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Sunday, 22 May 2016

I’ve always been a lover of savoury food - cheesy, salty, vinegary, chilli, you name it! Unless I’ve baked it myself (or a friend or colleague has done so) I rarely indulge in sweet things, just pass me the cheese and biscuits and be done with it. Since cheese doesn’t especially agree with me (we’ll save the cheese feasts for when I’m seriously prepared for over-indulgence) and I was getting a little bored of popcorn (N.b. this is a sin in itself, popcorn should never be boring – I just wanted something a little different), I was itching to reach for something else. I wanted something a little more nutritious than a packet of crisps (although those who know me will know I’ll always be reaching for salt and vinegar) and with that can of chickpeas sitting on the naughty shelf of the cupboard I thought I’d have a hunt around for a recipe.

In the world of FODMAPs, legumes are – in general – given a bad name due to GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides) which broke my heart when I was venturing out into the big ol’ world of FODMAPS (or should I say, lack of). What was a girl to do when she lived on the things?!

Then a wonderful, wonderful thing happened – I’d done my research.

FODMAPs are water soluble.

So? This means that canned legumes (namely lentils and chickpeas, I’m not sure about other ones) are usually safe to eat in certain amounts as long as the liquid they’re in is discarded and the legumes are washed thoroughly (yes, this means that the chickpea water ‘aquafaba’ is a no-no). YES! My prayers had quite literally been answered and that poor can of chickpeas that had previously been banished to the naughty shelf could come down.

I stumbled on quite a few recipes for roasted chickpeas, some more exotic than others, but what I really craved was a real punchy hit of salt and vinegar with the crunch and satisfaction that you’d get from your favourite crisps (but with a little more goodness). So, without further ado, here’s a very simple recipe for some roasted chickpeas – ever-so-slightly adapted from Oh She Glows.

Salt and vinegar roasted chickpeas 


  • 1 can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed thoroughly)
  • Approx. 2 cups of white vinegar (NOT malt if you’re following a low FODMAP diet)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (table is perfectly fine here)
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil (no need to dig your posh EVOO out from the cupboard, but not the light stuff). 

1. Line a baking tray (we use those reusable non-stick baking sheets – no waste!)
2. Add chickpeas and vinegar into a pot and bring to the boil before taking off the light and leaving for 20-30 minutes – uncovered (keep in a well-ventilated area for this and open up a window, boiled vinegar is strong stuff!)
4. Preheat oven to 200C.
5. Drain your chickpeas and discard the vinegar. Place into baking tray and massage the oil and salt so that each chickpea is covered.
6. Roast for a good 30-45 minutes (oven dependent). They’ll be OK up to the 15 minute mark but from then on I checked on them every 5/10 minutes and gave them a shake. Make sure they don’t burn, basically, as they tend to go a bit bitter.
7. Leave to cool slightly and tuck in! Enjoy with a glass of vino and your favourite movie.

Getting enough fibre on a low FODMAP diet can be a bit of a challenge (unfortunately a lot of high fibre foods are also high on the FODMAP scale too) but a safe-serve of chickpeas will give you approximately 2.5g of fibre!


Tuesday, 17 May 2016

I have a confession to make, I'm a lazy cook. Yes, I occasionally get the bug where all I want to do is make these intricate little creations and watch the smiles appear on my loved ones faces (or maybe they're wincing and reaching for the bucket, who knows), experiment with these wild and wonderful creations and thank my Mother for her creative trait. Most of the time (like, 90% of the time) I would settle for quick, easy, cheap, and cheerful - minimal washing up please!

Bring on the potato pie!

I was craving something easy to rustle together on Sunday as part of my food prep. I'll admit, this week we were a little slack on the food prep side of things. We managed to slow roast a chicken and rustle up a few bits and bobs alongside this creation, but otherwise it was relaxed. In fact, I think we spent most of the day tidying up and then celebrating over a booked holiday (I'm heading to Turkey in 3 weeks). It was getting a little late in the day to be cooking for the week but I'd already got my pen and paper out and minimal ingredients out on the side and I needed to just give it a go! 

