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.

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Maple Granola

Quinoa Granola

 

Although Pumpkin Granola is the one we go through the fastest, here is another great one that doesn’t have migraine triggers.  We used to add Cranraisins to this recipe, but discovered that these are major migraine triggers for us; the granola is a great snack without them though.

Maple Granola

Quinoa Granola
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla

  1. Optional step:  The quinoa can be rinsed and toasted in a skillet to give it a “nuttier” flavor.  However, this is time consuming and not necessary in my opinion.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  4. Place granola on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees in 10 minute increments until dry (approximately 30 minutes depending on your oven).  After each 10 minute increment, stir the granola to keep the edges from burning.  Once the granola is almost dry, turn the oven off, prop the door slightly open, and allow the warmth to complete the drying process.
  5. Although we have never added hemp hearts to this recipe, we are experimenting with them and plan to try this at some point.

Barbecue Sauce for Chicken

barbecue-sauce

I always thought tomato sauce and onions were essential in any recipe for barbecue sauce, but here is a recipe that we have worked out without these migraine triggers.  We enjoy it with this potato recipe.

Barbecue Sauce

Makes 1 cup sauce, just right for shredded chicken from 2 breasts

barbecue-sauce

1/2 cup yellow mustard
1/4 cup molases
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 cup distilled white vinegar
1/6 cup honey
1/8 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

  1. Blend all ingredients together and pour over shredded chicken from 2 breasts.
  2. Stir to evenly coat and serve warm.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Cauliflower Soup light

I used to only have 3 soup recipes.  This new adventure of figuring out what to eat on a migraine diet has opened my eyes to so many more options.  My sister-in-law sent the original idea for this soup to me, but I have made several changes to accommodate our dietary needs.  We love this served as a side dish with chicken recipes.

The garlic scape that I have used for garnish in the picture is a delightful replacement for onions or mushrooms.  The difficulty is finding scapes, which are the stalks for the flower buds of the garlic plant (see one of mine here).  They are usually removed from a garlic plant to allow the bulbs to grow larger.  However, I usually let a few scapes grow so that the flowering buds develop for planting the next year.  I used to compost the others, but have recently begun using them in dishes such as this one.  This year, my plan is to freeze them for use all year long.  If garlic growing is something you would like me to include in a future post, please comment below.

Note that this recipe fits nicely in a blender.  However, if you want to make a larger batch using the entire cauliflower head, you could use a stick blender right in the stockpot.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Cauliflower Soup light

1/2 of a large cauliflower head (or 1 very small head), chopped
1 medium white or yellow potato, peeled and diced
2 cups broth
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/16 tsp. cayenne pepper
dash cumin
diced and sauteed garlic scapes for garnish (optional)

  1. Place the cauliflower, potato, and broth in a small stockpot and simmer until the vegetables are soft.
  2. Place vegetables, broth, and spices (except garlic scapes) into a blender and blend until creamy.
  3. Serve warm as a side dish with sauteed garlic scapes for garnish as desired.

Ginger Chicken with Carrot Noodles and Broccoli

Ginger Chicken with Spiralized Carrots and Broccoli

I am learning to embrace new herbs and spices since I can no longer add onions for flavoring.  It does seem that so many recipes include onions, but they don’t have to.  I have found that garlic fills much of this gap.  However, I don’t want garlic to be the primary flavor in everything.  So, I am learning to cook more with other spices such as ginger.  The last time that I had leftover Honey Mustard Salad Dressing, I wondered what it would taste like baked on chicken.  The flavor that seemed to be missing in my first try was what I sense when I smell ginger, so I tried it!

Ginger is reported to have benefits for migraineurs.  I have no idea if it is playing a role in my reduced pain or not, but it isn’t hurting either.  I had not used it much previously except as an ingredient in gingerbread cookies.  Initially, I started adding 1/4 tsp. to a glass of water 2 times a day.  Since then, I have also ventured into an increased use of it in other recipes, including this one.  I recognize that it may appear as if there is too much ginger called for in this recipe.  However, I have tried 1/2 to 3 teaspoons as I have worked out this recipe.  Since the chicken is turned over part way through the baking time, the sauce acts like a marinade.  In the end, the amount of ginger included in the recipe is just right to flavor the dish without an overwhelming ginger taste.  It is so good, that we even take the juices at the bottom of the pan and ladle them over the carrots!

Note that I did end up adding garlic to the dish, but ginger is the primary flavor.  The diced garlic scapes that are included in the picture and as an optional ingredient in the recipe do work nicely with this dish, but are primarily included for visual appeal.  I also have fun using scapes since I grow garlic in my garden.  I cannot find the scapes in a grocery store, so it is a treat to have them as my garlic grows.  If you are interested in having me post about how to grow garlic (and the scapes), please comment below and I will work on a post as this year’s garden develops.

Garlic Scape

Garlic Scape

Ginger Chicken with Carrot Noodles and Broccoli

Ginger Chicken with Spiralized Carrots and Broccoli

2 chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. ginger
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
6 large carrots, spiralized
1 bunch broccoli florets
garlic scapes, diced (optional)

  1. In a small bowl, stir the mustard, honey, olive oil, ginger, and garlic powder together.
  2. Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish, and pour the sauce over each.
  3. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until no pink remains.  Turn the breasts over at least once during the baking time to allow spices to bake into the chicken evenly.  Turning will also prevent a crust from forming.
  4. Serve over spiralized carrots with broccoli florets.
  5. Spoon remaining baking juices over the carrots.

