Cake and Biscuits

While we’ve been able to modify or develop recipes to meet many of our needs, there have been gaps that we haven’t been able to fill.  Two of those gaps are now filled with yummy recipes we found online.  I take no credit for these, but refer you to the original sources as applicable.

Until now, it has been a mystery to determine how to make a birthday cake that works for the different dietary needs of the people in our house: peanut and tree nut free, migraine free, and Low FODMAP.  While not a traditional “cake”, this pumpkin bar recipe is definitely meeting our expectations for a birthday cake as well as an everyday snack option.  Here are a few details that I think are necessary to remember when making this recipe:

  1. I found that the use of PAM to grease my baking dish resulted in a bitter flavor on the edges of these bars.  I now spread coconut oil in the pan with my fingers instead.
  2. We bake, puree, and freeze pumpkin in the fall to use rather than canned pumpkin to avoid the amount of tyramine that builds up in canned goods.
  3. We chose the maple syrup option.  We never tried honey in this recipe, because the maple syrup worked so well.
  4. We use King Arthur brand almond flour, because we feel comfortable with the way this flour is handled with respect to our food allergies.
  5. Since chocolate is off the list for a migraine diet, we do not add this optional ingredient.  However, this recipe is so good that we can’t even imagine adding chocolate to it!

The second gap that is now filled is a much-loved recipe for biscuits.  This recipe also uses almond flour, but we have been using honey for the sweetener.  Although honey is not ok on the Low FODMAP diet, our family members on this diet have not had problems with the very small amount of honey actually present in each biscuit.  These biscuits are so good that they don’t need any toppings like jam, butter, or gravy.  We eat them alone as snacks or on the side with a meal.  Here are the details I keep in mind for this recipe:

  1. We use coconut oil instead of butter.
  2. We use white distilled vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar.

We have found both of these recipes to freeze well, making them easy snacks to warm for a few seconds in the microwave when the need arises.  One person in the family even loves them frozen!

 

 

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Acupressure Update

As I write this, I am on the tail end of a migraine.  However, I am eager to update what I am finding to be helpful with acupressure.  In the last two days, I have found a modified use for a technique I posted here and here as well as a new product that has been beneficial.

Originally, I had posted that I used a scarf, a small washcloth, and a rubber ball to apply pressure to the daith region of my ear.  I no longer use the washcloth because it just hasn’t been necessary, and I find it easier to get the ball in place while I’m struggling with pain.  What I found during the migraine that is now ending is that there may be a better location for me than the daith.  Last night, I palpated my skull around the back of my ear and found an extremely tender spot.  Rubbing it with my finger felt strangely comforting, so I tried placing the ball at that location with the scarf and went to sleep.  After a few hours, I woke up with much less pain!

My other acupressure find is this ball which I originally purchased to relieve pain in the arches of my feet.  It definitely works for that, but I have been using it the past couple of days to relieve pain due to my migraine as well.  When I have a migraine, the muscles in my neck and back get increasingly painful as the migraine wears on.  I find myself attempting to rub them with my fingertips or seek massages from family members.  Both are difficult to do.  It is a struggle for me to use my fingers long enough to do any good while I’m in so much pain anyway, and family members aren’t always available.  However, I easily rolled this ball back and forth over my neck muscles with the palm of my hand while resting in bed. The nubs are firm and get into the right places, even more so than fingertips do. I also relieved my upper back pain by rolling over onto the ball.  This doesn’t make the migraine go away, but my overall suffering is reduced!

I would love to know if any of you have found acupressure to be helpful.  Please feel free to comment below.

Stir-Fried Chicken and Vegetables

I used to love ordering a stir-fried dish at restaurants.  However, this is impossible now that I know MSG and soy cause migraines for me.  Once we had success with a recipe for “Soy Sauce” that didn’t contain these ingredients, I knew we had to keep going and create another stir-fry recipe.  This is now one of my favorites.

Soy Sauce


1 cup broth
2 tsp. molasses
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
dash black pepper

Stir all ingredients together and heat in a saucepan.

Stir Fried Chicken and Vegetables

2 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 carrots
3 c. broccoli florets
3 c. cauliflower florets
1 c. chopped fresh spinach
1 c. wild rice
2 c. broth
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. garam masala
1/8 tp. cayenne pepper
4 tsp. coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
1 tsp. olive oil
1 cup “Soy Sauce” from above

  1. Heat broth in a saucepan and add rice.  Cook covered for 45 minutes or until done.
  2. Blend spices and olive oil in a small bowl.
  3. Place chicken in a greased skillet and sprinkle with spice blend.
  4. Fry chicken until 165 degrees and remove from skillet.
  5. Place carrots in skillet with 1/2 of the “Soy Sauce”.  Cover and simmer until carrots are just starting to soften.
  6. Add broccoli and cauliflower and fry until soft (about 10 minutes).  Add “Soy Sauce” as needed.
  7. Add spinach, remaining “Soy Sauce”, and chicken and cook until spinach has wilted.
  8. Serve over rice.

