I love pumpkin and, to me, nothing says fall quite like those iconic, round, orange squash. Step into any coffee shop these days and you will find pumpkin-flavored beverages, pumpkin muffins or donuts and even pumpkin décor. But for those with gastrointestinal difficulties, the thought of these drinks and foods make them very nervous. I want everyone to enjoy the season, so when I set out to create the first series of snack bars, I knew I had to make a pumpkin one too.
Creating a safe Pumpkin Spice bar wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. There are many varieties of pumpkin (over 30!) and current FDA regulations allow processed foods to be labelled as “pumpkin” when it is actually another variety (such as butternut squash)1,2. Though butternut squash has been tested for FODMAP levels, virtually no other varieties have been tested for FODMAPs. So we decided to work with pumpkin seeds and other low FODMAP ingredients that gave us more confidence. And since actual testing data was limited, it was critical to me to have these bars tested before allowing my patients to ingest them.
With the help of our wonderful food scientist, we created a bar that delivers the same flavors as the drinks, muffins and donuts everyone craves come October, but without the discomfort. It took us several tries to get it right, however we were determined to create a bar that tasted just like fall.
After we perfected the taste, we sent the final product to Australia’s FODMAP Friendly program, an organization that certifies the FODMAP levels in packaged foods. The entire bar was tested to determine if it was low in fermentable sugars and safe for everyone following a low FODMAP lifestyle. For those not familiar with FODMAPs, mixing FODMAP-friendly ingredients together does not necessarily guarantee that the end result will be FODMAP-friendly. As foods are cooked, their chemistry changes. What may have been a low FODMAP food in raw form, can become high in FODMAPs once processed.
As a gastroenterologist, it was important for me to guarantee that everyone on a low FODMAP diet can grab one of our snack bars and know, with confidence, that there will be no unexpected “surprises” later. The extra time spent to test our bars and receive the FODMAP Friendly certification was worth the wait and expense.
This fall, when you go apple picking or are running errands, make sure to throw one of our Pumpkin Spice bars in your bag, jacket or car. It’s a great, safe way to enjoy the flavors of the season along with your favorite activities.