Food Triggers

I never realized how easy it would be to discover which foods trigger my migraines.  I’m not referring to the process of figuring out what to eat instead, which has required a lot of time and hard work.  However, determining the scope of what I am dealing with has been so easy that I don’t know why a medical professional didn’t suggest it sometime during the 15 years that I have been struggling with migraines and looking for help.

For a really long time, I didn’t realize that foods were even an issue.  I just kept going to doctors and physical therapists thinking that the rabbit trails we were going down with exercises and medications must eventually work, because these people knew about this stuff I was paying them to know about – right?  I did have a doctor recommend that I stop eating wheat, which reduced my overall body pain, and for that I am thankful.

About 5 years ago, chocolate became something that I didn’t want after I had a hallucination within an hour of eating it.  Caffeine decided that it no longer even wanted to stay in my body – or maybe it was my body that didn’t want the caffeine in it anymore after 20 years.  I literally just couldn’t “stomach” it anymore.  The logical part of my brain reasoned that human-created substances added to food simply couldn’t be good for me since God designed my body and the food that that would fuel it.  So, I stopped eating processed foods.  While elimination of wheat, chocolate, caffeine, and additives helped with my overall health, I continued to have migraines, vertigo, heart palpitations, fatigue, periods of brain fog, and severe neck and upper back pain.  At this point I really didn’t think that other foods could trigger migraines since I was still having them after eliminating some foods; I don’t know why I considered chocolate, caffeine, and additives to be “foods,” but wheat certainly is:)  So, I mistakenly thought that foods were not a problem for me.

However, as I discussed here, last fall I remembered someone telling me a long time ago that she couldn’t eat tomatoes since her head always hurt after she ate them.  Internet searching revealed many lists of foods that have the potential to do this.  So, I made a list and eliminated 3 or 4 of the items – I still had migraines.  I eliminated another one – I still had migraines.  I had to conclude 1 of 2 things – either food was not the issue or I hadn’t found all (or any) of the triggers yet.  Since I had spent 15 years in the “food isn’t my trigger” camp, I decided that the other conclusion was worthy of consideration.  As Buchholz points out in Chapter 4 of his book, “Heal Your Headache,” it is very difficult to figure out which foods trigger migraines without eliminating everything on the list at first to gain pain control.  Once this has been achieved, one food item at a time can be attempted to see if it triggers a migraine.  In this way, if I have a migraine following a food trial, I’m not left wondering, “Was it the beans I had 2 nights ago, the banana I had for breakfast, or the cheese in my salad dressing?”  I know exactly what to target, because there is only 1 thing it could be at any given time.  Admittedly, weather changes and fragrances are also triggers for me, but I simply don’t try to reintroduce a food on a day that these things are also present.  Now, weather changes and fragrances are the only triggers I have, and the resulting migraines no longer include vertigo and heart palpitations:)

The detective work involved in figuring out triggers is neither quick nor pleasant.  However, it is quicker, less painful, and more conclusive when the potential triggers are eliminated all together and reintroduced one at a time.  Some people may even find that no foods are triggering their migraines!  However, if you’re still having migraines, wouldn’t it be great to know for sure?  What if there is a food trigger in there waiting to be rooted out so that you could feel better able to do what you are called to do each day?

I don’t know if the following information is helpful to anyone, but it is a list of where I currently stand with my food triggers.  My recipes reflect this list.

Wheat (not currently able to eat)
Chocolate (will never try to reintroduce!)
Caffeine (will never try to reintroduce!)
Additives (not currently eating any)
Dairy (not currently able to eat)
Nuts (eat a small portion of almonds 1x/week with this recipe – my treat:))
Eggs (1 migraineur in the family is able to eat, but the other is not)
Beans (will never try to reintroduce because this is a vicious trigger for me)
Onions (able to use broth that contains onions, but I don’t eat onion otherwise)
Citrus (not currently able to eat)
Raspberries (not currently able to eat)
Tomatoes (not currently able to eat)
Apples (not currently eating but plan to try again soon)
Bananas (not currently able to eat)
Yeast (let homemade yeast bread sit 24 hours before eating or freezing)
Vinegar (only able to eat distilled white vinegar)
Soy (not currently able to eat)
Avocados (not currently able to eat)
Alcohol (haven’t had in a long time and don’t plan to reintroduce)
Corn (successfully reintroduced:))

Chicken Nuggets

Chicken Nuggets 2

This recipe is great for a supper meal, but I have also found it to be particularly helpful at lunch.  If I don’t eat more than a salad at lunch, I start getting that “migraine coming on” feeling mid-afternoon.  I make a double batch for supper and freeze the leftovers to be warmed for lunches throughout the week.  The original inspiration for this recipe included several migraine triggers and a dipping sauce.  I’ve replaced the trigger ingredients and think these nuggets are great without a dipping sauce.  I frequently serve them with roasted cauliflower and steamed beets.

Chicken Nuggets

Chicken Nuggets 2

1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup rice flour
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 pound ground chicken
1 “egg” (1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G powder & 2 Tbsp. water)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
coconut oil

  1. In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup rice flour and 1/4 cup coconut.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine ground chicken, 1/3 cup rice flour, Ener-G egg, and spices.
  3. Form desired nugget-sized patties and roll in flour/coconut blend.
  4. Fry in coconut oil in a hot skillet.  I keep the amount of coconut oil to 1 or 2 tablespoons, but you could use more if desired.
  5. Optional step – When fully cooked, place on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for a few minutes for a crispier crust.  Update on 8/15/17 – We have found that this step tends to dry out the nuggets.  We microwave instead if necessary.