strawberry salad2

Recently, I found out that making salads is not a skill one gets born with. Sure, everyone can throw together lettuce, tomato and cucumber, but for many people, the art of composing a well-rounded low FODMAP salad without repetition may be a challenge. I am fortunate in that way – having been a vegetarian and later a vegan with a chronic lack of time for cooking, eating only a salad for dinner every day was something I grew into without noticing. Still, low FODMAPping with some other complications certainly made things harder – seriously, no beans? No jicama? NO MANGO???

It took me a while to regain my footing. Now that I’m back in (almost) full salad swing, I thought I’d share with you the few general rules on making a salad that I follow. Hopefully, this post will bring some variety into your diets and make the lifestyle more enjoyable!

Let’s start with some general pointers; later, I’ll run you through the different ingredients a salad should have, and at the end of the post, I’ll list some of my favourite salads recipes.

  1. Try to prepare the salad as close to serving time as possible. As a rule, if I am to dress the salad and then wait to eat it (e.g. if it’s my work lunch), I make it in the morning and keep it in the fridge at work. Prolonged storage in dressing (e.g. till the evening) will make the greens go limp and the rest – slimy. It’s still edible, but not too tasty.
  2. Following from that, if you need to prepare your salad well in advance, simply don’t dress it. Mix all ingredients in a Tupperware container or a mason jar and store in the fridge for 1-2 days. I would not go longer than that as pre-cut vegetables tend to dry out, but it’s my personal preference. I know some people make all of their weekly salad lunches on Sunday and it works well.
  3. To stay trouble-free, don’t include more than 1 medium/high FODMAP ingredient in any one salad (if you want to risk it at all) and be sure you can tolerate it. I know I can put in some jicama, half a marinated artichoke or a quarter of a pear, but a tablespoon of broccoli will turn me into a disaster zone. If you’re just starting on the diet, it’s best to stick to low FODMAP ingredients – there’s plenty to choose from there!

Red pepper and coriander leaves make for a flavourful, low FODMAP pair.

And now, let’s proceed to The Low FODMAP Salad Algorithm (geeky and proud, people, geeky and proud). Below, I’m listing the key groups of ingredients I include in any salad for one portion.  All non-low-FODMAP ingredients are clearly marked so please, eat at your own risk. Squashablanca will not be held responsible for any damage to your internal or external plumbing this guide may cause.

1. Gotta get some sugar. If you want to eat a salad as your only course for lunch or dinner, you may  want to include some carbohydrates, depending on which variation of the diet you’re following. I find that without them, it’s rather difficult to compose a filling and nutritional salad that meets the low FODMAP requirements – especially if you want to keep it vegetarian or vegan. Options include:

  • 1/3 cup cooked rice, buckwheat, quinoa, millet
  • 1 small/medium boiled potato
  • 1/3 cup cooked and chopped polenta pieces
  • 1/3 cup cooked rice pasta

… or you can just grab a couple of rice cakes, or a slice of low FODMAP bread

2. Eat your greens. Self-explanatory, really – leafy veggies in any shade of green work here! I normally go for a large handful per person.

  • arugula
  • spinach
  • lettuce (iceberg, romaine, butter, red leaf… just stay away from chicory and radicchio)
  • kale (I can’t have it, but it’s low in FODMAPs)

Kale

3. Veg galore. Any self-respecting salad ought to contain at least one, if not two, types of low-calorie vegetables and fruit. Here, you can really go wild – try to add 1/4-1/3 cup of the combined vegetables to each portion.

  • tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • capsicums (bell peppers)
  • radishes
  • turnip
  • zucchini
  • beansprouts
  • peas (less than 1/4 cup per person)
  • olives
  • carrots
  • strawberries
  • raspberries
  • melon
  • orange
  • sweet corn (if you can have it – tolerance varies)
  • jicama (potentially high FODMAP, try at your own risk)
  • avocado (less than 1/4)
  • celery (1 stalk)
  • fennel (less than 1/2 cup – I’d go lower)
  • shredded common or green cabbage, NOT savoy

4. Catch that rabbit (or bowl of tofu). Depending on your dietary preference, the protein ingredient can be omnivorous, vegetarian or vegan. Usually, I go for approximately 1-2 tablespoons per person

  • tofu
  • cubed seitan
  • canned garbanzo beans/chickpeas (less than 1/2 cup is recommended, I’d go to less than 1/4)
  • canned green lentils (same story, recommendation is less than 1/2 cup, I’d use less than 1/4)
  • hard boiled egg
  • allowed cheese (cheddar, Swiss, brie, camembert, edam, gouda, pecorino… the list goes on and on!)
  • fish (tuna, smoked herring, grilled or smoked salmon)
  • prawns
  • meat (ham, turkey breast, chicken pieces etc.)

Red pepper and lemon

5. For the love of pickles! This step is optional – as a typical Pole, I’m obsessed with pickled foods. Feel free to skip.

  • pickled beets (less than 1/2 beetroot)
  • pickled cucumbers (watch out for onion and garlic)
  • kosher dill pickles (usually made without onion and garlic, but check ingredients)
  • capers
  • pickled cabbage
  • pickled peppers

6. Crunch. Otherwise known as nuts and seeds. Here, portion control matters – the recommended amount is less than 2 tablespoons (I stick to 1). If  you’re allergic or intolerant, then obviously omit… maybe try some pickles instead?

  • walnuts
  • hazelnuts
  • peanuts
  • almonds
  • pecans
  • macadamia nuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • pine nuts (pignolas)
  • sunflower seeds
  • flax seed
  • pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Pine Nuts

7. The dressing! It’s safe to say we should forget about all the pre-made stuff in supermarkets, I have yet to find a variety without onions/garlic. Fortunately, making dressing is really simple!

  • oil – any type; olive oil is best, but you can also use sunflower, canola, sesame, walnut or grapeseed
  • vinegar – any type; my favourite are balsamic, white and champagne orange
  • lemon or lime juice
  • mango chutney (watch the amount – mango is a high FODMAP fruit, so stick to 1-2 teaspoons)
  • mayonnaise
  • mustard (check for additives)
  • Thai peanut sauce
  • coconut milk with vinegar, ginger and sesame seeds
  • basil pesto
  • low FODMAP yogurt (I make my own from Lactaid but commercial will work just as well – check the ingredients list!)
  • herbs – dill, chives, cilantro, green parts of scallions, parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, mint
  • spices – salt, black pepper, chilli powder

Wow. Extensive list, isn’t it? Feeling optimistic? Before you run off to whip up a bowlful of deliciousness, here are a few compositions I enjoy:

  1. Arugula, tomatoes, radishes, boiled egg, mayo + yogurt, chives, salt, pepper
  2. The Cucumber Dill Salad
  3. Spinach, raspberries, parmesan shavings, pine nuts, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper
  4. Arugula, blue cheese, strawberries, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper
  5. The Crunchy Quinoa Salad
  6. White rice, zucchini, red peppers, tofu, hazelnuts, black olives, sesame oil, white vinegar, cilantro, salt, pepper
  7. Buckwheat, red pepper, dill pickles, smoked turkey breast, feta cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper
  8. Rice pasta, tuna, tomatoes, black olives, basil leaves, olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper

fennel_bulbs_small

… now, you can run off. Enjoy!

4 Comments »

  1. Carly Wilson says:

    super crunchy and fresh post! thanks for sharing.
    Love it!

    • odrowaz says:

      Thanks, Carly – I’m glad you find it useful! I did wonder if this was too simple, but in the end, had so much fun writing it that I decided it didn’t matter.

  2. Beth says:

    Terrific cheat sheet! I’d love to see it in a printable chart version. Thank you!

Leave a Comment to Carly Wilson »




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When your love for onion rings, whipped cream latté and apple pie has to surrender in the face of a gastrointestinal war... when the world becomes a bleak place, full of chicken soup and carrots... do not despair! There's more than one sweet fish in the sea, and your culinary adventures have only just begun. I hereby present you Squashablanca, the land of plenty for people following a low-sugar version of the low FODMAP diet. Enjoy your food!

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