Friday, 22 April 2016

Arthritis Friendly Recipe: Crispy Quinoa and Bean Burgers

This recipe for arthritis friendly bean and quinoa burgers is adapted from 'How to Cook' by Anna Jones which is an amazing vegetarian cookbook. Her recipe uses all quinoa and chickpeas, neither of which I massively enjoy, so I've switched things up to use a brown rice and quinoa mix and a tin of mixed beans. Do taste your harissa paste before adding it - they vary so much in terms of heat and strength, so you may need a little more or little less.

If you find shaping patties difficult due to your arthritis then you might want to try simply spooning this into a baking tin and pressing it down before spraying or brushing the top with cooking oil. Simply cut the cooked mixture into pieces once cool.

Peas and beans are a great source of fibre and protein. They also contain plenty of folate which research suggests that people with all types of arthritis may struggle to consume enough of. Moreover, a recent review of studies found that not only can eating pulses help you lose weight but it can also help you keep it off in the long term - great news if your joints would benefit from a lighter you!


250g cooked brown rice and quinoa (I used a seeds of change pouch but you could use leftovers)
200g frozen peas, thawed (I zap mine in the microwave or you can leave at room temp for a few hours)
1 drained can of mixed beans (approx 230g drained weight)
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 dried apricots, roughly chopped
1/2 preserved lemon (optional but really good)
1tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon harissa paste
2 tsp nigella seeds

Serves 4

Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix until everything is well combined. Remove half of the mixture and put it into a smaller bowl and blend until it forms a rough place with a hand blender (you could also use a food processor). 

Tip this paste back into the large bowl and stir everything together. Take tablespoons of the mixture and shape them into patties with your hands then place them on a greased baking sheet. I make about 8 or 9 small patties with the mix.

Pop the shaped patties into the fridge to firm up for half and hour. Once they are a bit firmer, spray them with cooking oil and then bake them at 180C/375F for 30 minutes or until golden.

Serve them with flatbreads, salad and yoghurt or houmous.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Arthritis Friendly Recipe: Hot Cross Loaf

Here is an easy recipe for a quick Easter hot cross loaf. At it's heart this is a soda bread recipe so there is no kneading or proving, which is great for arthritic hands. It's best eaten warm or within a day or two of making - something we have never had any trouble with. I'd say it is a good fibre-packed, healthy alternative to hot cross buns, but for me inhaling as many hot cross buns as is possible during the Easter period is a tradition in itself. Happy Easter!


225g wholemeal flour (or you could use 1/2 white and half wholemeal)
25g rolled oats
1 medium egg
150ml milk
1.5 tsp baking powder
75g sultanas
1 tablespoon honey or golden syrup
1 tablespoon mixed peel (or you could use lemon or orange zest)
2tsp mixed spice

Mix the flour, oats, baking powder, spice and dried fruit together in a large bowl. In a separate jug, beat together the egg, milk an honey.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients and give everything a good stir until you get a rough dough. Add a little more flour if the dough seems to wet to hold a loaf shape or a little more milk if it feels to dry to come together.

Flour your hands and roughly shape the dough into a round loaf shape. Pop in on a baking tray and score a cross on it with a sharp knife. Bake for 25-30 minutes until well risen and lightly golden. Allow it to cool on a rack.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Arthritis Friendly Recipe: Cloud Bread

Other than the chocolate variety, my two year old will not normally touch eggs. This is perhaps unsurprising as I couldn't stand even the sight of them until I decided to learn to cook them myself in my teens and discovered that actually frittatas, tortillas and eggy bread were all pretty delicious. However, as she also isn't fond of meat, I've been on a bit of a mission to encourage her to eat them recently - and I think I have finally cracked it (yes, pun intended) with this gluten free cloud bread. We've eaten these fluffy clouds with fillings for lunch and as a tea time snack with maple syrup. If you follow a low-carbohydrate (such as the AS/London/no starch diet) or a gluten-free diet then they also make a great alternative to a bread roll.

The recipe is quick and easy to make as long as you make sure you whisk the whites until they are really stiff and fold the yolk mixture in carefully. I wouldn't personally attempt this without a stand mixer but there may well be braver and stronger whisk-ers out there than me!


