Friday, 30 May 2014

Cooking with Arthur turns 3 years old!

It turns out I've been blogging away about cooking with arthritis and diet for three whole years!
It sort of passed me by until I was looking back over previous Cooking with Arthur posts and realised the first one was back in May 2011. So much has changed in my life since then: I've moved house, got married, had a baby and left my job to go freelance. My arthritis has changed too: I've had some improvements thanks to anti-tnf drugs and a jaw operation, but I've also had some setbacks with changing regimes for pregnancy
 and old mechanical problems flaring up. The one thing that hasn't changed is my love of cooking with arthritis, so please indulge me and allow me to share my highs, lows and greatest hits of the past three years...

Highs
  • It sounds trite but every comment, forum post and visitor to the blog makes it all worthwhile. It's lovely to know that there are others out there cooking with arthritis and trying to maintain a healthy diet.
  • Being featured in the Daily Mail - slightly embarrassing and hugely exciting at the same time! It makes me particularly proud that the Mail featured my tips because so often I've been told cooking with arthritis is a niche issue. It's not! Almost 1 in 5 50-59 year olds in the UK have osteoarthritis and over 400,000 people have RA. That's alot of cooks...
  • Working with and engaging with all the amazing arthritis charities and organisations out there. 

Lows
  • Not that many, but having content used without attribution has been really disheartening. I write about diet, cooking and arthritis purely for the love of it so having people nick your hard work is very dreary. Grrr...

Greatest hits

The next three years...
Who knows? I'll keep on keeping on! Do let me know what you want to see more of and any design changes you'd like to see and thank you for keeping me 'Cooking with Arthritis' for the last three years.


Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Arthritis Friendly Recipe: Easy Tortilla Crust Quiche

Rummaging around my kitchen the other day, I decided I wanted to make butternut squash quiche, but frankly with my arthritis playing havoc and a 3-month old baby I'd rather be playing with, I didn't feel like faffing around making a crust. Staring into the fridge, I ummed and ahhed about what I could use and then it occurred to me that the half-eaten pack of tortilla wraps would make a great quiche crust and be more arthritis-friendly!

If your arthritis makes cutting squash up tricky, you can either buy prepared squash or substitute any other vegetables you like, as long as they aren't too 'wet' (so no courgettes etc). You can vary the quiche by adding different seasonings to the egg mix too, try a tablespoon of pesto or a little smoked paprika.

Ingredients:
4 large eggs
2 egg whites
200g ricotta (or cottage cheese)
300g butternut squash 
4 spring onions
20g finely grated parmesan (optional)
Black pepper and salt to taste
2 tortilla wraps (I used seeded ones)
Olive oil to grease pan

Serves 4-6

Grease a small flan dish or 8inch cake pan with a little olive oil. Place one tortilla over the base (it should cover it completely) and then use strips of the second to cover the sides. Place the pan on a baking tray to make it easier to transfer in and out of the oven.

Cut the butternut squash into dice sized cubes and steam until tender (I microwaved mine on HIGH for 5 minutes in a small bowl covered with pierced cling film).Slice the spring onion finely. Scatter the prepared vegetables evenly over the tortilla base. 

Beat the eggs, egg whites and ricotta together in a jug. Season with the black pepper and a little salt. Pour this egg mixture over the vegetables and top with the grated parmesan.

Bake the quiche for 30-35 minutes at 180C/375F or until it is golden on top and set.

Allow to cool for 15 minutes and then turn out. You can eat the quiche warm or at room temperature.

Arthritis diet notes:
This is a much healthier spin on the traditional quiche. Removing the pastry crust cuts back on butter and the ricotta replaces the saturated fat rich cream and cheese without compromising on taste. High intakes of saturated fat have been linked to an increased likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis and greater levels of inflammation in osteoarthritis and all types of auto-immune arthritis. Despite a flurry of recent media coverage about sevearl studies suggesting that saturated fat may not be as harmful for people's health as previously thought, I'd remain pretty cautious about eating large quantities of any animal fat. Most of the evidence still supports that eating a healthy plant based diet is best for your long term health and arthritis.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Can Coconut Oil Treat Arthritis?

Is coconut oil an effective treatment for arthritis? Coconut oil is certainly everywhere at the moment: you can eat it, moisturise with it and, apparently, even clean your mouth out with it. There are lots of websites and blogs claiming that coconut oil can even help treat and cure your arthritis, but is it really a miracle food?

Until recently coconut had a pretty poor health reputation. You certainly wouldn't have been encouraged to use it for arthritis. Coconut is very high in saturated fat and high saturated fat intakes have been linked with an increased risk of developing inflammatory arthritis and other health conditions such as cardiovascular disease. However, the saturated fat in coconut oil is not the same as that in animal fats like lard or butter. There is some early evidence that the short and medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil may have some health benefits. For example, lauric acid may help boost levels of healthy HDL cholesterol. In addition, the polyphenols in coconut oil may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects: a small animal study showed that they reduced arthritis inflammation but obviously its a long way from rats in the lab to real world results.

My verdict? I'm not sold on the health benefits of coconut oil for arthritis. It's still a high calorie, high fat food and best eaten only in small quantities. However, if you like the taste, it's a fine occasional substitute for butter (if eight times the price) and useful in vegan cooking. As to whether you want to wash your mouth out with it? I'll leave that up to you...

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