Smorgasbord Health with Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Cook from Scratch to prevent nutritional deficiency – Vitamin B6 – Prunes, Chicken Tagine, Sweet Potatoes

Welcome to the rewind of this series from 2019 where we look at cooking and your diet from a different perspective. Usually we emphasize the health benefits of food and how they can be incorporated into your diet. But, what happens if you do NOT include them in your diet.

We wanted to share with you what happens if your body is deprived of individual nutrients over an extended period of time.

In this series we look at cooking and your diet from a different perspective. Usually we emphasize the health benefits of food and how they can be incorporated into your diet. But, what happens if you do NOT include them in your diet.

Thankfully most of us eat reasonably well, with plenty of variety, but if you take a look at a week’s worth of meals, do you find that you are sticking to a handful of foods, all the time.

Variety is key to good health, to provide your body with as broad a spectrum of nutrients as possible that the body needs. Taking a supplement or relying on shakes and bars to provide your daily allowance of vitamins and nutrients is not in your body’s best interest. Giving it foods that the body can process and extract everything it needs is vital.

Over the next few months we are going to be working our way through the most essential of these nutrients and I will share the symptoms that you might experience if you are becoming deficient in the vitamin or mineral and list the foods where you can find the nutrient.

Carol Taylor is then going to provide you with some wonderful recipes that make best use of these foods… Cooked from Scratch.

B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that exists in three major chemical forms: Pyridoxine, pyridoxal and pyridoxamine.

Being water soluble it is necessary to replace this vitamin every day from your diet and B6 plays such a crucial role in so many functions of the body that a deficiency can have a huge impact on your health.

What is B6 necessary for?

It is required for over 100 enzymes that metabolise the protein that you eat. Along with the mineral Iron, it is essential for healthy blood. The nervous and immune systems also require vitamin B6 to function efficiently. It is also necessary for our overall feeling of well-being as it converts the amino acid tryptophan, which is essential for the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin in the brain.

Without B6 you would not be able to manufacture haemoglobin to carry oxygen around the body. Once the haemoglobin is produced the vitamin also helps increase the amount of oxygen it can carry. A deficiency therefore is one of the leading causes of anaemia.

Without a healthy immune system we are at the mercy of any bacteria or virus that takes a fancy to us. A complicated biochemical interaction is required to ensure we can fight off infections; the food that we eat plays a vital role in producing the white blood cells that form the defence system. B6 ensures that the food that eat is metabolised efficiently thus producing enough of these cells.

Additionally B6 helps keep your lymph system healthy by maintaining the thymus, spleen and lymph nodes. The lymph system runs parallel to your circulatory system and is the battleground for the white blood cells and the viruses.

Blood sugar levels can fluctuate depending on the types of food that we eat particularly carbohydrates. If you are not eating sufficient calories your body uses B6 to convert stored carbohydrate or other nutrients to glucose to maintain normal blood sugar levels. This is one of the reasons that people on crash diets can suffer dizziness and fatigue. Without sufficient intake of food they are not replenishing their B6 on a regular basis. Because they are taking in too little calories for their body to function and they do not have B6 to convert any stored energy, they become weakened.

The balance of chemicals in our brain affects our feeling of well-being. Neurotransmitters like serotonin, melatonin and dopamine are required for normal cell communication. In research lower levels of serotonin have been found in people suffering from varying degrees of depression and also migraine headaches. The research is not conclusive but at B6 is needed for the manufacture of these neurotransmitters it makes sense to ensure that there are adequate amounts being taken in through diet.

What are the signs of B6 deficiency?

  • With a balanced diet, which includes wholegrains and fruit and vegetables, it is unusual to find a B6 deficiency in a healthy adult.
  • The elderly are more at risk due to reduced intakes of food resulting from lack of appetite and a general wearing down of internal systems and functions such as food metabolism.
  • People who are perpetual dieters and in particular those who follow restricted food type diets are at risk as well, although unfortunately it is usually only when the deficiency has become critical that the symptoms might appear.
  • One of the early signs will be changes to the skin with inflammations such as dermatitis.
  • Another affected area is the mouth and Glossitis is a condition where the tongue becomes swollen and sore.
  • Because of the role of B6 in our chemical balance within the brain, depression is not unusual.
  • A lack of B6 may have an impact on PMS symptoms and also regularity of periods.
  • In severe cases a person might suffer convulsions and as you will see from the post later in the week on anaemia, the quality of our lifeblood is compromised.
  • Alcoholics tend to eat poorly which will restrict both their intake of B6 and its availability but alcohol also causes the destruction and loss of any B6 that is consumed.
  • If you have an asthmatic child and they are on the prescribed medication theophylline they may require supplementation with B6 as the drug destroys B6 in a similar way to alcohol. You must talk to your doctor first however before taking or giving anyone B6 if they are already taking a prescription drug.

