Monday, 24 November 2014

Arthritis-Friendly Recipe: Easy Pesto Tear and Share Bread

I never ever thought I'd put a bread recipe on a blog about cooking with arthritis. I never ever made bread. As someone with arthritis, the idea of kneading dough made a homemade loaf seem like a terrible faff, and, if I'm honest, a little bit pointless when I could buy a loaf so easily. Two things have changed my attitude: the first has been buying a stand mixer. If you have arthritis, it's like having a pair of better hands. It makes quick work kneading and I can have a loaf proving in under 10 minutes. The second factor has been weaning my daughter. So much commercial bread is full of salt and flour improvers which I don't necessarily want her to be having so I've started making my own loaves.

This recipe looks impressive but is actually very simple. The enriched dough is soft and easy to work with. You can alter the filling to your tastes - try cheese and red onion marmalade or make a sweet loaf with dried fruit and cinnamon. If you don't have a stand mixer, a food processor with a dough blade or electric whisk with dough hook attachment both work well. If you don't have either of these, don't despair! Try this great no knead bread recipe.

Ingredients:
350g strong white or wholemeal flour (I used half and half)
175ml semi skimmed milk
1 tablespoon sunflower or rapeseed oil
1 medium egg
7g fast action dried yeast
1 tsp salt

Filling:
4tbsp pesto from a jar (I used red pesto)


Put the flour, yeast and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the milk, egg and oil. Knead using a stand mixer or processor for 5 minutes or until the dough springs back slightly when poked.

Cover the bowl in cling film and leave the dough to rise until doubled in size (this will take about 1hr).

Tip the dough out onto an oiled board and stretch into a large rectangle. Spread with the pesto and roll up into a long sausage shape. Cut into 7 pieces and place into a 18cm cake tin. Leave to rise for another 30minutes. Brush the top with a little milk or egg for a golden crust.

Bake at 180C/375F for 35minutes. Turn out of the tin and check the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, if not return to the oven for another 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and serve.

Arthritis diet notes:
Bread gets a bit of a bad rap but it's actually a very nutritious source of carbohydrate. Wheat flour does contains gluten which people with coeliac disease mustn't consume. Some people with enteropathic arthritis (arthritis associated with gut and bowel disorders like Crohn's or colitis) are also unable to eat gluten. Other people may suffer from an intolerance or gluten sensitivity but whether gluten has an affect on arthritis in general is more unlcear. You can read my post about it all here.

Friday, 7 November 2014

How to Choose Kitchen Aids for Arthritis

There are lots of kitchen aids and utensils marketed as useful for people with arthritis. But how do you know if they are any good, or whether they will just lie forlorn and dusty at the back of a cupboard? With Christmas around the corner, here are my tops tips on how to buy arthritis kitchen equipment that will be super not superfluous:

Be specific. Really consider what it is about a task that makes it challenging with arthritis. Is chopping a challenge because it is difficult to grip the knife handle or is it because you don't have enough strength in your wrists to slice accurately? The first problem could be solved by adjusting the grip on the knife, the second by switching to a sharper knife or using a cutting aid. 

Be smart. You don't  need to buy expensive equipment or products designed for arthritis: A wooden spoon is light, easy to grip and cheap; a piece of insulating pipe taped to a utensil with an awkward grip can make it much easier to hold; and, a simple rubbery sponge cloth can make opening jars less painful. 

Be practical.Think about whether you will need to lift or move the item lots. If you don't have space on the counter for a heavy food processor and would need to get it in and out of a cupboard, a hand held stick blender with chopper attachment might be a better bet. Test out any catches or fixings to make sure things are easy for you to use and clean. I chose a Kenwood mixer over a Kitchen Aid mainly because I couldn't work the Kitchen Aid's lever when my hands hurt.

