Does anybody else think that orange and chocolate is just the greatest culinary combo ever? As in even better than peanut butter and honey, or avocado and feta? I have such fond memories of scoffing family-size bags of Jaffas during pretty much every visit to the cinema with my parents as a child. Come to think of it, this is all I remember about those visits – I can’t recall a single film I saw, though I know there were many. My head was no doubt too busy being buried in the aforementioned bag of Jaffas to look up to the screen.
This chocolate, orange & almond tart couldn’t be simpler or quicker to make. The crust only calls for a few basic ingredients, and the filling can be quickly prepared while the crust bakes. Then it’s just a matter of pouring the filling over the crust and popping it in the fridge for 1-2 hours until it’s set. I recommend serving this tart as close to the 1-hour mark as possible (or as soon as the filling is set), as the moisture in the fridge won’t have softened the coconut and almonds too much yet, and they’ll still have their delicious crispy texture and toasted flavour. The tart will still be tasty after this time, but the texture just won’t be as good.
A few FODMAP notes before you get started…
In terms of the FODMAP content of this recipe, the lactose content of dark chocolate is very low. You will see that I’ve included relatively large amounts of dried coconut and almonds. According to Monash, those with moderate polyol sensitivies should limit dried coconut to to 1/4 cup per sitting, and those sensitive to oligo’s should stick to 10 almonds per sitting. If this tart is divided into at least 10 segments, there is less than these amounts per serving. Those who don’t need to be as strict should be able to tolerate more anyway (come at me, seconds!), providing their OVERALL FODMAP consumption isn’t already high that day, as it will add to the load.
Chocolate, Orange & Almond Tart with a Coconut Crust
Dietary info:Gluten free, moderate FODMAPs (see notes above), low fructose (see notes above). Contains egg, nuts and dairy (use vegan chocolate for dairy free).
3.5 cups (or 200g) unsweetened shredded coconut
3 egg whites, lightly beaten
2 tbs melted coconut oil
2 tbs pure maple syrup or coconut nectar
1 cup (100g) slithered almonds (can also use half almonds, half pecans), chopped roughly and toasted until golden brown
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
1 cup (250mL) full-fat pure coconut cream (organic if possible)
100g 70-85% dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I used Lindt 80% because it only has around 10g sugar in the whole block and the bitter/sweet ratio worked well for this recipe. You could also try a raw chocolate alternative but I cannot guarantee the same result as I have not tried it)
1 tbs pure maple syrup
Orange oil (see notes for alternative)
Pinch Himalayan sea salt
Liquid stevia, to taste
Fresh orange slices
Fresh Strawberries, sliced
Orange rind, finely grated
Cacao powder for dusting (optional)
Preheat oven to 175’C and lightly grease a 20cm non-stick tart/flan tin (with a loose base) with coconut oil. Good quality tins should not need greasing, but I like to be safe. Nothing ruins a tart more than a crust that sticks to the tin!
Place the shredded coconut, egg whites, rice malt syrup and melted coconut oil in a large bowl. Use your hands to squeeze and fully combine. The mixture should be sticky and form a loose dough. Press the dough VERY firmly into the base and up the sides of the tart tin. It’s important to get the crust thick enough so it will maintain its form, but not so thick that it doesn’t cook through. If you think you’ve got too much, discard some of it (or you can make healthy macaroons-style biccies with the excess by flattening into small discs and baking until slightly browned!)
Bake the crust in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
In the meantime, place the toasted slithered almonds in a small bowl with the orange zest and use your fingers to evenly massage the zest through the almonds. Set aside.
When the crust only has 5 minutes of baking time left, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the coconut cream to a boil in a saucepan. Pour boiling coconut cream over the chocolate and whisk until fully combined.
Add the maple syrup, sea salt and 5-10 drops of orange oil, depending on how orangey you like it. Taste and add orange oil and liquid stevia as needed. If you’re after a deeper chocolate flavour, add a teaspoon or so of raw cacao powder.
When the tart crust is ready, cover base with the toasted slithered almonds. Then carefully pour the coconut/chocolate mixture evenly over the top. Place in the fridge to set for 1-2 hours (the coconut crust and toasted almonds will begin to lose their awesome crispiness after 2 hours, so I highly recommend serving it ASAP once the filling is set.
Serve with fresh orange segments, sliced strawberries, shaved dark chocolate, a dusting of cacao powder (optional) and a sprinkle of grated orange rind.
If you don’t have any orange oil, you can use 1-2 tsp of finely grated orange zest instead, but the flavour might not distribute as evenly.
Lately I’ve been getting lots of requests to post more dinner-y recipes, and it made me realise that I never share my favourite dinner meals. So here’s a weeknight favourite in our household – Mum’s (Not Nonna’s) Turkey Spag Bol. I don’t have a Nonna, nor do I have an Italian heritage (a reality that makes me sad quite often), but if I did I wouldn’t dare serve her this rendition to her, in fear of having the veggie-packed and gluten, onion and garlic free morsels spat right back at me.
