Monday, 1 June 2015

Cooking with onion and garlic- myths and facts

By Caroline Tuck, Dietitian, PhD Candidate


Confused about whether or not you can use onion and garlic in your cooking on a low FODMAP diet? Have you heard about adding big pieces of onion and garlic into cooking and removing it before consuming the meal, but you're not sure if this actually works? This post should help clarify a few of your queries.

Onion and garlic both contain fructans (oligosaccharides) and therefore during a restrictive phase of the low FODMAP diet, they should be excluded from the diet. However, there are a few tricks of the trade to get keep their flavor in your cooking.

The fructan content in onion and garlic are soluble in water. This means that if you put onion or garlic into a soup or stock, some of the fructan content will leech out into the water. Therefore the strategy of putting a whole onion or garlic clove into a soup and then pulling the pieces out before consuming the soup will not work, as the fructan content will have already leeched into the water.

In an oil based dish the fructans will not leech out (as fructans are not soluble in oil).  Therefore, if you are making something based in oil, for example a stir-fry, it is possible to add a large piece of onion or a whole garlic clove and simply pull the pieces out before adding other ingredients. This way you will have the flavour without the fructan content leeching into the meal.


The other alternative that works very well to get some flavour into your cooking is using the green parts of spring onion or chives as a replacement for onion. When using these alternatives, keep in mind that they won’t need to be sautéed for as long as regular onion and you may prefer to add them into the pot later in the cooking process to get maximum flavour from them. For some garlic flavour you can make your own garlic infused olive oil which you can use in your cooking instead of your regular oil. The Indian spice Asafoetida powder can also be used as a spice to replace onion flavour and you can buy this from an Indian supermarket (be careful when using it as it has a potent smell). Other low FODMAP flavours include ginger, fresh herbs, spices, lemon and lime juice.


Remember that everyone’s tolerance to foods is different, so it is always best to test out some of these strategies yourself and see if you feel that you are able to tolerate them. 




52 comments:

  1. I have been using the green curly part of garlic (scapes) with great success. I make a 'pesto' out of it and add it in lieu of garlic. Have scapes been tested?

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    1. Hi Robyn,
      When we tested garlic, we tested the entire vegetable, not the scaples alone. If you have tried and tolerated scaples, then you should continue to include. When rechallenging with a food, we recommend people include a small serving daily, for 2-3 days & monitor their symptoms. If tolerated, then continue to consume. Your diet only needs to be a strict as your symptoms require.
      Kindly, Jane V

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    2. So, as a chef, and as a low FODMAP follower and advocate, that raises a question; If I may, what prompted the different indications (if I have understood correctly from the released literature) in the use of scallions and leeks? How or why was there a determination made between reaction differences to the greens versus the bulbs of these particular vegetables?

      D. W. Bodine

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    3. As a chef, an advocate and a current Low FODMAP participant who sorely misses his garlic, I have some questions that may be of use to us both:
      I have read in some of the Low FODMAP literature resources that are publicly available that I may consume limited amounts per meal of the various greens of leeks, scallions and chives;
      A) Are these suggestions correlated through your research as being an appropriate action during the elimination phase?
      And if so, B) Were the constituents of the greens versus the bulbs so different on the FODMAP scale?
      If yes, C) could not those same constituent differences be tested for in the greens and blooms of the garlic plant?

      I am not a biochemist and cannot presume how much work would have to go into answering my questions. Please excuse my ignorance if I'm asking a simple question that requires an extensive answer.

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  2. The Indian spice Asafoetida powder usually uses wheat flour as an anticaking agent. In the USA, I have been unable to find certified gluten-free (less than 20ppm) Asafoetida powder. Do you know of any brand, worldwide, that is gluten free? Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. I use Spicely Organic Asafoetida Powder. It contains only asafetida and fenugreek. I buy it at a natural foods store in New York. Sorry, but I don't know if it is distributed world wide.

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    2. http://www.redonionspice.com/Asafoetida-Powder-Blend_p_386.html

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    3. Hi Hilma, unfortunately I don't know of any gluten free asafoetida powder available in the USA. Many european made/distributed asafoetida powders are gluten free, using rice rather than wheat flour. Just a quick note that it is not necessary to be gluten free on the Low FODMAP Diet. Kindly, Peta

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  3. Just a little heads up....I don't know about Australia but in the US Asafoetida powder is often cut with wheat so if you are not tolerant to wheat beware.
    I know that little bit of wheat doesn't really matter to most people on the low FODMAP diet but on the support board I'm a member of I've noticed a lot of people with Celiac. I myself am allergic to wheat, so I thought I'd mention it.

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    1. Spicely Organic Asafoedita Powder doesn't contain wheat. I buy it in NY, but I believe the company is based in California.

