Friday, 10 April 2009


Lunch ideas for a gallstones diet

Mushroom baguette shells
Serves 2
Richly flavoured mushrooms in a crispy French bread shell.

1short baguette/stick of French bread
250g/9oz open cup mushrooms
10ml/2tsp Worcestershire sauce
10ml/2tsp lemon juice
30ml/2tbsp skimmed milk
30ml/2tbsp fresh chives, chopped
Salt and black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C /400°F/gas mark 6.
2. Slice the baguette in half lengthways and scoop out the middle of each half, leaving a thick, crusty border.
3. Place on a baking sheet, open side up and bake in the oven for about 7minutes.
4. In the meantime, roughly chop the mushrooms then add to a pan with the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and milk. Heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
5. Remove from the heat, add the chives and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Spoon the mushroom mixture into the baguette shells and serve hot.

Mediterranean pasta and tomato soup
Serves 4
Use any pasta shape you fancy. Try alphabet or animal shapes to appeal to children.

1 400g/14oz can tomatoes
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 stick of celery
1 clove of garlic
15ml/1tbsp olive oil
225ml/8fl oz/1 cup water
15ml/2tbsp tomato puree
50g/2oz small pasta shapes
Salt and black pepper

1. Roughly chop the tomatoes, onion, celery and garlic.
2. Place in a pan, add the water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 40-45 mins, until all the vegetables are very soft.
3. Save the liquid and spoon the vegetables into a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
4. Return to the pan with the saved liquid. Stir in the tomato puree and bring to the boil.
5. Add the pasta and simmer until the pasta is tender, adding more water to achieve the consistency you prefer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The mixture can be prepared in advance and stored, covered, in the fridge for a couple of days.

1 can chick peas
2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
50g/2oz/¼ cup finely chopped onion
2tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt
2tbsp water
1½ tsp lemon juice
Pinch of cayenne
30g/1oz/⅛ cup flour

1. Drain the chick peas and combine all ingredients (except flour) in a food processor or mixing bowl. Process or mash until the mixture has a uniform consistency.
2. Stir in the flour until thoroughly combined.
3. Preheat oven to 200°C /400°F/gas mark 6.
4. Spoon portions of the mixture onto a baking sheet and flatten slightly into small burger shapes.
5. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until golden brown, turning them over halfway through baking.
6. Serve in pitta bread with your choice of salad ingredients, e.g. sliced pepper, lettuce, onion, tomato.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Breakfast ideas for a gallstones diet

Dreamy creamy porridge
Approx. 4 servings

Make the most of your breakfast porridge by cooking it overnight in a slow cooker or the lower oven of a range (e.g. Aga or Rayburn). This makes it taste creamy, even when you’re just using water to stay fat-free.

If you have any left over, you can keep it in the fridge for a couple of days, heating up a portion at a time in the microwave (add a little water and stir a couple of times while microwaving).

2 cups porridge oats.
6 cups water (you need more than usual because of the long cooking time).
Sugar and/or cinnamon to taste.

1. Combine the ingredients in the slow cooker pot or, if using a range cooker, a casserole or other bowl with lid.
2. Cover with lid. Switch the slow cooker on to low or place bowl in the bottom oven of the range.
3. Go to bed – sweet dreams!
4. Serve next morning with a topping of fruit (e.g. chopped banana, apple, sultanas, dried cranberries), sugar or syrup.

Fruity breakfast compote
Approx. 2 servings

Fruit makes a refreshing start to the day. The floral juice blend in this recipe adds an extra touch of sunshine. Vary the fruits according to season and your own preferences.

1 slice of melon
1 apple
1 small orange, peeled
1 banana
1 handful of grapes
1 handful of berries

Juice blend
150ml/5fl oz/½ cup orange juice
1 tbsp honey
¼ tsp orange blossom water
¼ tsp rose water

1. Mix all juice ingredients together in a large bowl.
2. Prepare the fruit by cutting the melon, apple, orange and banana into bite size pieces.
3. Add the chopped fruit, grapes and berries to the juice.
4. If you have a sweet tooth, drizzle with a little extra honey as you serve.

Breakfast cookie bars
Make up a batch of these tasty cookie bars. They’re great for breakfast, snacks and even desserts. They’ll keep in the fridge for a couple of days - simply warm in the microwave for about 20 seconds when you fancy one.

220g/8oz/2 cups porridge oats
225g/7½ oz/1½ cups wholemeal flour
225ml/8fl oz/1 cup apple juice
200g/7oz/1 cup any mix of dried fruit (e.g. raisins, dates, sultanas and cranberries)
¾ tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp salt
½ banana, mashed

1. Preheat oven to 190°C /375°F/gas mark 5.
2. Mix all ingredients.
3. Transfer into a baking tray (13in x 9in/330mm x 225mm or a little smaller) which has been sprayed with fat-free spray, or a silicon baking tray.
4. Pat the mixture across the bottom of the tray, sprinkle with extra cinnamon and/or brown sugar and bake for 30 minutes.
5. Wait to cool then slice into bars and remove.

Friday, 3 April 2009

My inspiration for a gallstones diet

Having been diagnosed with gallstones several months ago, my mother is now following a fat-free, gallstones diet. She lives on her own at the other end of the country and it wasn't until she came to stay with us recently that she revealed just how bored and frustrated she was with the monotony of the fat-free diet.

Basically, the doctor had told her to cut out all fat, eggs and meat. In fact, his simple, but very unhelpful, advice was: “If it tastes nice, you probably can’t have it.” There was no dietary information sheet, no offer of an appointment with a nutritionist. Just: “You’ve got gallstones, you must follow a fat-free diet.”

So, taking doctor’s word as gospel, as so many people do, mum had been living on just about the same diet for three months - porridge made with skimmed milk for breakfast, dry toast and jam for lunch and steamed fish and steamed vegetables for dinner. Supplemented by raw fruit, dry ryvitas and rich tea biscuits to keep the hunger pangs at bay.

OK, it’s worked. She’s had few recurrences of the extreme pain and/or sickness during that time. And there’s been a plus-side in that she’s lost weight from a size 18 to a 16. But she is SO BORED with it.

As an elderly person who is less active than she used to be, one of her few joys in daily life was her food. She has always cooked for herself - good, wholesome food but, naturally, that included regular use of meat, cheese, eggs and pastry. She also made delicious home-made cakes.

However, like many people, she wasn’t an adventurous cook - preferring to stick to recipes she knew by heart. And that meant she struggled when it came to thinking of fat-free recipes.

When mum came to stay we asked what we could cook for her, she plaintively told us about her attempt at a fat-free diet and said: “I wish I knew what else I could eat. It would be so much easier if I could follow a weekly menu for gallstones sufferers.”

I thought, “Simple! There’s got to be one on the internet! It’s such a fount of all knowledge!” But in this instance, the internet let me down.

My husband and I share the cooking , so between us we began to come up with new recipe ideas using fat-free alternatives of staples such as yogurt and cooking spray, and microwaving or griddling instead of frying. At the same time, I began drawing together, for mum to take home, a gallstones diet sheet using information I gleaned from lots of sources - books, websites and friends.

During mum’s stay we enjoyed trying out new fat-free recipes and, needless to say, mum was very happy to test them.

She said: “I never dreamt there could be so much you could eat when you have gallstones. I should think lots of other people with gallstones have the same problem and would really welcome help with gallstones diet ideas.”

And so this blog was born...