Quick guide to feel good foods for IBS

Recently I’ve not been feeling myself, lethargic, grumpy and experiencing a lot of pain in the ol’ gut department. My IBS has flared up over the past few months and it seems it’s back with a vengeance. I got my IBS diagnosis when I was 17 and for years nothing helped. It wasn’t until two years ago I thought there might be a correlation between my symptoms and gluten and eventually I was diagnosed with coeliac disease. Since following a gluten free diet I’ve felt fine, only getting a flare up when I’ve been glutened (whether accidental or admittedly not having any will power to say no). However, for over a month now I’ve been feeling terrible. I was keeping a food diary to see if some new allergy had reared its ugly head and found nothing. I couldn’t link it to stress because my life has been pretty stress free recently and I haven’t ate gluten in a very long time.  I am stumped as to why I’m feeling this way and whilst there is no quick answer I am keen to find a quick remedy.

I’ve never really found IBS medication helpful, it may relieve pain temporarily but I don’t like becoming reliant on a tablets and I’ve  only found light relief when my IBS is particularly bad. I bought pro-biotic digestive support tablets and found they didn’t help either so over the past few weeks I’ve made a conscious effort to make sure my diet is aimed at helping relieve my IBS.

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As much as I love coffee, if I drink too much or try to down a cup before I head off to work in the morning I get jittery and slightly nauseous. So, to combat tiredness I drink a lot of peppermint tea. Peppermint tea has been a life savour recently as I’ve been feeling extra lethargic with the pains of IBS. If you aren’t partial to a hot drink, peppermint oil is also a great way to combat IBS too, a few drops in water can really help to ease bloating and cramps.

My second favourite thing at the moment, and one of the biggest food trends going, is kale. I’ve seen everything from kale crisps to kale sorbet. Although I’ve not been THAT adventurous I’ve been adding it to smoothies and making it a main ingredient in all sorts of salads. Having it in a smoothie really helps my level me out first thing in the morning so I can get on with my day and not dwell on a bloated tummy.

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kale, asparagus, courgette, corn and squid salad with pesto

I may be jumping the gun slightly as I only bought these yesterday but I’m astounded at the quick fix effects of the Linwoods Flaxseed mixes. Flaxseed, also known as linseed, has anti-inflammatory qualities that help relieve the horrible bloating we get with an IBS flare up. Linseeds on their own aren’t meant to be very nice but these mixes are pre-milled and filled with other sweet and savoury options. I added the cocoa and berries one to my morning smoothie and sprinkled it over my porridge and I bought a mix with goji berries, pumpkin and sesame seeds which will be perfect for bulking up soups and stews.

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I’m starting to feel a bit better this week but I’m still determined to get to the bottom of the problem rather then settle for a few quick fix solutions. What are your go to foods when you get hit with a bought of IBS?

Dom

x

Lunchbox Special: Shin of Beef Chilli

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When I asked my friends recently what type of posts they’d like to see me do they all said lunches for people with hectic schedules. Now that we’re all old, boring and busy I thought I’d oblige and do a few posts, this being the first, that consider lunch time meals that are easy to bring to work.

Now I know slow cooked chilli doesn’t exactly scream ‘quick and easy’ but if you prep this meal on a Sunday night, you’ll have plenty to do some lunches and some dinners too, depending on your portion size and how many mouths are being fed.

The recipe below lasted five days for lunch and two dinner portions.

To make this you will need: 

Two medium sized beef shins

one tin of chopped tomatoes

one tin of pulses (I used cannellini as I had them in the cupboard)

two red chillies, finely chopped

two large onions, roughly chopped

two tbsp of tomato puree

one tsp of paprika

one tsp of mild chilli powder

one tsp of cayenne pepper

one pint of beef stock

one yellow pepper

one green pepper

To serve:

sour cream

cheese

avocado

coriander

rice

This couldn’t be an easier dish to cook. I started by browning my beef shins and onions in a pan for about 5 miuntes. I then added these along with the chopped tomatoes, spices, the tomato puree, chopped chilli’s and beef stock.

I cooked this for two/three hours and then added the beans and peppers (cut the peppers however you like them, doesn’t really matter). I cooked for a further half hour and then left to cool. I had some the Sunday I cooked it and then took it in to work with some rice for the next five days, its a brilliant dish if you have microwave facilities but also nice cold.

