Thursday, 28 March 2013

Arthritis-Friendly Recipe: Hunt-the-Egg Easter Cheesecakes


Cheesecake is actually quite straightforward to make, even if you have arthritis, as all the ingredients are very soft and easy to mix. The base is much more tricky - you normally need to smash up biscuits and then press them into the pan. To make things simpler and more arthritis-friendly, this recipe uses store-bought shortbread instead which you top with the cheesecakes after baking. Make the mixture in a jug and you can pour it directly into the muffin cases which avoid having to fiddle on spooning it in. The hidden mini eggs inside each cheesecake make a lovely surprise so don’t tell people they are in there – let them hunt them themselves!

Ingredients:

400g (16oz) light cream cheese (take it out of the fridge and hour before making so it is softer)
2 large eggs
100g (4oz) golden caster sugar
2tsp vanilla extract
Packet of chocolate mini eggs
12 shortbread biscuits to serve

Makes 12 mini cheesecakes

In a large bowl or jug, mix together the eggs, sugar, cream cheese and vanilla extract until smooth. This is very easy with a hand blender if you have one.

Pour the mixture into 12 muffin cases. Pop a couple of mini eggs into the mixture in each.

Bake for 30-35 minutes at 180C, until they look slightly golden and set around the edges. Allow to cool for 4 hours.

To serve, peel off cases and turn upside down onto a shortbread biscuit. Top with a couple of mini eggs.

Arthritis diet notes
I could give you the nutritional breakdown for this but let's just stick with 'a little of what you fancy does you good' instead! The cheesecakes are a reasonable source of calcium which is good your bones. The mini eggs are an excellent source of fun which is good for your soul!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Arthritis-Friendly Recipe: Hot Cross Muffins

These make a lovely breakfast or tea time treat split and smothered with butter. They have all the flavour of hot cross buns but are much easier to make if you have arthritis. There is no egg to crack, no dough to knead and no cross to pipe. I find silicone muffin cases easiest to use as they don’t need to be placed in a heavy muffin pan and are very easy to peel off. If filling muffin cases is too fiddly, make a tea loaf instead and bake for 10 minutes longer – it will taste just as good.

Ingredients:

250g (10oz) plain flour (you can use gluten-free if you prefer)
150g (6oz) caster sugar
75ml sunflower or rapeseed oil
200ml tea (exactly as you would make it to drink)
1 drop lemon extract (you could use the zest of a lemon if you prefer – I just find extract easier)
75g (3oz) sultanas (or dark chocolate chips for those who won't eat dried fruit!)
2 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp baking powder

Makes 12 muffins (or one large loaf cake)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Tip all the ingredients into a large bowl or jug and mix either by hand or using a machine until just combined.

Spoon or pour the mixture into 12 muffin cases.

Bake for 20 minutes or until well risen and golden. Allow to cool slightly and then serve.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Arthritis Friendly Recipe: All-in-One Custard Tart

You know sometimes you come across a recipe and think 'nope that can't possibly work', well that is exactly what I thought when I stumbled across this recipe for an all-in-one pie and crust. I was intrigued though; making and rolling out pastry isn't exactly easy with arthritis. Blind baking and then filling a tart case without redecorating the kitchen floor with the filling is near impossible. So in the interests of everyone wanting to make a tart or pie with arthritis everywhere, I gave it a go - and, you know what, it really does work. Don't expect a crumbly, biscuity type crust - it makes a much more tender, delicate crust but its still very tasty.

Ingredients:
3 large eggs
350ml milk
50g plain flour
150g sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoon butter (plus extra to grease pan)
1/4tsp salt (optional)

Makes 8 slices

Preheat oven to 180C/375F.

Pour all the ingredients into a blender and whizz or use a stick blender or whisk. Pour into a well-greased 8inch cake or pie pan.

Pop in oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until centre is just set.Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then serve.

Arthritis diet notes:
You could make this gluten free my substituting the wheat flour for a good gluten-free blend. The custard tart goes very nicely with fresh raspberries to help you get an extra portion of fruit. The tart is reasonable source of calcium thanks to the milk - if you need to gain weight try using whole milk or even jersey milk.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Cooking with Arthritis Gadgets: Good Grips Garlic Press

I'm quite hard on garlic presses/crushers. We eat quite a bit of garlic so they get heavy use. I also tend to chuck them in the dishwasher. As a result, very few of them last very long before bits start falling off them or they stop crushing anything. 

They are also quite hard on me. It can be difficult to grip hard enough to crush the garlic properly and a complete fiddle trying to get the un-crushed bits back out for cleaning. I picked this Good Grips Garlic Press up a while ago and thought I'd review it.

What does it do?
What is says on the tin - crushes garlic. It has a solid, heavy metal crusher head and non-slip rubber handles. You can also turn it back on itself to push squashed garlic out of the press for easy cleaning.

Does it work?
Brilliantly. The weight of the crusher makes it very easy to squeeze together even with sore hands and I love the easy clean function.

Does it make it easier to cook with arthritis?
It certainly makes it simpler for me to crush garlic without struggling to close the press. The weight of it makes squishing the clove a doddle. If you find heavier implements harder to hold then I'd give this is a miss but for anyone with sore wrists, I think it's very useful. It is more expensive than your average garlic press (around £12) but I haven't ruined mine yet so it seems good value.

Overall verdict?
A - vampires beware

If you want to find out more about garlic and any benefits for arthritis, check out this post.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Arthritis Friendly Recipe: One-pot Creamy Rice Bake

Following on from my post about soft food for jaw arthritis, today I'm posting a very easy and delicious savoury rice bake recipe. This is essentially a savoury rice pudding and it requires no chopping and hardly any preparation. The rice will go very soft and the finished bake is a little like a polenta or mash. The taste of the dish will depend on what soup you use. In the bake pictured, I used leftover butternut squash and sage soup. If you are eating this by itself, use the cream and consider topping it with some grated cheese to ensure you get enough energy. For people with fully functioning jaw joints, serve it with grilled chops or lean sausages. 

Ingredients:
100g risotto or pudding rice (pudding rice will give a slightly starchier texture)
400g can of soup or 400ml leftover soup (cream of mushroom, root vegetable, chicken etc all work well)
400ml stock (from a cube is fine)
150ml single cream (optional, replace with milk or stock if you prefer)
A little butter or oil spray

Serves 2 generously

Preheat over to 150c. Pour all of the ingredients into a large 1.5 litre oven proof dish. Put the dish on a large baking tray to make it easier to slide into and out of the oven without spilling anything.

Bake for 45 minutes then remove from oven and stir. Dot the top with butter or spritz with oil spray. Bake for another 15-30 minutes or until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid and the top is golden.

Arthritis diet notes:
This is good, comforting bake that makes a change from the usual soups, risottos and mashes if you need to eat a soft food diet. Using soup in the bake helps add extra nutrients, especially if you use leftover homemade soup.There are more tips on how to eat a healthy, soft food diet when you have arthritis here.

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