oil solidifies. 
  5. Remove the biscuit base from the freezer and top with the lemon cream, using the back of the spatula to smooth over. Top with extra lemon zest and shredded/flaked coconut (I like to toast mine lightly first). Allow to set in the freezer for an hour or so.
  6. Once set, use a sharp knife to cut the slice into 24 squares. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to one week, or freeze for up to one month and thaw slightly before serving.
Info for the irritable:
  • This recipe has been carefully formulated to be FODMAP friendly when the recommeded serving size is adhered to. It contains moderate amounts of the polyol, sorbitol, from coconut (dried and milk/cream) and small amounts of fructans from pecans, macadamias and linseeds. One square of this slice (when the slice has been divided into 24 squares) is considered low in both sorbitol and fructans and should thus be safe for people with IBS or fructose malabsorption.

Ax

Photo: Lemon, Macadamia and Coconut Slice

Photo: Lemon, ginger & cranberry granola

Gluten Free Lemon, Ginger and Cranberry Granola (paleo, grain free, low FODMAP)

Photo: Lemon, ginger & cranberry granola

Yep, I’m one of those people. One of those who still, even at 22 years of age, puts milk, cookies and carrots out for Santa and his reindeers on Christmas Eve. From December 1st I blast Michael Buble’s 2011 Christmas album in my car, and refuse to take it off rotation until mid-January. Shopping centres go from being in my top-3-most-disliked-environments all year from January through November, to magical joy-filled havens which I find every excuse to immerse myself in during December. I take dramatic detours and scour the streets of suburban Melbourne late at night, ooh-ing and ahh-ing at fairy light displays. Even houses with the tackiest efforts (flashing rainbow fairy lights usually make my eyes hurt) send ripples of Christmas cheer through me. I’ve finally stopped dressing my car as Rudolf and acknowledge that the antlers on the side door windows and red nose on the front grill are a bit much.

As I write this, the most wonderful day of the year is just one week away. The early summer sun is shining outside, I’ve spent the afternoon wrapping presents and arranging them under the tree, and the oven is exhaling mouth-watering notes of ginger, cinnamon and maple from my fourth batch of Lemon, Ginger and Cranberry Granola this week.

Photo: Lemon, ginger & cranberry granola

This granola recipe is a festive and comforting marriage of sugar and spice. It’s sweetened with just enough maple syrup and the pops of tart lemon and dried cranberries add some extra zing. There’s a delicious crunch and chewiness to it, then it melts in your mouth like any granola should. It might look Christmassy, but it makes for a delicious and nutrient dense breakfast all year round. This recipe is very forgiving, so feel free to mix it up however you like. So long as you’re mindful of wet to dry ratios, you can pretty much throw in whatever you’ve got on hand.

How you use the granola is entirely up to you – serve a generous handful with your favourite nut milk and strawbs for a wholesome brekky, sprinkle it over smoothie bowls and banana ‘nice cream’ to add some crunch, or whiz some through smoothies to make them extra thicccc and amp up the flavour. It’s also great to snack on as a trail mix, but I try to portion it out in advance otherwise I end up eating half a batch in one sitting. Portion control has never been my forté.

For something a bit spesh, try layering the granola with cardamom-stewed oranges or other fruit and your favourite yoghurt (coconut or full fat) in individual glasses  – the perfect Christmas Parfait for brunch entertaining! I also love making cute homemade edible gifts by filling mason jars with the granola. Add some mini gingerbread men to the jars and arrange around the side of the jar so that they’re visible, then finish with some festive ribbon and hand-written gift tags.

Photo: Lemon, ginger & cranberry granola

Lemon, Ginger and Cranberry Granola

FODMAP friendly serving size: ¾ cup (approx. 80g)

Ingredients

Muesli mixture:

  • 2 cups(178g) quinoa flakes (you could also use flaked brown rice or buckwheat)
  • 1 cup (200g) buckwheat grouts, activated if possible
  • 1 cup (15g) puffed buckwheat (puffed brown rice also works great although it’s a grain)
  • ¾ cup (45g) shredded unsweetened coconut
  • ¾ cup (97g) of your favourite natural nuts (activated if possible), roughly chopped. I use mostly macadamias and pecans, plus some almonds and walnuts
  • ¼ cup (40g) pepitas
  • ¼ cup (40g) sunflower seeds
  • ¾ tsp finely ground sea salt
  • 1 tbs ground cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tbs coconut sugar (optional)
  • ½ cup (60g) dried cranberries (unsweetened if possible, omit for strictly fructose friendly – see notes)

