I’ve been following Emma Hatcher’s blog, She Can’t Eat What?!, for a while now because Emma makes some rather interesting (and pretty) low FODMAP meals. So when I heard that Emma was working on a FODMAP friendly cookbook, and seeing sneak peek images she was sharing on social media, I began impatiently waiting for the end result.
And finally here it is… The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen Cookbook: 100 Easy, Delicious, Recipes for a Healthy Gut and a Happy Life.
If you’re a regular reader of A Less Irritable Life, I don’t need to tell you how important FODMAPs are or why someone might want to follow a low FODMAP diet. But if you’re new here, I recommend reading What is a low FODMAP diet and who is it for? so that you understand why this cookbook is so important for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Okay, now onto how this cookbook can help people who follow a low FODMAP diet…
About The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen Cookbook: 100 Easy, Delicious, Recipes for a Healthy Gut and a Happy Life
The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen is a collaboration between Emma Hatcher and FODMAP Friendly, bringing together a regular IBS sufferer (like you and me) who happens to love eating and cooking with a company whose job is to test foods for FODMAPs and certify them if they’re safe for us to eat. That’s quite a combination… real life experience + good food + FODMAP expertise. If you haven’t heard of FODMAP Friendly before, here’s an article I’ve written about the FODMAP Friendly Food Program.
In The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen, you’ll find 100 recipes divided up into ‘lifestyle chapters’, including the rather appropriately-labelled chapter, “Mid-Afternoon Slump” – filled with sweet and savoury snacks to give you an afternoon pick me up without upsetting the tummy. There’s recipes for all occasions, including pizza, pasta, salads, roasts and bakes, pancakes, porridge, jam, smoothies, dips, salad dressings, stir-fries, muffins, raw treats, cakes and pies.
The recipes I bookmarked on my first flick through are:
- Lazy Baked Eggs with Spicy Tomatoes and Feta – I love baked eggs and I enjoy trying different variations.
- Spinach Smoothie Pancakes with Homemade Hazelnut Spread and Fresh Strawberries – the idea of green pancakes intrigues me.
- Happy Belly Green Soup – a simple yet fresh soup that the nutritionist in me loves the idea of.
- Cheat’s Buckwheat Pizza with Lemony Basil Pesto and Goats Cheese – because who doesn’t like quick and easy pizza?
- Smoked Mackerel Salad with Cucumber, Orange, Fennel and Radish – this salad looks so fresh, without any green leaves at all.
- Toasted Nori Chips –I’ve got some nori sheets and am too lazy to make sushi, so this seems like a good way to use them up.
- Raspberry and Hemp Flapjacks – kind of like a cross between a muesli bar and a raspberry slice.
- Bacon and Spinach Quiche – because bacon and quiche are always a winner in my eyes.
- Sticky Maple, Lime and Ginger Pulled Pork – I’ve always wanted to make pulled pork but never done it.
- Cardamom Rice Pudding – an oven-baked rice pudding, something I’ve been wanting to try because looking after a bubbling rice pudding on a stove is time consuming.
So far I’ve made the Sticky Maple, Lime and Ginger Pulled Pork and the Cardamom Rice Pudding.
The Pulled Pork was amazing, although I divided it up into 12 smaller (and more nutritionally appropriate serves) rather than the 6 serves it recommends. I served it with brown rice and green beans.
The Cardamom Rice Pudding also turned out very well. I used unsweetened almond milk (instead of rice milk) and found the recipe more than sweet enough without adding more sugar. What surprised me was how well the cardamom covered over the taste of the almond milk (which I’ve never really enjoyed). I served the rice pudding with defrosted frozen raspberries and toasted coconut flakes.
Some interesting features of this cookbook are:
- One of the things that Emma didn’t like about most low FODMAP recipes before she started making her own was that they were meat-heavy, used lots of processed ingredients, or were high in fat. So Emma set out to make healthier and more nourishing recipes so that we could be healthier and have happy tummies.
- There’s a very thorough chapter at the start called “My Store Cupboard”, which quickly brings you up to speed on essential low FODMAP ingredients that you need in your pantry. It also discusses key flavour switches for dealing with the exclusion of garlic or onion in a low FODMAP diet, which is great for beginners.
