11 February 2008

Endive, Celery and Tuna Salad

I adapted this salad from a recipe in the January/February issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. I needed something different to go with canned tuna and this fit the bill. As I recently discovered that raw red onion and possibly wine vinegars trigger my migraines, I omitted the onion and the wine vinegar, substituting rice vinegar. I only added the tuna and cucumber to the original recipe, but I think chives or green onion would be nice also.

My version
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (without added sugar)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 celery stalks, sliced thinly
2 heads Belgian endive, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/3 English cucumber, sliced
3 oz. canned tuna packed in water and drained
sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and rice vinegar add salt and pepper to taste. In medium bowl, place sliced endive, celery, cucumber and tuna. Spoon 2 tablespoons of dressing on salad and toss well. Jar remaining dressing and refrigerate for future use.

Feeds 1 for lunch entree
Weight Watcher points (about 5 - depends how much dressing you use)

The last couple of weeks have been fairly headache free for me and I have used the time to catch up on things that I kept putting off when I was chasing one headache after the other. Like cleaning the house, installing new software, making chicken stock...sounds like simple stuff, but when your head is pulsating and you feel nauseated and light and sound are killing you with every step even everyday things feel monumental.

I am hoping that I have finally hit on a strategy for dealing with winter weather-induced headaches. I had a visit to my neurologist last week and he told me something he has probably said many times before but I think it actually sunk in this time. Maybe I am just more willing to do what is necessary now. He said that weather is the #3 headache trigger among migraine sufferers and that managing triggers is probably going to be the main thing for me to work on. I guess that before I realized I had food triggers (besides alcohol) I didn't think that advice was very useful for me. Also, for the last year, I have been avoiding gluten and all the foods I am even marginally allergic to and the headaches kept coming, especially in the November-January time frame. Granted, they are fewer without gluten and eggs and almonds...but still too many.

In November I read a controversial book about migraine triggers (Heal your Headache by Dr. David Buchholz) and I decided to try his method for two months. He says to avoid ALL potential trigger foods and all migraine meds (except aspirin and Aleve) to get rid of rebound headaches and then gradually reintroduce the trigger foods. Well, I lasted two weeks without Amerge because I couldn't tough it out while cooking Thanksgiving dinner! But the interesting thing is that I started to realize that I really did react to some of the known migraine trigger foods.

I previously didn't think most of the common triggers bothered me. I suspected the aged cheeses after finding out I was allergic to Parmesan and blue cheese. I am also allergic to yogurt, which is on the list. Nitrites I am not sure bother me, but I know that other preservatives do. I never thought that onions were a problem until I figured out I was getting a headache every time I ate a salad with red onion in it. Then came the vinegar revelations. So, I toughed it out for almost the whole two months and I am really glad I did. I am starting to figure out some of my triggers. While red onion is one of them, cooked white onion is not. Citrus is not. Peanuts are not, but other nuts are a maybe, certainly the ones I am allergic to, but maybe some of the others as well. Lima beans and lentils I am still unsure of but will try to reintroduce soon.

Then I started wondering about sulfites and did some research only to find even more overlap with the migraine food trigger list. Balsamic vinegar, wine vinegar, fruit juice conentrates. Well, I am pretty sure now that sulfites are an issue for me. Could be dose related, but it still makes an awful lot of foods potential headache triggers.

So how did all this knowledge translate into almost two weeks of headache-free bliss? I realized that I had to avoid all triggers when the wacky winter weather was here...especially as a cold front moves in. I have been tracking incoming cold fronts (every other day here in Seattle for the last month, it seems) and I have been abstaining from all my known triggers, from sulfites (which includes chocolate, wine, wine vinegars, balsamic, fruit juice concentrates, etc.) and using ice packs and aspirin when I start to get my symptoms. I have also continued my exercise, getting 7-8 hours of sleep, and eating at regular times and what do you know, the headaches just stopped. I am almost afraid to write this, as I am more than a little bit superstitious about headache-free claims. I have even been able to reintroduce some foods from my moderate allergy list (which I have avoided for over 12 months) and I am still ok. Amazing. Hope it continues. Now I am going to have to redo my allergy restaurant card. Happy days.


Simply...Gluten-free said...

I am glad I found your blog. I don't have as many allergies as you but my sister does and I am forwarding your link to her. I will be back as well.

Karen said...

Thanks for visiting! Please do pass on the link to your sister. Coping with multiple allergies is tough, but doesn't preclude eating well.

Karen, herself

Buy the Book CA said...

I have only just recently made the discovery that sulfites are not my friend. Since Nov. of '08 I have had ongoing headaches. I avg. about 12 days in a row of the month headache free. I thought I was coming off of them but then the basalmic vinegar in last nights salad told me otherwise. I just wondered if you have a more comprehensive list of which sulfite foods to avoid besides the obvious (juices, wine). Thanks

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