cooking tips

Ultimate Guide to Making Your Favorite Recipes Low-FODMAP

Ultimate Guide to Making Your Favorite Recipes Low-FODMAP

I’m laying out every tip, trick, strategy and substitution I know to make crave-able, drool-worthy recipes that happen to be low-FODMAP. Click through to read the epic list of makeover strategies that starts with simple swaps and progresses to mini recipes (Blue Cheese Dressing! Citrus-Herb Marinade! Flavorful Tomato Sauce!) and creative flavor tactics. You can still eat the food you love and control your IBS on the fodmap diet! 

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I love a good makeover (any What Not To Wear fans in here?), but even more than the fashion and style stuff, I love a recipe makeover.

Want proof? Here you go…

recipe-makeover-ravioli.png

Yup, for over 3 years I wrote a monthly column for Clean Eating magazine where I revamped classic recipes to make them healthy and (obviously) clean. I loved this gig. But just because a recipe’s healthy doesn’t mean it’s IBS-friendly.

Lucky for you, making over your favorite recipes is NOT as hard as it seems. And you don’t need any ninja-chef skills to do it.

Psst >>> Are you ready to test FODMAPs and learn your unique IBS triggers (a.k.a. the Reintroduction Phase)? I've created a FREE Test Food Tracker to make it simple!

Why Recipe Makeovers?

It’s absolutely essential that you learn to make some of your favorite dishes low-FODMAP. Why? Because one of the biggest reasons people stumble in the first phase of the FODMAP Diet - the Elimination Phase - is the fear and sadness over giving up the food they love.

(I know this from experience - I wasted months before I finally did the Elimination Phase because giving up food was too sad.)

In this post, I’m laying out the best tips, tricks, strategies and substitutions I know to develop crave-able, drool-worthy recipes that happen to be low-FODMAP. It's the foundation of the Calm Belly Kitchen Cookbook. And it’s how I got myself through the FODMAP Diet with zero deprivation.

This epic list of makeover strategies starts with simple swaps and progresses to mini recipes and creative flavor tactics.

Before you dive in, watch the video to see some of my personal favorite recipe makeover strategies and substitutions (If you love Italian and Mexican food, it's a must-see.). Then read the post with YOUR favorite recipes in mind.

If you remember one thing, make it this: Eating great food that you love is so do-able on the FODMAP Diet, and you’re not being sentenced to food prison without parole.


1) Replace Onion With Leek Tops: The green part is low-FODMAP, while the white part is high. Leeks have more flavor than onions, and you won’t cry when you cut them. Scallion tops are great too. The picture below show what part of the scallion or leek to use. Watch this video to learn how to wash leeks!

2) Replace Garlic With Garlic-Infused Oil: FODMAPs are water soluble, which means they soak out into liquids, but NOT fats. That’s why garlic oil is low-FODMAP. For the boldest flavor, add it at the end of the cooking process.

3) Build Flavor With Anchovies: At the start of the cooking process (when you’d normally sauté onion or garlic), sauté 1 tbsp anchovy paste or 2 to 3 oil-packed anchovies on medium heat in some olive oil.

4) Use Miso: Do the same thing as above with 1 to 2 tbsp of miso paste (especially good in soups and stews)

>>> This blog post has even more ways to replace onion and garlic and add big flavor to your recipes: The Ultimate Guide to Flavor Without Onion and Garlic

5) Add Bacon: It's the time-honored method for making any recipe irresistible.

6) Replace Mushrooms With Eggplant: The texture is similar, and it’s great sautéed, roasted or grilled.

7) Buy Chile Powders With 1 Ingredient: Some products called “chile powder” are blends that often include onion and garlic, which are high-FODMAP. Instead make sure yours only contains chiles. Ancho chile powder is mild and incredibly flavorful.

8) Substitute lactose-free milk anywhere you’d use regular milk: This is real cow’s milk treated with an enzyme to remove the lactose so it works just like regular milk in recipes.

9) Swap Your Veggies: Replace onion and celery with diced or grated carrot, celery root, leek, and/or red bell pepper (works great in recipes that call for the “holy trinity” of onion/celery/carrot)

10) Replace Ketchup: Many commercial ketchups contains high-fructose corn syrup and occasionally honey (both high-FODMAP)...but you've got options.

