Happy & Fructose Free

Spreading Hope for Anyone Affected by Fructose Malabsorption

The Meat, Carb & Dairy Trap – A World Without Fruits & Veggies…

The Meat, Carb & Dairy Trap (as I am calling it) is a food battle that I am still figuring a way out of.  A Fructose Malabsorber’s world while trying to adhere to the strictest of diets can easily turn into this crazy unhealthy food trap.  A world without fruits & veggies is one that is full of sadness, and since my realization that Fructose Malabsorption IS Irritable Bowel Syndrome I have been testing my limits with the naturally delicious fruits and veggies that tempt me daily…

Here are some tidbits I have discovered during my daily food experiments that will hopefully help uncover the answer to your own complicated tummy puzzle & avoid falling into the dreaded…  Meat, Carb & Dairy Trap!!!

1.)  Wheat turns into fructose when it gets broken down in your gut.  

As an admitted carb-oholic who lived as a vegetarian for a solid decade, I love CARBS!  Pasta, English Muffins, Bread, Crackers, Cookies… you name the carb and I am so there!  The trick to not getting sick is that they must be enjoyed in small quantities, spread out throughout the day & NEVER trust it if you can’t read the ingredients.  HFCS is lurking around every corner in processed-carb-land.  Be very very careful.

2.)  Lactose and Fructose are sugar relatives, if you will.

Though I’m not a full blown Lactose Intolerant, I am sensitive to it so I always keep some lactase pills (the enzyme with breaks down lactose in our gut) with me if I am having a dairy splurge.  Cheese and ice cream are two food groups in my diet (yes, food groups… mmm).  Did you know that if a cheese shows zero grams of carbs on its nutrition information that it is technically free of lactose?  Lactose is a sugar and therefore a carb… food for thought 🙂

Speaking of ice cream…

Always be leery of anything in the frozen isle.  HFCS frequently hides here too.  If you are looking for a yummy and simple ice cream, I always have Breyer’s All Natural Vanilla and Mint Chip in my freezer.  Just a few simple ingredients and absolutely amazing!  I must note that it is full fat ice cream so moderation is key because…

3.)  Fat is not an IBS / FMr’s friend.

Red meats, cheese, delicious potato chips (which I had for dinner… guilty), butter & full fat ice creams are all culprits in the fat department.  From an FMr’s standpoint, it is best to avoid red meats, and moderate all other fat sources.  The all-encompassing theme with this type of lifestyle is… Eat a variety of tolerated foods in moderation over many small meals during the day. 

4.)  The issue of getting enough fiber.  

Knowing that FM is a branch of IBS, it is worth noting there are two extremes in the IBS universe: loose bowel movements or no bowel movements.  I fall into the not so many movements category, so I need fiber desperately, but I can’t have most natural sources of fiber because they are all contaminated with fructose (aahhhh!!!)  What’s a person to do?  Culturelle probiotics work well, but they get pricey quickly.  Chia seeds are great and I eat them all the time, but they just aren’t enough for me.

The solution to my tummy puzzle is a single cup of light roast coffee in the morning (which I take with a tsp of sugar and a dash of Land O’ Lakes Fat Free Half & Half  since theirs has the fewest ingredients.)   While most people drink coffee to wake up their brain, the caffeine jump-starts my IBS system.  A second cup… then I’m sick 😦   So K-Cups are brilliant for me, but depending on which variety of IBS you lean towards, caffeine can actually be harmful by making a runny situation even worse.

5.)  Fruits and veggies are NOT the enemy.  

I have struggled with this trap of meat, carbs and dairy since I first got diagnosed (which for me quickly evolved into just carbs and dairy because most meats are chewy… that is besides the point).  I recently found I could tolerate many more fruits and veggies than I originally imagined.

Fresh spinach is always on hand at our house, and I try to eat a salad every day with shoestring carrots (just a small handful), sunflower seeds, either Feta or Parmesan cheese depending on my mood, with some homemade dressing (the easiest variety is one-third yellow mustard, one-third unseasoned rice vinegar or distilled white & one-third olive oil, then season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar and I always add some dried herbs because I’m crazy).