Wet mixture:

  • ½ cup (100g) melted coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup (95g) pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbs lemon juice

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160*C and lightly grease a large baking tray with coconut oil
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ‘muesli mixture’ ingredients, except the dried coconut and cranberries
  3. Add the ‘wet’ ingredients to the bowl, gently folding with a large wooden spoon until fully combined
  4. Spoon onto the prepared tray in an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven. Add the dried coconut and use a spatula to gently turn the granola. Lightly press the mixture down to encourage the formation of clusters. Return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes. At this point it should be fragrant and golden
  5. Remove from the oven and set aside. As it cools, the granola will continue to dry out and crisp up, so don’t worry if it’s still a little soft. Allow to cool completely before adding the dried cranberries and transferring to an airtight container or glass jars. The granola will keep for at least a week if stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Info for the Irritable:

  • Certain nuts and dried coconut contain moderate amounts of FODMAPs (GOS and polyols, respectively), however the amount I have used in this recipe, especially once divided into the recommended servings, is considered to be low. If you’re especially sensitive to either, reduce the amount by half or omit altogether and substitute with more quinoa flakes and puffed buckwheat
  • Dried cranberries do contain moderate fructans, however the amount I have included once divided is considered low.
  • To keep the FODMAP load of your meal down, make sure you serve this granola with low FODMAP accompaniments, such as fresh berries and a suitable nut milk.

Ax

Photo: Lemon, ginger & cranberry granola

Photo: Fruit free muesli bar slice

Fruit Free Quinoa Muesli Slice (fructose friendly, low FODMAP, gluten free)

Hey YOU!
If you made this recipe prior to 2018, you may notice it’s a little different now. I’ve been doing some pretty extensive research over the last few years (thanks to findings and publications by a bunch of mega brainy gut experts), and I’ve recently decided to join the glutard (AKA gluten free) crusade. As such, this recipe is now gluten free. It’s still FODMAP friendly, low in fructose and tastes the same as before, but now calls for gut-friendlier alternatives to the gluten. Your belly will thank you for it, and I hope your tastebuds still do, too! Ax

Photo: Fruit free muesli bar slice

It’s probably not news to you that most muesli bars on supermarket shelves -and even some in the “health food” aisle- are not that great for you.

Many of them belong in the confectionary aisle right next to the beloved Cadbury Black Forest block. If you’re reading this, you’re probably also a label reader accustomed to doing a quick scan of sugar contents when deciding between pre-packaged muesli bars. But how much notice do you pay to where that sugar is coming from? The majority of muesli/snack bars out there are absolutely LOADED with added sugars, whether it’s refined in the form of white/brown sugar or horrible processed syrups, unrefined in the form of raw cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, coconut sugar, rice malt syrup etc., or sneakily disguised as being the most ‘natural’ –yet actually the most concentrated– forms of fructose of all: dried fruit and fruit juice concentrates.

As I write this, I’m analysing the labels of 2 different muesli bar boxes by a popular ‘real food’ brand sold at supermarkets. Their products are marketed as, and widely believed to be, a much healthier alternative to their processed counterparts. Yes, they use mainly whole food ingredients and don’t contain any nasty preservatives or additives which is great, but the sugar content is simply way too high to be promoted as healthy.
One of the aforementioned labels reads SIX DIFFERENT SOURCES OF SUGAR: cranberries, sugar, glucose, honey, rice syrup and apple. The other contains FIVE different sources: glucose, honey, sugar, cranberries and sultanas.
Ruuuuuude.

Photo: Fruit Free Muesli Bar Slice

Sure, these bars make our taste buds happy because we’re hard-wired to gorge on anything sweet as it was once so rarely available (it’s no secret that the food industry capitalises on this biological fact), but the bottom line is that large amounts of sugar, regardless of where it’s coming from, wreaks havoc on your brain and organs, promotes systemic inflammation throughout your body, and provides a feeding frenzy to the pathogenic bacteria in your gut, making any intestine-related digestive issues you may have a whole lot worse in the long-run.

