clinical alimentary

Know your guts, love yourself.

Why does asparagus make your wee smell? – Book Review

My husband has received this book as a Christmas present and I am afraid he has not had much chance to read it yet! I am a bibliophile and I also have a passion for graphic design and chemistry (I gained a degree in polymer science and technology before I studied dietetics.) This book covers all my passions and as such I’m afraid I pinched it on the very day he received it and have not put it down yet. Of course he can have it back :-) – but he doesn’t usually settle down to read a book present immediately he has opened it (unlikely a bibliophile then!) and he does know I have it, so I am not being that mean!

Now back to the book, it is written in a very clear and understandable way, very important for a book covering the chemistry of popular food science and the info-graphics are a great way of showing the compounds involved. I wish info-graphics were available when I learned about chemistry, as my method of learning is very much visually I would have found this process a little easier. The author Andy Brunning is a chemistry teacher in Cambridge who is also the author of the website which has similar blog posts, the website is really worth a visit if you have an interest in chemistry. I cannot find any negative aspects to this book, even the price is affordable for a hardback.

Some of the questions that particularly attracted my attention were:

Why do some people hate Brussels sprouts? – this might not be the reason you are thinking of!

Why do beans give you flatulence? Yes, this is the very reason you are thinking – I have also written about this very problem here, they are a fodmap!

Why are some people allergic to nuts?

Does MSG cause Chinese restaurant syndrome?

Of course, other posts might be more interest to you. The book has references at the back for all you scientists out there to do some further reading – although I guarantee this will be a little less stimulating.


Kale and herb frittata with a cheese and pine nut topping – low fodmap

Wondering what to have for lunch? A frittata is a great option because not only can you eat it warm, it slices very well and can be eaten cold with a fresh green salad or even used as a sandwich filling. Very versatile and tasty for a lunch option and what’s more it is low fodmap.


4 eggs

handful of Kale

2-3 sprigs of thyme and a few rosemary leaves (you can also use dried)

1 oz of grated Parmesan

1 tablespoon of pine nuts

Salt & pepper to taste

Spray oil


Boil the kale till a little soft and leave to cool then chop well.

Chop the herbs, grate the Parmesan.

Crack the eggs in a bowl and mix, season and split into two.

Add the kale and herbs to one bowl mix well.

Spay a little oil into a frying pan and add the egg and kale mix, flatten with w fork and cook for 1-2 minutes

Add the second half of eggs to the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Place the pan under a grill to continue cooking and when the eggs are risen and fluffy sprinkle on the cheese and pine nuts.

Grill until the cheese is melted and the pine nuts are toasted.

Serve – serves 2-3 people.

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Christmas carols and canapes

It’s that time of year again – although it’s unusually warm outside this year! I purchased some gluten free frozen puff pastry and it is also Low Fodmap so here are some canapes to have with Christmas carols and shots – so invite your friends round and celebrate! They are simple to make, although a little fiddly to say the least. See below for the recipes. I could have made my own pastry – but life’s too short to be making puff pasty this time of year!

First cut the pastry into two and using the first block roll it out as thin as you can with plenty of flour to prevent sticking – I used rice flour. Use a small circular cutter and cut out as many circles as you can. Bring the trimmings together and roll out again. I made about 35-40 disks. Brush each with a little beaten egg. Use the following as toppings:

Basil, walnut and Parmesan

A handful of chopped walnuts, 2-4 freshly chopped basil leaves, a handful of pine nuts and 10g of grated Parmesan cheese. Mix these ingredients together with a teaspoon of olive oil and spoon a small amount on the top of each disc. Top each with half an olive cut lengthwise.

Serrano ham and manchago cheese

Place a small square of Serrano ham on each disk, top with a thin slice of cheese.

Smoked mackerel and potato

Thinly slice small new potatoes and spray with oil- roast for 10 minutes in an oven and top each disc with the cooked potato and a small amount of shredded mackerel.

Rosemary and Parmesan pinwheels

Using the other half of the pastry roll it into an oblong block as this as you can brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and chopped fresh rosemary leaving a thin strip away from you without cheese. Roll adding further egg wash as you roll it up and stick down once rolled. Slice into 1cm circles.

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Place each disk on a baking tray and cook in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes until cooked. Serve with your drink of choice. Remember alcohol can, for some  people make symptoms of IBS worse, so do take care. Your friends and guests will hardly be aware that these are gluten free.  These canapes are also high in fat but one or two are all that are needed, moderation is always key – even at this time of year! They make a delightful change to the usual peanuts or crisps served with party drinks.

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I do hope you all have a wonderful holiday.

Chapati and low fodmap curry – yum!


150 g of gluten free plain flour

1 teaspoon of garlic infused oil

1/2 teaspoon of Xanthan gum

20 g of well chopped coriander

Salt to taste

Water to form a dough


Weigh out the flour in a bowl and add the xanthan gum and mix well.

Add the oil, salt and coriander and water.

