Happy & Fructose Free

Spreading Hope for Anyone Affected by Fructose Malabsorption

Holiday Food Adventures – Merriment With Minimal Bloating

What is scarier than eating at a restaurant?  Eating at the home of a loved one that doesn’t ACTUALLY understand fructose malabsorption and your other dietary needs, but sure tries.

They don’t put french fried onions on top of the green bean casserole just for you, but they forgot about the half onion they cooked in the dish.  You plate up a bunch only to find little the little tummy bloating pieces three bites in… you know if you eat any more you will get very sick, but if you don’t clean your plate you  may hurt some feelings.  It is a Lose-Lose Situation, but with a few techniques you can avoid these awkward moments and save your gut.

Plan Ahead: Start The Food Conversation Early

Know your schedule and know your tummy.  Initiate conversations about what is on the menu with the host(s) several weeks in advance, and offer to bring items that are often contaminated with onions, garlic, tomatoes and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).  My key targets:  

  • Anything that is creamy and sweet likely has Cool Whip, which ALWAYS has HFCS,
  • Casseroles & Soups usually contain onions and crushed tomatoes
  • Bread items like dressing/stuffing or dinner roles that are purchased.  HFCS lurks in many commercially baked goods.

Starting the food conversation weeks in advance allows you to help your hosts think through the menu, and educate them where excess fructose likes to hide.

Plan Ahead: Build Up Your Fructose Enzymes & Pack Dextrose Candies (Like Smarties)

Remember, it isn’t about avoiding fructose entirely (that would be impossible).  Making smart food choices on the few days before and on the holiday, and spreading your fructose items through the day, will make all the difference to your tummy during the holidays.

So, you know you have a big Thanksgiving holiday looming, and you’d really like a single piece of pumpkin pie with Reddi Whip (not Cool Whip/HFCS) and a serving of your favorite veggie casserole.  The good news is that if you only have fructose malabsorption you CAN likely have the items you love, and all you need to do is plan ahead and eat smart on that day.  Make sure your body has all of its fructose enzymes built up over a few days to take on the excess fructose on the holiday, plus don’t forget to pack some dextrose candies for just before and just after the meal (Smarties are my favorite because they come in small packages and are easy to eat discreetly).

Since Fructose Intolerance is a type of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, one of the best things we Fructose Folks can do for ourselves is…. are you ready for it?

–> Do Not Over Eat!!! <–

Overeating overwhelms our already sensitive gut, so eat smaller meals more often.  Have one scoop of your favorite veggie casserole with cornflake topping (High Fructose Tally Item) with your potatoes and turkey (Low Fructose Tally Items) first.  Then snack on a crescent roll (Medium  Fructose Tally Item) with butter while everyone is finishing their giant plates of food and waiting for dessert.  If you tummy is already gurgling at you then get your piece of pie to go and save it for later… like when you get home.  Or if you are feeling good, then go for a small piece and see how your tummy reacts.

Everyone’s fructose tolerance is different, but you can help your body digest these troublesome foods better so they don’t case so much bloating.

Plan Ahead: Don’t Arrive Hungry

See the previous note.  Overeating is setting your tummy up for failure, and you will pay the price.  Trust me… I have done this more than a handful of times (not happy).  Arriving partially full is critically important and means that the deliciously dangerous foods around you won’t look so appealing and “worth the risk.”  The frosted sugar cookies may be delicious, but they will also max out your fructose allotment for the meal and make your sick when you eat that piece of pumpkin pie.

This Fructose Aware Lifestyle is all about trade offs.  For this meal will you choose…

  • High Fructose Tally Item #1: Frosted Sugar Cookie
  • High Fructose Tally Item #2: Favorite Veggie Casserole
  • High Fructose Tally Item #3: Slice of Pumpkin Pie

I choose, for dinner the veggie casserole, and for a late dessert the pumpkin pie OR the cookie.  Take the third home to eat tomorrow.  

Easy as… Pumpkin Pie 🙂

I LOVE LOVE LOVE to tweak recipes, so please share with me the foods you are craving for the holidays but are afraid to tackle.  I am always happy to help!