  • Here’s an easy recipe to DIY
  • Instead of ketchup, toss your oven fries with lemon zest, chopped parsley and garlic-infused oil - delish!
  • Do as the English do and dip fries in mayo (get fancy and mix in Dijon mustard, hot sauce, parsley, or lemon zest)

11) For Mexican Food

What low-FODMAP really looks like! Polenta Lasagna, Cobb Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing (both from CBK Cookbook) and Huevos Rancheros.

What low-FODMAP really looks like! Polenta Lasagna, Cobb Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing (both from CBK Cookbook) and Huevos Rancheros.

12) Replace Chicken Broth: The store-bought stuff is SO convenient, but have you ever tasted it straight? Not all that flavorful. Instead, use water and add some of these flavor boosting ingredients:

Miso paste
Anchovy paste
Dried herbs and spices
Wine
Lemon juice and soy sauce (a killer combo)
Fish sauce

> But wait! Massels brand is onion/garlic-free. 

Or make homemade broth

13) For Marinades: Omit the onion and/or garlic - it will still do the job! Try this easy favorite of mine:                                           

Citrus-Herb Marinade

3 green scallion tops
Handful parsley leaves and stems (about 1/2 packed cup)
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp hot sauce (optional) - here’s my fave low-FODMAP brand
1/2 tsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp rice or red wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil

Put all ingredients through vinegar in food processor and blitz. With processor on, slowly pour oil through feed tube. This marinade is great with just about anything, especially chicken and fish.

14) Make Your Own Spice Blends - Most store-bought blends contain onion and/or garlic powder. You can play with the amounts or add other spices you like. I promise, you can’t mess this up. Here’s a simple blend to start with (great for chicken and pork):            

Mild Mexican Spice Blend

1 tsp ancho chile powder
1 tsp cumin
1⁄2 tsp coriander
1⁄2 tsp dried oregano

For Italian Recipes

15) Make Your Own Tomato Sauce:

  1. Sauté chopped leek tops (the green part) in olive oil
  2. Add dried herbs and/or chile flakes
  3. Add ½ cup red wine and reduce (optional)
  4. Then add 1 can tomato sauce and 1 can diced tomatoes
  5. Simmer until slightly thickened
  6. Turn off heat and add fresh basil and garlic-infused oil to taste

Tip: A low-FODMAP serving of canned tomatoes is 1/2 cup.

16) Replace Pasta With Polenta or Risotto: There are some great gluten-free pastas out there too! My favorites are Jovial and Trader Joe’s brand.

17) For Pizza: Buy or make a low-FODMAP crust and top it with your homemade sauce (or do a white pizza with béchamel sauce - see the third idea below)

Three of my favorite topping ideas:

  • Mozzarella, prosciutto, roasted eggplant, goat cheese
  • Mozzarella, ground turkey, sautéed spinach, feta
  • Mozzarella, parmesan, sliced scallops, topped with arugula when it comes out of the oven (great with béchamel sauce)

18) Replace Cream Sauce With Low-FODMAP Béchamel: Here’s my easy recipe, and you can scale it up:

Low-FODMAP Béchamel Recipe

  1. Heat 1 tbsp butter or oil in a small saucepan on medium-low
  2. Add 1 tbsp gluten-free flour blend (must be free of gums, such as this one) or rice flour and stir until combined, about 1 minute
  3. Add 1 cup lactose-free milk and raise heat to medium high
  4. Whisk constantly, breaking up any flour clumps until milk comes to a simmer and sauce thickens
  5. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper plus any herbs and spices you want

Use it for:

  • Cream soups like chowder
  • Cream sauces like Alfredo
  • Creamed greens
  • White pizza
  • Any recipe that calls for béchamel

19) Replace Creamy Dressings: It’s crazy-easy to make your own with lactose-free plain yogurt or kefir - the amounts are flexible, you can’t mess this up. Here’s an example:

Blue Cheese Dressing Recipe
Tip: Make it a Ranch dressing by swapping the blue cheese for parmesan and adding fresh chives and/or scallions.

