Sunday, 29 January 2012

Courgette Rice Bake

This is a very easy, one-dish bake. It makes a great accompaniment to a piece of grilled chicken or fish and means you get your vegetables and your stodge all in one. The rice absorbs the water from the courgette, which means there is no need to cook your rice first. If you have arthritis in your hands, wrists or shoulders, like me, then you will find it easiest to grate the courgette in a food processor.

Ingredients:
500g courgette (zucchinni), grated
100g long grain white rice
1 large egg
3 heaped tablespoons low fat natural yoghurt
40g grated mature cheddar
2 tablespoons vegetable stock, wine or water
2 tablespoons grated parmesan (optional)
Oil spray

Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main

Put all ingredients, except the parmesan, in a large casserole dish and mix together. Season to taste.

Top with grated parmesan (if using) and spray lightly with olive oil. Put in oven at 180C for 45 minutes or until risen and the top is golden.


Arthritis diet notes
This tastes very rich and satisfying but uses a lot less fat and cheese than a traditional courgett bake. Courgettes/zucchini are a good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C which are essential for releasing energy and keeping your immune system healthy. They are also both vitamins that studies have shown people with arthritis are often short of.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Perfect Popcorn

This recipe was inspired by a great  post over at the RAGuy about keeping off the prednisone pounds. Prednisone is a steroid that people with inflammatory arthritis frequently take to help reduce inflammation - the unfortunate side effects include a serious case of the munchies, so low-fat and low-calorie snacks are a must for those who need to keep their weight under control.

This popcorn is seriously yummy and doesn't taste remotely like a dull, healthier option so you can serve it happily when friends comeover or you need a big bowl for movie watching. Even better, it proves you don't need a special air-popper machine to make your own delicious, fat-free popcorn.

Ingredients:
60g popcorn maize
1 tsp olive oil (optional)

Makes 2-3 servings

You will need a  large,heavy based pan with a glass lid (if your wrists are a bit painful, get your splints on or get a helper).

Heat the pan up on the highest flame on your hob for about 1 minute. Now tip in olive oil and  the corn kernels, then cover with the pan lid.
Wait patiently for about 2 minutes, giving the pan a shake every now and again with the lid still firmly held on. Be patient. After about 2-3 minutes the corn will start to pop. Keep it on the heat and shake the pan every 20 seconds or so until the popping calms down to about one pop every 30 seconds. Not all the corn will pop but don't worry about that - there will be plenty and if you keep heating the corn that has already popped, it will burn.

Tip out into a large bowl and season with one of the following combinations:

Parmesan and black pepper - mix in 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan, 1/2 tsp of cracked black pepper, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp dried garlic powder (optional)
Wasabi - mix in 1 tsp wasabi powder, 1/2 tsp sugar or sweetener and 1/4 tsp salt
Cinnamon and brown sugar - mix in 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon and 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar (or sweetener) whilst the corn is still very hot
Spicy paprika - mix in 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp garlic powder.

Arthritis diet notes:
The spicy toppings suggested here are all great at satisfying your hunger. Spicy flavourings have been found to increase people's sense of fullness after a meal and can have added benefits for your arthritis. For example, paprika can reduce pain and inflammation whilst boosting your metabolism and cinnamon can help control blood sugar levels.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Favourite Blogger's Recipes of 2011

Food blogs are a wonderful source of cooking inspiration. So often an idea springs into my head after reading others' blogs or trying out a recipe. Here are my favourite recipes from other blogs in 2011:

Zuchinni flecked scambled eggs@ Mostly Eating - a lovely site and a really fresh, tasty brunch recipe.

No knead bread@ Smitten Kitchen - this is more like a brioche than a bread and so easy.

Grilled ginger and soy chicken@ Clean and Delicious - just a really nice dish. It's a marinade I keep using.

Stuffed pepper soup@ Skinny Taste - a one pot meal that is simple to make.