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    2. Hi everyone,
      The wheat content of the Asafoetida powder would be very low and the amount typically used in cooking is low, therefore, we expect the powder should not contribute to gut symptoms in people with IBS.
      Kindly, Jane V
      The Monash University low FODMAP team

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    3. Hi,
      I use pure asafoetida resin purchased here:
      http://www.somaluna.com/botanicals/resins-woods-a-b/asafoetida/
      I grate it using a microplane. If you want to keep the smell off your hands, just hold an end of the resin in plastic wrap while you grate it. A little goes a long way.

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  4. Could you please clarify which parts of the spring onions are classed as 'green'. So far I've only been using the bits above the bifurcation where it splits into multiple shoots, but I feel like that's wasting a lot of spring onion. Is it okay to use the green bits lower down, almost as soon as the white part turns green?

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    1. Hi Glenda, It is the 'green' part only of the spring onion. If you want to test the part which is light green-white in colour - we always recommend you try a small amount to test your tolerance levels first. You could always try adding this and some white part in samll amounts when re-introducing foods back into the diet. Cheers Marina

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    2. Hi Ann,
      you'll need to find a garlic infused oil that filters the garlic out. I learned this the hard way. I did find one from Williams Sonoma. It's called roasted garlic infused olive oil and it is amazing. I put it in soups and on salads. It's great.

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    3. Yes I agree with Emily and Phil. I ordered white rice chicken and green onion tops only from a Chinese restaurant and had a very bad reaction. I would only use the dark green parts!

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  5. What would be the difference between Garlic olive oil and Garlic infused olive oil?
    Would both of them be low Fodmap, and if not, why?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ann,
      to my knowledge garlic oil and garlic infused oil are the same. The key message in the blog is that the FODMAP content of garlic oil will be contained to the garlic bits. If you don't consume the garlic bits, you won't be consuming fructans. Kindest regards,
      Peta

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  6. Very informative blog. I was searching for something like this. your blog helped me a lot. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Renew life digest more

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    1. Hi this is elaine . I still feel confused after reading this about sautéing With garlic and oil? also this Indian
      Powder can be bout wheat free in ny health food stores ?

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  7. Thanks eveybody for your woderful tips and suggestion. I didn't know fructans are not soluble in oil and you can tgerefire infused your oil with garlic and onion and them discard them before adding any other ingredient. My question is: can you then use immediately your infused oil for recipes where water is then added later for cooking (meat ragù, risotto, or soups in general)? Also, can you use the infused oil for preparing soffrito i.e. frying carrots and celery with it?

    Kind regards

    David

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  8. Can FODMAPs seep into meat or vegetables if they are cooked in a stock containing onion? Or is ok to eat the meat/veg once they're removed from the stock?

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  9. My digestion won't tolerate even the green tops of onions, or chives, which are supposedly low-FODMAP.

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  10. 2 questions. When will the app be available for windows phone. And is there a way to neutralise onion when you eat it by accident?

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  11. What do we mean by "large piece of onion" in case we fry in oil? Is it safe to cut the onion and let the liquids and aromas dissolve in the oil or should it always be a whole piece?

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    1. I think most people use a large piece of onion as it is easier to remove from the dish before eating. You can cut the onion and cook it in oil as long as you remove the onion before eating the dish. You can't cook the onion in a water based liquid because the offending components are water soluble.

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  12. I make a dish where I steam a chicken breast over a pot of chicken stock, ginger and garlic. Is garlic ok if used as part of a steaming liquid?

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  13. Can you use the flower part of the garlic scrapes as well as the green stem part?

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  14. Hi! We grow onion, red onion, shallots and garlic at our farm, and i wander if it's possible to eat the green part of these?

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    1. We have been using garlic scapes as an alternative to garlic cloves for several months now, with no adverse reaction. I do not use the flower part, as they have not been tested, but the green part only. Garlic scapes are a common part of some oriental cooking (Thai, I think?) and are easily available in the grocery stores in our area. To keep longer, we chop up the garlic scapes in a blender, add a little olive oil, and freeze them in an ice cube tray. The cubes can be taken out of the freezer and used as required.
      The scapes do not taste as strong as the cloves, and need to be added at the end of the dish preparation rather than the beginning, but for someone who has not been able to eat garlic for a long time, it has been wonderful to get that taste back in diet.

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    2. thank you for the info! I will be trying this with my kids. We just got some of the green garlic and I am excited to try it! I will be careful to only use the green leafy part :)

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  15. Can you use "too much" asafoetida powder? I like to use 1 tsp to 2 cups of the salad dressing I make but mostly I see people say things like "just a dash" of powder. Not sure if that's because it's a strong smelling/tasting spice or because you shouldn't have much due to it irritating your IBS.

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  16. Can anyone tell me if chives are a suitable alternative and if so, whether there is a suggested limit on how much one can use in a day? I miss onion and garlic so much but would be great to know if chives are safe to try instead. Thanks!

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  17. What about dried onion powder and garlic powder?

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately these are also high in FODMAPs to a similar extent to the undried varieties.