It’s no secret that traditional spaghetti bolognese gets a bad nutritional rap from its core ingredients: low quality beef mince cooked in nasty oils, gluten, and cheese. And as delicious and comforting as a giant bowl of ole spag bol from your local Italian joint may be –and sometimes totally granted– it’s not a very healthful choice to make too regularly. What’s more, if you’ve got fructose malabsorption or IBS it’s pretty much out of bounds anyway, thanks to all the onion and garlic.
Being the ever-accommodating woman that she is, my fabulous mumma came up with a spag bol that’s wholesome, FODMAP friendly, fills the boys up, and tastes GREAT! It has to be said that she’s becoming an expert at de-FODMAPifying recipes, and her Turkey Spag Bol is a true testimony to this. On that note, I can’t wait to share her low FODMAP Sri Lankan Chicken Curry recipe with you one day soon!
I hope you love this no-frills but tasty weeknight dinner as much as we do. Just please don’t serve it to your Nonna.
Low FODMAP Turkey Spag Bol
1kg free range turkey mince (organic if possible)
2 carrots, diced
1 large eggplant, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 – 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes*, cut into halves or quarters (see notes for fructose info)
1 red capsicum, diced
1 green capsicum, diced
2 tins chopped tomatoes (no added sugar or preservatives)
3/4 cup salt reduced tomato paste* (see notes for fructose info)
8 spring/green onions, chopped (green part only)
1 3/4 cups LOW FODMAP veg or chicken stock
1.5 tbs dried oregano
1 large handful fresh basil leaves, torn
Sea salt & cracked black pepper, to taste
1 packet gluten free spaghetti or other pasta of choice (I love brown rice noodles or buckwheat pasta)
To serve: fresh basil leaves & shaved parmesan (optional)
Heat some coconut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
Sautée the spring onions, carrot, eggplant, zucchini, capsicums and sun-dried tomatoes, stirring for around 7 minutes or until the veggies have started to soften. Remove from pot and transfer to a heat-safe bowl.
Heat some more coconut oil in the pot and add the turkey mince. Cook the mince on medium heat until browned (around 8 minutes), using a wooden spoon to break it up as you go.
Add the cooked veggies to the pot along with the tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, stock, fresh basil and dried oregano. Season with salt and pepper.
Turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for a minimum of 40 minutes. If I have time, I leave it for at least an hour. The longer you leave it (within reason – you don’t want to overcook the meat!), the richer and more flavourful it will be.
Serve with one ladle’s worth of gluten free pasta of choice, and garnish with extra torn basil and shaved parmesan. For a paleo or lower carb version, use the turkey mixture to stuff into roasted eggplants (see recipe below).
Those with high sensitivities to fructose should use 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, or even less if you’re unsure
Due to the concentrated form of tomato paste, some people with very high sensitivities to fructose might find it problematic in large amounts, though I’ve never had an issue with it. Use less if you’re unsure of your tolerance levels, and add more fresh and dried herbs to make up the flavour.
Turkey Bolognese Stuffed Eggplants
Please note that due to the polyol (sorbitol) content in large amounts of eggplant (“large” is defined by Monash as 2 1/4 cups), those who malabsorb polyols should either use smaller eggplants or avoid this variation until you are sure of your eggplant tolerance.
4 large eggplants to serve 8 people, or 1/2 eggplant per person.
Turkey Bolognese recipe above, minus the pasta (can be made in advance)
1 tbs coconut oil, melted
Preheat oven to 200*C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Use a fork to prick the eggplants several times. Place on prepared tray and lightly brush over with coconut oil. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until tender.
If you made the bolognese in advance, reheat however much of it you’re using (roughly 1-1.5 cups per person)
Cut the eggplants in half length-ways. Use a spoon to scoop out some of the flesh from each half, leaving a 1cm boarder. Chop the scooped out flesh. Sprinkle a little sea salt over the eggplant halves.
Mix the chopped eggplant through the heated Turkey Bolognese. Spoon mixture into the eggplant halves and sprinkle shaved parmesan (optional) over the top, if using. Return stuffed eggplants to the oven for 10 minutes, or until all heated through. Serve topped with fresh basil leaves.
Why don’t you loaf me? Tell me, baby, Why don’t you knead me?
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
I’ve fluked a few things throughout my 25 years, but baked goods have seldom been among them. I used to think I was a baker through and through, but I now realise that I was just really good at following cake recipes to an absolute T, and then making them look pretty. When I first started this blog and began developing low FODMAP loaves, muffins and cookies, I quickly realised that I was not a natural born baker. Not at all.
The Lazy Perfectionist in me (a rather detrimental internal conflict at times) can’t handle the uncertainty or the potentially wasted effort. I find myself getting all anxious and stressed when brainstorming which combinations of low FODMAP flours/meals to use, what ratios I should use them in, whether or not I’ll need to add or reduce the liquid, if it will work without the use of a gum, if it will even rise at all, if the balance of flavours is right etc,. etc., etc. The list goes on and on.
