“You made this?” my friend’s 9-year-old son asked, raising a bowl of the homemade strawberry sorbet we’d brought to share.
My 6-year-old daughter nodded. “It was so easy. I’m going to try raspberries next time.”
Kitchen experiments with my kids are a highlight of our summer season. We fill the extended daylight hours mixing up banana breads and making juice popsicles with fresh fruit sprinkled in, cookies, pasta dishes and stir-fries that my daughter and 4-year-old son love. Sadly, I can’t eat most of these meals with my children.
The ligaments in my pubic bone were damaged during my first pregnancy and never recovered. Because of this, my kids and I eat differently. Where they can inhale nearly anything that sparks their imaginations, I’m limited to anti-inflammatory foods that keep my pain level tolerable. This means I often make separate meals for us three times a day, which adds an extra level of planning to every facet of meal prep, from grocery runs to cook time. My offspring regularly shake their heads at my baked salmon and air-fried parmesan crusted Brussels sprouts, enthusiastically waving their cheese pizza slices at me like tiny gold medalists in a greasy food-eating contest.
This summer promises a whole new culinary adventure in our household, thanks to Stephanie Weaver’s new “The Migraine Relief Plan Cookbook: More Than 100 Anti-Inflammatory Recipes for Managing Headaches and Living a Healthier Life.” With an array of delicious whole-food, family-friendly meals, every recipe is designed to reduce inflammation. While Weaver’s target audience are members of the migraine community, anyone with inflammatory issues may find benefit in its pages. Now, I can open the book and let my kids choose any recipe that lights up their curiosity, like this strawberry sorbet, and trust that it will offer all of us joy and comfort. I know this because more than 40 people in four countries tested every recipe three times to ensure the instructions were clear and the results were terrific.
Weaver began work on these recipes after she was diagnosed with migraines at the age of 53, following bouts of severe vertigo and a lifetime of what she thought were “weather headaches.” An otolaryngologist and a neurologist each gave her separate prescriptions, a sheet of recipes for low-sodium meals and a version of a migraine diet that restricted foods containing tyramine, a naturally occurring amino acid. Weaver found these handouts woefully inadequate.
With her background as a recipe developer, longtime food blogger and health-and-wellness coach with a master of public health in nutrition education, focusing on food as a path toward wellness comes naturally for Weaver. She knew she needed more than the handouts her doctors could offer. “They basically said, ‘Eat this, don’t eat that,’” Weaver says. “But there was no explanation about why, or how, to do it. No guidance on how to go low-dose sodium, or how to read labels or anything like that.”
“When I started looking into it, every single institution had a slightly different list of acceptable foods,” she adds. A few mentioned tyramine. Some were low histamine. Most didn’t clarify what they were. “It soon became pretty obvious that there was a lot of information out there, but no one seemed to have codified it.”
“Thus began my journey into Migraine-Diet-Land,” Weaver writes in her introduction. She dove into the controversial world of food triggers and the more widely recognized migraine threshold theory. Weaver distilled her research into an actionable plan to help you identify which food and environmental factors trigger your body’s inflammatory response, assess their cumulative effects and learn how to live within your own personal threshold. Weaver first detailed the outcome of her research in “The Migraine Relief Plan: An 8-Week Transition to Better Eating, Fewer Headaches, and Optimal Health,” published in 2017.
My son is already eyeballing the “Chewy Cherry Oat Bars” in her follow-up recipe book. My daughter is making plans for the “Cozy Chicken and Rice” next weekend. With so many anti-inflammatory snacks and meals to choose from, I’m excited to see what culinary adventures our small kitchen has in store this season.
This frozen treat can also be made with frozen strawberries. If using fresh berries, be sure to choose organic berries at the peak of sweetness.
Makes 6 servings
1 pound organic strawberries, hulled; thawed if frozen
¾ cup coconut cream or heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Stevia to equal 4 teaspoons sugar (optional)
For an adult version of the sorbet, add 2 tablespoons vodka.
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until cold.
Pour the chilled mixture into your ice cream maker and churn until thick.
Cook’s note: Clear spirits such as vodka and white wine are the only two alcoholic beverages recommended on the strict version of the plan. Adding vodka to sorbet improves its texture. Use very ripe organic strawberries for this; conventional berries hold onto pesticides. Only add the stevia if your strawberries are not super sweet.
Recipe reprinted with permission from The Migraine Relief Plan Cookbook by Stephanie Weaver, (Agate Publishing).