Frankie and Benny’s have a new gluten-free menu!

Where? Frankie and Benny’s, Unit c2, Dundee Street, Fountain Park, Edinburgh, EH11 1AF (several locations across the UK)

Did you know Frankie and Benny’s have an updated (and very tasty) gluten-free menu? I used to love Frankie and Benny’s pizza- as with all pizza, really, but I did particularly like theirs. Megan, Craig and I went to one of their newer locations at Fountain Park for dinner recently before going to the cinema. The last I’d looked at their GF menu, I thought my best option would be a burger without a bun. We’d actually chosen Frankie and Benny’s over Pizza Hut to avoid having pizza as I’d booked an Italian for dinner on graduation day a couple of days later. However, when I was presented with the new gluten-free menu I was delighted to see that good old Frankie and Benny’s pizza was once again an option for me! Here it the menu in its entirety.

I’m not coeliac, but because of my IBS I can only tolerate small amounts of wheat. Cross contamination fortunately isn’t a problem for me so I don’t usually ask about it. However, the staff were particularly efficient in my opinion and let me know that it would be prepared and cooked separately in the kitchen. 

So in my excitement all my non-pizza plans went out the window and I tucked into a GF margarita pizza. Apologies for my lack of food-photography skills, but I was just so excited to eat it that I didn’t waste much time before digging in!

It was almost as good as the Frankie and Benny’s pizzas I hold so dearly. It was a little bit more burnt than it should have been, but I was too hungry to bother to be honest. The base was tasty- crunchy but not too difficult to cut. I can’t tell you how much this improved my day! Unfortunately we were tight on time so I didn’t manage a dessert but I quite fancied the fruit and dipping chocolate. Maybe next time!

It’s worth pointing out that this menu doesn’t seem to be available everywhere yet, so it’s probably best to double check before you visit. Hopefully it’ll be rolled out everywhere soon!

Fodmap-friendliness: 5/5 – there are plenty of choices of starters, mains and desserts which can easily be adapted. They’ve actually got a good few veggie options too.

Food: 4/5

Price: 5/5 – there’s always a discount code for F&B’s.

Service: 5/5

Hooray for another easy eating out option for us gluten-free/low-fodmap eaters!

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Eating low-fodmap in Grasmere, The Lake District

In June I spent a lovely, sunny weekend in the Lake District with my family to celebrate my mum’s birthday.
It was great to have some time to relax. I finished my final placement, had one last week of uni, spent a brilliant and busy couple of days in Barcelona (possibly more on that later!) and then we set off to the Lake District the following day, so I was very appreciative of the change of pace.

Travelling and trying to stay low-fodmap is tricky even within the UK, as eating out is where it can all go horribly wrong! However, I am very pleased to report that I ate very well in Grasmere. There’s going to be a bit of a lack of food pictures in this post- I was just so hungry from all the walking that I obviously devoured whatever was in front of me before thinking I’d better take a photo to share with fellow fodmapers!

We stayed in The Grand at Grasmere Hotel and so we ate breakfast here both mornings. You can see the full menu here. I had avocado and eggs on toast both mornings and it was absolutely delicious. Avocado was fine for me in my reintroductions and I’ve had no problems with sourdough bread, but there was gluten free bread upon request too. There are a couple of options which are either low-fodmap already or easily adapted to be so, always great to see.

We ended up eating at the hotel the first night as well- it turns out that for a small place with hardly any people out and about, the restaurants were very busy! The menu, here, had a few options for me again. I went for sea bass with samphire and tomato and again it was fab. I even managed a chocolate mousse for dessert- less fodmap friendly, but I seem to be able to tolerate lactose in small amounts.

We had lunch at Baldry’s Tea Room both days we were there.


It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the Lake District, perfect for a cake after a walk. There’s a fab fodmap-friendly selection, with baked potatoes, salads and sandwiches on gluten-free bread. What was even more impressive was the huge selection of gluten-free cakes, some of which were even dairy free too!


I tried a delicious brownie and a very yummy fruit scone on the second day.

Our second dinner was at Lewis’s where I had sea bass again. It was a starter portion but ample size for me, with crispy rice noodles. There were plenty of GF options marked on the menu and the staff made sure that it was all GF (changing the soy sauce to a GF alternative). I had another chocolate brownie, because why not when you’re on holiday!