Preservatives Strike Again!

For a while now, I have been using personal products that have been developed for people with allergies. For instance, my shampoo and conditioner are free of dyes, fragrance, masking fragrance, lanolin, protein, parabens, formaldehyde, and other preservatives.  I began using these after I started experiencing skin burns over my upper body while using other products. As soon as I made this change, those problems went away.  When I switched my toothpaste from Crest to Xyliwhite, the swelling in my tongue and rash around my mouth went away.  I didn’t realize that I was experiencing a benefit neurologically as well….until now.

As treatment for a sensitive tooth, my dentist recently recommended a product called MI Paste.  I was hesitant to try it due to the long list of ingredients with long names.  However, the pain in my tooth was pretty intense, and there were no other treatment options beyond what we had already tried.  At first, I tried just a touch of the paste to see if I would have a reaction.  Since I didn’t, I used the prescribed amount the following day.  Within 8 hours, I was in full-blown vertigo like I haven’t experienced in 2 years.  I didn’t have a migraine, but my vertigo, migraine, and skin allergy triggers seem to overlap.  Therefore, I want to share this information on this migraine-focused blog with the hope of benefitting you.

Apparently, the hydroxybenzoate preservatives in the MI Paste are in the paraben family and can have an estrogen-like effect on the body.  In addition, the National Center for Biotechnology Information has recommended that these preservatives be re-evaluated for human safety.  All of this serves to reinforce my commitment to be careful with what I eat and products I use.

Chlorine and Vitamin C – Who Knew?

Earlier this summer, I returned home from an only-one-hour-away-migraine-trigger-controlled vacation desperate for a relaxing shower.  When I turned on the water, it smelled like a pool.  The same was the case at the clothes washer when I started washing the family’s laundry.  Within a couple of hours, I had a blasting migraine that wouldn’t go away.  The only thing that had changed was this chlorine smell that was permeating our house.  I felt so awful that I couldn’t process thoughts regarding what I should do until this had gone on for most of a week.

Our city water department’s website indicated that the city periodically runs different forms of chlorine through the water system, and the one it was running at the time was particularly strong.  And – they were planning to run it for the months of June and August!  My migraine-induced fog brain had to function long enough to do some thinking and praying, because this was a little overwhelming to consider.

My research revealed something that I want to share with you not just because it might work but because it did work for me.  Evidently, vitamin C neutralizes chlorine.  Some people put it in bath water for this purpose.  I decided to put it straight into me for maximum benefit!  Once I started taking 3000mg of this in a glass of cold water 3 times a day, the migraines stopped even with the continuing chlorine smell during my showers and while doing laundry.  Note that I have been drinking Ice Mountain bottled water for a long time.  So, I was not (and am still not) actually drinking the city’s chlorinated water, but the chlorine in the air was enough to cause problems.  I know that 9000mg of vitamin C may sound like a lot, but I had a doctor at one point in my life who had me on 13000 to 20000mg for a long time.  At the time, she said that if it was too much, I would get diarrhea.

Please do your own research, but vitamin C is definitely my friend, and I want to share this info with you.

Are Your Migraines Under Control?

What a strange question to ask.  Whenever a doctor or friend asks, “Are your migraines under control?”, I really never know how to respond.  To me, a “yes” answer to this question means that I don’t have migraines anymore, because I feel out of control when I do have them.  Therefore, to be able to answer “yes” would mean the following:

  • I never leave my house.
  • I never breathe air coming from my neighbors dryer that is venting perfumes from dryer sheets.
  • No one enters my house unless they talk quietly, avoid wearing fluorescent yellow/pink/green clothes or clothes with patterns that my brain can’t figure out, and remove all scents from clothes/hair/skin/armpits/etc.
  • I never consume anything outside my diet.
  • No city water treated with chlorine (see an upcoming post) runs through my faucets, showers, or clothes washer/dryer.
  • I never open the window shades to let in sunlight or light reflecting off of snow.
  • I never look at a computer screen, swipe across my phone, or watch the news with all of the banners moving different directions and cameras zooming in and out.  Watching the news is not really desirable anymore anyway, but that’s another story.
  • Never travel more than 60 mph so that my brain can keep up with all of the movement around me.
  • Never travel more than 1 hour from my home so that I can return easily if a migraine starts coming on.
  • Drink enough water.
  • Eat and take supplements on a precise schedule regardless of other commitments in my life.
  • Eliminate insomnia completely.

