Monday, 24 November 2014

Arthritis-Friendly Recipe: Easy Pesto Tear and Share Bread

I never ever thought I'd put a bread recipe on a blog about cooking with arthritis. I never ever made bread. As someone with arthritis, the idea of kneading dough made a homemade loaf seem like a terrible faff, and, if I'm honest, a little bit pointless when I could buy a loaf so easily. Two things have changed my attitude: the first has been buying a stand mixer. If you have arthritis, it's like having a pair of better hands. It makes quick work kneading and I can have a loaf proving in under 10 minutes. The second factor has been weaning my daughter. So much commercial bread is full of salt and flour improvers which I don't necessarily want her to be having so I've started making my own loaves.

This recipe looks impressive but is actually very simple. The enriched dough is soft and easy to work with. You can alter the filling to your tastes - try cheese and red onion marmalade or make a sweet loaf with dried fruit and cinnamon. If you don't have a stand mixer, a food processor with a dough blade or electric whisk with dough hook attachment both work well. If you don't have either of these, don't despair! Try this great no knead bread recipe.

Ingredients:
350g strong white or wholemeal flour (I used half and half)
175ml semi skimmed milk
1 tablespoon sunflower or rapeseed oil
1 medium egg
7g fast action dried yeast
1 tsp salt

Filling:
4tbsp pesto from a jar (I used red pesto)


Put the flour, yeast and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the milk, egg and oil. Knead using a stand mixer or processor for 5 minutes or until the dough springs back slightly when poked.

Cover the bowl in cling film and leave the dough to rise until doubled in size (this will take about 1hr).

Tip the dough out onto an oiled board and stretch into a large rectangle. Spread with the pesto and roll up into a long sausage shape. Cut into 7 pieces and place into a 18cm cake tin. Leave to rise for another 30minutes. Brush the top with a little milk or egg for a golden crust.

Bake at 180C/375F for 35minutes. Turn out of the tin and check the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, if not return to the oven for another 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and serve.

Arthritis diet notes:
Bread gets a bit of a bad rap but it's actually a very nutritious source of carbohydrate. Wheat flour does contains gluten which people with coeliac disease mustn't consume. Some people with enteropathic arthritis (arthritis associated with gut and bowel disorders like Crohn's or colitis) are also unable to eat gluten. Other people may suffer from an intolerance or gluten sensitivity but whether gluten has an affect on arthritis in general is more unlcear. You can read my post about it all here.

Friday, 7 November 2014

How to Choose Kitchen Aids for Arthritis

There are lots of kitchen aids and utensils marketed as useful for people with arthritis. But how do you know if they are any good, or whether they will just lie forlorn and dusty at the back of a cupboard? With Christmas around the corner, here are my tops tips on how to buy arthritis kitchen equipment that will be super not superfluous:

Be specific. Really consider what it is about a task that makes it challenging with arthritis. Is chopping a challenge because it is difficult to grip the knife handle or is it because you don't have enough strength in your wrists to slice accurately? The first problem could be solved by adjusting the grip on the knife, the second by switching to a sharper knife or using a cutting aid. 

Be smart. You don't  need to buy expensive equipment or products designed for arthritis: A wooden spoon is light, easy to grip and cheap; a piece of insulating pipe taped to a utensil with an awkward grip can make it much easier to hold; and, a simple rubbery sponge cloth can make opening jars less painful. 

Be practical.Think about whether you will need to lift or move the item lots. If you don't have space on the counter for a heavy food processor and would need to get it in and out of a cupboard, a hand held stick blender with chopper attachment might be a better bet. Test out any catches or fixings to make sure things are easy for you to use and clean. I chose a Kenwood mixer over a Kitchen Aid mainly because I couldn't work the Kitchen Aid's lever when my hands hurt.

I've a series of gadget reviews to help you choose kitchen equipment or read my tips on how to make the stuff you already have more arthritis friendly. 

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