Pumpkin Seed Corn Bread

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I made this recipe a few weeks ago for a dinner party I went to and it was delicious! The recipe is adapted from Sue Shepherd’s Low FODMAP Diet book.

I love the zucchini and carrots I used in this recipe because they help to make it stay more moist and the herbed butter is a great addition.


1 cup All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend (I used the one from Costco with buckwheat and rice)
1 1/4 cups Potato Flour
1/2 cup Spelt Flour (use soy flour if you need it to be gluten free)
1 cup cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 small zucchini, grated and drained in paper towel
1 carrot, grated
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup plus 2TBSP soy milk, if you don’t need it to be lactose free you can use regular milk
1.5 Tbsp olive oil
1.5 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp  black pepper
Olive oil for drizzling
Sea salt


1. Preheat oven to 400F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or with oil
2. Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper into a mixing bowl, add the cornmeal, zucchini, salt and pepper, carrot and pumpkin seeds.
3. Warm the soy milk with olive oil
4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the warmed milk and oil mixture
5. Bring the dough together and knead with cornstarch until smooth. Form into 2 balls. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
6. Bake 20-25min
I like it better served warm with herbed butter or toasted the next day.

For the Herbed butter: Mix together salted butter with chopped herbs (I used basil but parsley or any other fresh herb would work too).


Note: make sure you drain the zucchini, I missed this step the second time I made it and the bread was too moist and didn’t properly bake in the middle

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Following a Low FODMAP Diet Away From Home

thai food

I have been following the low FODMAP diet for about 3 weeks now, and although I have felt about 85% better since initiating the diet, it has not been a walk in the park especially when I’m not preparing food for myself. For most of us many of our social events revolve around food and drinks. Some functions I’ve attended in the past 3 weeks include: a wine and cheese night, a Pi(e) party, a wine tasting, a couple of restaurant visits and a family brunch. Although I couldn’t eat all of the options at each event,  I did manage to find some FODMAP friendly foods at each function.

The hardest part for me was trying to order something when out at restaurants as many high FODMAP foods (particularly onions and garlic) can be hidden ingredients. Fortunately I found servers and chefs to be very knowledgeable about their menu items and was able to find things that I could eat with some help.  Just make sure you ask the server about what foods are trigger foods for you.

If you do enjoy eating out be reassured that if you do indulge in some high FODMAP foods (accidentally or on purpose) although you may suffer from some IBS symptoms, you will not be doing any damage to your gut and once the FODMAPs clear your system you should be fine. Also because IBS symptoms are typically brought on by high amounts of a FODMAP (or combination of FODMAPs) just try to stick with menu items and foods that look like they are likely low FODMAP.

To help you on your outings I’ve developed a few tips for eating away from home on a low FODMAP diet:

1. Eat a snack before you go out –> this way you won’t be starving if there isn’t much selection for you and will be less likely to break your diet for the sake of eating something. Once you get to the party stick to foods you can tolerate.

2. Bring something you can eat –> If you’re going to a potluck, make something you know that you can tolerate. For my Pi Day I made a FODMAP friendly sheppard’s pie (recipe to come) and everyone loved it!

3. Tell your friends and family that you are following a low FODMAP diet (you might have to explain what this means) –> give them a list of some of the foods you absolutely cannot eat (onions and garlic are big ones for many people and possibly also wheat in large quantities) and maybe a list of some foods you are ok with. This way you give them some options for what they can cook with to cater to your needs. Ask what they are planning on making ahead of time and suggest some options that you can have. For example, I went to a family brunch and my fiancee’s mom just made omelettes and had everyone build their own with ingredients they liked that way I didn’t feel like I had to have something special made for me. I also had a friend leave some bruschetta aside for me that was onion and garlic free so that I could try some of her appy too. You will be surprised at what people are willing to do for you to accommodate your diet concerns if you let them.

4. At restaurants: read menus carefully and let your server know your top trigger foods –>When I went out I let my servers know that I couldn’t tolerate onions, garlic and wheat because these can sometimes be hidden in foods; then I looked through the menu to try to decipher if food looked like it might have some other foods I knew were high FODMAP. If you don’t know your foods very well, I would suggest you write your trigger foods on a small card and provide it to your server to show the chef so that he can think of something that will work for you.

  • Salads are usually a safe bet at restaurants, but check the dressing and make sure there is no onions or garlic.
  • Small amounts of wheat in sauces like soy sauce, are typically tolerated well so you don’t have to worry too much about these

7. Do some research before you go out –> look at restaurant menus online and see if there are items you can tolerate. It is also a good idea to call the restaurant ahead of time to ask them some questions about the menu and let them know your intolerances (try to call outside of the lunch and dinner rushes).

