Thursday, 25 September 2014

Arthritis-Friendly Recipe: 5-A-Day Pasta Sauce

Contrary to a lot of what you might have heard or read on the internet, there is no robust scientific evidence that cutting out the 'nightshade' vegetables (such as peppers, potatoes and tomatoes) has any benefits for people with arthritis. It's sometimes claimed that they are high in oxalic acid and the alkaloid solanine and that these chemicals might aggravate joint inflammation - neither of these claims are true. In fact, the nightshade vegetables are actually a fantastic source of anti-inflammatory anti-oxidants and phytochemicals 

This healthy pasta sauce recipe is packed with 5 different veg, including pepeprs and tomatoes. It is a wonderful vitamin boost if you are beginning to feel a bit run down with Autumn aches and pains. Better still, I'm yet to meet someone who doesn't like it - both my tomato-hating husband and 7 month old daughter will eat bowl after bowl of this - so it makes a good family meal.

You can use the sauce thinned down with a little stock as a soup (as pictured) or scoff it on pasta. Throw in a can of mixed beans and it also makes a good vegetarian chilli. You will need a hand blender or jug blender to make it but otherwise there is very little fiddly chopping involved - just cut the vegetables into whatever rough sized chunks you can manage. 

400g tinned tomatoes
2 sticks of celery
2 medium carrots (if they are organic then you can skip peeling them)
1 red pepper
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
250ml water

Serves 4

Prepare the vegetables: cut the pepper, celery, onion and carrots into large, rough chunks. Peel the garlic.

Pour the oil into a large saucepan and add the onion. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes or until it begins to soften, then add the carrots, garlic and celery. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pepper, tomatoes and water. Bring up to a low simmer and cook, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and puree the sauce with a hand blender until smooth. Serve.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Arthritis Friendly Recipe: Ginger Sesame Chicken

I love Autumn: the soft golden light; the crisp, crunch of russet leaves; and that sense of festivities around the corner. Autumn, however, does not love me - for as long as I can remember I have had an arthritis flare in September and this year is no exception. I've come to associate the first flurry of horse chestnuts with that familiar twinge in my feet and hands as Arthur makes his seasonal appearance.

The practical upshot of all this is that I want to cook quick, satisfying food that makes me feel better and regular readers will know, that for me, comfort food is generally anything with rice. This ginger sesame chicken is easy to make but also packed full of anti-inflammatory ginger and cold-busting garlic. The sesame seeds add a lovely crunch and a calcium boost. Serve it with wholegrain rice or noodles.

2 skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 clove garlic
Thumb sized piece of ginger grated, or you can use ready-made paste
Handful of chopped spring onions
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
250g pak choi (or you could use any other greens)
1 carrot grated (optional)
1 tablespoon sunflower oil

Serves 2-4

Heat the sunflower oil in a large wok or frying pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and spring onions and stir-fry for a minute, then add the chicken, pak choi and carrot and cook for a further 5-10 minutes (or until the chicken is done).

Tip in the soy sauce, sweet chilli and sesame seeds and give everything a good stir. Serve immediately.

Arthritis diet notes:
Sesame seeds are a great source of calcium and magnesium - both important minerals for healthy bone maintenance and especially for people with arthritis. Try sprinkling them on your morning cereal, in stir fries or using ground sesame seed paste (tahini) as a spread on toast.

You can read more about the potential effects of ginger on arthritis and the most recent research here.


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