The tree is up, the stockings are hung, and my oldest has met Santa twice. Tis the season! For holiday parties, potlucks, cookie exchanges and get-togethers with friends and family.
I love a get-together with friends as much as the next gal, but when you’re on a special diet, it can actually cause some anxiety. “What am I going to eat?” is a common question my husband and I discuss whenever we’re headed out to eat or to a friend’s house.
Here are five tips that I use to make sure I stay on my diet – and stay migraine-free throughout the holidays:
1 – For a potluck, it’s simple – just bring something you know you can eat! My go-to is a veggie tray with hummus. You could also get more involved and bring a casserole or other main entree.
2 – When a friend is throwing a dinner party, it’s okay to just ask, “What’s on the menu?” Chances are, there’s going to be at least one thing you can eat. If there’s not, eat before you go. You’ll still get to spend time with friends, and that’s the best part anyway!
3 – Because I’m gluten-free, I opt out of cookie exchanges. If you want to participate, just give the cookies you receive to your husband and children 🙂
4 – When I go out to a restaurant, I generally order either a steak or chicken breast – with no seasonings, and a side of steamed veggies or rice. We don’t get out a ton, mostly because it’s hard with a baby! (She’s always fine until our food comes. Then she must be held/rocked/fed/walked around the restaurant. She has excellent timing.) So when we do go out, I stick to this plan and typically come out migraine-free.
5 – And if you’re really into the Holiday Spirit, you could always throw your own dinner party! Cook a big migraine-free meal for your nearest and dearest. Show them it’s delicious while still being healthy – and not as difficult as they might think!
Remember, alcohol is a migraine trigger. If you’re going to be drinking, do so in moderation. Make sure you’re also drinking water to stay hydrated. For the better part of three years, I’ve either been pregnant or breastfeeding, so I just don’t drink much! Red wine is one of the biggest alcoholic migraine triggers. If I do have a drink, I’ll have a hard cider or gin and tonic (both are naturally gluten free), followed by a lot of water!
What did I miss? Do you have tips on staying on your migraine-free diet during the holidays?
There was a time in my not-too-distant-past when I hated oatmeal. It’s true. I thought it was slimy. When I was pregnant with Norah, I saw some instant oatmeal with strawberries while grocery shopping, and my pregnant stomach took over. It was fantastic. It wasn’t long until I learned that instant oatmeal is nothing compared to old fashioned. And don’t get me started on steel cut! Nom nom nom!
Fast-forward to the present time. Norah and I eat oatmeal almost every morning – preferably steel cut, but I don’t always have time to make that. Then we like to snack on granola throughout the day. Plus, granola is a great snack to put in my purse or diaper bag for when I’m out and about.
But, the bags of granola can get a little spendy. I’ve made my own granola before, so I thought I’d try it again. I found a recipe, figured out what I needed to change to make it migraine-free, enlisted my little helper and got to work!
The original recipe called for almonds and almond extract. I left those out since they can be triggers. If you’re not worried about migraines, by all means, put them back in! You could also add dried fruit or other nuts.
Next time, I’ll probably make a double batch. Granola is my go-to snack, and this stuff just won’t last long in our house! If you are going to do a double batch, use two baking sheets. Don’t try to get it all on one.
Enjoy! Let me know if you try this recipe, or have ever made your own granola.
If you follow me on Facebook, you know that my brother is coming home for Thanksgiving! I don’t even remember the last Thanksgiving we spent together. It’s been at least seven years!
He has Celiac Disease, so we’re doing a gluten and migraine free Thanksgiving. My mom and I have been looking at recipes and planning our meal for awhile, so I thought I’d share it with you in case you need some inspiration for the quickly approaching day.
Veggie tray with hummus. I buy Sabra Roasted Red Pepper hummus. I keep trying to make my own hummus, and it’s never as good.
Turkey – we’re going to do a brine and then bake it. My brother-in-law did it this way a few years ago and it was the best turkey I’ve ever had. I bought this brine kit from World Market.
GF Cornbread muffins – this recipe technically isn’t migraine free because there’s yogurt in it, but I eat them anyway. We make these in a muffin pan instead of a skillet. They only need to bake for about 12 minutes. I’ve used this recipe many times. It’s so good! The muffins only last about 3 days in our house.
Homemade applesauce – My parents made a batch of applesauce and froze it, so we’ll be eating that.
Sweet corn – My parents also cooked and froze some good ol’ Iowa sweet corn this fall, so we get to eat that. Mmmm, Iowa sweet corn!
