Soft foods

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while and someone on twitter just reminded me.

I can’t eat certain foods as they set off jaw pain.  Things like french sticks, apples, doritos are all no goes for me.  And as I mentioned in my last post I don’t really like soup that much…

So here are some suggestions for not-soup-soft-foods:

  • jacket potatoes (I have to leave the skin) with… cheese, houmous, soft cheese, tuna… or even use a sweet potato for more variety
  • lentils, see below for a suggested recipe
  • fishfinger sandwiches, cut up small and using soft bread
  • cauliflower cheese
  • overcooked pasta (use small pasta so you don’t have to chew much)
  • pancakes
  • baked eggs
  • poached eggs
  • fried eggs
  • scrambled eggs
  • omlette
  • poached or steamed fish can be easy to eat and prepared in many different ways
  • smoothies
  • juice
  • hot chocolate
  • tofu – baked, in curry, fried with rice, scrambled etc. if you’re new to tofu, it’s nice and soft and the flavour is very much down to how you season it
  • yogurt
  • pureed fruit
  • mashed potatoes
  • ice cream
  • some fruits like bananas and raspberries might be ok for you
  • some people are ok with rice, i’m not one of them, too much rice and it triggers jaw pain…
  • you could try eating cake although it will probably be slower than normal, cream or ice cream might make it easier
  • houmous with pita or very soft breads
  • other dips are a great way of adding some flavour to what can feel like a very bland diet
  • when my jaw was bad i could manage croissants and pain au chocolate, provided they were cut up small, as they sort of melt in your mouth
  • on a similar note, puff pastry with cheese on top was ok for me too
  • mousse
  • mushy peas
  • soft chips (as opposed to the crispy kind)
  • porridge with fruit
  • baby food
  • you might be able to manage something like macaroni cheese or fish pie depending on how much you can chew.  as my pain was easing, i could eat macaroni cheese when it was made with small pasta shapes and provided i ate very slowly and had very small mouthfuls

I know there will be many many other options but these were the ones which sprang to mind today!


Lemon and coriander lentils

Red lentils
Salt and pepper
Garlic paste
Cumin powder
Coriander powder
Lemon juice
Chopped coriander (frozen is good)

Put a saucepan on the heat and pour in the cumin powder, coriander powder, salt, pepper and add garlic paste. Once they’ve started to heat, add your lentils. Stir them into the spices and once well stirred, add enough water to cover the lentils. Stir occasionally and keep an eye on the water, you will probably need to top it up. At the end, you want to end up with no excess water. You’ll know it’s ready because the lentils will be soft and light in colour, normally takes about 20 minutes. Stir in a splash of lemon juice and the chopped coriander. Serve with rice.

Vary the spices for variety, you might want to use thai flavours for example.

Thai inspired lentil and potato soup

I’m currently experiencing a lot of jaw pain which has me on a mostly soft food diet so I thought I’d share a rough recipe for my thai inspired soup.

In addition to very soft bread rolls and soup, I am also eating a lot of yoghurt and drinking a lot of hot chocolate… I’m not a fan of soft food so to make a change from shop bought soup, I got my carer to help me make this much thicker, but still soft, soup.  The lentils mean that as it cools it thickens a lot so if you prefer a thinner soup, maybe reduce the amount of lentils or increase the amount of liquid.

Thai inspired lentil and potato soup

Potatoes – I used two large ones (roughly 500g together) and made a lot of soup. Cube and peel if you can be bothered, I didn’t…

Red lentils – I used about 120g

Ginger, garlic, lemongrass, chilli – all mine are pastes from the supermarket to reduce cutting and slicing

400ml coconut milk, a splash of fish sauce, lime juice

***

Add the ginger, garlic, lemongrass and chilli pastes to a large saucepan and turn on the heat.  Cook gently for a minute or two, until it starts to smell good.  Then stir in the potatoes, try and coat them with the paste.  The stir in the lentils.  Add enough water to cover and leave to simmer for a while.  You may need to top up the water because the lentils will suck it up.  Cook until the potatoes are ready, about 20 minutes.

