migraine mac and cheese

Oh my goodness it’s been a while.

It’s me, migraine. Maja’s here too, somewhere. She might be in the other room trying to use the dog as an eyeshade.

Screenshot 2016-08-17 22.31.33


Greetings from the other side of a weeklong migraine! Wisdom teeth surgery recovery did not go quite as smoothly as I originally thought it would, so I found myself in bed for a week, too fragile for the world, unable to perform my normal daily activities.

Here’s what I could do: I could move from the couch to the bed. I could change the channel on the TV, but I had the volume turned down low so I wouldn’t have to actually hear it, because that was too painful. About once a day, I could muster up the energy to walk down the block and get a juice. When I got back, I would make mac and cheese. It’d make me feel better for a little while.

That was my routine for a solid week. I didn’t go to work, the gym, or the grocery store. I didn’t straighten my hair or wear real clothes. I had no idea whether the medicine I was taking was helping me or making it worse, but I knew one thing: the mac and cheese wasn’t hurting a thing.

Over the week, I got better and better at making mac and cheese. My head… stayed the same. I started getting fancier and schmancier, playing with different toppings and techniques. Although my mouth had healed enough for me to be eating solid foods, I had become accustomed to a certain lifestyle, so I continued my diet of mac and cheese, juice, coconut water, and occasionally, frozen mango.

For once in my life, I didn’t concern myself with achieving some sort of perfect nutritional balance. Also, I felt like I deserved to live a little after feeling like such doo-doo all day.

brain lessons

It wasn’t a very fun time, but I did learn a lot. It’s a big paradigm shifter to have something literally put you on your ass for a week. Here are a few things I learned about migraines:

  • It’s your job to find ways to make you better (when you are able to).
  • It’s your job to take care of yourself when you feel a migraine coming on.
  • It’s your job to communicate to others how they can help (ideally, proactively).
  • Try to be patient with people who have never had a migraine who give you really bad advice like, “Maybe if you go to work you’ll feel better.” Bless ’em. ❤
  • Rest is very important. One of the primary differences between migraines and headaches is that migraines worsen with activity. Rest.
  • You might have to redesign your lifestyle around migraine prevention if you want to prevent migraines.
  • The first answer you get from some doctor might not be the only answer. Be inquisitive. Migraines are complicated and everyone is different.
  • Migraines are not your fault, and being angry or upset about them is highly unproductive. Just go to bed and try again tomorrow.
  • When you are able to come back (to work or school), kick ass. Be proactive. Be upfront. Be honest. Don’t hide behind pain.
  • If you need the medicine, take the medicine.
  • If you don’t need the medicine, try to just sleep.
  • Try to sleep a lot.
  • A lot.
  • Celebrate pain-free moments.
  • Minimize disruptions to your chill state. Try not to stay up late. Try not to drink too much coffee.
  • If you regularly drink (lots of) coffee, don’t quit cold turkey when you learn that caffeine is a migraine trigger. Wean yourself off. If you’re an over-achiever, quit entirely. I’ll stick to my 2 cups, thanks.
  • Migraine triggers — some I knew and some I’ve learned this week: Hormones, sleep, stress, emotions, chocolate, tea, red wine (white is better), cured meats, citrus fruits…. aged cheese.
  • AGED CHEESE is a migraine trigger. I say that is a LIE. 

migraine mac and cheese

If aged cheese is a migraine trigger, then this is migraine mac and cheese. After days of experimentation, this particular concoction was my creme de la creme, comfort food for my first day back at work. It’s basically two varieties of boxed organic mac and cheeses (yes, boxed, deal with it), made fancier with onions and mushrooms sauteed in butter, which turn into a pan sauce with more butter and white wine. You add the powdered sauce mix from the boxed mac, stir in the cooked pasta and some freshly grated cheese, give it a nice spattering of cracked black pepper, and you have yourself a ridiculously indulgent mac and cheese that is fancy enough for your Thanksgiving table, and aged and cheesy enough to give you a weeklong migraine.

My head still hurts, but I’m back at work this week. I’m joking with my coworkers about what percentage of my brain is currently working (“I’m about 62% here guys.”). I’m half kidding. ❤ On preventative meds now, seeing a chiropractor twice weekly, taking it easy. Feeling hopeful.


  • Medium-sized pot
  • Colander
  • Small skillet or pan


  • 1 box Annie’s Organic White Cheddar Mac and Cheese (with seasoning packet torn open and set aside)
  • 1 box Annie’s Organic Real Cheddar Mac and Cheese (with seasoning packet torn open and set aside)
  • 8 tbsp. tbsp. grass-fed butter
  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups baby bella or white mushrooms, diced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup (freshly) grated cheese of choice – parmesan, asiago, manchego, cheddar
  • Freshly cracked black pepper


  1. Prep all your ingredients as instructed: Dice onion, mince garlic, dice mushrooms.
  2. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Use a timer on your phone to cook the pasta on the lower end (8 minutes) of the suggested time, since the pasta will cook further when you add it to the cheese sauce.
  3. Melt 4 tbsp. of butter in the pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sautee until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Then, add the mushrooms and garlic, stirring constantly, turning the heat down slightly, until garlic is fragrant, about another 2 minutes. Pour the white wine over the pan and crank the heat back up to medium-heat, allowing the wine to reduce.
  4. Stir the remaining 4 tbsp. butter into the white wine sauce and stir to combine, then stir in the cheese sauce packets.
  5. Add the cooked pasta and stir in the grated cheese. Sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper and serve. Enjoy. 

ps —

Wouldn’t kill you to throw some chopped, cooked bacon in here either.

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