I can have a few slices of cucumber, zucchini or green pepper, and I eat celery and cook with scallions all of the time.  Oh!  Can’t forget avocado!  Avocados are very interesting from the FMr’s perspective…  They have more fructose than glucose, but their quantities are soooo small that the ratio doesn’t really matter as long as you don’t eat the whole thing… they are nature’s butter after all … see note 3 🙂

And fruit is a little more tricky…

but now that it is officially berry season and I have painfully little self control… more often than not when I walk past the display of amazing smelling strawberries at the store I just can’t help myself.  But I have learned through multiple times of getting sick that I can have 2 strawberries and a 3rd will send me running for the bathroom.  I buy them fresh sometimes, but I always have frozen and freeze dried berries on hand to cook with when I’m feeling fruit deprived.
Here’s a yummy recipe for you fruit cravers out there!

Berry Oatmeal Breakfast Cake:

Serves 8 or 1 soon-to-be-sick Fructose Intolerant person who ate the whole thing… don’t do that.  Moderation Is The Key!)

Ingredients:

1-1/3 Cup AP Flour (Gluten Free AP Flours are great too)
3/4 Cup Quick Cooking Oats
1/3 Cup Sugar (you can add some dextrose too if you’d like, since it can only help)
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
3/4 Cup Milk (I love Silk Pure Almond!  I cook with the unsweetened original & drink the sweetened vanilla or chocolate to satisfy my sweet tooth)
1/4 Oil (I like canola in this application)
1 Egg
1 Cup Frozen Blueberries, Strawberries or Raspberries (keep frozen until ready to add to batter)

Directions:

1.)  Preheat oven to 400*F and grease an 8″ or 9″ round baking dish.
2.)  Combine dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a medium bowl, and in a separate bowl combine wet ingredients (milk through egg).  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir until the batter is slightly lumpy but uniformly moistened.
3.)  Fold in the frozen berries (chop the strawberries into smaller pieces if using) then pour into prepared pan.
4.)  Cook for 20 – 25 minutes or until the cake starts to pull away from the pan and it looks golden brown and delicious on top.
5.)  Cool on rack for 5-10 minutes and enjoy!
I hope that all of this information is helpful, and if you are craving something that you really shouldn’t have let me know.

I love an FM food challenge so email me at HappyAndFructoseFree@Gmail.com with your food craves 🙂

Happy Berry Season!

Leave a comment »

Fructose Friendly Treats: Chocolate Part I

Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

Out of all of the “Gluten/Dairy/Soy/Egg Free” specialty items that I have ever tried, these chocolate chips are my hands down favorite find. Their amazingness is only reinforced with the fact they made it through every stage of my dietary needs evolution. Whether you are living with or without dairy, soy or gluten, these little pieces of chocolatey joy will be loved by all… guaranteed!

They are great to snack on, and their miniature size is perfect for enhancing pretty much anything. Pancakes, smoothies, cereal, trail mix, oatmeal, and cookies… Now that you mention it, Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies are my favorite!  YUM!!!

Cookie Enemy Number 1: Brown Sugar

Since molasses is problematic for we Fructose Free Folks, and…

molasses + white sugar = brown sugar

… we sadly have a hole in many of our favorite recipes.  I looked all over the internet to find replacements, but no great options appeared.  Only honey (nopers), agave (I wish), true maple syrup (maybe… depends on your tolerance, or you could make your own out of sugar and dextrose, but that is separate delicious blog…).  So, my friends, we are left with white sugar.