Then there’s the torturous waiting game –and far too frequent opening of the oven door as if three minutes will make all the difference– while it’s baking. Nine times out of ten, after taking it out of the oven and not letting anyone in the house try it because I can’t handle them reconfirming its shit-ness and my failure, I’m back to square one. Meanwhile an entire precious day has gone by and I go to bed feeling frustrated and defeated and I’m positive that I’ve contracted sinusitis in the last few hours, before realising it’s just all the tapioca starch I’ve inhaled. So that’s why you don’t see any fluffy low FODMAP cake recipes on here… yet.
So yeah, it’s pretty rare for me to nail a recipe like this one the first time I attempt it. But all jokes about my psycho anxieties aside, I couldn’t believe it the first time I made this Pumpkin, Feta and Chive loaf and it not only worked, but worked really, REALLY well. I was obviously ecstatic. (2018 edit: the same euphoria was definitely not felt two days ago when I spent eight hours developing the gluten free version of this recipe. I’ve finally gotten it to the identical texture and flavour of the old version that used spelt, by the way. No biggie [insert blond hair toss emoji]).
This loaf is honestly one of my favourite recipes, primarily because it’s tasty as hell but also because it’s so much more nutrient dense than regular gluten free breads and my belly is always happy after eating it. I often omit the feta from my everyday loaf but will always use it if I’m trying to impress people which, if I’m being honest with myself, is often. It’s got a hearty, dense texture and the combination of the chives, rosemary, feta and buttery pumpkin makes it SO flavourful and morish. It’s great as a snack just on its own, or with a generous spread of nut butter or avocado. Toast it and slather with organic salted butter for THE most perfect soup accompaniment.
3 large free range eggs (approx. 55g each), organic if possible, lightly beaten
30g chives, chopped
150g Danish feta(omit for dairy free option)
¼ cup (50g) coconut oil, melted
1 tbs (20g) pure maple syrup
3 tbs (15g) psyllium (see FODMAP notes below)
2 tsp (6g) baking powder (no added aluminium)
1 tsp (3g) baking soda (aluminium free)
2 tsp (2g) ground sweet paprika
½ tsp (3g) sea salt
For topping: leaves of 2 fresh rosemary sprigs and a small handful of pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Preheat oven to 180*C and line a full sized loaf tin with baking paper. My tin is approximately 29cm x 10.5cm.
Mash the steamed pumpkin until smooth. Set aside to cool (this can also be done the night before to save time later).
Place the rice flour and tapioca starch in a tightly sealed container, and shake vigorously to combine thoroughly.
In a large bowl, combine the flours, LSA, baking powder, baking soda, paprika, psyllium and salt.
In a separate bowl, combine the beaten eggs, melted coconut oil, chives and maple syrup. Add to the dry mixture.
Weigh 230g (1 cup) of mashed pumpkin and gently fold it through until well combined.
Crumble most of the feta into chunks (reserving some for the topping), and fold through the dough very gently, taking care not to over-mix as you’ll break the feta up too much. The loaf will be best if it has chunky pops of feta throughout it!
Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared loaf tin and use the back of the spoon to smooth the top. Top with remaining chunks of feta, rosemary, and pepitas. Press the feta and pepitas into the dough very lightly with your fingertips to ensure they stick.
Place on the middle oven rack and bake for 45 mins to one hour, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out semi-dry (damp crumbs are fine but you don’t want wet batter). I like to check on the loaf at the 45 minute mark and go from there. Cooking times may vary depending on your oven and loaf tin. If the toppings start to burn at any point, simply cover with some aluminium foil.
Remove from oven and allow to sit for half an hour before removing from the tin and placing on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days (after three days it will start to dry out and will be better toasted), or slice it up and freeze for up to one month.
Info for the irritable:
Although LSA contains high amounts of galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) when consumed in very large amounts, the FODMAP contribution from LSA in this recipe is considered to be very low when no more than two slices are consumed in a sitting
Psyllium is usually beneficial for people with fructose malabsorption and IBS, however due to its soluble fibre content it might not be great for everyone. If you’re unsure, leave it out and remove 1tbs of coconut oil. You may need to increase the cooking time since psyllium absorbs a lot of moisture.
To make this recipe grain free, you could try substituting the brown rice flour for buckwheat flour (it’s technically a seed not a grain), although I cannot vouch for this as I haven’t tried it yet. If you do or do not have success with this variation, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Growing up, Anzac biccies made by my Great-Aunty Joyce were my absolute fave.
I’d take three of those gems at a time and submerge them in a huge glass of milk (just long enough for the two to get acquainted, but not quite long enough for the biccie to go soggy), then suck the milk out of them before allowing the buttery, golden syrupy goodness to melt in my mouth.