Dad’s dessert, pictured below, was also available as GF. We can’t actually remember exactly what it was, but Dad says it was delicious! I think it was some kind of raspberry mousse with shortbread biscuit, which I assume could be substituted for a GF biscuit upon request.

Hopefully these recommendations will come in handy if you’re in the Lake District, whether you’re looking for a fodmap-friendly meal or not. I was really pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to eat out. I had options! Let me know if you know of anywhere else, I always like a recommendation for somewhere new!

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‘Gut’ by Giulia Enders: Book review

I finished reading Gut by Giulia Enders a few weeks ago and I had to share because I think it’s fab. Gut health is definitely the sort of thing we don’t really pay attention to unless there’s a problem and we have to. But of course, everyone has gut health, it’s just more noticeable for some than for others.

This book quite possibly has all the information you ever wanted to know about your gut. It’s written to make science accessible, and it totally ticks that box. I feel like I’ve learned so much about how my body actually works. Enders writes so enthusiastically about the digestive system that I couldn’t help but be excited about it too.

The book talks you through the entire digestive process. I found it really interesting- it’s not just my seemingly irritable bowels that are the cause of all my problems, there’s a whole load of things which need to be working in your favour. Did you know that if you have a bloated tummy at night, you’re better to lie on your left side to create a clearer digestive path? Or that the rumbling tummy noise you hear is actually because there’s a long enough break between meals for your small intestine to start its cleaning process? And just what we all suspected- the more stressed you are, the less energy there is available for digestion and so the more difficult it is for your digestive system to do its job. There’s absolutely loads more covered in the book, from the best positions to poo to the merits of good gut bacteria.

I actually finished this thinking what a wonder the human body is. It’s a very informative read and surprisingly funny too. I sometimes feel like all I think about is food and how my body will cope with it and what I can and cannot eat, so to learn more about what’s actually happening is definitely useful for me. I’d recommend this whether you have digestive struggles or not. It will definitely give you plenty to think about!

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6 Ways I Take Care of My Tummy

It’s still April, which means it’s still IBS Awareness Month which means I’ve still got more tummy talk! Today I’ve got a little list of ways I take care of my tummy. Given that Easter is an opportunity to eat all of the chocolate, which might upset even the toughest of guts, I thought this post could come in handy whether you’re an IBS sufferer or not. 

Before starting the low fodmap diet plan, I was bloated every day. I’d wake up looking quite slim but by the afternoon I’d have to unbutton my jeans to feel comfortable. I have to laugh at just how swollen my tummy can get by the end of the day- I feel like if I was in water the buoyancy of my bloated tum could keep me afloat! Thankfully I’ve now got my symptoms much more under control, but any little changes or too much stress can knock things off.

 

Managing IBS symptoms involves a bit of a lifestyle change, so I’ve included some things I do preventatively as well as my go-tos when my tummy gets uncomfortable. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, just a few simple but effective ideas.

1. Drink some peppermint tea

I have a cup or two of peppermint tea most days and it does wonders for soothing my tummy. It’s fab for a bloated belly. One of my friends says she finds it quite zingy because of the mint, so you might also find it wakes you up in the morning like her!

2. Exercise

I am so much more motivated to exercise than I ever have been becauseit really helps my gut! Running is great for getting things moving along. I also like to do a bit of yoga. I go to a Les Mills Body Balance class which is a yoga and pilates combination. Sometimes I follow yoga videos on youtube. If I’m feeling bloated and crampy, a particular favourite is Yoga for Digestion Flow from Yoga with Adrienne. Whatever you fancy, a bit of exercise can help. 

3. Use a hot water bottle

The comfort of a hot water bottle is not to be underestimated. Sometimes I use a stick-on heat pad if I need to be out and about or somewhere like the library where I don’t really want to sit with a hot water bottle under my jumper. There are ones which stick directly onto your skin and others which you stick onto your clothes. I jokingly said to Craig that I was going to use these when we were in Berlin in December to keep me warm during the day and I wish I genuinely had!

4. Get enough sleep

I aim for 7-8 hours a night. I feel like a little old lady going to bed at 10pm but it’s 100% worth it to feel fresher and have less funky tummy stuff to deal with. 

