Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Little Fish Food || FODMAPs & sweet potato brownies...

For someone who doesn't particularly have a sweet tooth I do an awful lot of baking. I'm certainly no contender for the Great British Bake Off, as much as I'd love to be, but my love of baking stemmed from those baking sessions with my Gran when I was little. Yes, most of the time my only contribution was clearing up (licking the bowl) and taste testing, but once I left home for university and when my Gran was poorly, the list of ‘to bakes’ grew as I was left to bring round the sweet treats that she could no longer bake...

There’s something about baking that makes it so cathartic. From gathering up the ingredients, to the gentle hum of the oven, to the smiles on the faces of the ones you love as they stuff their faces (only to complain later when the jeans get a little tight - oops).

Whilst I still love to bake a delicious sweet treat, I’m finding myself spending less and less in the kitchen and more time browsing Pinterest for recipe alternatives. I love the odd cake or two (I am still more of a savoury bird mind!) but too much sugar brings on migraines, too much wheat brings on IBS, too many sinfully good treats and my body literally breaks down.

I’ve recently been educating myself about FODMAPs and the effect that these carbohydrates have on the body or more so the effect they have on your gut. A lot of people with gastro related issues (I’m looking at you IBS, you might be a doctor’s favourite diagnosis but you aren’t winning this time) seem to find an awful lot of relief of cutting various things out of their diet... Wheat (not strictly gluten - I’m not talking about coeliacs here) and lactose being the two main culprits!

So what are FODMAPs? FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) are basically carbohydrates that are found in foods. I’m not about to start a war on carbs here because they’re not all that bad - they have their uses for example - but unfortunately for some people, FODMAPs are poorly absorbed by some people and can cause the myriad of symptoms a la IBS. Wonderful hey?

I’m no dietician, goodness, so I’m not about to start spouting off advice on what you can and cannot eat, I will however be documenting my journey through reducing those dreaded FODMAPs and seeing how my physical and mental well being improves.

So, where were we? Ah, I was talking about baking.

As mentioned, one of the main culprits and a definite FODMAP no-no is wheat, so now is the time to put down those conventional wheat-ridden bakes and start exploring more wheat and gluten free options... That is where I present to you my FODMAP friendly, wheat/gluten-free, nut free, dairy free (remember lactose is largely a no-no too!), guilt free sweet potato brownies. I’ve used my lovely work colleagues as guinea pigs and all of the feedback was positive! Some preferred the traditional gooey, delicious, sugar-laden brownies that we all know and love but for us tender tummies who just can’t cope with more than a crumb I know where my vote sits...

Wet ingredients:
1 large sweet potato, roasted, then skin removed.
5 dates
3 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
2.5 tbsp pure maple syrup (or honey if you wish)
2 medium eggs (or if vegan, you could easily replaces these with flax eggs)

Dry ingredients:
3 tbsp coconut flour (also works with oat flour)
3 tbsp cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder (gluten free)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt

This is a really simple recipe. Seriously, it's a case of blitzing all of the wet ingredients together (I use my Nutribullet). Then, I pour the mixture into the sifted dry ingredients, mix, and pour into a lined 8x8 tin. If the mixture is too stiff, add some liquid - almond milk (or normal milk if you're not going for dairy free).

Pop in a preheated oven (175C), middle shelf, for 25-35 minutes... and voila!

You can cut this into how ever many chunks you would like. I cut mine into 20 bite-sized portions which are perfect if you fancy a bittersweet pop of cocoa that you know isn't going to hurt you! I used the trusty MyFitnessPal app to calculate the nutritional information if you so wish to have a look (per piece)...

Most of the ingredients listed above are totally fine for a low-FODMAP diet, thank you to and LowFodmapForLife for the information. There are a few ingredients that are on the post however as below, but here's why I’m still using them:

Sweet potato - Whilst sweet potato is classed as a low-FODMAP food, eating it in excess may cause adverse conditions. Most sources advise eating no more than 1/2 a cup a day (about 3 tbsp). One large sweet potato is used in the whole recipe, meaning that per bite you’re only consuming 1/20th of a sweet potato.

Dates - Dates are considered a high-FODMAP food due to the levels of fructose. This recipe does only use 5 dates (for 20 servings) so the effect on total fructose levels should only be minimal.

Maple syrup - Pure maple syrup is a fantastic low-FODMAP option for adding a little sweetness to your food. Honey is unfortunately a no-go due to the fructose levels so keep in mind... Watch out for the cheaper maple syrups that are more ‘maple syrup flavouring’ if anything, these contain plenty of nasties...

Coconut flour - This one is a funny one and it’s all down to personal preference. Some people react to it, others don’t! The good thing about coconut flour is that many recipes (including this one!) only call for small amounts. I’ve made these brownies before using ground up oats which were an excellent alternative and a definite low-FODMAP option.

With love, Little Fish x

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