cooking with nothing

creating tasty food that's low-FODMAP too

Anonymous asked: I have just made a batch of the Curry Paste and as I am making it for six people have doubled the quantities. Could you please tell me did you mean to use the entire amount of curry paste made for just two people. It seems like an awful lot of paste for just two people. In the past when I have used the bought stuff before I was on the Fodmap diet I only ever used two Teaspoons as we do not like it too hot. Regards Barbara

Hi Barbara,

Do you mean this recipe?

I just realised I didn’t write how many servings it makes at all. Sorry about that. The whole thing should serve 3-4 people. This homemade curry paste won’t be anything like the the store-bought stuff, as those are often concentrated and have a lot of added salt. If you don’t like it hot, just remove the chillies altogether. It will still be aromatic and delicious! 

Anonymous asked: Just a comment- Garlic is not low FODMAP, so unfortunately your thai green curry is not so friendly!! Just so you know..

The garlic is only used for flavouring the oil, and the actual pieces are discarded:

‘Warm coconut oil in a wok or large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden, then discard the garlic pieces. I find it easiest to pour the oil into a jar through a mini sieve and then return the oil to the pan.’

Fructans are water soluble, so won’t transfer into your food through fats (like oil). Infusing the oil in this way will safely add some garlic flavour into your food. If you don’t miss garlic, you can always omit this step entirely! 

Anonymous asked: I just came across your website, and am really intrigued to find out how you got on with the hypnotherapy. I have just started being more aware of the FODMAP diet and trying to limit the bad foods I eat but wonder if the Hypnotherapy may be more worthwhile. x

I know it’s been a while since my last post about starting the hypnotherapy programme. I’ve been intensely busy at work (and squeezed in a month trip back to New Zealand for three weddings in four weeks) so I apologise for the delay!

I’ll write a more detailed post soon, explaining things a bit better, but for now I can say that I do think it really helped me. I’m definitely not symptom-free, but it helped. I think I’m also more in tune with other things that are allowed on a low-FODMAP diet but don’t do my tummy any favours. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach, for instance, seems to set me off.

I also think we have to be careful about labelling foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. I’m certain that our subconscious has a lot to do with the kind of connotations we have with certain foods, and after trying so many different elimination diets, each with a different list, my brain just didn’t know what to do anymore. 

Unless you come out of the programme symptom-free, the hypnotherapy guide suggests trying the it again to see if further progress can be made, but to take an eight-week break before embarking on another round. I’ve still got a few weeks to go until my eight weeks is up, and then I think I’ll give it another shot. I can only say it’s worth giving it a go! 

Why I’m taking a break…

Hey readers, 

You may have noticed my lack of blog-age recently, and I wanted to let you know just why I’ve fallen off the radar. Even though I think the low-FODMAP diet has really helped me, I feel like there’s a strong brain-tummy connection that I want to try and work on. In times of recent crazy stress, I know that that stress goes directly to my poor stomach. Being aware of this doesn’t seem to help, as I feel I get stuck in a sort of spiral: don’t stress or it’ll upset your stomach —> stressing because I know I’m upsetting my stomach —> and around and around we go.

So I’m trying to address the brain-tummy connection by indulging in a 100-day period of hypnotherapy. I’ve heard great things about hypnotherapy for IBS, and figured it can’t hurt to try, right? It’s also about letting go of the anxiety surrounding stomach issues (and the way you view foods), so to give myself a break from worrying and focusing on my diet, I’m also giving myself a break from this blog. My 100-day period finishes in March, so I’ll be happy to share my results next year! And until then, happy eating and happy tummies! 

Lebanese-style lamb and eggplant (low FODMAP)

A wee while ago my boyfriend and I made these Lebanese-style stuffed eggplants (minus the garlic and onion) for friends for dinner. They were damn good, but bloody hell we were impatient waiting for them. It was kinda our own fault for starting so late, but when I got the craving for these tasty morsels again and knew we couldn’t start cooking early, I thought it was time to make a quick version of the dish. 

Enter all the flavours without as much fuss, and my twist on Lebanese-style lamb and eggplant. 

Serves four

  • 2 x eggplants, cut into 2-cm squares
  • Sea salt 
  • 2 TBSP x flavourless coconut oil 
  • 1 x leek (green tops only), finely sliced 
  • 300g x organic minced lamb 
  • 1 tsp x ground allspice 
  • 1 tsp x ground cumin
  • 600g x tomato passata 
  • 1 1/2 cups x brown rice 
  • Juice of 1 x lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to season
  • 4 TBSP x pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 TBSP x chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 cup x feta, crumbled 

Sprinkle the eggplants with salt and place in a colander. Allow to ‘sweat’ for around 15 minutes. 

Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan on a med-high heat and add the leek. Fry for a few minutes until softened, then add the eggplant. Fry for a further few minutes until the eggplant starts to soften too, then add the mince and spices. 

When the mince is almost browned, add the passata and simmer while you cook the rice according to the packet instructions. 

When the rice is ready, squeeze the lemon over the mince-eggplant dish and season to taste. Sprinkle the pine nuts, parsley and feta over the top and serve on a bed of rice. 

Roast vegetable, blue cheese and rosemary baked risotto (low FODMAP)

Things have been pretty hectic recently, but I am trying to keep on top of posting! I got a reminder yesterday that Cooking with Nothing just turned 5 – happy birthday blog! – which gave me a kick up the bum to finally post this recipe I tried out recently. I’m a fan and I hope you are too!   

  • 1 x eggplant, chopped into 2-cm cubes
  • Sea salt
  • 400 g x pumpkin, chopped into 2-cm cubes
  • 2 TBSP x fragrance-free organic coconut oil, ghee or butter
  • Green top of 1 x leek, well rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp x fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups brown or wild rice
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock*
  • 2 handfuls x spinach leaves
  • 100 g x blue vein cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons roughly sliced almonds

*Make sure the stock doesn’t contain any high-FODMAP foods such as garlic, onions, leeks etc. And use vege stock to make it vegetarian! For those gluten-free folk, check the ingredients for any hidden wheat as well. 

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and leave to ‘sweat’ for around 10 minutes in a colander. Pat dry and add to a roasting dish with the pumpkin. Warm 1 TBSP of the oil to liquid form then pour over the vegetables. Place in the oven to roast for around 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm the second TBSP of oil in a large saucepan and add the leek greens and rosemary until the greens soften. Add the rice and stir to coat in the oil. Pour over enough stock to just cover the rice, lower the heat and let it cook for around 25 minutes until firm (but not crunchy). Check often to make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom. In the final few minutes of cooking, add the spinach on top of the rice in the pan to steam. Once it’s soft, stir it through the rice mixture.

The vegetables and rice should be done around the same time. Once they are, transfer the rice into the vegetable dish and stir gently to combine. Sprinkle the blue cheese almonds on top and bake for a further 15 minutes in the oven. The cheese should be melted and the rice slightly crunchy on top.  

Chilli with walnuts and chocolate (low FODMAP)


I’ve just arrived back to Amsterdam – and instant autumn – after a few weeks swimming and sunning in Spain. It’s been a bit of a shock to the system. To warm me up I decided to get back on the posting bandwagon with a chilli recipe I’ve been meaning to try for a while now. It’s adapted from the one on Green Kitchen Stories (great blog by the way, and their photo is MUCH better than mine!) to be low in FODMAPs.

Serves four

  • 2 TBSP x coconut oil
  • Green tops of 1 x leek (the white part is high-FODMAP while the green is safe)
  • 170g x smoked tempeh, diced
  • 1 tsp x cumin seeds
  • 1 x fresh chilli
  • 1/2 tsp x smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp x dried oregano
  • 1 x red capsicum/paprika/bell pepper
  • 1 x carrot
  • 1 x parsnip
  • ¾ cup x walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 cup x tinned chickpeas, well rinsed (small servings (1/4 cup per person) of chickpeas are usually tolerated on a low-FODMAP diet)
  • 400g x crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup x water
  • 1 tsp x sea salt
  • ¼ cup x red wine
  • ¼ cup x coffee
  • 30g x dark chocolate* (optional)

For each serving

  • 1 handful x fresh coriander, coarsely chopped
  • 2 TBSP x plain organic yoghurt 
  • Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Corn tortillas, rice or polenta 

*Note: Cocoa powder has recently tested high in FODMAPs. Some people find chocolate fine, others not, so only use it if you’re sure you can eat it. You don’t want to ruin the meal! Read some tips about selecting lower-FODMAP chocolate here

Start by preparing all the vegetables. Heat oil in a large thick-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven. Add leek tops, tempeh, cumin, chilli, paprika and oregano, and let fry for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally, until the spices smells fragrant. Be careful so they don’t burn. Add capsicum, carrot and parsnip, and let cook for another couple of minutes. Add walnuts, chickpeas, tomatoes, water and salt and let cook for 30 minutes more. Now add red wine, coffee and chocolate, stir around carefully and let cook for 5 more minutes. Taste and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve in bowls with a dollop of yogurt, fresh coriander, lime and your choice of base.