I've a series of gadget reviews to help you choose kitchen equipment or read my tips on how to make the stuff you already have more arthritis friendly. 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Arthritis Friendly Recipe: Healthy Microwave Potato Crisps

My jaw arthritis has been much better since I had my daughter (an upshot of all those pregnancy hormones) so I've been fighting the urge to make up for 5 years without crisps by eating all those packets I missed! Luckily, these easy potato crisps take minutes to make and only don't contain any oil or artificial flavours. They are a great healthy treat for kids too - my little one loves gnawing on the thicker slices . Try making them with slices of carrot or sweet potato for a change.

I find them easiest to make using a mandolin but a vegetable peeler also works well. If you have bad arthritis in your thumb joint, you might find a 'y' peeler better to hold.

The time it takes these to cook will depend on the thickness of your potato slices and the power of your microwave so you may need to experiment a little with the first few batches. I also find that they get quicker to cook with subsequent batches because the glass plate in the microwave retains heat.


Ingredients:
1 potato - that's it!

Makes 1 Serving

Slice the potato very finely using a vegetable peeler or mandolin. 

Place the slices on a sheet of non-stick paper or kitchen roll and pop in the microwave. Cook on high for about 2-3minutes until golden and crisp. Allow to cool before removing from the sheet.



Season to taste.

Optional flavourings:
BBQ - smoked paprika and garlic salt
Garlic and herb - garlic salt and dried mixed herbs
Sea salt and black pepper
Wasabi - wasabi powder,pinch of icing sugar and salt



Sunday, 26 October 2014

Winter Arthritis Diet Tips


For many of us, as the clocks go back, our arthritis gets active. Certainly for me, contrary to all scientific study, the winter always equals creaky joints and festive flares. So, with cold and flu season upon us and the weather suddenly getting just that little bit chilly, I thought I would post my favourite tips and recipes for helping keeping arthritis at bay all winter.

1. Eat a rainbow - the sun may be a distant memory but eating a wide, colourful range of fruit and vegetables is an excellent way to get plenty of inflammation fighting antioxidants. Think red tomatoes, orange carrots, yellow peppers, green brocolli and purple aubergines. Try this 5-a-day pasta sauce, bright pink beetroot risotto or colourful noodle soup.

2. Spice it up - conjure up the taste of exotic holidays with recipes rich in anti-inflammatory spices, Eat plenty of turmeric spiced curries and tagines or asian ginger salmon and stir fries.

3. Cosy comforts - shun heavy fat-laden winter dishes and instead try wholesome stews, soups and puddings. This healthy shepherd's pie makes a filling supper or try this easy one-pot macaroni and cheese. Finish with this lighter chocolate mousse or tasty rice pudding.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Arthritis Friendly Recipe: Turmeric Chicken Tagine

Turmeric is a really exciting spice for people with arthritis. It's been used in traditional and aryuvedic medicine for centuries to treat sore joints but is now also being investigated by scientists looking at the anti-inflammatory properties of one of it's constituent chemicals - curcumin. 

Turmeric goes brilliantly in curries but is also great in stews, soups or sauces. Try eating it in this easy, healthy tagine. The sweetness of the apricots, sweet potato and squash helps balance the slightly astringent taste of the turmeric whilst ginger and paprika add warm, punchy flavour.

I've recently starting using ginger and garlic that comes ready prepared in tubes. It's brilliant for when my hands are sore. You can get it in jars too but for me that is no easier than chopping it as I somehow have to get the jar lid off! You could also used ground ginger and garlic granules but the taste will be a little different.

Ingredients:

2 chicken breast fillets, sliced into chunks
350g packet chopped sweet potato and butternut squash
400g can chickpeas (225g drained weight)
1tsp garlic puree or 1 clove crushed garlic
1tsp ginger puree or thumb sized piece of ginger grated
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp tumeric
1tsp ground coriander
1/2tsp smoked paprika
4 dried apricots, cut into little pieces (I find this easiest with kitchen scissors)
300ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon olive or rapeseed oil

Serves 4

Heat the oil in a medium sized casserole dish. Add the spices, garlic, ginger and chicken - gently cook for 5 minutes. Add the apricots, tomato puree, sweet potato and squash, chickpeas and stock. Bring the dish to a low simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken and vegetables are tender.

Serve with couscous.

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