This light peach and watermelon salad combines basil, goat cheese, cucumbers and tomatoes for a bright and summery twist. Sweet peaches and watermelon are the perfect pair with savory goat cheese!
Traveling with Vestibular Migraine
If you have ever read my story, you know that my vestibular migraine began after a trip around Asia. Before I was diagnosed, my husband and I decided we would put money away for one big trip every year. We loved to travel together. At one of my many doctor appointments early on, I was told I might never be able to fly again. The news was devastating, and we even had to cancel a family trip to Alaska. But after seeking out the correct diagnosis, I realized the only thing that was holding me back from traveling and flying again was my great fear that I would lose all my progress.
I started out small, with a few flights here and there that seemed to go ok. Then I tested a longer flight to Hawaii and took my massive bag of travel essentials like ear planes, sea bands, and essential oils. On that flight I even made my own snacks since I was in the elimination phase of the Heal Your Headache diet. Finally I decided to no longer let this fear rule my life, and we booked our first international trip since my diagnosis to Spain. Although I ended up getting sick and spent a lot of time in bed, it was a pivotal trip for me to know that I could do this again.
Combining a Migraine Diet with French Culture
We were both a little nervous about me getting sick again for our trip this year, so we booked something easy for us – a trip to France! I quickly brushed up on my French, which went a little something like this.
The trip began with some time in Paris and then we headed about 3 hours south to Burgundy, stopping in Beaune, St. Sabine, and Chablis. Paris is a wonderful city, but I immediately fell head over heels for Burgundy. The local markets, the gougères, the people, and the FOOD. My goodness the food was incredible. There was a Michelin star restaurant on every corner and it was actually quite reasonable. 30 euro for a 6 course lunch? Sign me up! By the way, if you didn’t eat all of that 6 course meal, you were bound to offend someone at the restaurant. I can’t tell you how many times a waiter asked me why I didn’t like the meal any time I left a tiny crumb on my plate.
Naturally I eased up on my dietary restrictions while still eliminating my known, heavy triggers like yogurt and caffeine. As long as you’re not in the strict elimination period at the beginning, it’s ok to do this on vacation. Dr. Buchholz even states in his book that you may be able to drink red wine and eat chocolate in France because your overall trigger load might be lower than what it would be at home. This was definitely the case for me, although I did have one bad day where I went a little crazy by tasting red wines. That was my own fault! It’s all about balance, folks.
The aged cheeses and meats seemed to be ok for me and I wondered if it was because everything there is local and fresh. You don’t really have to worry about all these additives that you might get here in America. Many of the restaurants have their own gardens or local sources for meats, cheeses, and vegetables. It inspired me to build my own organic herb garden, and seek out local foods or farmers for my weekly grocery run.
Beaune is the wine capital of Burgundy and is known around the world for it’s Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Half the fun was driving through miles of vineyards and gardens with the windows down. We took a tour of Chateau de Pommard and some of the surrounding wineries one morning, then ended up at the Hospices de Beaune. Also known as Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune, this beautiful hospital was founded in 1443 and was open to anyone that was ill from all walks of life. Some of the medical instruments used for treatments were very…interesting. Let’s just say I’m glad to be alive today and not have to use a metal rod for an enema.
I was fascinated that all of the patients were given large jugs of wine, not water, by their beds each day. It was considered more healing and safe to drink wine versus water. Of course the museum had a disclaimer at the bottom saying this is no longer true.
The Cooks Atelier
My favorite part was visiting the Beaune market with the ladies of The Cooks Atelier. Marjorie and Kendall are expats that fell in love with France. We learned about their favorite vendors and how to pick out the best fruits and vegetables. Then we headed back to their kitchen to start cooking our finds from the market. It was difficult for me to keep my composure when I saw their breathtaking space. Had I died and gone to copper cookware heaven? We learned to make gougères, strawberry butter cake, béchamel, and soufflés, as well as how to “french” a pork roast. Here’s the best part – we got to sit down at a lovely table speckled with peonies, and eat everything we had cooked with our new friends.
I ended up taking home a cookbook, a copper soufflé pot with giant whisk (airport security loved that one), and major inspiration to push myself a little more in the kitchen…oh and to buy more peonies. If you’re a fan of beautiful cookbooks, I highly recommend ordering The Cooks Atelier from Amazon. I’m still working on making my migraine safe gougères as perfect as theirs, but there are a few recipes I’ve been able to adapt quite easily. I’m not sure what the French would think about using white vinegar, as they recommend it for cleaning! But alas, I promise it’s still good in this recipe, we just won’t tell them. This peach and watermelon salad is one of my favorites that I’ve been able to adapt to being migraine-friendly.
Choosing Fresh Produce
The key to this peach and watermelon salad is choosing the best, most fresh produce you can find. Typically all these ingredients are readily available at most farmers markets through the summer months. Here are few tips.
- Choose an English cucumber – this is also called a seedless cucumber
- Watermelon should feel heavy for its size. A creamy yellow mark where the watermelon rested on the ground indicates it is ripe. It will also sound hallow if you give it a good tap.
- I’ve made this recipe with all kinds of peaches – from local Texas ones to “vineyard peaches” which are also called donut peaches. Unfortunately they don’t actually taste like donuts. For these, I mainly go by the smell test. When it’s fragrant, I know it’s a good one. You also want it’s coloring to be very vibrant.
- A good quality, plain goat cheese (chèvre) elevates this simple salad. I love Cypress Grove. You may also be able to find a great local vendor.
This recipe was adapted to be migraine-friendly from The Cook's Atelier Cookbook by Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini. If you can find really fresh local peaches, herbs, and watermelon, this salad will really shine.
- 2 fresh peaches, local is best if you can find
- 1 personal/small watermelon, seeded and chopped
- 1 small shallot
- Optional: yellow tomatoes *some find tomatoes to be a trigger
- 1 small cucumber, I like the English seeded
- handful of fresh sweet basil leaves
- handful of flat Italian parsley leaves
- 1/3 cup fresh chevre goat cheese
- 3 tbsp good olive oil
- 1.5 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp dijon
- salt and pepper
Wash your peaches and remove the pits. Cut the peach into thin slices, about 1/2 inch. Wash your cucumber and herbs, then take about 1/4 to 1/2 of the cucumber (depending how large it is) and cut it. Save the rest for another salad. Cut the cucumber in thin slices. If using yellow tomatoes, slice them into bite sized pieces as well. Peel your shallot and slice thin.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, dijon, olive oil and whisk till fully combined. Season to taste.
Arrange all the fruit, shallots, and cucumbers on a plate, then add leaves from the parsley and basil throughout. Top with fresh goat cheese. Then lightly drizzle a spoonful of the dressing on top. You will probably have some leftover. I usually like to top mine with a little more fresh cracked pepper.