Sunday, September 29, 2013

Exploring new food frontiers

I’m still playing food detective while I figure out exactly which FODMAPs foods I can tolerate and in what quantities. There *may* have been a little foot-stamping and pouting over a few things, but in general I’m coping pretty well.

Honestly, I really do get the "mourning" that people experience when they realise that they have to give up certain favourite foods. But in the end it's a no-brainer. Keep eating something for the fleeting pleasure of the flavour, with the price being days or weeks of pain, lethargy, moodiness and general fun-suckery? No thanks.

I haven't finished testing foods by any means, but that's going to take quite some time, as I figure out which specific foods do or don't upset me and if there's a safe dose. Meanwhile I'm just getting on with life.

Here are a few things I've learned...

1. Eating out.

Read the menu carefully and never assume that, just because something isn't mentioned, it isn't in the meal. Ask lots of questions. Yes, you will be that PITA customer who queries everything, but I've found restaurant staff to be very accommodating so far. They're quite used to helping people with allergies and intolerances navigate the menu.

Order something to share - then your dining companion can eat all the stuff you're avoiding and nothing goes to waste. :)

Spanish style tasting platter. I avoided the artichoke hearts and left most of the terrine to
Bike Boy, in case of onion, but the rest was magnifico. Oh, those tiny Turkish figs!
If the accompanying veggies to your main course don't suit, ask for a substitute. Or order a side salad.

Tassie salmon, capers, dill and a marvellous ratatouille that I risked a few mouthfuls of.
The garden salad was perfect - except for some onion rings, which I picked out..

If you're attending a group function and there's a set or limited menu, ring the restaurant beforehand and discuss your needs with them. I was impressed last week that the young lady I spoke to at PM24 about an upcoming work lunch knew something about FODMAPs and fructose malabsorption. Turns out that it was no problem on the day to swap the Jerusalem artichokes and mushrooms in my duck salad for something else.

It's not really difficult, but it does take some thought and you have to be prepared to ask questions and request changes where necessary. Do not worry about looking like an attention-seeking whiney-pants. Just smile and be polite but firm.

The bigger challenge is grabbing a quick takeaway lunch. So far, that's only happened twice, and both times I've stuck to sushi because everything else available either contained something I can't eat OR was just completely unappetising.

2. Home cooking

You're not restricted to boring or bland meals, but you do need to be able to tweak your old favourite recipes to make them suit, or swap them for something else entirely.

Last night Bike Boy decided to cook lamb shanks for dinner. Is it just here in Melbourne, or have lamb shanks been stupidly expensive everywhere this year? They used to be a cheap cut ...damn you, TV cooking shows for making them trendy! Thank goodness for Spring though - the price has halved. Hurrah!

Our usual Kylie Kwong recipe contains dates and apricots - both out of the question, as polyols are one of my major problems. It also has a lot of shallots and garlic - and while fructans are less of an issue for me, I'm not about to eat a massive dose of the buggers and see what happens. Plus combining two of my FODMAPs nemeses would be a recipe for a major guts-ache, no doubt about it.

In the end, he came up with an Italian-style recipe instead, loosely based on osso bucco. There's still garlic and a little onion, but the quantities in my serve should be small enough to not cause me dramas. Hopefully. I needed to test onion anyway, so what the hell....

"Lamb-oh Bucco" with gremolata - recipe to come!
3. Research!

There's nearly always something that can be substituted for an offending food.

For onion and garlic flavours, I mostly use green spring onion tops and garlic-infused oil. I also have some asafoetida powder, which is stinky stuff (hence the name) that when cooked, adds an onion flavour to recipes. I can cook whole garlic cloves or big slices in a dish and then remove them before eating too.

Gluten-free products can be useful when you want to avoid fructans, although you need to read the labels carefully, because there is often corn, soy or some other thing added which might be a problem. In something like a casserole that calls for wheat flour as a thickener, I'd just use the flour though, because the quantity in one serve is so small it's unlikely to cause me any dramas.

Avoiding lactose isn't a big thing - mostly. There are lactose-free milks, creams and even ice cream. My favourite cheeses are all OK and so is yoghurt. And of course there's a whole range of milk substitutes available if you prefer those. You can make ice cream, custards and puddings using lactose-free products; I plan to give my signature lemon tart a whirl using Zymil cream and see how it turns out.

The internet is infinitely useful when it comes to finding alternative recipes. There are so many gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and other recipe sites about that I'm spoiled for choice. I've even discovered a recipe for a dairy-free alternative to condensed milk - HELLO, lactose-free caramel filling! I'll give that a try soon and report on the outcome.

Of course, sometimes I get excited by the sound of a recipe and then discover that it has cauliflower as its base. Or dates in the filling for texture and sweetness. Or some other thing that I can't eat. *sigh* And there are recipes labelled as "low FODMAPs" that contain cream cheese or ricotta. Gawd. But I just move onto the next Google result or Yummly link.

I'm currently eyeing off Sara's avocado ganache cake. I'll have to completely change the base because: dates. But the ganache should work nicely, as long as I cut the finished cake into small portions - avocado contains polyols, but not in enormous quantities, so a small slice is fine (in theory - I haven't tested it yet). But more than about one-sixteenth of the recipe could cause me discomfort the next day. Now there's a disincentive to go back for seconds or thirds. ;o)


The lamb shanks recipe will be forthcoming tomorrow. It's a good 'un. :)

I'm interested in experiences that readers with food intolerances or allergies have had when eating out. Particularly if eating at a relative's or friend's do you handle those situations? Leave me a comment...



Wanda Cox - Wellness With Wanda said...

Kerryn, one of the things that I appreciate about you is that although there are certain foods that you no longer choose to eat, you still have such a varied and tempting menu. AND you manage to do all that while maintaining that beautiful lean figure. Impressive indeed!


Kek said...

Wanda, if staying lean and healthy required living on just a few foods, I'd never manage it. Variety is definitely the spice of life. :)

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