I adapted this recipe from the lovely Sarah Wilkinson’sI Quit Sugar (IQS) website. These Anzac biccies are totally fructose free (yay!), calling for rice malt syrup instead of golden syrup or sugar, and they even taste like they’ve got golden syrup in them! Sarah’s recipe uses plain gluten free flour, but since gluten-free flour is quite refined, I replaced it with wholemeal spelt. I had to keep some Anzac tradition, so I’ve used butter in all its full-fat, dairy glory. I did consider trying a mix of coconut oil and macadamia oil instead, because I try to consume butter in small amounts, but I can’t see how a true Anzac biscuit could achieve that golden hue and distinct buttery flavour without, well, butter. You’re welcome to replace the butter with said oils, but I doubt you’d get that traditional ‘Anzac’ quality. Just to boost their yum-factor, these Anzacs have been jazzed up with macadamias. I also chopped up one of the many Loving Earth Luvju chocolates that I had left over from Easter last weekend*, and pressed chunks of it into half of the biscuits before I baked them (I used the Coconut Mylk flavour, which is sweetened with coconut nectar and thus contains a little fructose). Of course, the chocolate is optional, but isn’t it always? Chocolate or no chocolate, hmmm…
GIMME DAT CHOCOLATE!
These Anzacs aren’t quite as lip-smacking as Aunty Joyce’s, but they’re pretty darn good.
*By “leftover from Easter last weekend”, I’m not implying that I have lots of chocolate left over because I didn’t eat that much of it over Easter, although I wish this were the case. Rather, I mean that I totally overdosed on Haigh’s eggs, Kinder Surprises, Marvellous Creations, my Aunty Kate’s pav, the rocky road brownie slice I made “just for my family” (not me, of course!) and every other processed-crap-filled-thing I could get my hands on. So, the Loving Earth Luvjus are left over because last Sunday I told myself that ‘naughty’ chocolate was for Easter, and healthy chocolate was for later. Logic? There is none. Blame it on my chocolate-baby brain.
IQS-Inspired Macadamia ANZAC Biccies
Dietary Info: Contains gluten (oats & spelt), dairy (butter) and nuts (macadamias). Fructose friendly/free (fructose free unless you use chocolate), low FODMAP (contains some FODMAPs: dried coconut & spelt flour), refined-sugar free. Ingredients
125g unsalted butter (organic if possible)
1/2 cup rice malt syrup (I use Pureharvest brand)
pinch Himalayan sea salt
1.5 tsp bicarb-soda
2 tbs boiling water
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cups unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 cup wholemeal spelt flour
2/3 cup macadamias, roughly chopped
Optional: raw chocolate chopped into small chunks, such as Loving Earth Coconut Mylk Luvju
Preheat oven to 150’C and line 2 large trays with baking paper.
Melt the butter and rice malt syrup in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until it begins to bubble. Remove from heat and add a pinch of salt. If you’re like me and froth over butter-sugar combos (like creamed butter and brown sugar while making a cake, oh my!), then this is the time to dip your pinky in and taste it. Don’t do what I did and wait until you’ve added the baking soda in the next step – it’s foul.
Combine the bicarb-soda with the boiling water and add to the butter mixture.
In another bowl, combine the oats, spelt flour, coconut and macadamias. Pour in the butter mixture and combine well.
Take heaped teaspoons of the dough, roll into balls and place on the lined trays. Flatten slightly into a disk. Repeat until you have distributed amongst the 2 trays, leaving space in between each for spreading (and believe me, they spread!) The dough should make about 20 biscuits, unless you eat a gigantic handful of the raw dough like I did, in which case you’ll only end up with about 12. Oops.
If using chocolate, press chunks into however many biscuits you wish.
Place trays in the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden. The top tray might be ready a few minutes before the bottom – if this happens, remove the top tray and move the bottom tray into its spot.
Like all good cookies, the biscuits will be very soft until they cool down. They should be slightly crunchy on the very outside and chewy in the middle. Allow to sit on trays for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Now grab yourself a glass of nut milk, and dunk away.
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
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.
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.
This recipe is great on its own, but I’ll sometimes mix it up and add frozen blueberries, raspberries or dark choc chips.
5 (560g)* medium overripe bananas, mashed, plus one 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
220g buckwheat flour
½ cup (30g) unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
¾ cup (80g) pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped, plus extra for topping
5 tbs (50g) chia seeds
1 tsp baking powder (no aluminium added)
2 tsp baking soda (aluminium free)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cardamom
2 generous pinches Himalayan sea salt
Preheat oven to 160*C and line a loaf tin with baking paper. My tin is approximately 29cm x 11cm.
Mash the banana in a large bowl, then add the beaten eggs, coconut oil, vanilla extract and maple syrup.
In another bowl, combine the buckwheat flour, shredded coconut, chia seeds, chopped nuts, spices and salt. Sift in the baking soda and baking powder to ensure no lumps. 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.
Pour the batter evenly into the prepared loaf tin and smooth with the back of a spoon. Top with halved banana, pecans, and a little drizzle of maple syrup. Place on the middle oven rack and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with moist crumbs on it. Don’t wait until the skewer comes out completely clean because the loaf will be too dry. 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.
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.
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
*Overripe bananas contain excess fructose. Half a medium ripe banana (approx. 56g) is considered safe in terms of fructose content. When this loaf is topped with the extra banana and divided into 12 slices, each slice coincidentally contains 56g of banana, and is thus considered low in fructose. If you’re highly sensitive to fructose, use 4 bananas (450g) instead and reduce the chia seeds to 4 tbs (40g).
