Sunday, 29 March 2015

What to cook when you don't want to cook!

Generally, despite my arthritis, I love to cook. However, every now and again I lose interest - maybe because I'm having a flare, maybe because the toddler has worn me out or, sometimes, just because I'm in a rut. On those days, I want to get something healthy and arthritis-friendly on the table as quickly as possible. Here are some of my favourites:

1. Thunder and lightning pasta - I *think* that this is a genuine Italian dish but regardless it makes and amazingly quick arthritis friendly supper and you probably have all the ingredients in your store cupboard. Simply cook and drain some pasta and then toss with cooked chickpeas (from a can), olive oil and garlic. 

2. Baked sweet potato - packed full of goodness and on the table in 5 minutes if  you have a microwave. You can read my suggested topping ideas here.

3. Pitta pizza - a wholemeal pizza smeared with tomato paste, sliced light mozzarella and topped with bits of torn pepper and basil. You can get this on the table faster than you can call for pizza delivery! If you have any jars of marinated peppers or artichokes then use these for the topping and it will be even tastier.

4. Steamed fish and rice - pop fish and vegetables like mangetout, sugarsnaps or green beans in a steaming basket over a pan of rice whilst it cooks. Try placing slices of ginger and spring onion on the fish and cooking the rice with a spoonful of coconut milk.

5. Pasta with raw tomato sauce - so quick, easy and healthy.It's a good recipe if people are coming over as it seems like a proper dinner but takes no longer to prepare than the time it takes the pasta to cook. Find the recipe here.

Those are my top five arthritis-friendly suppers - what are yours?

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Arthritis Friendly Recipe: Easy Healthy Meat Loaf

Red meat is always a bit of a controversial topic when people discuss diet and arthritis. Red meats, like beef or lamb, have been linked to higher rates of incidence of rheumatoid arthritis, perhaps because red meat tends to be high in pro-inflammatory omega 6 fat, arachidonic acid. Red meat is also a source of saturated fat (which is sooo controversial at the moment that I'm not going to delve into it here otherwise we'll never get onto the recipe - and that would be a shame). Either way all that fat means it can be higher in calories than lean white meats which is worth bearing in mind if you struggle to maintain a healthy weight.

However, having said all that, red meat is also a wonderful source of iron. People with inflammatory arthritis can often suffer from anaemia and couple of portions of lean red meat a week can help boost your iron intake.

So should you eat red meat if you have arthritis? My advice is, if you like red meat, then enjoy lean cuts of it a few times a week and don't worry.This tasty meatloaf recipe is an easy way to prepare it and you can make it in advance and freeze it for days when your arthritis is flaring. I've used a food processor to make it really quick but you could also chop the ingredients by hand and make it in a bowl. 

Ps. If meatloaf feels a bit 1980s to you then try thinking of it as a burger in a loaf shape...

Ingredients:
500g leanest beef mince (veggie mince won't work here but you could use turkey mince)
1 red onion
2 slices of stale bread (or approximately 60g breadcrumbs or porridge oats for a gluten-free option)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 peeled clove garlic
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 medium egg

Serves 4-6

Peel the onion and halve it. Put it in the food processor with the clove of garlic and pulse until they are finely chopped. Add the bread, egg, tomato puree and paprika and pulse again to combine everything.

Top the mixture out into a bowl and add the mince. Give everything a good stir.

Spoon the mixture into a well greased 2lb/large loaf tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until browned on top and cooked through. Let it cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out and slicing.

You can eat it hot or cold.

Variations:
Italian meat loaf - omit the paprika and add a tablespoon of grated parmesan and some oregano to the mixture. Top with a little more parmesan

Mediterranean - add some fresh basil, pitted green olives and roasted peppers to the mixture

Moroccan - add a tsp of ground cumin and coriander to the mixture with some dried chopped apricots and lemon zest.

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