Leave to cool.  This is a good chance to rest your hands.

Once cooled a bit, blend.  Because I had made so much soup, we did this in stages.

Return to pan and stir in coconut milk slowly (you may not need the whole can, it depends on how thick you like your soup).  Once combined, add a splash of fish sauce and lime juice to taste.

***

This made 6 portions I think although depending how thick or thin you like your soup this will vary.  Freezes ok.

Variations could include adding peppers and using sweet potatoes instead of or as well as potatoes.  I use the lentil and potatoes as a base for most of my soups, using different flavouring to add variety.

Lactose free life

If you have a chronic pain condition you’re probably already looking for easy food options but factor in not being able to eat particular things and it gets tricky…

Because I’m lactose intolerant, the chronic pain cookbook is made up of lactose free meals. And for me, this does include a number of substitute products which I thought would be helpful to go through.

Milk

I use oatly oat milk. I don’t have milk in tea or coffee so I’m not sure how well that works but it’s great for cooking and the chocolate flavoured one heated up makes an easy but yum hot chocolate. I also use oatly cream if I ever want cream but haven’t tried cooking with it.

The alternative milk market is growing and as well as oats, you can get soya, almond, coconut and Lactofree.

Yoghurt 

I have just discovered the amazingness which is coconut collaborative yoghurt. I love it so much. Add fruit. Add crushed meringues.  And I’m not even a yoghurt fan!

I tried the m&s coconut yoghurt yesterday and it’s almost as good…

Butter

Pure sunflower spread (pure is the brand, not a description!)  has always been my preferred option but again the market is expanding quickly so there are now lots of options.

Cheese

(these are milk products with lactose removed and may not be suitable for all intolerances/allergies)

Lactofree cheese – they sell two kinds of hard cheese and one soft cheese. For some reason the soft cheese makes me ill despite containing the same levels of (very low) residual lactose. Hard cheese wise I strongly recommend the mature over the other one. It’s got a much better flavour, texture and melting ability. Think of the mature one more like a cheddar and the other like an edam.

Marks and Spencer lactose free mozzarella – I tried this for the first time this week! And it is good on pizza! I don’t know how it compares to normal mozzarella though as I only ever had it in mozzarella sticks…

Ice cream

Swedish glace vanilla was my go to in terms of ice cream for a long time. It’s fairly cheap and reasonably easy to find. Obviously one of the difficulties with fresh/frozen food is that it’s harder to buy online (if your online supermarket doesn’t sell it).

Booja Booja (also do chocolates) make a very nice chocolate ice cream. I’ve not had their other flavours but, based on the chocolates I’ve had from them, I suspect they don’t make a bad thing!

Miscellaneous

Also there are a lot of things you expect to contain dairy which don’t. For example…

  • Jus roll croissants, pain an chocolate, cinnamon rolls, pastry
  • Bourbon biscuits, oreos, party rings
  • Mr kiplings jam tarts, Sainsburys jaffa cakes (only the regular sized ones, the mini ones contain milk),doughnuts are often dairy free

There are a lot of ‘accidental’ dairy free/vegan foods, try some of these links for more:

None of these products are giving me anything in return for this post and do check labels as there may be regional variations across the world and also things change…

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The Cost of Unnessecarily Medicalizing Acts of Daily Life

crippledscholar

A few weeks ago I found myself in the Occupational Therapy Kitchen of my local rehabilitation  hospital. My physiatrist was filming me demonstrating how I undertake various cooking tasks as a person with hemiplegia (to be shown to her medical students).

Cooking for me is both time consuming and laborious. It can take me nearly ten minutes to peel a single potato. Peeling even that one potato can leave my left wrist cramped and in pain. I generally avoid cooking anything that involves peeling vegetables as a result.