Roasted butternut squash – I made this recipe last week to test it out. It is nothing short of amazing. Also, peeling and cubing a butternut squash is not fun! But your tastebuds will be greatly rewarded for your effort. I put my brother in charge of this dish 🙂
Cranberry chutney – I’ve never made my own cranberry sauce, but I’m going to give it a whirl! I’ll be making a few changes to this recipe, since citrus is a no-no for migraineurs. I’ll be replacing the orange juice with peach juice and omitting the orange zest.
Garlic mashed sweet potatoes– I’ll omit the sour cream, since that’s a migraine trigger. Maybe put in some cream cheese instead? Yeah, cream cheese!
Stuffing – We call stuffing “dressing,” and it drives my husband crazy. “Dressing goes on salads!” Whatever you call it, I’ve never been a big fan. Probably because there’s onion and celery in it. My grandma is making the stuffing this year, so it probably won’t be GF/MF. But, if you want to make your own, this recipe doesn’t look too tough! Just leave out the onion to make it MF.
Green bean casserole – My husband really wants to make a green bean casserole. He said he’s just going to make up his own recipe as he goes. This recipe looks pretty tasty though! The onions and cheese are migraine triggers, so I’ll probably pass, but everyone else can enjoy it!
In a typical day (as typical as they get around here), Shane is gone all day, leaving around 7 a.m. and returning by 5 or 6 p.m. Norah wakes up sometime in the night and ends up in our bed. Cece sleeps all morning, waking up around 10 a.m.
We play. We eat lunch. Cece naps (hopefully in her crib). We might watch a couple episodes of Dinosaur Train. I try to get some chores done around the house.
But inevitably, at some point during the day, Cece will start squealing. It’s high pitched and very loud. It could wake the dead. It generally means, “PAY ATTENTION TO ME AND ONLY ME AND IF YOU SO MUCH AS LOOK AWAY I’LL SQUEAL AGAIN!”
What is one to do in this situation? I stick her in my Boba.
She chills out, barely makes a peep, sometimes snoozes, and I have my hands free!
I actually have two Bobas. I bought one for Norah when she was just over a year old. We were going on vacation and I loathe taking strollers anywhere. I carried her EVERYWHERE on that trip! People kept asking if my back hurt. Nope!
Cece’s Boba I actually won from a blog I follow – Tales of a Mountain Mama. Cece’s is a Boba 4G (Norah’s is a 3G). The 4G has a special infant insert that boosts the baby up so they fit better.
So far, our Bobas have gone lots of places.
To the top of Crazy Horse.
Hiking around the ranch.
The Colorado Springs Zoo.
We also get to share babywearing duties!
I also just use it around the house to keep my sanity.
So, if you have kids, get yourself a Boba. Or a wrap. Or SOMETHING to carry the baby in to free up your hands and make your life soooo much easier. Just make sure it’s a safe one, no “crotch danglers,” and no forward facing carriers. There’s lots of reasoning behind it. Your baby will thank you. #WearAllTheBabies
I recently started doing something that has made my life much easier: meal planning Norah’s lunch.
I grew up terribly picky. I ate a LOT of PB&Js and grilled cheese sandwiches. But only creamy peanut butter. And only grape jelly. And heaven help the person who put marinara on my noodles.
Norah is not a picky eater – thank goodness!
However, I was stuck in a rut. She was eating an awful lot of PB&Js with a side of cottage cheese for lunch. And sometimes dinner. She wasn’t complaining, but I wanted to change things up and offer some diversity.
I poked around on the web, looking at other toddler lunch ideas. I wrote down everything I knew she would eat. It was a pretty long list!
Then I wrote out her lunches for the week. I tried to incorporate a veggie, fruit and protein in each meal. I also meal plan for our family, so some of the lunches are based off leftovers from that plan.
Here’s what I did for this week:
Monday: Sliced hard boiled egg, toast with peanut butter, steamed carrots.
Tuesday: Turkey and cheese sandwich, sliced apples, steamed carrots.
Wednesday: Rice with mixed veggies, cottage cheese, pears.
Thursday: Quinoa chicken enchilada bowl, grapes.
Friday: Turkey and cheese on crackers, yogurt with granola, carrots.
Saturday: Butternut squash, toast with peanut butter, banana.
Can you tell I just made a big batch of steamed carrots? 🙂 Luckily, she loves them! I think it’s because I ate carrots and hummus every day while I was pregnant with her.
Monday’s meal went great. She ate everything, then asked for more carrots. While she was eating those carrots, I sliced an apple for myself. Then she asked for some of my apple. We are both bottomless pits.
So, that was my stroke of genius for the week. I plan on typing up my list, and making a template for her lunches. Then I can stick it in a page protector, put it on the fridge, and write on it with a dry erase marker.