Anonymous asked: Is barley grass juice low fodmap? Spirulina?

This was a question I posed to my dietitian awhile ago, as I really really hoped they would be. I love adding green powders etc. into my smoothies! The answer? Probably low-FODMAP. They haven’t been officially tested but since FODMAPs are deemed as ‘carbohydrates’ by definition, and spirulina is an algae and barley grass a (obviously) grass, they should theoretically be okay. I add them to my smoothies with no troubles so hopefully you can too! 

Chia seed and oat bircher (low FODMAP)

Feast your eyes – or rather close your eyes and just feast ‘cause let’s face it, this dish ain’t so pretty – on my new favourite brekkie: chia seed and oat bircher. I make it the night before and keep it in the fridge until morning.

Chia seeds are the richest known plant source of omega-3s (check out many more health benefits here) and a serving size of two tablespoons is Monash-approved on a low-FODMAP diet.

I’ve had a week of lows and highs, which is quite common for those with IBS! Lows include a bad reaction to a meal out that left me bedridden for a few days, and finding out that cocoa powder has been added to the unsafe list (NOOOOOO!). I was just getting used to my pre-yoga smoothie of raw cacao, almond milk, avocado and banana. Guess I’ll skip the cacao from now on.

And the highs? Having a week-long run of good tummyness, which means I can test my tolerance to a few things before I head away on holiday in a few weeks. Results will follow!

Chia seed and oat bircher

  • ¼ cup x rolled oats
  • 2 TBSP x chia seeds
  • ¼ cup x shredded coconut
  • ½ tsp x ground cinnamon
  • Your favourite low-FODMAP milk (I use a new product I found that’s a blend of rice and coconut milk – lighter than coconut milk but tastier than rice milk)


  • A small serving of low-FODMAP fruit (rhubarb is my favourite, but banana, blueberries and raspberries are also good)
  • 1 TBSP x pure maple syrup
  • 2 TBSP x plain yoghurt (or a larger serving of lactose-free yoghurt if you like)

Combine the oats, seeds, coconut and cinnamon in a bowl and cover with milk. Leave in the fridge overnight  and serve with toppings if desired.

Warm pasta salad with eggplant and sumac (low FODMAP)


It’s been pretty freakin’ hot in Amsterdam lately, so much so that I’ve been avoiding the kitchen and opting for quick and easy salads.

Speaking of salads, I had to go on a press trip for work recently, and winced a bit as I gave the organizer my long list of dietary requirements. Her reply was: ‘Hmmm, sorry if this sounds a bit rude but what can you eat?’ I’m sure many low-FODMAP folks get this question a lot. My easiest answer is a salad with greens, feta, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, carrot etc. etc. etc. Firstly, you can at least see what’s in it and pick out any sneaky onions that might find their way in their accidentally. Secondly, most kitchens will have lemon juice and olive oil to whip you up a special dressing on the side.  

So while I’ve been making tons of green salads throughout summer, I could hardly use those as recipes on this blog (this is ‘cooking’ with nothing after all), so here’s a warm pasta salad that’s super speedy and tasty.

Serves 2

  • 1 x eggplant, chopped into 2-cm cubes
  • Sea salt
  • 2 cups x gluten-free pasta  
  • 1 tsp x coconut oil
  • 3 x tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp x fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp x sumac
  • Juice of 1 x lemon
  • Large handful x rocket leaves
  • 2 x spring onions (green part only), chopped
  • ½ cup x feta, crumbled
  • ¼ cup x extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh parsley to serve (optional)
  • Sea salt and pepper, to season

Place the eggplant in a colander and sprinkle some sea salt over the top. Leave to sweat for 10 or so minutes, then pat dry.

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, then drain and set aside while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan over a med-high and add the eggplant. Fry until the eggplant starts to soften, then add the tomatoes, thyme and sumac. Reduce the heat slightly and cook, stirring until the eggplant is completely soft. Remove from the heat and squeeze the lemon juice over top.

Combine the pasta and eggplant mix with the rocket, spring onions, feta and olive oil. Season to taste, sprinkle some parsley on top and serve.