This is a recipe suitable for the low FODMAP diet if you're out of the elimination stage. It's wheat free, lactose free, and relatively FODMAP free too... Just watch out for asparagus! I tolerate it well (thankfully - I love the stuff) but it contains moderate levels of fructans. Some sources say avoid completely, some say <3 spears are low FODMAP but use your own judgement here and omit if unsure.


300g Maris Piper Potatoes - grated with liquid squeezed out (so approx. 250g grated potato)
 4 medium eggs (50g each)
 100ml milk (I used semi skimmed Lactofree)
 2 spears of asparagus (woody ends removed and thinly sliced / peeled)
 1 sliced tomato (100g)
 About 5g melted butter to grease your dish
 Plenty of salt and pepper to taste

 1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
 2. Grease your pie/small quiche dish.
 3. Whisk together eggs and milk.
 4. Layer half of your grated potato on the bottom, season well, and add your peeled asparagus.
 5. Pour over half of your egg/milk mixture.
 6. Layer the remainder of the potato, season, and press down. Add the rest of your liquid mixture.
 7. Pop into the centre of your preheated oven and bake for between 45 mins to 1 hour until golden brown and fully set.


Serves 3.
Calories per serving: 309 || Carbs: 33 (3g sugar) || Fat: 17 || Protein: 13

Portion it up when cool and add a side salad for a perfect lunch.
On a side note (and completely unrelated as per), it's been lovely these past few days (ok - intermittently lovely). Since I've been upping my fitness levels (and dying thanks to day one of the pre-training week of BBG - yes, day one!) I thought I should make the most of this beautiful afternoon and go for a little walk after work. A quick pootle around the block turned into a 3.3 mile wander past the fields and farms near me, but isn't it beautiful?!

Little Fish, xo


Sunday, 8 May 2016

To say I'm a natural runner is a big, fat, lie. My hands are held high... I admit it. Back in school I was the one coughing and wheezing during cross country or doing anything humanly possible to get out of it (male PE teacher and even the slightest of whispers about PMT seemed to do the trick). Long distance just wasn't my thing, If anything I was more of a sprinter, though this was more of an 'if I put my all into this I can actually win without feeling like I'm about to keel over' kind of thing rather than this devout love for the sport.

I just didn't get it. I didn't get the enjoyment. I didn't see what was so exciting about feeling like I was about to meet my maker, face flat in the mud (to be honest even now that doesn't sound appealing).

It was actually only about 4 years ago that I decided to give it a go and see what the fuss was about. Granted, my first run wasn't successful. I was in the midst of my Masters and trying to run to escape the harsh reality that deadlines were looming, or to brush off anxiety, or to even please the (now ex thankfully) boyfriend who seemed to class anything larger than a twig as fat and anyone doing less than a 20 hour day as lazy. I know right? Bullet. Dodged.

Coursework handed in, exams passed, York was left behind, hearts were broken, weight was lost, and we've just fast forwarded about 8 months. I'd just signed up to do a 10km Race for Life round Tatton Park. Why?! Because one of my lovely friends had just ran the London Marathon as an asthmatic and here was me crying over a mile. I thought it would be wise to aim for something a little shorter-distance whilst I was waiting (aka, training) for the 10km so I signed up for a little fun 5km Color Run (highly recommended by the way - a little pricey but so much fun). It doesn't take a genius to work out that a 5km is very very different to a 10km. had to change my mind set.

So, more determined than ever I had to make a few little changes:

1. Speed. I'm used to sprinting or at least rushing into things head first. I'm quick from the word go. Great for 100m runs, not so good for longer distances. It was always picked up, too, that my starting speed was just too great. I was wanting to reach the finish line before I'd even started, a recipe for disaster if you ask me.

2. Fitness. My heart is terrible. No matter what I do my cardiovascular fitness sucks. My blood pressure drops, my heart rate peaks too high, I go dizzy and clammy, and I'm left on the side retching and trying to get some air in my lungs. Not the prettiest of pictures but I never said I was an artist.

