Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Migraine Cookbook - Michele Sharp

Having amassed a collection of cookbooks purportedly for migraine sufferers, I am mostly disappointed in them. Michele Sharp is director of development for The Migraine Association of Canada, essentially a fundraiser and PR person. She has done this for other not-for-profits as a career, so don't look for any medical, nutritionist, or similar credentials. There's not even mention of her ever having a migraine, so all this content was gathered "on the job".

I could overlook all this had it not been for one other omission - Dr. Buchholz receives no mention at all in an otherwise impressively lengthy bibliography. This is problematic not because of my cultish devotion to the man, but because his list of potential triggers is longer than most others. A recipe following a shorter trigger list may be useless to those using his program, especially beginners. More on that in a minute.

The presentation in this book is interesting, but somewhat problematic. The recipe section includes a sidebar next to every recipe entitled, "This recipe is free of the following triggers". If you have completed the program and identified your every trigger, that is fine. However, the elimination process can take a LONG time (going on two years in my wife's case). In the mean time, a sidebar entitled, "This recipe contains. . . " is MUCH more helpful.

So how are the recipes? I look primarily at meat entrees, since that's usually all I have time to prepare. Fish is not cheap (my wife can't work with daily attacks) and the boys barely put up with vegetarian entrees during Lent, let alone year 'round. Ideally, I want something simple with broad appeal, that my family will not mind eating every 2-3 weeks. There are only 14 meat entrees in the book. See if any of these ingredients discourage you: coconut, vinegar, white wine, onions, soy sauce, ketchup, Dijon mustard, mushrooms, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, . . . And I'm not the kind of person that serves duck, lamb or phyllo crust as a family "go to" recipe. Once you eliminate the recipes in question, a small offering of meat entrees is reduced to almost nothing.

The other recipes often stray into the "too fancy" realm. There are a lot of good options that fall in the gap between a boiled piece of meat and "just for company", but not many appear in this book. The desserts offer some bright spots, but in my experience, safe desserts are easy to find just about anywhere.

Bottom line - if you are looking for basic everyday recipes that are safe and do not require special ingredients, look elsewhere. The sidebar feature is misleading, missing some triggers in the recipes. I find this book to be nearly useless and do not recommend it to beginning cooks.

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