I wouldn’t take a dinner sized portion for my lunch which is why the dish went so far. I brought some avocado and sour cream to work with me too which filled me up slightly more. I would really recommend using a slow cooked cut of beef to make chilli rather that mince steak. It adds such a meaty flavour and the two shins came to the same price as a medium packet of mince.

I’m trying to plan more veggie and vegan friendly dishes to cook at the minute and I’ll be out and about more doing some restaurant reviews in the coming weeks.

Dom

Irish Stew

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In preparation for St Paddy’s Day I decided to make a traditional Irish stew. This is probably one of my favourite meals, perfect comfort food for a cold night. Even though it’s spring and we’ve been blessed with some sunshine, we’re still experiencing some cold clear evenings so a big bowl of stew is completely justified.

Some people will make stew using stewing beef or mince meat but to me it isn’t proper Irish stew unless you’ve used a slow cooked cut of lamb (traditionally you would use mutton but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen this available to buy). I opted for lamb shanks because I managed to pick up a packet in the reduced aisle of the super market. With so many variations of Irish Stew you can throw in all sorts of veg but to keep it simple I only use five ingredients, lamb, potatoes, onion, carrot and rosemary. There’s no need to ‘sex it up’ with other flavours and ingredients.

To feed four you will need:

Two lamb shanks

two large onions

6 large maris piper potatoes, peeled and chopped in to quarters

7 carrots, peeled and chopped

a handful of fresh rosemary

salt and pepper to season

brown sauce to serve

Begin by browning the meat and onions in a large pot with some olive oil. Once these are browned, fill the pot three quarters of the way with water and leave for an hour and a half on a high heat. Once the time is up add the potatoes, carrots and rosemary and turn down the heat. You may need to add a little more water at this point but it depends on your desired thickness for the stew. I like mine quite thick and mashed through.

After half an hour check the tenderness of the lamb. The meat should be falling off the bone and all the fat rendered down. If this is not  the case cook for slightly longer.

Once the meat is tender, take out the shanks and remove the meat. You may need to chop it in to bite sized chunks even if it is pulling away from the bone. Add the meat back to the pot, stir and serve. Some of the potatoes should have mashed up slightly, creating a thick and creamy stew.

I love brown sauce on my stew but be careful and ensure its gluten free as some brands contain malt vinegar. A slice of wheaten bread also goes down a treat but I  couldn’t find a GF alternative so I would suggest you bake your own (I was eager to do this but was stuck for time today).

Now if only Guinness would do a gluten free stout and then we could all have a perfect St Paddy’s Day. A girl can dream.

Dom x

 

 

John Dory’s Gluten Free Fish and Chips

Although I prefer cooking most food from scratch and favour a healthy, balanced diet, there are times when you need to pie out. As coeliacs we’re pretty limited in the ‘junk food’ we can eat but I’m finding more places are catering to dietary requirements and I’m always keen to try a gluten free alternative.

Friends have been telling me that John Dory’s fish and chip shop have started to do gluten free batter for fish and chicken for a while now but as there isn’t a branch near where I live I hadn’t had the opportunity to try it. This evening my boyfriend and I travelled to the Ballyhackamore take away to give the gluten free batter a go.

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As far as take away food goes, I had always favoured fish and chips over other food but it has been nearly two years since I got to enjoy the well loved dish. Thankfully John Dory’s don’t charge extra for gluten free batter as so many places do when they offer an alternative. However, the chippie is quite expensive. A cod supper was £6.30 which only included fish and chips. Although its been a while since I bought a fish supper, I was used to chippies including mushy peas and a drink in the price but these were extra, as was tartar sauce.

The fish itself was delicious. The batter was light, crispy and the cod was flaky and perfectly cooked (they also provided gluten free vinegar to slather it in). I was impressed with the fish and chips themselves but I just didn’t feel like it was good value for money. I can understand why the chippie has been titled ‘Fish and Chip Shop of the Year 2014′ but in my eyes £6.30 for fish and chips plus extra for sundries isn’t worth it.