3⁄4 cup lactose-free yogurt
3 tbsp lactose-free milk, plus more as needed
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1⁄4 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1⁄3 cup (about 1 1⁄2 oz) crumbled blue cheese
2 scallion tops, finely chopped

Stir together all ingredients. Add extra milk if you want a thinner consistency.

20) Learn the Cheese Trick! 

Plenty of cheeses are low-FODMAP, but not every possible variety has been tested by Monash yet. Here’s how to tell if a cheese is low in lactose:

1) Check the ingredients: If added sugars or high-FOMDAP ingredients like honey or garlic (this is common in cheese products or flavored cheeses, not so much in natural cheese). If it’s got ingredients added, this trick doesn’t apply.

Natural cheese DOES include things like: milk (or pasteurized milk), salt, cultures, enzymes, and possibly preservatives or natural colors.

2) Look at the Nutrition Facts. Go to the “sugars” line (lactose, the FODMAP you want to avoid is a sugar). If it contains 0 grams sugar, the cheese is either lactose-free or so very low in lactose that only an extremely sensitive person would have issues (in the US, if the sugar totals < 0.5 gram, manufacturers can round down to zero)

And that's a wrap! 20 cool, creative, delicious ways to makeover your favorite recipes. You don't have to give up everything yummy to do the FODMAP Diet, so don't let fear of missing out on great food hold you back from a calm belly.

Don't forget to grab the FREE Test Food Tracker and get on your way to enjoying even more delicious meals!

 

What recipes are you going to makeover? Have questions? Leave a comment and let me help!

This post contains affiliate links.

The Ultimate Low-FODMAP Guide to Flavor without Onion and Garlic

The Ultimate Low-FODMAP Guide to Flavor without Onion and Garlic

 

When you eliminate onion and garlic for the FODMAP diet, you are NOT stuck with eating bland food. I created the Ultimate Low-FODMAP Guide to Flavor to show you all the delicious ways that you HAVEN'T heard before to cook without these belly-irritating ingredients. Click through to learn multiple ways to replace onion and garlic AND how to boost flavor in other genius ways, including the use of umami ingredients! 

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If you've read tips on replacing onion and garlic before, rest-assured that I'm not here to repeat the conventional wisdom. For example, I won't tell you to just use scallion tops for everything, or rush out and buy asafoetida, the pungent Indian spice. 

There's nothing wrong with the usual cooking advice aimed at FODMAPers, I just don't think it tells the whole story. There are other ways to cook incredibly flavorful food besides replacements that don't quite measure up to the real thing. 

And when it comes to asafoetida as a substitute for onion flavor, I'll bust that myth right now:

Skip it. It's not worth it. Years before I learned about the FODMAP diet, I had a jar of asafoetida that I played with alongside all my other traditional Indian spices (remember, I'm a foodie who used to do recipe development for a living). 

Always used together with other spices, and at only 1/4 tsp for a recipe that serves 4, it mingles with the other ingredients to add a savory background funk. But add a little too much to spaghetti sauce for example, and suddenly your lovely sauce stinks like over-cooked cabbage. Unless you're cooking traditional Indian food, I say leave it on the shelf.

 

How to Replace Onion and Garlic

(and it's only temporary!)

So where does that leave us? Actually, it leaves us smack in the middle of a flavor tornado. Yes, I'm prone to sarcasm, but I'm not kidding. I'll still tell you my best strategies for replacing onion and garlic, but I'll also explain how to build flavor in other ways (if that's what you're really into, scroll about halfway down).

It's scary, I totally get. I was devastated to think that I couldn't cook with onion and garlic when I first learned about the FODMAP diet. We are taught to believe that these ingredients are our saviors from bland, flavorless food. But I swear on my pug's fuzzy head that giving them up is not a big deal.

And know this: Many people, including me and coaching clients I've worked with, learn that we can eat garlic, onion or both in moderation when we test them in the reintroduction phase of the FODMAP diet. That's why it's crucial to go through the testing process.

All the info I'm about to give you is essential for the FODMAP diet, but it might be temporary for you! If you want to learn more about reintroducing FODMAPs, click the image below to download my free checklist!

