Life without onion or garlic is simply flavourless. Yet, that's just what the Elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet requires: no garlic and no onion due to the high amounts of oligos-fructans. (Click here for more information concerning FODMAPS and why they can disturb the digestive tract) So, does that mean that I need to avoid garlic and onions forever if I have IBS? Well, the good news is no. Garlic and onion are only temporarily avoided during the elimination phase. In the reintroduction phase, you evaluate your personal tolerance level to garlic, onion (and other high FODMAP foods). Once you complete the reintroduction phase, you can keep including garlic and onion back into our diet as tolerated.
What happens if I don't tolerate garlic and onion at all?
Don't despair, I've got you covered. Just because you have issues with tolerating garlic and onion due to their high fructan content doesn't mean you have to miss out on the beautiful onion and garlic flavours. There are several ways of substitution that allows you to bring back the beloved garlic and onion flavours without triggering any IBS symptoms.
I find that one of the easiest ways to add garlic flavour to my low FODMAP dishes is with garlic-infused oil. Garlic-infused oil is made by letting garlic cloves steep in oil (olive oil, sunflower oil, etc.) in order to transfer the garlic flavour into the oil. In fact, both Monash University and the FODMAP Friendly Program tested garlic-infused oil and other infused oils and found that they are all low FODMAP.
Why is garlic high FODMAP but the infused oil isn't?
Since FODMAPs are carbohydrates, they are water-soluble. This means that whenever garlic comes in contact with water or water-containing foods, the problematic fructans leach into the dish. Lucky for us, FODMAPs are not oil-soluble. This means that the fructans in the garlic can't leach into the oil. Therefore, garlic-infused oil is low FODMAP as long as all garlic pieces are removed from the oil before water or other foods are added to it. And just that easily garlic is back in your life without the nasty symptoms it provokes.
Where can I get garlic-infused oil?
Garlic-infused oils are easy found in many grocery stores. However, are they all low FODMAP? The answer is, you can't know for sure. Some manufacturers do not adhere to the infusion process described above and watery content might have come in contact with the garlic. The only way to really know if a garlic-infused oil is low FODMAP is through testing. Therefore, if you have concerns regarding the garlic-infused oil in your store be sure to get hold of a FODMAP certified oil. Here are some certified garlic-oil options you can find online:
- Colavita Roasted Garlic Olive Oil (certified low FODMAP)
- Fody Foods Garlic-Infused Olive Oil (certified low FODMAP)
- La Tourangelle, Garlic Infused Sunflower Oil
Can I make my own garlic-infused oil?
If it's hard to get hold of a certified garlic-infused oil, the best way is to make your own. It's quick, hassle-free and can be made in batch for easy everyday use. Read all about it and the food-safety measures in my Low FODMAP Garlic-Infused Oil recipe.
How to use garlic oil in cooking?
I use garlic-infused oil in most of the recipes that originally called for garlic. It's never an exact replacement. However, with a little bit of tasting and adjusting you will be able to bring just the right amount of garlic flavour back into your dishes.
Whenever I approach a recipe with garlic I omit the garlic. Then I substitute the amount of oil (cooking fat) on a one-to-one basis with garlic-infused oil. Since not all garlic-oils are of the same intense flavour, the outcome might not be as desired. This is why I always encourage people to taste the dish throughout the varying cooking stages and adjust as needed. If I want a strong garlicky flavour I usually add a splash of garlic-infused oil just before serving. Sometimes I also combine different garlic substitutes in order to really make the garlic stand out.
Chives are another great way to bring the garlic flavour into dishes. They are often used as a garnish and add a fresh hint of garlic to salads, dips and other dishes.
Are chives low FODMAP?
Happily, both chives and Asian chives have tested low FODMAP according to Monash University.
How to use chives?
Fresh chives can be found in the produce section of most grocery stores or as a living herb plant in any garden centre. I often keep a plant in my kitchen even in winter as chives are quite a quick cut-and-grow-herb. If are lucky to have an abundance of chives in your garden simply keep cutting it back and freeze what you don't need for later use.
