Friday, 25 November 2011

Cooking with Arthritis Gadgets: Braun Multiquick Hand Blender

It feels like time for another  arthritis friendly tools and gadgets review, so this time we're looking at the Braun Multiquick hand blender.

What is it supposed to do?
Pretty much everything a food processor, mixer and blender could do. It chops, whisks, purees and blends.

Does it work?
It makes light work of creaming, pureeing and finely chopping pretty much everything. I've tried onions, nuts, soup and even raw vegetables and it chopped or pureed them all. Mine does a decent job of whisking but to be honest, I prefer to use a double hand held whisk just as it is slightly more powerful. I'm sure one of the newer varieties would do a better job through (mine is a model 1 and the new, basic one is a model 3). I normally use it in whatever bowl or pan I'm cooking in so it saves on washing up. To clean, you twist the bottom section off and pop it in the dishwasher or rinse it in the sink. The attachments clean easily so no scrubbing is required.

Does it making it easier to cook with arthritis?
Yes! No more lifting up pans of boiling soup and trying to wrestle them into the blender without spilling scalding fluid everywhere. It's light, easy to hold and the button is simple to press even with sore arthritis fingers.

Overall verdict?
A - top of the class, and an arthritis essential!

For some helpful tips for making life easier when you are cooking with arthritis, click on the 'Handy Hints' page.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Gingerbread Oat Bars

I'm already feeling very festive and when that wintry feeling strikes, it has to be gingerbread in our house. These combine the rich flavours of gingerbread with the comforting stodge of a flapjack. Now,annoyingly at the moment I can't eat these particular goodies as I have just had a jaw op, but I did try microwaving one in milk and blending it for a porridge-like treat and it was very nice (for anyone else out there not chewing). Luckily, I found some willing volunteers who could chew and they gave these a big thumbs up.

200g rolled oats
50g all bran
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
1 tablespoon milk
75 grams stoneless dates and figs (or just dates/figs if you prefer)
2 medium eggs
100g dark brown sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg

Makes 12
Preheat the oven to 180c.

Put the dates and figs in a microwave proof bowl and pour over just enough boiling water to cover. Microwave for 1 minute. Drain and allow to cool.

Combined the oil, eggs and sugar in a blender or food processor. Add the cooled dates and figs. Whizz the whole lot together until smooth.

In a large bowl, mix the oats and all bran with the blended egg and sugar mixture. Sprinkle in the spices. Stir everything until all the oats are coated with the liquid.

Pour into a well greased baking tin or brownie pan. Spread out until about 1 1/2 inches thick. If the mix doesn't fill your pan, simply spread out to the desired thickness and then push the mixture into a straight edge.

Bake for 25 minutes. Cut into 12 pieces whilst still warm.

Arthritis diet notes:
A high fibre, energy-dense snack like this is great when you are on the go. The added spices give it warmth and have anti-inflammatory benefits. If you'd like to try these for breakfast, have them with a glass of milk to add protein and calcium for a well-balanced start to the day.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Arthur investigates...Beetroot

There has been quite a buzz about beetroot recently (beets) with it being reported to reduce high blood pressure and increase exercise performance. So, is there anything in it and how might it affect arthritis?

It seems that the high nitrate content of beetroot helps dilate blood vessels and so helps get your blood flowing. But, it's not alone in having these properties, other vegetables such as spinach and radish have a similar effect. Beetroot also contains anthocyanins, a chemical pigment which gives it it's rich rich colour. Anthocyanins are found in other deep red and purple fruit and vegetables and have been linked to helping reduce inflammation.

Eating beetroot might be useful then for people with inflammatory arthritis, like rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, as they have both been linked to increased incidence of high blood pressure and heart disease. But the benefits aren't unique and we should all be enjoying lots of lovely blackberries, redcurrants, spinach and any other pretty coloured fruit and veg as part of a healthy diet.

Thai Sweetcorn Soup

Creamy and satisfying, this soup makes a speedy wintery lunch. You can heat up leftovers on the hob or in the microwave the next day or try taking it to work in a flask. Using curry paste really cuts down on chopping and preparation time for those cooking with arthritis. But I suggest adding 1/2 teaspoon of spice paste first and then tasting - they differ hugely in how hot they are! Sweetcorn can remain a little 'bitty' even after blending. I don't mind it like that and it makes it easy to make but if you prefer a very smooth soup, pass it through a sieve before serving.

360g tin of no added salt or sugar sweetcorn
500ml hot chicken stock (from a cube is fine)
1 teaspoon thai green curry paste
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
4 spring onions
100ml low fat plain yoghurt
1 tsp sesame oil

To serve:
Handful of fresh mint or coriander
Toasted cashew nuts

Makes enough for 2 generous portions

Roughly chop your spring onions and ginger. Put in a large saucepan with the sweetcorn and hot chicken stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the curry paste, yoghurt and sesame oil and then blend until smooth.

Serve topped with the herbs and nuts.

Arthritis diet notes:
Soup makes a filling lunch. It takes longer for your body to digest food blended into a soup than it would the raw ingredients, so it really can help keep you going on cold winter days. Making them from canned or frozen vegetables is easy if arthritis means you are not able to do lots or preparation and the soup will still be bursting with vitamins. Canned sweetcorn is high in insoluble fibre to help keep your digestive system ticking over (although if you suffer from Crohn's or IBS related to your arthritis, you may want to give it a miss as insoluble fibre can aggravate digestive symptoms in some people).


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