the taste space

Chinese Baby Bok Choy and Tofu Stirfry (& a vegan FODMAPS diet for IBS)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on March 19, 2013

Chinese Baby Bok Choy and Tofu Stirfry

Sing along if you know the words:

I am Cow, hear me moo
I weigh twice as much as you
And I look good on the barbecue
Yogurt, curd, cream cheese and butter’s
Made from liquid from my udders
I am Cow, I am Cow, Hear me moo (moo)

I am Cow, eating grass
Methane gas comes out my ass
And out my muzzle when I belch
Oh, the ozone layer is thinner
From the outcome of my dinner
I am Cow, I am Cow, I’ve got gas

I am Cow, here I stand
Far and wide upon this land
And I am living everywhere
From B.C. to Newfoundland
You can squeeze my teats by hand
I am Cow, I am Cow, I am Cow
I am Cow, I am Cow, I am Cow!

Yes, an oldie but goodie from The Arrogant Worms. If you are unfamiliar with the song, you can listen to it here.

So, what do you think this post will be about? Funny Canadian singers? Cows? Not this time..

Chinese Baby Bok Choy and Tofu Stirfry

If you guessed gas or flatulence, you win! (For my new readers, I have no shame: I have talked about poop and red pee, too).

I recently went to a talk about the wheat craze from a gastroenterologist’s perspective. Gluten-free has become a hot topic recently, but what does it all mean? What is the evidence for removing gluten from your diet? If you have celiac disease, removing gluten is very important. Then there are those who are “gluten-sensitive”, who also feel better after they remove gluten from their diet.

People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a functional bowel disorder, have difficulties with digestion. After ruling out other causes (you know, like parasites, celiac, etc), no anatomical cause can be found for their GI symptoms. In fact, the symptoms for IBS are so commonplace (bloating, abdominal pain, cramping, gas, diarrhea/constipation, mucus in the stool), almost everyone could think they have IBS.  Oftentimes, IBS is not entirely related to GI choices: it is intertwined with stress and anxiety, and even panic attacks. However, it can also be related to medications, food choices and intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

Food choices, eh? What piqued my curiosity was the FODMAPS diet devised by those at Monash University. I get more interested in these so-called “diets” when there is a scientific rationale along with research to prove its efficacy. They postulated that certain foods produce poorly absorbed carbohydrates that are rapidly fermented causing excessive gas. They named them fermentable oligo-, di-, and mono-saccharides and polyols, aka FODMAPs. Studies have shown this diet to reduce IBS symptoms (the control group also responded very well, too). Some high FODMAP foods (fructans in wheat, onions, garlic and artichokes and galacto-oligosaccharides in legumes) are more likely to affect people, others may be related to quantity consumed and others may not affect you at all. It depends on the individual. The thought is to eliminate all high FODMAPs and then reintroduce them individually to document how they affect you and figure out how to ultimately modify your diet.

Which foods to avoid when starting? The usual culprits are listed: beans/legumes, wheat, milk and dairy, cabbage, alliums (leek, onion, garlic) and dried fruits. Psyllium should be in there, too! Others that surprised me included sugar snap peas, asparagus, artichokes, beets, cauliflower, mushrooms, pumpkin, apples, mango, watermelon, cashews and pistachios. Outside the whole foods world, artificial sweeteners are also a major culprit.

So what are the low FODMAPS foods? What should you choose instead? Tofu or tempeh, oats, rice, quinoa, green beans, bell peppers, carrots, cucumber, tomato, zucchini, bok choy, kale and spinach. For fruits: bananas, oranges, grapes and melons. And your nut/seed selection should be almonds and pumpkin seeds, but not too many. Agave could aggravate your belly but not pure maple syrup. A more comprehensive list can be found here and here. The list is also continually updated as they research more foods (ie, coconut and cocoa may be controversial).

Looking at my typical meals, it would not surprise me that people could experience gas after adopting a whole foods plant-based diet. Even after you have tried all the tricks to reduce flatulence from beans, other veggies (or fruit, or wheat or nuts) could be tipping your intestinal flora into overdrive.

