Low FODMAP Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Low FODMAP Spinach Strawberry Salad (CSID-Friendly)

This low FODMAP spinach salad with strawberries and balsamic vinaigrette dressing makes a wonderful addition to any dish – especially during the spring and summer months.

A bed of baby spinach tossed with fresh strawberries, sliced cucumbers, creamy goat cheese and crunchy pecans, dressed in a naturally sweetened balsamic glaze…

It’s sweet, savory, nourishing, crisp, refreshing, and all-around delish!

(The balsamic dressing in this recipe can also be easily modified to be low sucrose, if you’re navigating a sucrase-isomaltase deficiency.)

Affiliate disclosure: This article contains affiliate links*. As an Amazon Associate & Kidney Stone Nutrition School* affiliate, I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you!

Ingredients

Low FODMAP dressing

1/4 cup oil of choice

All oils are considered low FODMAP and free of sucrose, since they’re 100% fat.

In this recipe, I typically use extra-virgin olive oil because I love the taste and the health benefits – but you can use any oil.

1/4 cup vinegar

In this recipe I use balsamic vinegar which is low FODMAP.

(Pro tip: opt for organic balsamic if possible.  It tastes better than its conventional counterpart, because it contains significantly less additives/preservatives!)

  • If you’re dealing with a sucrose intolerance, swap the balsamic for apple cider vinegar which is low in sucrose.

2 tablespoons real maple syrup, honey, agave, or coconut nectar

The low FODMAP liquid sweetener in this dressing is real maple syrup.  (It’s tasty, rich in minerals, lower in glycemic index compared to other sweeteners.)

See below for details on alternative options!

The salad base

Iron rich spinach

1 lb. container baby spinach

Dark leafy greens  (like spinach) are low FODMAP in large quantities of 1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh, and they pack an incredible nutritional punch.

(Note that up to 1 1/2 cups of fresh baby spinach is low in FODMAPs, according to the Monash FODMAP App.)

Iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C, folate, beta-carotene, vitamin K… the list goes on!

They’re also high in fiber and bitter-tasting, so they’ll help enhance digestion on multiple levels:

  • The fiber in leafy greens provides us with roughage
  • The bitter-tasting constituents help stimulate digestive secretions in the stomach

(I use baby spinach since it’s conveniently available in large containers, but you can use any spinach for this recipe.)

1 pint fresh strawberries

Nothing beats the natural sweetness from fresh strawberries (especially when they’re in-season).

Sweet strawberries complement the bitterness of the leafy greens, and they’re also naturally high in vitamin C which helps to enhance our absorption of the plant-based iron in spinach.

1 large European cucumber

Fresh sliced cucumbers add extra crispness, vitality, and roughage to this salad.

If European cucumbers are available, I recommend going with those versus regular cucumbers for this recipe.  (I find the taste to be less bitter, and the texture to be softer and less “seedy” compared to regular cucumbers!)

You can find European cucumbers in the veggie section of most supermarkets.

Optional add-in’s

Low FODMAP cheese

In the original version of this recipe, I use goat cheese which is generally well-tolerated by most of my clients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and/or sucrase-isomaltase deficiency.

(1 tablespoon of goat cheese is considered low in FODMAP and free of sucrose!)

But you can also use feta, or a 100% lactose-free cheese such as cheddar or parmesan.

If dairy (versus lactose) is the issue, you can substitute dairy cheese with a dairy-free plant-based alternative.

1/2 cup low FODMAP nuts or seeds

In this recipe I use pecans as the low FODMAP nuts.

  • You can also use walnuts or even sunflower seeds / pumpkin seeds, if you’re dealing with a nut allergy.

Recommended reading:  Low FODMAP Nuts & Nut Butters – Expert Guidance

(For folks who can’t tolerate the maltose naturally occurring in nuts and seeds, consider omitting these or consulting your healthcare team about starchway to assist in the breakdown of maltose.)

Chicken

Chicken is naturally low FODMAP and free of sucrose, so it makes a great add-on if you’re looking to increase protein intake.

Chickpeas

Chickpeas are high in fiber and they can make a great vegetarian protein add-on.

  • Up to 1/4 cup canned chickpeas are low in FODMAPs.

(If you’re dealing with a starch intolerance from congenital or acquired sucrase-isomaltase deficiency, ask your treatment team about starchway or consider passing on the chickpeas altogether!)

Recommended reading:  Beans and IBS: Expert Advice on Enjoying Low FODMAP Beans & Legumes

Substitutions and modifications

Low sucrose & low maltose

Spinach, strawberries, cucumbers, chicken, cheese, and oil are all naturally low in sucrose and maltose.