 


How to Replace Garlic

Let's start with this pesky little minx. There's nothing else that tastes quite like garlic, and that's why garlic-infused oil is so fabulous. FODMAPs are water soluble, but not fat soluble. So when garlic cloves are cooked in olive oil on low heat, the flavor transfers over, but the FODMAPs don't.

But here's the key: Use garlic oil at the very end of the cooking process, or as a finishing oil at the table. If you use it to sautee or roast, the high heat can damage the oil, diminishing the flavor. But drizzle it on that spaghetti bolognese right before you dig in, and you've got an instant garlic infusion!

Ginger: Clearly not the same thing, but since it measures about the same and is often used together with garlic (think Asian and Indian dishes), it can give a lot of recipes that sharp, aromatic boost.

Pesto is a perfect example, and I made a version for my cookbook where I essentially swapped ginger for the garlic. It won't fool anyone, but that's not the point--the pesto tastes great.


How to Replace Onion

1) Leek Tops: They're enormous and a pain to clean (more on that in a second). However. They're absolutely delicious and a better onion sub than scallions, especially when you need to add them at the beginning of the cooking process. They have a slightly sweeter, slightly more herbaceous flavor than onions.

Like scallions, the white part has high FODMAP content, but the green part is low. You'll want to trim off a few inches of the green part because they're tougher at the top. I personally eat a little of the light green part, but everyone should decide how much to eat based on personal sensitivity.

Leeks are grown in the ground and dirt gets trapped inside all those layers. I have an easy system for washing them, so I made a video showing you exactly how to do it. I also show you what part of the leek to eat!

 

 

2) Scallion Tops: Yes, they're great, but the flavor doesn't really come through unless you add them raw at the end of cooking, or as a garnish. Just like leeks, you'll want to eat the dark and possibility some of the light green part. Here's what I mean:

Since it's difficult to make up the volume of an onion with scallions, I recommend using leeks if your recipe calls for 1 cup of onion or more. Or you could get a little more creative...

3) Grated Carrots and Parsnips: Whether you use them together or separately, these veggies are perfect when recipes call for a LOT of onions, especially soups and stews. Grate them in a food processor and saute them until lightly browned, just like onions. 

4) Thinly Sliced Cabbage: Stir-fried or sauteed cabbage is sweet and delicious. Cook it in a hot skillet for about 10 minutes, and you can add it to soups, braises or casseroles in place of the onion.

5) Nutritional Yeast: Weird but effective! This form of deactivated yeast has a cheesy, nutty quality that vegans love as a replacement for cheese. To my tastebuds, it's just plain savory, and slightly funky in a good way.

Because the texture is similar to a ground spice, I like adding it to creamy dressings, sauces, and soups. When I use it to make low-FODMAP ranch dressing (with lactose-free yogurt, lemon juice, chives, and scallions) it adds an extra layer of flavor that you might mistake for onion powder.

6) The Trinity, FODMAP-Style: In Cajun and Creole cooking, the trinity is onion, celery and bell pepper. The classic French version, called mirepoix, is onion, carrot and celery. These combinations of ingredients are used as a flavor base in countless recipes. 

My FODMAP version can be used to replace the trinity in any recipe, but you can also use it to replace the typical onion/garlic base. Here it is:

1 part chopped leek
1 part finely chopped or grated carrot
1/2 part chopped celery

Celery is moderately high in mannitol. But if you use 1/2 cup chopped celery in a recipe serving at least 4, your serving size will be in the low-FODMAP range. If celery is a problem food for you, replace it with red bell pepper or fennel. The FODMAP Trinity is flexible! And of course, you may find that mannitol is not a trigger at all when you do the reintroduction process.

 

How to Create Incredible Flavor with Umami

(aka, never eat bland food again) 

If you want the food you cook to be crave-worthy and lip-smackingly delicious, umami is your ticket. This goes for any type of cooking, whether you have a dozen different dietary restrictions or you can eat anything at all.

Umami is the fifth taste (along with sweet, salty, sour, and bitter), but it's the one to rule them all. It's an almost-addictive savory flavor that occurs naturally in foods that are slow-cooked, caramelized, aged, or fermented, but also in cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, and mushrooms.

The flavor comes from glutamate, an amino acid, which usually requires some form of cooking or aging to release it. Adding umami-rich foods or enhancing umami with your cooking techniques will build that savory flavor whether or not you use onion and garlic in your recipe.


