Christmas treats we can ALL stomach to avoid painful bloating

Christmas treats we can ALL stomach …even if you have to watch what you eat to avoid painful bloating

Turkey and all the trimmings. Mince pies. Leftover-sandwiches. All among the most hotly anticipated hallmarks of Christmas.

But for the millions with common digestive problems, most festive favourites are a recipe for disaster. Root vegetables, dried fruit and Brussels sprouts are among the foods highest in a type of fermentable sugars called FODMAPs.

These sugars interact with healthy bacteria in the gut, triggering the release of gas that can lead to that dreaded bloated feeling. And for the one Briton in five who suffers irritable bowel syndrome, the bloat comes with diarrhoea, agonising pain and days of unpleasant, embarrassing flatulence.

An eating plan that aims to pinpoint patients’ unique triggers, by eliminating high-FODMAP foods, then reintroducing them one at a time, is the main treatment for the condition.

Experts have also found that diets low in these foods can also ease inflammation associated with bowel diseases such as Crohn’s and colitis, while those with dairy intolerance are advised to avoid lactose – a commonly consumed FODMAP.

With at least one in three with digestive problems waiting to see a specialist, many will be thinking: What can I eat at Christmas?

Here, in collaboration with nutritionist and YOU magazine recipe writer Annie Bell, we’ve created variations on the festive staples that are suitable for the most sensitive stomach.

From scrumptious vegetable sides to indulgent festive desserts, these dishes are just as tasty as the traditional versions, but won’t leave you clutching your stomach.

Root vegetable and cheddar bake 

The vegetables with the most FODMAPs are onions and garlic, which tend to feature in many recipes to add flavour. Using the green part of leeks gives a similar taste without the horrid after effects.

The thin slices of parsnip, which contain a low level of FODMAPs, mean you get a very small amount per portion – unlikely to spark symptoms.

Serves 6

  • 450g carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 450g parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 450g leeks, sliced (green parts only)
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • 30g unsalted butter, diced
  • 1½ tsp caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 100g cheddar, grated
  • 50g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 6 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 220C/gas mark 8. Place the carrots, parsnips and leeks in a large saucepan with the stock, butter, a pinch of salt and the sugar. Bring the liquid to the boil, cover and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Then cook uncovered for a further 15 minutes.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs with salt and pepper, then stir in two-thirds of the cheese. Toss the breadcrumbs in another bowl with the oil, then mix in the rest of the cheese.

Add the vegetables to the bowl with the egg and cheese mixture, add the parsley and stir to combine. Tip into a 30cm shallow ovenproof dish, then scatter the breadcrumb mixture on top.

Place dish in a roasting tin and add boiling water into tray, surrounding the dish, until it comes two-thirds of the way up the sides. Bake for 30-35 minutes until breadcrumbs are golden.

Green beans with sundried tomatoes, celery and spring onion 

Sprouts and bacon are often fried with shallots, which have a similar quantity of fermentable sugars to onions. Using celery instead will spare you the horrid after effects.

If you have a sweet tooth, replace sundried tomatoes with dried cranberries – as they are one of few dried fruits that are very low in FODMAPs.

Serves 6

  • 150ml white wine
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 30g unsalted butter, diced
  • 60g sundried tomatoes (from a jar), chopped
  • 400g fine green beans, stalk ends trimmed and halved
  • 3 spring onions (green parts only), sliced

Put the white wine and celery in a small saucepan, bring to boil and simmer for a few minutes. Whisk in butter and stir in sundried tomatoes, then season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to boil and cook beans for 4-5 minutes until just tender. Drain using a colander, then return to the pan, pour over the sauce and toss. Scatter over spring onions before serving.

Roast turkey with chestnut, sage and leek stuffing

Most recipes for home-made stuffing use sausage meat and bread – not great for those prone to bloating.

Wheat contains a high level of fermentable fruit sugars called fructans, and traces of wheat are often added to sausage meat for bulk. This vegetarian version uses wheat-free bread, available at most supermarkets. Gluten-free bread works too. 

Serves 6-8

  • 5kg free-range turkey
  • 225g gluten or wheat-free bread, torn into small pieces
  • 450ml vegetable stock
  • 85g unsalted butter
  • 2 finely chopped leeks (green parts only)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • Small bunch chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh sage
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 50g cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped into small pieces

Cook a turkey, seasoned with salt and pepper, as normal – at 220C/gas mark 8 for roughly 15 minutes per 500g for a bird under 5kg, and 13 minutes per 500g for a bird 500g or over.

Turn the oven down to 200C/gas mark 6 after 30 minutes of cooking. Cover with foil to begin with, but remove foil 45 minutes before the end of cooking time.