The polyol content from the dried coconut is considered low and safe when one slice is adhered to.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Crunchy Chocolate Granola
Makes x 10 ¾ cup servings
FODMAP friendly serving size: ¾ cup (approx. 80g)
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
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
Preheat oven to 160*C and grease a large baking tray with coconut oil
In a large bowl, combine all “muesli mixture” ingredients, except the shredded coconut
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.
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.
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.
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.
A million different ingredients. 3 different mixtures to be made. One processor. Go!
Measure all ingredients. Take first lot. Sift these, melt those. Process together. Taste and adjust. Freeze for 2 hours. Clean processor. Process next batch of ingredients. Taste and adjust. Pour onto first frozen layer. Freeze for half an hour. Clean processor. Melt some of this, mash some of that. Process. Taste. Pour over the second frozen layer and freeze. Clean processor and the rest of your bomb-site kitchen.
It’s no secret that I like to make things out of food. In My Ideal World, I’d happily spend entire days floating around the kitchen, cooking, creating, decorating. And eating.
Still, even I can admit that making healthy desserts and clean sweet treats can be pretty bloody arduous and time-consuming. So much so that I often just don’t bother with them unless I’m recipe testing or making something for an occasion. Complicated and meticulously presented desserts, whether healthy or not, take patience, time and an excessive willingness to clean the same gadgets over and over. So, while I love my intricately layered sweet treats in all their pretty glory, sometimes the fuss-free uglies are way more appealing than their photo-worthy counterparts. How do Cadbury describe their Picnic bars again? Deliciously Ugly? Nearly all the best tasting recipes are…
So here’s a recipe that looks like a chocolate bar, smells like a chocolate bar, gives you that sugar fix like a chocolate bar, and, yep, tastes like a chocolate bar. EXCEPT it’ll only take you 5 minutes to make, and while your taste buds are fooled into thinking you’re eating a chocolate bar, your insides with be thanking you for impregnating it with healthful fats, powerful antioxidants, wholegrains, fiber, iron, selenium (helps to reduce the risk of common diseases), manganese (helps the body to synthesize fats and benefits nervous system function), copper (support for brain function), Vitamin-E and a range of Vitamin-B complexes.
Please don’t be afraid to use your imagination with this one. The recipe is super basic, and it would be pretty hard to go wrong. You can experiment with different nut butters and add puffed quinoa or buckinis for texture and crunch. A chocolate ‘ganache’ made of coconut oil (or a little organic butter if you eat dairy), cacao, stevia and a little maple syrup would be scrumptioua on top, too!
Chewy Choc Nutter Bars
Makes 10 bars or 20 bite-sized squares. Dietary info:gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, vegan, fructose-friendly, low FODMAP, refined-sugar free. Contains grains and peanuts.
2.5 cups brown rice crispies (not “puffed brown rice” as they go soggy!)
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
3/4 cup crunchy natural peanut butter
3.5-4 tbs raw cacao powder
4 tbs coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
seeds from 1 vanilla bean, or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
7 drops liquid stevia
Pinch Himalayan sea salt
Line a square slice tin with baking paper.
In a mixing bowl, combine the puffed brown rice and shredded coconut.
In a separate bowl, combine the peanut butter, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, stevia, vanilla, cacao powder and salt.
Pour the chocolate mixture over the dry mixture. Stir gently until the rice puffs and coconut are coated evenly and everything sticks together.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and press down firmly, ensuring that the slice is tightly compacted. Set in the freezer for 1 hour. Use a sharp knife to cut slab into desired sizes. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to eat it. I prefer it kept in the freezer as it stays firmer and goes chewier. If kept correctly, I’m assuming that the slice would last weeks in the freezer, though I put emphasis on ‘assuming’ because these things never last more than a few days in my household.
The peanut butter can be substituted with any other textured nut butter: almond, brazil, ABC etc.
Instead of eating as a ‘slice’, you can roll the mixture into ping pong-sized balls and wrap in glad wrap before freezing to make a portioned and guilt free snack, ready to grab when you’re on the go and sugar cravings strike!
WARNING: do NOT pick your nose within 12 hours of trying this recipe. You’ll regret it. And don’t let curiosity do you in now that I’ve warned you, either. I’ve already told you, you’ll regret it.