Email me anytime at HappyAndFructoseFree@Gmail.com

1 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 Restaurants

Anyone with special dietary needs can tell you that having other people cook for you is a tricky situation.  In the case of Fructose Malabsorption our biggest obstacle is getting people to understand our limitations (since nearly everything that is normally healthy and naturally delicious can make us ill).  After all, what crazy universe has apples, tomatoes and garlic on the “bad list” but french fries and white rice are OK to eat daily?  Our universe, of course!

Here is the good news.  In the last few months I have found a handful of restaurants that I have eaten at with complete success!  Yay!

Let’s start with the most obvious ones…

Restaurant #1:  Outback Steak House (and most of the “steak and potato” kind of places)

What to eat: Grilled Chicken seasoned with only salt & pepper and a baked potato with butter on the side. I also had some steamed broccoli with no seasonings.  It was delicious!

Beware of: the table bread. After doing a bit of online searching, I have determined this bread contains either honey, molasses or both. Depending on your sensitivity to fructose, a small amount of these sweeteners many not bother you, but whatever you do… do not eat the Bloomin’ Onion or associated dipping sauce.  It’s greasy and a million calories, so you aren’t missing anything 🙂

Restaurant #2: Subway (Eat fresh!)

What to eat: Italian Bread only, Turkey Breast and Spinach with Pepper, Oregano, Oil and Vinegar. The bacon is surprisingly safe, and so is the avocado since it hasn’t been turned into guacamole.

Beware of: all of the sauces and most of the meats.  Check this link to see if your favorites are free of fructose!

Restaurant #3: Olive Garden (and the other Darden chains to my knowledge)

What to eat: Pasta! Olive Garden has gluten-free penne if you are sensitive to wheat too! Per the manager at my local Olive Garden, they have chicken that is un-marinated but you must request the “chicken pieces” instead of the breast which is marinated. “Po-tay-to”/”po-tah-to” in my book, but these (four) smaller pieces of white meat chicken were grilled perfectly and I even had enough for lunch the next day. Also, they have fresh spinach and chopped celery to make a real salad, so you don’t even have to miss the appetizer 🙂

In summary: My dinner entree was a fresh spinach salad with chopped celery, (4) chicken pieces grilled, (1) broccoli pack steamed & (1) bow tie pasta pack steamed. It rang up under “Lemon & Herb Chicken” for $13.95.

Just remember to bring your own dressing and pizza seasoning blend (without parsley) to sprinkle over the pasta.

Beware of: most everything. This is the natural habitat for tomatoes, garlic and parsley, so be on the lookout and very clear with your waiter.  This is a dangerous place for we Fructose Free Folks but it can definitely be done.  Proceed with confidence and leave with a happy tummy!

Restaurant #4: Burger King (Surprise!)

What to eat: A burger! Yes, the vegetarian just said “burger.” Here’s the trick… the only bread item on the menu free of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is the English muffin, and the cashier will have to get manager approval to substitute it for the bun, but it is totally worth it. I get the single stacker (one burger) without stacker sauce! This must be specifically stated or your sandwich will come with it.  The bacon is free of unwanted sweeteners, and it comes with cheese if you can handle dairy. I snag a mustard packet and some pepper to spice things up.

Beware of: any other bread items & the ketchup, regardless of how much the vibrant red pump beckons.  Be strong 🙂

Check this link for more info on the BK Menu.

Note: this does not translate to McDonald’s. Their English muffins join the ranks of inedible bread items due to HFCS. Here’s the link to their ingredient list, just in case you wanted to see for yourself.

Hopefully this will help you feel confident away from your home kitchen, and it is always nice to feel “normal” in social situations.  These are the places where I have found success, and I wish the very same for you!

Leave a 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 IV

Mouthwash

We Fructose Free Folks may not be able to eat garlic or onions, but food breath is food breath and it is a social necessity to be fresh.

