Sunday, 21 April 2013

Cooking with Arthritis Gadgets: Good Grips Mandolin Review

I have a wonderful new toy to review - a shiny, slinky, slicing mandolin - the OXO Good Grips Premium Mandolin.

What does it do?
The mandolin makes slices and julienne strips of vegetables,. To adjust the thickness of the slices, you simply rotate the knob on the side to the desired setting, which includes ridge or waffle cuts There is a separate blade which you slide in to make julienne strips. There is a plastic hand guard with a spiked plunger to grip whatever you are slicing safely. The Good Grips mandolin also has adjustable legs so you can position it over a board but pack it away flat easily in a drawer.The whole lot can be washed by hand or thrown in the dishwasher.

Does it work?
I've tried all the functions and the Good Grips mandolin slices and juliennes effortlessly. I've made wafer thin slices of potato and shredded onions for a gratin in about a quarter of the time it would normally take me in the food processor - and let's not even compare it to how long it would take me by hand...The handguard does takes a little bit of getting used to but makes sliding the vegetables along the mandolin a doddle and ensures you don't waste anything.  

Does is make it easier to cook with arthritis?
It has certainly made it easier for me to slice large quantities of vegetables. It requires very little pressure to slice and the sliding mechanism is very fluid and easy so it's gentle on your hands and wrist. .I will confess to having an accident with it when I first got it out. It says very clearly 'caution sharp blade' but I somehow still managed to slice my hand on it. However, really that was down to me fiddling on and not a fault with the mandolin.

Overall verdict?
B+ Utterly worth it if you you make lots of gratines or salads.

I bought mine at John Lewis with 20% off, but Lakeland and Amazon also both stock the Good Grips Premium Mandolin and some decent cheaper versions too.

PS. I'm looking for a good, arthritis friendly standmixer after dropping my faithful hand mixer into a cake mix. Any recommendations? I'm currently choosing between a Kenwood K-mix or KitchenAid...

Friday, 5 April 2013

Arthritis-Friendly Recipe: Easy, Healthy Veggie Lasagne

Apparently we are currently now in officially enjoying BST (British Summer Time or Bleak Snow Trudge as it is more commonly know). As a result, I'm feeling pretty fed up with being cold and fighting a horrid arthritis flare in my ribs. I'm sure many of you with arthritis, like me, normally welcome summer and a good blast of sun - it transforms me from winter wimp into sunny super-woman. 

To fight off the cold, I've been looking for excuses to turn the oven on and making lasagne was the best I could come up with. Lasagne has a bit of an unfair reputation for being a hassle to make. I certainly wouldn't attempt the traditional version with a bechamel sauce and meat ragu on a bad cooking with arthritis day, but you can knock up a lovely fresh vegetarian version in a around 20 minutes with no chopping involved. This arthritis - friendly recipe has the added bonus of being far, far healthier than the traditional lasagne and I think it is far, far tastier. So, rejoice in BST, embrace the cold, turn your oven on and get cooking.

Ingredients:

250g tub of ricotta or mashed/blended cottage cheese
350g tub of tomato sauce (or you can use homemade)
9 sheets of quick cook lasagne (about 180-200g dry weight)
350g frozen spinach (or cooled, cooked fresh spinach)
50g grated cheese
Black pepper and nutmeg to season (optional)

Serves 4

Defrost the spinach and drain off all the excess water. Put in a bowl with the ricotta and mix together. Season  with a little black pepper and pinch of nutmeg.

Spoon a half the tub of tomato sauce into the bottom of the large making dish. Layer three sheets of lasagne over it. Top with half of the spinach mixture. Add another layer of lasagne sheets, then the rest of the tomato sauce. Put a final layer or lasagne sheets down and top with the rest of the spinach mixture and sprinkle with the cheese.

Pop the whole dish into the oven and bake for 30 minutes until bubbling and golden on top.

Arthritis diet notes
Whilst traditional lasagne might be delicious, it's absolutely full of saturated fats from all the cheese, beef, butter and milk. Saturated fats can exacerbate the inflammatory processes in your body so are not ideal for arthritis and diets high in these fats are a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases like health disease and stroke.

This easy, arthritis-friendly lasagne is a much better choice. The ricotta is low in fat and an excellent source of protein and calcium. The spinach is rich in folate and the tomato sauce is packed-full of vitamin C and heart-healthy lycopene. 

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