Feel-Good Baking With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Chef Melinda Winner shares her winning secrets for baking with rheumatoid arthritis.

Melinda Winner

“My no-fail tips for bakers”

Here, Melinda Winner, executive chef at American Truck Group in Gulfport, MS, tells how you, too, can enjoy baking like a “winner”!

1. Think “spin.” My biggest timesaving tip: Get a cart with wheels for moving your ingredients and baking supplies from counter to counter.

2. Stake your claim. When I’m baking a lot, especially during the holidays, the top shelf in my refrigerator is off limits to everyone but me. I keep all of my baking items there so I don’t have to bend and hunt.

3. Stop the spice search. You can eliminate stretching and bending even further by putting your spices on a lazy Susan on your cart or counter.

4. Wear long oven mitts. Using long mitts allows me to add weight to my forearm and stabilize a dish as I’m removing it from the oven. This takes a little practice, so start by removing lighter dishes until you get the hang of it.

5. Get a thumb ring. I wear a plain band or ring on my thumb to open everything from sour cream to yogurt. You simply slide the band under the rim and pop off the top.

6. Wrap it up. You can make a comfortable, thick grip for any utensil by wrapping the handle with a dishcloth and rubber band.

7. Go electric. Invest in a stand mixer and food processor. Both are inexpensive these days, and you don’t need to buy a top-of-the line model. Believe me, the payoff of not using your hands to mix and chop is worth it.

8. Plan ahead. Never shop and bake on the same day—it’ll wear you out! Instead, make a list of what you need and shop a few days before you plan on baking.  

9. Go old school. Wash your dishes by hand. There’s something soothing about soaking your hands in warm, soapy water after all the baking is done.  

April 2013