Candidly Yours

Zest Up your Cauliflower Rice!

August 24, 2019

I’m never in the mood to give up rice, but if I”m going to get my blood sugar in place and lose about 15 pounds, the rice has got to go. I confess, I’m on an unhappy mission to exchange rice for vegetables and if I am going to be successful, I will have to come up with a satisfying alternative.

As a teen, I spent eight months in the Philippines where rice is eaten as an absolute staple. I got a kick out of being able to eat rice — at the table — by hand using thumb, pointer and middle fingers!  More acceptable, and a habit that stuck with me, is eating rice with other ingredients using together a large spoon and  fork.

My love of rice continued when, a decade later, I spent a few years in Mexico and then,a few decades later, nearly eight years in Panama.  It’s a hardship for me,  this idea of relinquishing my comforting, gluten-free, beloved rice. But I was feeling committed so here is what I came up with.

By now it’s common to use “riced” or finely processed cauliflower in place of real rice dishes.  “Ricing” cauliflower is easy. You can purchase it in the store pre-ground, but it’s costly. I buy a head of white cauliflower, break it apart, pulverize it in a processor to about the consistency of rice.  I store this in an air tight bag in the freezer or fridge.  But cauliflower has to be jazzed up to be satisfying and I have found that Lemon or Lime Zest is a terrific addition that brightens up many dishes.

Below is how I prepared this zesty, and surprisingly satisfying “rice alternative” dish. Vegans will want to replace my use of parmesan cheese with a vegan alternative. But other than that … have at it! It’s fast and easy. Use it alone, as a side dish, play with it by adding meats or even a gravy.

ZESTY RICE ALTERNATIVE

  1. Into a hot, large-bottom pan with good surface area, and using no oil or water so it won’t get mushy, stir 2 Cups “Riced” cauliflower on high heat until most of the moisture vaporizes, about 4 minutes. You will be able to watch the steam rise up and away.
  2. Turn off the heat and then add:

    1 tsp lemon juice or about the juice of half a lemon.
    1/8 to 1/4 grated lemon or lime rind (I used lime rind). This adds so much brightness!
    Salt to taste
    1/4 cup flaked or grated parmesan cheese (vegans use a substitute)
    8 – 10 Loosely chopped, fresh basil leaves.

  3. Mix all this together, add a little Earth Balance vegan butter (or the real thing) and eat it up!

TIPS:  For kids, try adding mild cheddar and Half & Half to give it a Mac ‘n Cheese feel. Mix in grill chicken bits. Play with it. It’s versatile!

Main Dishes

Delicious, Versatile Salad as Meal!

August 5, 2019

This dish is easy and delicious as well as versatile, to wit: it can be served cold or warm, and as a main or a side dish. Remove the shrimp and replace with tofu and, it’s not only vegetarian but vegan!  Because the ratio of rice to vegetables is high on the veg, it’s also a pretty low-carb and also gluten free!

My version here has some shrimp, but you can replace that with more vegetables, a vegan protein, and more quinoa to rice.  Play with it. It’s forgiving except, when making a salad with rice, you do NOT want warm or hot-off-the-stove rice. So read on to see what I did here.

A.  PREPARE YOUR RICE

  1. Prepare 1 cup of Jasmine Rice with 1 to 1-1/2 cups of stock. See my notes just below:Rice preparation can be personal. If you use a rice cooker, great! Just make your rice as always.I a mix of Quinoa & Jasmine rice, rinsed. Then I steam it up in a pot with 1-1/2 cups of stock to 1 cup of rice. For added flavor, I use chicken or vegetarian stock and also, I usually add about 7 hot pepper flakes and dried onion flakes.


    I steam my rice for about 15-20 minutes  — then just turn off the stove and let it sit while I continue prepping other foods.

  2. IMPORTANT: Spread your cooked rice out in a shallow pan & cool it off in the fridge or freezer. By the time you have chopped up the rest of the salad, your rice will be cool enough to add! You do not want to use warm rice when you add it to a salad. Ditto, by the way, for Chinese Fried Rice! Use cooled rice.

