Following a low FODMAP diet can be very challenging for adults, let alone a child. Even trialling the simplified version often means replacing many packaged and baked products including muffins, biscuits and muesli bars. This can often leave parents searching for suitable low FODMAP alternatives that their child might also accept. Finding foods your child is willing to replace for their favourites is not only challenging but can also be the difference in the success of trialling a low FODMAP diet. To read more on a gentle approach to the low FODMAP diet for Children, click here.
One way to educate children on FODMAPs is to get them involved. What better way to achieve this, than cooking together? Cooking is a great way to teach children new skills and spend some quality time with them. Research has shown that children are more likely to try new foods when they are involved in the preparation and cooking. Start by selecting recipes that will challenge your child to develop new skills in the kitchen. Some simple and achievable recipe tasks for young children include, grating, measuring, stirring, mixing, shaping, pouring, mashing and best of all tasting. Remember when cooking with children, preparation is the key. Always have all your equipment and ingredients ready before you start to ensure everything goes as well as possible.
Step one: Gather your baking utensils and small equipment!
Great equipment is the key to successful baking! Must have’s include a measuring jug, cups, and spoons. Children love to measure and can learn a lot about mass and volume at the same time. Just remember that depending on where you live, you may need to adjust the quantities depending on which hemisphere you live in. Recipes from Australia use metric measures and the USA use empirical. If your oven is not equipped with its own timer, you can use the timer on your phone. Timers are an invaluable tool to ensure no mishaps in the oven! And finally, an electric mixer, wooden spoon, spatulas, mixing bowls, baking paper, baking tins and a pastry brush all come in handy.
Step two: Check your Pantry for Low FODMAP ingredients!
Before you begin check your pantry for the following essential baking ingredients:
The Good Chocolate Dark Chocolate
Step three: Choose your low FODMAP ingredients!
Going low FODMAP does not mean you have to miss out on all your favourites! It is simply a matter of swapping some high FODMAP ingredients for their low FODMAP alternatives. It is important to remember that low FODMAP recipes that use gluten free flour or blends should be carefully measured to ensure the ratios of liquid to flour are correct to prevent a dry end product.
A low FODMAP diet is also not a gluten free diet. While gluten free products are often substituted on this diet, some gluten free products may contain high FODMAP ingredients like chickpea flour, honey, soy flour or inulin. Check labels carefully and look for gluten free products that are made from low FODMAP grains like buckwheat, sorghum, rice, corn, millet and tapioca and don’t contain other high FODMAP ingredients. Here are some key baking ingredients and suitable low FODMAP alternatives:
Dairy: Milk, cream, custard, yoghurt, cream cheese, powdered and condensed milk all contain lactose the FODMAP sugar present in dairy foods. Lactose represents the “D” in the FODMAP acronym and is a disaccharide made from two single sugars molecules (glucose and galactose) held together by a single bond. Our bodies make the enzyme lactase which helps split this bond producing two individual sugar molecules. Without this enzyme, it is difficult for people to digest lactose which can result in IBS type symptoms including, loose bowels, excesses wind and diarrhoea. Some lactose free dairy products can be used to replace high lactose dairy ingredients in recipes. Liddell’s Lactose Free has a range of lactose free dairy products, including Lactose Free Whole Milk, Skim Milk, Plain Yoghurt and Cream Cheese. Alternately almond milk is low FODMAP at a 250mL serve.
Chocolate: Most children love to eat chocolate, but unfortunately this is ingredient often also high in lactose. While dark chocolate may be eaten during the initial low FODMAP phase in smaller amounts, when cooking with chocolate, we tend to use larger quantities. Case de Sante has a Vegan Chocolate as well. Check out all the FODMAP Friendly certified chocolates here which have all been laboratory tested so there is no need to worry about common high FODMAP ingredients in chocolate like inulin, chicory, carob powder, dried fruit, agave syrup, honey or coconut milk powder.