5. Drink plenty of water

It keeps things moving along nicely. I try to drink a glass before I go to bed and again first thing in the morning as well as throughout the day. I’ve seen these HYDRATEM8 bottles with a tracker down the side so you can keep track of how much you drink throughout the day and I think they’re a fab idea (and now I’m really tempted to get one!).

6. Try to relax

This is definitely one of these things that is easier said than done! I like to watch something funny like Modern Family, read, paint my nails, or recently I’ve been using the Calm app for meditation. I think it’s useful to set yourself time (I literally put a timer on my phone for 15 minutes or however long) and just commit to whatever it is you’re doing. But even if I’m out and I’ve had something that’s not agreeing with me, I find it helpful to try to be as calm as I can be. I’ve learned that panicking about my symptoms only makes them worse!

Is there anything else you would add to this list? I’d love to hear any more suggestions!

 

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Reintroducing FODMAPs: I can eat avocado and maybe beans too!

I’m finally getting round to trying a more systematic introduction of fodmaps into my diet. The low fodmap diet is not a long term solution, but I’ve been stuck in the elimination stage for ages.

 I tried to reintroduce foods without much success a few months ago, and my GP just told me to stick with the restrictive stage indefinitely. It took me so long to manage to eat entirely low-fodmap in the first place, as I was so wary of eliminating foods and still managing to eat somewhat healthily. Then I wanted to give my tummy a chance to recover after Christmas and going to Paris in January. After that I was onto my second placement. The nerves and stress of placement had my tummy all over the place, so there was no point in trying to reintroduce anything as I wouldn’t be able to tell whether my body was reacting to what I’d eaten or just to my general stress.  So, here we are at last, in April!

The idea is that you reintroduce FODMAPs one at a time so you can try to work out what your triggers are. Hopefully you find that you can handle some of the foods you’ve eliminated, and then you can gradually reintroduce them and modify the low fodmap diet to suit you.

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The Worst 6 Things About Living with IBS

April happens to be a very exciting month…it’s IBS awareness month! I’ve found that people can have a few misconceptions about IBS and the impact it can have on someone’s life. And it’s no wonder, because it’s so taboo to discuss digestive health. I would like to think of myself as being quite an open person, so here I am ready to break that poo taboo and share with you the worst things about living with IBS.

    1. It’s not just having an upset stomach.
      There are all the digestive symptoms to deal with- constipation, diarrhea, cramps, bloating, flatulence, indigestion, a gurgling tummy- but then there’s also the nausea, back pain, headaches and fatigue. Pick a few in combination.
    2. It’s unpredictable.
      If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I follow a low fodmap diet to relieve my symptoms. The majority of the time this really makes a huge difference. However, I’ve still occasionally been surprised by a flare up- so for me that’s cramps and spasms with extreme bloating and either constipation or diarrhea. And prior to eating low fodmap, every meal was a gamble to see what it would do to my tummy.
    3. Stress makes it worse.
      Healthy mind, healthy body. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. If I am stressed, there is no telling what my tummy will do. This year I have actually aimed to get all my uni work finished a few days before I normally would, so I can factor in time for my tummy to turn against me. I also struggle with anxiety and this only exacerbates any IBS symptoms.
    4. It impacts your social life.
      It’s all about the FOMO. I know you don’t need to drink alcohol to have fun, but it’s quite isolating to be 21 and it just not be an option for me. Going out for drinks is tricky to navigate when I can literally drink water or orange squash. I also have had to cancel plans if I have a flare up, which is frustrating and makes me feel very guilty.
    5. Eating out is a nightmare.
      I just hate sitting there saying ‘Can I have this, but without…’ and reeling off the list of ingredients I can’t eat. I’m quite a picky eater anyway but felt like I was finally getting better, and now I feel a bit sidelined by the restrictive low fodmap diet. I suppose I’m lucky in that I’ve never been a foodie, but I do love the social aspect of food. Now it just causes me stress. And that takes us back to point 2.
    6. It’s an invisible illness.
      If you have a sports injury, the assumption is that it hurts. But all the nights I’ve woken up in crippling pain, or the times I’ve sat through a lecture counting down from 10 over and over again to try to cope with the pain, nobody sees that. This of course is also a benefit, because at least I look healthy. Someone actually said to me ‘I don’t know how you can look so healthy when you eat such a restricted diet’ as if they were suspicious about the validity of my health or my restricted diet, I’m not sure which. Granted, sometimes I do look six months pregnant by the end of the day, but apart from this you wouldn’t know the impact it has on my life. And as with other invisible illnesses, it’s very tricky for people to understand or take seriously.

