Thursday, 29 August 2013

How to Have Your Cake and Eat it When You Have Arthritis

We're holding a Great British Garden Party in support of Arthritis Research UK this weekend so it felt like a good time to address a very serious subject, cake. Cake is not exactly the most arthritis friendly food you can have in your diet but it doesn't have to be completely without nutritional merit. At the same time, there is no point in having a nice slice of cake if it tastes so 'worthy' that you don't enjoy it. I'm a firm believer that you can 'have your cake and eat it' with just a few healthier tweaks to favourite cake recipes. Here are my top tips:

1. Firstly, you can swap high omega , arthritis friendly rapeseed oil for up to a two-thirds of the butter in most cake recipes but you may need to add a tablespoon of extra flour. Experiment with small batches. Ground almonds, apple sauce,  grated and puréed fruit or vegetables can also be used to reduce the amount of unhealthy saturated fats.

My recipe for cute cupcakes, uses nuts and courgettes and this chocolate cake adds beetroot for an amazing texture. Try the orange loaf to see how using oil can make a brilliant cake. 

2. If you avoid gluten, you can try using gluten-free flour in place of wheat flour. Buy a brand with xanthan gum added or add in yourself to avoid very crumbly cake or mix up a tablespoon of omega 3 rich flax or chia seeds with water and leave to soak for 10 minutes until it becomes 'gloopy', you can then add this in to help bind the mixture. This brownie recipe is gluten-free and wins over everyone.

3. Eggs aren't essential. If you find them tricky to crack because of your arthritis, it's perfectly possible to make a fantastic egg free cake. You may need to add extra raising agent and use a recipe where the fat added is oil. These muffins show you how it is done.

4. Even a store bought cake mix can be given a healthier makeover. Have a look at my tips here.

There are even more healthier cake recipes here and look out for my easy biscuit recipe over the next few days. Something I've been perfecting in time for our party.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Arthritis-Friendly Recipe: Miso Aubergine

This blog could have easily been entitled 'Cooking with Aubergine' and I still could have filled it with recipes you can enjoy with arthritis. I adore aubergine. I could eat them at every meal but often get a bad rap because they are prepared with lots of oil and salt. Aubergine really don't need to be. I like to steam, bake or grill them until soft. If you want to fry them, give them a gentle steam first and then brown them in a hot pan smeared with a little oil. They will taste just as good but have absorbed very little oil. This miso aubergine recipe, which I have adapted from BBC Good Food, is a lovely different way to eat aubergines. Try this very easy, arthritis diet friendly recipe to see how delicious they can be.

2 medium aubergine (pick firm, shiny ones)
2 tbsp white miso paste (most supermarkets sell it now or try a healthfood or asian shop)
1 tbsp honey
3 tsp sesame oil

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side dish

Preheat the oven to 180C/375F. 

Mix the miso, honey and sesame oil together in a small bowl.

Halve the aubergine and score the flesh lightly in a criss cross pattern. Place on a baking sheet, cut sides down, and bake for 20 minutes or until the aubergine is soft and sagging slightly.

Remove from oven and turn over to expose the criss-cross side. Spoon the miso mixture on top of the aubergine and then place under the grill for 5-10 minutes until the top begins to brown.

Serve with rice and steamed veggies.

Arthritis diet notes:
Aubergine are a a good source of B vitamins, vitamin K and fibre. The deep purple skin contains the powerful antioxidant, nasunin. Studies show nasunin can act as a anti-inflammatory and may help prevent cancer and Alzheimer's disease. However there is no particular research looking at it's effects on arthritis. 

Traditionally, aubergines were salted to help absorb the bitter juices but modern varieties don't need this so you can enjoy them with out all the added sodium.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

My Top 6 Arthritis Diet Cupboard Essentials

This should have been a top 5 of arthritis diet friendly cupboard staples but I couldn't leave out the anti-inflammatory spices. These are the healthy ingredients that you can tuck at the back of your pantry and feel smug in the knowledge that you will always have some nutritious goodies on standby, even when your fridge is bare. Follow the links included to my favourite arthritis friendly recipes using these store-cupboard staples.

Couscous - so ridiculously easy to cook, it's virtually instant. You can simply pour boiling water over couscous and leave it to steam so there is no messing about with heavy pans full of hot water. Mix with grated or grilled vegetables and herbs for a quick salad. Serve alongside grilled meats or fish as a tasty alternative to rice or potatoes.

Good quality low salt stock cubes - a great base for quick, healthy soups and sauces. You can even mix one with a little olive oil and use to marinade chicken or fish. I like the Kallo brand best.

Oats - make summer porridge by soaking them overnight in fruit juice and serving with yoghurt for a breakfast rich in in heart healthy soluble fibre. Bake with them or use them to give a crispy, fibre rich coating to fish fillets.

Almonds - high in healthy mono-unsaturated fats, vitamin E and fibre, almonds make a great snack or addition to cereal, salads and stir-fries.

Cans of beans - cannelini, chickpea, butter beans - whatever you like best, keep a few cans of them handy. You can mash the beans to serve alongside grilled fish, add them to stir fries instead of noodles to add protein and fibre, toss them into salads or whizz them up into great tasting dips.

Spices - turmeric, ginger and cinnamon are all anti-inflammatory spice cupboard staples. Dried chilli flakes and garlic are also a great no-chop alternative to the fresh ingredients.

What are your arthritis diet cupboard essentials?


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