Being a foodie AND Italian… when someone asks me for an easy low FODMAP bolognese recipe, you best know I’m up for the challenge!
Brown rice pasta with a basic grass-fed meat sauce has also been a staple for me since my college days when I first started cooking on my own, so this recipe was naturally fun and easy for me to craft.
What is low FODMAP?
“FODMAP” is an acronym which stands fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates which the small intestine absorbs poorly, with the subsequent potential to feed the “bad” bacteria in the gut. “FODMAPs” are notorious for contributing to unwanted symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and/or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). (Gas and bloating come to mind.)
Some of the most common FODMAP ingredients in bolognese are garlic and onions as well as the fructans in wheat.
What makes this bolognese low FODMAP?
A “low FODMAP” bolognese is one that doesn’t include large amounts of fructans (from wheat) or any lactose, garlic, onions, or vinegar.
At a first glance, crafting a bolognese recipe without any of those above ingredients may sound like an impossible task, but don’t worry – I’ve got you covered!
A quick note on the low FODMAP protocol
On a side note, as a quick disclaimer, the low FODMAP diet is very restrictive and not for everyone, especially if you’re prone to disordered eating.
When it comes to gut health, we humans are like snowflakes! We each have our own uniqueness, and that includes what kinds of foods work (or don’t work) best for our body.
Feel free to grab my free gut health guide to make sure you’re on the right path when it comes to healing your gut with the right foods.
Benefits of this low FODMAP bolognese recipe
Tasty and nutritionally balanced
Low FODMAP criteria aside, this bolognese can be a healthy and gourmet meal for just about anyone!
It’s delicious, balanced, nourishing, and timeless for all my fellow pasta-lovers out there, whether you’re highly sensitive or not, Italian or not. (This means your entire family might even come back for seconds! I speak from personal experience.)
I usually make and enjoy this bolognese using brown rice pasta, lentil pasta or zucchini noodles, with some ground meat and red sauce. Thankfully Michael loves it too… we even enjoyed a variation of this bolognese on the evening that we got engaged in the summer of 2020!
If you know me, you probably already know that all my recipes are nutritionally balanced and nutrient-dense. That said, you can rest assured this meal includes a component from every food group, nourishing your body to its core!
- Meals like this one meet criteria for what I like to call the “holistic nutrition fundamentals” will sustain you and provide you with lasting energy to power through your afternoon (or evening), without a dreaded blood sugar spike & crash.
Simple and easy to make
Another perk of this low FODMAP bolognese is that it’s very basic, easy and semi-homemade for those of us who lead busy lives!
…To my highly sensitive peeps who struggle to make time for meal planning/prep because you’re often busy putting others first: this recipe is for YOU!
Gentle on the gut
I’ve enjoyed multiple variations of this bolognese recipe over the last decade while healing my gut and balancing my immune system & hormones naturally. And I’m still not tired of it because it’s so versatile!
Speaking of versatile…
The 4 primary components of a complete bolognese meal are (1) the pasta/noodles, (2) the sauce, (3) the meat (or meat sub!), and (4) extra veggies!
That’s all you really need, but if you’re feeling fancy, you are welcome to add in the *optional red wine and coconut amino’s, which will go a long way to make your low FODMAP Bolognese experience extra gourmet. 😀
I’ve made sure to include modifications and recommended alternatives to accommodate those who are navigating specific food sensitivities, blood sugar/hormone imbalances, or vegan/vegetarian lifestyles!
Low FODMAP pasta or veggie noodles
Luckily we’ve got lots of different options to work with when it comes to choosing a pasta or noodles for your low FODMAP bolognese!
The only types of pasta NOT considered low FODMAP would be those made with high amounts of gluten, or derived from certain types of beans.
- Keep in mind: wheat and beans are not inherently “bad”; in fact, they can be great for people who are just looking to increase fiber intake or balance their blood sugar. These are just not the most helpful staple foods for people with underlying conditions such as IBS/IBD, SIBO, celiac disease, non-celiac gluten intolerance, or leaky gut.
- There’s a lot to say about the whole gluten controversy, but I don’t want to digress too much from Bolognese! (We talk in-depth what’s going on with the growing gluten-free trend in the “Carb Clarity” section of my Kitchen Alchemy Nutrition Fundamentals course as an FYI if you’d like to learn more.)
Enough of my rambling! Here’s a list of all my favorite low FODMAP pasta/veggie noodle options:
- Brown rice pasta
- White rice pasta
- Cassava flour pasta
- Corn pasta
- Trader Joe’s Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli (one of my personal favorites!)