8. Limit alcoholic beverages to 1-2 drinks –> stick to dry wine and beer but only have a small amount as not only does alcohol affect our guts it also increases appetite and may make you more likely to break your diet if you’re not thinking clearly (like perhaps after a bottle of wine…)

Most importantly, enjoy your food when you get it. Taste the different ingredients and take your time eating your meal because IBS symptoms can be increased if you swallow air.

The Low FODMAP Diet

As promised in my last post I am going to write about my experience on the low FODMAP diet.

First a DISCLAIMER: Although I wish to share my experience on this diet and I hope that you can share your experiences, I strongly encourage you to see your doctor to get tested and diagnosed with IBS before you start this diet, because you may miss important diagnoses like celiac disease. AND I really encourage you not to take on this diet alone, it involves cutting out a number of different foods, and although you can still eat a balanced diet I think you do need the help of a registered dietitian experienced in the low FODMAP diet because it can get frustrating and you can get hungry if not following it properly.

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Ok now to the fun stuff.

FODMAP stands for

Basically, these are sugars that are not well absorbed by some people’s guts so they travel along our digestive tract to the colon where they act as food for bacteria and when the bacteria digest/ferment the food it produces symptoms of gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal discomfort. The low FODMAP diet starts by eliminating FODMAPs for 2-6 weeks and then slowly introducing one group at a time to test tolerance/intolerance to a certain sugar group.

The diet was created by Sue Shephard and the team at Monash University in 1999 and is gaining popularity by doctors who are starting to prescribe it to their patients. The Monash team is constantly working to expand the list of FODMAPs and has a great iphone app that can be purchased here, it is $9.99 but all the proceeds from the app go to doing more research and finding more FODMAP foods to add to the list.

So what are the FODMAPS?

Oligosaccharides – water soluble fibres found in: wheat, garlic and onion in large amounts, rye and barley in large amounts, and inulin (added to some foods to increase fibre).

  •          Appropriate foods include: gluten free products (*check labels to ensure they don’t contain other FODMAP food), the green parts of onions, psyllium, gluten free flours
  •          Because IBS is not an allergy to gluten, small amounts of wheat and oligosaccharides can usually be tolerated like bread crumbs and the amount of wheat in sauces like soy sauce

Disaccharides – lactose: found in milk products like, ice cream, milk, most yogurts, some soft cheeses like cream cheese, custard

  • Hard or cured cheeses like mozzarella, brie, feta and cheddar are low lactose and usually well tolerated
  • Small amounts (1-2TBSP) of cream cheese or other soft cheeses like ricotta may be tolerated by some

Monosaccharides – foods with excess fructose like: honey, apples, mango, pears, watermelon, high fructose corn syrup and other foods that contain more fructose than glucose

  • Low FODMAP fruits: bananas, oranges, kiwi, pineapple, grapes, strawberries, tomatoes, papaya, lemons and limes.
  • Keep fruit to 1 serving per meal (separate by 2 or more hours). 1 serving = 1 medium orange or banana, 1/2 cup berries, melon or other fruit
  • Suitable sweeteners: sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, molasses, cane syrup, most jams in small amounts
  • Sugars should all be consumed in small amounts as high amounts promote weight gain, cavities and excess unneeded calories.

Polyols – sugar alcohols found in foods like pears, plums, cauliflower, mushrooms and artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and malitol (commonly found in mints and sugar free gum).

  • Low FODMAP polyols: bananas, blueberries, gum sweetened with sugar, aspartame, cantaloupe

FODMAPs all cause distension in the colon in the same way so eating them in combination at meals increases the effect of symptoms in an additive form. For example if you don’t tolerate lactose and also have difficulty with wheat and you had shredded wheat cereal with milk for breakfast you would be more likely to have symptoms than if you had just a small amount of cheese on gluten free bread. This is why the low FODMAP diet concentrates on the amount of FODMAPs consumed per meal.

The low FODMAP diet divides foods into high, medium and low FODMAP foods. Low FODMAP foods are best tolerated by most people, but as I said before the sugars are cumulative so the amount of each food eaten will affect your symptoms. This is particularly the case with fruits or the Fructose group as you shouldn’t have more than half a cup serving per meal.

