Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Arthritis Friendly Recipe: Green Gazpacho

It's a bit too hot to do much cooking with arthritis here in London. I swelter every time I even look at the kitchen so we have been living off salads, cold soups, creative sandwiches and a little bit of BBQ-ing. I love a refreshing gazpacho soup and this green version is no exception. It's particularly nice with wedges of toasted pitta bread.

I find it easiest on my wrists to make this with a hand-held blender. If you choose to  use a food processor you may find it's not totally smooth - it doesn't matter, you can call it authentically rustic.

Ingredients:
300g low fat yogurt
1 large cucumber, roughly chopped (no need to peel or de-seed)
1 small clove garlic
30g almonds 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
150ml water
Handful of mint or other herb of your choice to serve

Serves 2-3

Place all the ingredients in a blender or food-processor and blitz until very well combined and almost smooth. Chill for 2 hours and serve with a sprinkle of mint.


Arthritis diet notes:
This is a light and healthy soup for anyone with arthritis. The yoghurt provides a good source of low-fat dairy and important bone-boosting calcium. Cucumbers provide some anti-inflammatory vitamin K (read more about the role of vitamin k in arthritis here) and the almonds are rich in vitamin E. If you want to up the vegetable content of the soup, try adding baby spinach leaves or a raw green pepper. If you aren't a yoghurt fan, you could add cannelini beans instead to enrich the soup.


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Arthritis-Friendly Recipe: Chilli and Garlic Crab Pasta

One of the classic combinations, slightly sweet crab offset by the heat and tang of the garlic and chilli; this makes for an addictive dinner. Luckily, it's incredibly quick to prepare from storecupboard ingredients, even if you are cooking with arthritis.

If you have trouble with your hands, I really recommend getting yourself some dried chilli flakes, dried garlic and some of the those tubes or jars of ready crushed garlic. The flavour isn't quite the same and you will need a little more for the same 'hit' but they are incredibly useful for spicing up your food without the 'ouch' factor of chopping and crushing.

Ingredients:
2 gloves garlic crushed (or 2 tsp garlic paste)
1 red chilli chopped (or use 1 tsp dried chilli flakes)
Small glass of white wine (optional)
100 grams of canned or fresh white crabmeat
150 grams angel hair pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large handfuls of rocket
Squeeze of lemon (optional)
Salt and black pepper

Serves 2

Cook the pasta and drain. Coat with one tablespoon of the oil and set aside.

In a frying pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and add the chilli and garlic. Cook for about one minute on a medium heat. Add in the crab meat and white wine (if using). Stir and let everything bubble for a moment. Tip the mixture onto the pasta and mix through.

Season to taste and add lemon juice (if using). Toss in the handfuls of rocket and serve.


Arthritis diet notes:
Crab is a great healthy choice for dinner. It is rich in selenium, zinc and vitamin B12 and also a good source of omega three fatty acids.

This dish contains also contains a  healthy 'hit' of red chilli.Scientists have been investigating for a while now whether the capsaicin in chillis could be harnessed to help tackle arthritis pain.  The chemical is already used in topical creams for relieving osteoarthritis and nerve pain but there is also ongoing research into whether capaiscin could be used orally as an alternative anti-inflammatory treatment. 

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Arthritis Friendly Cookbooks

I got into a bit of a cooking with arthritis rut about a month ago. My arthritis was flaring, I was generally a bit fed up and totally out of ideas in the kitchen. I got lots of lovely arthritis cookbook recommendations via twitter and facebook which really got me inspired again, so I thought I'd return the favour and share with you my most trusty, healthy, arthritis cookbooks. These are the favourites that I always find myself going back to:

 A truly brilliant and inspiring cookbook that just happens to be vegetarian. Ottolenghi's book is full of Asian and Middle Eastern inspired recipes that pack a huge flavour punch and will shake you out of any cooking rut. Few books will encourage you to raid you arthritis-friendly spice cupboard as thoroughly as this. A few of them require a long list of ingredients or lots of chopping but I have found it pretty easy to adapt the recipes to my cooking with arthritis needs. The Mee Goreng is probably my favourite arthritis friendly dish ever.

 In some ways this is a similar concept but with a completely different style of recipe. Hugh Fearnley-Whittiningstall has come up with all sorts of quick and healthy vegetable based dishes that almost anyone will enjoy. I find this book great for ideas when I'm having an arthritis flare and want something very quick and easy to cook. The Butternut Nutbutter soup wins my award for recipe I wish I had thought of.

 I was recommended this via twitter by my lovely Washington based friend @SophieGG. For anyone with arthritis who wants some good, sound advice on which foods are healthy and why then this is an excellent cookbook that avoids sounding faddy or cranky.
This book is basically clinical nutrition in practice for dummies. If you want accessible information on the latest evidence on chronic conditions like arthritis and diet then this is the book for you.
 Does what it says on the cover - it really is good food fast. Not all of it is particularly arthritis-friendly but the Rib-Sticking Stir-fry is a good choice for a filling, healthy meal in a hurry.

If you have any favourite books or sites, please share them in the comments below.

PS. The arthritis and dietary supplement survey is still running - please do take part if you have time, the results will be shared and could help offer better information to people with arthritis about diet and nutrition supplements 

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