B.  WHILE YOUR RICE IS STEAMING UP, CHOP THESE & TOSS INTO A LARGE BOWL:

  1. 1 Large, ripe, red, tomato
  2. 1/2 Sweet, Vidalia onion
  3. 1/2 Cup Fresh Cilantro
  4. 1-1/2 Cups finely shredded cabbage (my supermarket sells it in bags)

C.  IF YOU ARE NOT A VEGETARIAN, DO THIS:

  1. Sautee 24 small to medium shrimp in a bit of olive oil  & butter with a bit of spicy Creole or other spicy salt.  Sautee ONLY about 3 minutes, or until your shirmp are opaque, not clear and gray. Pull off the stove and cool. (Vegetable-based eaters can add Soy or other protein products.)

D.  THE FINAL PRODUCT!

Into your LARGE SALAD BOWL where you already have your chopped ingredients, ADD:

  1. The now-cooled rice
  2. 2 cups of fresh Arugula
  3. Juice of 1/2 a Lemon or Lime
  4. 1  or 1-1/2 Tbsp. of Rice Vinegar
  5. 1 Tps. of Sesame Oil (Sesame Oil is powerful, be careful!)
  6. 1 Tsp.  of Thai Fish Sauce (Don’t worry if you haven’t any!)
  7. DASH of Soy Sauce (Too much will brown your salad.
  8. Greek or Creole Salad to taste!

Toss all ingredients with clean hands or spoons.
Serve cold or warmed.

Comfort Food

Grown-Up Comfort Food!

March 12, 2019

Sometimes you need the comfort of a good, warm, creamy Mac ‘n Cheese, but with an adult flair.  My creamy Mushroom Risotto with white wine and parmesan fits the bill.  And it was SO easy!

I started mine on the stove top — and you can complete it here —  too. But I popped my mixture into an electric pressure cooker for 8 speedy minutes and … voila! Creamy, mushroom risotto as comforting as any mac ‘n cheese, but with a grown-up taste.

ALL YOU NEED: Pressure Cooker OR Stove Pot

All the measures below were actually estimated by me. This is pretty forgiving!

  • 1 cup of rice (Arborio Rice OR White Rice. I used 50-50 Basmati and Quinoa
  • 3/4 cup chopped mushroom
  • 1 tooth of chopped garlic
  • some butter
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, depending on your taste
  • A few sprigs or fresh thyme or 1/2 a tsp dry thyme
  • cream
  • salt & pepper

HERE IS WHAT I DID

  1. In a tablespoon of butter, I sautéed 1 smashed tooth of garlic with 1 cup of 1/2 Rice, 1/2 Quinoa. (You can use 1 cup of all Arborio rice, or regular rice, or a mixture.)
  2. To this, I added 3/4 cup of chopped mushrooms.
  3. Then I added a  1/2 cube of chicken or vegetable stock.
  4. Sautée on medium high until the rice begins to turn whiteish and your mushrooms soften, about 2 – 3  minutes.
  5. I put the mixture  in a pressure cooker and added 3/4 cup of white wine, 3/4  a cup of water. To be honest, I eye-balled the liquids to about 1-1/2 cups.If you are doing this on the stovetop, just add your liquid to your pot, cover and steam on medium low for about 17 minutes.
  6. Into the pressure cooker, I added a few whole, fresh sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 tsp of dry thyme).
  7. I set my cooker on high for 8 minutes. (Again, on a stovetop, cover for about 17 minutes on low-medium.)
  8. When you release the pressure, stir in 1/4 cup of cream, a few dots of butter, salt and pepper to taste, and top with few tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese.
Candidly Yours

God Whispers & the Cost of Kindness

February 26, 2019

One of my favorite, cut-to-the-quick sayings is: “There’s something about that person I don’t like about myself!”

Whenever I catch myself judging, criticizing or feeling squirmy about another person’s public behavior, (and I truly hate to confess how often this happens), I receive what some call insight, but what I have come to refer to as a “God Whisper.” A whisper might sound soft, but this one comes with a harsh slap of reality!: ”Elizabeth, there is something about this person you don’t like about yourself!”

