I bet you didn’t think you would ever see onion and garlic in the title for a recipe post here… And yes, Low FODMAP.com is a mostly onion and garlic free place, but I thought it was time have some conversation about onions and garlic.
Some of you have been asking for clarification about how onion and garlic fit into a low FODMAP diet. Perhaps you have seen recipes written for irritable bowel syndrome start off with a chopped onion and garlic clove. Maybe you never stopped using that garlic clove or are simply struggling to find that hit of flavour the humble onion provides.
The problem with onion and garlic is that they both contain fructans. Fructans are chains of fructose molecules with a glucose molecule on the end, and are not broken down and absorbed in our intestines. Those of us with an irritable bowel find that when we eat too much of a food containing fructans, those dreaded IBS symtoms can rear their ugly head. Fructans are also present in high amounts in artichokes, peaches, persimmon, watermelon, wheat, rye, chicory, and as inulin (see below for references).
So does all this mean we should resign ourselves to a life of no onion or garlic? Not necessarily…sigh of relief? We just need to be a little clever about how to use them. By now, I imagine most of you are in the know about garlic infused oil. If not, you can safely flavour cooking oil by gently warming a sliced garlic clove or two in oil for a few minutes, removing the garlic, and then continue cooking your dish in the flavoured oil. Alternatively, it is pretty easy to buy garlic infused olive oil in supermarket these days. Fructans are not fat soluble so they will not leach out into the oil. The good news is that this can also be done with onion. If you want onion you can actually eat and not just taste, then head for the green ends of spring (green) onions, leaving the white end out of your dish. Don’t forget chives; they’re safe too. For a hit of onion flavour you could try asafoetida powder which is available from Indian grocers; use this sparingly as it is quite strong and check for gluten if you need to avoid it. If you have been adding garlic your dishes without any problems then feel free to continue. The low FODMAP diet doesn’t have to be strict, just use it in a way that gives you relief from your symptoms.
To give you an idea of how you can flavour a dish with onion and garlic I decided to do a slow cooked leg of lamb with rosemary. I flavoured the oil with garlic and a large shallot (the French kind), or you could use a small brown onion. I tossed some vegies in the oil then popped them into my slow cooker. The lamb was studded with sprigs of rosemary and browned in the same oil for flavour, before starting the sauce in the pan. Lamb on top of the vegies, sauce over the lamb, and let the slow cooker take care of the rest.
This recipe is for a slow cooker or crock pot. Please check your cookers instructions for recommended cooking times. If you do not have a slow cooker, you could try using your oven set at 140°C, increase the stock to 1-1½ cups, and reduce the cooking time to approximately 1 ½ -2 hours.
2 tablespoons oil, whichever kind you prefer
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 large shallot, slices into large pieces
2 large carrots, cut into large chunks
4 pieces of pumpkin, skin on
1 stick celery, sliced
1-1.5kg lamb leg, thick end
2 sticks of rosemary
salt and pepper
¾ cup beef stock
2 teaspoons corn flour
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Heat oil, garlic and shallot in a fry pan over a low heat for 5 minutes so that it quietly sizzles but does not brown. Remove the garlic and shallot and discard, leaving the oil in the pan. Add the vegetables and sauté over medium heat until just starting to brown. Remove and place in the vessel of a slow cooker.
Remove excess fat from the lamb. Cut small slits in the meat and insert sprigs of rosemary from one of the sticks and season with a little salt and pepper. Brown the lamb in the flavoured oil then place on top of the vegetables. Break the remaining stick of rosemary in half and place either side of the lamb.
Mix the corn flour and mustard into the stock and pour into the pan, stirring until thickened. The sauce will seem thick at this stage but it will become thinner lamb cooks. Pour the sauce over the lamb and vegetables.
Set the slow cooker to cook for 4-5 hours, depending on the size of the lamb and your cookers settings and instructions.
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The information in this post was sourced from the below research articles. Please refer to them for further details about fructans and other FODMAPs.
SUSAN J. SHEPHERD, M Nut Diet, APD*; PETER R. GIBSON, MD, MB, FRACP “Fructose Malabsorption and Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Guidelines for Effective Dietary Management” http://sacfs.asn.au/download/SueShepherd_sarticle.pdf , viewed 23/3/2012
P. R. GIBSON, E. NEWNHAM, J. S. BARRETT, S. J. SHEPHERD & J. G. MUIR “Review article: fructose malabsorption and the bigger picture” http://www.breathtest.com.au/files/Gibson_FM_review_APT2006.pdf , viewed 23/3/2012