Have you ever meal planned for your toddler? Do you have any other mommy hacks that made your life easier? Please share!
Shane had been gone on an overnight trip. Actually, a couple overnights. In a row. For weeks.
Norah and I called him and talked for awhile. When we hung up, she said, “Mommy, where’s Daddy?”
“He’s at work.”
“But I want to give him a hug!”
Did your heart just break a little bit? Because mine did.
Story number 2:
Shane had been gone on all weekend. He was supposed to be home Monday, but got called out early that morning for a trip.
Cece was fussing a bit, and Norah patted her tummy and said, “I know, I miss Daddy too. He’ll be home soon.”
Now your heart is definitely broken, right?
So, what do you do when this happens to you? I’ll tell you what we did.
We decided to move. Yep, that’s right. We’re moving!! Back to Shane’s hometown in the Black Hills! We’re going to live on the ranch he grew up on. We visit there several times a year, and it’s just, ah … words don’t do it justice, so here:
It’ll be different. Really different. But good different! The town has about 900 people. The next closest town, where Shane will be working, has about 4,000. And it’s 30 minutes away. Shane will be working with his mom, who has her own Ameriprise office.
The most often asked question I get when I tell people we’re moving is, “Will Shane still fly?” Not professionally. We would like to get a small 4 seater someday so we can all fit in it and he can still do what he loves.
I’ll still stay home with the girls and Norah will probably take over the ranch 😉 This girl, I tell ya, she LOVES the ranch. She’s always telling Grandpa it’s time to go check the cows, or feed the cows, or just ride around on the Ranger. And she loves helping Grandma pick tomatoes, carrots and potatoes in the garden.
Oh, and I’m going to have to keep my eyes out for these guys:
Yep. That’s a rattlesnake. We walked by him TWICE before Shane’s sister noticed him. He was hanging out in a cave we were exploring. Sheila threw a rock at him to see if he was alive. He was. There are also mountain lions and black widow spiders to look out for.
We’re not moving until next Spring, but we’re very excited. Shane will be home every morning, and be there to help put the girls to bed every night. He’ll have holidays and weekends off. (He’s flown on Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, Valentines Day and the Fourth of July. Not cool.) He loves flying, and the people he flies for, but being away from his family so often is just too hard for him (and the rest of us) to handle.
If you follow me on Facebook, you’d know I just finished up a round of freezer meals for our family. This is only the second time I’ve made them, and I can’t believe how helpful they are!
I love cooking, but when the husband is gone all day or on overnight trips, it can be hard to find time to make dinner. But pulling one out of the freezer and plopping it in the crockpot? Easy, peasy.
All of these recipes are gluten free and MSG free if you read your labels. Some have cheese in them, which can be a migraine trigger. If it’s your trigger, skip that recipe or leave out the cheese.
I keep a running list in my Google Docs of the recipes I use. When I’m preparing for my cooking day, I print it out and make my grocery list. I write down EVERYTHING I will need. Then I go through the kitchen and pantry and cross off what I already have. Then make a new grocery list with what I still need. It takes awhile, but it’s worth it. Also, if you have a simpler way of doing this, let me know!
It takes a whole day of cooking for me to get these all done. That’s what life is like with two little ones!
Note on the chicken meals: Norah’s not huge on eating meat, so I usually just use one full breast in each meal. (A full breast is when they’re still attached – I separate and clean them before bagging them). If you have more than two that will be eating, throw in another breast or two! It shouldn’t be an issue.
A note on broth: Using homemade broth is best because you know that it won’t have gluten or MSG in it. Most chicken broth was made using onions, which are triggers. I have yet to find a store-bought broth that doesn’t have onion in it. You can always just use water and add more seasonings.
The night before I make the meals, I label all of my freezer bags with what goes in them and how to cook/reheat them. These details are all listed with each recipe below. Ideally, I’d have gone grocery shopping in advance of my cooking day, but I didn’t this time, because that’s life. So Norah went with me early in the morning.
Once I actually got to cooking, I started out by washing and chopping all my vegetables. Then I cleaned the chicken breasts and put them in their respective meal bags.
I tried to find the links to the original recipes. If there’s no link, I couldn’t find where I got it from!
If cheese is a migraine trigger for you, just leave it out! It’ll still be delish 🙂 High quality American cheese is not a trigger, so you could use that.
1 lb beef
1 c shredded cheese
1/2 c milk
3/4 c oats
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Cool, and put in freezer bag.
Write on bag: Thaw, Reheat at 350 until warm throughout.
