My husband and I are both sensitive to monosodium glutamate, MSG. His sensitivity is worse than mine. I will have weird dreams and not sleep well if I consume it, while he has fitful nightmares and bruxes very badly, in addition to getting almost no sleep at all.
Several years ago, BJ would occasionally have nightmares so severe that if I tried to wake him, he would imagine that I was part of the dream and he even hit me once. I’ve since learned to get up, leave the bedroom, and yell back at him if he’s having a nightmare and we’ve eaten out that day.
We were having dinner one night with some friends when we shared the problem with them. My dentist’s-wife counterpart had recently taken a nutrition class and honed in on the problem immediately; “MSG,” she said. “It’s MSG that’s causing your nightmares. I remember that from the class.”
We figured we had nothing to lose and it would be easy enough to test. Sure enough, after a couple of weeks of no MSG, he deliberately ate a meal containing it and boom – severe nightmares and bruxism.
The problem makes it difficult to eat out since most restaurants use MSG at least a little. Some, like Kentucky Fried Chicken and Long John Silvers, used it in nearly all preparations. The problem affects eating at potlucks and the like as well since many recipes that we home cooks use call for Campbell’s soup, other packaged ingredients, or Accent food seasoning. Nearly all Campbell’s soup products contain MSG, except for the Healthy Request line, many pre-packaged convenience ingredients, such as Ramen noodles and bottled salad dressings contain monosodium glutamate, meat tenderizers and seasonings often contain it, and Accent is pure monosodium glutamate. Most cooks, even professional chefs, are completely unaware of the ingredients they use to even know if there could be a potential problem. We tend to frequent better restaurants where the chef is more educated to the issue because of this.
We’ve also learned what to watch out for and what to ask about. Many restaurants and their staffs are very nice and willing to accommodate us, but we have been turned away from restaurants before. We’ve also been ignored and served MSG anyway – ask us how we know!
But perhaps the biggest annoyance is when you want to enjoy a home-cooked breakfast containing sausage and you can’t even find an MSG-free product in any of your local grocery stores. Even in the cities closest to us, Lexington, KY, and Cincinnati, OH, I cannot find a brand of sausage that is MSG free.
So, what does a determined home chef do? She creates her own, of course. I’ve been experimenting with various sausage recipes for a year or more now, and finally last week came upon a combination that both of us truly enjoyed. This recipe is especially good in omelets, but is also delicious just fried up as patties. I believe it was the fresh pineapple sage and thyme that made it worth sharing. I hope you enjoy it.
Debra’s Homemade MSG-Free Sausage
1 pound Ground Pork
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh pineapple sage leaves (or just regular sage if you don’t have pineapple sage)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
½ Tablespoon light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight. When ready, cook over medium-low heat until cooked through – about 15 minutes.
Until next time,
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