Desperate Healthwise

LF for Beginners: Adapting Recipes to Low FODMAP

LF for BeginnersBenny Joy SmithComment

So you've stocked up your pantry and understand what to look out for when reading labels, now you want to get cooking, but you don't know where to start. There aren't many recipes out there specifically catered to be low FODMAP (this blog being the exception of course) and you are tired of bland food. This is where adapting recipes comes into play. 

Adapting recipes is not as complicated or time consuming as it may sound, in fact in can be quite simple, and over time you will find it easier to figure out which recipes to adapt and which to steer clear of. For starters, lets figure out which ingredients can be substituted and how to use those substitutions in recipes.

1. Low FODMAP substitutions 

So you want to adapt a recipe but you don't know which low FODMAP ingredients can be substituted for their high FODMAP counterparts. One thing you need to know is to make sure to substitute ingredients that have a similar taste and texture and produce similar results to the recipe you are adapting e.g. substituting plain flour for cornflour in sauces and gravies (NOTE: when substituting plain flour with cornflour, it is important to halve the amount of cornflour e.g. if a recipe calls for 6 tbsp plain flour use 3 tbsp cornflour). Here is a basic list of high FODMAP foods and their low FODMAP substitutions:

  • Onions + garlic - Substitute with garlic infused olive oil. If a recipe states to use olive oil, substitute some of the olive oil with the garlic infused oil and remove garlic and onions from recipe.
  • Pasta + egg noodles - Substitute with gluten free pasta and rice noodles. Rice noodles are great substitutions for egg noodles in Asian-style dishes.
  • Breadcrumbs -  Substitute with gluten free bread, crumbled, LSA (ground linseed, sunflower seed and almonds) or polenta.
  • Chicken + beef stocks - These can be substituted for low FODMAP herbs and spices or you can purchase onion and garlic free stocks. I use Massel's 7's cubes and Maggi Beef Stock Melts.
  • Wheat flour - For sauces and gravies substitute with cornflour. For baking you can substitute with a gluten free flour mix or make your own mix of flours. I like to bake with almond meal and coconut flour, as they are reasonably cheap and create deliciously light and moist baking. 
  • Honey + agave nectar - Substitute these with pure maple syrup or golden syrup. You can substitute with sugar in some recipes (e.g. ginger ale), but often honey is used to moisten baking so it is best to use a low FODMAP sweetener that is a syrup to keep the recipe as close to the original as possible.
  • Milk - If you are a lactose malabsorber, substitute dishes containing milk with lactose free milk or yogurt (I love the Retro Organics range of lactose free products) or other dairy free milks (almond, coconut, rice or oat).

2. Finding suitable recipes to adapt

Now it is time to put those substitutions to good use and start adapting recipes! The first thing you need to look out for is which recipes are able to be adapted. It is often a good idea to find recipes with a slightly low FODMAP base, for example gluten free recipes or dishes with a few low FODMAP fruits and vegetables. Good old Google is your best friend when it comes to finding these types of recipes. I'll give you an example of a suitable recipe and its substitutions (you can find this recipe here):

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
3 cups almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
¾ cup raw cacao powder  -  substitute with cocoa powder
½ cup raw coconut palm sugar  -  keep if you can afford or substitute with brown or raw sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup coconut milk, full fat  -  either keep or substitute with 1 cup lactose free milk or yogurt
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons raw honey  -  replace with 2 tbsp maple syrup or golden syrup

So that recipe was relatively easy, and in a lot of cases, it is that simple.  Now for an example of a recipe that cannot be adapted a Dairy Free Strawberry Cheesecake (I have just included the ingredients for the filling, you can find the full recipe by clicking this link):

Dairy Free Strawberry Cheesecake
300g (2 cups) raw cashew pieces, soaked overnight  -  very high FODMAP, avoid!
1 cup full fat coconut milk
500g (1/2 a very large head) cauliflower, riced, cooked and squeezed dry  -  high FODMAP
1 cup raw honey, melted  -  high FODMAP, however can be substituted
3/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp Himalayan salt
1/2 tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar  -  ebatably high FODMAP, due to apple content
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
6 large eggs
the juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup tapioca flour

I have found countless cheesecake recipes similar to this during my desperate search for a low FODMAP cheesecake. Needless to say I have been disappointed. The amount of high FODMAP ingredients in this recipe and with very few substitutions (especially for the cashews and cauliflower) make this a recipe I would avoid trying to mess around with. But maybe that's just me. If you happen to create a dairy free low FODMAP cheesecake masterpiece then let me know!

Basically, recipe adapting is a trial and error process. Often you will get it wrong, but you will also surprise yourself with all the success you will encounter too. I have made plenty of meals with very low expectations, only to have them work out beautifully and deliciously! 

So this concludes the basic introduction to recipe adaptation, and this week's Low FODMAP for Beginners post. If you have any questions regarding recipe altering, feel free to get in contact with me! Keep an eye out for the last post on the Low FODMAP for Beginners series next week.