Taking too much vitamin B6 in supplementation form can lead to some nerve damage particularly in the arms and legs. This might result in tingling sensations or numbness. Usually the symptoms disappear when the supplementation is stopped. Do talk to your doctor before stopping the supplement if you are taking it on his advice.

These foods include good sources of Vitamin B6:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna,
  • lean chicken breast
  • lean pork
  • lamb
  • fortified tofu
  • potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • avocados
  • bananas
  • porridge oats
  • brown rice
  • walnuts
  • sunflower seeds
  • dried prunes and raisins
  • eggs
  • wheatgerm
  • pistachios.

Time to hand you over to Carol Taylor who has been creating dishes that include ingredients that are great sources of this vitamin.

B6 is one of the water soluble vitamins thus they need to be in our everyday meals and of course if we are eating a healthy balanced diet then for most of us a deficiency of B6 is not a problem.

I have also been looking closer at the food I prepare and have noticed and also think that most of us have favourite foods which we love to eat and prepare but my favourite foods may not be yours so I have stepped outside my comfort zone and had a look at some of the foods which are rich in B6 which I haven’t or don’t cook so often…But foods which maybe you cook and prepare more often than I do… I do hope you enjoy the recipes…

Plums, Fruit, Harvest, Organic, Healthy, Fresh

I started with Prunes…Prunes are dried Plums and that is it…They can be used in many dishes sweet or savoury such as tagines, stews and compotes although I am not a fan of them in compote I prefer mixed red berries.

Semi-dried prunes are good for fast-cooked savoury dishes, almond tarts, rich fruit cakes, muesli and breads. They can also be stuffed, wrapped in bacon and served as a savoury snack, or stuffed with marzipan or dipped in chocolate and served as a sweetmeat.

Wrapped in bacon sounds good to me…

Now prunes are something that as kids we used to have with custard as a pudding my mum didn’t use the word dessert…I also remember we used to line the pips around the side of our bowl and say Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man , poor man ,beggar man or thief…

I also didn’t exactly tell the whole truth when asked what I was making…I said oh just a different dish using chicken for my blog it has a sauce a bit like a stew and I don’t have a proper Tagine …then I quickly changed the subject…The main reason is hubby as he sees prunes with custard and as a pudding as that is the only way he has eaten them…

Chicken and prune Tagine/Stew… Ingredients:

• 4 large Chicken breasts, skinned and cut into cubes
• 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil I used coconut oil
• 1/2 tsp Ground Allspice
• 1/2 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper
• 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
• 2 tsp Cumin Seeds
• 1/2 sp Ground Nutmeg
• 1 tsp Ground Turmeric
• 200g/7oz pitted Prunes
• 2 large Onions, sliced
• 1 tbsp freshly grated Ginger
• 3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
• Salt to taste
• 14fl.oz fresh Chicken Stock

Let’s Cook!

  • Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed pan then add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides.
  • Add the spices, garlic, ginger and onions and cook stirring over a medium heat until the onions have softened.
  • Add the stock and season with salt then bring to a slow rolling boil and reduce the heat to very low, cover and cook for about one hour stirring occasionally.
  • At the end of the cooking remove the lid and increase the heat to reduce the sauce.
  • Serve with rice or couscous… The other concession I made was to use white rice instead of brown less for them to object to…haha..Told you I was sneaky…

The verdict: Everyone including little Lily loved it… After they had expressed their delight and hubby said he thought the black things were mushrooms(shitake) and grandson asked for more I confessed the dish contained prunes… a dish I will definitely make again even I was pleasantly surprised given the lack of chilli and some of the spices used…The biggest plus is now the grandkids will try dishes with prunes…

Changes next time: I would use chicken thighs and legs and maybe add a little chilli but it was very nice but would definitely use prunes in a savoury dish with no hesitation.

Next on the menu is tofu…Tofu is eaten a lot here by Thais in soups, grilled on BBQ’S and in stir fries …I know I should it and I did like this dish when I made it as I used a firm tofu I am still not a fan when it is soft…

Tofu and honey bites.


• 1 block Extra Firm tofu (14 oz)
• 4 tbsp honey
• 2 tbsp soy sauce
• 2 tbsp lemon juice…I used lime Juice
• 1 inch (2.5 cm) ginger, grated
• Sesame seeds to sprinkle

Let’s Cook!

