Sunday, 19 February 2012

Pancake Day (or Shrove Tuesday) Recipe

This year February 22nd marks Shrove Tuesday and the last day before Lent begins, so I thought I would repost my favourite pancake recipe.


75g/3oz rolled oats
50g/2oz wholemeal flour
150ml semi-skimmed milk, nut milk or fruit juice
1 large egg
1/2 tsp baking powder
Sunflower oil for greasing skillet/frying pan

Makes 12 pancakes

Tip the ingredients into the blender an whizz up until slightly frothy and the oats are in sesame seed sized pieces. Allow mixture to stand for a minimum of 10 minutes (even better if you can leave it longer).

Grease a non-stick frying pan with a small amount of oil wiped around it with kitchen paper. Heat until piping hot. Spoon tablespoons of the mixture into pan. When bubbles appear on top and edges are set, flip the pancakes over, they usually take about 2 mins a side.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Arthritis diet notes:
The combination of oats and wholemeal flour here will give you a nice boost of sustained energy to help keep you going all morning. Wholegrains, like oats and wholemeal flour, help keep levels of unhealthy cholesterol in check too. If you serve the pancakes with salmon, you will get a serving of fish oil which can help reduce joint pain. If your prefer them sweet, try yoghurt and berries for a blast of bone-boosting calcium and one of your five a day.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Arthur Investigates...Ginger

I thought today we'd look at ginger; one of my favourite things. Crystallised ginger, ginger ale, ginger tea, in fact ginger flavoured everything is good with me...
There is some evidence that ginger may suppress the chemicals in the body that are involved in inflammation. Studies have suggested that it can help reduce joint pain both in osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis but more research on how much needs to consumed for it to be effective and for how long is needed . Ginger is also an effective anti-nausea treatment, which is handy if your medication has left you feeling a bit icky.
If you want to try ginger for joint pain, you'll want to consume at least 1 gram a day. Ginger is easy to use in either powdered or fresh root form. They have slightly different tastes, the dried powder is quite intense and spicy whilst the fresh root is zingy and refreshing. Try fresh ginger grated on apple, pineapple or melon for a lively desert. A piece of fresh root ginger with boiling water poured over also makes a lovely ginger tea. In savoury dishes, throw it into curries, stir fries and soups for a subtle warm kick.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Arthritis Friendly Valentine's Day Dinner

With Valentine's Day tomorrow, here are a few suggestions of some arthritis-friendly recipes. All these dishes are quick and easy to make but impressive, so you can rustle up a beautiful romantic dinner without feeling frazzled.

Chili and Garlic Crab Pasta
Soy Ginger Salmon
Creamy Chicken

Little Chocolate Cheesecakes
Red Velvet Cake
Guilt-Free Chocolate Mousse


Thursday, 9 February 2012

Polenta Pan Pizza

Sometimes I really, really want pizza. But, I hate the frozen kind and when it is snowing outside trotting off to the nearest pizzeria isn't an appealing option. I could make the pizza dough from scratch, but I've got my arthritis wrist splints on and I want pizza quick. So, what's a girl to do? Make polenta pan pizza of course! This is my favourite combination of red onion, rosemary and zucchini but pretty much anything goes so feel free to use your favourite toppings.

120g/4.5oz quick cook polenta
500ml/1pint boiling vegetable or chicken stock
6 tablespoons tomato/marinara sauce
4 good handfuls of grated cheese or slices of mozzarella
1/4 red onion finely sliced
1/2 courgette/zucchini sliced into thin rounds
Sprinkle of fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil (and more for drizzling)

Serves 2 (easily doubled)

Pre-heat the oven to 200c.

Pour the boiling stock into a saucepan and whisk in the polenta over a low heat. Keep stirring briskly for about 3 minutes or until it is thickened. Grease a medium frying pan or skillet with the olive oil and then our the polenta mixture in and smooth out with a spoon until it is even.