Tummy needing a break? Try this quick stir fry with tofu and baby bok choy. The original recipe was for a cabbage stirfry but I am really enjoying baby bok choy lately (and cabbage is on the gaseous list). I wasn’t sure I could fit more bok choy in, so I only added 1 lb. However, it wilted more than I thought, so feel free to throw more in the skillet. Simmer the bok choy stems in a tomato sauce spiced with nutritional yeast and tamari with a touch of toasted sesame oil (the green onions and garlic should be omitted for those actually following the FODMAPS approach). It adds a touch of Asian flair to otherwise commonplace ingredients. The tofu adds your protein source. Your low-flatulence protein source. ;) Either way, this was a delicious, quick and simple meal.

Any thoughts on gas? Or these gas-reducing strategies? Have you heard or tried the FODMAPS diet?

Thoughts on funny Canadian singers? The Arrogant Worms also have a song called Carrot Juice is Murder. :)

Chinese Baby Bok Choy and Tofu Stirfry

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Simona.

Chinese Baby Bok Choy and Tofu Stirfry
Adapted from The Chinese Vegan Kitchen

15.5 oz firm tofu, pressed and cubed
1 lb baby bok choy, stems thinly sliced and leaves coarsely chopped (divided) (could add more)
15 oz canned whole tomatoes, tomatoes chopped and juice reserved
4 green onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp low-sodium tamari
1/2 tsp Aleppo chile flakes
1.5 tsp toasted sesame oil

1. In a large non-stick wok over medium-high heat, dry-fry tofu until it is brown on most sides. This will take around 3-5 minutes per side.

2. Stir in baby bok choy stems and cook for 2-3 minutes until slightly cooked.

3. Stir in tomatoes, green onions, garlic, nutritional yeast, tamari, chile flakes and reserved canned tomato juice (or vegetable broth).

4. Once well mixed, stir in the baby bok choy leaves and cover. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the leaves are cooked through. Stir occasionally.

5. Drizzle with toasted sesame oil and serve with your choice of grain – brown rice, quinoa, etc.

Serves 4 with side of rice or quinoa (or serves 2 as a main).

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8 Responses

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  1. sprint2thetable said, on March 19, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    If I eat too much soy I get really bloated, but strangely enough beans don’t affect me. I have a pretty strong stomach though.

    My best friend has IBS. We hsared a hotel room on a vacation to San Fran. We ate too much, dranks too much… and she nearly ran me out of the room more times than I can count. LOL!

    • janet @ the taste space said, on March 19, 2013 at 9:45 AM

      I know, it is weird because beans are definitely ok for me, too. But I have noticed when I eat too much dried fruit and nuts, it totally takes a toll on me… Also if I eat to much protein powder sweetened with stevia, which I think is ok on the FODMAPS guide. Who knows! :)

  2. Joanne said, on March 19, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    One of my running friends has IBS and she tried a diet similar to this…unfortunately I think so much of IBS is caused by your emotions/stress level that some days it worked and some days it didn’t…which I guess means that it didn’t really work lol. I’m just glad I don’t have it! And this meal sounds super tasty whether you’re on the FODMAPS diet or not!

  3. Gabby @ the veggie nook said, on March 19, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    I remember reading a lot about the FODMAP diet a few years ago when I was experiencing serious GI issues, but I ultimately found as a vegan it was really hard to stick to! I’ve found over time just gauging how I feel to certain foods to be easier, rather than following a diet. And I react not so great to many things that are FODMAP friendly like peppers and oranges, and bigger amounts of stevia. Ahh well we are all different I suppose!

    Haha those songs are ridiculous, how have I never heard of them before???

  4. Hannah said, on March 20, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    As much as I’m loathe to get on board with anyone self-diagnosing very restrictive diets, Monash Uni/Australia REPRESENT.

  5. simonaskitchen said, on March 25, 2013 at 6:16 AM

    An other problem is gluten taken from OGM meal, as far as I know, this kind of meal is stronger than our traditional meal and we’re not able to digest it correctly, so a lot of people start suffering for gluten-sensivite.
    It’s a very interesting post this one, thanx for sharing it!
    Here you’re the link to the WHB, thank you for taking part with your recipe! greetings from Tuscany, Simona!
    http://simonaskitchen2.blogspot.it/2013/03/weekend-herbal-blogging-whb-376-la.html

  6. [...] (no alliums). I know there are multiple reasons to avoid them (including those who are doing the FODMAPS thing), but they continue to be a staple in my diet. More than just aromatics, they have a lot of health [...]


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