I’m feeling seriously proud right now, like pride-bordering-on-undiluted-arrogance proud. I’ve recreated one of my favourite dishes of all time, one which I thought I’d never be able to eat again, and I’ve made it FODMAP friendly. Oh, curry laksa…
According to Wikipedia, laksa is a spicy noodle soup which comes from the Peranakan culture, a fusion of Chinese and Malay elements found in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Curry laksa (or just ‘laksa’, as we know it) uses coconut milk in addition to stock to give it a beautiful curry-like richness. Before I became as health-conscious as I am today, I was a regular at the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, where a lovely Malay man makes the best laksa in the world (huge call, I know, but I’ve never had better). That little man’s aromatic bowl of laksa heaven is still one of the most mouthgasm-inducing things I’ve ever experienced. I’m seriously salivating just thinking about it as I write this, and I only just ate lunch. These days, I steer clear of laksa and store-bought laksa pastes for a few reasons:
Fact: all laksas are full of onion and garlic. Brown/Spanish (purple) onion and garlic are two of the main components of any curry paste, especially laksa paste. The abundance of onion in these pastes makes them totally intolerable for people with fructose malabsorption. In addition, the curry soup typically contains stock, and nearly all stocks are made with onion and garlic.
Restaurant and hawker-style laksas often contain substantial amount of added sugar.
Traditional laksas served at restaurants are covered in fried shallots, which are both unhealthy and high FODMAP.
Store-bought laksa pastes are full of nutritionless crap: refined sugar, vegetable oil and/or palm oil, salt, artificial flavours, preservatives, thickeners, stabilisers, and other nasty fillers.
Healthifying and low FODMAP-ifying (how’s that for good English?) curry laksa was easier, but more time consuming than I expected. It was a fun challenge swapping typical ingredients for healthier and “safe” ones, but I found myself in the kitchen for many more hours than I care to admit. Don’t let that put you off though; writing recipes is a far more arduous task than following them, especially when you’re the world’s biggest procrastinator, re-thinking every milligram and milliliter of each ingredient, wondering if and how each element will work and at which point it should be added. It’ll take you a quarter of the time it took me.
The key to getting Asian flavours right is finding the perfect balance between its three distinct taste components: spicy (mostly chilli), sweet (usually palm sugar or brown sugar) and salty (fish sauce and salt). You need sweetness to soften the blow of that spice, and salt to enhance the flavour of each ingredient. Too much or too little of any one component and you’ve got a disaster. To create a healthy, low FODMAP version of curry laksa soup, I used spring onion (the green part) instead of regular onion to form the base of my paste, and garlic-infused olive oil to replace both the vegetable oil and fresh garlic that all traditional laksas call for. I used a little coconut sugar instead of brown sugar to get the sweetness balance right, and added lots of vibrant veggies to up the nutritional value of the meal. Admittedly, I did use a little fish sauce –which contains added sugar and salt– because it’s hard to achieve an authentic quality without it. In the scheme of the recipe, the amount used is minuscule, so that’s how I justify its use. Always opt for good quality fish sauce with as least sugar as possible.
The recipe does call for rice noodles, and while I rarely eat refined rice products, I’m willing to make an exception in the name of Curry Laksa. Don’t get me wrong, rice noodles aren’t at all terrible for you, but they’re just not particularly good for your health, either. They’re one of those “empty” calorie foods, meaning they don’t provide anywhere near the amount of nutritional value as they do calories. The great thing about rice noodles (such as vermicelli or pad thai noodles) is that a little goes a long way. Unlike traditional laksas which are comprised primarily of noodles (either rice or egg noodles), you only need a very small portion of noodles in my recipe because it’s so packed with other nutrient-dense foods which will fill your belly up. Remember that balance is everything when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle; moderation is key. So when you do really want rice noodles, have them! Just don’t make them the main component of your meal. Pack your dish with veggies and quality protein, and you’ll find yourself only needing a tiny amount of the not-so-good stuff.
In terms of cost, the below looks like a hell of a lot of ingredients. I already had most of the items at home, such as the spices, coconut milk, coconut sugar, cashews and fresh ginger, because they’re staple ingredients in my kitchen. My family and I recently started a big veggie patch, so I was super excited to use our own homegrown –and as organic as it gets– cucumber, beans, spring onion, coriander and mint for this recipe. Needless to say, a mega expensive Woolies trip wasn’t necessary.
If you don’t have at least half of the below items at home, you could be looking at one nasty supermarket receipt. So, while I highly recommend using all the below ingredients to achieve beautiful depth of flavour and a laksa that actually tastes like laksa (not to mention the nutritional benefits the ingredients deliver), you might need to cater the shopping list to your budget. If there’s one thing you buy, it should be the spices. Spices are my secret weapon – I never make a meal without them. Not only do they contain potent antioxidants and cancer-fighting properties, packing a variety of spices into your meals will give your skin a radiance no moisturiser can buy, and you’ll notice your immune system picking up. What’s more, one $3 jar will last you from months to even years, so an A-Z range of spices is a totally justifiable investment. Another recommendation I can make is growing your own fresh herbs. You don’t need a large veggie patch or even a garden bed to grow them. All you need is a few pots, soil and an area that is well sun-lit. It’s cheaper than buying a bunch of herbs every time you need them, and there’s something so gratifying about making meals out of your own organically grown produce. Not to mention they taste better!
My Low FODMAP Laksa Paste (makes approx 1.5 cups)
1 large bunch spring onion (green part only), chopped
2 tbs chopped FRESH ginger
2 fresh lemongrass stalks, chopped (only use the bottom thirds – that’s where all the flavour is!)
