I’m just gonna dive right into this post and say that if you love peanut butter and the magical marriage of kinda sweet, kinda salty, then you absolutely must try this recipe. This is my take on Ace’s Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls, which I’d been spending far too much money on at the F.O.G store in Richmond (not because they’re stupidly expensive, but because I’d buy several of them several times weekly) before I decided to make my own version.
I’m racking my brain for something creative to write here, but with two group assignments (kill me) looming and three weeks worth of lectures to catch up on, I think my mental efforts best be redirected. So all I’ll say is that these balls are a cheap, no bake, vegan, one bowl, ready-in-moments and virtually mess free job (unless you’re a total klutz like me and trip over absolutely nothing, spilling a kilo of coconut flour on the floor).
Oh and I’ll make and hand deliver a quadruple batch (and throw a few bear hugs and kisses in) for whoever offers to write one of my assignments for me, preferably the “evaluation of statistical analysis on taste receptor gene studies” one (like I said, kill me).
1 cup (235g) natural unsalted crunchy peanut butter
5 tbs (38g) chia seeds
4tbs pure maple syrup or coconut nectar
3 tbs activated buckinis
Generous pinch fine sea salt
For rolling: ground cinnamon, fine sea salt and coconut sugar
Place chia seeds into a coffee grinder or blender and pulse until a flour-like consistency forms
Combine the chia four, PB, maple, buckinis and salt in a bowl with a wooden spoon, then mix with your hands if needed, ensuring all the ingredients are incorporated evenly. Keep stirring until the chia flour has absorbed most of the moisture and a dough-like consistency forms.
In a small bowl, combine 1 tbs coconut sugar, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, and a pinch of salt
Divide dough into 10 even portions, then roll into balls with your palms. Lightly roll each ball in cinnamon sugar mixture to coat, then place on a lined tray and allow to set in the freezer for one hour. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for softer balls, or in the freezer for firmer balls. I prefer them firm (trying really hard not to giggle here, real mature I know).
Info for the irritable
Peanut butter is 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 thus be tolerated by people with IBS or fructose malabsorption. One of these balls contains 23.5g of PB.
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…
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.
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.
3 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 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
Preheat the oven to 180*C. Line a small square cake tin (20cm x 20cm) with parchment paper.
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.
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.
Lightly flour a clean bench space or a kneading mat with a little spelt flour. Knead the dough for 7 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
FINNNNNNNNALLY, A low fructose cold pressed juice cleanse!
Ok, I’ll admit it: until four weeks ago, I’d never done a juice cleanse before. I’ve been guzzling cold pressed juices for over three years now, and I even worked at a Melbourne cold pressed juice store famous for its cleanses enjoyed by popular Australian sportspeople, celebrities, models and social(media)ites, yet not once during my 9 months of juice-hustlin’ did I practice what I was preaching. Although it wasn’t by choice – I so badly wanted to explore this avant-garde world of juice fasting, but I couldn’t find any programs that were suitable for my temperamental, fructose malabsorbing gut. Fast-forward two years later, when KARMIC Cold Pressed, home of Melbourne’s first (to my knowledge) low fructose juice cleanses, got on my radar. I couldn’t get my mitts on one of their cleanses quick enough!
KARMIC offer five different cleanse programs, and you can choose to cleanse for either two, three, four or six days. I decided to do the ‘Yin Yang’ cleanse (the second most intense cleanse) for four days and I LOVED it. The only thing I didn’t like about my cleanse was my own timing of it; Note to self: mid-silly season, AKA when all your friends are out eating and drinking as though as apocalypse is about to strike, is not a smart idea. It would have been far wiser to do it post-silly season. Still, I managed to stick it out and boyyyyy oh boy did I reap the rewards….
Being the serial snacker that I am, the thought of consuming nothing but juice for four whole days scared the shit out of me. The idea of being hungry wasn’t the issue, as I knew the hunger pangs would subside after the first day (‘hunger’ pangs are actually just a withdrawal symptom from food, and signify that your blood and body are actually beginning to detox – your body is not actually hungry!). What worried me was the idea of not having my emotional buffer and void filler to turn to. Like many people, my response to anything and everything has always been to eat food. Happy? Food. A little down? Food. Excited/anxious? Food. Bored? Food. Drunk? FOODFOODFOODFOODFOOD.