Add water slowly and bring the flour together to form a dough – the more you work this dough the better the results will be!

Roll the dough into a sausage shape and divide to make approximately 8 small disks

Roll these into a ball then roll out evenly as thin as possible.

Cook on a flat griddle till the flour turns a little opaque then hold the chapatti in a flame to finish the cooking add some spray oil to the pan if needed.

Serve immediately – they don’t keep well and are best eaten fresh.


2 aubergines

200g spinach

200g of potato

1 red chili chopped small

1 inch of ginger chopped

1 teaspoon of coriander seeds

1 teaspoon of cumin

3 cardamon pods, split

1 red pepper chopped

1 tablespoon of garlic infused oil

1/2 teaspoon of asafoetida

salt to taste


Roast the aubergines till soft and remove the skin and chop.

Add the spices and chopped chili (you can omit this if it affects symptoms too much) to a pestle & mortar and grind.

Add the oil to a pan and fry the spice paste to release the aroma.

Add the aubergine, chopped potato to the pan and cooked till tender.

Add 4-5 pieces of frozen spinach and chopped red pepper at the end of the dish and cook for ten minutes.


Turmeric potatoes

These small potatoes are easy to make, use 3-4 potatoes per portion of salad potatoes. I roasted them in the oven in their jackets till soft them sliced them and using 1/2 tablespoon of oil fried turmeric and coriander seeds to release the flavour and added this to the potato with salt to taste. You could use this recipe with older potatoes if you wished.



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Cinnamon and lemon thyme roast chicken

It is the first cold snap of the season today and what better to warm the cockles than a roast chicken? This is a very simple roast, sprinkled with cinnamon and thyme.


1/2 roast chicken

2 teaspoons cinnamon

5-6 springs of thyme

salt and pepper to taste.


Do not wash the chicken before you use it.

Place the chicken in a roasting tin on a rack to drain the fat as it roasts and add the thyme and cinnamon plus seasoning.

Roast for 3/4 hour.

I added some carrots to the roasting tin to add colour to the dish.


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Lemon mustard roasted winter vegetables and chicken

Roasted vegetables are one of my favourite winter recipes and I have cooked them before for this blog. It is Halloween tonight and what better to come home from trick or treating to a warm filling meal? I have never cooked radish before but I will do again!


Chicken drumsticks 4-6

200g Turnip

(you don’t need to have baby turnips – these just look good in the picture – larger turnips are fine to use)

200g Carrots

(multi-coloured carrots look great but ordinary carrots are just as good)

50g Radish

1 large tablespoon of grained mustard

1 tablespoon of olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lemon

Salt and pepper to flavour – if you wish.


Don’t wash the chicken drumsticks just add to a roasting tin.

Slice carrots into 2 or 3 using a diagonal cutting angle

Half baby turnips or chop the turnip

Slice the radish

Mix the mustard, oil and lemon juice and rub on the vegetables and chicken drumsticks

Roast in an oven gas mark 7 for 20-30 minutes – check drumsticks are cooked by ensuring juices are running clear.

Sprinkle with rocket before serving

Serve with wholegrain rice – don’t forget to include some carbohydrate! :-)

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Coriander carrots

My love of the carrot is growing – it really is a very versatile vegetable and the colour it provides to dishes adds a bit of warmth during the winter. Carrots partner very well with coriander and I have decided to use my gnocchi recipe to see if it works with carrot in place of parsnips – it appears that it does, but one word of warning – ensure you cook the carrots well and puree them before you add the flour to ensure you can roll them and they have the correct texture.


400g Carrots

70g of gluten free flour

2g of coriander stalks chopped finely

Coriander seeds to garnish

salt + pepper


Cook the carrots till very soft and puree

add the flour, coriander stalks, salt + pepper and mix well

Roll into a 1cm width sausage on a floured board and cut even 1 cm strips.

Roll into a ball and flatten with a fork.

Boil till they float in water.


I thought I would add a picture of this little chap with his orange (red) breast – he was very friendly!


Stuffed Aubergine

Aubergines are my favourite vegetable and suitable for a Low Fodmap diet. Aubergines have been stated to be the vegetable to use if you wish to replace meat in a dish as they have a good texture and is satisfying to eat, but they will not replace some of the nutrition when replacing like for like. A vegetarian diet is great to have and can be very healthy if some regard is taken to ensure that it is nutritionally complete and not too high in energy. But some people really struggle to follow a vegetarian Low Fodmap diet because the diet on the exclusion phase excludes sources of protein from legumes and pulses.  This recipe contains nuts and just a small amount of low fat hard cheese – sources of protein – you can change the cheese for a vegan alternative cheese but use it sparingly as it tends to be quite high in fat and is a possible source of Fodmap, so check the label. Quorn and quinoa are good sources of protein but again check the label for Fodmaps if you choose Quorn products (not suitable for vegans as Quorn contains egg). To ensure you have adequate iron in your diet include some dark green leafy vegetables (chard and spinach are reasonably good sources,) along side a small amount of citrus fruit (or small amount of juice – 100 ml maximum) to improve the absorption. You could also include some fortified breakfast cereal to add to your iron intake. Egg yolk is a source of iron too, if you do eat them. Very small amounts of canned lentils and chickpeas can be included and these do contain iron, but again the iron is more difficult for the body to absorb, so need a source of vitamin C consumed at the same time – rinse well before use. See a dietitian if you need more individual advice – in fact I would encourage any vegan considering the Low Fodmap diet to ask their GP for a referral.

