Thursday, December 27, 2012

Migraine-free Living?

Eating on a restricted diet requires planning, effort, and time.  So it’s a tricky part of the “Heal your Headache” plan.  Thus, this website, but perhaps the name doesn’t reflect that other changes are helpful, too.  The diet element is for reducing triggers that we have control over. 

Another trigger reduction piece can be learning to reduce stress when possible and continually improving how we deal with stress.  Life gives plenty of opportunities to work on this.  For me, techniques involve prioritizing and realizing what I don’t need to do, limiting the number of activities me and the kids are committed to at any one time, making time for us and for me, delegating to others, meditating (in the form of playing the guitar), getting outdoors and appreciating nature, and running.  Deciding to accept that I’m going to follow the diet, not doubting or worrying over it, reduces stress for me, too.  I’ve decided I’m going to cook, so the rest of the decisions are about how I’m going to go about it.  I do eat out sometimes, too, a topic for another blog.

Aerobic activity you enjoy or convince yourself to enjoy in addition to reducing stress is also a way to increase the trigger threshold.  I do best running about 2-3 mi a day.  More than that tends to be a trigger for me.  The distance is something I can do over a 1 hr lunch break, so it’s manageable.  Even if I can’t get in 20-30 min of running, I try to get in a mile or go hiking, anything.  Something is better than nothing, but I also don’t stress when I don’t have the opportunity to get it in, satisfied knowing that I’m doing what I can.

 So, there is reducing triggers with lifestyle changes, increasing thresholds with lifestyle changes, and another part of the HYH (“Heal your Headache”) plan, the use of medications.  Buchholz’s book dedicates a few chapters to the different pieces of this, covering use of medications for both increasing trigger threshold (preventive meds) and for treating migraine attacks, as well as how medications we take for other conditions can affect migraines.  I’ve been able to come off of all preventive meds (which also reduces stress because I don’t have to worry about forgetting to take pills or stress because I don’t have them with me).  To treat mild migraines, I use ibuprofen, though never could before putting myself on the HYH plan.  To treat more severe ones, which still come occasionally, I use imitrex.  I found that it is often better if I can wait until before going to bed to take the imitrex, because sometimes it drains me, leaves me with no energy.   I have taken it without waiting and been ok sometimes, too.  Seems to be a matter of knowing what my body can handle when.  I get better at it over time.  Buchholz’s book has been a valuable tool.   

Whether the name is changed or not, there is more to consider than diet.  And being migraine-free is not necessarily the goal.  Once I adjusted my expectations to control migraines rather than eliminate them, I was able to see how far I had come as something to be content with, as a success.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Corn Veg Soup

This is a soup I threw together to use up frozen grilled corn from last summer. It’s from a memory of the one vacation we took growing up. When I was about 6 years old, we flew from the east coast where we lived to California to visit my grandfather and his sisters. They lived in small trailer houses, so we split up. My sister and I stayed with one aunt, who served us soup the night we arrived. It was different, a liquid white base with green beans, corn, and carrots. This brings me back to that night, of a warm welcome, meeting our nice aunts, our big family vacation, and staying away from mom and dad, which was sort of an adventure.

Makes approximately 6 servings.

4c chicken broth
Butter or olive oil
4 carrots, chopped
1 c green beans, chopped
1 c corn (from approx 2 ears)
1 red bell pepper
2 c ½ and ½ or whole milk

1. In a soup pot, warm the chicken broth.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter or olive oil in a large frying pan. Sauté carrots, green beans, and corn for about 1 min.
3. Bring broth to a simmer. Transfer vegetables from the fry pan to the broth in the pot. Add bell pepper. Simmer approx 5 min (a couple min.s longer if you plan to serve immediately).
4. Add milk and reduce heat when warm, before milk simmers. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fruit Smoothies and Milk Commentary

Nothing extraordinary, but here's a simple, reliable smoothie recipe.  The idea comes from my son's "Patrick Smoothie".  He's likes to put crushed ice in a cup and add about 1/2 milk and 1/2 orange juice. 