3. Trainers. I overpronate (which in itself isn't a huge issue as there are so many that roll our ankles inwards). My problem was I had no idea I did until I developed a pretty nasty case of post-tib tendonitis. Great job Rachel, great job. I was running in my old Nike Pegasus 29 which as beautiful and comfy as they were they didn't offer the support I needed and, as a result, I ended up with rolling ankles. Many times. And boy it hurt. A lot. I've since upgraded to my Asics Gel Trounce 2 which do the job just nicely and (fingers crossed) no injuries yet!

Rest. Rest was the best thing I could do and now looking back I wish I could've shaken my shoulders a little and give myself a reality check. Pushing through the pain and the injury only set me back and caused more angst and dodgy ankles, was it worth it? No. Did it matter at the time? No. Have I learnt from my mistake? Hell yeah!

So now, timing doesn't matter to me. At all... but yes, sometimes I need to remind myself of this when I'm kicking myself that my 5km runs are now more stop-start than a rush hour M6 carpark, but at the end of the day as long as I'm actually out there doing it and I finish the damn thing, nothing else matters.

Now, back to business. This May I am taking part in a fundraising activity called Outrun May (click the link for more information) powered by Macmillan Cancer Support, a charity close to my heart. I've set myself the target to run between 20-30 miles this month (I'm aiming for 26.2 - that's a marathon in a month) which I'm logging on Strava. Every penny counts - literally - because then I know that someone is backing me every step of the way. There will be tears, sweat, and pain (though hopefully not any blood - I'm aiming to not fall over this time!) and I need that support.

If you'd like to throw a few pennies into the pot, please head over to my Just Giving page (Rachel is running for Macmillan Cancer for Outrun May) and click away. I'm going to keep everyone updated on my progress week-by-week (5 miles completed for the first week) via facebook, twitter, instagram, this blog, word of mouth, by any medium so apologies in advance :-)

Much love, Rachel x

[Image from Pinterest]

Side note: The grammar-freak within is having a meltdown over the image I used but never mind, it's pretty and it's exactly what I needed....

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

These hands just weren't made for bread. Even before going gluten (well, wheat) free I’ve been rubbish at bread making. Whilst watching Paul Hollywood work his hands on the Great British Bake Off and I can’t help but feel the utmost jealousy. I know it comes with practice - don’t get me wrong - but I knew I had to be doomed after I killed my yeast off during Food class in high school (don’t cut corners and add all of your dry ingredients to a bag, seems like a wise idea unless you realise that salt - in high amounts - kills off the yeast, oops).

Alas, we’ve been experimenting with bread recipes. I can’t for the life of me think where this one was from so apologies. We modified it slightly by using 1 cup of buckwheat in place of 1 cup of flour to try and boost the nutritional content a little. It did mean that the overall mixture was drier and more dense, but it still made a pretty tasty little loaf.

I wouldn’t say this is suitable as a sandwich loaf replacement (it’s definitely not fluffy and light!) but it tastes pretty darn good toasted, with butter and your favourite jam, or thinly slices and stuffed with cheese and toasted!

It’s gluten free, lactose free, totally FODMAP friendly, and void of any of those hidden nasties you often find in shop-bought gluten free bread (inulin anyone?!)

  • 2 cups gluten-free flour (I use Doves Farm)
  • 1 cup of buckwheat flour (mill your own buckwheat, it’s far cheaper)
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp dried active yeast
  • 1.25 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 cup of warm milk (I use lactose-free)
  • 4 tbsp salted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • Pinch of salt

First prepare your yeast! Add to milk that’s just warm to touch (you don’t want it too hot as it’ll denature your yeast), whisk, and leave in a warm place for 10 minutes. Normally the lactose in milk will provide enough of the sugar for the yeast to feed on. As I use lactofree milk, I added one of the tbsp of sugar into the milk mixture [check on it from time to time, it should have a frothy layer - if not, check your expiry date!

Add your flour, gum, and sugar to a large mixing bowl. Give your milk/yeast mixture a whisk and gently pour into the flour, mixing well.

