lowFODMAP

Pho Love

13:58

Once upon a time there was a little girl in a far away kingdom and a giant bowl of soup. That is the beginning of a beautiful love story. The girl was me, and the far away kingdom was Vietnam. To this day, my favourite soup is Pho. It is warm and fresh, it's light and filling; in short it is a dream. The rich broth, the fresh meat, the crisp spring onions and mungo bean sprouts... 

Sometimes I take the time to make a proper Pho, including making the broth from scratch and simmering it on the stove for hours. Most times though, I fake the broth by adding some spices to a ready made broth. There simply isn't always time for an eight hour cooking session. It is not the same, of course, but it is still delicious.
This is also one of my safe foods for when my tummy is feeling a bit off. A part of that is that it is my favourite food and makes me feel better just because it is so good. But the second best part is, that this is super FODMAP-safe. All the ingredients are in the "eat freely and according to appetite" category. Isn't that just the best thing ever? No worries of portion sizes clouding my Pho experience, while I gobble up this soup. 

I am not Vietnamese and over the years I have probably butchered the true traditional recipe. To anyone who is Vietnamese: I am sorry, I do not mean to offend, I just LOVE this soup so much, and tried to adapt it so it is easy for me to cook. Any tips will be greatly appreciated. So here is my version of a quick, weeknight Beef "Pho"

LowFODMAP Beef "Pho" 
Serves 2
Takes about 30 Minutes to make

Ingredients: 
200 g fresh beef filet
80-100 g mungo bean sprouts 
2-3 spring onions, green parts only
2 stalks thai basil
2 stalks fresh koriander
125g wide rice noodles
fresh chilli to taste (optional, I definitely skip it on a bad tummy day)

1-2l lowFODMAP beef broth (I like the knorr stock pots)
1/2 Stick cinnamon
1 untreated/organic limes
1-2 star anise 
black pepper

Method:
1. First start with the broth. Heat the water and desolve the ready made broth, or take your home made broth from the freezer/ the jar/ wherever you keep it.

2. Add the cinnamon and star anise while the soup is heating up.

3. Rinse the lime under hot water, cut it in half, squeeze the juice of  one half into the pot and also add the squeezed empty lime half. Save the other half for later. Let the soup simmer for 30 minutes. 

4. Prepare the noodles as directed on the packet. 

5. Chop the green part of the spring onions, pluck the herbs off the stems, wash the mungo bean sprouts and cut the meat into small, thin strips. While cutting, remember the meat will not be cooked but only steep in the hot broth, so take care to slice it nice and thin. 

6. To assemble the soup  divide the noodles into two bowls. Add the raw meat on top, spread out so each piece will cook individually. Over that, add about a handful of beansprouts, half the green onions, herbs and possibly some slices of chilli to each bowl. Crack some fresh black pepper over your mountains of goodness.

7. Finally, fish out the cinnamon, star anise and lime out of the broth (or pour through a strainer) and pour the soup over the noodle-meat-veggie-herb-mountain. Squirt some fresh lime juice over the top and voilĂ ! You just made Vietnamese-inspired soup!

FODMAP Serving Size
All the ingredients are in the "eat freely"-category, so: dig in! 
(The only exception is the thai basil, which is moderate in oligos at 2kg. But since one stem only weighs about 2-5g that would be between 400 and 1000 bowls of soup.)

happiness

Summer in a Jar

12:21

Last week I visited the farmers market and was amazed by the full, ripe summer vegetables. Especially the bright red, plump summer tomatoes caught my eye. I bought some, took them home and made a lovely tomato sauce. That sunny taste is one of the things that make summer so great.

I try to eat mostly seasonal vegetables and in summer it's so easy. So for the coming winter I want to conserve some of this summer in jars, to open on cold grey winter days. 

This recipe is my tried and tested pizza sauce, which I have made more times than I can remember. I call it Pizza sauce, because that is when I eat it "naked", but really it works as a base for any type of tomato sauce dish. Fry up some zucchini and aubergine, add this sauce and call it a ratatouille. Brown some minced beef, add this sauce and you got an easy bolognese sauce. Slather it onto some dough, add mozzarella and you have a Pizza Margherita! 