Strawberries are used here to give the smoothie a thick texture, in place of bananas.  Milk is used as the liquid, rather than yogurt.  It works very well when eaten freshly prepared.  Storing leftovers is less ideal, but is mentioned at the end of the recipe.

A couple of comments about milk:  First, ultra pasturized milk is showing up on the grocery shelves more and more frequently.  Is this a safety concern or for economic reasons, i.e., due to the extended shelf life?  Ultra-pasturized is on the list of substances that "may contain MSG," so I avoid it when I can conveniently do so.  I'm also not keen on killing more things in the milk that are beneficial to us with the higher heat used to ultra-pasturize.  Second, I've switched to full fat dairy.  The dietary mantra for the last few decades has been to use low fat and fat-free foods.  Sounds fine, if that's the natural state of the food.  Distrupting the balance of nutrients and structure of a whole food that contains a fat in it's natural state doesn't sound like a good idea, though.  I haven't gained any weight and feel good after eating meals.     

Store bought frozen fruit doesn't work well if it's been sitting in the freezer too long.  Whenever available, I like to use locally grown frozen fruit.  It tastes good.  Directions are given below for freezing fruit.  Storebought wins over on convenience, though. 

16 oz half and half or whole milk
12 oz or 1 1/2 c frozen strawberries, optional:  substitute part with other fruit- blueberries, peaches, other
About 1 T vanilla extract (see "vanilla extra" blogpost, store bought is fine too)

1.  Use store bought frozen fruit or freeze your own.  To freeze fruit:  Strawberries and blueberries are easy, good ones to start with.  Arrange pieces of fruit the size you'll be using on a cookie sheet (or whatever is flat and will fit in your freezer) so individual pieces don't touch each other.  When frozen, store in a ziploc bag.   Use within a year.
2.  Blend half and half and frozen fruit in a blender, using at least twice as much milk as fruit.  Two fruit combinations work well, such as strawberries and peaches or strawberries and blueberries.  It's easy to wing it with the quantities.  If the smoothie isn't mixing well, stop and stir out air bubbles and/or add some milk. 
3.  Add vanilla extract.  I stopped adding maple syrup and much prefer the fresh fruit taste.
4.  Storing leftovers:  It's great to make extra and store in 1 c plastic freezer containers, like the inexpensive Ziploc ones.  When ready to enjoy a smoothie, thaw until easy to spoon out.  I bring one at a time to work and put it in the fridge when i get there.  Two hours later I have it as a mid-morning snack.  It's the consistency of soft serve ice cream.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sausage Rice Stuffing

Here's a stuffing for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.  It's a combination of a few recipes, with the main inspiration coming from Semon and Kornblum (see "References").  They have a couple of rice stuffing recipes.  We liked it on Thanksgiving day, and even more the day after, and the day after. 

2 c brown rice, uncooked
4 c water
1 lb fresh sausage (see "meat" recipes)
1½ c chopped celery
2 c any combination chopped shallots, leeks, and/or green onions
1 egg
2 granny smith apples, chopped (no need to peel; can use a squirt of fresh lemon juice or the butter and salt to keep from browning)
4 T butter, melted
1 T sage
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

1. Put water and rice in a large pot, cover, bring to a boil. Simmer for 50 min or until water is absorbed. Rice will still be slightly crunchy. When rice is done, let cool at room temperature.
2. While rice is cooking, in a large frying pan, cook the sausage until just done (don’t brown), 5-6 min. Transfer sausage into a large mixing bowl or pot.
3. In frying pan, sauté shallots/leeks in sausage grease for 5-6 min, until tender. Add some butter if sticking. Add celery and sauté 2 more min.
4. Add everything to mixing bowl with sausage: rice, sautéed vegetable, egg, apples, sage, and butter. Mix, add salt, pepper, and more sage to taste.
5. Stuff turkey.
6. If there is any stuffing left over, store in refrigerator until there is 1-2 cups of broth from the turkey, or use some chicken broth. Pour broth over the rice and bake in oven.