Line baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes. Cool, and put in freezer bags. Makes 12 meatballs. *I put 6 meatballs in two quart sized freezer bags because we don’t eat more than 6 at a time.
Write on bag: Thaw, reheat in microwave or oven.
3 chicken breasts
1 c honey
1/2 gluten free, MSG free soy sauce
2 tsp minced garlic
Write on bag: Thaw, line baking pan with foil or parchment paper. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Serve with rice or quinoa and veggies.
Note: When I made this, I had frozen peas in my freezer so we cooked them up. It was the perfect addition! We also had a lot of sauce left over so you could probably cook 4 chicken breasts if you wanted.
Chicken Broccoli Rice casserole
This recipe makes at least two meals.
6 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups milk
1 pkg cream cheese (read label to make sure it is MSG free)
6 cups cooked rice
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 packages frozen broccoli
5 cups shredded chicken
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
Melt butter in saucepan. Add milk and cream cheese. Stir occasionally until cheese is melted.
Mix ingredients with cheese sauce in a big bowl. Divide between two freezer bags.
Write on bag: Thaw, grease 9×9 pan and bake at 350 for 30 mins.
This is the most labor intensive recipe, and it’s totally worth it. So good, especially on a chilly night! This makes a LOT of soup! I put about 6 cups of soup in two freezer bags. I use my 9 quart stockpot to cook in. Again, there is cheese in this recipe, so if that’s your trigger, leave it out or skip the recipe. I added mushrooms to my soup because I had them on hand. This recipe is easy to adapt to your family’s tastes!
1 stick butter
1 lb ground beef
1 package frozen peas and carrot (or fresh veggies of your choice)
1/2 c chopped red pepper
t Tbsp minced garlic
6 cups gluten and MSG free chicken broth
9 cups cubed potatoes
1/4 c corn starch
1 lb cubed cheddar cheese (I use sharp cheddar)
3 cups milk
2 Tbsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Brown the beef in the large stockpot.
Add the broth, potatoes, red pepper, peas and carrots.
Bring to a boil, stir, then turn to low heat, cover pot with lid, and let simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.
In a smaller pot, melt the butter, then whisk in cornstarch. Add milk, whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil until starts to thicken, about 2 minutes, then remove from heat.
Gradually add the milk mixture into the stockpot once the potatoes are tender. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil and let boil for 2 minutes to thicken the soup. Reduce heat to simmer and stir in cheese cubes.
When cheese is melted, add garlic salt and pepper. Stir until all is warmed through to desired temperature. Taste to see if you would prefer additional garlic salt or pepper, or other seasonings. (I add cayenne pepper to everything!)
Cool, put in freezer bags.
Write on bag: Thaw, add milk when reheating.
2-3 chicken breasts
1/2 bottle of gluten free teriyaki sauce (check for MSG also)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp minced garlic
Combine everything into a freezer bag.
Write on bag: Thaw, cook 8 hours on low, 4 on high. Serve with rice.
Note: I added a bag of frozen broccoli during the last hour of cooking.
I love this recipe. I’ve never frozen it before so I’m hoping it turns out well! We’ll test it soon to make sure 🙂 There is cheese in this recipe. If that’s a migraine trigger for you, just leave it out.
1 cup shredded chicken
1 cup dry quinoa = about 3 cups cooked
1 cup cooked/canned black beans
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup shredded cheese
½ tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lime juice
Cook quinoa. In a large bowl combine chicken, quinoa, black beans, corn, and cheese. In a small bowl combine dry spices.
Toss with quinoa mixture. Add lime juice and toss well.
Cool and put in freezer bag.
Write on bag: Thaw and reheat in microwave. Serve with chips or corn tortillas, tomatoes, salsa, etc.
When Norah started crawling, we decided it was finally time to get a baby gate. We knew it would be hard to find one that fit because our stairs are a little awkward.
One side is a wall, and the other side is spindles. The standard gate that uses pressure to hook in wouldn’t work.
And, let’s be honest, most baby gates are hideous. Plus the ones that are decent looking are expensive!
Every time we went to the store we would look at baby gates. We looked online at countless websites. Finally Pinterest came to my rescue! All my time pinning was about to pay off. I found one that looked like a barn door and asked Shane if he could make it.
Obviously, he said yes. Anything that will get him some garage-time.
After some configuring, we decided to nix the barn door style because we wanted to be able to see through it. He designed a new one, I okay’d it, and he went to work.
He used oak 1×4 and 1×2 boards. He put a caster on it so if Norah hangs on it, it won’t break off the wall.