However, its nice to know that anytime I get a craving there is a place I can go for a nice fish supper. A bonus for those who live in the area, the chippie also delivers in and around Ballyhackamore and East Belfast. Hopefully they’ll start delivering to other areas soon so we can all benefit from some tasty fish and chips.

http://www.johndorys.co.uk/

Dom

Gluten Free Chocolate and Beetroot Brownies

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A few weeks ago I said I would put my hand to chocolate and beetroot brownies and I finally got round to making them today. I adore spending a Sunday in the kitchen experimenting and trying new recipes and that’s exactly what I got up to today. I made these brownies and then a gorgeous mild curry which I’ll blog about during the week.

Now I have mentioned before that I’m not much of a baker and a few of my gluten free attempts at baked goods have failed miserably but these turned out perfectly. To guide me on my way I used the basis of this recipe by James from the Great British Bake Off. I wanted to make these brownies a little less indulgent so I tweaked the recipe slightly and added beetroot.

To make these delicious brownies you will need:

250g Half Fat Butter

3 eggs

250g of Dark Chocolate (I used 70% cocoa)

3 tsp of vanilla extract

75g of Self Raising Gluten-Free Flour

60g cocoa powder

300g of fresh cooked beetroot, cut in to small chunks

Begin by lining a small deep oven dish and preheat your oven to 160C

Melt the butter and chocolate together, either in a bain-marie or in the microwave. I used the microwave and cooked for 1 minute, stirred and cooked for another minute, the chocolate had melted by this point.

Using my chopper attachment I was able to get the beetroot rather fine but if you don’t have a blender/food processor you could grate the beetroot finely (make sure you wear gloves and beetroot dye is a pain to get off). I then whisked my eggs and vanilla extract using my electric whisk attachment for about two minutes. After years of using good aul fashioned elbow grease this was such a treat to my poor arm. I wanted to keep this recipe low on sugar so instead of using the caster sugar the original recipe called for, I just added extra vanilla extract. I was apprehensive about this but the brownies tasted just as sweet as sugary ones.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder as the chocolate/butter mix cools slightly. Add the chocolate to the eggs, quickly whisking, then fold in the beetroot. Finally, carefully fold in the flour and the cocoa to the mixture. Once this is done you can pour in to your oven dish and cook for about 40 minutes.

Leave to cool and then cut. Due to the deepness of the dish I cut these brownies quite small, getting 15 out of the small oven tray. I’ve already had two and I’m super stuffed and don’t think I can manage any for dessert.

I’m pretty darn pleased with these, its restored my faith in gluten free baking but to be honest it was probably the original recipe that helped perfect them. Maybe I’ll try my hand and more tray bakes next weekend.

Dom

Comforting Fish Pie

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Whilst I wouldn’t say the comfort food I make is high in fat I do have a tendency for massive bowls of bolognese with GF pasta, risottos and stews. It may just be my portion size that I need to cut down on but I hate the guilty feeling you have after you eat too much or something fatty. However, my fish pie is guilt free and super comforting. I always think its an inexpensive way of getting your weekly fish intake and as I usually put lots of veg on the side, most of your five a day.

It can take some time to make so I wouldn’t suggest making it after a long day at work if your desperate for a cooked dinner. Using a decent size dish though, means I usually have enough to do my boyfriend and myself two days and I can just heat it up quickly the day after.

To make this dish you will need:

300g of salmon

300g of cod

300g of smoked haddock

handful of cooked prawns

pint of skimmed milk

nutmeg

bay leaves

lemon zest

6 meduim sized maris piper potatoes

25g GF flour

25 g half fat butter

a large knob of half fat butter

large handful of frozen peas

2 large handfuls of grated cheddar (light cheese if you want to keep it healthy)

To serve:

corn on the cob

green veg of your choice.

salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.

Start by peeling and boiling your potatoes for 20 minutes.

Whilst they cook, in a pan, add the fish and pour in enough milk so the fish is covered. Add a grating of nutmeg, lemon zest  and the bay leaves and lightly simmer until the fish is cooked.

Strain the fish ensuring you keep the milk as you’ll need this for the sauce (you don’t need to keep the bay leaves). Add the fish to your pie dish , along with the prawns and start making the sauce. In a pan on a low heat, slowly melt some butter adding a small amount of flour at a time and whisking constantly until the butter and flour turn in to a roux. Gradually add the milk you used for the fish, again whisking constantly until you make a sauce. Take off the heat once the right thickness has been reached and pour over the fish, along with your frozen peas.

