Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Aromatic Spiced Mince with Couscous

This is a very quick, cheap and easy dish that is packed full of flavour. Any leftovers make a brilliant lunchbox salad the next day. Do give the Quorn mince a try - it works really well in this and takes up the flavours brilliantly. If you really don't like the idea, you can replace it with lean lamb or chicken mince but you will need to make sure your brown it first before you add the rest of the ingredients.

350g Quorn mince
160g dry weight couscous
2 courgettes
200g chopped carrots (substitute the same weight ready chopped or use frozen pre chopped carrots if you prefer)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (or ordinary if you can't find it)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 clove garlic crushed
1 tsp dry chilli flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

To serve:
2 good handfuls of chopped mint
Greek yoghurt or tzatiki
Lime wedges
1 tablespoon pinenuts

Serves 4

Put the dry couscous in a bowl and pour over 250ml of boiling water. Cover with clingfilm and microwave for 1 minute, then leave to stand.

Grate your courgette either by hand or in a food processor. Heat the oil in the pan and add your garlic and add your carrot. Cook over a low heat for about 4 minutes or until slightly softened. Add your courgette and cook for a further 2 minutes. Finally add the spices, salt and Quorn mince and cook for 3 more minutes.

Turn off the heat and stir in the cooked couscous. Dish up and garnish with the lime, mint, pine nuts and a good dollop of yoghurt.

Arthritis diet notes:
This recipe is a filling and well balanced meal, particularly for anyone who doesn't eat meat. The quorn and yoghurt provide high quality vegetarian protein sources (about a third of your daily needs). As a recipe it is also high in the anti-oxidant vitamins A,C and E.

 High intakes of red meat are linked to increased incidence of rheumatoid arthritis and some studies show that vegetarian diets are linked to less joint pain in arthritis, possibly due to both the greater amount of fruit and vegetables being eaten and the smaller amounts of saturated fat being consumed.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

World Arthritis Day Cake (or Red Velvet Cake)

Today is World Arthritis Day, part of a campaign to raise awareness of the many types of arthritis. This years campaign is tagged 'Move to Improve' to remind us all that a just getting out and about, walking and taking gentle exercise can help manage arthritis and keep us healthy.

I thought Word Arthritis Day was a wonderful opportunity to have a bit of a celebration here. Yes, arthritis is miserable sometimes, but we don't have to be. Arthritis has introduced me to new friends, opportunities and skills. So here is a cake recipe to toast Arthur and everyone out there with arthritis.

250g cooked beetroot (I buy the ready cooked vacuum packed type, don't make it with the ones in vinegar by mistake! Yuck)
300 g self raising/all-purpose flour
150g greek yoghurt
3 large eggs
150g dark brown soft sugar
50 g cocoa
50mls strong coffee 
30g chopped hazelnuts

250g low fat cream cheese
75g honey
1tsp good vanilla extract
2 tablespoons semi-skimmed milk

To make the cake, first grease a 23cm/14in cake tin and heat your oven to 180c.

Put all the ingredients for the cake in a food processor and whizz until well combined. The mixture should be the consistency of wallpaper paste, if it is a little thick add some milk, a tablespoon full at a time.

Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake for 30 minutes until well risen and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave in pan to cool for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool fully.

Meanwhile, make the icing. Whisk your cream cheese, milk, honey and vanilla extract together with an electric whisk until well combined into a thick frosting.

Once the cake is cool, spread the frosting on top working gently to smooth it across. Dust with cocoa and serve in celebration!

Arthritis diet notes:
Right, this is cake. It is not going to be a health food but you can have a delicious treat without eating things that aggravate your arthritis. This cake uses beetroot, hazelnuts and yoghurt to replace butter which makes it fudgey and rich but low in saturated fat. Saturated fats can aggravate the inflammation in arthritis so cutting back on them may help reduce pain.

Beetroot has been shown to help lower blood pressure due to its rich nitrate content. It's also rich in antioxidants. More usefully for bakers, it is naturally high in sugar so less needs to be added to this cake batter. You'd have to eat a quarter of the cake to get one portion of beetroot towards your five a day, which would be rather too easy to do but not recommended...

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Fresh Apple Sorbet

We had this last night using the last of the apples from the tree in our garden. It's incredibly easy to make but does involved some peeling and chopping - I recommend checking out some of the apple coring/peeling gadgets if you find it tricky because most of them are very useful.

4 large apples
Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
1tsp ground ginger
250ml cold water
1 tablespoon sugar (to taste)

Serves 4

Peel and chop the apples into thumb-sized chunks. Put in a food processor or blender with the rest of the ingredients and puree until you have a nice loose paste.

Taste and check the levels of sweetness versus acidity. You may need to add an extra spoonful of sugar or a little more lime/lemon.

Pop into an ice cream machine and churn until just at soft scoop texture. This recipe is best eaten the day you make it (which it is impossible not to do!).

Arthritis diet notes:
Apples are a great source of anti-oxidant vitamins and phytochemicals (vitamins A and C) which have been linked in studies to everything from reducing risk of colon cancer to reducing incidence of heart disease. Some researchers have linked the phytochemical quercetin to inhibiting inflammation in arthritis. Apples are also a good source of fibre so can help keep your digestion ticking over nicely!


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