You won’t even miss the molasses in this recipe 🙂

Lindsey’s Fructose Friendly Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies:

Happy Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, margarine, or substitute, softened
  • 1 cup  sugar (or 1/2 cup sugar & 1/2 cup dextrose to cut the Fructose Load)   *If you are new to Fructose Malabsorption, you need to invest in some dextrose… More info to come 🙂
  • 1 pkg.  (small) JELL-O Sugar Free Vanilla Instant Pudding
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp.  baking soda
  • 1 cup  flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats (or more if you like a drier cookie)
  • 1 cup add in of your choice.  I choose Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
  • Beat the butter and sugar (and dextrose) in a large bowl until light in color and airy.  Add the dry pudding mix and stir until well-integrated.  Then add the eggs and baking soda until the mixture is uniform.
  • Add in the flour gradually until a consistent dough forms, then add the oatmeal and chocolate chips.
  • On to prepared baking sheets, drop tablespoon-sized cookie dough and leave 2 inches between them.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edge turn golden brown and delicious.  Cool for one minute on the baking sheets, then transfer to cooling racks.

And of course you can mix up the flavors!  Check out some lemon pudding with 2 cups of flour and no oats.   Bake them just the same, then add your favorite royal icing (in moderation of course) and you have a perfect bit of sweet and tart happiness that everybody will love.

I would love to hear your favorite cookie adaptations, or sweet habits you are having trouble breaking post-diagnosis.

Best wishes for a Fructose Friendly New Year in 2013!

1 Comment »

Fructose Friendly Crowd Pleasers: Pesto

I’m two months into this new fructose malabsorption lifestyle, and even though it gets easier every day, I still find myself craving marinara sauce… a lot. Then one day it dawned on me. The only way to satisfy my cravings for Italian food is to tackle another Mediterranean staple… Pesto.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Garlic and Parsley and Pine Nuts, oh my!”

That is true to some degree. In its traditional form, pesto is a fructose malabsorber’s nightmare, but the beauty of this sauce is that is perfectly adaptable for nearly anybody’s dietary and budgetary needs.

The Challenge: Pesto Sauce

Pesto lovers everywhere have lamented over the price of pine nuts forever (those itty bitty things are EXPENSIVE). Because of this fact there are many recipes available that have been adapted for other nuts like walnuts, or our very favorite green nut… Pistachios!  Hooray for pistachios! They can even be purchased in bulk without shells for easier cooking.

Pesto Solution #1: De-shelled Pistachios.

Parsley, being cheap and around every corner, always finds its way into pesto recipes, but it is full of fructose so be strong.  We have an excellent and equally accessible replacement with significantly less fructose… Spinach!  Add a little dried basil and oregano and you won’t even miss that other herb.

Pesto Solutions #2 & 3: Fresh Spinach & Dried Herbs.

Now let’s talk about garlic, our delicious enemy. It is absolutely ubiquitous in virtually every culture’s cuisine, and integrated to the point that there’s no escaping it… or can we?

Yes, there is an option.  But what boggles my fructose-intolerant-brain every day is how the product of garlic and onion could be our main replacement for both of them.

Pesto Solution #4: Shallots

Now that we are armed & dangerous… Let’s begin 🙂

Lindsey’s Fructose Friendly Pesto Sauce

Base Ingredients: (makes approx. 1-1/2 cups)

  • 2/3 cup fresh spinach, tightly packed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup de-shelled pistachios
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper, or to taste

Optional Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. – 2 tsp. of chopped shallots, depending on tolerance.  Adds a slight punch of flavor that makes this pesto feel more traditional.
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese with 1/4 cup water.  If you can handle some dairy, the flavor and texture of the Parmesan is very satisfying, however it does thicken the sauce quite a bit.  The additional water puts it right back where it was.
  • 1/4 tsp. – 1/2 tsp. each salt & a sweetener (sucrose, dextrose, etc.).  This adds a lot of depth to the flavor.

Directions:

  1. In blender or food processor, add spinach, olive oil and water and mix until the spinach is evenly broken down.  It will appear loose at this point.
  2. Add the pistachios, basil, oregano, black pepper, and any optional ingredients.  Blend until the mixture is uniform.

Now you have a fructose friendly pesto sauce.  Now what?