However, there are a few ingredients in this recipe which you’ll need to swap for CSID-friendly alternatives!

Low sucrose sweeteners

Maple syrup is a high sucrose sweetener which you can swap for:

  • Raw honey or
  • Agave nectar

Recommended reading:

Low sucrose vinegar

You’ll also need to swap the balsamic vinegar for apple cider vinegar.

What about chickpeas?

Chickpeas contain small amounts of maltose and may or may not be tolerated depending on your bio-individual oral tolerance.

  • Consider omitting the chickpeas or consult your treatment team about using starchway to assist in the breakdown of maltose in chickpeas.

Low oxalate

If you’re watching your oxalate intake, spinach is very high on the oxalate list.

Consider swapping spinach for a lower oxalate alternative such as baby kale or arugula.

(According to my friend and colleague, Melanie Betz – aka “The Kidney Dietitian”, adding calcium-rich foods like cheese helps to bind oxalates and prevent them from getting absorbed!)

  • If you’re seeking a research-backed kidney stone prevention diet, I highly recommend Melanie’s signature online program: Kidney Stone Nutrition School*.

Nut allergy

If you’re allergic to nuts, consider swapping the pecans/walnuts for sunflower seeds or pumpkin/pepita seeds.

Histamine intolerance

Spinach and strawberries are both relatively high in histamine.

Greens

If you’re dealing with a histamine intolerance, consider swapping the spinach for baby kale/arugula.

Berries

Raspberries and blueberries are lower in histamine compared to strawberries, and they can make a great low histamine berry for this salad!

Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is naturally high in histamines.  Consider swapping this for Aspall Organic Cyder Vinegar*.

Nuts

If you’re on a low histamine diet, consider swapping the walnuts/pecans for a lower-histamine alternative such as:

  • Macadamia nuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Paleo

Omit the beans (and possibly the cheese) if you’re following a Paleo diet.

How to make it:  Step-by-step instructions

The dressing

Combine the ingredients.

Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking the oil, vinegar, and maple syrup (or raw honey/agave nectar/coconut nectar) in a small bowl until smooth.

The salad

Prepare the ingredients.

Wash, chop, peel, and portion out each of the ingredients.

Toss spinach with dressing.

In a large bowl, using salad tongs, toss the spinach with the salad dressing.

Add remaining ingredients.

Throw the strawberries, cucumbers, and add-on’s of your choice (cheese, chicken, chickpeas) into the salad, and continue to toss everything until it’s mixed to your liking.

Enjoy!

Low FODMAP Spinach Strawberry Salad

Low FODMAP Spinach Strawberry Salad

Low FODMAP Springtime Spinach Strawberry Splendor Salad

Jenna Volpe, RDN, LD, CLT
A crisp, sweet, savory, tasty, nourishing low FODMAP salad for people with digestive distress, IBS or SIBO. Vegan and nut allergy modifications are included!
This recipe be used as a side dish or an entrée depending on what kinds of fixings you choose to include (and what kind of portions you're having too)!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people

Equipment

  • Cutting board
  • Peeler for peeling cucumbers
  • Knife for chopping veggies
  • Large salad bowl
  • Salad tongs
  • Liquid measuring cup for making dressing
  • Whisk for dressing

Ingredients
  

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. container of baby spinach washed
  • 1 pint strawberries washed and sliced
  • 1 large European cucumber washed, peeled, and sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (both low FODMAP) For nut allergies: swap nuts for sunflower seeds!
  • 4 oz. or 3/4 cup goat cheese or feta
  • Vegan/dairy free alternative: omit the cheese or try Treeline cashew-based probiotic-enriched French style plant-based cheese!
  • Optional: for extra protein (esp. if making into a meal versus a side dish), add ~6 to 8 oz. cooked, diced chicken.
  • Vegan/vegetarian protein option: add ~6 to 8 oz. firm tofu

Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp real maple syurp (low FODMAP, vegan) GAPS option: swap for raw honey*.

Instructions
 

Dressing (do this first):

  • Prepare vinaigrette by whisking olive oil, balsamic and maple syrup (or raw honey) in a small bowl until smooth.

Salad:

  • In a large bowl, toss spinach with the vinaigrette dressing (right after dressing has been stirred) then add remaining ingredients. Continue to toss until uniform. 

Notes

*Honey is considered a high FODMAP food but generally well tolerated for people who don't specifically have a fructose intolerance or SIBO!
*Raw honey is unpasteurized which means it still contains live enzymes.  Based on anecdotal reports and personal case study observations, raw honey is better tolerated by people from a digestive standpoint compared to pasteurized honey.
Keyword low fodmap dressing, low fodmap salad, low fodmap spinach salad, spinach strawberry salad
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