Eating Well with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Sara Nash Health Guide
  • Photo by Sara Nash


    In my quest to get fit again and boost my overall health, I’ve made a conscious effort to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my diet, and there is no better time than now to take advantage of all that Summer has to offer. I love scouting out the local farmer’s market to see what’s in season, and when I come home with a bounty full of fresh, healthy foods, I feel like I’ve just struck gold.  The trick is making sure I use them all before they go bad, and making sure that I prepare them in healthy ways. I thought I’d share a few of my favorite recipes here in case anyone is looking for some fresh ideas, or some fresh motivation to eat healthier.

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:

    Shrimp tacos with cilantro slaw

    For the slaw:

    ½ head of cabbage, chopped into slivers

    1 cup of red onion, diced

    ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

    2 tsp. olive oil

    juice of 2 limes

    salt and pepper to taste


    If you have a food processor, you can do all the chopping in that and spare your wrists the effort. Combine the cabbage, onion and cilantro in a large bowl and mix together. Drizzle the olive oil and lime juice over and mix well so that all of the cabbage gets coated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and let the flavors marry while you prepare the shrimp.


    For the tacos:

    1 pound of raw shrimp, peeled and cleaned

    1 avocado, sliced

    1 tsp. chili powder

    juice of 1 lime

    1 tsp. olive oil

    6 corn tortillas


    Preheat the oven to 350. Squeeze the lime juice over the shrimp and sprinkle with chili powder, then stir lightly.  Spread 1 tsp. of olive oil over the bottom of roasting pan to prevent sticking, then lay the shrimp in a single layer and bake until pink. 

    Alternatively, you can sauté the shrimp on a stovetop, or throw them on the grill if you have one!


    As soon as the shrimp are ready, grab your tortillas, place a few shrimp inside, followed by the slaw and avocado.  If you really like your food spicy, add some Sriracha sauce on top.


    Serves 4-6. Gluten and dairy free.


    Pasta Caprese

    Ok, this one is pretty standard, but in my opinion, it can’t be beat during the summer when everything is fresh, and it’s so easy to make, it just about cooks itself.



    1 tbsp. Olive oil

    1-2 cloves of garlic, diced

    Fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn roughly, about ½ cup or to taste

    4-5 fresh, ripe tomatoes (I love to use heirloom tomatoes in this recipe!), chopped, and their juices

    ½ pound fresh mozzarella, cubed

    1box of whole wheat or quinoa pasta.  I find that shapes like farfalle or penne work best.

    salt and pepper to taste


    Prepare the pasta per the directions on the box.  While it’s cooking, combine the olive oil, garlic and a sprinkling of salt and pepper in a bowl.  Add the tomatoes and tomato juice and stir to mix.  Add the basil and mozzarella, but don’t mix quite yet.

    Once the pasta is done, drain off the liquid, then pour on top of the mozzarella.  Let it sit for about a minute so that the mozzarella gets a little melty, then mix all of it up.  Add salt and pepper to your liking, then dig in.


    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:

    Serves 4. Vegetarian, and if you opt for quinoa pasta, this recipe is also gluten free.


    Crispy kale and squash pizza


    Your favorite pizza dough or flatbread, whole wheat is best.

    1 tbsp. pesto sauce

    ½ pound of fresh mozzarella, sliced ½ inch thick

    ½ yellow squash, sliced thinly

    ½ zucchini, sliced thinly

    2 cups kale, rinsed, destemmed and torn into pieces

    1 tsp. olive oil

    ½ tsp. cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes

    salt to taste


    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare pizza dough or ready-made flatbread.  (I use a pre-made frozen pizza dough that only requires thawing out and stretching over a cookie sheet.) Spread the pesto over the dough evenly, then spread out the mozzarella and zucchini slices. Dust with cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes and a sprinkling of salt.


    Place in the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes-25 minutes, depending on the thickness of your dough or flatbread.  While the pizza begins to bake, coat the kale with olive oil.  Once the pizza crust begins to brown lightly and the cheese is melting, sprinkle the kale over the top of the pizza and place back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes, until cheese is fully melted and bubbly, the kale is crispy on top, and the dough is nicely browned.


    Remove and let cool for 5 minutes, then slice and serve. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.


    Serves 4-8, depending on how hungry you are! Vegetarian. Need some protein? Add a lean option like sliced chicken apple sausage, sliced grilled chicken breast, or even shrimp.


    I hope you’ll enjoy some of these recipes and take advantage of the wonderful fruits and vegetables that are available this time of year. If cooking is a challenge for you because your RA is affecting your hands, fingers and wrists, make things easy on yourself by buying pre-chopped or shredded vegetables when possible, or using a food processor or food prep to keep the strain off of your wrists. 


    Sara is the author of the blog, The Single Gal’s Guide to Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Published On: July 26, 2011