Umami Packed Low-FODMAP Foods

Parmesan and other aged cheeses
Truffle-infused oil
Miso paste
Soy sauce and tamari
Oil-packed anchovies
Fish sauce
Oyster sauce
Cherry tomatoes
Sun-dried tomatoes
Oven-roasted tomatoes
Ketchup
Cured meat (prosciutto, serrano ham, speck)
A good stock made with caramelized and slow cooked meat and vegetables
Dashi, the Japanese stock made from kombu (dried kelp)
Seaweed

For some of these flavor-bombs, you'll want to stick to the low-FODMAP serving sizes as listed on the Monash App. For example a low-FODMAP serving of sun-dried tomatoes is 8 grams (or about 2 halves), but that is plenty if you chop it up and add it to a salad, quinoa bowl or pasta.

Glutamate naturally found in foods is different from MSG, the processed flavor additive that causes allergy-like reactions in some people. Keep in mind that glutamate is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein. In other words, healthy stuff! While some food makers might add MSG to soy sauce or other condiments, you can easily find MSG-free versions of everything on this list.

 

How to Release Umami in Cooking

Raw meat and shellfish is full of glutamate, but you need to cook it to release the umami flavor. The same goes for many vegetables. Here's how to make the most of it:

1) Roast It - Roasting is amazing because not only does it let you cook, say a pork shoulder, simply and efficiently, it takes long enough to release those amino acids and slowly brown the meat. The same goes for veggies: Roasted zucchini is about 100 times tastier than steamed, right? It's the caramelization. To make beautiful, deep-golden veggies, be sure to dry them well after washing--excess water will prevent browning.

Pro Tip: The type of cookware you use matters too. Choose dark-colored baking sheet and roasting pans. They absorb more heat, encouraging browning.

2) Caramelize It - Roasting isn't the only way to create caramelization. Instead of sauteeing veggies on high heat until just tender, take a few extra minutes and turn the heat to medium.

Use a cast iron or stainless steel pan (nonstick pans don't caramelize well because food needs to stick a bit to build that color and flavor) and add a thin layer of oil. Cooking veggies this way allows them to brown slowly and releases the natural sugars and umami. 

3) Don't move it or crowd it - This is the golden rule when you're cooking protein in a skillet. If you want it to brown, don't crowd the pan, even it means cooking your food in two batches. Crowding produces steam, which is the enemy of browning. Resist the urge to push and stir foods like shrimp and scallops. Let them cook until the bottom side is deep golden, then flip and repeat.

4) Braise It - This applies to stocks and stews. The goal of braising is to partially cover your protein with liquid and slowly cook it so the flavor can build before the texture becomes tough or chewy. 

Pro Tip: Never let the liquid come to a boil--this will cook the meat too fast. Fuss over your braise and adjust the heat until the liquid maintains a slow to moderate simmer. That means a few bubbles every 1 to 2 seconds.

 

I hope you got a bunch of new ideas from this post,

but remember these key takeaways:

1) It is so do-able to leave yourself and anyone else drooling over your low-FODMAP meals with onion and garlic nowhere in sight. 

2) You probably don't need to permanently eliminate onion and garlic from your life. It's crucial to test both of these foods (members of the Oligosaccharide group, the "O" in FODMAP) by doing the reintroduction process.

If you feel utterly overwhelmed by the reintro phase of the FODMAP diet, my "Eat Your Way to Freedom" checklist is a great place to start. It's a list of all the tips and must-do's that I share with my 1-on-1 coaching clients. Just click the image below to have it sent straight to your inbox!

7 Seriously Simple FODMAP Cooking Tips from My Cookbook

7 Seriously Simple FODMAP Cooking Tips

Click through to read the 7 coolest cooking tips and tricks straight from my new cookbook! Cooking is health meals everyday is hard, especially with dietary restrictions. Luckily, there are hacks, shortcuts and genius little tricks that even professional cooks use to make it work. Go to the blog and learn how to save time and cook low fodmap meals the quick and easy way!

Save it on Pinterest!