Today, after work, I caught  a talk show episode concerning a mother with two severely mentally ill children. I do not exaggerate when I tell you that instantly, this woman was intolerably unlikeable:  She was intense, overbearing, over-talking, interrupting, interjecting, occasionally arrogant and it was clear that the host, every invited professional, as well as the entire audience were crawling out of their seats with dislike for her and her grating, annoying way of interacting.

Well, who could blame them? She was simply unbearable. The entire, collective  virtual “we” who were watching all wanted to smack her upside the head and shout “JUST STOP!  JUST STOP! PLEASE … JUST …  STOP!”

And as I barked at the television over her cringeworthy unbearable-ness, I got ‘the whisper:’  “Elizabeth. There is something about this woman you don’t like about yourself!”

And with that eye-opening, I began to look at her differently.

I wondered if anyone in the audience noticed that her exasperating, frenetic yammering came from her fear of not being heard, for years, and the utter exhaustion of having been in the trenches, advocating daily for her children — however ineffectively and probably to the point of maximum frustration — 24/7, for close to two decades, without a break, had made her lose all self-awareness.

Beneath her exhaustive, irritating manner was an even more exhausted mother who had lost her balance, lost her perspective, probably lost most of her friends, and was utterly desperate.

I recalled a time in my life, when I had become stretched beyond reason, while opening a restaurant overseas with my then husband, working often 20 hours a day, literally 20 hours a day, whilst also raising and fretting over our twelve year old whom I had never previously left alone, whom I had never been late to pick up.

Additionally, I was marketing the business, training staff and so much more while maintaining a home, plus school and social schedules, cooking, and managing some astonishingly ugly, local expat gossip in a small tourist retirement town. All that with a smile on my face and coupled with a complete unawareness that I was maxed out beyond sanity. 

I had little awareness of how overworked I was or of how I appeared to the world at large at any given moment. There were few or no resources left to manage emotions, crises, day-to-day pressures, so much so that once, while standing at a neighbor’s gate, waiting to purchase some fresh eggs, I fell asleep, on foot, at her gate. I literally fell asleep standing up.

I had arrived at a point where I couldn’t maintain calm or have any sense of self-presence. I had become the woman I watched on television today.  I remember being judged harshly, unfairly, even with cruelty, and that was painful and difficult to manage.

Still, and  in defense of those who were unkind, I understand that high levels of apparent stress do not attract kindness from the casual observer just expecting a nice meal at your restaurant or understanding from  your son’s seventh grade teacher expecting a normal, parent-teacher review.

 

There were some who judged me so harshly, even tried to destroy our livilihood,  but who never guessed that on top of all the above, I was in a constant state of worry over my husband’s life- threatening illness, and illness we lived with, quietly, for twenty years.

Today, that time in my life is a memory I can hold without bitterness. It is also a good “note to  self” to take time out to consider the circumstances of the other, sometimes a very grating “other,”  and to put kindness before judgment, to look beyond the tantrum, the rant, the rudeness, or the ugly, and to consider the pain or stress, the frustration and perhaps the need that might lie beneath.

Of course, I can’t expect strangers to pause in the name of compassion, but  I can require it of myself. And when I fall short in this area, I am reminded by the “God Whisper,” reminded to stop and ask: What ails you? Can I help?

We can run around on a high and mighty and happy plain, often, and that is to be celebrated. But what goes up, eventually falls down and we all know, or will know, that pain and stress are great equalizers. It is my belief that real life catches up with even the luckiest of us, eventually. We are all standing in the same leaky boat, just not always at the same time.  I am reminded of another saying:  It costs nothing to be kind.

 

Comfort Food

Flourless Pizza Crust!

January 5, 2019

Ah…good people…this one comes to you with lots of pictures!

My friend,  Susan,  mentioned, that cauliflower crust is labor-intensive. Well, I recently discovered that making pizza from store-bought dough is quite time-consuming.  With store bought, ready-made dough, you still have to knead it, rest and proof it so you can work it into shape without it springing back on you.  Not exactly a time-saver!