If I am feeling fancy I will add different herbs when I cook the dishes. If I am not, the oregano is enough. This sauce could be made even more versatile without the fresh oregano, but I really enjoy it! In my mind, it also turns this "tomato preserve" into a pasta sauce, for a quick lunch in winter.
I wrote down the recipe for one kilogram of tomatoes, but it can of course be adapted to any amount. Let's find all of the summer tomatoes!

Summer in a Jar or lowFODMAP Pizza Sauce
makes about three jars of 250ml per kilogram

You will need: 
1kg nice ripe summer tomatoes
5 stalks fresh oregano
3+ Tbsp of garlic infused olive oil 
2 Tbsp Tomato paste
2 bay leafs
1 lowFODMAP stock pot or cube (I used the knorr vegetable stock pot)
salt + black pepper to taste

Making the sauce:
1. First, dice the tomatoes into medium sized pieces. If you want the sauce to be extra smooth and more like the store bought kind, peel them first. I usually don't bother, however, and just keep the skins in.

2. Then heat the garlic infused oil in a frying pan on medium heat until it is nice and hot. 

3. Add the tomatoes. Stir a little and then let them simmer, stirring occasionally.

4. Meanwhile pluck the oregano from the stems and chop roughly.

5. Add the Oregano, the bay leaves the tomatopaste and the stock pot or cube and let the whole thing simmer for at least 20 minutes. I like to have the sauce very thick for pizza, so the dough will get less soggy. Cook it uncovered until the sauce gets the desired thickness and cook covered for the remaining time, stirring occasionally.

6. Add salt and pepper to taste. Be careful with the salt, mine didn't end up needing any, since there was already so much salt in the stock pot I used.

7. Turn the heat down to low and keep this sauce simmering for really as long as you ave time. (This step is optional, but it does make the sauce quite a bit nicer.) 

Canning the sauce:
1. Now that you have your summer sauce, we need to make it last all through winter. The best way I know to do that is to can it in jars. That way they will keep for up to 9 month.

2. Full disclosure, I do not have much experience with canning, but I did my research and this seems to be the easiest and safest way: Preheat the oven to 150°C. 

3. Wash out the glasses you want to use with really hot water to sterilize them.

4. Fill them up with the freshly cooked, hot sauce. Put the glasses in a baking tray which is filled with 1-2cm of water.Put it in the oven. The timing is when the instructions differ a lot, between 40 and 90 minutes. I decided to go for 90 minutes and then keep it in the oven for another 30 without opening the door and then let them cool down slowly. 

5. Store them in a cool, dark place for winter!

FODMAP Serving Size:
Tomato puree is safe up to 2 Tablespoons, so you could technically eat this all at once, FODMAP-wise. 

happiness

Good Morning

09:05


I am not a morning person. I firmly believe nothing should happen before 10 am. Still it bothers me, when I get up too late, that I have missed half the day. I try to get up early though. To help me with that, here are five things I would miss if I slept too late every day:

1. The crispness of morning air.
2. Enjoying a cup of coffee in my winter garden, with the morning sun peeking in.
3. Going to the farmers market.
4. Breakfast, arguably the best meal of the day (The only one where it is socially acceptable to eat chocolate as the main course).
5. That slow time when no one expects anything from me.

breakfast

Rainy Afternoons and Waffles

06:00

Summer is starting to fade, the leaves are turning crunchy and my favourite time of year is about to begin: Autumn. The windy mornings, the low sun shining through the trees, the colours...

And also rainy afternoons. The clouds hang heavy in the sky, until they open and rain seems to just pour out of them. Those are my favourite days. I put on warm socks, a comfy sweater and put some milk on the stove. I mix the dough and fire up the waffle iron. 

And then I enjoy these warm, fluffy waffles and a big mug of hot chocolate and just feel perfectly at peace. 

