I don't believe in following a restrictive diet if you don't have to. I find people who insist on being gluten free without any medical basis whatsoever exasperating, and while I respect someones right to make their own choices on ethical grounds, my first thought recently when a close friend admitted that their boyfriend was a vegan, my first thought was how on earth am I supposed to feed this person and still keep everyone else happy at the same time? So, when the publishers behind Emma Hatcher's (from She Can't Eat What?!) new book The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen got in touch offering me a review copy, usually my first thought would be no. However, up until recently I actually lived with and cooked for someone who is supposed to follow a low FODMAP diet (my mother), and I was curious if the book would find us some delicious for the whole family.
Really, you need to read the book, or this page on Emma's blog to find out exactly what FODMAPs are, but a brief primer: FODMAPs are in certain foods and can irritate the gut if you suffer from certain gut conditions such at IBS or Crohn's. By cutting these foods out of your diet if you suffer from these you can avoid sometimes crippling pain. Not only does the book explain this all brilliantly, and how to run an elimination diet to find out exactly what does not agree with you (for example, Emma can't eat onions or garlic, but my Mum can, Emma eats chilli but too much upsets my Mum, and they both can eat tomatoes, which my Grandfather could not handle etc.), but also makes it clear that no one should self diagnose, this is a handy guide to go along with a doctor and nutritionists advice. I think more restricted diet books should make this clear.
All of that aside, this book is full of a delicious load of weeknights, and a few other things that have already been added to my repertoire, too. While I personally found the Cucumber & Honeydew Smoothie too sweet (my Mum loved it, however) we both have made Emma's delicious Good Morning Sunshine Juice (carrot, orange, fresh ginger and turmeric) many, many times for breakfast since the book arrived, and I'd like to try the Vanilla Quinoa Porridge with Lavender Strawberries once the toppings are more in season. On the savoury front, the Parchment-baked Chicken with Coriander & Lime Veg was so, so good, and I've got the Coconut Kale, Three-tin Tomato, Turmeric & Coconut Dahl, Butternut Squash, Spinach & Feta Buckwheat Quiche, and the Sticky Maple, Lime & Ginger Pulled Pork bookmarked. As she has tried everything from the book with me, and as she is actually the target market, my Mum read the book cover to cover too, and I thought I'd invite her to write a mini review, too:
"Having suffered in my 20's very badly, it took me a long time to find what I can and can't eat. Having read Emma's book I was really pleased to see that she certainly has an understanding that all people suffer from different gut problems. I have really enjoyed trying the recipes with Rachel, and even though Rachel has left home and taken most of her cookbooks with her, I've kept this one for myself to try other recipes, and hopefully sneak some of them to my husband too - I hate having to cook different meals for us both!"
Shall we talk about this salad, which is delicious hot or cold? Emma's Roast Pumpkin Salad with Whipped Feta Cream caught our fancy for a weekend lunchtime, and we've made it several times, using butternut squash instead of pumpkin, because we grow our own and we are absolutely drowning in them in the barn right now! It only takes around half an hour to pull together, even less if you don't mind having your squash cold (how it is in the original recipe) and you're the sort of person who meal preps a whole load of roasted veggies on a Sunday night. I've adapted this slightly to make it more convenient to make as a serves two.
While I've not actually noticed a lettuce shortage in the supermarkets, there apparently is one, so if you can't get rocket, this is also delicious on a bed of mixed peppery leaves. You can of course swap the squash back to pumpkin (the original recipe uses a kabocha pumpkin), and if you're not big on feta, yogurt or labneh would also work. Sometimes dairy yogurt does not suit a low FODMAP diet so the book does list lactose or dairy-free yogurt - I switched it back to my usual 0% Greek Yogurt, as Mummy can also eat that happily.
- 1 Small Butternut Squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1cm slices
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 tsp Dried Chilli Flakes
- Freshly Ground Sea Salt & Black Pepper
- 4 Large Handfuls Wild Rocket
- Large Handful Flaked Almonds
- 60g (2 oz) Feta
- 60g (2 oz) 0% Greek Yogurt
- Juice of 1/2 Lemon
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (390 Fahrenheit). Toss the squash slices together on a baking tray with a generous glug of olive oil, the chilli flakes and a good amount of freshly ground sea salt and black pepper. Roast the squash for 20-30 minutes, turning the pieces over half way until they're tender and slightly golden.
Meanwhile, arrange the rocket on two plates, and toast the almonds until slightly golden in a frying pan over a medium high heat. Keep and eye on these as they can go from toasted to burnt in a moment, and remove them straight from the pan into a small dish or a ramekin to stop them toasting as soon as they're done. Also, make the whipped feta by blending the feta, yogurt, lemon juice and oregano in a mini chopper or food processor (I swear by this one) until smooth. Season with a little bit of sea salt if you think it needs it, it will depend on your feta.
To dish up, arrange the squash slices between the two plates, dollop on the whipped feta, and sprinkle over the almonds. If you'd like, you can finish the salad with a good grind of black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. I've tried it both ways, and they both have their charms.
Five more, slightly more substantial salads that would make a great light meal: Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato & Avocado Chopped Salad with Homemade Skinny Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, Fattouch with Radishes & Sumac, Avocado & Blush Orange Salad with Miso Yogurt Dressing, Market Salad with Peaches & Mozzarella, and an Anchovy, Caper & Potato Salad with French Vinaigrette.