NOTE: Cauliflower crust is super easy to form and, to make it easier on you, many grocery stores offer bagged, “ready-riced” cauliflower in both the fresh and the freezer sections. Obviously, this saves a lot of  and mess!  Also, I found that if  prepare a bunch of  cauliflower in advance, I can freeze some and have my own ready-made cauliflower. It really makes the process quite fast!  I do recommend the fast route!

For those of you who own a fancy food processor, it won’t take long to grind down your cauliflower into rice-sized bits. You do have to chop the head into pieces! Believe it or not, the only food processor I own is a $12 mini chopper so I riced my cauliflower in batches.  Also, you can use an old fashioned cheese grater.

Obviously, from these photos, I did not make anything close to a vegetarian pizza.
But that would be so easy. It is only a matter of selecting veggie toppings.

My crust came out great! It was so good, I made another the next day, using pesto in place of tomato sauce.

So if you want a veggie-intensive, keto-friendly, gluten-free pizza crust, follow these steps below.

MAKING CAULIFLOWER PIZZA CRUST

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place 2 cups riced cauliflower (purchased, grated, or processed) a frying pan.
  • Keep on low heat, stirring so it does not turn brown. This removes liquid. You will see the steam rising. I stirred mine for 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Place your dried and heated cauliflower in a shallow dish and stick it in the freezer while you prepare the rest of your pizza.
  • Into a new bowl, add 1-1/4 cups grated parmesan cheese (not the powdered stuff from the cardboard carton, use the grated cheese from the cheese section).
  • Add to this 1 beaten egg and incorporate
  • When your cauliflower is cooled, add it to your cheese/egg mix and incorporate well.
  • Onto any sheet you like for baking pizza, place parchment paper. Place your crust mix into the center and press to form a nice round shape, about 1/8 inch thick.

  • Place your crust into your 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. You will see the crust edges beginning to turn brown.
  • Remove it from the oven and let it sit a minute or two.
  • Have your toppings and sauce at the ready.
    TIP: If you don’t want to use a tomato sauce, try using  Pesto Sauce instead!
         
  • Now, ladle on about half a cup of your favorite tomato sauce (or use Pesto!), covering your crust but not so much as to make it soggy.  (I used one from a jar. You can purchase pizza sauce as well, make your own, or simply spread on 1/2 a cup of Hunts plain old tomato sauce from a can. It’s your call! ) 
  • Next, sprinkle a generous amount of Mozzarella cheese.
  • Next come your toppings. Meat, no meat, as you wish. Pizza your way!
    I had Mozzarella cheese; sautéed  mushrooms; fresh oregano; sausage and pepperoni.
  • Last, a bit more cheese, for show.
  • Pop it in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes and… voila! You have flourless pizza!
Main Dishes

My Secret to Moist Chicken Parmesan

December 7, 2018

When I recently discovered that Chicken Parmesan is one of a friend’s very favorite dishes, I was dismayed. Traditionally, this is a chicken breast dish and when it comes to chicken, I am not a breast girl!  I find the breast cut dry and lacking in flavor. Then, I thought up a way to prepare it so it comes out of the oven moist,  tender and flavorful.

My trick? Instead of the breast, I used pounded, boneless chicken thighs.  I swear by this method!  The chicken comes out nearly fork-tender and juicy. Not only that, when you pound it just enough, you won’t need to divulge to any picky “white meat only” eaters that they are dining on the thigh. Trust me: they won’t even ask.

Here is what I did.

TENDER CHICKEN PARMESAN

Chicken Preparation:  Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

  • Place 4 – 6 boneless chicken thighs in a plastic grocery bag or between plastic sheets.  Be sure they are unfolded.
  • Using a good tool (I use a flat, river rock. But a mallet or the side of your rolling pin will do. If you have to resort to using a wine bottle, be careful not to break it!), gently pound and flatten each piece to about 1/3 of an inch. Do not over flatten!  You want to pound them just enough to make each piece tender and even in thickness.
  • Salt and pepper all sides of your chicken pieces before proceeding to the breading stage, below.