2 large eggs

30g (2tbsp) light cream cheese
1/4 tsp ground psyllium husk or 2tsp ground flaxseed (optional but helps the texture and adds fibre)
A little sunflower or rapeseed oil for greasing a baking tray

Makes 6 clouds
Preheat the oven to 150C and grease a large baking tray with a little oil.
Carefully separate the eggs. In a small bowl, beat the yolks together with the cream cheese, psyllium husks or flaxseed (if using) until smooth.

In a clean, large bowl whisk the eggs whites until they form stiff peaks. You should be able to turn the bowl upside down without them budging if they are whisked enough.
Fold one spoonful of the whisked egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it, then gently tip this yolk mixture into the large bowl of whisked eggs whites. Fold everything together by delicately scooping around the outside and then cutting through the middle with a large spoon. Be very careful not to overmix - it's better to be left with a few little specks of visible egg whites than a floppy mix!

Dollop large spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking tray, then place in the oven and cook for around 20 minutes or until the clouds are a gentle gold colour.
If you eat the cloud bread immediately it will be very light and puffy but it is also nice the next day split and warmed through.

Arthritis diet notes:
Eggs are packed full of protein, B vitamins, iron and selenium, all nutrients that several studies have shown people with arthritis sometimes struggle to get enough of. Many years ago it was recommended that we restricted our intake of eggs but the advice has changed -  nowadays you can eat as many as you like provided you don't have familial hypercholesterolaemia.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Arthritis Kitchen Gadget Review: The Garlic Card

I have a pile of new arthritis kitchen gadgets to test this year and one of the first I got my creaky joints on was this GarlicCard.

What is it supposed to do?
GarlicCard is a small brightly coloured plastic card with raised bumps on it's surface against which you are supposed to puree a peeled garlic clove.

According to the manufacturer, 'GarlicCard is a Swedish invention for grating garlic quickly and easily. GarlicCard lets everyone enjoy fresh garlic whithout bothering with hard-to-clean garlic presses, razor-sharp graters or time-consuming chopping'.

Sounds great for those of us with arthritis but...

Does it work?
In theory, you simply rub your clove of garlic against the card and you get a fine puree.This video shows you have it is supposed to work.

In practice, you diligently rub your garlic against the card and all you get is a bit of squashed garlic. I don't know whether the problem is partly with me - I find it hard to hold the card steady and manoeuvre the piece of garlic with my stiff arthritic hands . However, it also feels like a slightly pointless invention. Squashing a garlic clove under a knife blade is easy and requires no extra tools. Similarly, garlic presses can be hard to use if you have arthritis but there are some good ones out there and at least they always work.

On the plus side, it is super easy to clean -you can throw it in the dishwasher or rinse it under a tap. 

Overall verdict
F It's a long time since a kitchen gadget has made me quite so angry actually. I love the concept; I love the styling; but, it is less than useless and I can't quite get my head around how something could have gone so wrong between the idea and the execution. 

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Arthritis Friendly Recipe: Black Kale, Quinoa and Pumpkin Seed Bowl

This kale, sweet potato and quinoa bowl is quick and easy to put together. I like to use leftover quinoa or brown rice that I cooked the night before and leftover roasted sweet potatoes but you could also buy a bag of ready chopped sweet potato and butternut squash and just use that. Equally you can buy 250g pouches or ready cooked rice and quinoa so if you are having a bad flare day do seek them out.

Cavolo nero or black kale is delicious and it's dark colour means it is packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals. Kale is also a useful source of vitamin K. Several studies have suggested that vitamin K may help prevent or slow the deterioration of joints in osteoarthritis but there is little evidence to suggest it can help joint repair once the damage has occurred. There have been few studies about the role vitamin K might play in inflammatory arthritis ( i.e.  rheumatoid, AS, and PsA) however some laboratory experiments have suggested that it might help block the inflammatory processes.


250g cooked quinoa or brown rice (I used a mix of both)
150g cavolo nero/black kale, finely chopped
A small courgette/zuchinni, coarsely grated
300g cubed cooked sweet potato
1/2tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
1tbsp pumpkin seeds
1tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp smoked or regular sea salt

Serves 2-3

Heat the oil in a large skillet or frying pan. Add the chopped kale and stir fry until it has just softened. Add the smoked paprika, courgette, quinoa and cooked sweet potatoes and heat until everything is piping hot.

Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds and smoked paprika over and serve.


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