Since this is obviously not possible to achieve completely, I have decided that I have to look at the question “Are your migraines under control?” differently.  To me it means:

  • Am I doing what I can to minimize them as much as possible?
  • When I do get one, am I able to keep it from progressing into a multi-day ordeal?

To keep a migraine from progressing beyond 1 hour, I do the following:

  • I maintain a rigid diet which is under my control (also see here).
  • Increase vitamin C intake when the city is increasing its chlorine use in the water (see an upcoming post).
  • Allow myself plenty of time to sleep and pray that I will be able to do so.
  • Stop taking synthetic hormones.
  • Avoid going to places that I know cause problems for me (lighting, air fresheners, loud noise etc.)
  • Choose where I sit in large gatherings so that there is maximum airflow and ease of leaving if necessary.
  • When I do leave the house, I wear my visor and clips, take plenty of snacks in case I get stuck somewhere for a while, take earplugs which I put in at the first sign of excessive noise, and pack magnesium and ginger in my purse.
  • Immediately, take 25 to 50 mg magnesium glycinate and 550 mg of ginger when I feel the twinges of a migraine beginning.  Put in my earplugs. Head home.  Eat chicken nuggets drowned in yellow mustard (try searching “yellow mustard for headaches”).  Put an ice pack on my head and rest.
  • 1 hour – DONE – move on

Obviously, this still means that I don’t go very far from my home.  I haven’t figured that one out yet, and I haven’t successfully travelled without getting migraines yet.  However, I do have something that I can do for my migraines to keep them from being multi-day events.  Therefore, I feel that they are “under control” by my definition, and that is progress from where I was just a year and a half ago.

Anti-Perspirant, but NOT Anti-Migraine

Besides the obvious huge benefit of painlessness, a side benefit of having my migraines under control is that I can isolate a trigger if I do get a migraine.  In the past few months, I have had very few, but I want to share what I have found with the hope that you might benefit.

Antiperspirants trigger migraines for me.  I had been using Milk of Magnesia (more on this later), but recently needed to have the more reliable stick on some days that required me to go longer without a shower than normal.  Not knowing that this would end up being a trigger, I didn’t really think about the pain impact; I just used it.  However, I started noticing a pattern.  Every day after I used it, I had a migraine. Once I noticed this pattern, I quit using it, and the migraines stopped.  I now use only Milk of Magnesia no matter what my shower schedule is.

When I originally started having debilitating migraines, I tried everything I could come up with to make them go away; I’m sure many of you can relate.  Included in “everything” was using Milk of Magnesia as an anti-perspirant based on a passing comment from a friend.  It worked for me, and I thought, “I could use extra magnesium to fight this pain anyway.” At that time, I really didn’t know how much (if any) of an impact this was having on reducing my migraine severity or frequency since I had so many other triggers actively affecting me.  However, now I know.

From a practical standpoint, I’m sure you’re thinking, “what a mess.”  Milk of Magnesia is a mess, but I have figured out how to make it less of a mess, and the lack of pain from it is worth it.  Here is what I do:

  1. I buy unflavored Milk of Magnesia (MOM).  Scents bother me anyway, but who really wants to smell like wild cherries, strawberries, or mint?
  2. I fill the little cup that comes attached to the bottle with MOM and place it uncovered in my medicine cabinet.  The water evaporates slowly which leaves thicker MOM in the cup.  I dip a couple of fingertips in and apply it like a lotion.  As the MOM gets thicker, it is even easier to apply and faster to dry.  Once it is dry, I just add more MOM and stir it gently with a finger to blend in the drier clumps.
  3. When I need to travel, I do step #2 in a container that can be covered with a lid or pour MOM into a small travel bottle with a pop-up lid.  This bottle eventually gets pretty messy and has to be replaced, but these are inexpensive, and I really don’t travel much anymore anyway.
  4. I budget “drying time” into my schedule.  This is really only a few minutes, but it is longer than a stick.  It is also dependent on how thick your MOM is.
  5. MOM does leave a white residue which may be disappointing to those of you who like to wear no-sleeve shirts.  I either am really careful about how I apply it on no-sleeve shirt days or just don’t care and do it anyway.  Once again, the lack of pain is worth it!

Note that Milk of Magnesia as a replacement for standard antiperspirants may not work for everyone.  My kids are at ages that involve a higher degree of perspiration and odor, and it is not effective for them. However, they don’t have migraines either.  Therefore, they aren’t as motivated to make it work for them. I’m interested to know if this is effective as an antiperspirant for any of you suffering from migraines.  You might not feel an immediate impact on your migraines if you have other active triggers, but it might be part of the solution.