Breading:

  • Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil or butter in a large skillet on medium heat.
  • Immerse each piece of chicken into
    1. Flour (shake off extra)
    2. Egg wash (1 beaten egg per every 2 pieces of chicken, so 2 eggs for 4 pieces of chicken and so forth).
    3.  Panko. Be sure to press the Panko bread crumbs into the chicken, fullycovering it.
  • Sauté chicken a few minutes on each side, until the Panko crust is beginning to brown.

Baking:

  • Place chicken in a buttered baking dish, either side up.
  • Spoon on 2 – 3 tablespoons of bottled or home-made tomato sauce to cover chicken top.
  • Optional: Dab on pesto sauce if you have some handy, or add a few leaves of fresh basil.
  • Cover chicken with Mozzarella (whatever type you have, fresh, bagged, either way).
  • Cover chicken once again with grated Parmesan.
  • Bake 15-20 minutes and serve.

TIPS:
If you don’t have Panko crumbs, use any bread crumb. If you can add some crushed corn flakes to your bread crumbs, it will be extra crispy.

My Daily Kitchen

Asian Inspired Orange Ginger Salad Dressing

August 27, 2018

What is it about that salad dressing they serve at our local Hibachi restaurants that makes my mouth water? It’s just delicious; it’s tangy, a little sweet, a little salty and I always want more.
My guess is it has a combination of sesame and ginger but I can never quite put my finger on it.

On a whim, I whipped up my own version, deciding to add orange for a little brightness.
I think it came out rather well.
Here  is what I did:

The Salad

  • 4 cups of washed lettuces of your liking. I had on on hand arugula and Chinese cabbage, but I would have added ice berg for that satisfying crunch.

Now on top of our lovely lettuces, arrange the following:

  • 1/2 Shredded or finely sliced carrot
  • 1/4 cup sliced mushroom (I used a small Portobella).
  • 2 inch piece of  cucumber, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sliced almonds, sprinkled over the salad
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • I did not add a tomato, but you might want to! It’s pretty and most people expect tomato.

The Dressing:  Add the following ingredients into a blender or smoothie mixer:

  • 1/4 medium sweet onion
  • 1 large (or 2 small) tooth fresh garlic
  • 1 small, chopped carrot or 1/2 a larger one. Cube this so it will blend easily and not get stuck in the blades.)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (I use low sodium but I prefer the saltier!)
  • 1 tablesppon sesame oil  (sesame oil is powerful so … careful!)
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 dash lemon juice (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 3 full springs fresh cilantro (stems and all)
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons Tahini / sesame paste  (start with 1 and add if you like more)
  • 1 tablespoon minced or chopped ginger.

Whir it all around until well-blended.
Taste!


What do you think? Do you want to add a little of this or a dash of that?
Simply adjust to taste until you feel satisfied! It’s subjective. We have no rules.

Tips!  

  • Try adding toasted Sesame or Flax seeds if you like. (Flax is most beneficial if ground.)
  • Ginger root keeps well in the freezer. You can cut off a knob as needed. Peal and mince. I do like th convenience of the already minced ginger I can purchase at our supermarket.
  • To make a full meal: Arrange cooked shrimp  (blackend or steamed, as you wish) or chicken breast on top to make it a meal.  Try it with a portion of seared Salmon!
  • Save your left-over dressing in a jar in the fridge.
    Try marinating some shrimp of chicken breast in the left over for a jazzed up flavor!.
Candidly Yours

Heavenly No Crust “Cheese Dreams”

August 12, 2018

My good friend, Helen, is on a Ketogenic diet, so no gluten flour for her!
She is also a wonderful hostess and the last time I popped over, she set out the most delicious, gooey, cheesy “non-pizza”  snack!  It was a bit like a pizza, a bit like a quiche, but no crust at all,… i.e., gluten- and mostly carb-free!.  What it reminded me of most was an extra yummy mozerella stick.

