I counsel a number of clients who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and for many we work with something known as the low FODMAP diet. 'FODMAP' is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols - try saying that 5 times fast. The short story is that FODMAPs are types of carbohydrate that are poorly digested in the small intestine so they make their way to the large intestine where they are gobbled up by bacteria that live there. The outcome of this is gas, bloating and other digestive troubles that can be quite a challenge for IBS sufferers.
The good news is we know more and more about FODMAPs and which foods contain them - and there are a lot of common foods that contain them. In my practice, I work with IBS sufferers to try and eliminate high FODMAP foods for a short period of time after which we rechallenge to assess how much they can tolerate and to add variety back into the diet. A low FODMAP diet is not meant to be forever - even though an IBS sufferer may be tempted to stay on this diet since it can drastically improve symptoms, it can be nutritionally unbalanced in the long run and we are starting to learn that long term low FODMAP diets can alter the gut microbiome which can have it's own host of negative outcomes down the road. My goal is to help clients gain better symptom management, but to also have them still eating and enjoying a variety of foods.
I've been working with a client who is in the elimination phase and trying to adhere to a low FODMAP diet. This client is a big lentil fan and lentils can be tricky since they are low FODMAP to a certain extent but overdoing the portion size can lead to trouble. I wanted to help her find a way to keep lentils in her diet for the elimination phase since they are full of nutrition and are a great plant based protein source but we needed to do so in a way that she didn't overdo it. So....we worked with other low FODMAP ingredients to come up with a healthy, easy to make salad that fits for a low FODMAP diet - she can continue to enjoy lentils in her diet but is able to do so in way that works. I'd call that a success!
Even if you aren't a low FODMAPer this recipe is easy to whip up, little on the pocket book and oh so yummy. Give it a try :)
Lentil, Chia Caprese Salad
Ingredients for salad
4 cups chopped spinach
2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes
1 cup diced cucumber
1 cup diced red pepper
1 cup mini bocconcini cheese
1/2 cup green lentils (* a low FODMAP serving is 1/4 cup or less)
2 tbsp sliced basil
4 green onion tops, diced (*green onion tops are low FODMAP...bottom is not)
Ingredients for dressing
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (* a low FODMAP serving is 1 tbsp or less)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp whole grain mustard (*check ingredients list to ensure no onion, garlic or other FODMAP containing ingredients)
2 tsp chia seeds
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1. Add 1/2 cup uncooked lentils to saucepan and cover with at least 1-2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low simmer and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes until soft. Remove from heat, drain to remove any excess liquid and then cool completely. Use a measuring cup to measure 1 cup of cooked lentils which you will use for this salad and any excess can be stored or frozen as leftovers for another use (lentils can double or triple during cooking but we want to ensure each serving of this salad is 1/4 cup cooked lentils or less)
2. In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients and mix well
3. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine
4. When ready to serve, toss the salad with dressing and enjoy!
* Low FODMAPers - remember portion size for some foods and ingredient lists matter - try to follow the recipe guidelines to make sure you stay on track.