2 birds eye chillies (birds eye chillies are the small ones and they’re HOT. If you prefer milder dishes, only use one)
1/3 cup cashews (if you’re particularly sensitive to cashews, use peanuts instead)
Roots from 1 bunch coriander, chopped (reserve leaves for serving laksa)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 tsp shrimp paste (READ the ingredients! The more shrimp, the better. I used ‘Trachang’ brand from Woolies)**
1.5 tsp each ground turmeric, ground coriander & ground cumin
1/2 tsp each ground cardamom & sweet paprika
1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt
2 tbs garlic-infused EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil), plus extra
Add all ingredients to a high-powered food processor. Blend until a paste forms, scraping the sides of the bowl down with a spatula as needed. If the mixture is not coming together properly, add tiny amounts of garlic-infused EVOO until a paste forms. Transfer to a jar or small airtight container and cover with 2 tbs EVOO to seal in flavour. Store in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze for a few months.
1 cup of my low FODMAP laksa paste (if you’re using a pre-made laksa paste, you’ll probably still need 1 cup)
300g rice noodles (I used pad thai stick noodles because I love the width and texture. You could also use rice vermicelli)
2x 400g cans coconut milk (I use organic and full fat)
1L chicken stock*
600g green (uncooked) prawns, tails left on**
1.2kg skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2cm chunks**
2 punnets (400g) cherry tomatoes, halved
350g green beans, ends chopped
1 very large capsicum, or 2 small, sliced into strips
juice of 1 lime
2 tbs coconut sugar
1/8 cup fish sauce (a variety that’s low in added sugar & salt, if possible)**
1 large handful fresh coriander leaves, to serve
1 large handful fresh mint leaves, to serve
1 cucumber, sliced into thin sticks, to serve
2 cups bean sprouts, to serve coconut oil
Place the noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes or until the noodles are cooked. Drain and set aside.
Heat a little coconut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Fry the paste for 5 minutes, or until it becomes fragrant.
Add the coconut sugar and fish sauce. Fry for 5 minutes.
Add the coconut milk and stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Season with lime juice.
Add the chicken, capsicum and tomatoes. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is almost cooked through.
Add the prawns and beans, and cook for 3 minutes or until the prawns are just opaque and the beans are slightly tender but still crisp. Remove from heat. The prawns will continue to cook in the heat of the soup.
Divide noodles among bowls. Use a slotted spoon to retrieve chicken, prawns and vegetables from the soup and divide evenly among bowls. Spoon desired amount of soup over the top. Serve with fresh cucumber sticks, coriander, bean sprouts and mint.
Unless I’m making my own onion-free stock, I always use Massel’s chicken or beef stock cubes. They’re the only onion and garlic free stock I’ve come across, and although they’re not totally clean, they used in sparing amounts and they sure make life easier for those with sensitivities to onion and garlic. The packet recommends that you use one stock cube for each cup of water, but I like to roughly halve this to minimise the sodium levels, depending on what I’m making. I believe the Massel’s vegetable cubes still contain garlic, hence why I only use chicken or beef.
** For a vegetarian or vegan version, simply omit the shrimp paste from the paste recipe, and omit the prawns, chicken, chicken stock and fish sauce from the soup. Use organic firm tofu (you may want to cook it first, then add it for a few mins toward the end to soak up flavours), vegetable stock and season with Himalayan sea salt to make up for the fish sauce.
I first posted this recipe well over two years ago, and the truth is that I’ve never been totally thrilled with it. It was always just “alright” (seconded by my family), and I’ve been too butt-lazy to improve it. Until last weekend, that is, when I had a sudden craving for sweet potato choccie brownies. As it turns out, all the recipe needed was zero banana to get rid of the too-wet-issue, a little coconut flour (I was too scared to use it a few years ago) to mop up any excess moisture and a bit more cacao. Easy peasy.
Even some of the most culinarily curious people screw up their noses and purse their lips when they hear “sweet potato chocolate brownies”, so I was really nervous when I took the brownies to work for colleagues to try the other day. The nerves quickly subsided when one of my young male colleagues took a bite and excitedly pronounced, “that shit is off its d***!”
Boo yah. Success!
This recipe calls for mashed sweet potato, but please don’t be mistaken: I learnt the hard way that not all sweet-taty-is created equal, especially when it’s going into a brownie. The first time I attempted these brownies circa 2013, I couldn’t be bothered waiting for the potato to roast, so I boiled the bejeezuz out of it until it was mashable. The flavour of the brownies was great, but the texture was more sad, soggy cake than fudgey brownie, and the only people who enjoy soggy cake are trifle fans. I am not a trifle fan.
Moral of that little ramble? ROAST YOUR SWEET POTATO!!!
Now, as content as I am with this recipe, please don’t expect these brownies to resemble your mum’s best chocolate brownie recipe too closely. After all, it’s the combination of brown sugar, butter and processed flour that gives brownies their characteristic chewy outer crust and fudgey centre, so if you remind yourself that this recipe is a wholesome and far healthier version, I’m sure you’ll love it.