The main point of this argument isn’t to put you off eating any form of sugar for the rest of your life (how terribly sad would that be?!). I’m just saying that if you’re going to tuck into six different forms of sugar in one snack sized portion, it should be a mega decadent treat, like a double-fudge-peanut-butter-brownie-with-maple-frosting-and-butterscotch-macadamias for instance, not your mid-morning snack. 

Photo: Fruit free muesli bar slice

You might be thinking, “how the hell do I know what muesli bars to choose, then?!”

And rightfully so.
Finding pre-packaged snacks that are low FODMAP, gut-friendly and genuinely healthy can seem impossible, and sometimes it is. Thankfully, more and more options are becoming available in supermarkets all the time. Here’s what I look out for:

1. Excess fructose and overall sugar content

If you have fructose malabsorption or IBS, be mindful of ingredients that contain excess fructose such as dates, dried fruits, concentrated fruit juices and agave syrup, as these could leave you bowed over with mega food regret. With that said, don’t be fooled into choosing a product just because it contains predominately glucose, and is thus low fructose (i.e. glucose syrup, rice malt syrup etc.). Just because it’s low in fructose and won’t promote gastrointestinal symptoms immediately, does not mean it’s good for your gut in the long term! I’ll say it again and again, if you’ve got digestive issues, there’s a good chance your intestinal ecosystem is out of whack, and any bad bugs in your belly love to feed –and multiply like evil gremlins– on glucose, leading to the worsening of intestinal flora imbalances.
As a general rule of thumb, avoid snacks that have a sugar source as one of the first three listed ingredients, and opt for products that contain no more than 3-4g total sugars per 100g. That way you’re minimising exposure to excess fructose whilst keeping overall sugar consumption relatively low.

2. Fibre content and source

Fibre is one of our best friends for a multitude of reasons, but unfortunately sometimes manufacturers like to bulk health food products with plant-extracted fibres such as inulin and chicory root, which can be troublesome for people with FM/IBS due to their fermentable oligosaccharide (GOS) content. Avoid any products containing these particular fibres while your gut is hyper sensitive.

3. Gluten

Research is pointing more and more towards all gluten promoting inflammation in the intestines, and far beyond. I’ve recently decided to cut gluten out as much as possible, with the odd slip-up. And by “odd slip-up”, I mean every day whilst #vacaying in Italy, or when drunk.

4. Inflammatory fats

I’m totally pro-fat, and eat a lot of it, but not all fat is created equally. It’s important to opt for ingredients lists that contain truly healthful fatty acids (such as nuts, seeds, coconut, avocado and pressed olives), and not refined pro-inflammatory “vegetable fats”, such as canola oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oil etc. Oh and it goes without saying that laboratory-made trans fats should be avoided at all costs – never touch anything that reads “hydrogenated-” as a prefix before any oil or fat. Bad bad bad.

5. Other troublesome additives

As if you didn’t have enough criteria already, make sure you’re also weary of troublesome high FODMAP sweeteners such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol etc. Protein bars are common culprits of this! Lastly, if it’s marketed as a health food then it shouldn’t contain artificial additives anyway, but just to be safe, watch out for nasty sulphites (numbers 220-228), which are commonly found in commercially dried fruits.

Granted, it’s a lot easier to narrow the process down when you’re at a health food store as they’re already a lot stricter on what products they stock, but then I’m always conflicted by paying up to $5 for a single snack when I can make a week’s worth of my own muesli slice for the same price…

Photo: Fruit free muesli bar slice

This Fruit Free Quinoa Muesli Slice is super easy to whip up and the recipe is very forgiving. If you don’t have a particular ingredient just use something else that’s similar in density, being mindful of wet to dry ratios. This is designed to be a base recipe, so feel free to jazz things up! Try adding things like goji berries (dark choc-coated gojis would be delicious for a more decadent treat), or a little unsweetened and sulphite-free dried fruit, like cranberries or blueberries.

High in fibre, healthy fats, protein, antioxidants, and low in sugars (just 3g per snack-sized square), this muesli slice makes a perfect on-the-go breakfast or snack any time of day. I love to serve mine spread with natural salted peanut butter and a little homemade strawberry jam – delish. 