My doctor started out by having me demonstrate how I would normally complete a task by myself at home, which inevitably took me about three times longer than an able-bodied person.

Then she had me do the task over, using the adaptive kitchen gadgets that the hospital used for physiotherapy. While my actions were still slow and awkward, the tasks were completed…

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When Accessibility gets Labeled Wasteful

crippledscholar

Note on Accessibility

There has been some concerns about the contrast on this blog, unfortunately some find it hard to read light text on a dark background while others prefer it. I am looking into getting accessibility options for the blog but until then if you prefer to read dark text on a light background, this post is available on Medium here.

So there’s a debate going on, on Twitter right now between disabled people and people who either claim to care about the environment and or just want to complain about “lazy people”

The tweet that started it all

orangegate cropped

Image Description: tweet with a picture of peeled oranges in plastic containers on a grocery store (whole foods) shelf. Tweet reads “If only nature could find a way to cover these oranges so we didn’t need to waste so much plastic on them”

The original tweet has been shared…

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Christmas dinner

Are you vegetarian and looking for something interesting to go with your roast potatoes this year?  Look no further than this amazing Mushroom and Nut Wellington recipe from the Coop.  I’ve used it for almost 10 years now… It’s sooo yummy and you can also adapt it into ‘sausage rolls’.  To make it easier on your hands, chuck as much as you can into a food processor and don’t worry about the fiddly plaiting aspect – just make sure the pastry covers it.  Won’t look so pretty but you’ll save your hands for unwrapping presents!

Recipe: Swede Gratin

I would include a photo but it’s not the most photographic of foods.  That said it is incredibly yummy and perfect for this time of year.  Me and my carer had an afternoon in cooking and made 7 of these, that’s how much I like it.  It freezes well but I find it needs defrosting before cooking.

Serve with veggie sausages.

Swede Gratin

Per serving:

100g swede

30g grated cheese (I use lactofree cheese and cheese could easily be left out)

3 tablespoons flour

50ml milk (I use oatmilk)

Salt and pepper

Instructions

Use your food processor to slice the swede thinly (about 3-5mm thick roughly)  then boil for 15-20 minutes until they start to soften. Leave to cool. Once cooled, add a layer to your baking dish. Sprinkle on salt, pepper and flour then half the cheese. Add another layer of swede, pour milk over it and sprinkle on the rest of the cheese. Freeze at this stage if required.  Bake for about 40 minutes. You might need to put some foil over it if the top starts to burn.

Equipment

At the risk of sounding like an unhealthy fan, I’d like to mention a blog post by the lovely MermaidInDisguise about equipment to help with cooking.

Everyone will differ and obviously so will everyone’s finances, but here is a list of the equipment that I have or want and would recommend to others:

  • Electric knife
  • Food processor with lots of options – mine has a whisk setting, grater setting, slicing setting, mixing setting, kneading setting and also turns into a blender
  • Slow cooker
  • Microwave
  • Large handled implements
  • Light pots and pans (if you’re up to using them) and/or a bamboo steamer
  • Plastic plates and bowls (if carrying food is an issue these are very helpful and there are some nice melamine ones out there!)
  • Dishwasher (you can get table top dishwashers if you don’t have much space. Mine was from a friend who found it second hand for £25 so they don’t have to be a fortune)
  • Where possible, get equipment that can go in a dishwasher! It means you’ll be much more likely to use it if you know you can clean up easily.
  • Adapted cutlery (I can only eat from a spoon now and I use the one raved about by StickmanCommunications)
  • Keep your knives sharp. A blunt knife will just make your life harder and more painful

What is your must have kitchen gadget?

Too ill to cook?

Flicking through twitter this week I found a link to Natasha Lipman’s blog post “Too ill to cook?” which resonated strongly with me and feels like it would be useful information for many others as well.