The options are nearly endless…

Pesto Pasta Salad

  1. Cook 1 lb of any pasta, then drain and chill with small amount of olive oil
  2. Mix 1/2 cup of mayonnaise with 1/4 cup prepared pesto sauce and combine with the pasta
  3. Top with sliced black olives and/or cheese, and chill until serving

Other options

  • Add a some extra olive oil and use it as a pizza sauce.  It is delicious!
  • Mix it with cream cheese or mayonnaise and use it as a sandwich spread or dip.  The sauce works straight too, but the fructose tally adds up faster that way.  Portion control will always be the main battle to avoid an upset tummy.
  • Top mashed potatoes with a dollop of pesto for and interesting twist on a staple.  Fun fact, if you mix it into the potatoes it kind of looks like guacamole.

Please share any tasty uses for this pesto with me at happyfructosefree@gmail.com, or simply reply to this post.

Happy eating to all! 🙂

Leave a comment »

Fructose Free Staples: Part V

Daily Multivitamin & Probiotic Dietary Supplement

When many fruits & veggies go off the menu permanently it should be no surprise that you absolutely need to take a multivitamin & probiotic to maintain your health. The challenge is finding safe products and remembering to take them everyday.

Vitafusion is an allergy-friendly brand in general (all of their gummy vitamins are completely free of wheat, gluten, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts & soy) and their daily multivitamins are made with sugar so I these fit right into a Fructose Malabsorber’s lifestyle.

Did I mention that they are gummies?  Healthy, chewy, and sweet, these vitamins take me back to my childhood and make this daily necessity something to look forward to 🙂

Culturelle makes a number of great probiotics that are fantastic for everybody, since, let’s be honest, we all could use a little help maintaining the bacteria balance in our digestive systems.

On top of that, there is a capsule made specifically for those of us with some common dietary needs!  Look for the little banner at the top of the box that says “Dairy and Gluten Free.”  No yogurt needed, and we still get all of the benefits.  Hooray!

Leave a comment »

Fructose Free Staples: Part III

It is wonderful to make everything from scratch, but having convenient fructose free pantry staples are important to maintaining your health and your sanity on those crazy-busy days.

Here is another installment of the Fructose Free Staples that keep me Happy 🙂

Cereal

 

~The key to success is always learning~ Please check out the updates at the end of this post 🙂

I have been addicted to cereal for as long as I can remember.  Going though each level of my dietary-needs evolution I lost more and more of my beloved breakfast options every time.  Fructose malabsorption is doubly tricky in the morning because even the cereals that are organic, gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free often times use honey, molasses, or fruit to sweeten them.

Thankfully, I already had Gluten Free Rice Krispies in my pantry after I got my Fructose Malabsorption diagnosis, and I stumbled upon the toasted oats cereal by Full Circle when I had to ditch my Rice and Corn Chex.  Both are crispy, light and perfectly satisfying with milk or on their own as a late morning snack.

Hooray for Fructose Free Breakfast!

Instant Rice

Yes, a rice cooker and good ol’ fashioned long grain rice is delicious, but there are (many) days that I simply don’t have that kinda time to wait around.

In addition to their instant rice, Minute Brand now has super convenient single portion cups that only take a minute in the microwave and they come in an array of flavors.  We fructose free folks are best to stick with the plain white and brown rice versions.  Quick note, the Ready to Serve Cups do contain soy.

Peanut Butter

I know… PEANUTS are not PISTACHIOS (the only nut that is OK’d for people living a fructose free lifestyle), but transitioning from a vegetarian lifestyle I absolutely cannot live without peanut butter.  Small steps…

This particular natural peanut butter from Skippy only uses sugar to sweeten, and it doesn’t require stirring.  Easy, delicious, and affordable!

If you have access to freshly made nut butters, go for it!  They are awesome and are certainly the healthiest option, but I find that this peanut butter is a “Happy (Fructose Free) Medium.”

Please remember to test your tolerance with peanuts before diving in, and always Enjoy in Moderation 🙂

~The key to success is always learning~ Updated 10/14/12

Over the past few months I realized that I don’t digest brown rice very well.  Luckily I can still work with normal wheat flour.  Here are a few more cereals that are free of honey, brown sugar/molasses, and dried fruits.