I wanted to make something like it as soon as I got home, but alas… I didn’t have all her ingredients.  I did however have sausage and some different cheeses. What emerged from my oven was equally tasty and I’m calling it Sausage Cheese Dreams. Below is my recipe

This dish is  ideal as an h’ordeuvres, a snack,  or even in a larger piece for breakfast. It’s also Keto- and Paleo- diet friendly.

You can certainly  make a vegetarian version by simply omitting the meat!

SAUSAGE CHEESE DREAMS
(Vegetarian Option Included!)

1.   Heat oven to 3752.
2.  Line a cake pan or similar shallow pan with butter, parchment paper, then more butterIn a medium bowl, beat 2 pasture raised eggs and to this, add:

  • 1 cup of riced cauliflower (you can purchase this already riced in the frozen section of your super market, or you can process it yourself.
  • 3/4 cup of grated gooey cheese. I used a 4-cheese Mexican mix but Monterrey Jack, Colby, or Mozerella will all do.
  • Add 3/4 cup grated or shaved parmesan cheese
  • Add 3/4 cup crumbled breakfast sausage meat, sautéd until just cooked, (Be sure it is cooled eoght before adding it to the egg mixture.)NOTE to Vegetarians: Omit the meat and replace with sautéd mushrooms.
    If your mix is too liquid, add 2 – 3 tbsp of gluten-free flour.
  • 15 freshly chopped basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • TIP! If your batter seems too liquid, add two tbsp. of gluten-free flour, or just enough to bind and absorb the liquid. 

3.  Once all your ingredients are incorporated, pour all of the mixture into the prepared pan. You do     not want the uncooked batter to cover more than 1/4 of an inch. It will expand as it cooks, but you are not making a quiche!

4  Sprinkle more cheese and a bit of basil on top and bake about 20 minutes, or until you see the top bubbling and the edges turning brown.

Batter, before the oven

Top is bubbling, edges are brown.

5.  Cool about 5 minutes. Then turn it out by pulling up the parchment paper and cut into desired bites or slices

.

 

TIP! : Try using different cheeses & experiment with different herbs. Add mushrooms & sautéd onions.
If you’re daring, toss in a pinch of cayenne pepper for a kick, or use Pepper Jack cheese.

Main Dishes

Delicious & Versatile Creamed Spinach!

June 5, 2018

Creamed spinach is a great way to add vegetables while keeping carbs and calories to a healthy minimum.  Plus… this recipe fits into almost any diet:  Not only is it grain- and gluten-free, but also Vegetarian, Paleo and Keto friendly!  It works as a side-dish, but I love it topped with a poached egg, a la “Eggs Florentine.”  When I’m really hungry, I top the egg with a slice of cheese and broil for a minute.

The recipe below yields about 6 cups, or …12, half-cup servings at 160 calories and very few carbs.

In addition to the ingredients featured in the photo, I also used about 1-1/2 tablespoons of Quinoa flour to thicken, which adds a negligible amount of carbs.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 9-oz packages of baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 large Vidalia or sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (feel free to substitute Half ‘n Half)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp good butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (not shown)
  • 1-1/2 tbsp flour (I prefer gluten-free flour)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste (I ground about 20 times)

Preparing

  1. Melt butter and olive oil in a large skillet
  2. Add chopped onion and salt, then sauté until onions are soft and clear
  3. Toss in all the chopped spinach and sauté, turning and stirring until soft
  4. Add the cream, stir, then add the parmesan and incorporate well
  5. Simmer about 3 minutes, then sprinkle in flour to thicken, pepper to taste and simmer until the mix reaches the desired consistency.

TIP: Portion out the large batch into individual half- or one-cup servings for freezing!
They thaw quickly,  so you’ll always have a handy, healthy side vegetable!.

Candidly Yours

DID YOU KNOW? REFLUX MEDS CAN CAUSE DANGEROUS DEFICIENCY

March 31, 2018

Secretly, I thought I might be crawling toward death and I wasn’t at all sure why. I had been so depleted, for months, and I was quietly frightened enough that I began writing the names of my loved ones on the backs of treasured  heirlooms in case I kicked the bucket in the night.