Chives are best used fresh. I haven't found the flavour of chives to keep up well during cooking. This is why I recommend you use chives mostly as a garlicky garnish. Finely mince chives and add it to salads, eggs, soups, dressings and so much more.
In the same way as garlic-infused oil, also onion-infused oil is great to add back that oniony kick into dishes. Not only is it made exactly the same way as is garlic-infused oil but it's also used in the same way.
Where can I get onion-infused oil?
For the same reasons as with the garlic-infused oil I recommend you get a certified onion-infused oil. Here is the one I can really vouch for:
- Fody Foods Onion-Infused Olive Oil (certified low FODMAP)
Scallions/ Green Onion Tops
Scallions or green onions are the perfect onion substitute on the low FODMAP diet as long as you stick to the green tops.
Are scallions low FODMAP?
Monash University lab tested the green scallion tops and found that 75 grams or 1.5 cups show no FODMAP content. However, the white bulb portion should be avoided as it has a high fructan concentration.
Scallions vs. Spring Onions
Scallions or green onions are the same. They are long and slender from root to tip and do not form a bulb on the white bottom part. Spring onions, however, form a bulb on the bottom and essentially are bulb forming onions. In the Monash App, the terms scallion and spring onions are interchangeably used. However, as Dédé and Robin over at fodmapeveryday point out, Monash did in fact only test the scallion and not the spring onions. This is why I suggest that you stick with the green tops of scallions/green onions in the elimination period of the low FODMAP diet. Once you start reintroducing you can try out the spring onions.
How to use scallions?
Slice off the green part fo the scallions right where the dark green colour of the tops start fading into a lighter green before it turns white. Wash and dry the green tops and finely chop them up. Then use them just as you would onion in a recipe or use them as garnish. Don't throw away the white high FODMAP part of the scallions. Use it to make onion-infused oil (same procedure as with garlic oil) or re-grow the green onion.
How to store scallions?
Cut off green scallion tops. They are best stored unwashed. Roll them up in a dry paper towel and place them in a glass container or a sealable plastic bag. Keep in the refrigerator and replace the paper towel when it starts getting moist.
In summer-time when scallions are in season and highly available I like to stock up on green scallion tops for winter. In order to do so, I wash and dry the green scallion tops and roughly chop them up. Then I place them in a sealable freezer bag, stasher bag or glass jar and place them in the freezer. In this way, I always have some scallions ready for cooking when my re-growing scallions on the counter are not yet quite ready to be cut back again.
How to regrow scallions in a glass?
Mainly during wintertime, I find it hard to come by scallions. This is why I never throw away the white bottom part of the scallions after I have taken off the green part. Instead, I use them to regrow the scallion in nothing else than a glass of water on my kitchen counter. This is how you do it:
- Cut off the green onion tops from the white bulb as described above. Use the green part for cooking or store them in the fridge or freezer.
- Fill a small glass with cool clean water. Place the bulbs with the root-side down, into the water.
- Place the glass in a sunny spot and replace the water every 2-3 days or as the water becomes murky.
- Let your scallions re-grow. I find it often takes up to two weeks for the scallions to re-grow to their original size.
In the same way as scallions, also leek is a great way to infuse your food with FODMAP-friendly onion flavour.
Is leek low FODMAP?
Monash University lab tested leek and found that 75 grams or 1.5 cups show no FODMAP content. However, the white bulb portion should be avoided as it has a high fructan concentration.
How to cook with leek leaves?
When shopping for leek make sure you find leek with only a smaller white bulb and long green leaves. In order to prepare the leek for cooking just slice off the green leaves just above where the green of the leaf starts fading into white. Wash the leaves singularly, dry and then chop the leaves into the desired size. Use them the same way as you would onion in a recipe: Sautée them in oil in order to make a nice base for a recipe or add them to stews, soups, curries and stock.
What to do with the leek bulb?
Don't throw the white bulb of the leek away. Use it to regrow the leek in the same way as scallions, use it to make leek-infused oil (same recipe as garlic-infused oil), or gift it to someone else. I love to use both leek and garlic-infused oil together in dressings for salads or macro bowls. Sometimes I also drizzle some leek-infused oil over soups or curries when I feel the dish could use a little bit more onion flavour.