Fruit Free Quinoa Muesli Bar Slice

Makes 24 snack squares, or 12 bars

FODMAP friendly serving size: one snack sized square

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (160g) quinoa flakes
  • ½ cup (30g) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup (30g) brown rice flour
  • 1½ cups (180g) mixed seeds (I use pepitas & sunflower kernels)
  • ½ cup (60g) nuts of choice, such as walnuts and pecans (activated if possible), roughly chopped
  • 1 tbs (10g) chia seeds
  • 1-2 tsp (3-6g) ground cinnamon (depending on your taste preferences)
  • ½ tsp (2g) ground cardamom (reduce this to ¼ tsp if you don’t want the cardamom to be pronounced)
  • ¼ tsp (1g) ground dried ginger
  • ¼ tsp (1g) Himalayan sea salt
  • 3 large free range eggs (approx 65g each & organic if possible), lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup (80g) pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup (60g) natural nut butter of choice (I use peanut)
  • 2 tbs (26g) melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbs (30mL) warm filtered water (can be boiled and then cooled slightly)
  • 1 tsp (4.5g) pure vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180*C and line a slice tray or square cake tin with baking paper
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl with a wooden spoon
  3. In another bowl, add the beaten eggs and whisk in the remaining ingredients. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and combine well
  4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and use your fingers to press it in firmly. Sprinkle the top with some pepitas and linseeds, if desired. Bake for 30 minutes or until firm and golden brown.
  5. Remove from oven allow to stand for 10 minutes, before removing and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack
  6. Cut the slice into 12 bars or 24 squares (I often do half and half), and store in an airtight container away from direct sunlight for up to one week.

Ax

Photo: Fruit free muesli bar slice

 

 

Photo: Bangin' banana bread

Bangin’ Banana Bread (low FODMAP, fructose friendly, gluten free, grain free)

Hey YOU!
If you made this recipe prior to 2018, you may notice it’s a little different now. I’ve been doing some pretty extensive research over the last few years (thanks to findings and publications by a bunch of mega brainy gut experts), and I’ve recently decided to join the glutard (AKA gluten free) crusade. As such, this recipe is now gluten free. It’s still FODMAP friendly, low in fructose and tastes the same as before, but calls for gut-friendlier alternatives to the gluten. Your belly will thank you for it, and I hope your tastebuds still do, too! Ax

Photo: Bangin' banana bread

Photo: Bangin' banana bread

If one of your most nostalgic and all-time favourite snacks isn’t banana bread, then who are you?

I wish I could say that I was an active child and that playing a plethora of sports was part of my afternoon routine as a primary schooler, but the truth is that I was never fond of anything that involved physically moving for the sake of it. All I wanted to do was write stories, read books and teenage magazines (the latter of which I was at least seven years too young for and would secretly buy despite my Mum’s efforts to shield me from sealed sections), listen to my Discman (So Fresh FTW), and attend Spy Club meetings and missions with Mitch, my Top Secret Agent partner, neighbour, and childhood bestie.

But before any of the above, my afternoon snack ritual took place. I’d barge through the front door at 3:45pm, throw four slices of Brumby’s banana bread in the toaster before I’d even put my bag down, then smother them with so much butter and honey that it would all run down my chin and forearms as I took each bite. Portion control wasn’t one of my strong suits as a prepubescent.

I calmed down on the banana bread front as I got a bit older and realised that banana “bread” is technically cake (AKA a treat) and not something I should be eating daily, let alone a quarter of a loaf in one sitting. But my love for this perfectly sugary, buttery, banana-ry American classic remains.

Photo: Bangin' banana bread Photo: Bangin' banana bread

My healthified banana bread might not taste exactly like the sugar laden and mega fluffy (thanks to all the refined flour) one we grew up with, but I can confidently –or borderline smugly– say that it’s still pretty good. Being gluten and grain free, low in FODMAPs, fructose friendly and relatively low in sugar, I love knowing that I can eat it errrrrrry day of the week. It’s also high in fibre, healthy fats, complete proteins, a range of vitamins and minerals, and anti-inflammatory properties that your gut, body and brain will thank you for.