With her permission I have quoted some of her post but do go and read the article over on her site.  And don’t forget about the useful tips section in the chronic pain cookbook!

“…cooking, mannnnnn.  That involves getting out of bed and standing around and like, chopping and doing things. Exhausting! I’ve stopped being fancy in the kitchen and am getting on with more quick and easy simple things to make sure I feed myself well with the minimum amount of effort. And trust me, when you don’t/can’t just bung a ready meal in the oven it makes things a lot harder. Whether I want to or not, I don’t have a choice about spending my energy on this.”

I know many of us with chronic pain are also limited in terms of what we eat and on the whole home cooked meals are better for us nutritionally so I hope the top tips she shares can help keep you cooking.  Please share your own as well.

EDS and drinking

A while back, the lovely Beth of Mermaid in Disguise wrote about Cute Cups for Crappy Hands. And crappy hands being a subject I know a lot about, I accidentally wrote an essay in the comments section…

So I thought it would be useful to share the information here as well.

Collection of drinking vessels

What are the issues with EDS and drinking…

  • you may not be able to swallow. thankfully i can but my sister can’t and I’m afraid I’m not best placed to advise on this one.
  • you may not be able to lift a drinking vessel
  • you may not be able to open a bottle with your hands or a sports cap with your teeth
  • you may have a tendency to spill or drop drinks

Hot drinks

Contigo Autoseal are my go to for hot drinks (the site is american but there are UK retailers, it’s just an easier way to see the whole range on their site).  I’ve never had a spill and the button to open the mouth bit is fairly easy to press but not so easy it will spill in your bag. They’ve got a few designs so you can think about what will work best for your hands.  And they come in a range of colours as well!

Note of caution: your drink will stay hot for hours. If you want to be able to drink it soon, add some cold water!

Hot Straws are also ace for when you’re out and about.  They mean you can order a hot drink and not have to lift the cup, just pop in your straw and go.  The straws also fit into most takeaway cups (through the little mouth bit) which is extra helpful.

Second note of caution: Using a regular straw with a hot drink is not recommended. There are risks around the chemicals used to make them which are then released when they get warm.  Also increased risk of burning yourself.

Cold drinks

I get through ridiculous amounts of squash in a day.  Maybe 2 litres whilst I’m at work and 2 litres when I get home. Way above the recommended 2 litres per day.  And I can’t make my own juice or fill up my own bottle.  So I need a big bottle to get me through the time when there is no one here, which I wouldn’t be able to lift.  My first thought was that I’d have to have millions of small drinks all lined up for me… But then, through the powers of the internet, I came across Hydrate for Health.  And without wanting to seem dramatic, it has changed my life!

I can drink laying down; I just hook it into the walker I have by my bed or chair, clip or drape the end over another part of the walker and I have a litre of juice in my reach. I also have one one my desk at work. People only need to fill up my juice twice a day at work say instead of every hour and no spills.  Pop it in your wheelchair bag and feed the tube round the side and you’ve got instant access to your drink whilst you’re in your chair!

As you can tell, I love it, and I think it’s probably a good moment to mention I am not on commission!  I don’t receive anything from the products I recommend here, I’m just a satisfied customer.

Also Contingo Autoseal do juice bottles in a range of sizes and are ace.  Mine is 400ml which makes it lighter than carrying a coke bottle etc and went all the way to Cambodia with me.  It meant that whenever I was offered a (non fizzy) drink, either in restaurants or on the plane, I could pass over my bottle and not have to worry about plastic cups etc.  They also come in a range of colours and if you venture into the children’s section there are also some cool patterns as well.

And not forgetting alcohol…

Safe Sip drink covers can be used on wine glasses and are easy to use and small enough to carry with you if you’re going out.  I struggle with drinking from wine glasses so I drink wine from plastic beakers with a safe sip cover.

So that, folks, is how I manage to stay hydrated with EDS.  Do you have any other tips or favourite products?