Simple tips for when you’re on a low-FODMAP diet for IBS

It’s hard to imagine a world without onions and garlic in it. It seems that they are in almost everything we eat – dips, pasta sauces, salads, kebabs, stir-frys and the list could go on!

For some of us though, facing a world without onion and garlic is a real life problem. Whether it be avoiding onion and garlic when progressing onto a four week low FODMAP diet, or have acknowledged that garlic and/or onions cause symptoms – finding how to fill the onion/garlic gap in life is crucial (not being dramatic at all!).

Onion and garlic are high in Fructans, aka the ‘O’ in FODMAPS which is Oligosaccharides (oli-go-sack-ar-ides). They are known to cause symptoms including: bloating, diarrhea, gurgling and stomach cramps. This occurs because when Fructans are digested in the small intestine, we do not have enzymes capable of breaking down their chemical bonds. This means they cannot be properly absorbed, so they are delivered to the large intestine where they are eaten or fermented (aka the ‘F’ in FODMAP’s).

However, don’t despair! You can still eat a healthy, balanced and fresh meal, minus the onion and/or garlic, we just need to be more strategic in flavour combinations.

Here are my top food flavour combinations to fill the garlic and/or onion void: 

1. Love thy garlic-infused olive oil

No I am not making this up!

A simple explanation why garlic-infused oil is acceptable and garlic is not, comes down to chemistry. The Fructan content of onion and garlic is soluble in water. This means, when you put onion and garlic in water, the Fructans leech into it. Meaning, you cannot just take them out once you are finished cooking, for example with soups. However, Fructans are insoluble in oil. This means that unlike water, the Fructan content will not leech out into the oil. Amazing right?

Example: Lemon, basil and garlic-infused oil marinade

Combine the juice of 1 lemon with ½ tbsp. of balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp. garlic-infused oil and 1 tbsp. of chopped fresh basil, season with salt to taste. Pour over char-grilled vegetables such as: zucchini, capsicum and eggplant.

2. Replace onions for chives

This is a simple swap. Just remember not to sautee for too long, if cooking!

Example: Tomato salsa

Combine 2 chopped tomatoes, 2 tbsp. of finely chopped fresh basil, 2 tbsp. of finely chopped chives and 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar. Toss together and serve with grilled fish, chicken or steak. Alternatively, you can serve it on sourdough bread. Yum!

3. Replace garlic for ginger and chilli in Asian based dishes

Replacing a strong flavour like garlic with another strong contender, especially in Asian dishes is a simple alternative.

Example: Chilli, lime and ginger stir-fry sauce

Sauté the chilli and ginger in a hot wok. Add a source of protein like chicken or prawns and cook through. Add fresh vegetables like bok choy or broccolini and cook through. Remove from heat and toss in fresh coriander leaves and lime juice.

4. Make use of different herbs

Dare to be creative! Experimenting with different herb combinations is a great and easy way to add flavour.

Example: Spiced vegetables

Toss diced vegetables onto a baking tray with 1 tbsp. of garlic-infused oil and 1 ½ tsp. middle eastern spice — Harissa. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until vegetables are cooked though. Serve with grilled meat or brown rice.

 

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