Photo: Bangin' banana bread

 

Bangin’ Banana Bread (low FODMAP, fructose friendly, gluten free, grain free)

Makes 12-15 slices

FODMAP friendly serving size: one slice

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups mashed (450g) overripe banana (approx. 4 medium bananas – see FODMAP notes below), plus one medium firm banana cut lengthways, for topping
  • 3 large organic free range eggs (approx 65g each), lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup (50g) coconut oil, melted
  • 4 tbs (70g) pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbs (17g) pure vanilla extract
  • 120g tapioca starch
  • 95g buckwheat flour (brown rice flour would work too)
  • ½ cup (30g) unsweetened shredded coconut (halve this amount if you want the coconut to be less pronounced)
  • ¾ cup (80g) pecans, roughly chopped, plus extra for topping
  • ½ cup (50g) almond meal (see FODMAP notes below)
  • 4 tbs (40g) chia seeds
  • 1 tsp (3g) baking powder (no aluminium added)
  • 2 tsp (6g) baking soda (aluminium free)
  • 2 tsp (6g) ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp (1g) ground cardamom
  • 2 generous pinches Himalayan sea salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 160*C and line a loaf tin with baking paper. My tin is approximately 29cm x 10.5cm.
  2. In one bowl, combine the mashed banana, beaten eggs, coconut oil, vanilla extract and maple syrup.
  3. In another bowl, combine the buckwheat flour, tapioca starch, shredded coconut, chia seeds, almond meal, spices and salt. Create a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour the banana mixture into it. Gently fold until just fully combined. Be very careful not to over mix.
  4. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared loaf tin. Top with halved banana, pecans, and a little drizzle of maple syrup. Place on the middle oven rack and bake for 55 minutes to one hour and 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with slightly damp crumbs on it (don’t wait until the skewer comes out completely dry because the loaf will be too dry once it cools). I took mine out at the one hour mark because I like my banana bread to be on the moister side, but if you want it a little drier, leave it in for longer. Cooking times will vary depending on your oven and loaf tin. If the top begins to brown too much while cooking, cover with some foil.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to stand in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days, or slice it up and freeze for up to one month.
  6. Serve fresh on its own, or toasted with organic salted butter, nut butter, or fresh berries. For something a little more indulgent, serve toasted with organic butter, a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkle of dark choc chips.

Info for the irritable

  • Although overripe bananas contain excess fructose, half a medium ripe banana (approx. 56g) is considered safe. When this loaf is divided into at least 12 slices, each slice contains less than 47g of banana (37g if you don’t use the banana on top), and is thus considered low in fructose.
  • Both the polyol content from the coconut (in the form of sorbitol), and the galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) in the almond meal, are considered to be very low and safe when only one slice is consumed in a single sitting.

Other notes

  • Can’t find buckwheat flour at your local store? You can use buckwheat grouts instead! Simply process them on high speed for one minute or until a fine flour is formed
  • I love to add dark choc chips to this recipe if I’m entertaining or taking it to a bring-a-plate night

Photo: Bangin' banana bread

Photo: Choccy granola

Gluten Free Crunchy Chocolate Granola (paleo, grain free, fruit free)

My world was momentarily flipped upside down at eight years old when Mum fractured almost every bone in her foot* and was forced to employ Helga, a middle-aged German Nanny, to help out with us beastly children.

Photo: Choccy granola

Shocked and outraged by the sheer abandonment by our own mother (AKA her physical inability to be at our beck and call 24/7) and her decision to palm us off to a complete stranger who had an accent we couldn’t –or blatantly pretended not to– understand, we vowed to make Helga’s experience as difficult as possible. We were devils disguised in eight, five and four year old bodies.

Of course, in affectionate and remorseful hindsight, Helga was a lovely and caring woman. She desperately wanted to win us over and eventually realised that she could, to some degree at least, through our stomachs. We began seeing her as less of a villain when instead of serving the usual Vegemite toast for breakfast, she started giving us Special Coco Pops. These Coco Pops were extra special because not only were we not allowed to eat Coco Pops on weekdays, but Helga would also sprinkle white sugar all over them to add to the thrilling novelty of our new morning ritual. This was during the days when Foot Loops were still a perfectly acceptable breakfast food *face palm*, plus mum didn’t want to crush Helga’s newfound glory, so she let it slide for a while.

Photo: Choccy granola

And that’s where my love for sweet AF breakfast cereals began. I eventually grew out of Coco Pops and my obsession with sprinkling white poison all over them, but the habit was replaced by only marginally less sugary cereals with boxes that read anything along the lines of “crunchy granola” or “nut clusters” throughout the majority of my teenage years. I may not eat the highly processed and sugar laden versions anymore, but my love for any type of granola remains. Anyone with IBS or fructose malabsorption will share my frustration of not being able to easily find muesli options that tick all the boxes (punny). They’re either full of crap, processed gluten, refined sugars or dried fruits, and if you do find one that’s low in FODMAPs and genuinely healthy, chances are it’s pretty pricey. So I just make my own. My go-to recipes are this Crunchy Chocolate Granola, and my Lemon, Ginger and Cranberry Granola.