I don’t want this to be all gloom and doom. Living with IBS is limiting, potentially embarrassing and just downright unpleasant, but I am relieved that it’s IBS and not something life threatening. I think it’s great that I’m now much better informed about what exactly I eat and what goes into my food. I’m also much more in tune with my body and how I’m feeling. If I’m following the low fodmap diet my symptoms are under control and I can feel ‘normal’. I do try my best to stay positive, because like it or not this is now part of my life!

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Review: Brunch at Urban Angel

Where? Urban Angel, Hanover Street, Edinburgh.

I came across Urban Angel in a blog post from one of my favourite free-from bloggers, Becky Excell at Gluten Free Cuppa Tea. Luckily I have two kind friends who were more than happy to try out the brunch menu at Urban Angel with me.

We arrived at about 10am on a Saturday morning and were lucky to be seated straight away. It was very busy so I’d anticipate a wait if you arrive later. I don’t want to spoil the anticipation of the review, but I think it’s worth the wait!

I was absolutely delighted to find out that everything on the brunch menu could be made gluten free. How amazing is that? I love love love not feeling like a problem customer! Gluten free doesn’t necessarily mean fodmap friendly, but I was still spoilt for choice. Despite this, I went for my favourite: gluten free toast, poached eggs and avocado. I know it’s very simple but it’s very tasty. Also, I just can’t poach eggs so it’s actually a very special treat for someone to do it for me!

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Allergy and Free From Show, Glasgow 2017

Oh my goodness, I had an absolutely brilliant day out at the Allergy and Free From Show at the SEC in Glasgow yesterday.

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The face of a happy fodmapper.

With all of my diet changes being fairly recent, I’ve never been to anything like this before. I was very excited, and very impressed!  It was great to see (and sample!) a huge number of brands, some of which I recognised and some of which were totally new. I’ve seriously stocked up on things I do buy anyway because of the savings, and combined with all the freebies between the five of us we came back with quite the haul…

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Ta da! Should be sorted for a while…

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5 low-fodmap food flask lunches


I’ve always been a packed lunch fan, mainly because I’ve always been a picky eater and I’m afraid of finding nothing I like. However, it’s also a great way to keep costs down. Since I’m very lazy, I plan my meals for the week so that I can basically eat leftovers for lunch every day. I heat them up the following morning and I’m good to go!

My go to meals are:

  1. Paella – my favourite is this Tesco recipe with adjustments to make it fodmap friendly. I usually add some chorizo (which I know means it’s rice and chorizo and not paella!) and sometimes some spinach or kale too. If adding chorizo, Lidl have one without any garlic or onion which I’ve been fine with but if you’re in elimination stage you might need to be extra careful.
  2. Sausage casserole – I actually think this tastes better the following day from my flask! I use an adapted recipe from the Nosh student cookbook but I’m sure there are lots of recipes available.
  3. Sweet and sour chicken– I think people sometimes think I’m eating leftover Chinese takeaway for my lunch! Works well with quorn chicken style pieces too. Any kind of stir fry with rice noodles works.
  4. GF Gnocchi BakeBecky Excell’s recipe is delicious and easy, and tastes fab on day two or three!
  5. GF Pasta – I usually have this with a tomato sauce, sometimes with salami or some fodmap friendly sausages too. But you could add pesto or whatever takes your fancy!

Bonus: I couldn’t not include soup! Occasionally I’ll make and freeze some soup at the weekend to last me a while, in case my during the week cooking plans don’t work out. Two of my favourites are tomato and carrot or carrot and coriander. Extra lazy Lisa does this in the slow cooker, for minimal effort.

If you’re looking for a food flask recommendation, this Thermos Food Flask was recommended to me by a friend and it’s fabulous. It’s pricey, but I’ve undoubtedly got my money’s worth out of it! Remember to preheat it with boiling water first. During placement I make my lunch about 6:30am and it’s still fine to eat after 1pm.