LowFODMAP Soft Fluffy Waffles
recipe adapted from "gluten free on a shoestring"

Ingredients:

280g of a good gluten free, lowFODMAP flour blend, with no gums added
1/4 tsp of xanthan gum (omit if the flour blend has a gum already)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp sugar
2 room temperature eggs, seperated
a dash of salt
3 tbsp sunflower oil
230g plain lactose-free yoghurt
240ml lactose-free milk

Toppings I love are lactose free whipped cream, kiwis, pomegranate seeds, chocolate shavings, powdered sugar or maple syrup. But really, there are no limits. Think nutella, jam, lemon curd... 

Method:
1. First, combine the dry ingredients. Add flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and sugar into a bowl and mix well. 

2. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with a dash of salt until stiff peaks form. 

3. In a third, large bowl mix the egg yolks and sunflower oil until well combined. Then add lactose free milk and yoghurt. Next mix in the dry ingredients. 

4. With a wooden spoon, gently fold in the egg whites. 

5. Bake waffels in your waffle iron. Mine took about 1,5 to 2,5 minutes, depending on thickness

6. Make your favourite hot cocoa and enjoy!


Serving size:
This recipe makes about 8 waffles.

FODMAP-wise the limiting ingredient could be the flour, but that really depends on your blend. Also, be careful with the toppings!


dear big sister

IBS and Me

20:46


Dear big sister,

IBS has been a really big part of my life recently. Bigger than I would like it to be. Still, I don't think I have been giving it the attention it needs. Does that make any sense? Let me explain. My symptoms have been worse recently and I have been beating myself up about it. I haven't actually dealt with anything productively, though. Lots of stress, not enough care. I firmly believe, that reflecting on the past helps to go forward, so here is my IBS-story: 

I have had IBS for a long time, but I thought it was normal. I thought everyone had stomach troubles all the time. I think the first time I noticed, that I was different was when I went to Italy for an exchange semester. I was 16. One day, I had a horrible stomach ache and I asked my host-mother to stay home from school. My own mother usually let me make the decision, whether I was well enough to go to school. My host mother had a different philosophy though: She took my temperature, which was normal, and told me I was fine and sent me to school. She was a lovely women and didn't mean anything bad, this was just what she knew. That was miserable day. 

Even though I have had these problems for longer, during my late teens everything just got so much worse. I never really focused on it. I did try leaving out different foods, like gluten or lactose, but there was no system. Some things made it better, but since the symptoms were never gone, I didn't bother to stick with anything. Whenever I restarted to eat something, I didn't immediately go back to feeling bad. I gradually got worse until I got a full blown flare up. Imade an attempt at getting to the bottom of it, but it didn't work. I went to a doctor and asked if it was possible I had celiac disease, but I didn't. The doctor made me feel bad for self-diagnosing with such a serious illness and sent me home. So I didn't bother another doctor about it for a couple of years.

The stomach issues just got worse and worse though. More cramps, more diarrhea, a near constant exhaustion and lots of neausea. I got myself together and decided to finally find out what was wrong with me. I went to a new doctor, she was very understanding and did every test under the sun. Blood tests, urin tests, stool samples, ultra sounds and finally even a colonoscopy. None of them showed anything out of the ordinary, it was the most frustrating process I have ever endured. But last summer, at the age of 21, I finally got a diagnonsis: Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

While it was a relief to finally name the beast, doctors still didn't know what was wrong with me. They don't know the cause and they can't cure it. I thought I could anyway, if I only tried hard enough. I started the lowFODMAP diet, I exercised more and I organised my life better, to deal with this. The problem was: I still got flare ups. And somehow, since I now felt better in general, the flare ups felt worse. Slowly I started to realize, that I can't cure it. With this came quite a long period of trying to ignore it. If it doesn't go away, why bother doing anything, right? Well, I want to bother now. It is still infinitely better to go from "really good" to "bad occasionally" , than to hover in limbo between "bad" and "worse". 