Fudgey Sweet Potato Chocolate Brownies
Gluten free, grain free, Paleo, low fructose.
Contains egg and a small amount of FODMAPs (almond meal & coconut flour)
Makes 16 squares, or 8 bars (let’s be honest – you’ll eat two squares at a time anyway).
3 tbs dark choc chips (optional – they add a little refined sugar)
Preheat the oven to 200*C. Wash and dry the sweet potato. Prick all over with a knife, place on a lined baking tray lined and roast until very tender, approximately one hour. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 185*C.
Cut a slit down the length of the sweet potato and scoop out 370g of flesh (try to not get any skin). In a large bowl, mash the sweet potato until no large lumps are left. Set aside to cool for half an hour.
Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper. In a bowl, combine the eggs, oil, maple syrup, nut butter and vanilla and whisk until fully combined. Add to the mashed sweet potato and whisk vigorously until the mixture is as lump-free as possible.
In another bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (except the choc chips, if using).
Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, folding gently until fully combined.
Pour the batter into prepared tin and smooth the top over with the back of your spoon. Scatter over the choc chips, if using.
Bake in the oven for 35-40 mins, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean, but not totally dry as you want the brownies to be fudgey.
Allow to stand for 15 minutes before removing from the tray and cutting into desired portions.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days.
I know I’m not alone in the food blogosphere when I look at old posts from what feels like a previous life, and cringe at every single photo and every second word I once put out there. I try to remind myself that nearly every food blogger who started in the days when it was totally acceptable to feature iPhone photos on websites and professional DSLR-captured photos were pretty much exclusive to print magazines and cookbooks, has been there. Still, telling myself this doesn’t make me want to bury myself in a deep, dark hole any less when I revisit my blog after a ridiculously long hiatus (AKA a quarter life “WTF am I going to do with my life?!” crisis) and rediscover posts like this one.
Last week I discovered that this recipe hadn’t been touched in over four years. If I could travel back in time, I’d smack the iPhone 4 out of my hand and beg myself not to use rainbow light beam filters. But I obviously can’t do that, so I’ve re-photographed the salad and deleted approximately 2,000 flimsy words. Thankfully, the actual recipe is solid and I’ve been making it on a near-weekly basis for years, which is more than I can say for a few other questionable recipes that were posted before I realised that anyone was actually reading my ramblings on here.
CYA in 10 years when I’ve finished re-photographing the remaining 59 recipes…
½ large Jap pumpkin, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks
1 medium sweet potato or ½ large, washed, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks (see FODMAP notes below)
2 cups tri-coloured quinoa, rinsed thoroughly*
4 cups water
3 large handfuls baby spinach
1 bunch fresh chives, chopped
½ cup fresh coriander leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme (always fragrant but not essential)
10 slices pickled beetroot (see FODMAP notes below)
¼ cup flaked or slivered almonds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 ½ tsp ground coriander
3 tsp garam masala
½ tsp sweet paprika
½ cup Danish or Persian Feta, crumbled
Juice of ½ lemon
EVOO or melted coconut oil
Preheat oven to 200*C and line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Combine the ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika and garam masala in a small bowl. Set aside.
Place the almonds on the prepared tray and place in the oven for 2 minutes or until toasted and golden. Keep a close eye on them after the 1 minute mark – the suckers can go from raw to charcoal real quick. Remove from oven, place in a small bowl, and set aside. Reuse the paper if possible.
Place pumpkin and sweet potato in a large mixing bowl and use your hands to coat the veg with ½ tbs oil (preferably coconut).
Arrange the pumpkin and sweet potato on the lined baking tray and sprinkle with half the spice mix and sea salt. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until tender and golden. Cooking times will vary from oven to oven.
While the veg is roasting, place the quinoa, water, thyme sprigs (if using), remaining spice mix and a generous sprinkle of sea salt in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to simmer, cover and leave for 15 minutes or until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid. The quinoa is ready when its germ (the little white ring around the outer edge) is exposed. Remove from heat, remove thyme sprigs, fluff with a fork, and set aside.
In a large salad bowl, toss the quinoa, baby spinach, chives, coriander, lemon juice, and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Top with the roasted veg, pickled beetroot, feta and roasted almonds. Finish with an extra drizzle of EVOO, a squeeze of lemon juice, coriander and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.
*Quinoa has a natural chemical called saponin, which can be bitter to taste when quinoa is not rinsed thoroughly prior to cooking.
Sweet potato contains moderate amounts of mannitol, so large amounts can be troublesome for people with polyol sensitivities. Once divided into servings, this recipe calls for even less than the “safe” recommendation, so most people with IBS or fructose malabsorption should be fine. If you’re unsure of your tolerance level, simply omit and use more pumpkin instead. I’ve personally always been able to tolerate large amounts of sweet potato.
According to Monash University, up to ½ cup pickled beetroot is considered safe for those with Fructose malabsorption and IBS, however I still like to moderate it because it can be quite high in sugar and therefore not great for you or your gut microbes in large amounts 🙂