Cooking is as a way to bring family and friends together, to enjoy in something you’ve created and while that process may get trickier when you factor in dietary requirements and allergies, it doesn’t have to be. With this in mind Melissa Sutherland has created The Fructose Friendly Chef, a blog helping those with certain dietary requirements create delicious meals.
After being diagnosed with fructose malabsorption, Melissa had to make some serious changes to her diet, and adopted the low FODMAP diet. The diet was created by Dr Sue Shepherd and is proven to help those with symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The diet essentially cuts out fructose as well as various other foods such as onion, garlic, yoghurt and others.
At this stage fructose malabsorption isn’t a common diagnosis, and as a result it took Melissa quite a long time before she was on the road to normality.
“It took me probably two years of testing where they tried everything on me. I went and saw a naturopath, I saw a couple of different doctors, because some of them thought it was thing that would pass. So it took me quite a while to find someone to help me to figure it out,” she says.
With the diagnosis out of the way, Melissa welcomed the challenge of creating meals that would suit her diet. Using her knowledge working previously as a chef to make it possible, her love for cooking and wanting to help those with similar requirements resulted in the creation of The Fructose Friendly Chef.
“I just love cooking and I definitely didn’t want to give up on cooking just because I had a food intolerance. So I was cooking those things every night and thought I’d start posting those on Instagram and see if that would help people with some ideas and recipes. I’d imagine if you weren’t a big foodie and didn’t love cooking it would be so much harder to get the motivation to even try and cook things. Buying products everything has onion or garlic in it which you can’t have – so it can be hard,” Melissa says.
Once her Instagram attention grew, the website was created by Nerida Hippisley at Flying Pig Design, photographs taken by her sister Kayla Sutherland and recipes going up once or twice a week – often tested by her boyfriend and friends.
“I used to love apple crumble but I can’t eat it anymore, so I thought I’d give pumpkin crumble a go,” she says.
“I actually had my boyfriend and one of his friends stay the night – which just happened to be the night I was making it. I thought, ‘Oh I won’t tell them what’s in it, they can just try it and see what they think’. They figured it out anyway but they quite liked it.”
For Melissa, there have been few meals she hasn’t managed to transform to meet the FODMAP requirements. She’s even managed to create her version of a lasagne (recipe on the blog), something that is packed with onion, garlic and other ingredients that would set off her allergies. And while there mightn’t be many places to eat out at with specific FODMAP friendly items, she recommends Bear & Bean Cafe (Geelong) and Scorched (Torquay) for places with dietary sensitive meals.
If there’s anything she misses pre-diet, it’s the ability to snack on an apple or pear, something she hasn’t been able to do for several years. Aside from that, Melissa has fully embraced the diet and will continue her passion of cooking and sharing her allergy friendly recipes on her blog.
Written by Amanda Sherring, Portrait photo by Kayla Sutherland