Your potatoes should be cooked by the time you have done this. Make a lovely thick mash by adding the large knob of butter and the rest of the milk left over from the pint. Whisk until thick and creamy (alternatively you can use cream but I prefer to use skimmed milk and half fat butter to try and make this dish healthier). Once your mash is done, spread over the fish mixture. Add the grated cheese on top and some salt and pepper if desired, although this dish has so much flavour I don’t think seasoning is really necessary.

Pop in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the top is crispy and golden.

Whilst your fish pie is cooking, you can cook your chosen accompaniment. I usually go for some corn on the cob, which I just boil for a few minutes, along with green beans or asparagus. I must admit the veg I put with this dish in the picture looks a bit dry but I usually add some butter (YES I KNOW THERE’S ALREADY LOADS OF BUTTER IN THIS DISH) and hadn’t yet done so when I took the picture. The creamy sauce with the fish pie will also ensure this dish isn’t at all dry.

This is perfect for a family of four too as I usually get about four decent sized servings from my pie dish. Super tasty, healthy and warming,  this is one of my ultimate comfort foods. What comfort food do you crave?

Dom x

 

 

 

 

Gluten Free Essentials

There are certain cupboard, fridge and freezer essentials which I swear by. I buy these every time I go for a food shop because I know they will be used and can be an essential ingredient to loads of different dishes. They aren’t exclusive to a gluten free diet but are definitely important when keeping on a budget and maintaining healthy.

I always think its important to have a well stocked cupboard full of tins and jars. There are those times where you just can’t be bothered to cook or you realise you forgot something in your last shop, so ensuring you have a plenty of food in your cupboard means a nutritious and tasty meal is never far away.

IMG_0539[1]Gluten Free Bread, Roasted Red Peppers and Caramelised Onion Hummus

I’ve mentioned my love for roasted peppers in a jar before and I cannot praise these enough. They are pretty expensive in supermarkets but I stock up on them when I go to my local Home Bargains. They are usually 99p a jar and there are loads of different varieties. Preserved peppers have a very long shelf life even once opened. I use these in salads, pasta sauces or sometimes I just eat the jar in one go. You can make a lovely lunch using a nice piece of gluten free bread (hey, we all know it does exist) with hummus or some cream cheese. Once you’re finished with the peppers, keep the oil and use it for cooking or in a dressing. I used the oil on the Tuna steaks I made in a previous recipe and the flavour makes all the difference.

Another cupboard essential I think is important is quinoa. Although more expensive than cous cous (the grain it is so often compared to), when you consider how far a small amount of this goes once cooked then its good value for money. I usually make a batch on a Sunday night and would add it to veg for lunches in work and mix with spices for an accompaniment to a main meal. I’ve seen recipes using quinoa as a basis to porridge too so its a very versatile grain.

I wanted to quickly mention the ASDA Gluten Free Cous Cous I recently bought. I’m not usually overly critical of products but I would urge people to avoid this. I bought it out of sheer curiosity and I was unimpressed. The grain failed to absorb the water and just turned in to mush. Has anyone tried this product before? What was your experience with it?

Having a well stocked freezer is essential in my opinion. You can defrost most things pretty quickly if you have a microwave so a dinner is never far away. I tend to buy a lot of meat, fish and poultry in the ‘reduced aisle’ of the supermarket. I sometimes plan my meals around what they have available or I’ll check if they have what I need before buying the item full price. Due to the sell by dates I do have to freeze most of what I buy when I get home but it means I always have food in.

I don’t tend to buy a lot  of pre-frozen foods but there are certain things I like to pick up when I’m shopping. I will try and buy a bag of frozen king prawns that you can cook from frozen. These are perfect with pasta, risotto and stir fry, well just about anything really. A bag will last me around a  month and I’ll get about four dinners out of them. Usually I see frozen seafood at a reasonable price or on offer.

P1000706Mango and blueberry smoothie, coffee and porridge with frozen fruit

My next freezer essential is frozen fruit. I had ummed and ahhed about buying frozen fruit for ages but as the fruit is usually frozen the day its picked it keeps its freshness better than it being shipped and left to ripe on it way to the supermarket. This is also the same with frozen veg. Bags of frozen fruit are a lot cheaper than their fresh counterparts and will last a lot longer too. They are brilliant for making smoothies and I add frozen fruit to my porridge most mornings.

I’m sure I’ll think of more essential items I can’t live without soon. What are the products you always put in your shopping trolley?

Dom x

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