About an hour before the turkey is ready, preheat another oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and prepare the stuffing. Place torn bread in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a pan, bring the stock to a simmer. In another pan, melt the butter and add the leek and celery, stir and cook until softened. Add the butter mixture to the bread, followed by the chestnuts, parsley, sage and rosemary, and season with salt and pepper. Fold in the egg and add the stock one teaspoon at a time.

Spoon the stuffing into an ovenproof dish and cook for 50 minutes.

Citrus roasted peppers and tomatoes

Peppers are the friendliest vegetable for people with gut problems, since they contain no fermentable sugars.

Some people find that large quantities of tomatoes – usually tins of chopped tomatoes, or tomato ketchup – can trigger acid reflux, which often co-exists with IBS. But here, there is only a small amount of tomato per portion so it is unlikely to trigger symptoms.

Serves 6

  • 6 red, yellow or orange peppers
  • 3 strips of orange zest
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 18 cherry tomatoes
  • 8-10 thyme sprigs, or 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • 1 tbsp clementine or orange juice

Heat the oven to 210C/gas mark 7. Cut out the core from each pepper, quarter them, discarding any seeds and arrange in a baking dish or roasting pan.

Add tomatoes, herbs, zest and cinnamon stick and drizzle over 3 tbsp of oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 50-60 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes until peppers are succulent and evenly singed at the edges.

While the peppers are cooking, make the dressing. Whisk the lemon or lime and clementine juice with a little salt in a bowl, then add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil.

Drizzle over the peppers and tomatoes, gently toss, then transfer to a serving plate.

Turkey and aubergine curry with roasted nuts

Leftovers are a common trigger for IBS. This recipe is free of starchy veg and tastes great without the onion and garlic most curries have.

Serves 4

  • 5 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
  • 2 medium aubergines, diced
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 2 tsp garam masala spice
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped, with seeds removed
  • 300g cold turkey
  • 275ml coconut milk (or any dairy-free milk)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 handfuls chopped coriander leaves, plus extra to serve
  • Chopped peanuts, almonds, pecans 

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add half the aubergine and fry, stirring frequently until golden and translucent.

Place in a bowl, then cook remainder. Heat remaining tbsp of oil and fry celery for a minute or two until beginning to colour.

Stir in garam masala, tomatoes and season with salt. Cook over a low heat for a few minutes until tomatoes are collapsing.

Return first batch of aubergine to pan, mix in turkey and heat through. Stir in two-thirds of milk, along with lemon juice and sugar. Add coriander and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the extra coriander and nuts scattered over.

Raspberry Christmas sundae 

Christmas trifles may be delicious, but the overload of cream and custard can spark symptoms if you’re sensitive to milk sugars.

Desserts with apple and pear contain lots of fermentable fruit sugars and often also result in bloating. A sorbet is a harmless alternative.

Serves 4

  • 150g strawberry or raspberry jam
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 500ml tub raspberry sorbet
  • Two handfuls of raspberries

Heat the jam in a saucepan with the lemon juice until it loosens.

Place a couple of scoops of raspberry sorbet in 4 sundae glasses, drizzle over a teaspoon of jam and scatter raspberries over each.

Festive berry pavlova 

Pavlovas with cream are high in FODMAPs, thanks to their milk sugars. But in Greek yogurt, the sugars that IBS sufferers struggle to digest – lactose – are largely strained out during processing, giving a rich, creamy texture.

Swap berries for low-FODMAP fruits like grapes, kiwis, oranges, passionfruit and pineapple.

Serves 6-8

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 350g white caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 800g berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries)
  • 40g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp orange or other fruit liqueur (optional)
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 300ml thick Greek yogurt or lactose-free yogurt

Preheat the oven to 210C/gas mark 7. Whip egg whites in a bowl until they form stiff peaks, then scatter over the caster sugar a few tablespoons at a time, whisking well.

Gradually whisk in the cornflour, then the vinegar until you have a stiff, glossy meringue. Line a baking tray with parchment and spoon mixture on to the sheet in a rough circle, swirling the top with the spoon.

Place the meringue in the oven and immediately reduce temperature to 120C/gas mark 1 and bake for 90 minutes, then leave to cool.

While the meringue is cooking, put a third of the red berries, the icing sugar, liqueur if using, and lemon juice in a blender and puree. Pass through a sieve into a bowl.

Halve or quarter any large strawberries and mix remaining fruit in with the sauce.

Place meringue on a large serving plate, spoon the yogurt into the centre, then spoon the berries and sauce on top.

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