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If you have found some relief from following a gluten free diet, but continue to put up with the symptoms of a ‘funny tummy’, then the low FODMAP diet could be for you!

FODMAPs are found in a wide variety of foods, and have been identified as dietary triggers of IBS. Those pesky FODMAPs travel to the large intestine where they are fermented by bacteria. This fermentation produces a build-up of gases which can lead to bloating, flatulence, pain, nausea, constipation and various other less than fun ‘sensitive’ gut symptoms.

In my blog post: ‘Well if it’s on the telly it must be good…’ there is a clip from Channel 4’s ‘Food Hospital’. This shows an excellent experiment of how a FODMAP ‘full’ food causes a balloon to blow up, whereas a low FODMAP food doesn’t!

Thus research has shown that restricting FODMAPs in the diet can help reduce symptoms, like those mentioned above.

No onions and garlic

There are a host of foods that you avoid or restrict when on a low FODMAP diet, and your Nutritionist will go through them with you.

But two of the big ones to avoid are onions and garlic. It turns out these comforting kitchen staples are FULL of fructans. Typical eh?

When my nutritionist first revealed the no onion and garlic rule, I was initially, well, stumped! Onion and garlic are in a lot of stuff. And we’re not just talking the obvious (garlic bread, red onion chutney etc). These two are hidden in gravy, flavourings on crisps etc and included in the majority of recipes. We live in an onion and garlic filled society, very little is safe.

But it’s ok. Because us humans are resilient, adaptive types. So once you’ve accepted and realised how much your body and health benefits from reducing these two, you just choose other things. And mother nature has graced us with HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS of other spices and herbs to give us a helping hand. So wave onion and garlic goodbye, and welcome into your life food that likes you, as much as you like it.

Low FODMAP foods

Have you ever heard of asafoetida? You have now!

Not only is it a joy to pronounce but this spice transforms when cooked, delivering an onion-garlicy aroma and taste. It is a fantastic flavour substitute. It is traditionally used in Indian and Middle-Eastern cooking, and is very much under appreciated by us Brits. Uncooked however this spice would be described as…um…’pungent‘ if you’re being polite, or ‘devil’s dung‘ if you’re German (“Teufelsdreck”, their translation, not mine!) So when cooking your spag. bol. for example, swap that onion with all its concealed fructans for a pinch of asafoetida instead!

And for delivering the texture that onion would give to dishes as opposed to just the flavour? Celery! Now I’m not going to pretend this is an adequate substitute for the onions on your hot dog or for caramelised onion pâté …. But celery works fantastically in sauces and casseroles! So in all those recipes where you read:

“Add one peeled and  finely diced onion”

You now think: “Ahh no no friendly recipe, it’s one peeled and finely diced stick of celery now”.

And if you are currently not a celery fan thus think it would taste weird, firstly, it doesn’t, so please try it. And secondly, have you ever eaten a raw onion?

Yeah, not all that great either. Celery, like onion, transforms when cooked into whatever culinary delight you have embarked on.

So being on a low FODMAP diet is not about not having certain dishes or flavours anymore. It is simply about choosing different ingredients to get those flavours. That’s why I’m not a massive fan of the phrase “restricted diet” because it makes people go all:

*humph* “That means I can’t eat this and this…”. 

To which I say: 

“Get outta ya humph grump!” 

You can have whatever you want, just find a different way to get it.

Now you experienced low FODMAP-ers will know that you can just leave the garlic whole, and the onion chunky, to infuse your meal, and then you pick them out. This is a method that I find works well if you are a guest at meal-time, or when eating out. But when cooking in the home, this makes me feel fussy, plus I think “What happens if some of the pesky fructans have sneaked out all the same!?!” So I prefer to just opt out. Plus we’re in a recession, so waste not, want not people. It pains me to throw out otherwise edible food. But the infusion option is an option if you choose to take it. But make sure ‘infusion’ doesn’t result into ‘dissolved’….thus making your meal not so low FODMAP after all!