 

As I've been putting the finishing touches on the Calm Belly Kitchen Cookbook and getting it ready to release to the world (including all you wonderful people who have already pre-ordered), I've revisited recipes that I created as far back as January.

 

This has been a lot of fun, and I've even cooked some of my favorites in the last week just for the heck of it. Since all I've done lately is live and breathe (and probably memorized) these recipes, I want to share the absolute best and/or coolest tips and tricks from the cookbook. 

 

I'm not gonna lie: Cooking is tough. It takes effort and planning, but there are so many shortcuts, hacks, and time-savers that can make it more manageable.

 

Here are the 7 coolest FODMAP cooking tips from my book, illustrated with photos straight from the pages. If you want to see even more, click here for a preview and 3 free recipes, and head over here to see more inside pages, read recipe tester reviews, and order it yourself! 

1. For a fuss-free salad on the go, choose kale over lettuce.

Lettuce gets sad and wilted, and you have to pack the dressing separately unless you want a soggy mess. Even if you dutifully carry along your little jar of dressing, you're always worried that's going to leak. Been there, done that.

For a salad that's a lot less high-maintenance, swap that lettuce for kale. Because it's a heartier green, you can add the dressing in the morning or even the night before.

It's actually better to prep your kale salad ahead of time because the leaves will soften up as they "marinate" in the dressing.

I figured this out when I developed my recipe for Salmon-Kale Caesar Salad. When we ate leftovers for lunch the next day, it was even better than the night before.

Lacinato kale (also called, Tuscan, dinosaur or cavolo nero) works better in salads than curly kale, which is tougher. I like to cut out the ribs and chop the leaves into thin ribbons for salads.

 

2. Make juicy ground turkey every time.

You want to be a little healthier, so you swap ground turkey for beef in one of your favorite recipes. The results are so dry and unappealing that you wish you hadn't bothered.

Don't let this happen again! In order to have great flavor and a texture that doesn't remind you of sandpaper, meat needs fat. 

If you want ground turkey that tastes juicy and tender, choose dark meat. My supermarket sells ground turkey breast and ground turkey thigh separately. Sometimes I use half and half, and sometimes I just go with dark meat. 

Since a 3-ounce serving of turkey thigh has 5 grams of fat (and only 1.5 grams of that is saturated), and the same portion of turkey breast has 1 gram, the dark meat is still a very healthy choice (source: ohiopoultry.org).

If pre-packaged ground turkey is the only available option, choose one labelled 85% lean (this will be a blend of light and dark meat). In a pinch, 93% lean is okay, but don't go any higher than that!

 

Oven-Baked Risotto with Shrimp from the Calm Belly Kitchen Cookbook

3. Cook risotto in the oven.

The traditional method is to stir the rice almost constantly for about 25 minutes while slowly adding liquid.

So you're literally standing over a hot stove.

For my Oven-Baked Risotto recipe in the book, I wanted to test and perfect an oven cooking method that I'd read about, but doesn't seem to be very popular.

Long story short, it works like a charm, and here's how you do it:

  • Start the risotto as most recipes direct by sauteeing aromatics (in our case, scallion or leek tops) in half olive oil and half butter.
  • Add the rice and cook until it turns opaque, then add white wine and reduce it.
  • Add your broth or water, cover, and bring it to a simmer.
  • Transfer the pot to the oven and bake at 425F until rice is just tender.

The rice actually cooks a bit faster than it would on the stove top--15 to 20 minutes. I like to give it a stir once during cooking, but otherwise, it's hands-off!

 

Thai Steak Salad from the Calm Belly Kitchen Cookbook: Crave-Worthy Low-FODMAP Recipes for Everyday

4. Use fresh mint to perk up your meals.

It's not just for dessert and tea! My rule of thumb: Anywhere you can use basil, you can use mint. 

In Greek, Middle Eastern, and Vietnamese cooking, mint is used in countless savory recipes. Think of Greek lamb with mint sauce, tabbouleh, or pho, the classic Vietnamese soup.

Mint is also amazing in just about any green salad. You'll be surprised how much it perks up simple lettuce. One of my fabulous recipes testers used it when she made my Thai Beef Salad recipe, and here's what she had to say:

 
Gluten-free Spiced Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting from Calm Belly Kitchen Cookbook

5. Almond flour is magic for gluten-free baking.

We know almond flour is only low-FODMAP in moderate servings, so I'm not suggesting that you use it on its own.

