I love curling up on the couch with a stack of cookbooks, flicking through the pages to find new meals to make. It’s always been one of my favourite things to do. But as my food intolerances have increased, this simple activity that brought me so much joy has become more of an exercise in frustration.
Of course it’s possible to adapt many recipes to make them safe, but when over half the ingredients can make you ill, looking through cookbooks can become rather depressing. And when I get particularly frustrated by those recipes loaded up with multiple FODMAPs, I can often be heard muttering “that’s how to kill Glenda”. Yes, I do know that FODMAPs won’t technically kill me, but sometimes the pain can feel that way.
So what’s a cookbook lover to do?
Get themselves a copy of The Low-FODMAP Cookbook: 100 Delicious, Gut-Friendly Recipes for IBS and other Digestive Disorders, by Dianne Fastenow Benjamin.
As soon as I got a copy of this low FODMAP cookbook last week, I immediately curled up on the couch and started flicking through the recipes. But this cookbook didn’t result in frustration and muttering, instead it left me rapidly bookmarking recipe after recipe that I wanted to try. Talk about a shift. And I’ve looked through the book every day since I got it and still keep bookmarking more recipes that I want to try.
About The Low-FODMAP Cookbook: 100 Delicious, Gut-Friendly Recipes for IBS and other Digestive Disorders
As the title explains, this cookbook is specially designed for people who have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and need to follow a low FODMAP diet. There are 100 recipes ranging from pasta dishes, pizza, breads, muffins, pancakes, granola, stews, roasts, salads, biscuits and cakes. So basically, there’s recipes for every single meal and there’s bound to be something that you’d love to make.
The recipes I bookmarked on my first flick through are:
- Peanut Butter Overnight Quinoa and Oats – this is similar to some of my favourite breakfast combos, but I’ve never tried mixed quinoa and oats before.
- Lemon Blueberry Baked Doughnuts – I’m going to have to get a doughnut baking tray to make these.
- Chicken Salad with Pecans and Grapes – the idea of grapes in a creamy meaty salad intrigues me.
- Loaded Baked Potato Coins – it’s basically baked potato slices topped with bacon and cheese (enough said!).
- Baked Brown Rice with Parmesan and Herbs – the convenience of this dish is very appealing, sort of like an oven-baked risotto.
- Italian Wedding Soup – broth, veggies, pasta and meatballs, what’s not to like?
- Slow Cooker Lemon Olive Chicken – I’ve actually been looking for a recipe just like this.
- Mini Blueberry Crisps – kind of like a blueberry crumble and wonderfully portioned.
So far I’ve made the Baked Brown Rice with Herbs, Swedish Chicken Meatballs, and Mini Blueberry Crisps. All of them were absolutely delicious and worked wonderfully. And I’ve already bought the ingredients to make the Slow Cooker Lemon Olive Chicken later this week and have very high hopes for it.
Some interesting features of this cookbook are:
- All of the recipes are free from gums. This is because some people with IBS, including the author, can’t tolerate xanthan gum or other gums (e.g. guar gum). Personally I don’t tolerate xanthan gum very well but am fine with guar gum. But the lack of gums in the recipes for baked goods makes them suitable for a wider range of people.
- There’s suggestions for how to convert many recipes to vegan options. In particular, switching out eggs for ‘chia eggs’. This also makes the recipes quite handy for people who also have problems tolerating eggs and gives a sneaky way to add extra fibre to meals.
About the Author: Dianne Fastenow Benjamin
Like us, Dianne is an IBS sufferer too – she was diagnosed over 20 years ago. In some ways, Dianne was lucky because she learned about FODMAPs many years ago when they were still relatively unknown, helping her to get her IBS under control sooner than some of the rest of us. The downside though was that she had to work out how to cook low FODMAP meals long before there were blogs and other cookbooks available to help her.
But since Dianne developed a love of cooking very early in life and was already creating recipes for her blog Delicious As It Looks, she was in a fantastic position to start adjusting recipes and creating new, delicious, and low FODMAP options. And all those years of hard work have come together in this gorgeous cookbook.
Even though Dianne doesn’t have nutrition qualifications, she did consult with the Monash Low FODMAP dietitians to make sure that the advice she gave in this book met the current understanding about FODMAPs. Also, while I haven’t checked every single recipe, I can say that the ones I have dug into do meet official low FODMAP criteria.
Now for an honest critique of The Low-FODMAP Cookbook…
The things I really liked about it:
- There are beautiful photos for most of the recipes, which is fantastic because I love to see what a recipe will look like before making it.
- Most of the recipes use very normal ingredients, so you won’t be running around trying to find ‘weird and wonderful’ things before you can try out a recipe.
- The cooking utensils and kitchen implements needed are all pretty standard, except for that doughnut tray I’m going to have to buy.
- The recipes give you the choice of using measuring cups and spoons or metric measures (grams and millilitres), which makes cooking easier.
- Most recipes are fuss-free, so they shouldn’t take a whole lot of effort and you don’t need to be an experienced cook to get them to work.
- While many of the recipes are fairly healthy, there is a “Treats” chapter. I really like that Dianne didn’t call these snacks and make them seem like they were everyday fare. That being said, occasional treats are good to help remove the restrictive feel of the low FODMAP diet.
- There’s a “Basics” chapter to help you make the most essential items for a low FODMAP kitchen, including stocks and broths, pesto and garlic-infused oil.
- The recipes look very family-friendly and should be well accepted by other household members who don’t need their food to be low FODMAP.
- If you didn’t know any better, most of the recipes don’t look low FODMAP. By that I mean that they look like something you would normally eat, which makes them even more appealing.
The things I didn’t like quite so much:
- Because Dianne is American, she uses some terminology that isn’t standard in Australia. But this is a minor issue and can be easily overcome by a quick Google search.
- The cup and spoon measures are Imperial, not metric, which means they’re slightly different to Australian measures. But for most recipes, especially the savoury and breakfast recipes, this difference won’t matter. It may create an issue for baked goods, but that can be fixed by using the gram and millilitre values.
- There are a couple of ingredients used that aren’t common in Australia. For instance, turkey is hard to find over here, but you could use chicken or pork instead. And tilapia, a commonly available fish in America, isn’t available in Australia. But these are only in a few recipes so aren’t a major issue.
- Some recipes call for coconut oil, which I don’t like using in cooking because of the saturated fats (and the cost), but most recipes that use it also give the option of using butter. Admittedly butter is still high in saturated fats, but it’s much cheaper.
- The recipes I’ve tried so far had a little more salt than I would normally use, but that’s pretty easy to adjust.
The overall verdict:
I absolutely love this cookbook. I thought I’d like it based on the images I’d seen on Amazon and Dianne’s blog, but it completely surpassed my expectations. It’s truly my favourite of all the low FODMAP cookbooks I’ve seen so far.
Its biggest strength is that it has very approachable and ‘normal’ recipes that are easy to make and which look incredibly appealing. And, I guess, these are the types of recipes that I like to cook.
Probably the best praise I can give is that it’s made me want to put my own recipe creation on hold so that I can keep making recipes from this book. And for someone who loves playing in the kitchen, creating new meals, and who rarely follows other recipes, that really says something.
How you can get a copy of The Low-FODMAP Cookbook
The Low-FODMAP Cookbook: 100 Delicious, Gut-Friendly Recipes for IBS and other Digestive Disorders, by Dianne Fastenow Benjamin is available in many bookstores. But you can also buy it from Amazon either as a paperback or Kindle. I have the paperback version, but if you have a Kindle, you can get yourself a copy even quicker.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this cookbook for free, however the opinions in this review are entirely my own and an honest assessment of how I feel about the product.