Pasta problems

Make sure you read the ingredients closely.

The nefarious noodles.

When it comes to low-FODMAP eating, I’m not particularly interested in eating “fake” or “substitute” versions of foods I used to enjoy. As you probably know, gluten grains are a no-no, but gluten-free bread doesn’t do it for me, and, until this weekend, I’d never even tried to replace my beloved pasta (my passion for which I have written about before). The truth is, those “fake” foods kind of depress me. All I can think about when I have pseudo-bread is how much I’d rather be eating the real stuff. So I try to stick to recipes that are delicious and wonderful in their own ways, rather than trying to recreate something they are not.

A few days ago, though, I was putting my new pressure cooker through its paces with a tomato sauce recipe of my devising. It is, after all, tomato season, and I had just returned from the market with a backpack full of bright red beauties. And while I know that tomato sauce has many uses, I decided this was the time to finally try out a gluten-free pasta. I invited a friend over for dinner and asked him to pick up a bag of quinoa-based pasta (which tends to get the best reviews) from the health food store.

The first thing I noticed about the pasta was its red colour, which, I read on the back, was the result of the red peppers added to the noodles as a flavoring ingredient. Neat!, I thought, not realizing that reading the distracting note about the peppers on the package—and not the ingredients, which I otherwise always do—would be my downfall.

The sauce was tasty and the noodles were actually delicious. In texture, in consistency, in flavor, they tasted just like the pasta I remembered from my high-FODMAP days. Wow!, I thought, There might just be something to this. Could I have been wrong all this time? Could my days of spaghetti and meatballs not really be over?

That is, until the next morning, when I woke up with a gut ache and the worst symptoms I’d had in months. I was dumbfounded, until my wife took a look at the pasta package and noticed the very first ingredient listed.

You guessed it: wheat.

Now, I have no idea what point there is to making a quinoa pasta where the first ingredient is wheat, nor why that wouldn’t be more prominently noted on the package. What I do know now, though, is to always check the label thoroughly, even with products that you would otherwise assume to be low-FODMAP-friendly. Noodles are particularly dangerous here—for instance, we on the low-FODMAP diet can mostly tolerate buckwheat soba noodles, but most are made with a combination of wheat and buckwheat. So look closely next time you’re shopping, even if you’re at the health food store. Your gut will thank you for it.

Have you ever had a nasty surprise with a food you’d otherwise assumed was safe? Let me know in the comments below!