This wouldn't be a great idea anyway because the finished cake, muffin, cookie, or pancake would have such a dense, heavy texture that it wouldn't even resemble the traditional version.

Instead, try swapping up to half the amount of gluten-free flour in a recipe for almond flour. It adds moisture and provides enough structure that you can often avoid using binders like xanthan gum.

For the record, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with gums health-wise. But they work unpredictably and often produce chewy (or "gummy") baked goods.

My Spiced Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting are made with a combo of almond flour and gluten-free flour blend, and here are the results according to my amazing reader recipe tester (who also happens to be a pastry chef):

"The recipe is great. The neighbors loved them and had no idea they were gluten free."

 

Slow Cooker Roast Chicken from Calm Belly Kitchen Cookbook

6. Cook whole chicken in the crockpot more often.

This was a technique I hadn't used much previously, but wanted to perfect for the book.

I know a lot of us love the convenience of picking up a rotisserie chicken at the supermarket, but it can be hard to find ones that are unseasoned or not pumped full of weird additives.

Turns out, if you have 5 minutes, you'll never have to read the ingredients on the bottom of a rotisserie chicken (without spilling hot chicken juice on yourself) ever again.

Add about an inch of water to the slow cooker, season the chicken and let that baby cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low for a 4.5 lb chicken.

 

Gluten-Free Low fodmap Flourless Chocolate Mini Cakes from Calm Belly Kitchen Cookbook

7. Sometimes you CAN take shortcuts in baking.

There's a saying that goes, "Cooking is an art, but baking is a science." While I agree with the gist of this, it's also misleading.

It makes people feel like baking is a huge chore, and if you mess up one little thing, it's all ruined. Not necessarily so. Let's use my Flourless Chocolate Cakelets as an example.

The traditional way to give this type of cake a light texture (as opposed to the heftiness of your classic brownie) is to separate the eggs and beat the whites until they form soft, voluminous peaks. Then you would delicately fold them into the batter.

Since I don't love doing extra work if it isn't necessary, I didn't bother separating the eggs. I beat them for a few minutes until they doubled in volume, then added them to the chocolate batter.

You can probably guess the result: light, silky cakelets that aren't the least bit heavy (but extremely rich and chocolatey!).

I didn't come up with this genius idea all on my own. A couple years ago, I read a food science article where the writers did this experiment with pancakes and didn't find any major improvement when they separated the eggs versus just adding them whole.

I'm betting this shortcut works in just about any recipe!

 

Cool stuff, right?!

Have you learned any great cooking tricks lately? Are you itching to get into the kitchen and try out any of the tips above? Let me know in the comments!

 

If you liked these tips, click here to check out the

Calm Belly Kitchen Cookbook!

 

7 Secrets for Healthy Low-FODMAP Cooking (even if you hate to cook)

7 Secrets for Healthy Low-FODMAP Cooking (even if you hate to cook)

You want to eat clean healthy meals but you don't have hours to spend cooking. This is what we all struggle with, but you don't need superpowers to make low FODMAP meals that keep you satisfied and help you reach your weight loss goals. I have 7 pro-tips that will make better use of the time you have. Click through to read all the tips and become a healthy cooking superhero.

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If you want to lose weight, you need to reduce the calories you eat each day. But here's a secret: You don't need heroic willpower to do it.

Instead, you can start cooking your own healthy meals that fill you up and keep you satisfied for hours. When you do the cooking, you can banish the hidden calorie traps like an extra splash of oil or handful of cheese.  It's also a lot easier to manage the FODMAPs when you're in charge.

If you'd rather get a cavity filled than spend extra time in the kitchen everyday, you need smart strategies. These tips are all about making better use of the time you have, while still giving you healthy, delicious food that makes your belly happy. I think that's pretty heroic!

 

Psst>>>Click the image below to grab your free cheat sheet!

 

#1 Make Friends with Seafood

Most of my clients tell me they don’t cook a lot of seafood even though they like it. Here’s why I suspect this is: No one really enjoys handling fish, and prepping it feels like a big hassle.