Do remember the Low Fodmap diet is a learning diet and not a diet for life – most people find they can re-introduce some Fodmap foods back in, if only in smaller amounts. This is important to help your bacterial populations in your bowel and to increase the variety of your diet. If you are struggling to find a dietitian as your GP to refer you – the National Institute of Health & Care Excellence advise you should see a trained healthcare practitioner to follow the Low Fodmap diet for IBS – at the moment this is Registered Dietitians only, or you could see a freelance dietitian, check out


4 Aubergines

Small amount of olive oil

1 teaspoon of coriander seeds

1/2 lemon (juice only) and slices to decorate the top

1 teaspoon of peanut butter

20 g of pumpkin seeds

25g red skinned peanuts

Salt + pepper to taste

60g of gluten free couscous (based on corn)

50g of low fat hard cheese


Slice the aubergine length way season and rub the surface with a little cooking oil.

Roast in an oven for 20-30 minutes.

Remove and cool.

Remove the flesh and mash with the other ingredients except the cheese. Use around 40g of aubergine per portion.

Divide the mix between each aubergine skin.

Grate the cheese and sprinkle on the top and add a slice of lemon.

Cook till the cheese has melted and the aubergine is cooked (20-30 minutes) Serve with fresh green salad.

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Pumpkin soup – gluten free, wheat free, milk free, Low Fodmap

During the 1970’s when I was growing up – (you now have some idea of my age!) a pumpkin in the UK was a rare thing! We usually used swede to make our Halloween lanterns and cooking with pumpkins was unknown around our small Lancashire town. They are now widely available and relatively cheap but I have added some swede to remind me of times past. We also had lots of fun around the 31st October but no trick or treats for us! Just dressing up in Halloween costumes and a local party with parkin, toffee apples and parched peas (a very local delicacy with lots of malt vinegar added) sometimes we would have a double celebration with Guy Fawkes bonfire night being 5 days later than Halloween. See another recipe for this time of year here:


Half a small pumpkin

Half a small Swede

Garlic infused oil

1 teaspoon of coriander Seeds

2 cm of ginger grated

1/2 teaspoon of asafoetida

1 litre of water (you can add more if needed)

1/2 teaspoon Chilli powder*


Add the oil to a pan and add the spices to release the flavour of the spice.

Cut the swede and pumpkin into small pieces add to the pan with the water and cook in the water till soft.

Blend the mix to a smooth soup

*If you tolerate chilli add it – you can omit it if needed.

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Cheese Souffle low lactose, gluten and wheat free (low Fodmap)

This is my first attempt at a souffle – I have always been scared of making them due to listening to the difficulties people report in getting a rise and the consistency right. More of a challenge then to use free from ingredients to achieve the same effect? It is October – Halloween month so time to get scared and have a go! See what you think.

The photograph below was taken after some minutes out of the oven and the rise has reduced but the above photograph was taken within a few minutes of leaving the hot oven. I am not sure if the strange shaped rise was as a result of the small dish or the fact that this is a free from bake. The recipe below makes around 8 small souffles, really tasty to eat them fresh from the oven but it is also possible to double bake the majority to warm them through and although the texture was a little different the souffles were just as tasty.


4 eggs

250ml of lactose free milk

20g plain gluten free flour/corn flour

20g of margarine

170g of cheddar cheese (lactose free if you are very sensitive)

olive oil to coat the ramekins

pepper to taste*


Oil the 8 ramekins well and pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 – 220 deg C

Separate the yolk from the white of the egg – ensure no egg yolk is in the white or it will not whip to the correct consistency.

Melt the margarine slowly in a pan and add the flour – this will thicken. Cook for a few seconds and slowly incorporate the milk until it makes a smooth sauce. Simmer to cook the flour. Don’t be afraid to sieve the sauce if it contains lumps. Cool slightly and add the egg yolk and pepper, melt in the cheese.

In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites till they form stiff peaks. Add a 1/3 of the egg white to the sauce to slacken it. The fold in the rest of the egg white into the sauce carefully so all the whites are incorporated. Once they are incorporated STOP MIXING – you need to have as much air as possible in the mix and over mixing may mean your souffles will not rise.

Add the mix to the ramekins and cook for approximately 12 minutes – remove from the oven and serve immediately.

*I omitted the salt as the souffle has plenty of cheese to give a salty flavour in my view



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