I was completely addicted to gum, but after I got diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption I flipped over every pack of gum I could get my hands on… every brand and every flavor out of dozens of gums, all of them had sorbitol and nearly all of them had sucralose~The key to success is always learning~  Check out my update at the end of this post 🙂

~ My beloved lunch “dessert” was making me just as sick as my lunch! ~

Mouthwash is the best replacement for gum that I’ve found… but we still have to be on the lookout for sneaky sucralose and sorbitol solutionsOur mouths are very absorbent, so putting a fructose ingredient under your tongue may or may not affect your tummy, but why risk it?

I’m certain there additional brands and flavors out there, but here are a few mouth rinses that you won’t have to worry about.

Scope Outlast is my choice for mouthwashes with alcohol since it contains no fructose ingredients.

Crest Pro Health Complete is my choice for alcohol free rinses if you are OK with added coloring.  It also contains no fructose.

Crest Pro Health Multi-Protection – Clear Mint is my choice for alcohol free and dye free mouthwashes.

This one lists sucralose as the third-to-last inactive ingredient, and since this is my personal rinse of choice, I can say that this minimal amount of sucralose has not caused any bubbles for me.

Feel confident in the world without gum, and be

Happy Minty Fresh! 🙂

~The key to success is always learning~ Update Added 1/09/12

I have some happy news!!!  THERE IS GUM out there if you can tolerate some corn syrup (not the High Fructose kind, of course). 

These are not gums that 4 out 5 dentists would approve of, though.  Alas… none of the  teeth-friendly sugar free gums will work since they all have “-tols”/sugar alcohols like xylitol or mannitol, but the old-school gums like Big Red, Double Mint and Juicy Fruit that are sweetened with real sugar are certainly an option when used with caution… caution for your tummy, certainly, but also for your teeth!  They do cause quite a bit of added plaque, so you can still enjoy a half piece of Spearmint gum when you are on the go and need a breath pick-me-up, but also make sure to floss 🙂

1 Comment »

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 »

Fructose Free Happy Hour!

Ratio: 2 parts Tonic Water to 1 part Gin

I am very excited to say that after YEARS of getting sick off of seemingly every type of alcohol… I have finally found a cocktail that agrees with my tummy!

Hooray for Gin & Tonic!!!

Not only is it readily available but it also inexpensive as far as bar drinks go.

Happy sipping while being Fructose Free 🙂

A Useful Article on Gin & Tonic

2 Comments »

Fructose Free Newbie – Week 2 – Weekend Travel

Traveling for anybody with food allergies is a little nerve-wrecking, but for people living with Fructose Intolerance it is nothing short of terrifying

Lurking around every corner there is an unassuming salad, a seasoned piece of chicken, or worst of all… chips & salsa.  As a vegetarian, free chips & salsa or breadsticks with a meal was fantastic!  Being free of fructose… it becomes a staring contest.  Then terrible thoughts creep into your mind as you fantasize about the spicy/garlicky deliciousness in front of you.

But do not despair. 

Depending on your diet that week maybe one bite won’t be a tummy tragedy, but it is a risk.   Your best ally in situations such as these is… *tah dah* Preparation!

Pistachios are safe, portable and delicious, so I have some on me at all times.

Making your own hard candy is another great way to create long lasting and portable treats.  My personal favorite is Glass Candy, and this version doesn’t use corn syrup 🙂

Check it out!  (Makes approx. 1 pound of candy happiness)

Ingredients:

2 cups of sugar ~ 1 cup of water ~ 1/4 tsp. of cream of tartar ~ 1 Tbsp. flavoring of choice ~ Liquid food coloring of choice ~ Powdered sugar for dusting (Note: does contain cornstarch)

Directions:

Prepare a baking sheet with canola oil or non-stick spray of your choice.

Prepare the sides of a large saucepan same way, and then combine the sugar, water and tartar in said pan.  Turn stovetop to medium-low and stir constantly until there are no visible sugar crystals in the mixture.

Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, and increase the heat to medium.  Bring the deliciousness to a boil and cook, without stirring, until it reaches the “hard-crack” stage (approx 300-degrees F).

Remove from the heat and add the flavoring and coloring.

Pour mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, and allow to cool completely before breaking into pieces.  Coat with powdered sugar and store in an air-tight container.

2 Comments »