Roasted tomato and basil pizza@ David Lebovitz - post-jaw op, all I could think of was eating pizza, and this is the one for me!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Top 5 Recipes in 2011

To help you with those New Year healthy eating resolutions, I thought I'd share the top 5 most popular recipes on this blog from 2011. Thank you to all those who read, cooked and shared these recipes - I hope you enjoy them and if you have any requests for 2012, let me know!

1.Bircher Muesli
2.Frozen Yoghurt
3.Little Chocolate Cheesecakes
4.L-B Soda Bread
5.Speedy Moussaka

Look out for a post on my favourite recipes from other blogs in 2011 coming soon.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Healthy Eating Resolutions for Arthritis

New Year is the time many of us make resolutions to eat more healthily and manage our arthritis better, but so often these good intentions are too complicated to really fit in with our lives and fall by the wayside by February. There are lots of ways diet can help your arthritis, but if you are looking for some simple steps that you can keep up all year, then these are my top three resolutions for you!

1.Make fruit and vegetables the core of your diet. Studies suggest that those with RA who eat a vegetarian diet experience less pain and joint swelling. Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables can also help maintain a healthy weight, which is vital if you have OA, and will boost the antioxidants will help fight the inflammation. Unfortunately, research shows that people with all types of arthritis consistently consume less fruit and veg than healthy people - it's not clear whether this is part of the cause of the illness or probably more likely due to how difficult arthritis makes shopping and cooking, but either way we all need to eat more!

Try to eat one portion of fruit at breakfast, two portions of veggies at lunch and dinner and have fruit for snacks or dessert. The NHS Choices website has some useful information on what counts and serving sizes

2.Try a omega 3 fish oil supplement. Omega 3 fatty acids are pretty much the only supplement with good evidence for fighting the inflammation of arthritis. They also have a whole host of added benefits for your heart, brain and wellbeing so are worth a go. You should aim for a supplement rich in EPA and DHA and avoid cod liver oil. Take three 1000mg capsules a day and you should expect to feel benefits after about 6-8 weeks. For more info, take a look at this post.

3.Eat low-fat dairy. People with arthritis often consume low levels of calcium and are deficient in vitamin D, both of which are crucial for maintaining healthy bones. Moreover, low levels of vitamin D have been linked to a range of autoimmune disease. Make an effort to have two or three servings a day of low-fat milk, plain yoghurt, low-fat cheese and fortified soya,rice,oat or almond milks. Sadly, the full fat versions are high in unhealthy saturated fats which can exacerbate inflammation so are best avoided. There are more details about calcium here.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Healthy Start Granola

What better way to start the New Year than with a healthy, homemade breakfast that knocks the socks off the shop-bought granola? You can make a batch up of this in 15 minutes and it will provide a week's worth of delicious breakfasts. Even better, the recipe is yours to play with - stick to the quantities I have suggested and you can come up with your own delicious combinations so breakfast need never be boring.

Ingredients:
120g rolled oats
1 tablespoon of fruit juice
2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon of light olive oil
2 tablespoons of any mix of dried fruit
1 tablespoon of nuts
1 tablespoon of seeds
1 teaspoon of cinnamon, ginger or citrus zest

Makes 7 servings

Pre-heat oven to 180c.

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and then spread out on a non-stick baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring once or twice, or until the granola is golden brown.

Allow to cool and then store in an airtight container.

Suggested combinations:
Apple juice, honey, apricot, almond, sesame and ginger
Orange juice, maple syrup, cranberry, pecans, orange zest and cinnamon
Apple juice, maple syrup, mango, pineapple, cashews, coconut and lime zest

Arthritis diet notes:
Most seemingly healthy shop-bought cereals and granolas are high in sugar, fat and salt leaving you hungry and unsatisfied by mid-morning. Making your own cereal is much easier than you'd think and this granola is full of healthy joint friendly fats and fibre. Try eating it with plain yogurt and fresh fruit or with hot milk on chilly winter mornings.

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