FODMAP friendly quick soup – cream of potato and broccoli

Wanting to eat healthy, FODMAP friendly and quick’n’easy is not an easy task. Added to this my daughter is now a vegetarian, so I am looking for some meals during the week that we can all share together. Vegetarian, FODMAP, Gluten Free, Lactose Free, healthful – a somewhat challenging mix of requirements!

This recipe is super easy with a few ingredients that can be mixed and matched based upon what you have in the fridge. The key to getting this done quickly is a good blender – I use a Vitamix clone that I bought from Kogan – and a microwave steamer.Simple Cream of Broccoli Soup

This is best server with either some gluten free toast or croutons.


  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1 carrot
  • 150g lactose free cream cheese
  • 100ml lactose free milk (full or semi skim)
  • 3 teaspoons vegetable stock powder
  • half teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 litre boiling water


  1. Cut potato and carrot into slices and steam in microwave for 5 minutes. My steamer has a white plastic grill that sits at the bottom of the container. You place boiling water in the container so that it does not lap over this and place lid on with the vent open.
  2. Roughly chop up broccoli. You can include much of the stem – as long as it is cut reasonably thinly – just cut off the base and discard.
  3. Remove potato and carrot from steamer and place in blender jug.
  4. Use same steamer to steam broccoli for 3 minutes.
  5. Add broccoli, milk, cream cheese, stock, garam masala and about 500ml of boiling water to the jug and blend until smooth and even.
  6. Check for consistency and taste and add more water if required, blending again.
  7. Serve with toast and some black pepper.

Mexican Pork Belly

Recipe for FODMAP friendly Mexican Pork Belly.

The meat will be partially braised – with the skin exposed to ensure you end up with some delicious crackling. This can be served as a traditional roast (I made this with roast potato and cauliflower with cheese sauce), with tortillas and condiments for a more mexican feel or in “Cubans” (just like in Chef – a great foodie movie).



  • 1.5-2kg piece boneless pork belly, rind scored
  • 2 apples, cored and sliced
  • 1 bunch of spring onions, cut in half, green tops only

Meat rub :

  • 3 teaspoons vegetable or olive oil
  • a couple of large pinches of sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Pepper, few turns of pepper grinder

Cooking marinade :

  • 1 cup sherry
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
  • 1 bunch coriander, tops only, chopped roughly
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice


  1. Preheat oven to 230 degrees celsius.
  2. If pork belly skin is not scored already (you can request this from your friendly local butcher) then cut the skin with a very sharp knife in a cross hatch or straight pattern.
  3. Place bed of spring onion tops at base of correctly sized baking tin (lay down some baking paper first to make cleanup easier), followed by the sliced apple. Place the pork belly on top of this bed with the skin facing upwards (no meat should be touching the pan).
  4. Mix the cooking marinade ingredients together and blend (using a stick blender or any other type of blender). Pour into the baking tin, ensuring that the marinade doesn’t cover the skin at the top. This needs to be exposed to form the crackling. Add water if required to ensure that the liquid covers the rest of the meat and sits at a level a little below the skin (you can also “chock-up” pieces of the meat which are uneven with apple slices to get the skin at a more even level).
  5. Drizzle oil over the top of the meat. Mix all the other meat rub components together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the oiled pork belly skin. With your hands, work the rub into the skin and the score marks – the flavours will be trapped in the skin and sink into the fat.
  6. Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes. The skin should take on a darker hue and bubbling should form in parts.
  7. Lower heat to 150 degrees celsius. Add more water to bring marinade level up to just below the skin again and cover loosely with aluminium foil. Cook for a further 4 hours.
  8. Remove from the oven and place the pork belly only on a large plate. Cover the meat with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes. Strain juices from the baking tin into a small pot and reduce on the stovetop. Add some corn flour if you prefer a thicker gravy (when adding corn flour,  mix it with a little water first before adding to the gravy, otherwise you will end up with lumps).
  9. Remove crackling from the top of the meat (it should just lift off). To crisp it up further you can place it on foil in your oven or grill with a broil function (overhead radiant heat). Cut up or pull apart the pork to serve. Delicious!


I thoroughly enjoyed this meal – it turned out super tender and the crackling turned out terrific (especially after zapping under the broiler for a few minutes).

From an IBS perspective, Em had a little bloating following this meal. I’m not sure what exactly caused it, but could have been from the apples (the sugars are water soluble so could could have leached into the meat or gravy), the spring onions (same as the apples) or possibly the cheese sauce on the cauliflower (we ate the pork belly with roast potatoes and cauliflower with cheese sauce) – the cheese sauce used lactose free milk, but normal tasty cheese.

This dish will certainly get used again!

Welcome to my Blog

I love food. I love to eat it, and as I found out following my divorce and having the need to create tasty meals for me and my children, I have discovered that I also love cooking food. The sharing of food can often be an expression of love and compassion for those around you; that you go to the effort to create a meal out of bare ingredients – and that you have people to share the meal that you have created. Something that they will enjoy.
Being a nerd, I also enjoy the technical nature of food – that you are working on a chemistry experiment every time you step into the kitchen. Cooking for Geeks was an eye opener for me – giving me a baseline understanding of what is happening with food when it is cooked in certain ways or at certain temperatures. Things such as the Maillard Reaction, the point of caramelisation of sugars or the temperature that certain proteins denature in meats become cornerstone facts that have helped me to understand what is happening when I cook food.
In addition to meeting standard nutritional requirements (as a father of growing teenagers and as an active athlete), I became aware of the potential for food to act as medicine. My partner, Em has been diagnosed with PCOS and has been managing the condition with varying levels of success for over 10 years. In doing some research, I found that there is quite good scientific evidence that a gluten free diet can assist with the symptoms of PCOS. Em has also been plagued with IBS – particularly bloating and discomfort after meals. Through my research, I discovered Monash University’s work on IBS with their FODMAP diet restriction regime.
Further reading (particularly Good Calories, Bad Calories) and other research (having PhD studies in semi-permanent hiatus allows me full access to academic journals!) showed a link between carbohydrates and health, obesity and insulin levels. This generated a preference to lower the carbohydrate intake of the family meals (or at least lower the GI level of the foods that I prepare).
To this end, most of the food that I now make at home is designed to be:
  1. Tasty
  2. Gluten free
  3. Lactose free (or very low lactose)
  4. FODMAP friendly
  5. Nutritious with a good mix of fresh foods
  6. Low(ish) in carbohydrates

This creates some challenges, particularly given that onion and garlic are on the no-go list. However, I am learning to use alternative seasonings and flavours to ensure that I can work within the constraints while also creating delicious meals.

This blog has been started with the thought of sharing my thoughts and readings around food and nutrition, how it intersects with health of those around me – particularly in relation to IBS, PCOS and FODMAP – and recipes that I have put together. I look forward to hearing your comments and thoughts.