Ahhh Christmas – a time for festivities filled with loved ones, gifts, laughter and of course…delicious food! This time of year can be incredibly stressful for many of us. This is particularly true when it comes to the catering side of things! To make things easier for you, here are 6 tips for a low FODMAP Christmas!
Whether you are hosting Christmas at your place or braving the trip to your in-laws – the Christmas celebrations inevitably centre around food. The chance to indulge in festive foods then lapse into a food-coma is an event most people look forward to. Unfortunately, the restrictions of a low FODMAP diet can make this a anxious occasion.
You might absolutely love the spread of festive food on Christmas day. You might also absolutely fear the consequences that follow. Some people find it easier to just eat the delicious foods they don’t tolerate and deal with the consequences. However, this may lead to spending the rest of the day in discomfort, dealing with bloating, gas, stomach pain and making frequent trips to the bathroom, rather than enjoying the celebrations with loved ones.
Low FODMAPs shouldn’t mean missing out, so here are 6 tips for a low FODMAP Christmas:
Christmas Meats and Seafood
Christmas meats/seafood options such as ham, turkey, beef, chicken, prawns, oysters, and fish are all sources of animal protein and on their own are low FODMAP (as they contain little-no carbohydrate). The main issues with meat/seafood when avoiding FODMAPs is the stuffing, seasoning/glaze, and sauces used. Try choosing the sections of meat without the skin or trim the outer section of the meat if a high FODMAP seasoning or glaze used (e.g those containing garlic or honey) and avoid the stuffing. If you are on meat duty you could make your own stuffing using fresh gluten-free bread crumbs and using fresh herbs, lemon/orange, green shallots, and garlic infused olive oil for flavour. If making your own glaze, use low FODMAP alternatives such as maple syrup instead of honey. Watch out for seafood dipping sauces as often contain garlic and lactose products, but with good seafood generally all you need is a bit of fresh lemon to enjoy anyway!
If you are hosting Christmas try using low FODMAP options for salad such as lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrot, capsicum and bean sprouts. If you prefer hot veg then opt for low FODMAP options such as green beans, zucchini, potato, sweet potato (up to ½ cup), Kent/Jap pumpkin, and bok choy. Aside from the type of veg itself, issues which arise with veggies/salad is the seasoning/sauce/condiment used (see number 3). If you are going elsewhere for Christmas lunch/dinner, offer to bring a big salad (low FODMAP, of course) which you can load your plate up with.
The common culprits to look out for on labels are garlic, onion, and dairy products such as cream/milk. If making your own gravy, use cornflour or gluten-free flour rather than regular flour when thickening, red wine and herbs are great for flavouring gravy. Make a quick and easy low FODMAP salad dressing by combining equal parts balsamic/red-wine vinegar with olive oil. Cranberry and apple sauce are popular choices at Chrissy, both are high FODMAP but should be tolerated using up to 1 tablespoon (so don’t get too crazy). Mustards make for a great low FODMAP condiment. Creamy sauces like aioli and thousand island dressing (seafood sauce) should be avoided, but again, may be tolerated in small amounts (<1 tablespoon).
Now the options for nibbles at Christmas are endless, and everyone seems to have their own favourites – but there a few common ones:
-Cheese Platters: Choose hard cheeses like cheddar and matured cheeses like brie/camembert. Avoid very soft cheeses like ricotta and haloumi.
-Dips: Most are quite high FODMAP, particularly if store bought. If you have the self-control then 1-2 tablespoons is generally tolerated, but be mindful that dips are easy to over eat. Try making your own low FODMAP option if you are a dip fiend!
-Dried fruit: Most is high FODMAP, so try avoiding dried fruit. Some are OK in small amounts, such as cranberries (<1 tablespoon), but be cautious of the quantity.
– Nuts: Avoid pistachios/cashews and opt for almonds (<10 nuts), walnuts and pumpkin seeds. Nuts are very easy to over-do, so even there a tolerance cut points for cashews (<5) and almonds (<10), it may be safer to avoid if tendency to indulge.
-Crackers: Go for plain rice-crackers which are gluten-free (such as sakatas and peckish), and avoid flavoured varieties and gluten/wheat based varieties (such as Jatz).
-Chips: Opt for plain-salted potato chips, rather than the flavoured or corn-chip varieties.
Desserts are tricky when avoiding FODMAPS, particularly with Aussie Christmas favourites like pavlova, trifle and Christmas cake. Try making individual pavlova nests (mini-pavs) and top your own with Liddell’s lactose-free vanilla yoghurt, fresh strawberries, banana and passionfruit just before serving. This lets everyone else enjoy a traditional pavlova nest (with cream and other fruits like mango), caters for fussy eaters, and means you don’t miss out. Some other low FODMAP dessert ideas include berry crumble and gluten-free brownies – topped with vanilla lactose free ice-cream, yum! Christmas cake and fruit mince pies, unfortunately, are very high in FODMAPs and are therefore best to avoid, or try our delicious recipe below! Trifle can be made low FODMAP for the keen baker, so this is an option if bringing dessert. For short-bread lovers, there are a couple of brands which make a gluten-free short-bread, but alternatively you can make your own.
It is the silly season after all, so if you choose to drink alcohol there are a couple of things to keep in mind with IBS. In general, alcohol is a known gut-irritant, so many IBS sufferers may find alcohol of any kind does not agree with them. Mixers can be problematic – sugar-free mixers such a diet soft-drinks are a no-go as are most fruit-juices, so opt for soda water or regular soft drink (but be mindful as excess sugar may irritate your gut). Alcohol varieties which are most problematic are those with a high fructose content such as sticky/dessert wines and rum. Varieties which are low FODMAP include vodka, whiskey, gin, and most wine. Beer is generally tolerated in moderate amounts as only a small amount of wheat and barley remains in beer after processing, but should be avoided if also coeliac or gluten intolerant. Avoid liqueurs such as Baileys, Kahlua, Midori, Malibu etc as they are usually high in fructose and/or lactose if a creamy liqueur.
PS – Stay tuned for some more delicious Christmas treats next week
Low FODMAP Christmas Slice
1 orange, peeled and blended
¾ cup mixed berries (strawberries, mulberries, raspberries, blueberries)
½ cup walnuts (blended in food processor to a grainy consistency)
1/3 cup macadamias (blended in food processor to a grainy consistency)
3 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
3 Tbsp cup sunflower seeds
½ cup buckwheat flour
½ cup shredded coconut
tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Dash of your choice of liqueur (but avoid rum)
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (or 160 degrees celsius fan forced)
- Combine fruit and egg in a bowl and mix well
- Combine the rest of the dry ingredients in a different bowl, then stir in fruit and egg mix till they all bind together
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden on top
- Cool on a cooling rack and cut into slices
Slice keeps for up to 5 days, but may also be frozen and kept for up to 3 months.
15-20 minutes preparation time, 20-25 minutes cooking time
Makes 24 small pieces or 12 large slices
By Amanda Gaukroger
Recipe by Chloe McLeod