Photo: Choccy granola

This Crunchy Chocolate Granola immediately takes me back to the mornings with Helga when I’d eat two huge bowls of candied Coco Pop greatness and then drink the leftover pool of super sweet chocolatey milk at the end. This version might contain 8 teaspoons less sugar per serving, but the crunchy clusters of chocolatey puffed seeds, quinoa flakes and toasted nuts taste totally indulgent and are so satisfying.

The beauty of granola is that it can be used in so many ways – serve it with your favourite nut milk and fresh berries, on top of smoothie bowls or “nice cream”, layered in chia pudding parfaits, sprinkled on grilled banana, or simply use it as a trail mix to snack on.

*Background story: It was school holidays and mum took us to “Pirate Day” at the Polly Woodside in Melbourne, the site where a famous 1885 cargo ship is preserved. We ended up playing on the grounds late into the afternoon and most likely ignored the numerous “closing soon” announcements. To this day I cannot fathom how they managed it, but security ended up locking us in. Determined to not have to sleep on a potentially haunted ship overnight, we screamed our lungs out for help, to no avail. The only solution that seemed logical at the time was to jump the three metre fence, and obviously mum was to be the guinea pig. She ended up landing badly (her high heeled boots probably didn’t help) and broke the bejeezus out of her foot.

Photo: Choccy granola

Crunchy Chocolate Granola

Makes x 10 ¾ cup servings

FODMAP friendly serving size: ¾ cup (approx. 80g)

Ingredients

Muesli mixture:

  • 2 cups (178g) quinoa flakes (flaked brown rice or buckwheat also works well)
  • 1 ½ cups (23g) puffed buckwheat (if you’re not strictly grain free, puffed brown rice also works well)
  • 1 ¼ cups (250g) buckwheat grouts, activated if possible
  • ¾ cup (45g) unsweetened dried shredded or flaked coconut
  • ¾ cup (97g) of your favourite natural nuts (activated if possible), roughly chopped. I use a combination of pecans, macadamias, almonds and walnuts
  • ½ cup (80g) pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • ¼ cup (40g) chia seeds

Chocolate mixture:

  • ½ cup (100g) coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup (95g) pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup (32g) raw cacao powder (you can also use regular fair-trade cocoa powder)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbs pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp sea sea salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 160*C and grease a large baking tray with coconut oil
  2. In a large bowl, combine all “muesli mixture” ingredients, except the shredded coconut
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil over medium-low heat. Add the maple syrup, cacao and cinnamon and stir until all combined. Bring to the boil and remove from heat. Add the vanilla and salt and stir until the liquid is fully incorporated.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture over the dry muesli mixture and stir gently until all dry ingredients are evenly coated. There should be enough ‘wet’ mixture to completely cover the muesli.
  5. Spread mixture evenly over the greased tray. Bake in oven for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and stir. Add the dried coconut and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes. The granola will continue to crisp up after you take it out of the oven, so don’t worry if it’s still a little soft.
  6. Allow to cool completely before transferring to a large air-tight container or glass jars. The granola will keep for over a week if stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Info for the Irritable:

  • Certain nuts and dried coconut contain moderate amounts of FODMAPs (GOS and polyols, respectively), however the amount I have used in this recipe, especially once divided into the recommended servings, is considered to be low. If you’re especially sensitive to either, reduce the amount by half or omit altogether and substitute with more quinoa flakes and puffed buckwheat
  • To keep the FODMAP load of your meal down, make sure you serve this granola with low FODMAP accompaniments, such as fresh berries and a suitable nut milk.

