You can’t eat well if you don’t feel well, and you won’t ever feel well if you don’t eat well. Our recipes have been developed for the fibromyalgic brain and body, and all have been tested by home cooks with fibromyalgia and/or other chronic pain conditions.
We don’t follow much of the food advice for fibro that you may have seen online: there’s insufficient scientific data to exclude such important foods as tomatoes, potatoes, and wheat from the fibromite diet. [That said, many fibromites suffer from additional health problems. If eating certain ingredients makes you ill, don't eat them! Always consult your health care provider before making significant dietary changes.] Instead, we focus on recipes that are:
Easy to prepare
Delicious to eat
That last point is important. Many of our recipes are fairly basic, so we’ll also suggest ways to embellish them. For instance, a simple rice dish (water, rice, salt) could be made completely different by substituting tomato purée and lemon juice for all or part of the water. You could also mix cooked and puréed leafy green vegetables and herbs into the cooked rice. Or what about mixing the cooked rice with chunks of roasted vegetables? Your own preferences and experience will suggest new versions for each dish, too.
Because we suggest so many variations on each base recipe, we can’t be very specific about certain things – which cooking liquids are the best, how long to cook each dish, and so on. This is an intentional component of our project here at TPF: part of “practical” involves doing your best with what you’ve got. Your kitchen, your dietary preferences, and your health make for a unique combination, and we’re doing our best to make meal preparation easier for you. So we don’t specify a time to cook the shrimp in “Versatile Boiled Shrimp”, for instance: we don’t know what size shrimp you have on hand or how you want to use it, so instead we suggest other ways of making sure that the shrimp is cooked properly.
Don’t be bound by traditional cooking rules and restrictions – this is all about helping you make the best possible meal with the best possible outcome for your body.
Got a recipe you’ve developed for fibromite use? Share it with the rest of us! We can also help you adapt your favorite recipes to your changing needs. Just ask!
These simple, flexible recipes are both nutritionally sound and delicious, and all have been rigorously tested by our TPF team. We hope you like them!
Things to Do with…
Sometimes, we all have ingredients that leave us at a loss. Whether you’re faced with an unfamiliar item or you just can’t face your usual recipe – or you’re trying to use up leftovers or extras before the stink sets in – this is your source for fibro-friendly tips and techniques!
|Snow Peas||Eggs||Fruit Juice|
|Winter Squash||Spinach||Mashed Potatoes|
Quick Dishes and Drinks
Beat the heat with a quick glass of icy-cold cucumber juice: cut a cucumber (peeled or unpeeled) into chunks and toss into your food processor or blender. Strain out the pulp and add salt and lemon juice to taste. So refreshing! [Use the strained pulp for a cooling eye mask.]
For a cool treat, pull out a bag of frozen berries. Let them thaw a little (or savor them as-is!), then lightly crush. Put two scoops of your favorite ice cream or frozen yogurt into a tall glass, then slather with berries and top up with soda water.
Make the most of summer produce and get the vitamins your body craves! Chop garden-fresh vegetables – like tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers – and pop them into your food processor. Add your favorite seasonings for a quick and healthy soup, drink, or sauce.
Make icy delights with your favorite juice! You don’t even need a mold. Instead, pour the juice (plus any flavorings you want to add) into a shallow pan and place in the freezer. Every 30 minutes, stir with a fork. The juice will eventually freeze into small flakes, which you can then scoop into a storage container. [This isn’t quite the same as the famous Italian granita, but it sure tastes great!] Top each portion with whipped cream (dairy or vegan), chopped nuts, and fresh fruit for a delicious – and healthy – treat.
Remember how refreshing a tall glass of homemade lemonade can be? Well, lemons aren’t the only ingredient that can provide that bracing acidity! Try adding other sour flavors – lime, tamarind, grapefruit, tomato, vinegar – to your summertime beverages to help you beat the heat!
A quick dish for hot weather: Chop cucumbers (peeled or unpeeled) and onions into bite-sized chunks, then toss with white wine vinegar and salt and refrigerate until cold. Add a little feta cheese for extra élan.
For a tangy treat, substitute buttermilk for milk or cream in your favorite ice-pop recipes. The delicate sourness and acidity really perk up jaded tastebuds!
Equal parts of club soda and any fruit juice or fruit purée, plus a splash of lime, makes a quick, refreshing, and low-calorie beverage. Drop in a cherry, cranberry, or blueberry for extra pizazz!
Too many tomatoes? Quarter them and place in a tall container – I like using quart-sized Mason jars for small quantities and one-gallon Cambros for larger batches. Use a stick blender to purée the tomatoes. If you choose, you can strain the resulting mixture, but it’s not necessary.] Freeze in rigid containers or in freezer bags. Thaw and add directly to soups, sauces, braises, or anything else!