About the Author: Emma Hatcher
Emma’s had tummy troubles for as long as she can remember and was officially diagnosed with IBS when she was 14. While she tried to ease her symptoms by removing various foods from her diet, it wasn’t until she was 21 that she first tried a low FODMAP diet. Within 2 weeks, her life was changed and she hasn’t looked back.
The catch is that Emma loves to eat. She says that she learned to cook FODMAP friendly meals because “I’m greedy and couldn’t bear a life without tasty food”. Now that I can relate to. Although I wouldn’t call it being greedy, it’s just refusing to go without the good stuff for the rest of your life.
So Emma began creating her own low FODMAP recipes and published them on her blog, She Can’t Eat What?! Then 2 years ago, Emma met up with the team from FODMAP Friendly and they began a collaboration that resulted in The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen. Now you get to enjoy the fruits of their labour. As Emma puts it “everybody deserves to be healthy and happy – and eat doughnuts”, which you’ll find on page 190 of the cookbook.
Now for an honest critique of The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen…
The things I really liked about it:
- The photos are simply amazing and most recipes have a photo. I love this because I like to see what a recipe will look like rather than trying to guess from the name and ingredients. Plus, the prettier it looks, the more you want to try it.
- Most of the time, measurements are given in grams or millilitres (ml), especially larger amounts. This improves accuracy in low FODMAP cooking since portion size matters a lot.
- Most recipes use standard ingredients and are created to be very approachable. That way you won’t have to fuss around in the kitchen in order to make good food.
- The cooking techniques are pretty standard, so most recipes won’t catch you off guard and don’t require you to get your head around a new way of cooking.
- At the very start, there’s an “Essentials” chapter that shows you how to make some core items, like quinoa, buckwheat, a gluten-free flour blend and vegetable stock.
- While the recipes look very appealing and normal, they will stretch your diet and get you to try some ‘new’ low FODMAP ingredients that are very healthy for you, e.g. quinoa, buckwheat and millet.
- The special recipes that require a little more fuss are separated into a different chapter (Something Special) to the everyday meals (Wholesome Lunches and Nutritious Suppers), so there’s no misunderstandings that it’s going to take a bit extra to make them happen.
The things I didn’t like quite so much:
- Maple syrup is frequently used as a sweetener in fairly large amounts. While pure maple syrup is certainly low FODMAP and does have a unique flavour, it’s very expensive. Since maple syrup is essentially liquid sugar, I would have liked to see more recipes using cane sugar that is much cheaper to purchase.
- Emma does use a few ingredients that aren’t that very common, including hemp seeds, samphire, lavender and rose petals. While it’s good to try new things, these ingredients haven’t as yet been tested for FODMAPs.
- Quite a number of recipes use coconut oil, which I don’t like cooking with because of how high it is in saturated fats. I understand it’s use in baking because of the texture it provides, but in regular cooking it’s better to use olive oil which is a healthier choice.
- Emma likes chilli and it’s used in lots of recipes. While chilli is low FODMAP, it is a gut irritant and doesn’t always sit well people who have IBS, so it would have been nice to see chilli as an optional ingredient.
The overall verdict:
I got a delightful sense of warmth from this cookbook, like Emma had made the recipes just for me and that she was ready to hand me a plate full of food straight from her kitchen. You get such a homely feel from the book which adds an incredible appeal to the recipes.
I particularly love how normal most of the recipes are and that there are many FODMAP friendly versions of everyday favourites, such as quiche, pizza and mac and cheese. But I also like that the health aspects of the recipes have been considered too since a healthy gut and body requires more than avoiding FODMAPs.
There’s something for everyone in this FODMAP friendly cookbook and I’m sure you’ll find some new favourite recipes in there too.
How you can get a copy of The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen
The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen Cookbook: 100 Easy, Delicious, Recipes for a Healthy Gut and a Happy Life, by Emma Hatcher, is available in good bookshops nationwide. It’s also available from online stores such as Booktopia and Amazon and from ebook retailers.
Disclosure: I requested a copy of this cookbook so that I could review it for you, however the opinions in this review are entirely my own and an honest assessment of how I feel about the product.
Image credits: Malou Burger (used with permission)