Comfort-Cookin'Tip# 1: Use the right tools.

Did you know that companies are designing tools for older adults and chronic conditions such as arthritis? I have arthritis in my hands, especially my thumbs.  I appreciate cooking tools that make using a can opener, whisking eggs or peeling an apple easy and less painful.

One company that I discovered is developing products that are easy to use for the most people in need and for a broad range of purposes such as, storage, cleaning, baby items, etc. is OXO.  Dinnerware has been adapted by manufacturers, for older hands that may help many of you who have painful conditions, such as CRPS, diabetic neuropathy and others.

Look for tools that help you cook and dine with ease. It will make a difference in your life. If you need further guidance, talk to an occupational therapist who can help you find, select and even modify these tools for you.

For a sampling of other resources, see:

Tip #2: Prep before you start to cook.

Respect your memory, ability to think clearly and the influence of pain. We all know when we are in pain our memory and thinking suffers and as the pain increases these abilities decrease. When I am cooking  especially when  a recipe calls for more than three ingredients, I put all my ingredients out on the counter and double check them at least once with the recipe. I usually put the measuring utensils out as well.

If I haven’t done my prep work earlier, I do it then (chopping vegetables and such) rechecking against the recipe again as I do this.  When I start the recipe, I put each item away as I use it.  Even following this plan is not completely fail safe. I was baking a cake one time when I was having quite a bit of pain.  I really needed to do it then and my pain medicine was taking its time to work. I managed to forget to add the vanilla and didn’t realize it until I was putting the cake in the oven (and saw it there on the counter).

Fortunately, the cake was chocolate so it still tasted good. This is an excellent example of how pain can interfere with your ability to do something right.

Tip #3: Practice.

Here are three easy recipes to try.

[toggle title=”Mustard Potatoes“]

This first recipe came from a clipping from a magazine some 30+ years ago (I think it was probably Ladies’ Home Journal or McCall’s).  It is simple and nice with a plainish meat or poultry.

Cook 1 lb. of unpeeled potatoes (about 3 medium) until tender then slice in 1/4 “ slices.  In small bowl stir ½ cup mayonnaise (I use low fat), 1 ½ Tbsp. Dijon mustard, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1 tsp. sugar, ½ tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. celery seed until well blended; heat in microwave until warm.  Toss with potatoes.  Serves 3-4.


[toggle title=”Oven-Blasted Broccoli“]

Broccoli is one of the vegetables everyone in my family eats.  This recipe came out of a cookbook called The Coastal Living Cookbook. If you have a problem with weak hands or wrists have someone help you with taking the pan in and out of the oven; otherwise this is tasty and easy. I always use Kosher Salt for cooking (not baking) but you can use regular salt as well.  Broccoli leftovers are delicious in salads. Garlic flavored olive oil is a good for bread dipping also.

3 lbs. fresh broccoli (Asparagus works with this recipe too)

¾ cup garlic flavored olive oil

1 tsp. kosher salt (or regular)

½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

¼ cup white balsamic vinegar (regular balsamic can be used).

Cut flowerets from broccoli.  Slice stems into 1 inch pieces (it calls for peeling them however I never do).  Toss broccoli with oil.

Place a 15” x 10” jellyroll pan in a 500o for 5 minutes; add broccoli in a single layer.

Bake at 500o for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss.  Just before serving, drizzle with vinegar.

Serves 8


[toggle title=”Taco Salad“]

There are a lot of Taco Salad recipes around; my family likes mine the best although I try some of the others occasionally.  During the summer I will sometimes double the meat mixture and freeze half so there is another easy meal on hand.  It can also be dressed up for individual tastes (my husband likes raw chopped onion added to his).  You can even do a build your own, but that uses more dishes).

1 lb. ground beef

1 15 oz. can pinto beans

1 small can sliced ripe olives, drained

1 pkg. Taco seasoning (I like Ortega)

Shredded Mexican cheese (or cheddar mix)

Tortilla chips

Tomato wedges

Sliced avocado (optional)

Sour cream (I use Light)

Shredded iceberg lettuce

Brown ground beef in skillet.  Drain and rinse pinto beans.  Add taco seasoning (no liquid), beans, and olives and mix well. Remove portion to be used to a large bowl and toss lightly with some slightly crushed tortilla chips.  On plates place some lettuce, then some more tortilla chips, the meat mixture; around base place tomato wedge and avocados, sprinkle whole with shredded cheese, and top with a dollop of sour cream.

Serves 3-4


What are some of your top tips for cooking with pain?

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