If you have any more fodmap friendly lunch suggestions, please let me know! I’m always keen to add something else to my repertoire!

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January Update

This is a fairly quick post from me, as this month has flown by! In January I…

  • Cooked more 
    This was one of my goals for 2017 and so I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen. Cooking is not my thing at all, so I’ve got plenty of room for improvement! I’ve tried out a couple of new recipes this month. I made a lowfodmap version of these delicious chocolate and raspberry brownies and they were fantastic. The recipe in the BBC Good Food Gluten-Free cookbook is identical to this but with GF flour, and then you can use a fodmap friendly spread instead of butter and all dark chocolate. Definitely not something to make if you’re trying to keep healthy but they were absolutely delicious. They did take ages to cook (like an hour instead of the recommended 35 minutes) and they were better enjoyed with a spoon as they were super gooey, but honestly these might be the tastiest chocolate brownies I’ve ever had. No bias from me whatsoever 😉 
    I also tried Karljin’s healthy strawberry crumble recipe. She recommends it as a breakfast but I made it as a quick dessert. It was super easy to make and I thought it was really tasty, but had to eat it solo over two days myself as the cooked strawberry wasn’t for Craig (all the more for me!).

    chocolate and raspberry brownies, strawberry crumble, courgette pizza


    My absolute favourite meal is pizza, and I’ve been exploring various gluten free pizza bases. One of my uni friends mentioned courgette base pizza to me, and so I gave it a go! Pre courgette-crisis, this is a fairly simple alternative base. I can’t remember what recipe I used but there are loads if you have a google. Mine turned out to be a fail because I didn’t make it thick enough and it totally stuck to the tinfoil and had to be scraped off by Craig (he stepped in at this point to save the day), who then rolled it so it was like a courgette burrito instead. The photo above makes it look quite revolting but it was delicious, I promise! It was a bit of a faff squeezing the water out of the grated courgette but it was so tasty that I think it was worth it. A lot tastier that some of the GF pizza bases I’ve tried!
    I tried yet another pizza base alternative, from Emma Hatcher’s The Fodmap Friendly Cookbook. I was so so excited for this to arrive because I love the recipes on her blog. She has included a recipe for a buckwheat flour pizza base which was another success. I’m excited to try more recipes from her cookbook!

  • Went to Paris!
    Paris! My favourite! We had a (last minute for us) weekend trip to Paris to celebrate my Dad’s 50th birthday.

    Opera Palais Garnier, chocolate mousse at Chez Janou (for two!), the Pantheon, Place des Vosges


    I spent my Erasmus year in Paris and absolutely fell in love with it- I’ve been back once but this is the first time my family have. Paris is wonderful any time of year, winter included, which I feel isn’t necessarily the case for everywhere. There are countless museums to visit, but this time we did a guided tour of the Opera Palais Garnier and went up the Tour Montparnasse again (I think this is a fantastic alternative view of Paris- you can see everything and miss out on nothing!). We also ate a lot. I tried to at least stick to being wheat free as I knew it was going to be tricky to be totally fodmap friendly. I thought I might as well enjoy myself for the weekend and suffer the consequences armed with peppermint tea and peppermint oil capsules. This was manageable but uncomfortable for the weekend but I arrived home on the Sunday with an incredibly bloated and painful tummy. Was all the delicious food worth it? Definitely! And if nothing else, I suppose it serves a reminder of why I’m bothering with this super restrictive low-fodmap diet: it really does make my life so much more pain free.

  • Fodmapped fairly successfully
    I’ve been doing well on the low-fodmap diet, apart from the weekend I was in Paris. Over the next few months I want to try a more systematic reintroduction of foods, in the hope that I’ll have better success. The basic idea is that you have a little bit of something that only contains one kind of fodmap on the Monday, see what your symptoms are, a little bit more on the Wednesday if you can, see what your symptoms are, then if you’re fine have a larger portion on the Friday and see how you manage. So there’s a reintroduction week for each fodmap type. I’m reluctant to try this while I’m on placement so I think it will probably be March until I do so properly.

Until next time, all the best from me!

 

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