That’s unfortunate because fish can add so much variety to a low-FODMAP routine (there’s only one kind of chicken, but endless types of fish after all!), and it can provide just as much protein as meat for fewer calories.

Luckily, you can eat more fish without doing more work. Shop at your favorite market’s fish counter, and ask them to do the prep for you. It’s part of the job! From taking the skin off a salmon fillet, to gutting a trout, to shucking oysters, it can all be done before you get back home.

 

#2 Focus on One Big Flavor

If seeing an endless ingredient list makes you reach for the takeout menus instead of cooking a healthy meal, look for short and simple recipes with one ingredient that packs a punch. Yes, this even works on the FODMAP diet when you’re avoiding certain flavor boosters like garlic. 

Here are some examples of low-FODMAP, low-calorie ingredients that can add tons of flavor to a dish all by themselves:

  • Smoked paprika
  • Tamari or soy sauce
  • Feta cheese
  • Dijon mustard 
  • Kalamata olives
  • Curry powder

 

#3 Get Cute with Mason Jars

Mason jars are the sneaky gateway drug to prepping your meals in batches. Use them for building salads, rice or quinoa “bowls,” or overnight oats.

Here’s your game plan:

  • For salads, you can prep 3 days worth before you run into veggie wilt. Combine low-FODMAP ingredients like carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, a single-serve pouch of tuna, canned chickpeas and any lettuce. Make a batch of vinaigrette and add it each day before you leave the house (be sure to put lettuce at the bottom of the jar).
  • For a rice or quinoa-based meal, combine your grain in the jar with roasted or fresh veggies, grilled chicken  and an extra flavor booster like cheese, pesto or tomato sauce.
  • For overnight oats (quinoa flakes or chia work too), you can prep 5 days worth of mason jars at once. Each night add your lactose-free milk of choice to one of them and breakfast is ready.

 

#4 Don’t Prep Your Veggies  

I love to cook. I don’t even mind doing dishes. But I hate standing over the sink getting sprayed with water as I clean a pile of veggies. Instead of doing all the washing, slicing and dicing yourself, buy those greens pre-prepped. 
Some of my favorites:

  • Baby carrots
  • Spinach leaves
  • Arugula and spring mix
  • Sliced or chopped bell peppers
  • Matchstick carrots
  • French-style green beans
  • Baby kale
  • Chopped collard, mustard or turnip greens
  • Shredded cabbage (coleslaw mix)
  • Frozen veggies like green beans, hash brown potatoes and bell peppers


#5 Cook Chicken in Batches

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the heroes of the diet world and fit seamlessly into low-FODMAP meals too. But don’t buy that puny 1-lb pack of chicken. Most stores offer big packs, or buy as much as you want straight from the butcher. Grill, bake or broil enough to get you through a week or beyond, if you use your freezer.

But what if you have a stir fry recipe that only calls for a pound of meat? Pop the extra chicken into the oven while you cook. You can turn it into a week of lunches, or add it to a quick pasta for dinner the following night.


#6 Bake and Freeze

Don’t let those moist and tender gluten-free muffins turn into hockey pucks on your kitchen counter. Freeze items like mini frittatas, protein bites, muffins and scones as soon as they’re cool. Double wrap them individually to avoid freezer burn. It’s also super easy to grab just one on your way to work in the morning (and a clever way to practice portion control).

 

#7 Use a Kitchen Scale

A scale is essential for FODMAPers, and even more so if weight loss is your goal. A kitchen scale lets you:

  • Accurately measure the serving size of fruit, veggies, nuts or any other food where monitoring portions is essential for keeping your belly happy.
  • Reduce the number of dirty dishes by eliminating measuring cups and extra bowls (this makes baking soooo much faster).
  • Weigh out your portions so you KNOW you’re sticking to your daily calorie budget. It’s a lot easier to follow a weight loss plan when you’re not just guessing.

 

If you have an idea of how many calories you should be eating, but don’t know how to make this work in terms of real food, I can help you with that.

Even with the tips above, it’s easier to commit to healthy cooking when you have a clear goal and the support and accountability to get you there. I have 2 one-on-one coaching spots available this month. Click here to grab yours!