Add your butter, and mix.

Add your eggs one by one, mixing after each addition, and add your sprinkling of salt (I actually didn’t use any additional salt in my bread and found it a little lacking so if you’re watching your watching your sodium - omit!)

Now, this whole process if a LOT easier with a stand mixer. Lesson learnt, I’ve been scoping out Kenwood K Mixers to make gluten-free bread making a dream. If you, like me, don’t have a mixer, then you need to rustle up a bit of elbow grease and give this a real good mix for about 5 minutes. It’s murder, trust me, but hopefully yours will come out a little lighter than mine did!

We proved this bread twice to get a decent rise - one hour each time in a warm place. After the first prove, transfer to a well greased bread tin and prove again.

Smooth out the top, sprinkle with golden linseeds and pumpkin seeds if you wish (and all the best of luck - mine fell off after baking!), and bake in a preheated oven (160 degrees) for 40 minutes.

Remove, leave to cool slightly and then tip out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes 15 slices: 129 calories || 5g fat || 22g carbs || 3g protein

Thursday, 28 April 2016

To those who know me, I adore pesto. I could quite literally eat the stuff out of a jar with a spoon - tasty but not especially healthy nor good for me (hello FODMAPs). I've experimented making a low FODMAP pesto before (see my vegan and (nearly) FODMAP pesto here) which was exceptionally yummy and full of goodness but with a bag of kale in the fridge soon to perish and a rumbling tummy (that couldn't bare the thought of slaving over the hob for hours on end) I needed something quick, something fab, and something filling.

Bring on the kale pesto.

I did have an idea to throw some avocado into the mix since it would act as an excellent base (think of all those good, healthy fats!) but since avocados contain polyols (a FODMAP) then we're told to restrict our consumption - at least in the elimination stage anyway (off the top of my head you're 'allowed' 1/8th of an avocado per serving to keep it low FODMAP). With this in mind, and the fact that I'm avo-solutely addicted to avocado, I decided to omit avo and keep it kaley and totally within my limits.

You will need...

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (30g)
  • 2 loose cups of kale (about 30g)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil (2 tbsp of which has been infused with garlic)
  • 1/4 cup of Parmesan (try nutritional yeast if you're vegan)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Handful of chive and parsley
  • Plenty of salt and pepper (to taste)
Blitz everything bar the lemon and salt/pepper until it, well, looks like pesto. Add your lemon juice, blitz, and taste. Add your salt and pepper depending on how much you like...

Just look at that colour! All natural, no filter, no editing, just green goodness.

I served mine with some gluten free spaghetti but I'd love to try it with my edamame spaghetti once I know that edamame is a safe food for me. Whilst the spaghetti is cooking throw in a handful of kale and some peas, drain once cooked, mix in your pesto (I made 3 servings from the above recipe), and serve. It's as simple as that.

From fridge to plate in about 20 minutes.



Monday, 18 April 2016

Saying I love breakfast is an understatement... I absolutely adore it. It sets you up for the day ahead, all of those nutrients and vitamins breaking your fast from the night before. With our hectic lifestyles, breakfast is often overlooked. As a student I regularly skipped it. My brain just didn't function as I hoped it would, I'd feel tired and dependent on a regular supply of coffee, and then when I did eventually eat my blood sugar would spike so much and I'd end up on a temporary high and experience a pretty long crash. Great hey?

So. Breakfast IS important. Really important. After a night of rest, our blood sugar levels that our body need to function (brains and muscles!) are usually low so you need a nutritious and filling brekkie to really get you going. Even if you just grab a banana and a handful of nuts as you're running out of the house you'll be doing yourself some favours.

Put down the refined sugar ridden Poptarts and seemingly healthy cereals (the amount of sugar in those things is astronomical!) and have a go at making something that you can whip up on a Sunday afternoon to enjoy all week... such as my baked carrot cake oats. A fabulous concoction of oats, plant based milk, carrots and spices that taste wonderful all week long.