  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly mist the pan with oil cube your tofu, press and drain off the liquid…I didn’t realise the first time I did this just how much liquid there was.
  • Bake the tofu, uncovered for 10 minutes then remove from the oven press and drain the liquid again…yes..
  • Bake again Uncovered for a further 10 minutes…If there is no more liquid then pour the sauce over the tofu and bake uncovered for a further 10 minutes…
  • To make the sauce combine the soy, honey, lemon/lime juice and ginger…Then sprinkle over the sesame seeds.
  • Serve hot and enjoy either as a snack or a main course…

Lastly Sweet Potatoes…Something I like very much however no one else does although when I made these delicious little bites and mentioned cream cheeses and bacon…Their little ears pricked up and I was on to a winner…Did I not tell you I was sneaky…

Sweet Potatoes are lovely roasted in their skins and mashed with butter, I also sneak them into a curry but these little balls went down a treat and without a murmur except to ask for another one.

Spicy sweet potato balls with cream cheese and bacon


• 2 sweet potatoes
• 2 spring onions finely chopped
• 2 cloves garlic finely chopped or grated
• 1-2 tsp red curry paste
• 3 rashers of bacon cooked until crispy
• Cream cheese
• Breadcrumbs to coat
• Oil to cook

Let’s Cook!

  • Wash and cook the sweet potatoes in the oven until soft…
  • When cooked allow to call a little and then remove the skins and mash with a little oil or butter then add the garlic, spring onions and red curry paste.
  • Combine well and season to taste.
  • Chop your cooked bacon and add to the cream cheese.
  • Take a good spoonful of the sweet potato mix form into a ball and make an indent then push the cream cheese and bacon into the whole and then make into a ball again. Repeat until all your potato is used.

  • Roll the balls into some breadcrumbs you may need to use some milk or egg to get them to stick.
  • Heat your oil and cook in batches just be careful as sweet potatoes have a tendency to brown quicker than ordinary potatoes.
  • Serve as a starter or snack with a sweet chilli sauce …Enjoy!

These balls were a bit of an experiment with the kids and we all agreed that next time we would either use jalapenos finely chopped or more red curry paste…

I hope you enjoy these recipes they are a bit of a departure from my normal choice of ingredients but were all well received by hubby and the kids…

My thanks to Carol for her creative way to ensure we all get sufficient Vitamin B6 in our diet, and thanks to her family for being the guinea pigs!!

Next time looking at all the ways you can introduce Vitamin B12 combined with Vitaman E into your regular diet.

About your hosts…

About Sally Cronin

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-four years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain.

Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology: Amazon US

Connect to Carol – Blog: Carol Cooks 2 – Twitter: @CarolCooksTwo – Facebook: Carol Taylor

47 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health with Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Cook from Scratch to prevent nutritional deficiency – Vitamin B6 – Prunes, Chicken Tagine, Sweet Potatoes

  1. Always good to have a rewind and a reminder that I haven’t cooked with prunes lately now they are on my menu for this month…Thank you , Sally…Pressed for tomorrow, Hugs xx

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  2. Good to discover some of my favourite foods on here now that I know the role that B6 plays. Also tempted by the sweet potato balls (with veggie bacon!). I only like firm tofu, too. Many thanks to both of you! xx

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  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Health with Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Cook from Scratch to prevent nutritional deficiency – Vitamin B6 – Prunes, Chicken Tagine, Sweet Potatoes | Retired? No one told me!

  4. Thank you, Sally and Carol. I learn so much from these posts. I used to think I was a decent cook, but your mastery shows me otherwise. You are amazing! 🤗

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  5. I like the reassurance I get from these – but recognise there have been times when my B6 was low… switching back to adding sunflowers to my cereals always makes a difference – to my joints as well as other things I don’t notice (like B6). And that cereal is usually porridge (although I’m on blueberry wheats at present!)
    Nice recipe for the tagine, I’d just substitute the chicken with sweet potatoes and tofu (both cubed), thrown in at the same place as you’d do the chicken. 🙂

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  6. I cook healthy and enjoy preparing prunes, chicken, and sweet potatoes. However, I sometimes take food supplements. . . just in case I don’t get the vitamins I need from food alone!

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  7. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 14th -20th March 2022. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

    • Tofu does need inventive preparation but there are some great recipes for it.. We eat prunes with lamb dishes as they seem to go well together, a little like duck and orange or cherries…it is all down to taste Robbie and who knows perhaps the family might enjoy..hugsx


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