- Up to 1/2 cup of whole wheat pasta (yes, according to Monash University!) IF you don’t have celiac disease, IBD, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. But tread lightly here, and listen to your body. In my personal experience, limiting pasta to 1/2 cup doesn’t cut it!
- Sautéed zucchini noodles (zoodles) or spiralized summer squash – great way to reduce the “glycemic index” (rate at which the meal turns into blood sugar) and also a wonderful way to exponentially boost your veggie intake!
- Sautéed carrot/sweet potato ribbons
- Baked spaghetti squash (up to 1 cup cooked, according to Monash University; spaghetti squash is generally very well tolerated by most people with digestive distress in my experience!)
Low FODMAP tomato sauce
Let’s be honest: there are ENDLESS ways to make a low FODMAP tomato sauce! (Fun fact: did you know 1/3 cup tomato sauce counts as one whole serving of veggies?!)
Here are just a few of low FODMAP versions of tomato sauce that are available commercially and top-of-mind, for your convenience:
- Rao’s Sensitive Marinara
- Fody’s Low FODMAP Marinara or Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce
- Thrive Market’s Organic Low FODMAP Marinara Sauce
- If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you could also make your own low FODMAP tomato sauce! (If I ever get the chance to try this and master it, I’ll be sure to keep you posted.) In the meantime, you might love Dr. Rachel’s low FODMAP spaghetti sauce!
For bland/low-acid alternatives to tomato sauce:
Low FODMAP meat is pretty straight-forward, unless you’re vegetarian/vegan. Traditional Bolognese typically includes a combination of beef and pork, but it’s really up to you depending on what you like, what your body tolerates best, and what you have on-hand.
All meats are naturally low in FODMAPs, so generally you can choose any of the options listed below! (Of course everyone is unique, so if you find a certain type of protein difficult to digest or not well tolerated, make sure to listen to your body.)
- Ground meat of choice:
- Grass-fed beef
For vegetarians: low FODMAP meat substitutes
Unfortunately when it comes to low FODMAP meat substitutes, it’s slim pickin’s! ☹ Most all pre-made meat substitutes are high in FODMAPs, usually because they contain soy protein and/or beans.
- Based on clinical observation I’ve found Beyond Meat products (which I generally love as a vegetarian protein source) are hit-or-miss for lots of people from a digestive standpoint. They contain small amounts of high FODMAP ingredients including mung beans and apple extract, which can sometimes but not always trigger digestive flares in people.
As an alternative to meat substitutes, you could also use a small can of lentils or black beans (up to ½ cup is fine in moderation, according to Monash University) but honestly unless you’re on a specific SIBO protocol after completing your two weeks of antibiotics… it’s more about whether or not your body tolerates lentils, beans, Beyond Meat, etc. from a digestive standpoint!
Learn more about this in my free gut health nutrition guide PDF.
All of that said… I’ll leave the vegetarian protein option up to your discretion!
Low FODMAP veggies
You can get pretty creative here! Carrots are often included in traditional Bolognese recipes, and they’re naturally low FODMAP, so I’ve included them in this version. But if you’re looking for a tasty way to add more veggies into your life, you can also add some green beans, celery, or some freshly sautéed spinach. (I almost always throw a few handfuls of baby greens into my bolognese!!)
Low FODMAP Bolognese Recipe
- Large skillet
- Medium stovetop pot
- Cutting board
- Peeler and knife for chopping carrots
- Measuring utensils
- 1 package low FODMAP pasta of choice (or 2 packages spiralized veggie noodles/ribbons)
- 1 lb. meat of choice (or 1 can lentils/black beans)
- 1 15-oz. jar low FODMAP tomato sauce of choice
- 2 whole carrots peeled and chopped
- 1/4 cup dry red wine optional
- 2 tablespoons coconut aminos optional
- Cook pasta or veggie noodles according to instructions on the package.
- While pasta/veggie noodles are cooking, in a separate pan/skillet, brown the meat (or sauté lentils/beans) over medium heat.
- Add the carrots and continue to sauté until carrots are fork-tender.
- Add the sauce, wine, and coconut aminos to the large skillet with meat and carrots.
- Stir well and cook the mixture for another 5 minutes until everything is thoroughly combined into a beautiful Bolognese meat sauce. 🙂
- Pour the Bolognese over the cooked pasta/veggie noodles… and Bon Appetit!!
For more low FODMAP recipes to support better digestion:
- You might like my low FODMAP spinach strawberry salad, butternut squash pancakes, and/or peanut butter cookies!
Enjoy, and if you get the chance to try this recipe, please let me know in the comments how you made YOUR low FODMAP Bolognese!