I realize now, that it is going to be a long process, until I get to where I want to be. So I will take baby steps. Set myself small goals. The first goal is to go back to a strict lowFODMAP diet for two weeks and keep a food and symptom journal throughout it. While I have somewhat followed the lowFODMAP diet since September 2016, I have been making too many exceptions lately. So I want to do two weeks with no exceptions. Then, in two weeks, I will see where I am at and try to find the next step. 

All the best, 

Henrike

Simplicity

23:07



Dear little sister,

Here is a confession: I find life to be an overwhelming place. I do one thing and feel like I should be doing another, and I feel like things are just being continuously heaped on my plate. There are all the  "musts" and "shoulds", but also all the "but I wanted to's" and "wouldn't it be great-if" and the most dangerous ones of all. The "of course I wills". 

And before I know it, I am desperately pedalling just to keep up with the urgent, let alone taking time for the important. It's exhausting. Not just tiring, but exhausting.  I don't mind being tired after a day well spent, but when it piles up until I'm just running from one to the other, doing things here and doing things there, without getting anything done, sooner or later things start to give. I know I've definitely overdone it when I find myself skim-reading bad romance novels at 3 am on a weekday. Don't laugh, it's a stress response. Somewhere between all of that I lose track of what is really important. 

For the last few years I have tried to live a more simple life. I’m still struggling with what exactly that means for me, but in essence it is about cutting down on complexity. Less things, less commitments, less choices, less projects and less ideals. It’s about figuring out what is truly important, and then making sure that becomes a regular, and reliable, part of my life. It’s about keeping the urgent at bay, and focusing on the quiet, long term and important.

Breakfast is a good example, since we are on the subject anyway. I used to struggle with eating any. I’d be out of ingredients, don’t know what I want or don’t have any time. It was a healthy fruit salad one day, then a couple of biscuits running out the door on the next.

Now, I eat porridge. Every morning. I have been doing it for years. Oats and milk, and then a slowly rotating range of toppings. The last few months is has been a couple of fresh fruits and a handful of seeds. It makes my mornings incredibly easy, because I don’t have to think about it. I’m never out of the ingredients. Bowl, oats, milk, water, microwave, chop the fruits. Done. When the oats are empty, I buy more. When there is no fruit, I eat the porridge plain. I don’t have to think, and not having to think about it means that I get a healthy breakfast, every morning, that keeps me full for a good few hours. It’s one less decision to make in my day, one less ‘should’. Having a strong habit removes complexity, and gives me time and mental energy for other things. Of course, eating the same thing every day is a little boring (if tasty) so I will indulge on the weekend, when I have time to make pancakes or fry eggs. But during the week, it’s porridge every morning. Life is a whole lot better when I have a healthy, filling breakfast every morning. It’s only a little better than that if I have a different breakfast every morning, and the effort is not worth the extra cost. So porridge it is.

For me, that is simplicity. Find something that works, and that I enjoy, and then do it. Just that,  because it means this area of my life is taken care off, leaving more room and energy for others. I am very much still working on expanding that philosophy to other areas of my life.

All the best,

Ricarda 

dear little sister

On joy and anticipation

23:22



Dear little sister,

you know what else helps to keep a positive outlook and a happy life? Making the most of the special moments that are already there. Happiness, especially the one caused by special moments, is so fleeting. An hour of concert, a week of holiday, a great day out with friends from far away, and before you know it they are all over and it’s back to Monday morning. This is why it is so important to try to make the most of them by actively fostering anticipation, and cherishing memories. When planning something in advance, there are weeks or even months to look forward to it! After it passes, there are months to fondly think back to the best bits. It’s like worrying, but in reverse! It doesn’t even have to be complicated, all I need to do is tap into the enthusiasm that is already there, and take a minute to enjoy it, whenever I remember that something is coming up.  Pre-living and re-living the good moments makes them last longer and feel like a bigger part of my life, and it helps against that feeling that time is slipping through my fingers, one day the same as the next. Turns out my life is already pretty varied and exciting, I just need to make sure I remember it.

The breakfast cups look great! I’m firmly hooked on porridge every morning, but they look like amazing snacks for a hiking trip or a Sunday picnic.

All the very best,

Ricarda 

Instagram