Low FODMAP diet reboot

Barbara Cousins ETH Contents

What feels like a million years ago now I tried to start a low FODMAP diet to help ease my IBS and identify food triggers but I wasn’t in the right place and couldn’t stick to it. However, I am now a week into the 6-week elimination phase and this is how I’m getting on…

Why now?

I’m sat in the MDT office on placement, everything is relatively quiet with people dictating letters or typing away. Suddenly my stomach tightens – uh oh. Out of nowhere comes this high pitched squeaking sound – it’s coming from me – and my stomach starts to relax. I was mortified. I could feel my face blooming a lovely shade of tomato red, my mouth went dry, palms started sweating and my muscles were shaking. I spun around in my chair, apologised profusely and mumbled something about IBS as I dashed out of the room. The only consolation – it wasn’t in front of a client.

I had eaten gluten and dairy free tinned soup for lunch. There was no reason to be bloated and gassy but I was. My clothes felt uncomfortably tight, my insides were obviously unhappy and I was on high alert trying to make sure what had just happened didn’t happen. It was time to figure out what was going on. I went to my DR and got a referral to a dietician (who I’m still waiting to see) and started to plan out how the low FODMAP diet would work for me.

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My Low FODMAP Journey

Part of a recent IBS flare up has meant that quite a bit in my diet has had to change. I’ve already cut out gluten and dairy which has helped a lot (although made eating out rather difficult) but I have still been having some pretty gruesome symptoms – which I won’t mention for obvious reasons – that has meant yet another trip to my doctor. During said trip I chatted through my options and was offered some medication to help regulate my bowels and discussed the low FODMAP diet as a way to discover any other common foods that may be causing issues.

There is a lot of conflicting information on the internet about low FODMAP with some less than reputable websites giving incorrect information. My doctor helpfully pointed me to Stanford’s low FODMAP diet handout (where the research for the diet took place) which explains what the acronym FODMAP stands for as well as giving a list of acceptable and restricted foods.

There are a LOT of foods on the restricted list that I use daily in cooking, plus a whole bunch of my preferred fruits so for about a week I kept telling myself that my symptoms weren’t that bad and I didn’t really need to follow it. Then I had a really bad day with symptoms – tired, cramps, headaches, crying, flatulence, bloating: the lot – and I realised I could either have 6 weeks of boring/creative meals or a lifetime of IBS symptoms. It was a no-brainer.

So as of the 28th June, I will be undergoing a 6-week elimination phase where I won’t eat anything from the restricted list at all. That gives my gut some time to heal and my symptoms to settle down, plus the peace of mind that any symptoms I experience aren’t linked to my diet. Once the 6 weeks are done I will add one item from the restricted list to my diet each week. If I experience any symptoms during that week I will know they are from that particular item and I need to keep it cut from my diet for my own comfort. It’s going to take ages and make any events or meals out extremely difficult but hopefully, it will be worth it.

I’ll be sharing my journey on the blog – including recipes, tips and advice I’ve found helpful – so if you’re planning on trying it, or have been through it then please get in touch. Any hints or tips for me going into it will be much appreciated!

Chocolate Strawberry Muffins | 292 cal

Fancy a sweet treat? These little gems might not be the healthiest of treats but they taste really good (even if I do say so myself) and are both gluten and dairy free! The mixture makes 12 moist muffins to share with friends and family – if you’re feeling extra extravagant why not serve them warm with a chocolate sauce for a real treat.

You will need

Muffin tin
Muffin cases

For the muffins

300g gluten-free flour
50g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp gluten free bicarbonate soda
1/2 tsp salt
300g granulated sugar
375ml unsweetened almond milk
125ml olive oil
100g strawberries
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the sauce

3 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp honey
50g unsweetened almond milk

Chocolate Muffins


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  2. Sift flour, cocoa, xanthan gum, bicarbonate soda and sugar into a large bowl
  3. Chop and partially mash the strawberries
  4. Add milk, oil, vanilla extract and mashed strawberries to a pan over a medium heat and whisk until combined
  5. Mix wet and dry ingredients together thoroughly and distribute into muffin cases
  6. Bake for 20-25  or until skewer comes out clean and cool on a wire rack

What are your favourite baking treats?

