Cooking for the Sensitive Gut

Stuffed courgettes with tomato sauce

One thing we are keen on here at Cooking for the Sensitive Gut is the idea of ‘managing’ the foods in the diet that may trigger symptoms. One group of foods which many patients overly restrict are those containing FODMAPS (Fermentable oligosacchararides, disaccharides, monosacahrides and polyols). Many foods that contain FODMAPs such as fruit vegetables and whole grain cereals are foods which are otherwise very nutritious and good for the gut. They provide the substrate for gut bacteria to produce short chain fatty acids that enhance the healthy composition of gut microbiota. They are also a good source of fibre that keeps the content of the gut moving along. So it is important to manage, rather than overly restrict, FODMAP containing food in the long term.

It is always worth remembering that other factors can trigger symptoms such as tiredness, stress and generally feeling under the weather. So if you are fine eating a particular food one day and the next you are not – something else may have triggered the symptoms.

The idea of managing these foods in your diet means being knowledgeable about which FODMAPs are contained in different foods and understanding, the portion size you can eat without triggering symptoms.

Just because a food or ingredient contains one or more of a FODMAP does not mean you should not eat it but that you should be cautious. Eat a little of it – see how you get on and then if it does not trouble you make a note of it and eat it in a similar portion on another time. This strategy works very well for most people.

One good way of learning which foods contain high levels of these fermentable carbohydrates is to check the database of a reliable smartphone app. We use two apps to do this – The MONASH University Low FODMAP diet app and Food Maestro. Both are available form App stores.

When we devise and test a recipe we always consult the food database in these apps and then highlight any foods which contain high levels of FODMAPs. We also flag up the portion size of the food which is low in FODMAPs and then leave it up to you to adjust this according to what you can manage. People vary a lot in which foods they can and cannot tolerate.

These week’s cooking has been inspired by the garden which is full of tender, courgettes with their delicate bright yellow flowers which remind me of a blackbird’s yellow gape. They are great steamed but they are also lovely stuffed with minced beef, herbs and cheese which can easily be adapted for vegetarians. It is one of our ‘forgiving recipes’ because it can be left gently cooking in the oven without spoiling and leftovers can be eaten the next day. Courgettes are low in FODMAPS.

Stuffed courgettes-12.jpg

Stuffed courgettes

Serves 4


For the stuffed courgettes

  • 8 medium sized courgettes
  • 100 g sourdough/gluten free bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp chopped herbs e.g. parsley, thyme, tarragon
  • 100 g lean minced beef or back bacon (optional)
  • 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese ad a little extra for serving
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil to drizzle

Tomato sauce

  • 200 ml passata
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of dried oregano
  • Sea salt and black pepper


Preheat the oven to 200C. Cut the courgettes in half lengthways. Cut a V shape along the length of each courgettes half and gouge out the seeds with the point of a teaspoon. This forms an indent for the filling. Place the courgettes on a baking tray and set to one side. Discard the courgette seeds.

Place the remaining ingredients in a bowl except the egg. Mix the ingredients together well and gradually add enough beaten egg to form a stiff mixture. If you are making a vegetarian version of this stuffing – leave out the meat and add another tablespoon of grated cheese.

Stuffed courgettes-8

Fill the courgettes with the stuffing and don’t worry if any spills over onto the baking tray. Cover the baking tray and courgettes with foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Insert a pointed knife into the courgettes to check they are cooked. If not return the tray to the oven for a few more minutes.

Remove the foil and cook for a further 5 – 10 minutes or until the filling begins to brown.

While the courgettes are baking make this simple tomato sauce. Fry the sliced garlic in a little oil until golden brown. This flavours the oil with garlic. Remove the garlic flesh from the oil and discard. Remember the flesh of garlic can cause symptoms in some people.

Add the passata, bayleaf and dried oregano and seasoning and cook gently for about 10 minutes until a thick sauce has formed.

Serve the stuffed courgettes with the tomato sauce and diced potato baked in the oven at the same time as the courgettes. The courgettes are also lovely with rice – either brown or white.


There are more lovely recipes and lots of useful advice in our book Cooking for the Sensitive Gut (Pavilion 2016) available from Amazon

Cover for the book from Pavilion

For more information on how to manage your sensitive gut for this link to the IBS Network

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This entry was written by Joan Ransley and published on August 14, 2016 at 4:46 pm. It’s filed under Basic methods, Dinner, Side dish, Useful information and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

6 thoughts on “Stuffed courgettes with tomato sauce

  1. Hi, new visitor to your site. I’m a bit surprised to see garlic in this recipe – isn’t it a high FODMAP food?

    • The FODMAPs (fructo-oligosaccharides) in garlic are soluble in water, whereas the allicin and other volatile compounds that give garlic its distinctive aroma are soluble in oil. Thus the gorgeous, aromatic flavour of garlic can be extracted by steeping sliced garlic in oil and then straining the oil before using it in cooking.

      You can just make garlic oil as and when you need it. Either fry a couple of cloves of sliced garlic in enough olive oil for a recipe, discard the garlic and use the garlic flavoured oil within a day. Or just slice two cloves of fresh garlic and leave it covered with olive oil for an hour. Strain the garlic from the oil and use it within a day. It does not keep for long.

      Both methods capture the wonderful flavour of garlic but each oil tastes slightly different. The raw garlic infused oil might be nice to use in salad dressings whilst the cooked version would be better suited to add to tomato sauce in pasta dishes. But you could experiment to see which you prefer. Either way the flavour in the home made oil does not last very long so it is best to make it up in small batches and use the same day or the day after.

      • Thanks for the quick and informative reply. I’m planning the start of my FODMAP elimination phase and was saddened to hear that garlic and onions (2 of my favourite foods) were off the list. Knowing I can still capture the taste of garlic in this way makes me very, very happy! 😀 Thanks so much!

  2. Hi, Really pleased that helped. Also remember the green parts of spring onion can be used. I find if you fry sliced garlic in oil and discard the cooked garlic and then throw the chopped green parts of salad onions – the flavours are really good. Doing this does not increase the FODMAP load very much. We have a lovely recipe for a low fodmap curry on the website and there are some really tasty recipes in our book – Cooking for the Sensitive Gut available on Amazon.. Have you got a copy? Joan

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