For times when you need a quick starch, consider bulgur (a cooked and dried grain product) or couscous (a very tiny pasta, which is typically sold cooked and dried in the U.S.). Neither requires long cooking: simply add boiling liquid – water, stock, whatever – and cover tightly until the starch is soft and tasty. Approximate ratios: 1 part bulgur to 2 parts liquid; 1 part couscous to 1 part liquid. If the finished product is too dry, add more boiling liquid; if the finished product is too wet, either drain it or declare that “That’s how I meant to do it.” [It'll taste fine either way.] Either couscous or bulgur can be eaten hot or cold, and you can add almost anything to them. Awesome ingredients for the fibromite kitchen.
In a rush? Noodles made of rice, beans, or sweet potatoes usually cook more quickly than their wheaten counterparts, making them highly suitable for the fibromite kitchen (and the gluten-free kitchen too!). Their flavors tend to be neutral, making them a good match for a wide range of dishes. If you’re in a flare and need some quick carbohydrates, try tossing them with a little butter and hot sauce: the capsaicin in the hot sauce can help reduce pain and provide energy, and the butter tastes good. Throw in a few chopped vegetables if you feel healthy enough – you can toss them into the boiling water along with the noodles for an excellent one-pot dish.
Most groceries now carry refrigerated pizza dough. Keep some in the freezer along with some shredded mozzarella (most cheeses crumble when frozen, but that’s not a problem for pizza: the smaller the pieces of cheese, the more quickly they’ll melt) for nights when you’re feeling well enough to supervise but not well enough to cook, and give your family a treat by letting them make their own pizzas! If the pizza is baked on a Silpat-lined sheet pan, the cleanup will be quick and painless. This dough also works perfectly for calzones and breadsticks.
Keeping vegetable juice on hand can speed up healthy meal preparation. Try simmering cauliflower in carrot juice until tender, adding whatever other flavors you like (it’s great with just salt and maybe butter): eat it as-is or purée for a smoother texture. Or add chopped vegetables to tomato juice for a minestrone-style soup.
In the mood for pasta, but too tired to wait long for it? Consider using a tiny pasta, such as acini di pepe or Israeli couscous (not the couscous we’ve already discussed). These cook more quickly than larger pasta shapes and require much less water – which means that not only does the water boil more quickly, the pot will weigh much less and therefore put less strain on sore muscles.
Using a salad spinner can be tough on tender arms, but sometimes you need clean, dry lettuces in a hurry. Instead, lay a clean, dry towel on the counter and arrange your freshly-washed greens over it. Roll up the towel, press gently, and let rest until needed.
Ever set a kitchen timer and then forgot what it was for? Try this trick: each time you start the timer, place a sticky note or piece of tape directly on the timer, labeled with the task you’re supposed to perform when the timer sounds.
Adaptive knives can make kitchen prep work easier: some are angled to ease strain on your arms and wrists, while others are made with rocking blades to accommodate those of us with little arm strength.
If you grow leafy green vegetables, you already know how much soil (and slugs) that they can conceal. For easier and more efficient cleaning, separate the leaves and plunge into a tall, narrow bucket containing room-temperature water. Let the leaves rest for several minutes, agitating from time to time if you wish. The warm-ish water will help the leaves relax, releasing all the particulates they’ve tucked away – these will (mostly) settle at the bottom, allowing you to lift the clean leaves from the water. If you plan to cook the leaves, then you’re done; just refrigerate them in an open plastic bag containing a dry cloth or paper towel until you’re ready to cook. If you’d prefer to make a salad, though, you should place the clean leaves into a container of cool water for 5-10 minutes so that they regain their crispness and vitality, then store as for cooking greens.
General Cooking Tips
Stovetop heat diffusers help modulate your burners’ heat output, distributing heat evenly across the base of your pan or pot and preventing hotspots or burnt food. They’re particularly useful if the heat has inadvertently been turned too high or a burner has accidentally been left on: although no tool can prevent all kitchen disasters, using a heat diffuser can buy you some extra time when you’re feeling especially foggy.
Live someplace warm? Try cooking in the early morning or after the sun goes down, if either of those changes will benefit your body and fit your schedule. As many of us get our best sleep in the mornings, rather than during the night, one strategy that can help is to rise much earlier than usual, cook anything that needs to be cooked for the day’s meals, and return to bed. [Assuming your life allows you to return to bed, that is.]
Microwave ovens and toasters are perfect when it’s too hot outside: food gets hot, room stays cool. Genius.
Always use both hands when removing something from a hot oven.
Keep a damp towel or non-skid rubber mat – often available at hardware stores as “refrigerator matting” – underneath your cutting board. This will help keep the board from slipping while you work, which can cause serious injury.
Using an electric kettle to give you virtually instant hot water is a great solution for kitchens without microwave ovens: you can make soup, couscous, oatmeal, and lots more in a flash!
Even when it’s warm outside, consider wearing long sleeves when cooking, especially if you’ll be frying food or using the oven – it helps mitigate the risk of fatigue-related burns to your forearms’ fragile skin.