Thursday, 15 March 2012

L-B Irish Soda Bread

With St Patrick's Day just around the corner, I'm reposting one of the most popular recipes on my blog - soda bread. It's a brilliantly easy bread to make, even if you have arthritis. There is no proving or kneading required so you can knock it up in under an hour. Try adding raisins and walnuts for a sweet loaf or cheese and herbs for a lovely savoury bread.

If you don't eat gluten, have a look at my wheat free version and simply swap the oats for GF flour.

250g wholemeal flour
50g porridge oats
240ml of buttermilk (or low fat plain yoghurt and milk
1 heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp of brown sugar
Pinch of salt

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk and stir until everything is just combined.Don't overmix - the mixture should be a bit damp.Shape into a rough round and score a cross on the top. Bake at 35-45 mins at 160c. Remove from oven and leave to cool on wire rack for 20 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce

Cooked tomato is pretty much forbidden in our house. My other half had a traumatic childhood event involving a stewed tomato and to this day won't so much as touch anything involving them. I can't say I'm happy about it - the first meal I have when he is out is pasta arrabiata - but I've found ways around it, like this delicious pasta sauce or bruschetta topping. It's such an amazingly fresh and flavourful sauce that you will quickly find yourself making it all the time. It tastes great on pasta, bruschetta (or just toast), as a dip and as an accompaniment to grilled fish or meat. Just as well then that it takes about 3 minutes to put together, compared to at least half an hour for the cooked version. And best of all, there is no peeling or seeding of tomatoes involved. Sometimes having to do things differently really does lead to doing things better!

250g ripe cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon best balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
A good handful of fresh basil

Serves 2 (easily doubled)

Slice each cherry tomato into half or quarters (depending on size and how chunky you like your sauce). Finely slice the garlic and basil. Put in a non-metallic bowl and stir through the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Tip: You can serve it immediately but the flavour is best if you let it marinade for 2-3 hours in the fridge before bringing around to room temperature about 30 mins before serving.

Arthritis diet notes:
This is a brilliant recipe for anyone with arthritis looking to add some quick, tasty recipes to their diet.Tomatoes are rich in the powerful antixodant lycopene (although ironically cooking them creates even more lycopene...) and a rich in vitamins A and C. Several studies have linked these antioxidant vitamins to reducing inflammation in all types of arthritis, although trials of supplements have had disappointing results. Some people with arthritis avoid tomatoes, as it was once thought that vegetables belonging to the nightshade family, like tomatoes, could aggravate arthritis. Happily, there is no evidence to suggest that nightshades do make arthritis worse, and plenty of evidence to indicated that a vegetable rich, Mediterranean diet helps arthritis, so tuck in to those tomatoes!

If you fancy reading more about garlic, have a look at this 'Arthur Investigates' post

Friday, 9 March 2012

Arthur investigates...Mint

Mint is very helpful if any of your arthritis medications give you nausea, heartburn or an upset stomach. Just the menthol-rich smell of it is often enough to help settle queasiness.

Whilst you can buy peppermint oil capsules, you should be careful with these if you already take antacids or medications to decrease stomach acid (like proton pump inhibitors) for heartburn.The special enteric coating on them means that they can dissolve too quickly in combination with these medications and cause even more heartburn and nausea!

Mint is easy to enjoy in your food. A handful of fresh mint with any spicy dish is cooling - try it with Thai dishes or mixed into yoghurt alongside a curry. Mint is also delicious paired with tangy lemon or sharp cheeses, think feta, goats cheese and halloumi. For pudding, try it sprinkled over apples, strawberries, mango or pineapple. Finally, pour boiling water over fresh leaves for a lovely cup of soothing mint tea.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Gluten-free, FODMAP Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are fantastic, soft chewy chocolate chip cookies that can easily be fiddled with to make them fit around any food allergies or intolerances. These are gluten-free, dairy-free and FODMAP (IBS) friendly (if you want more FODMAP baking recipes, I recommend this site). Whilst there isn't a strong link between any particular food allergies or intolerances and most types of arthritis (except gout), many people do find that avoiding certain foods can help them. But, following a special diet often means missing out at parties or eating some dubious free-from substitute. Not with these cookies! You can happily munch these and serve them to family and friends with pride. 

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose gluten free flour (I used my favourite Dove's Farm brand which is readily available in the UK, you could use ordinary wheat flour if you are not avoiding gluten)
1 cup of light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup softened butter/vegan spread/sunflower oil (whichever you prefer)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used Green and Blacks dark chocolate chopped up which is dairy free)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1tsp vanilla extract

Makes 24
Heat oven to 180C/375F. Lightly grease two or three large baking sheets with oil spray.

Blend butter, sugar, vanilla extract and egg together with electric whisk in a large bowl. Add salt, baking powder and flour. Blend on low speed until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Put heaped tsps of mixture on baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake in oven for about 12mins or until cookies are light golden (tip: give the baking tray a bang half-way through cooking to stop the cookies rising up too much and going cakey). Allow to cool for a moment and then transfer to wire rack (this keeps the bottoms crisp). Try not to gobble whole batch at once!

Arthritis diet notes
You know what I'm going to say about cookie eating...No such thing as a healthy cookie. Sorry. These are a little lower in saturated fat than most recipes but I'm afraid that means they are pretty high in sugar. Just remember, a little occasional treat is fine if you follow healthy eating guidelines most of the time!

As I posted last week, we're trying FODMAP for lent - or the Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and PolyolS (short chain carbohydrates) avoidance diet to give it its full name, so I made these to fit within that plan. The FODMAP plan is designed to help people with IBS, but some dietitians have been trialling it for IBD (colitis or Crohn's) which is sometimes linked to the spondyloarthropathies (such as psoriatic arthritis and AS). If you want to find out more about it, follow these links to Kings College in the UK and WebMD in the US. If you'd like to try FODMAP, I'd recommend seeing a registered dietitian or nutritionist (after a consultation with your GP) to help you plan your meals and make sure it is suitable for you. There are also some great recipes here.


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