Emma Hatcher's new book is an ideal read for people suffering from IBS and digestive issues.
'A sensitive gut isn't sexy," says cook Emma Hatcher. Since she was 14, Emma says she missed out on friends' birthday parties and numerous nights out, and spent whole evenings in restaurant bathrooms, rather than at the table, because she didn't know the innocuous-sounding meal was going to wreak havoc on her insides. "It wasn't until I was 21 and still suffering horrendous symptoms that repeated hospital visits confirmed for a second time, that a gluten intolerance and IBS were the main culprits of my illness, and a dietitian suggested a low FODMAP diet," she says.
FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. The words are complex names for a collection of molecules - more specficially short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found in food naturally and in food additives. A diet low in FODMAPs is recommended internationally as the most effective dietary therapy for IBS, says Emma.
"The principle of a low FODMAP diet for IBS is to restrict the foods high in FODMAPs, causing chaos in the gut before working out an individual's own personal tolerance thresholds," she says. This means it can be tailored to you specifically and as a result, improve the gut symptoms associated with IBS."
Emma's book contains useful lists of foods that are low, medium and high in Fodmaps across the categories like fruit, vegetables, grains, cereals, dairy and non-dairy substitutes, nuts, seeds and sweetners. For example, in the fruit cateogory, bananas and blueberries are low, while avocados and cranberries are medium, and apples, apricots and blackberries are high. The lists in the book are ideal for pinning to your fridge door or on the shopping list on your phone so you can come back to them again and again.
I had reservations of calling this 'lightened-uplasagne', for fear of how many of you would quickly turn the page. But there's no better way to describe this dish that replaces wheat pasta with silky layers of butternut squash, making it gluten-free and lighter on the gut. Delicious served alongside a kale-based green salad.
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1kg minced beef
2 tins (each 400g) chopped tomatoes
2 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 butternut squash
100g grated mozzarella
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and sauté the parsnip, carrot and pepper until soft. Add the mince and cook until browned. Pour in the tomatoes and water and stir in the oregano, bay leaves and basil. Simmer for roughly 1 hour until the meat is tender and saucy.
Taste and season. Preheat the oven to 180°C (gas 4).
Peel and cut the squash into thin slices, as if lasagne sheets. Bake in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil for 15 minutes. Once tender, you can get to work on layering the lasagne, just quickly fish out your bay leaves from your meat first. In a baking dish, add one layer of the mince mixture, one layer of spinach and one layer of squash, repeating until all of the ingredients are used up. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake in the oven at the same temperature for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and crispy.
Mushroom risotto used to be one of my favourites, and the aubergines here are a great substitute that provide a very similar texture. Warming and satisfying, this is real 'bowl' food. The buckwheat groats cook in a third of the time of a standard rice risotto, so that you can get more time away from the stove. Plus, its creaminess comes from the macadamia nuts, instead of the butter, offering a different texture and a lovely richness.
1 large aubergine, chopped into small chunks
2 tbsp garlic-infused oil
255g buckwheat groats
80ml dry white wine
470ml vegetable stock or hot water
150g spring greens
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
½ small bunch of fresh parsley,
Grated parmesan, to serve (optional)
For the macadamia cream 40g macadamia nuts, soaked for 5 hours or overnight
35g sunflower seeds
½ tsp sea salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
To make the macadamia cream, add all of the ingredients apart from the water into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. While the processor is still running, pour in the water bit by bit, until you reach a thick, cream-like consistency. Leave to one side while preparing the rest of the dish.
To make the risotto, heat the garlic-infused oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the aubergine and sauté for about 10 minutes or until softened and starting to brown. Add the buckwheat groats to the pan. Toss and let cook, 'toasting' the buckwheat, for about 1-2 minutes.
Add the wine, stir and let cook until completely absorbed. Ladle in the vegetable stock, a little bit at a time, keeping the mixture at a low simmer. Each time the liquid is absorbed by the buckwheat, add a bit more, until you've used up all the stock and it's been absorbed fully by the buckwheat. Have a quick taste. The buckwheat should be tender at this point, but not mushy. Add in the spring greens and lemon juice and cook for another couple of minutes. Take the pan off the heat and stir the macadamia cream. Divide into bowls and serve topped with parsley, lemon zest, and a little parmesan, if you like.
These are so easy to make and healthy to boot. Delicious served with a little mayonnaise or plain lactose-free yoghurt, speckled with a few chilli flakes.
Makes four large, or six smaller fishcakes.
½ butternut squash
2 tbsp lactose-free butter
2 large haddock fillets (roughly 350g)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp chopped dill
1 tbsp chopped lemon thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
150g of spinach
To make the mash, peel the butternut squash and celeriac, cut into small chunks and boil for 8-10 minutes or until tender. Drain and mash with the butter, seasoning to taste. In a food processor, blend the haddock (make sure the skin is off) with the mustard, dill, thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper. Process until the fish is minced and mixed well with the herbs. Roll into 4-6 small patties. Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Sear the fish cakes for 3 minutes on each side or until cooked through. In the last minute, add the spinach to the pan and wilt. Spoon onto plates, followed by a dollop of mash and a haddock fishcake.