My new favorite cereal is Special K – Original.  The first ingredient is rice, and it has lots of added vitamins and minerals (including iron which I am having a tough time getting enough of right now), plus fiber which all Fructose Malabsorbers need.  ~This cereal contains wheat and milk products~

Here are a couple sweetened cereals that I have found to be safe for my tummy.  *As always, please test your tolerance first and enjoy in moderation*

Craving Chocolate?  Bear River Valley – All Natural Cereals makes an excellent version of Cocoa Pebbles called “Choco Chomp.”  The name might be a little silly sounding, but this delightful cereal soothes my chocolate urges frequently and has earned a permanent spot in my kitchen.  I love it!  To keep my portions under control I often add a 1/4 cup to a bowl of Special K.  Plus you still get some yummy chocolate milk afterwards a without a ton of extra sugar.  Oh happiness! 🙂 ~This cereal does contain wheat~

Craving Cinnamon?  Cascadian Farm Organics makes a convincing version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, called “Cinnamon Crunch” that uses whole grain wheat and only sugar with dextrose (which is our friend) to sweeten.  Amazing!  I find these make perfect portable snacks, but it is sooo hard to stop eating them.   I would recommend getting some snack-sized zip-top bags to avoid any self-control related sickness (Been there, done that.  Totally worth it, but now I try to prevent it :)).  ~This cereal contains both wheat and soy~

4 Comments »

Fructose Free Staples: Part I

We all have busy lives. It is a known fact, and when fructose malabsoption is also a fact of life… convenience flies out the window. But there is no reason you have to go hungry!

Check out these quick, easy, healthy kitchen staples that make my life loads easier.  I absolutely cannot live without….

Tortillas

These tortillas made their way into my home after ridding my house of gluten, and they have remained after three more more dietary needs were added. These are a winner! This particular brand of tortilla hides in the freezer section of my local health foods store.

It is not necessary to purchase the expensive tortillas. If you can tolerate a certain brand of flour tortillas, go for it!

~The key to success is always learning~ Please check out the updates at the end of this post 🙂

The best thing about tortillas is they are a blank canvas. If I need a filling dinner to-go, I snag a tortilla from the fridge with some precooked lentils or beans, whatever seasonings I feel like that day, some baby spinach, and some cheese (I use Daiya Brand since it is dairy and soy free… its not the same as real cheese, but as far as I’m concerned the people who came up with it are magicians).

Pop it open faced in the microwave for 1 minute, and roll it up so the melty cheese seals it at the top. Done! 🙂

Box Potatoes

Rarely a day goes by where I do not have a serving of this fast, warm, carb-y deliciousness.  It is a great post-11-hour-work-day snack so I can think rationally about dinner instead of giving into the fructose loaded salsa and corn chips that are lurking around the corner.

As a bonus, if you use water instead of milk and olive oil instead of butter it is very low in calories and fat, and you can jazz it up with some onion or garlic water (instructions coming soon), homemade veggie stock, or any number of herbs and spices.

If you are also lactose intolerant, beware of other instant potato brands as I have found several that contain milk and butter in dried form.

More staples to come 🙂

~The key to success is always learning~ Update Added 10/13/12

Since I posted these first staples I have learned that I, personally, cannot digest brown rice very well but I seem to handle standard wheat flour, white rice, and quinoa okay.  Always listen to your tummy when finding your own happy foods list. Keeping a food journal is very helpful in determining patterns since often the symptoms won’t show up for a day or two.  

Transitioning away from vegetarian lifestyle continues to be the hardest part of living with Fructose Intolerance for me, personally.  Previously I note lentils and beans as suitable options, however my body does much better with shredded chicken as the protein (I would recommend poaching some chicken breast, shredding it, and freezing it in individual portions).  The problem with lentils, beans and chick peas is they are Galactans, which contain multiple chains of sugars that all people have trouble breaking down into digestible components.  Anyone with a digestive disorder and associated gastrointestinal upset will be better served by staying away from these vegetarian staples. 

If you are/were a vegetarian and live with Fructose Malabsorption I would love to hear from you so we can share techniques of sneaking more meat onto our plates.  Please email me at happyfructosefree@gmail.com

Leave a comment »