Spinach Soup and Living with Migraines
“A warrior feeds her body well. She trains it, works on it. Where she lacks knowledge, she studies. But above all, she must believe in her strength of will and purpose and heart and soul. “ (David Gemmell)
You know that moment when you read a sentence and feel like it was written by your soul? I have chronic migraine and when I read those words, they gave me goose bumps. For the past two years I have been working and striving to reduce the migraines I face. There was, as I coined them, Death December in 2015 and F*ck All Fall in 2016, but in between the really rough patches, I made great strides to finding a solution that works for me.
Part of this solution has been having the energy and stamina to start A Lush Life. Although only a month and a half old, I have begun to form a new community both online and offline because of it. Through Instagram I was introduced to @HealthyFirsts aka Randall Heilik. My first introduction to Randall was through her post on Measuring and Monitoring Sugar (She’s a Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant). I was on a sugar-detox at the time and her post gave me some great tips on moderating sugar intake, because let’s face it – it’s everywhere.
After chatting on the phone (What? Phone calls still happen these days?), Randall said she had experience treating clients with migraines and has in the past focused on nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalances as treatment paths (Check out her post on 5 Common Reasons for Migraines!). This matches perfectly with what I’m working on right now: a potassium/sodium balance (electrolytes), reducing carbs, and increasing proteins and fats. The reason for this is because the brain’s neurons need a proper electrolyte balance to effectively transport nutrients between cells and a lack of this is said to cause migraines. For more info check out the Stanton Protocol and these articles:
Long story short, the current recommended Potassium to Sodium ratio is 2:1 or 4700mg to 2300mg (https://paleoleap.com/sodium-potassium-paleo/). The Stanton Protocol varies from this a bit, so I encourage you to read the book and join the Facebook group “Migraine Sufferers who Want to be Cured” or ask a health professional for more information. So far, the recommendations I have implemented have taken my pain levels down and have made the durations of my migraines shorter. The best part is NO SIDE EFFECTS. And if you’ve been a migraineur, you know how awful the side effects of multiple medications can be.
To start these dietary changes, I modified a recipe from my MIL to fit the 2:1 electrolyte balance. It’s a spin on a traditional Polish spinach soup modified to be vegan, gluten free and correctly balanced! (But it’s not entirely Stanton Protocol friendly due to the pureeing of spinach and carb count). You might find it a bit salty, so make sure to have an 8 oz. glass of water on the side. This recipe also freezes well, making it great to have on hand while in a migraine and unable to cook. Here’s to more migraine-free days!
Makes 6 servings
- ¾ cup cashews
- 3 cups of water + more for soaking
Soak cashews in water overnight or for at least a few hours. The next day, blend cashews and water together. Strain milk through a tea towel, cheesecloth, fine mesh strainer or nut milk bag. Store in fridge for up to 4 days.
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 cups spinach (High in potassium)
- 450 mL vegetable stock
- 300 mL water
- 1 ½ tsp. salt
- 300 mL cashew milk (High in potassium, but also high in carbs)
- 1 avocado (High in potassium and healthy fats)
Cook onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until fragrant (Use a lidded saucepan). Add 2 cups of spinach and cover saucepan with lid. Cook until spinach is wilted then add vegetable stock. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
Once room temperature, add remaining cup of spinach and 300mL of water. Puree in blender until smooth.
Return soup to saucepan and add salt and cashew milk. Stir and heat until just before boiling. Serve with diced avocado as a topping.