Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Arthritis Friendly Recipe - Sesame Crusted Miso Salmon

It's that point in the year where everyone is feeling a bit run down. Rushing around doing last minute Christmas errands today, all I heard was people coughing, snuffling and sighing into their coffees about how tired/poorly they felt. In our house, we've all had the obligatory hacking cough although my little 9 month old daughter got over it most quickly and with less moaning than her parents. We're now in need of a bit of a health boost pre-Christmas so I've been trying to cook lots of fresh, virus-busting and arthritis-fighting meals.

This easy salmon recipe has been one of our favourites. It's incredibly quick and easy to make but the sesame crust transforms the salmon into something really special. I like to use white miso paste to coat the salmon but if you prefer you can just use sweet chilli sauce or any other sticky sauce you particularly like. When my arthritis is difficult I sometimes struggle to grate fresh ginger and use the ready made paste instead - it's not quite as aromatic but it does the job.

Sesame seeds are an excellent source of calcium and combined with the omega 3 oils in the fish you have a lovely bone boosting supper for arthritis. I like to serve it with sweet potato mash and green vegetables smothered in garlic and ginger - a sure fire way to help send the lurgy away until this time next year!

Ingredients:

2 salmon fillets 
2 tablespoons miso paste (I used white but see notes above)
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
1tsp fresh grated ginger (or use a jarred paste)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Serves 2

Mix the miso paste, chilli sauce and ginger together in a small dish. Brush the top top and sides of the salmon fillets with the marinade and then sprinkle each one with a tablespoon of sesame seeds. Pat the sesame seeds on to make sure they stick.

Put the coated salmon fillets on the baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes (depending on the thickness of your salmon fillets), then switch the oven onto the HIGH grill setting and grill for 3 minutes or until the sesame crust is golden. Serve immediately.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Cooking with Arthritis Gadgets: Maximix 5200XL Review

Those of you who follow me on twitter (@CookArthritis) will know that my KitchenAid food processor broke for good a few weeks ago. We hadn't had a good history together. The bowl cracked on me after the 5th use and was impossible to replace, it was difficult to assemble and then finally the locking mechanism broke two weeks out of warranty and leaving the blade dangerously running with the lid open. Cue lots of cursing and asking people which food processor they would recommend for people with arthritis. Time and time again people recommended a Magimix, so after a bit of research, I picked up the 5200XL when it was on offer and here is my verdict on whether it is cooking with arthritis must-have or must-avoid.

Ps. The Guardian Money ran an interesting column last week (which mention Cooking with Arthur) on people's rights when buying kitchen equipment with arthritis. The gist of it is, if you can't use something because of your arthritis then you are entitled to return it in the UK under the Sale of Goods Act because it 'isn't fit for purpose'. You can read the full piece here.

What is it supposed to do?
The Magixmix 5200XL is a family sized premium food processor with a capacity of up to 1.8 litres and extra wide feeder tube.. It comes with three different sized bowls - a small one for chopping herbs, nuts or little portions, a midi bowl for using with the grating and slicing disks and a large bowl for making doughs, mincing, blending, whisking etc.

The Magimix 5200XL also comes with a range of accessories included: a dough kit which is basically a bowl you can use in the food processor for making, proving and baking dough; a smoothie/juicing kit and a mash/puree bowl.  A whisk, dough blade, grating and slicing discs are also included.

Does it work?
I've been putting the Magimix through it's paces doing a range of kitchen tasks that are difficult or time consuming with arthritis over the last few weeks and I've been pretty impressed.

The basic processor function is excellent: it will mince vegetables or meat quickly and smoothly, and, unlike my old KitchenAid processor, it does so very evenly. I was a bit sceptical about the dough blade but it made lovely light scones and kneaded bread dough well although it did take longer than my stand mixer.The grating and slices plates work very well and the extra large feed tube means you can do whole slices of potato rather than having to cut them in half like you need to do with most other processors. The only attachment I haven't found brilliant is the whisk, but to be honest I've never found a food processor that can whisk egg whites as well as a stand mixer or electric whisk.

Does it make it easier to cook with arthritis?
Definitely. The processor parts are easy to assemble or detach. The bowl clicks into the base unit nicely and I haven't had to struggle to fit the lid or any of the attachments despite the arthritis in my hands being quite challenging at the moment. There are only three buttons to control the food processor motor: on; auto; and, pulse and they are easy to use and wipe clean - even with sore or weak fingers. The box you put the attachments opens out like a bread bin which is quite helpful and means that unlike a lot of processor parts boxes, you don't need to take everything out just to get to the grating disc you need. Having said that, it's still a bit fiddly to put the blade in the box if your arthritis makes you less dtrouser

I haven't tried putting the parts in the dishwasher but they are straightforward to wash up. The lid and funnel are a bit of a hassle to dry but if you aren't OCD about limescale/watermarks like me then that probably isn't a problem! 

The actual processor is very heavy (11kg) and quite large so I'd recommend making sure you have the counterspace to leave it out as it wouldn't be fun taking it out of a cupboard with arthritis. 

The Magimix 5200XL is expensive, even if you buy it on offer like I did. If you have arthritis but aren't cooking large meals or needing to blend things frequently then I think you could manage quite happily with a good handblender with mini processor attachment (more on that soon...) and a mandolin for slicing

Overall Verdict
A - an indispensable investment for keen cooks with arthritis


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



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