I am currently on the Low Fodmap diet phase and have been cutting out any foods I think could be potential triggers, stay tuned for posts about the struggles and achieves of this phase of the diet and my long awaited reintroduction phase.

Below I’ve listed my references and some great resources for dietitians and others trying to follow this diet.


Kate Scarlata’s blog:  her blog is fantastic and she offers a lot of information and answers questions and comments.  Her shopping guide is currently posted on my fridge and I recommend anyone trying to start the diet download a copy (it’s FREE!).

Sue Sheppard Low FODMAP Diet: get information direct from the source, she was part of team of researchers who developed the diet.

Monash University website: always new and updated information on low FODMAP foods again direct from the source. Also a link to the app if you want to download it.

Stephanie Clairmont: her webinar is what got me actually inspired to start the diet myself and she also has some really great information online as she follows the diet herself



Having Bowel Troubles?

I have been struggling with GI issues for years now and no one has been able to diagnose it. I’ve gone to my doctor numerous times and just been told I had gas. And although it was true I was having gas and bloating and stomach pain I wanted to know why. After 10 years of dealing with the symptoms with no diagnosis I finally decided to take matters into my own hands. I’ve tried cutting out random foods, I’ve been tested for celiac disease, I’ve had ultrasounds, I’ve been referred to a GI specialist (my appointment is in the Fall a short 6 months from now!!!) and I still haven’t figured out what’s causing the GI symptoms. All my doctor ever tells me is that I’m healthy and it’s likely just IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

Anyone who can say it’s just IBS has never had IBS symptoms before; which include gas, cramping, abdominal pain, abnormal bowl movements including sudden onset diarrhea and constipation.

Commonly IBS has been diagnosed based on elimination, basically if doctors couldn’t find anything  wrong with your gastrointestinal tract they diagnosed you with IBS. It is now typically defined as symptoms of gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort, that persists for more than 3 months (doesn’t need to be consecutively) without any specific disease diagnoses and abdominal pain is usually relieved by having a bowel movement.

The Rome III Diagnostic Criteria define IBS as

Recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort at least 3 days/month in the last
3 months associated with two or more of the following:

  • Improvement with defecation
  • Onset associated with a change in frequency of stool
  • Onset associated with a change in form (appearance) of stool

IBS, although uncomfortable if not managed properly, does not increase one’s risk of developing colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease and does not specifically damage the intestinal tract.  Symptoms can start at any time but can be triggered by an infection in the intestinal tract, a significant life event or extreme stress.

If you are experiencing IBS symptoms you should speak with your doctor and have your IBS properly diagnosed before trying to treat symptoms on your own. You should also have a colonoscopy to check for any intestinal inflammation or diagnosis of celiac or inflammatory bowel disease. Celiac disease and lactose intolerance are commonly associated with IBS.

IBS is frequently treated by diet, stress relief and sometimes medications (like antidiarreal agents). One of the most widely used and well researched diets to relieve symptoms of IBS came from the Monash University in Australia, the low FODMAP diet. I will be posting my experiences on this diet which I started on Monday. I encourage you to trial this diet if you have been diagnosed with IBS since 75% of people find symptom relief with the diet.  I am a Registered Dietitian therefore I can ensure my diet is balanced all by myself, I encourage you to seek help and advice from a registered dietitian experienced in the low FODMAP diet to help you with proper meal planning as the diet involves eliminating a large amount of foods.

Stay tuned for more posts about what the low FODMAP diet is and my experience on it including some of my trialed recipes including a vegetarian quiche, sheppards pie and even desserts 🙂

To Die For Chocolate Nut Pie

For his birthday dessert, my fiancee asked for a pie, and as you may already know pies are NOT my forte, but alas I trudged ahead because birthday boys get their way.

To add to my bravery I also thought I would trial a new pecan pie recipe from Joy of Baking.

I forgot to preplan my ingredients and I thought I had enough in my pantry but when I got home from getting all of the other ingredients I needed I measured the pecans and I only had 1/2 a cup (recipe calls for 1.5 cups) (Fail!). Luckily I had a full bag of hazelnuts that I got at my last Costco trip and well who doesn’t love chocolate and hazelnuts?

