There is only one thing that I know when it comes to food – eat fresh, whole real food. But even with whole, fresh, real food, there can be problems. I learned about the FODMAP over the last few weeks through a friend. Some people can’t eat real whole foods that have short chain carbohydrates without seriously upsetting their digestive system. That includes foods like garlic, onions, avocado, cauliflower, nuts, seeds and so much my recipes and diet are dependent on. With a FODMAP, meat is not a problem – but meat is a food that my own digestive system does not process and that I choose not to eat. Does that mean that someone with a diet on a FODMAP and a vegetarian can’t share a flavorful beautiful meal? Of course not – especially when that sparks creativity in me using the ingredients we share in common. I came up with a black olive, sun dried tomato, spinach, zucchini, leek, mint quiche in a sweet potato crust. Topped with either feta or an almond based “parmesan.” No processed foods, no short chain carbohydrates, no cream or lactose or flour.
Why are there so many food insensitivities, allergies and restricted diets now a days that we have not seen before? I have several theories.
- We pay closer attention to our bodies and how we feel – no longer taking that bloating, cramping, full but still hungry, hating food, lethargic feeling as just being part of life, but something we can take some control of.
- A change in agriculture – how we grow food, propagate seeds, water, mass produce crops out of season, ship and store food, the quality of the water and soil…so much has changed in the earth and the way we produce food but we have not given the human body the time to evolve to this new way of being.
- Processing of food – Because we grind, manufacture and package everything, we are exposed to so much more than we were ever exposed to before. At the same time, we are continuously exposed to the same foods over and over again without variety – nuts, corn, grains, soy, herbs, chemicals, etc…because they are all used in these manufacturing plants which means we get a lifetimes worth of exposure in a very short period of time. Also, processing is now streamlined. What happened to butchers? I don’t eat meat, but I sure know the difference between properly raising animals vs. packaged Tyson chicken. The current farming and processing of animals creates a lot of issues with bacteria and viruses entering our diets, through vegetables and meat because the run offs from animal farming are going into produce. But streamlining the production of food while mass producing it, we are creating a food ecosystem that may not be compatible with our bodies (or sustainable for the earth)
I promise I will end my rant and land back on this soon:
What can we do. Take control of the food we put into our mouth. Pay attention to our bodies. Turn theories into hypotheses that we individually test and live by those results. That is how people come to discover the FODMAP. They notice that certain foods cause them problems like irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, cramping or much worse. They search the interwebs and discover the FODMAP. They try out a restrictive diet. They feel better. They live by it. They cheat on their FODMAP. They return to it. This is how almost anyone comes to any sort of personalized/restricted diet. It helps us make our bodies healthy and efficient so we enjoy can life better.
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols. Foods with these short chain carbohydrates are poorly absorbed in the intestines. The science and research is still coming out – but there are a lot papers published on it – so if you look at food lists, there are some variations. I haven’t spent enough time looking into it to figure out how these groups of foods are related by their content. I just knew that a friend who discovered that the FODMAP was better for her diet was coming over and could not eat lots of nuts, avocado, garlic and onions – pretty much my staples. And I could not eat meat, her staple.
I ask people to respect my diet – not expect me to eat something they made if it is not right for my body, so I do the same for others. I am fine providing my own food or restraining from food I don’t want to eat. I am around too many people that are uncomfortable with my food choices and make fun of me for it – but I don’t care because it keeps me healthy. And rather than make others feel uncomfortable for knowing and respecting their own dietary needs that differ from mine, I use it as an opportunity to challenge myself in the kitchen.
Tolerance people, respect one another. Focus on commonalities rather than differences.
Studying the several FODMAP lists, I came up with this.
I don’t like quiche and will opt against it given a choice. It is too heavy, too many eggs, too much cream, too buttery a crust and too fatty for my taste – which is what I am sure appeals to others. My husband is French. He loves quiche. So I thought it was time to give quiche a chance. But make it in a way that would appeal to all.
I have recipes with and without eggs. In this case, yes there are eggs – a binder for the quiche and the only whole protein that binds together two polar opposite restrictive diets together. I buy my eggs from pastured raised hens on farms without roosters – without a rooster the egg is not fertilized. I could have used tofu but I try to create recipes without soy which can be easy to rely on as a vegetarian.