He angled the bars on the top and bottom to give it a little style 😉
It’s so sturdy and solid! And it looks sooo much better than any you can buy in the store!
Seriously. He needs to be selling these things. It cost about $60 and took less than 4 hours to make.
The latch took some figuring. We didn’t want to drill into the spindle, so he make a block to fit around it, and attached the latch to the block.
After awhile, Norah learned how to open it, so we changed it up. She keeps us on our toes. This photo is with the first latch system. Now the latch is attached to the gate and locks behind the spindle with a pin to keep it in place.
Shane and his dad made this gate at their house:
They designed it to swing both in and out. They framed it with 1x4s and screwed on tongue and groove boards for the front. It has a sliding bolt latch on the back.
Then his sister had him make a gate at her house.
This gate is a single piece of edge glued pine. In order to not drill a hole in the banister, he zip tied a board to it and drilled into that for the latch.
He’s basically a baby gate making expert now.
It’s so nice to have a handy husband 🙂
Also, baby gates are awesome at keeping the dog in the basement when he’s annoying you.
At the end of July, we were visiting my in-laws in the Black Hills. To make a really long story short, my appendix ruptured the day we were going to come home.
I had surgery that afternoon and was told I would be in the hospital about 3 days.
Well, it was a little more than 3. The poison from my appendix aggravated my intestines and they decided to stop working. So I had to wait, and wait, and wait for my intestines to wake up and work again. Which ended up being 8 days!
It was a miserable experience I don’t wish upon anyone. Luckily my doctor and (most of the) nurses were awesome.
Just for fun, here’s a picture of me in the hospital, with my awful NG tube:
Because my intestines were in a fragile state, my doctor recommended I be on a gluten free diet. He actually believes in a grain free diet. I’m not ready to jump into that yet, but I can do the gluten free thing.
When I left the hospital, I figured I’d go GF for a few weeks until I was feeling better.
Well, it’s now 2 months later and I’m still GF. Not because I don’t feel better. It’s because I do!
When I was pregnant, I didn’t have to stay on my migraine diet. I got used to eating EVERYTHING without any consequences. After having Cecilia, it was hard to go back on the diet. So I decided, rather than cutting out all the triggers, I would just avoid monosodium glutamate (MSG).
So far, not eating MSG or gluten has been a perfect combination. After having Norah, my first migraine came 4 weeks postpartum. According to my neurologist, that was right on time. (There’s a whole science behind it that would take too long to explain here.)
However, with Cecilia, I have yet to have a migraine! It’s like a magical combination for me! It makes eating out and having other people cook for me a little tricky, but I find ways to make it work.
I actually ate MSG the other day – I blame Shane for not reading the label in the store 😉 I did feel a little funky afterward, but never got a migraine, thankfully!
Have you found a magical combination of triggers to keep your migraines at bay? Have you ever tried to avoid eating MSG?
My in-laws live 8 hours away. We drive out to visit them a few times a year. Every single time we drive out, I have a migraine by the time we get there. Eating fast food and gas station pizza the whole way really takes a toll on me.
The first time we drove out there after I started my migraine diet, I packed a big cooler full of foods I could eat: strawberries, grapes, sliced apples, carrots and hummus, bagels with cream cheese, etc. Amazingly – no migraine!
I’m driving out there this week, by myself with the two girls, and here is what I am packing:
Grapes, carrots and hummus, sliced apples, kettle corn, cornbread muffins, diced peaches, Annie’s cookies, and granola. And water! Staying hydrated is a must; dehydration can lead to headaches.
I try to pack foods that Norah will eat also. She’s pretty easy to please, luckily! I’ll bring some milk, her beloved animal crackers, and probably a PB&J.
It’s a lot of food. It’s also an 8 hour drive, and Norah and I are kind of bottomless pits. These are all migraine-free foods (Well, the granola is iffy, but delish! It has chocolate and soy protein isolate in it, and most protein fortified foods are no-nos.) I’m going to steam the carrots and slice the apples before we go so they are easier for Norah to eat.
See that big purple bag? This one??
It’s Annies Boom Chicka Pop Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn, and it’s amazing!! I got a bag on a whim last week and almost devoured it in one sitting. Norah made me share. Plus it’s made in Mankato, Minnesota, which is just a hop, skip and a jump from here! There are a couple other flavors, but I just keep getting this one because I love it. I have found it in the gluten free section and the chip section of my grocery stores. Go get some. Then come back and thank me for introducing you to it.
So, that’s how I travel on the migraine diet – at least the driving portion of it. Eating out can be tricky, but it’s not impossible.
I know my food won’t give me a migraine. Driving 8 hours by myself with two kids, however …