So here is the recipe for my chocolate nut pie adapted from the Joy of Baking Chocolate Pecan Pie. My pie turned out delicious and I think the hazelnuts were an even better touch 🙂

I hope you enjoy it!

pecan pie


Short Crust Pastry:

1 1/4 cups Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, chilled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/8 – 1/4 cup ice water

Chocolate Nut Filling:

1/2 cup whole pecan halves
1 cup hazelnuts
1/2 bar of Lindt 85% Dark Chocolate
3 Eggs
1 cup corn syrup (I think light would be best but I used golden syrup and it was fine just a bit sweeter)
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp salt


Short Crust Pastry:

  1. Place the flour, sugar and salt into a food processor and process just until combined
  2. Add the butter and process until it looks like coarse meal (15 seconds), add the water slowly (1/8 cup first) and process until the dough holds together when pinched adding little bits of water as needed, I ended up using just less than the full 1/4 cup
  3. Wrap in a ball in saran wrap and place in the fridge for about 30min to 1hr
  4. When chilled roll out onto a lightly floured board and transfer into a 9inch pie plate, fold the crust in around itself (not around the pie plate) and make a pretty design around the boarder if you wish (I thought it was good enough I was making a pie so there was no fancy crust edge on mine)
  5. Place back into fridge while you make the filling

Pie Filling: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Toast the pecans and the hazelnuts, peal the skin off the hazelnuts and chop them, leave the pecans whole
  3. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and set aside to cool
  4. In a large bowl whisk the eggs then whisk in the corn syrup, sugar, oil, vanilla extract and oil
  5. Slowly stream in the melted chocolate whisking together
  6. Fill the pie crust with the pecans and hazelnuts trying to place the pecans on top of the hazelnuts, pour the chocolate filling over the nuts
  7. Bake on the bottom third of the oven for 50-60min or until the filling has puffed but is still wobbly when shaken.
  8. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

 pecan pie2

Staying Healthy Over the Holiday

I just realized I haven’t written a post since October! Man have I been busy in my move to Vancouver. Well have no fear I’m back and I am ready to post regularly!

The holidays are here and with all the celebration sometimes we forget about the healthy eating habits we’ve been developing all year. So to help you get back on track, I thought I’d share a few tips to help you prevent unwanted holiday weight gain.


1. Ruin your appetite – some people think that starving yourself all day is the perfect way to save calories  so that you can eat at the christmas party, however, research shows that if you put yourself in starvation mode during the day you are more likely to overeat when you do get food. The best way to prevent over eating is to eat healthy during the day and have a small snack about an hour before you go to your party. This way you can arrive at your party not feeling famished and you can take the time to carefully choose the foods that you want to try.

Which brings me to my next point…

2. Be Choosy – when you go to a buffet don’t think that you need to try everything on the buffet table. It’s ok to stand back and examine the table so that you can decide what you really want to eat. And if you don’t like it, don’t eat it!

3. Limit Alcohol – I know this one might be a tough one but keep in mind that alcohol is filled with empty calories that can add up really quickly (a glass of wine can be around 105 calories). Also alcohol impedes our judgment and increases appetite so you are more likely to overeat. If you do want to drink choose wine or hard alcohol mixed with club soda and avoid sugary drinks, especially the egg nog which can average at a whopping 400 calories per serving.

4.Use a Smaller Plate – studies have shown that we like to finish everything on our plates and that we judge our fullness ques by the amount left on our plate. So to help you listen to your fullness ques grab a dessert or appetizer plate and use it as your dinner plate. You can fill it so you still feel like you’re getting a large portion but you will actually be eating less.

5. Don’t Hover Around the Buffet Table – once you’ve grabbed your share, walk away from the kitchen or the buffet table and have a seat on the couch so that you can savour each bite. Try to stay away from the table to prevent added temptation once you’re already full

And the most important thing to remember is:

6. DON’T GET DOWN ON YOURSELF – everyone overeats at at least one point over the holidays, there is a lot of temptation out there! What you should remember is that it’s what you do most of the time that really matters. So if you induldge at your grandma’s Christmas dinner because she makes the best pumpkin pie in the world, remember that the next day and try to eat more vegetables and fruit and avoid dessert. Or better yet add an extra 15min to your workout routine. Even a 15minute walk can help increase your digestion and bring down your blood sugars after a large meal.

The holiday season is not a time to start a weight loss or diet plan because you will be miserable if you’re munching on carrot sticks while everyone else is going in for their second helping of mashed potatoes and stuffing. Be mindful when you’re eating and really listen to your body to prevent overeating. And most of all: enjoy every bite, and it will be totally worth it 🙂

Even though the holiday season brings delicious food, there are also a lot of other things you can enjoy like outdoor skating, outdoor lights festivals, walks in the snow (well maybe not so much in Vancouver); so try to plan around these events and save the food events for really special occassions like Christmas Day.

Happy Holidays!!