Looking back, so much was going on but I never strung the issues together. It just felt like my body and my mind were going down like a slowly but inevitably sinking ship.

I’ve always had insomnia, even as a small child, but for months, I had been almost unable to sleep at all and, if sleep came in spurts, it was never for more than 90 minutes, a couple of times in one night.  Yes, I had been living and working on about 3 hours of sleep for over a year.

Even sexier,  I had developed creepy, wrestlers legs. And to add to the fun, my muscles started going into painful spasms, my  eyes felt like they had grains of sand in them but a trip to the eye doctor and liquid tears did nothing.  The heart was palpitating, I was dizzy, my hair was falling out and my joints hurt so much that I could hardly walk in the mornings. Beyond dragging my sad self to work, I couldn’t get out of bed or get enthusiastic to do anything at all. Not even dance, my favorite activity, ever. Ugh. This is not the stuff for an alluring dating profile page!

Those who know me, know I generally a happy chick,  high-strung for sure, even hyper, but still a happy lady and this helped me be able to  ignore for too long, or hide all the above from anyone around me. Then, on Christmas Day, my stress level and my ability to cope with the regular bustle of guests was so overwhelming I felt embarrassed. I was a freak!

Blessedly, a few weeks into the New Year, a shocking blood pressure attack forced a reluctant visit to the doctor where it was suggested I have my vitamin B12 level checked.

B12 is an essential vitamin. Without it, one can develop pernicious anemia, neurological issues, even Alzheimers. It is detrimental to go without B12 yet oddly, it is not part of a routine blood panel. Still, it is easily fixed if caught in time.

In countries that follow a mostly vegetarian diet, such as India, B12 deficiency and it’s consequences, is common. Vegetarians and vegans are told they must  take a B12 supplement or consume foods fortified with the vitamin if they are to maintain  healthy levels. A close friend of mine became vegan when in her 20s. After a time, she began passing out. It was discovered she was B12 deficient and today, decades later, has a permanent loss of feeling on one of her little toes!

Since today, B12 is easily obtained in supplements and  fortified foods such as cereals, vegetarians can make a good case for giving up meat altogether.  Still, doctors tell me that it is best to obtain essential vitamins through diet over supplements, if possible, and B12 is naturally provided only in meats, eggs and dairy.  Okay … well … Ahem! I eat meat, eggs and dairy. So why, then  did I become dangerously deficient? And could this be happening to you? Well, if you suffer from acid reflux, it just might!

What many don’t know, and what no doctor told me 12 years ago when I began taking acid reducing meds daily,  is that people who suffer from acid reflux and related issues, and who are on a prolonged regimen of proton pump inhibitors such as Nexus or Prylosec, can develop a B12 deficiency because the stomach is not producing enough acid for absorbtion. This is likely how I became deficient. If you are taking reflux meds, think about having your B12 checked with your next blood panel.

I am happy always to cater to my vegan and vegetarian friends. But whenever I have tried to go without meat, it just does not feel right for me. I don’t eat a lot of meat, and I am conscious about where my meat is produced, how it is fed and slaughtered. Ditto for eggs. But I just don’t feel well when I remove it from my diet completely. And it begs, for me, the question that follows…

If Vitamin B12 is not readily available in plants, were we ever intended to be 100% vegetarian, as some claim?  If our creator had wanted us to abstain from meat altogether, would he not have provided B12 in plant foods?”  

I started taking high doses of B12 daily, without fail. You can get your B12 in a regular vitamin but for me, a sublingual or liquid delivery is more efficient because of  malabsorption in the stomach.  After just a few days, I began to sleep! Within 2 weeks, or even sooner, every one of the symptoms described above had begun markedly to disappear. Within 4 weeks, I was out dancing again! And my stress level is noticeably down and manageable.

Today, I take a medium dose of B12 daily. About once a month, I add liver to my mostly Paleo diet.To make liver taste almost like a good filet mignon, I soak it for about an hour in milk which helps remove that metallic after-taste.  I lightly dredge the meat in Quinoa flour, then I simply sauté in butter with a little salt and pepper. I top it off with caramelized onions. Delicious.