Ax

Photo: Choccy granola

Photo: Choc Cookie Peanut Butter Fudge Cups

Raw Chocolate Cookie and Peanut Butter Fudge Cups | Vegan, Gluten-Free, FODMAP Friendly

Photo: Choc Cookie Peanut Butter Fudge Cups

The ironic thing about my long-time obsession with the combination of chocolate and peanut butter is that I only became aware of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups’ existence circa 2012 when health bloggers worldwide went berserk over healthy spin-off recipes and they very quickly filled our Insta feeds. Talk about living under a rock for 21 years. 2012 was definitely the year of the Veganised Chocolate Bar, with healthy versions of our childhood favourites popping up everywhere, from Bounty Bars, Snickers Bars and Twix Bars (check out my FODMAP friendly and gluten free Twix Bar Slice recipe here!), to Mint Slice, Cherry Ripe and Nutella. It was a trend in whole food cooking that was welcomed by all – super simple, no-bake, healthy, and most importantly, reminiscent of everything we loved about chocolate before we were told it was bad for us.

Photo: Choc Cookie Peanut Butter Fudge Cups

So here’s another healthified take on Reese’s ingenious creation to add to the 50,000 others. But you should try mine because I’ve added a chocolatey biscuity base layer. And also because, by virtue of being on my website, it doesn’t call for dates unlike all the other wonderful but not so FODMAP friendly recipe blogs do.

These babies are perfect with a mid morning cuppa, after a workout, on the run, or as a rich guilt-free treat whenever those sweet cravings strike. I personally prefer these cups when they’ve been out of the fridge for a while and the peanut butter fudge has started to melt slightly, like in the photos – it just makes them all the more decadent.

Because this recipe calls for three different amounts of coconut oil and I’m terribly impatient, I like to measure them out separately at the start and have them ready to melt for each layer. If you plan to work quickly and not leave the cups in the freezer too long between layers, you can even melt all the coconut oil together in a saucepan and then separate the relative amounts, melting down again as necessary if the oil begins to solidify between layers.

Photo: Choc Cookie Peanut Butter Fudge Cups

Raw Chocolate Cookie and Peanut Butter Fudge Cups | Vegan, Paleo, Gluten-Free, FODMAP friendly, Low Fructose

Makes 10-12 cups

FODMAP friendly serving size: 1 cup

Ingredients

Raw Chocolate Cookie Base

  • ¾ cup (120g) buckwheat grouts
  • ¼ cup (27g) flax meal (or 27g whole linseeds)
  • ¼ cup (43g) chia seeds
  • ⅓ cup (25g) cacao powder
  • ⅓ cup (60g) melted coconut oil
  • ¼ cup (80g) pure maple syrup

Peanut Butter Fudge Filling

  • ¾ cup (175g) 100% natural peanut butter (no added sugar or salt)
  • 3 tbs (30g) melted coconut oil
  • 4 tbs pure maple syrup
  • Generous pinch fine sea salt

Chocolate Topping

  • ⅓ cup (60g) melted coconut oil
  • 4 tbs cacao powder

Method

  1. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with silicone cupcake moulds.
  2. In a high speed blender or processor, process the buckwheat grouts, chia seeds and flax meal until a crumbly mixture forms. I like to have some crunchy buckwheat bits in there, so I stop processing just before it turns into a fine flour. Add the cacao powder, melted coconut oil and maple, and process on low until it all comes together. Spoon the mixture evenly into the silicone cups and press in firmly with your fingertips. There should be enough to fill 10-12 cups one third of the way. Freeze for 10 mins.
  3. In the meantime, combine all Peanut Butter Fudge Filling ingredients in a bowl. Remove cups from the freezer and spoon the peanut butter filling on top of the bases, smoothing with the back of the spoon. Freeze for 20 mins, ensuring a completely flat position.
  4. Combine Chocolate Topping ingredients. Remove cups from freezer and cover evenly with the chocolate mixture. Carefully return to the freezer for 15 mins, again ensuring a completely flat position. Once completely set, transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to one week. Sprinkle with crushed roasted peanuts before serving.

Info for the irritable

  • Flaxseed meal (ground linseeds) is high in GOS, or Fermentable Galacto-Oligosaccharides (AKA the “O” in “FODMAP”) when consumed in amounts larger than 30g in one sitting. However, according to Monash University, 1 tbs or 15g of flax meal is considered low in GOS, and should be tolerated by people with IBS or fructose malabsorption. One serving of this recipe (one cup) contains a very low amount of flax – less than 3g!
  • Chia seeds are high in Fructans (AKA the “F” in FODMAP) when consumed in amounts larger than 48g in one sitting. According to Monash, 2 tbs or 24g of chia is considered low in fructans, and should be tolerated by people with IBS or fructose malabsorption. One of these cups contains only 4g of chia.
  • Like chia, peanut butter is also high in fructans when consumed in large amounts in one sitting (75g or more). According to Monash, 2 tbs or 32g of PB is considered low in fructans, and should be tolerated by people with IBS or fructose malabsorption. Each serving of this recipe contains just 17.5g of PB.