Sweet potatoes for the crust. High veggie content. Leek greens for the onion-like flavor. Lemon and mint to break up the fatty flavor and provide some brightness. Almond milk instead of cream or milk. Olives and sun dried tomatoes for bursts of flavor. I made 3 versions – without cheese, with feta and with an almond “parmesan” – all were great.
Sweet potatoes are versatile and loaded with nutrients – but they can be very sweet. Some like that, but for me, they can be too sweet in a savory dish. One thing global food expansion has done for us is exposed us to more varieties. I have discovered a lot of varieties of sweet potatoes – white, orange, purple, yellow – with varying sweetness. The most common ones in the USA are white and orange, and commonly grown locally here in CA, so I stuck to those. The white is not as sweet but still loaded with nutrients. I cut them up into thin rounds using a mandolin – of course you can use a knife, just keep the slices thin. I scrub mine and actually like the skin, but free feel to peel.
Oil a pie plate or casserole dish – I used a 9 inch plate – and then line it with sweet potato rounds. These rounds will shrink with baking, so be sure to cover the plate and the sides well – be generous. Then spray the rounds with oil. I used a spray coconut oil from Spectrum Naturals.
Bake the rounds at 375 degrees F for 15 min and remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, make the filling. On the FODMAP, leeks are OK as long as you are only using the leek greens and not the whites. Leeks are dirty so cut first then wash well. I find they are the most digestible and have the best flavor when they are cooked down and caramelized, so cook them for a while (15-20 min) over low to medium heat.
Add sliced zucchini, cook down and then add sun dried tomato and baby spinach and turn off the heat once the spinach is wilted. Place it into a bowl. Add chopped kalamata black olives, mint, parsley, lemon zest and juice and mix well. Layer it into the pie dish.
For the egg, whisk together 4 eggs, 2 egg whites, unsweetened almond milk, salt, pepper and oregano and pour over. The mixture will spread throughout on its own and fill in the gaps, making the crust bind together.
I garnished one with thin slices of red bell pepper and feta. Another with more olives and an almond “parmesan”. Another I left as is with no garnish. Bake at 375 for 20- 30 min until firm and browned on top.
it holds together well. Easy to slice into.
The crust is beautiful layers of sweet potato.
The edges hold up well. Even if the sweet potato browns a little more, it doesn’t affect the taste or texture.
It is fresh, bright, flavorful, veggieful and light.
Go back fro seconds without any guilt.
Finally, I gave quiche a chance. I suggest you try it out too. It is so much fun to share.
Olive, sun dried tomato and veggie filled quiche with a sweet potato crust
- 2 medium sweet potato, sliced into thin rounds
- 1 med zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
- 1 med leek – greens only for FODMAP, chopped
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach
- 3 Tbs sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 15 kalamata olives, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 Tbs fresh mint, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice + lemon zest
- 4 eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp oregano
- A pinch of black pepper
- 1/2 cup feta or almond “parmesan” (optional)
- Red bell pepper, thinly sliced, for garnish
- Ghee or olive or coconut oil for cooking
Preheat the oven to 375. Oil a 9 inch pie dish and layer of sweet potato slices. Cut the sweet potato rounds along the bottom and the side. Spray the rounds with oil and bake for 15 minutes.
While that is baking, in a pot over low to medium heat, melt some ghee or coconut oil – about a tsp – and add leeks, stirring frequently so they don’t burn but brown and caramelize instead. Cook fro about 15 min. Add zucchini and cook down for about 5 min. Add sun dried tomatoes and baby spinach. Once wilted, remove from heat and place into a bowl. Add olives, parsley, mint, lemon zest and lemon juice and mix well.
Once sweet potato crust has been baked, spread filling over the crust.
Whisk together eggs, egg whites, almond milk, oregano, salt and pepper. Whisking helps to incorporate and aerate. Pour over the filling – it will fill in through the spaces of the sweet potato.
Garnish with thin slices of red bell pepper and feta. Or use an almond parmesan for a dairy-free version. Or leave without garnish.
Bake for 20-30 min until set and slightly browned.
Let cool for 5-7 min before serving.