Fudge

Among the many foods I have had to eliminate from my diet is chocolate.  I actually stopped eating it after I had a really bizarre reaction to it many years ago.  In the past couple of years, I discovered that it was good that I had stopped eating it, because it can trigger migraines.  I’ve grown used to not eating it, but I really enjoyed it when I was still able to.

Recently, my daughter was developing a new recipe in the kitchen, and I smelled chocolate.  I was surprised to find out that she was not using chocolate though.  Rather, several ingredients mixed together just smelled like chocolate to me (and they tasted really good on my fingertips as well).  Her ingredients were only parts of a more involved recipe, but we decided to mix them together later to see if we could make candy.

This fudge doesn’t taste exactly like chocolate, but it has an awesome flavor on its own.. I mean really good…  Like I can’t stop eating it good.  Here’s the recipe:

Fudge


1/4 cup smooth almond butter
2 2/3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp. vanilla

  1. Mix all ingredients in a microwavable cup.
  2. Microwave for 25 seconds and stir until smooth.
  3. In parchment lined freezer container, spread mixture and freeze for 6 hours, or until hard.
  4. Cut and enjoy.

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Masks

While I am blessed to finally be at a point that my migraine frequency and severity has been greatly reduced, there has been a price to pay.  It has been relatively easy to accept the food limitations, shields from bright lights, and frequent earplug use.  However, it has not been easy to accept everything I must do to avoid airborne chemical triggers.  This requires that I stay at my home with the air and water filters that we have installed, a lonely proposition.

Many of the triggers for my migraines and vertigo are chemicals included in air fresheners and cleaners commonly used in most buildings, such as grocery stores, doctors’ offices, restaurants, libraries, and churches.  The perfumes, scented lotions, and laundry detergents used by people who go to these places also fill the air with chemicals that quickly reduce me to an immobilized lump.  Until now, my only option to feel well enough to function in my roles at home was to stay there.  I have finally found an option that allows me to venture out of my house for short periods of time: a respiratory mask.

The first one I tried was the “I Can Breathe” mask which I found to be comfortable.  Elastic bands fit around the ears rather than the neck which I like.  I had a good seal around my chin but could not get a good fit across the bridge of my nose.  Therefore, air leaked in without being filtered, and air leaked out, steaming up my glasses.  I ended up getting a migraine the first time I used this in a room with a lot of perfumes.  I also felt like I was struggling to breathe, perhaps because I had to breathe in and out through the filter medium.

The second mask I tried was the “Respro Allergy Mask” with the chemical and particle filter.  This mask includes one-way valves that allow exhaled air to be easily expelled, an improvement over the “I Can Breathe Mask”. However, this mask is strapped around the neck which was initially uncomfortable for me.  It presses on areas in my neck that tend to hurt during migraines, and I initially thought this would trigger a migraine.  This has not been a problem as I have adjusted to the mask though.  Other adjustments have been necessary for comfort and effectiveness.  I sewed cotton fabric into the chin area because it did not seal well initially.  The metal bar across the nose is uncomfortable after wearing the mask for about an hour.  So, I placed a thin piece of padding to the underside of the bar.  It seems to me that securing the mask around my neck tends to pull the mask downward, causing the chin to leak and the metal bar to press harder into my nose.  The adjustments I have made have resolved these issues though. The huge upside to this mask is that IT WORKS!  I have been able to attend church, take children to appointments, and run short errands without getting a migraine!

My hope is that there is a more comfortable option at some point, but I am thankful for what I have now.

 

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!

 

 

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.