So yes, considering how psycho-emotional eating is for me, the first day was mentally and physically testing. However by the second day, the ‘hungry’ feeling subsided as expected, and my my food-related thoughts started to lessen. By the third day, I wasn’t thinking about food unless it was in plain view, and it was so nice to not be obsessing over what I was going to eat next, counting down the minutes until my next meal. It sounds lame, but I found myself living far more in the present, reflecting on situations objectively and taking moments in, as opposed to reaching for a snack to distract myself each time I felt a little bit bored, anxious or unsure. I wasn’t relying on food to (temporarily) quell uncomfortable thoughts, and I started to feel more in control over my diet and, as a result, my life in general (which is nice because my life is chaotic. Wonderful and beautiful, but chaotic nonetheless).
I also had total clarity of thought by my third day of juicing, as opposed to sporadic ‘cloudy’ moments throughout the day, especially post-3pm. By the end of the cleanse, I was falling asleep quicker and staying asleep longer, and my stomach was visibly leaner (smell ya later, undesirable bump under my belly button!), as bloating and water retention eased off. I’m already blessed with very clear skin (probably also thanks to my water intake and mostly-clean diet ), so I didn’t notice much difference there, however the whites of my eyes became super bright and my tongue began to take on that picture-of-health-glossy-all-over-deep-pink that naturopaths rave about (an indication of a happy gut and liver!).
So, although I experienced many benefits from the four-day cleanse, the two most profound differences I discovered were:
1. I became TOTALLY in CONTROL of my snacking habits for the first time in over a year (no joke). It’s been a month since I finished the cleanse, and I’m still snacking far less (and not thinking about snacking anywhere near as much) and have definitely lost much of the extra ‘pudge’ around my belly, inner thighs and back of the arms that I was carrying due to mindless snacking. #winning 2. I’ve been digesting food with much more ease since the cleanse. I’m not saying that the cleanse has cured my fructose issues –although I do believe it has helped– because I was making huge progress all year, but I was starting to overload my digestive system with unnecessarily large portions and suffering for it, when I hadn’t been experiencing tummy upsets in months. Since the cleanse, my tummy has been much happier and back to where it was 4 months ago before I starting pigging out, and I attribute this to the fact that my digestive system was allowed to rest and restore for four whole days during the cleanse. To paint a dandy picture, I had my first WHOLE serving of plum pudding in 3 years at Christmas, not to mention wine, cranberry sauce, fig paste and a mountain of other fructose-filled trimmings and treats throughout the day, and didn’t have a single tummy upset! I’M BACK! #doublewinning
“Should I do a juice cleanse?”
Like any type of cleanse or detox, you need to have a reason and motivation/incentive for doing it, and please don’t let it be “to lose weight”, because it just doesn’t work like that. A quick google search will reveal all the physical and mental benefits of juice fasting, so I won’t repeat it all here or go into how it works (here’s a good brief but informative article), but I genuinely believe you may benefit from a juice cleanse if you:
Want to be more in control of your eating habits
Struggle to break away from emotional eating
Obsess over what you’re going to eat next and constantly think about food
Feel sluggish, fatigued, unfocused, or just a bit “off” in general
Regularly suffer from rashes, headaches, general aches and pains and bloating/cramping/gas.
Have been indulging in an overload of rich foods and alcohol and need to give your liver a rest and detox
Suffer from a food intolerance/malabsorption and haven’t been making progress lately (or if it’s gotten worse!). Your gut needs to rest and repair!
Are suffering from an injury – your body will be flooded with super nutrition and the energy your body usually spends digesting food can be better spent on healing damaged cells
Have issues ‘switching off’ and getting to sleep/staying asleep
First and foremost, I chose KARMIC Cold Pressed because their juices are very low in fructose. Not only does this make them suitable for people like myself with fructose malabsorption, but it also ensures that you’re not flooding your body with unhealthy amounts sugar. Many other cold pressed cleansing companies offer juices outrageously high in sugar which totally defeats the purpose of cleansing and hinders the detoxification process!
