Sunday, 19 July 2015

Arthritis Friendly Recipe - Puy Lentil and Walnut Hummus

Some of you may know the charity, Arthritis Action, which has recently had a fantastic relaunch. The charity is really focussed on helping people learn to manage their condition through healthy diet, exercise and support. I write a monthly column for them and had been down to do a recipe demonstration at their AGM. Sadly, the toddler and I got struck by a horrid chest infection (humira and play groups don't always mix) and I had to miss it. The upshot of that was that I was left with lots of packets of puy lentils from the demonstration I had planned. Once we had them in pilafs, burgers and salads I began to run out of ideas until I decided to make a dip. 

This puy lentil and walnut hummus is absolutely delicious and incredibly quick to make - which is a good thing as we scoffed it all over one long lunch time. Lentils have a reputation as being a bit worthy and boring but they are a fantastic source of fibre, folate and b vitamins - all of which are really important for people with arthritis and something that studies show we often fail to consume enough of. Walnuts are also great as they are the nut richest in in inflammation fighting omega 3 fatty acids.

200g pouch of ready to eat puy lentils
30g walnuts
1/2 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water

Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth. If the dip is a little thick, you can add a touch more water. Check the seasoning and add a touch of salt or more vinegar if required. Serve immediately or it will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Amazing Arthritis Friendly Cooking Hacks (or Why the Internet is Amazing)

If you have arthritis, the internet is amazing. Yes, certain corners of it are filled with health jumbo jumbo, trolls and scams but it is also the most amazing source of company, support and entertainment when you are stuck home with a flare.

Every now and then, when I'm having trouble preparing an ingredient in the kitchen, I tap my problem into the search engine and 90% of the time some incredibly creative brain somewhere has come up with an ingenious easier way to do it. Here are some of my recent favourites:

1. How to chop lots of cherry tomatoes quickly - I often make a quick supper of chopped cherry tomatoes, basil, olive oil and pasta but, gosh, how tedious and sometimes painful it is slicing them all up. Turns out you can simply pop all your cherry tomatoes onto one saucer, cover with another and then slice through them with a sharp knife. Here's a video  which explains how it's done. I've found it only works with fresh, firm tomatoes and a very sharp knife - otherwise you just get a soggy mess.

2. Ginger doesn't need to be peeled - !!! I've peeled ginger my entire life and it turns out this isn't at all necessary as long as it is fresh and has firm skin. Oh, the hours I've wasted...If your ginger is a bit old and gnarly, instead of a peeler, try using a spoon to scoop off the skin. And, did you know you can cook and eat squash skin?

3. How to peel potatoes without a peeler - I feel much better about peeling potatoes now I have this little gadget but you can also try this method: simply score around the middle of each potato piercing the skin. Boil them as normal and then allow them to cool. Once cool you can just peel off the skin. Or alternatively, boil the potatoes with the skin on and then pop them in an ice bath. You should be able to just rub the skin off afterwards.

4. Avoid having to turn or flip food during cooking - instead of having to get the tray out of the oven halfway through to turn your chicken or chips, simply pre-heat the baking tray first. The blast of heat ensures the underside gets crisped too without getting the tongs out.

What are your favourite arthritis kitchen hacks?


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