cooking with nothing

creating tasty food that's low-FODMAP too

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)

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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, parsnip and celery, 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)

Optional

  • 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)

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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.  

Tuna Melt (low FODMAP)

I’ll admit it: sometimes I just really feel like melted cheese. I also sometimes have a (slightly odd) craving for a tuna melt, but want to make sure that a) it’s low FODMAP and b) all the ingredients are as organic and sustainable as possible.

So here’s my low-FODMAP version of a good ol’ tuna melt, using MSC-certified tuna:

  • 1 tin x MSC-certified tuna
  • ½ cob (43 g) x sweet corn
  • Handful x coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1 TBSP x  plain organic yoghurt
  • ½ x red chilli, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp x wholegrain mustard
  • Salt and pepper, to season
  • 2 slices x organic sourdough spelt bread
  • 2 slices x organic cheddar cheese
  • Sprinkling of paprika powder, to garnish

Preheat the grill, then lightly toast the bread in a toaster. Mix the tuna, corn, coriander, yoghurt, chilli and mustard and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture onto the lightly toasted bread and press down. Cover with a slice of cheese and place under a hot grill until the cheese bubbles. Sprinkle with paprika powder and serve.

Gluten-free savoury buckwheat crepes (low FODMAP)

This recipe was one of those ones that afterwards you ask yourself: Why have I not made this before?! I’ve cooked buckwheat pancakes plenty of times, but savoury crepes? Nope.

And now I’m already dreaming of the gazillion goodies I could fill these bad boys with. The first thing that came to mind was an Indian-style concoction: tons of veges cooked in spices and coconut. Mmmmmm. You can use the same recipe for sweet toppings too. I even made an extra one for dessert and topped it with maple syrup. 

Makes 10

  • 4 x large free-range organic eggs
  • 1 cup x unsweetened almond milk
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2/3 cup x buckwheat flour
  • 2 TBSP x coconut oil

Whisk eggs with milk and a pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl. Sift in the flour and whisk until just combined. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge while you prepare the fillings.

You could do something super simple – avocado, tomato and feta, for example – but I opted for a slightly more elaborate (and time-consuming, but worth it!) filling. See recipe below.

To cook the crepes, heat a 22-cm pan over a med-high heat. Add a tsp of coconut oil and swirl to coat the pan. Pour about 1/3 cup of batter into the pan and swirl to evenly cover the base. Cook until the edges of the crepe are crisp (about 1 minute) then flip and cook for a further 30 seconds before transferring to a plate. Keep the crepes warm in the oven while you make the rest.

Smoked aubergine, grilled pepper and feta crepe filling

  • 2 x aubergines
  • 2 x red peppers (capsicum/paprika)
  • Extra coconut oil
  • ½ x courgette
  • 1 x chilli (optional)
  • 1 tsp x ground cumin
  • Juice of 1 x lemon
  • ½ cup x feta, crumbled
  • ¼ cup x fresh coriander, chopped
  • Sea salt and pepper, to season

Pierce the eggplants a few times then pop in an oven dish under a hot grill and turn occasionally for 1 hour, or until burnt and deflated. Once cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and leave to drain in a sieve for about 10 minutes. Roughly chop.

If there’s enough space under your grill you can pop the red peppers under there too, and when charred place them in a sealed plastic bag. After about 10 minutes you should be able to peel the skins off easily. Roughly chop the peppers. (If you don’t have enough space, blacken the pepper skins using your gas hob before popping them in the plastic bag.) 

Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil in a pan and add the courgette, chilli and cumin. Cook until the courgette is soft, then remove from the heat and add the lemon juice.  

In a bowl, combine the cooked aubergine, peppers and courgette with the feta and coriander. Season to taste.

Banana Granola (low FODMAP)

A friend of mine has just joined me on the low-FODMAP brigade and asked me what he could have for breakfast, as he was ‘definitely gonna get a bit sick of omelettes.’ Indeed, breakfast can be difficult on this diet, and with the news that only one-quarter of a cup of oats is low-FODMAP, things got a teensy bit trickier. I haven’t even found one suitable pre-made muesli option at my local organic shop. And anyway, most store-bought mueslis (particularly crunchy ones like this) are jam-packed with refined sugar. Not the best way to start the day!

I’ve adapted this delicious granola recipe – which is free of refined sugars and bad fats – so it’s suitable for those on the low-FODMAP diet, and just as scrummy and nutritious for those who aren’t. If you want to make it go a bit further, you could mix the granola with organic gluten-free unsweetened cornflakes. Store in an airtight container and serve with your favourite low-FODMAP milk. 

  • 3 cups (250g) x buckwheat flakes
  • ½ cup (80g) x raw almonds, walnuts, pecans or peanuts (I used peanuts since I love the banana-peanut combo)
  • ½ cup x raw pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup x dried coconut
  • ¼ tsp x vanilla extract or ground vanilla
  • 1 tsp x ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch x ground sea salt
  • 3 TBSP x coconut oil, room temperature
  • 3 TBSP x pure maple syrup
  • 2 x ripe bananas, peeled and broken into pieces

Preheat the oven 400°F / 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

In a large bowl, combine buckwheat flakes, nuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl add coconut oil, maple syrup and bananas. Mash until completely smooth (or use a blender).

Add the banana mixture to the dry mixture and combine well, using your hands, for about a minute, so all is well-coated and clumpy. Turn out and spread the granola in an even layer on the baking tray. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, check at around 10 minutes and turn the granola over with a wooden spoon. Allow to cool completely before putting in an airtight container.