So those are just two of the simplest, ‘staple’ substitutes which I use, and allow us to replicate the majority of dishes in a low FODMAP way.

And so to bring these two new ingredients into practice, I bring to you the dish that is enjoyed time and time again by all generations, and for which I cannot thank the Italians enough:

Spaghetti alla bolognese aka…

Spaghetti Bolognese!

Serves: 4

Prep & cook time: 1 hour


I have linked up the majority of ingredients to where they are available to buy/ so you know what to look for on the shelf! 

The brand of asafoetida I use is from our local Indian store and is available to buy online. However if you don’t have a store nearby, Schwartz manufacture the spice, which is available from Tesco here.

  • 500g mince beef
  • 4 carrots – peeled & diced
  • 1 stick of celery – peeled & diced
  • 2 courgettes – diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 1 tablespoon of dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Bovril dissolved in 1/4 pint of hot water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 250ml red wine
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour dissolved in 2 tablespoons of cold water
  • Salt & pepper to season
  • 4 ‘wraps’ of ‘King Soba’ brown rice noodles

1. Heat large frying pan/ wok & add mince. Fry without adding any extra oil/fat til brown.

2. Add asafoetida, basil, bay leaf, salt & pepper & stir for a minute.

3. Measure Bovril mixture, then add to the meat, herbs & spices with the wine & tomato paste.

4. Bring to the boil.

5. Add chopped carrots, celery & tinned chopped tomatoes.

6. Simmer with the lid on for 40 minutes.

7. Add the courgettes.

8. Bring to the boil & simmer for 3 minutes.

9. If needed to thicken the sauce, ensure the cornflour mixture is of a smooth consistency, pour into the simmering bolognese mixture and continue stirring for 1 minute. Allow to simmer.

10. In a separate pan, cook the rice noodles to the manufacturer’s instructions.

11. Serve simply by spooning some of the bolognese mixture over the rice noodles.

12. Some garnish ideas include fresh basil, or some freshly ground (shaved is even more impressive) parmesan, depending on tolerance!





P.S. This sauce keeps fantastically, so make a little extra and welcome back that amazing, dense, herby smell by microwaving it up for an easy lunch the next day!

P.P.S What’s your favourite leftover creation with Bolognese sauce?

…Me? I’m a jacket potato gal!

Bio: FODMAP free is the mask of Pippa who by day is a plucky property enthusiast, but by evening can be found flouncing around her kitchen. She is on the constant hunt for anything yummy, fun and filling. Pippa has a penchant for gentle walks, unsuitable comedy and anything sparkly. You can find her elsewhere on the internet via @fodmapfree.

If you are interested in guest posting, please contact The GFB on [email protected]

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About Sarah Howells

Hi, I'm Sarah! Diagnosed with coeliac disease 20 years ago, I'm on a mission to create the best gluten free recipes since sliced bread. No fruit salads or dry brownies here.

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  1. Thanks so much for the tip. Will be picking up some asafoetida today when i do my online shop!

  2. CELERY is actually a caution food on the low-FODMAP diet. You can have a 1/4 stalk, but a 1/2 gets the yellow caution light from Monash University (the place where all the major FODMAP research is done — the ones who came up with it in the first place.) So just go careful on celery. But otherwise great info!

  3. I am so happy I stumbled onto your blog!! Onion allergy is a nightmare and to find something suitable for substitution will have my husband doing cartwheels around the kitchen. He has been so good about doing without for the sake of my problem and I hope this will tintilate his tastebuds as much as onion used to. Thank you thank you thank you

  4. Hi Sarah,

    Fantastic article, just what I was looking for! I was told by my GP a few months back to avoid onions and garlic in my curries after being advised to reduce my fodmap intake due to IBS. So I looked online and came across this site that stocks asafoetida powder: And I must say after trying some there was very little difference in taste!

    Also, I found this app: which may also be useful to people trying to find fodmap alternatives.


    So thank you once again!

    Quick question: