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Sweet Potato and Spinach Pie and FODMAPs

This is my number one go-to recipe for Shabbat lunches. We usually do a dairy or parev (not dairy and not meat) Shabbat lunch meal and I was looking for an alternative to lasagne or broccoli quiche for ages.

About six years ago my husband went on the low FODMAPs diet to try to deal with some IBS issues he was having and suddenly we couldn't have onions and garlic (!!!) and a bunch of other vegetables, as well as wheat, legumes, artificial sweeteners and some dairy. The FODMAPs diet is a well researched project conducted by Monash University, with about 75% of participants experiencing reduced symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). I had heard about it in the early stages of the research and it sounded incredibly robust and promising. So I helped my husband to implement and it really helped!

FODMAPs stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, momosaccharides amd polyols. These are all fancy words for short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols which are not absorbed in the small intestine, thus passing through to the large intestine, where they are fermented by the gut bacteria and may cause symptoms of IBS including bloating, gas and pain. Once you eliminated the high FODMAPs foods there is usually a reduction in symptoms. If this is the case, you are sensitive to some or all of the high FODMAPs foods. The next step is to re-introduce the high FODMAPs foods, one group at a time and see if your symptoms return. Once you know which foods cause the symptoms you can customise your diet accordingly. For my husband it was lactose (a disaccharide which needs the enzyme lactase to break it down) and oligosaccarides found in legumes which caused his IBS symptoms. Thankfully it wasn't the onion and garlic - for us that was by far the hardest part of the diet to implement!

One of the dishes that we ate quite a lot of in those elimination days was a spinach and sweet potato frittata. There were no onions and garlic and no other vegetables that might cause symptoms. I have since evolved the recipe to be a little bit more filling and made it in to a pie with a spelt crust. I try to use organic ingredients where possible. It can be expensive and at the moment we can't afford to be 100% organic, so what I prioritise is fats. I try to get oil and butter that is organic as well as eggs, as pesticides and chemicals store well in fat. I believe that we should all try and consume an organic diet, but also understand that it's not accessible for most people, including myself. I think that the benefits we derive from conventional produce still outweigh the detrimental effects of pesticides and chemicals used in the production of them, but we all need to work towards making organic food more accessible for our families. For us that means growing some veggies in our yard, but that has only been a relatively recent possibility, as we have always lived in small apartments with very little or no balcony space. The bottom line is that you shouldn't feel guilty and give up on a whole food diet just because you can't get everything organic. Persevere and hopefully in the near future things will continue to change for the better. Don't give up!

Here is the recipe, let me know what you think.



For the crust

2 cups of splet flour (I use 1 cup white and 1 cup wholemeal)

100 g butter

1/4 - 1/3 cup water

For the filling

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1 cm cubes

3 large handfuls of baby spinach

5 eggs

1/2 cup of rice milk

200 g feta cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

1) To make the crust combine the flour and butter in a large bowl and mix with your fingertips until evenly combined and you have the texture of rough sand. You can also do this by pulsing the ingredients in your food processor, but I prefer to get my hands dirty. Add the water a little bit at a time until the mixture turns in to a dough. You might not need all the water. Wrap in a plastic bag/cling wrap and cool in the fridge for half an hour.

2) Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

3) In the meantime prepare the filling. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the sweet potato and saute until golden. It does not need to be cooked all the way through.

4) Add the spinach and stir through until wilted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.

5) In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and mix in the rice milk and feta. Season with salt and pepper. Add the sweet potato and spinach.

6) Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface. Place into a pie dish and pour the filling on top.

7) Bake for approximately 45 minutes, until golden on top.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Will keep in the fridge for up to five days.


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