Fruit and nuts: Some fruit such as apples, pears, mango, peaches, apricots, plums and watermelon are high FODMAP. Many baking recipes use fruit as a natural sweetener; cooking low FODMAP means reducing the quantity or leaving them out entirely. Dried fruit is usually high FODMAP, as the water content is removed, however the FODMAPs remain. Low FODMAP alternatives include fresh pineapple, blueberries, orange and lemon zest, and mashed firm banana.
Nuts are great way to added more dietary fibre, healthy fat and protein to a recipe or simply just to add texture. Some nuts like cashew and pistachios are high FODMAP. Switch these for low FODMAP walnuts, Brazil nuts or macadamia nuts or peanuts. Remember to check with the rules and regulations of your child’s school or kindergarten if you decide to use nuts in a baked treat to their lunch box.
Wheat Flour: Wheat flour is a key ingredient used for baking. Unfortunately, regular wheat flour and products made from wheat contain fructans, a FODMAP sugar which belongs to the Oligosaccharide group and the ‘O’ in FODMAP. If you are sensitive to fructans, eating wheat may lead to symptoms of bloating, excessive wind, abdominal pain and altered bowel motions. Swap this for one of FODMAP Friendly certified flours such as Lo-Fo Pantry Plain Flour or White Wings Gluten Free Self Raising Flour. This will allow larger serving sizes and minimise risk of symptoms. Children can then enjoy a cupcake or two without any restrictions related to FODMAP content. Gluten free flours tend to be finer and may require more liquid than traditional flours. When selecting recipes, look for recommended recipes from the manufacturer’s website to ensure your product has been tested before.
Sweeteners: Some sugar products are high in FODMAPS including honey, golden syrup, agave syrup, coconut sugar and high fructose corn syrup and should be replaced with a low FODMAP alternative. Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and isomalt are high FODMAP and should be avoided whilst following a low FODMAP diet. Lookout for the following code numbers 420 (sorbitol), 421 (mannitol), 953 (isomalt) and 967 (xylitol) on product labels when shopping (in Australia). Pure maple syrup, rice malt syrup, cane sugar, white sugar, brown sugar, caster sugar, icing sugar and raw sugar have all been tested and are low FODMAP. All of these sugars do not contain fructose in excess which means they are generally well tolerated and can be used in low FODMAP recipes in larger amounts without substitution. Alternatively, regular sugar can be substituted with FODMAP Friendly certified RXSugar.
Step four: 5 FODMAP Friendly Accredited recipes!
Before you begin you will need to select a low FODAMP recipe. Here are FODMAP Friendly recipes for you and your children to try.
Once you have decided on the recipe you would like to make, it is time to decide which tasks your child will do or assist with. Find your aprons and head into the kitchen to bake some low FODMAP treats with your children. Allowing your child to take responsibility for tasks and even make mistakes will build their confidence in the kitchen. If you are short on time, a cake mix can be used instead. Using a packet mix can be a great way to introduce basic cooking skills to younger children and keep them more engaged. They can be a great option to begin cooking with short simple steps to follow, reduced preparation time and shorter wait times to final tasting time. Orgran has a range of low FODMAP packet mixes that would appeal Vanilla Cake Mix, Chocolate Cake Mix, Chocolate Brownie Mix.
To wrap up
Baking is a great way to introduce children to the kitchen and can be a lot of fun. By setting aside a couple of hours each week to cook with your child, you may teach them invaluable life skills. Through cooking, children can learn where food comes from and how to prepare food from their own culture. Teaching children to cook also allows them to think critically and express their own creativity. Giving children the opportunity to bake in the kitchen provides the grounding to build on those basic skills which can later be applied to other types of meal preparation. Baking today, family dinners and lunch boxes the next!
Written by: Angela Lee (Accredited Practising Dietitian) from TLC Nutrition
Reviewed by: Kiarra Martindale (Accredited Practising Dietitian)