I also LOVE the fact that there is over 8kg of raw, unadulterated vegetables in every KARMIC Cold Pressed Juice two-Day Cleanse, meaning that there was 16kg of veg in my four-day cleanse. The juices are also 100% cold pressed, thus delivering the purest form of raw nutrients, minerals and living enzymes to promote the body’s natural detoxification and recovery process. Last but not least, the customer service was second to none – the guys at KARMIC ooze integrity and passion and are delightful to deal with. They’ll happily answer any queries or concerns you may have about cleansing if it’s your first time, as it was mine!
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
“While distance makes the heart grow fonder, resistance makes the taste buds wonder” – Me, 2018 (enlightening, I know)
There’s only one confectionery I love as much as Kinder chocolate, and that’s Twix bars. There’s something about the combination of the shortbread biscuit base, gooey caramel filling and creamy chocolate blanket that’s just so mouthgasmic, it leaves me making noises that no one should ever make in public, let alone whilst eating. I’ve always gone nuts over anything Twix. Twix Pods, Twix ice cream, Twix slice… you name it and I’ve salivated over it. And don’t even get me started on Twix cheesecake. I used my boyfriend’s birthday last year as an excuse to make one, and ended up eating three quarters of the bloody thing over two days.
I’d also go so far as to say that Mars’ release of Twix Ice-cream Bars was to blame for five out of the six kilos I gained during my first European Summer in 2014. The daily habit was justified by the fact that they were only 1€ ($1.50) a pop, a welcomed revelation for my broke backpacking ass, and “I’ve got one life, BITCHES!”
Let’s just say that nourishing my bod wasn’t exactly at the forefront of my mind that trip.
Aside from the aforementioned four-month-long health hiatus and treats here and there, I’ve become pretty disciplined with my consumption of full-of-total-crapola fare since becoming a so-called adult. Full disclosure: I still receive a giant Kinder Surprise each year from the Easter Bunny. Still, it’s true that distance makes the heart grow fonder, and resistance makes the taste buds wonder (that line is a 2018 edit and I’d I’m ridiculously smug rn, by the way), and so Twix is never too far from my fantasies…
I’d always wanted to create a healthy and FODMAP friendly Twix slice, but put it in the too-hard basket because I couldn’t think of how to make a healthy and tasty caramel filling without using a bunch of dates. To my delight, I came across the fabulous blog, Blissful Basil by Ashley Melillo, and her discovery of the incredibly caramely combination of almond butter, pure maple syrup and coconut oil. It changed my life, and if you’re not too sensitive to almonds it will change yours too.
This mega decadent Twix Cookie Slice recipe is my gluten free, vegan and fructose friendly spin on Twix bars, Mars’ best invention ever. Although the caramel mainly consists almond butter which is high in fructans when consumed in large amounts, I have made sure that each serving of this slice contains even less almond butter than is deemed “safe” by Monash University, and I’ve kept the overall FODMAP load low. In other words, this recipe is FODMAP friendly if the recommended serving size is adhered to. Please see notes below the recipe for specific recommendations.
FODMAP friendly serving size:1 bar or 1-2 squares (see notes below)
Vanilla Shortbread Biscuit Base:
1 ¾ cups (210g) brown rice flour
1 cup (97g) tapioca starch
½ cup (100g) melted coconut oil
⅓ cup (100g) pure maple syrup
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Almond ‘Caramel’ Filling:
1 cup (250g) unsalted 100% almond butter
⅓ cup (100g) pure maple syrup
⅓ cup (66g) coconut oil
⅓ tsp fine sea salt
½ cup (100g) coconut oil
½ cup (34g) raw cacao powder
1-2 tbs pure maple syrup
Small pinch of fine sea salt
Preheat the oven to 180*C and line a square slice or cake tin with baking paper, ensuring that the paper hangs over the sides. My tin is 18 x 18cm.
To make the biscuit base, combine the brown rice flour, tapioca starch, melted coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated. Don’t worry if the mixture is a little clumpy or separated. If it seems too wet (and oil is noticeably pooling on top), add a little more rice flour.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and use your fingertips to press the mixture in firmly and evenly. Use a fork to poke several holes in the base. Bake for 20 minutes or until the colour is becoming golden. Remove from the oven. Do not wait for it to brown, as it will become overcooked and dry. It should still be a little soft to touch and will harden as it cools. My base often forms a big raised bump in the middle toward the end of baking – if this happens to you, gently push it down as soon as it comes out of the oven while it’s still soft. Allow to cool and harden completely in the tin.
To make the caramel filling, melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat. Increase heat to medium and add the almond butter, maple, and salt. Lightly whisk until all ingredients are fully incorporated and smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temp. I also highly recommend helping yourself to a little spoonful of the almond caramel while it’s warm. You’re welcome. 💁🏼♀️
Pour the caramel filling over the cooled biscuit base, smooth with the back of a spoon, and place in the freezer, ensuring a completely flat position, for 30 minutes to set.
To make the chocolate layer, place the coconut oil, cacao, maple and salt in a saucepan and stir over low heat until the ingredients have completely melted together. Pour the chocolate over the caramel layer, smoothing with the back of a spoon. Return the slice to the freezer for a further 20 minutes, ensuring a completely flat position, to set the chocolate layer.
Remove the slice from the tin and transfer to a chopping board. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting into 18 bars or 25 squares (see notes below on recommended low FODMAP serving sizes). Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week, or freeze for up to one month.
Info for the irritable
Almonds –and thus almond butter– are high in Fermentable Galacto-Oligosaccharides (GOS) and Fructans (AKA the “F” and “O” in “FODMAP”) when consumed in amounts larger than 35g in one sitting. However, according to Monash University, 1 tbs or 20g of almond butter is considered low in these carbohydrates, and should be tolerated by people with IBS or fructose malabsorption. Each serving of this slice, when cut into either 18 bars or 25 squares, contains only 14g and 10g of almond butter, respectively. If you’re unsure of your tolerance to almonds, opt for a small square and take it from there.
Last December, my mum had a bunch of her girlfriends over for their annual Chrissy lunch. Of all the memorably tasty dishes on offer (the leftovers overflowed our fridge for days – score!), one thing stood out in particular: a colourful little grain salad made by one of my mum’s friends. Upon tasting it, I was equal parts delighted and deflated; delighted because it set off a party of whiz-bang flavours and textures in my mouth, but deflated because it was packed with high FODMAP ingredients like freekeh (green wheat), lentils, red onion and dried fruits.
Typical me, always wanting what I can’t have…
As it turns out, the ‘Cypriot Grain Salad’ is a recipe by George Columbaris (of Masterchef fame), and is one of the most popular side dishes served at his modern Greek taverna, Hellenic Republic, in Brunswick, Melbourne. I’d love to be able to take full credit for this recipe, but that would be a jackass move. All I’ve done is add a few things here and there for flavour and tweaked it to suit my dietary needs. Besides, I’d rather not be on George’s bad side.
I couldn’t wait to taste this dish again, and so here it is: my low FODMAP version of Hellenic Republic’s ‘Cypriot Grain Salad’ in all its fluffy, crunchy, sweet and savoury glory. It’s perfect on its own or as a side salad to chicken or slow cooked lamb.
Hellenic Republic-Inspired Quinoa Salad with Cumin Yoghurt Dressing & Pomegranate
1.5 cups tri-coloured quinoa (available at most supermarkets)
3 cups low-sodium stock of choice
1 bunch coriander, washed and chopped
1/2 bunch continental (flat-leaf) parsley, washed and chopped
1 cup chopped spring onion, green part only (use 1/2 chopped red onion if you don’t have FM )
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/4 cup toasted pepitas
2 tbs toasted pine nuts
1/4 – 1/2 cup currants*
2 tbs dried cranberries*
Juice of 1 – 1.5 lemons (or to taste)
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 cup thick full fat Greek yoghurt
Seeds of 1 small pomegranate, or 1/2 large
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground (or 1.5 tsp cumin powder, carefully cooked in a dry fry-pan over medium-low heat until fragrant)
1 tbs pure maple syrup (use honey if you don’t have FM)
In a saucepan or pot, bring the quinoa and stock to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed (depending on your cook top, this can take anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes). Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
Combine the yoghurt, cumin and maple syrup/honey in a small serving bowl.