Ax

Photo: Choc Cookie Peanut Butter Fudge Cups

Coconut, Banana & Raspberry Loaf (gluten free, grain free, dairy free & fructose friendly)

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This Coconut, Banana and Raspberry loaf was one of the first recipes I ever posted, and it was one of those extremely rare first-time baking successes (AKA an absolute fluke). Three years on, this page is still one of the most visited –and emailed about– on my blog, which leads me to believe it’s one of the most used recipes, which is all really alarming because this morning it occurred to me that I haven’t updated this page in three years. As gravely expected, the photography was terrible (I’m talking iPhone-4-and-heavily-light-streak-filtered terrible). So today I (very quickly) re-photographed it.

FYI, it still tastes great. Thank God I had taste judgement and some sort of cooking knack going for me in 2013, if nothing else.

Packed with nourishing fats, complete proteins, an array of vitamins and minerals, fibre and antioxidants, this recipe makes for a great snack at any time of day. Eat it on its own or toasted and lightly buttered, or try it my favourite way: warm with a few dollops of organic natural yoghurt, fresh berries, a few sprigs of mint and a cup of French earl grey on the side.

Coconut, Banana & Raspberry Loaf (gluten free, grain free, dairy free & fructose friendly)

Makes 10 thick slices, or 15 thin

FODMAP friendly serving size: One thin slice (see notes below)

Ingredients

  • 200g dried coconut (desiccated, shredded or chips)
  • 6 large (60g each) free range eggs
  • 1 large overripe banana, mashed
  • 1 tsp (3g) gluten and aluminium free baking powder
  • ¼ cup + 1 tbs (approx 100g) pure maple syrup
  • 1 heaped tsp (5g) pure vanilla extract or paste
  • ¼ cup (287g) frozen raspberries 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180*C and line a 26cm loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. In a high-speed food processor, process the dried coconut until it forms a crumbly flour-like consistency. Do not over-process it, as it will begin to turn into butter. Add the baking powder and mix on low speed for a few seconds to combine.
  3. In an electric mixer, beat the eggs, maple syrup and vanilla on medium speed for a few minutes. Add the mashed banana and mix on low for a few seconds to combine.
  4. Fold the processed coconut into the wet mixture, then gently fold through the frozen raspberries.
  5. Pour the batter into the lined loaf tin. Top the batter with extra raspberries and coconut chips. If I have some on hand, I also like to top the loaf with a few heaped teaspoons of old fashioned all natural raspberry jam, and lightly swirl it through the top of the batter with the edge of the spoon, for extra deliciousness.
  6. Bake at 180*C for 30 mins – at this point it should have risen significantly and started to deepen in colour. Turn the temperature down to 150*C and bake for a further 20-25 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. It takes around 55 minutes in total in my oven. Cooking times may vary depending on your oven and loaf tin. Remove from the oven and allow to stand in tin for 10 mins before removing from tin and placing on a wire rack to cool completely. You can eat it immediately, although it will be difficult to cut until it’s cooled. It’s best served at room temperature or toasted. Store in an airtight container away from direct sunlight for up to 3 days, or slice it up and freeze for up to one month.

Info for the irritable

Although dried coconut is low in fructose, it’s high in polyols (sorbitol) when consumed amounts equal to or greater than 37g. Once divided into at least 10 slices, the loaf contains 20g dried coconut per serving. This amount is considered to be low in FODMAPs, however it still might be problematic for those with fructose malabsorption or IBS who have high sensitivities to polyols. If you’re unsure of the severity of your polyol malabsorption, try a very thin slice of this loaf in one sitting, making sure that you limit your FODMAP load before and after. Monitor how you feel over the next 24 hours. If you don’t notice any symptoms, try a thicker slice the next day, ensuring that you’re mindful of your FODMAP load.

Other notes

  • To mix things up, you can use frozen mixed berries or frozen blueberries instead of the raspberries
  • If you’re making this recipe for a special occasion and want it to be more decadent, try adding white or dark chocolate chips

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