If you are thinking about cooking your roast chicken on a bed of onion and garlic or adding these to your favorite soup and removing the chunks before eating, then think again. Onions and garlic, while flavorful, are a no-go in the first phase of the low FODMAP diet. Let’s delve into the FODMAP science so you can understand why you can’t cook with onion/garlic and simply remove it from the dish before serving. We’ve also got lots of tasty alternatives so you can keep your cooking delicious without these staple ingredients.
FODMAPs are Water Soluble
FODMAPs, which stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols, are a group of highly fermentable carbohydrates that are notorious for triggering IBS symptoms. Onion and garlic contain high levels of fructans, which fall under the Oligosaccharides FODMAP group.
One common misconception is that FODMAPs are only present in the solid parts of these ingredients and once you remove the chunk of onion or garlic from the cooked meal, you’ve also discarded the FODMAPs.
However, FODMAPs are water-soluble, meaning they dissolve in water. When you cook onion or garlic in any liquid like broths, sauces, soups, or the liquid content from cooking meats/vegetables, the FODMAPs leach out of the onion/garlic and into the other ingredients in the meal.
The best approach is not to cook with onion or garlic during the first phase of the low FODMAP diet. You can used infused oils and other onion and garlic alternatives to recapture the flavor.
Why are garlic infused oil and onion infused oil low FODMAP?
While FODMAPs are water soluble, they aren’t oil soluble. When you fry onion or garlic chunks in oil, you get all the flavor but none of the FODMAPs. The golden rule of thumb here is to remove all of the onion and garlic chunks from the pan BEFORE adding other ingredients (that way, no leaching can happen).
You can also buy commercially made garlic infused oil or onion infused oil. These are fantastic low FODMAP staples to have in your pantry.
Low FODMAP Onion Alternatives
There are also plenty of other low FODMAP onion alternatives you can use to infuse your dish with tummy-friendly flavor.
Here are some of our favourites:
- Green leek leaves – finely chop and fry them for 1-2 minutes in oil until soft and fragrant
- Green tops from spring onion/scallions – you can add these raw or cooked
- Chives – fresh or dried work great
- Low FODMAP onion replacement powder (check our brands like FODY, Smoke N Sanity, FreeFod)
- Onion infused oil – this is available from grocery stores in some countries
Low FODMAP Garlic Alternatives
Garlic-infused oil is a game-changer for low FODMAP cooking. It’s made by infusing oil with garlic flavor without including the actual garlic cloves, which means you get the taste without the high FODMAP content. You can often find commercially made garlic infused oil in the grocery store.
You can also use these low FODMAP options instead of garlic:
- Garlic chives
- Asafoetida powder – fry a small pinch of asafoetida powder in oil until fragrant then add your other ingredients
- Garlic shoots/scapes
- Low FODMAP garlic replacement powders (check our brands like Smoke N Sanity, Gourmand Foods, FODY, FreeFod)
Other Ways To Boost Flavor
Along with onion and garlic alternatives, there are also lots of ways you can boost the flavor of your meals.
1. Herbs and Spices: Experiment with herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, or spices such as cumin, paprika, or turmeric to enhance your dishes. Check out the Monash University FODMAP Diet App for more options.
2. Citrus Zest: The zest of citrus fruits like lemon, lime, or orange adds a refreshing tang to recipes.
3. Ginger and Mustard: Both ginger and mustard seeds can provide a strong base flavor to your meals without causing digestive distress.
4. Low FODMAP Stocks: These are made with onion or garlic and are a great way to add a flavor base to your meals. Check out the Monash University FODMAP Diet App for brand recommendations. You can also use our low FODMAP chicken stock recipe or low FODMAP vegetable stock recipe.
5. Condiments: You can also use low FODMAP condiments to make your meals delicious. Here are a few of our favourites: mayonnaise, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, tamarind paste, miso paste, oyster sauce, balsamic vinegar (small servings), mustard, homemade pesto made with garlic infused oil.
My Family Members Can’t Live Without Onion Or Garlic
If your family members can’t live without onion or garlic, then that’s okay. There is an easy solution. Try roasting the onion/garlic in a small separate roasting pan or fry these ingredients separately. Then each family member can choose to add the cooked onion/garlic to their plate as the meal gets dished.
Starting a low FODMAP diet doesn’t mean you must endure boring meals. It’s about exploring new flavors while figuring out what works best for your body.
Remember that during the first phase of the low FODMAP diet, you can’t cook with onion and garlic and then remove the chunks before serving the meal. The best approach is to avoid cooking with onion and garlic and use low FODMAP alternatives instead. If you aren’t sure how to create tasty meals, then check out our low FODMAP Recipe Club – we have hundreds of yummy low FODMAP recipes waiting for you. Each recipe has been dietitian reviewed so you can eat with confidence. Happy cooking, everyone!