Serve with gravy or butter.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Potato Leek Soup

This is one of my favorite soups.  It's adapted from Delia Smith with a little Jamie Oliver twist (see references,

4 large leeks, diced
2 shallots, diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (bite size)
2 carrots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 T butter
4 c chicken stock (or water)
10 oz milk
salt and fresh ground pepper
For serving: fresh chives or parsley and cream

To prepare leeks:  Chop off roots and dark green tops, just after the spot where the leaves start splitting apart, and discard the outer hard leaves (or keep for stock). Chop in half lengthwise and rinse with water to clean. Then finish chopping.

1. In a large, thick-bottomed pot, melt butter. Add all the veg: leeks, shallots, potatoes, carrots, and garlic. Mix, cook at low sizzle for about 15 min.

2. Add chicken stock and milk. Simmer with lid on for about 20 min or until vegetables are fork tender. Be careful not to turn up heat too high or milk will boil over.

3.  Add salt and pepper to taste (taste test by pouring from a clean spoon onto a tasting spoon).

4. I eat it like this, with a T of cream, and if available, a sprinkling of fresh chives or parsley. If you like, the soup can be pureed before serving. Wait for soup to cool enough that it doesn’t steam when stirred. Then puree in a blender. Return to pot to reheat before serving with cream and herbs.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Vegetarian Recipes

There's a book called "Feast without Yeast" by Bruce Semon, MD and Lori Kornblum, PhD, that is mostly vegetarian recipes that overlap quite well with the Heal Your Headache (HYH) diet. It has information that links some of the foods together from Dr Buchholz's migraine trigger list (such as nuts and fermented foods).  Whether it's the same reason for triggering migraines or not, it's interesting.  I bought the book because it uses honey as a sweetener, as one Amazon reviewer complained, well, because this is in contrast to other yeast-free diets.  Incidentally, migraines also run in Dr Semon's family, and they have long been making the food-migraine connection and avoiding select foods.   

Semon calls for no vinegar in the diet, and recipes use fresh lemon juice instead.   That's the only modification I've made to the Heal Your Headache diet to use these recipes.  I still eat the other allowed foods for HYH (except white vinegar and yeast), and still avoid the other non-allowed foods in HYH (other than fresh squeezed lemon juice).  If you find you don't tolerate some of the vegetables allowed in the HYH diet, you could try only using them cooked.  I find i'm fine with cooked tomatoes, shallots, and green onions, but probably not raw ones.  Semon uses lots of tomatoes in his recipes.

The book is well organized and has over 200 recipes.   They were developed for kids with other medical problems, but I'm finding I get lots of recipes and fresh ideas from it.  Thankfully, he includes useful tips for gradually changing the diet.  With his book, I am looking forward to adding beans and more soups to my diet. I already subscribe to the frequent use of brown rice and potatoes that he suggests, but now have more recipes for these as well.

Buchholz's "Heal your Headache" drastically changed my health, and thus every day life for me and my family.  Semon's book is another great tool (in addition to Heidi Gunderson's cookbook) for applying the diet in HYH and learning more about what's in food and about food intolerances/sensitivities.  Semon is an MD that has helped many patients and one of his own children by using the diet, a very touching story he includes for the readers' benefit.  He seems to have begun with observations and theories and then learned from his experience with many patients, through trial and error and much listening and observation.  Sound like anyone else?  "Thanks!" to both Buchholz and Semon!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cole Slaw

This is a good side dish for a picnic, pitch-in, or pot luck.  Brought it to a party the other day and enjoyed it.  It's based on a friend and excellent cook's, Barb's, recipe.

Small head green cabbage, core removed, sliced thin

1 red or orange bell pepper, sliced thin

1/2 c distilled white vinegar
1/2 c apple juice
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c maple syrup
1t salt
1 t powdered mustard (such as Coleman's)
1 t celery seeds
1 t cayenne pepper flakes

1.  Slice cabbage and bell pepper and set aside in a glass or ceramic bowl.
2.  Combine dressing ingredients in a pot and stir over low heat until salt dissolves.
3.  Pour dressing over cabbage and bell pepper.   Refrigerate.