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  18. In regards to using large chunks of onion in oil based dishes ie: stirfry, what about all the water content that comes out of other ingredients during the cooking process. Wouldn't fructons still leak out? Coz water comes out of meat and vegetables while cooking a stirfry

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    Replies
    1. Hi Helen,

      We would recommend using an oil that already had the onion or garlic infused or preparing the oil and remove the onion or garlic before adding in the other ingredients in your cooking because yes there may be fluid from other ingredients that can still cause a leak out.

      Thanks,
      Shirley

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  19. On the topic of Garlic Oil, I believe I have reacted badly to a "Garlic Infused Olive Oil" which was made with 99% Olive Oil and 1% Garlic Oil. My research has found,, that Garlic Oil is made from a big pile of garlic cloves that are finely minced and squeezed. Essentially, garlic juice. Would I be safe to assume that this is the cause of my reaction? Is it fair to say that the juice of garlic would have extremely high levels of fructans? Or am I barking up the wrong tree. This product is the only common denominator in my diet for the past two days. All other food consumed in this time is regularly consumed with no tolerance issues. I'd love to hear from the Monash FODMAP team with this query...

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    1. Hi Adle, thanks for your question. Yes, as fructans are soluble in water, it is likely that there would be high amounts in garlic juice. Fructans do not however dissolve into oil, which is why garlic infused olive oil is usually low in fructans. The oil simply absorbs the garlic flavour but not the fructans. There are natural compounds other than FODMAPs found in many foods that some people also react to (called natural food chemicals), so it may be worth speaking to a dietitian about your symptoms and the foods they are associated with. Best wishes, Monash FODMAP.

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  20. Would it be ok to take a clove of garlic and use it to rub on a pork loin, or would the fructans be released as well?

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    1. Hi Julie, we wouldn't recommend doing it this way in case it triggers symptoms. The safest way to add garlic flavor to your pork would be by making garlic infused oil, you can make this by sautéing pieces of garlic in oil for 2 mins & then remove garlic. All the best, Monash FODMAP.

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  21. I also had a bad reaction to what was labelled as "Garlic Infused Oil", but which must have contained Garlic juice or garlic concentrate of some kind that contained the fructans. Be very careful if you are going to try garlic oils, because the labelling may be vague or inaccurate.

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  22. Have you considered testing wild garlic? It's not as strong as garlic and it's green which makes me wonder if it might be low fodmap. Of course I know you can't tell unless it's tested though! It could be a very easy way to add garlic flavour if it was low FODMAP

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  23. Onion is the bane of my existence. I'm coeliac, so my already limited diet is made infinitesimal by the fact onion is used to flavour many gluten-free options, whether they're purposefully or incidentally gluten free. It's a nightmare. I can't have gluten and I'm forced into abiding the FODMAP diet. Travelling is a nightmare. Eating out is a nightmare. Social functions are nightmare. My life, not just my diet, feels restricted. And if I don't strictly adhere to this doctrine/bondage of a diet I'm plagued with every symptom you can possibly imagine, and it can't be good for you. It just can't. Your digestive health is a reflection of your overall health. I've even been driven to the point of - to be frank - wanting someone else's sh*t siphoned up my butt just to see if it will help alleviate this satanic, witches curse. I swear I must've done some nasty things in my past life to deserve this.

    The annoying part is the fact I wasn't always like this. I remember a time where a good dump was a given. I had good digestive health before I came down with a bad virus. It triggered my coeliac disease I know it, and the antibiotics I used/overused growing up forever destabilized my gut flora. Probiotics just won't solve it. I need ten thousand more strains than what can be found in your typical pharmacy. Besides, I doubt they'd be able to eek out an existence in my pits of hell, where only the toughest survive.

    I'm so over it. I truly am.

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    Replies
    1. I hear your intense frustration, uhg and can't help but worry about you. Are you ok?

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    2. Why don't you get the fecal transplant (FT)? I have had C DIff twice in the past 2 years since having my Gallbladder out, and I had no problems before this. Life is now a nightmare, every aspect of life. As you so eloquently pointed out. I asked for FT, but I tested negative for C Diff the third time. Life goes on, but it's a nightmare. Take care and hope you can resolve issues. I work hard at resolving mine, but gotta live, too and if that includes messing up once in a while and paying fort it, so be it... :)

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  24. Is a brand like Zeta that has "EVOO with garlic and basil low in FOD-MAPs? It says in the ingredient list "garlic extract."

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  25. Hi there- I noticed in the app that white onions and scallions are high in oligos, but yellow onions are not mentioned. I'm guessing it's safe to assume that yellow onions tend to be high in oligos as well, but has anyone who is sensitive to white onions and scallions noticed yellow onions to be any more or less irritating than those two others?

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  26. I have a question about using large pieces of onion to soften meat during roasting - would fructans leak into the meat or is it safe? If not, does anybody have suggestions about how to make roasted meat (ie. leg of lamb) softer?

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  27. I would also like to know if wild garlic might be low fodmap. I absolutely love and miss garlic but have cooked without onion for years.

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  28. What about boiling the onions with water remove water and then add onions into food.Would that remove all fructans;

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  29. Could you make and use onion oil?

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