Sausage Ragout | 350 cal

This is another recipe from Barbara Cousins most recent recipe book that has fast become a favourite in our house and is is super easy to adapt. This simple, one pan dish is gluten, dairy and egg free and takes less than 30 minutes to make (including prep!). Ideal for those chillier nights it’s a quick and easy go to when you’re not sure what to make and just want to use up what’s in your fridge or freezer.



You’ll need

4 gluten-free sausages
1 red onion – diced
100g of broccoli
2 large carrots
4 spears of asparagus
200ml gluten-free stock
400g chopped tomatoes
2 tsp tomato puree
Salt and Pepper to season


  1. Sweat the onion with a little oil in a pan until soft before adding the carrots and broccoli and cooking until soft
  2. Add the chopped sausage meat and tomato puree and cook for 2-5 minutes
  3. Add the stock and chopped tomatoes to the pan with some salt and pepper and simmer for 10-15 minutes
  4. Grill asparagus while the ragout is simmering
  5. Chop the grilled asparagus to add to the top of the ragout
  6. Serve up and enjoy!

The best thing about this dish is that you could easily make it vegan by changing the sausage for a vegan protein source. Plus you can use whatever vegetables you have to hand whether their fresh, frozen or canned to change the taste to suit you. You could even add some mustard or chilli along with the salt and pepper for a spicier take. It’s certainly an easy, adaptable recipe that everyone can enjoy.

What’s your go to food dish for the nights when you just don’t know what to make?

Creamy Mushroom Chicken | 442 cal

Creamy Mushroom Chicken Barbara Cousins

A few days ago G and I were feeling a bit down in the dumps and tired, so I decided to make us some comfort food to perk us up. I know, I know rewarding or cheering yourself up with food isn’t the answer but we both fancied something a little bit decadent without going completely overboard. When I was riffling through my cookbooks I came across a leftovers recipe in Barbara Cousins most recent recipe book and decided to adapt it a little to suit us.

This simple, one pan dish feels like a decadent treat but is really only 442 calories per serving, plus it’s also gluten, dairy and egg free. What more could a girl ask for?

Creamy Mushroom Chicken BC

You’ll need

300g of chicken
1 red onion – diced
220g of chestnut mushrooms
300ml gluten-free stock
100ml soya single cream
1 tsp gluten-free mustard powder
2 dried bay leaves
100g frozen peas
125g basmati rice
Salt and Pepper to season


  1. Sweat the onion with a little oil in a pan until soft before adding the chicken and cooking through
  2. Add mushrooms and cook until soft
  3. Mix stock, cream and mustard powder and pour into the pan. Coat the chicken, onions and mushrooms in the liquid, add bay leaf and leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes
  4. Add one part rice to two parts water to a separate pan and bring to the boil. Simmer with bay leaf and frozen peas until the rice is cooked
  5. Add salt and pepper to the mushroom chicken to taste
  6. Serve up and enjoy!

While we enjoyed this with rice it would go equally well as a baked potato filling or served as a pie with a side of your favourite selection of mixed vegetables. If you want to make it a little healthier you can also substitute the cream for milk or extra stock or switch out the chicken for tofu or more mushrooms. It’s certainly an easy, adaptable recipe that everyone can enjoy.

What’s your favourite go to comfort food dish?

Vegetable Fritters | 300 cal

If you follow my fitness instagram you’ll see that I keep whipping up vegetable fritters for a quick and healthy lunch or dinner. They’re only 300 cal, super easy to make and are gluten and dairy free – so I figured I’d share the recipe with you. Frozen veggies are once again my best friend with this one and make the whole process even quicker by cutting out the veg prep (yes I’m that lazy!)


You will need

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Microwave
  • 1 cup of Gram Flour
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 bags of microwaveable veg
  • 1 tsp frozen chopped coriander
  • Coconut or olive oil (for frying)
  • Dip of choice to serve


  1. Place the vegetables in the microwave to cook
  2. Add the gram flour, coriander and water to a bowl and mix to a paste
  3. Fold the veg into the mixture making sure of an even coating
  4. Heat some oil (I used coconut) in a pan to fry
  5. Add a spoonful to the pan and flatten to create fritter
  6. Cook fritters on either side for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown
  7. Serve alongside a dip of your choice – I went with mango, lime and chilli

After that all that’s left to do is enjoy! What are your favourite healthy recipes?

Recipe Book | Easy. Tasty. Healthy.