In a medium bowl, combine the quinoa, coriander, parsley, onion, almonds, pine nuts, pepitas, currants, cranberries, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer salad to a serving dish and top with the yoghurt dressing and pomegranate seeds. I like to mix some of the yoghurt dressing through the salad, then add more on top, but that’s up to you 🙂
* Those of you with fructose malabsorption/IBS or on a low FODMAP diet should limit your intake of dried fruit (excess fructose). However, if you’re trying to reintroduce FODMAPs back into your diet, a small amount shouldn’t hurt as the overall FODMAP load of this recipe is quite low. As always, assess your own tolerance. Halve or quarter the quantities if you’re unsure, and leave out altogether if you know you react to any amount of dried fruit.
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.
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.
Lemon, Ginger and Cranberry Granola
FODMAP friendly serving size: ¾ cup (approx. 80g)
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)
½ cup (100g) melted coconut oil
⅓ cup (95g) pure maple syrup
1 tbs lemon juice
Preheat oven to 160*C and lightly grease a large baking tray with coconut oil
In a large bowl, combine all the ‘muesli mixture’ ingredients, except the dried coconut and cranberries
Add the ‘wet’ ingredients to the bowl, gently folding with a large wooden spoon until fully combined
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
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.
Smoothies are to summer what porridge is to winter, and as the weather warms up in Australia, I like my brekkies to cool down…
You might have gathered by now that I’m obsessed with all things chai. Like any chai-enthusiast, nothing encompasses those gorgeous Indian masala aromatics quite like the ole chai latte does (yep, that heavenly hot milky drink made with sickly sweet powder or syrup. Pure refined sugary delight).
However, since learning a few years back that refined sugar, preservatives, additives, fillers and artificial flavours are terrible for my health and waistline, I’ve given my beloved weekly McCafe indulgence the flick.
Depending on the type of milk and chai flavouring used, the average cafes style small chai latte contains anywhere between 20-40 grams of sugar (5-10 teaspoons), with the majority weighing in at around the 32g mark! That’s a hell of a lot of sugar to waste on one small drink.
These days, I flavour anything and everything I can with my own chai spice mix. Instead of harming my health like my chai latte habit did, the real spice mix delivers a whole heap of goodness and just as much flavour. Chai spices, when used in their real and pure form, are packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals and boast cancer-prevention properties. Such spices are also great for immune function, hormone balancing (thus PMS symptom relief), gut health, bloating reduction, metabolism firing and energy boosting.
My chai spice mix uses nothing but pure ground cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. More traditional recipes call for white pepper, which you could also try. I use this mix to transform simple porridge, pancakes, muffins, granola, banana ‘ice cream’ and smoothies into gorgeous chai flavoured treats. I love how adding so much flavour to a recipe with these spices also boosts its nutritional value – win/win!
Since chai just wouldn’t be chai-like without a particular sweetness to complement and balance those spices, you can add a little natural sweetener such as rice malt syrup or pure maple to recipes.
Chai Spice Mix
Makes around 6 tbs of chai mix
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp ground cardamom
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
Place all the spices in an airtight glass jar or container. Shake vigorously until fully combined. This spice mix will keep for several months if stored in a cool, dry place in your pantry away from direct sunlight.
Super Icey and Chai Spicey Banana Smoothie
1natural almond butter
4 ice cubes plus extra, to serve
Method:Add all ingredients to a blender and process on high for one minute or until thick and creamy. Pour into a glass over ice and sprinkle cinnamon over the top. Slurp away.
If you need a more substantial breakfast or post workout smoothie, adding 1 tbs chia seeds delivers a great source of natural protein, fibre, omega-3, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
I use a Thermomix, and while blending for so long in such a high-power blender might sound excessive, I find that frozen banana needs at least one minute to thicken the rest of the ingredients up and make it silky smooth.
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
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.
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.
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.
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…
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
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
Preheat oven to 180*C and line a slice tray or square cake tin with baking paper
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl with a wooden spoon
In another bowl, add the beaten eggs and whisk in the remaining ingredients. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and combine well
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.
Remove from oven allow to stand for 10 minutes, before removing and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack
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.
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.