Top the polenta base with the tomato sauce, onion, zucchini, cheese and rosemary. Put the prepared pizza into the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is molten and bubbling.

Remove from oven an drizzle with extra olive oil. Allow to stand for 5 minutes - this helps the polenta base firm up enough to cut. Slice and serve.

Arthritis diet notes
Polenta is a great gluten-free alternative to a traditional pizza base made with wheat flour. It has a light, creamy taste and soft texture. It is however quite bland on it's own so benefits from being dressed up like in this recipe.

People with inflammatory arthritis (like rheumatoid, psoriatic or ankylosing spondylitis) sometimes also suffer from coeliac disease - another autoimmune condition where sufferers cannot tolerate gluten found in rye, wheat and barley. This is different to a wheat intolerance and can cause symptoms ranging from weight loss, diarrhea, through to joint pains and mouth ulcers. It is typically diagnosed through a blood test or bowel biopsy. If you'd like to find out more, try the NHS Choices site . There are several gluten and wheat-free recipes on this blog.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Quick Noodle Soup

Sometimes on a grey, cold day you need something warming, exciting and comforting to eat - and you need it quickly! A bowl of noodle soup fits the bill perfectly. It's a doddle to make but interesting enough to liven up your lunch.

There is no need for sore hands to do any chopping, you can use a bag or ready prepared stir-fry vegetables, just try to make sure that they have some spring onion or similar in to liven-up the soup. If you want to make this into a more substantial dish, try adding a few cooked prawns or pieces of chicken.

500ml hot chicken or vegetable stock (from a cube is fine)
2 large handfuls of any vegetable stir fry bag
40g frozen soy beans
1 tsp minced lemongrass (from a jar)
1tsp minced ginger (from a jar)
1tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon of miso paste (from the Asian section in the supermarket) or sweet chilli sauce
40g dried bean thread or rice vermicelli noodles
Sesame seeds, crispy shallots, dried chilli, lime and mint to garnish

Makes 1 serving (easily doubled)

Pour the stock into a sauce pan and stir in the lemongrass, ginger, miso and soy sauce. Bring up to a gentle simmer and add the noodles and soy beans. Cook for 4 minutes or until the noodles are just soft, then add the vegetables. Serve immediately and garnish to taste.

Arthritis diet notes
Ginger, chilli and spring onions all contain potent anti-inflammatory phytochemicals which have been shown to help reduce joint pain in some studies. Soy beans are an excellent source of protein and 25g of soy protein a day can help reduce levels of unhealthy cholesterol and prevent heart disease - the 40g portion in this recipe will provide about 1/4 of the 25g target.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Arthur investigates...Pineapple

Tangy, fresh and exotic tasting -  pineapple is the flavour of holiday in a bowl. It's also a great fruit for arthritis.

Pineapple is a rich source of vitamin C and a good source of fibre. It also contains an enzyme known as bromelain. Bromelain helps breakdown protein and explains why pineapple juice has traditionally been used to tenderise meat (like in teriyaki marinade). Moreover, it has some interesting anti-inflammatory properties: several studies show that in doses between about 560-1980mg a day, bromelain is effective in reducing pain in osteoarthritis. Some trials have shown it to be as effective as traditional NSAIDs like diclofenac or ibruprofen. There is also some early evidence to suggest it could help relieve pain in rheumatoid arthritis but I'm not sure there is quite enough data to draw any conclusions yet.

The doses used in the studies are far beyond what you would get in a portion of pineapple - if you are interested in using bromelain for pain relief you might be better off trying a supplement. Nonetheless, a bowl of pineapple is certainly more likely to help than harm arthur. Pineapple can help mouth ulcers, so if your disease modifying drugs like methotrexate leave you with sore patches, it might be worth a try.

Serve fresh pineapple sprinkled with a little chilli or ginger for an added anti-inflammatory boost. For a healthy pina-colada inspired desert, grill slices until just beginning to go golden on each side and then dish up with a squeeze of lime and dusting of coconut.


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