Barbara Cousins Easy Tasty Healthy

Recently I have had a rather prominent (and very annoying) IBS flare up. Should I eat anything containing gluten or dairy I swell up like a balloon so I look 6 months pregnant, I become very gassy, I get rather ill and I get stomach cramps like you wouldn’t believe. It takes me a few days to get over each episode so instead I decided to go dairy and gluten free.

It wasn’t too bad to start with. I enjoy vegetables and fruit and had a few staple meals that were already part of my usual diet. But I soon got bored of eating them all the time with nothing else thrown in there, so I invested in some new cookbooks to try and get some new ideas. Now as much as I enjoy cooking (and I do) I don’t like really technical recipes, or having to buy ingredients specially as I don’t plan that far in advance. When I came across Barbara Cousin’s Easy. Tasty. Healthy it felt like she’d written it just for me.

Barbara Cousins ETH Contents

All of her recipes were really easy to make and, more importantly to me, were made from normal ingredients that I already had in my cupboard or freezer. It made switching to a gluten and dairy free diet extremely easy, and even though I still miss cheese (mmmm cheese!) there are some creamy tasting pots in here to help curb that craving.


Easy. Tasty. Healthy has become my go to recipes book over the past couple of weeks and I’ve even made some recipes for G who has absolutely loved them (he can be funny about food). I’ve also ended up reintroducing a lot of dishes into my diet that I couldn’t be bothered to make previously like her simple tomato soup – with my own twist of course.

Barbara Cousins ETH Tomato Soup

Have you found any great gluten and dairy free cookbooks recently? I’d love to find some more.

Basa Fillet Parcel | 265 cal

Once again I’m back to extol the virtues of frozen prepared veggies. I’ve been picking up some favourite ingredients and finding ways to turn them into yummy recipes. This one has become a favourite quick evening meal and at only 265 calories a healthy one too. Not to mention no waste…


You will need

  • Baking paper
  • Microwavable container
  • 1 frozen Basa Fillet
  • 100g frozen Indian Superfood Mix
  • 50g frozen kale
  • 50g frozen peppers
  • 1 tsp frozen chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp frozen chopped coriander


  1. Layout enough baking paper to make a parcel
  2. Add the frozen peppers and garlic to the middle of the paper. Place the Basa fillet on top and cover with the frozen coriander
  3. Fold the corners of the paper to create a parcel
  4. Place into a preheated oven for 25minutes
  5. Add the supermix and kale to the microwaveable container with 3tsp of water
  6. Cook in the microwave on full power for 3minutes once the fish is cooked

After that all that’s left to do is enjoy! What are your favourite healthy recipes?

Squash & Broad Bean Risotto | 358 cal

I have been trying to improve my health recently and a huge part of that has been changing how I eat. I’ve always been a lover of vegetables and other ‘healthy’ food I just grew lazy in terms of preparing and cooking food and started to rely on the wrong things. So when Tesco brought out frozen prepped veg I knew my luck was in. A quick, simple and waste free way to create dishes I love without making it feel like a chore.

Risotto has always been a big love of mine. You can make it a million different ways and end up with something new and exciting every time. I like to experiment with different flavours, try vegetarian options and find foods I can whip up quickly and take to uni so I avoid eating processed sandwiches. This little recipe is one I fell in love with earlier this month.

Time: 20 min ~ 5 prep / 15 cooking
Serves 2 ~ 358 cal per portion


1 cup of frozen broad beans
1 cup of frozen butternut squash
1/2 cup of aborito rice
2/8 cup of frozen diced onion
1/8 cup of frozen chopped garlic
1/8 cup of frozen chopped coriander
x2 gluten-free stock cubes dissolved in 400ml of water
tsp oil for frying


  1. Add the tsp of oil to the pan along with the onion and garlic. Fry for 2-3 minutes
  2. Add the rice to the onion and garlic and leave one the heat
  3. Boil the water and dissolve the stock cubes. Add to the pan
  4. Add the broad beans and butternut squash
  5. Let the risotto simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally
  6. Add the coriander and stir through
  7. Leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes or until the stock has been absorbed
  8. Serve with seasoning to taste

A quick, healthy and waste free way to cook. And because the dish is enough to serve two I have enough to take for lunch tomorrow. What are your favourite healthy recipes? Do you cook directly from the freezer too?