  • 2 cups of oats
  • 2 cups of unsweetened almond milk (I use Alpro)
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup grated carrot (approx. 1 medium carrot)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

Add your oats, almond milk (or any other dairy free milk!), and chia seeds to a bowl. Mix well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (I left mine for an hour).

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

Grab your bowl out of the fridge - most of the liquid should've been absorbed - and add your carrots and other dry ingredients.

Mix well and add your maple syrup (add as little or as much as you'd like. I'm not a fan of super sweet things so I found 2 tbsp to be perfectly ok).

Grab your Pyrex dish and grease well with a little melted coconut oil. I used one that's about 8x8 inch.

Flatten your mixture down and sprinkle generously with nuts and seeds of your choice. I used a combination of chopped almonds and pumpkin seeds.

Bake in the centre of your oven for 30-35 minutes. Bake longer if you'd rather have a less-soggy middle but otherwise it's all up to personal preference.

Now you need to portion them. I wasn't having mine straight away so I left to cool completely and then split into 6 portions. If you're planning on eating straight away I'd suggest leaving to cool for 10 minutes and spooning out your desired amount.

Enjoy! ♡

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

With the weather starting to warm and the blue skies starting to show (I swear this is happening in other places other than rainy Warrington, I'm still holding out for spring to appear for more than a few hours), what can be more perfect than sitting outside tucking into some delicious grub with a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc (Malborough Estate please, New Zealand), serenaded by the late afternoon birds...

Idyllic right? 

Before I slip into a full-blown poetic dream about how perfect spring and summer can be with your loved ones near and food on the table (the best way to my heart is good food - fact), I'm going to say that when I ventured into the FODMAP elimination phase I thought - "that's it, my social life is over, I'm never going to be able to go out and enjoy the naughtier things in life - goodbye wine, goodbye beer, goodbye life". I can see you grabbing your little violin between your fingers.

Alcohol is naturally a gut irritant as I'm sure I don't need to explain to you. Take home message? If you suffer from IBS or other related issues then a simple change to make would just be to just avoid the stuff outright. Don't get me wrong, I don't need alcohol to have a good time but sometimes - just sometimes - I enjoy a tipple with the friends or mothership, particularly when said good weather hits and said Sav Blanc has been chilling all day. To keep tummies happy, maybe it'd be best to just restrict yourself to one glass (no more than two glasses) of the nectar and keep it dry, too.

So, weather and wine aside (intermittent sunshine doesn't call for lazy afternoons in the garden and I don't have any Sav, just a Rioja that for some reason I can't stomach at the moment), how about we just settle for some truly tummy-friendly, low-FODMAP, vegetarian quiche?

First make your pastry, if you aren't following a FODMAP diet - great - feel free to use your favourite shortcrust recipe. Since we are officially wheat free (far easier to just say I'm avoiding gluten!) we decided to use the shortcrust recipe on the back of the pack of Doves Farm packet.

Whilst chilling (about 30 minutes) proceed to make your filling and preheat your oven to 180C.

  • 150g grated Lancashire cheese
  • 6 medium free-range eggs
  • 300ml (lactofree) milk
  • Handful of chives, chopped
  • 4 greens of the spring onions, chopped
  • Salt/white pepper

Mix all of the above ingredients together - season well.

Line your quiche dish (we used a 24cm fluted quiche tin with a loose bottom) with some butter.

Roll out your pastry. If using the GF pastry it will be a bit crumbly and hard to work with. Roll to about 5mm thick and don't worry if it tears when adding to your quiche dish - ours did and we just patched it up (shh, don't tell Mary Berry)

Prick the base, line with parchment and baking beans, and blind bake for 15/20 minutes

Just to make sure it was sealed we did an egg-yolk wash and bake for a further 5 minutes (without the parchment this time)

Carefully fill the baked base with the filling and bake until set (about 20 minutes) then take out and top with sliced cherry tomatoes and a few slices of brie (optional, we had some left over and I can't stand waste) and bake for a further 10 or so minutes until the brie is melted. 

Remove from oven and leave to stand to cool a little. Remove from the dish. Serve and enjoy!

(Psst. It also tastes so much better the next day)