Seven Lessons and Five Recipes that all about Food Leftovers

 

I love leftovers.

In fact, let me be EXTRA clear, I get EXCITED with leftovers.

After a Family Feast, the abundance of leftovers always creates a second feast..!

After a Family Feast, the abundance of leftovers always creates a second feast..!

After converting my beloved #MrB into another Leftover junky (you can watch more about it here!), I always find myself pondering about what will I create next out of whatever is in the fridge from the night (or week before) and getting exhilarated at the possibilities of another culinary win.

Now, growing up, leftovers felt much like punishment. I mean, we didn’t have much money, it was Venezuela in the early 90s and I was being raised by a single mom. Things got tough in many occasions. However, my mom always made leftovers’ dishes super exciting and delicious, especially the omelettes she would prepare at the end of the week with whatever compatible things were in the fridge. In many ways, these occasions felt like feast for me.

These days, leftovers have taught me some valuable lessons, that make me love them EVEN more. Here are my 6 lessons learned from committing myself to creatively reusing leftovers:

  1. If kept adequately, they can resist even 2 weeks: Now, most of the times, food in our home doesn’t make it beyond the 1-week mark (unless packed for the freezer!), but now that I have invested in great containers and make sure food gets put away properly and never touched with serving tools that could be messy or dirty, things have lasted much longer than I imagined they would.

  2. Spices and herbs evolve over time: A lot of casseroles, stews and sauces tend to get better with time. Particularly dishes with onions and tomatoes tend to get better after a day or two in the fridge.

  3. … so beware, especially when reheating!: As flavours evolved and change in the fridge and then some get reactivated with heat, the level of spiciness can hit new marks that you might not be ready for. I’m not a fan of spicy foods (and my lips swollen when I eat it!) and so if the leftover dish had some peppers or chillies I always check before reheating them, as they might become WAAAAYYYYY too spicy for me.

  4.  Most things can be turned into a casserole with some imagination, eggs and cheese: Seriously. This should be taught in school. If I don’t have enough of one leftover to make a whole new round from it, I tend to make a baked dish to make it go further without investing too much time or money. 

  5. When repurposing leftovers, the Key is in maintaining Flavour Consistency: This lesson I learned early on and later relearned in cooking school. There are spices that go well with certain cuisines and dishes but not with others. I try to make sure that there’s a theme on the repurposed dish, especially when there are several elements combined. A quick Google search can help you sort out what spices go well with what… no one wants to end up with a Bolognese sauce full of garam masala and cumin.

  6. They can be a busy grown-up’s best friends: With kids at home on their summer holidays, loads of projects to catch up on and more ideas to be developed, leftovers are one of my secret weapons to avoid investing too many hours cooking AND helping our resources stretch. Win-Win for sure!

  7. If you believe in yourself, almost anything can be a Delicious Feast!: For many, eating leftovers has a layer of lacking and shaming. These days, when ethical brands and practices are reminding us of the cost of our consumption habits on our planet, I believe reusing and embracing leftovers is both an act of Love towards our environment (and ourselves!) and an act of defiance against consumerism. So, when facing them, dared to be creative, check out ideas online, think outside of the box and, above and beyond, have fun with them.

Want to start giving Leftovers a go with an easy recipe? Here are 5 great recipes for you to try this week:

Versatile Veggie Soup: This one is ALWAYS a winner for me. I even save the hard stalks of the Broccoli and Asparagus for it and, with our always present Bone Broth, I can turn it into a Gut-Healing powerhouse! Make sure you skip the potatoes when doing a Keto version. You can always substitute those for Chayote or Cauliflower.

The Best Meatloaf Ever (which happens to be Keto and Paleo!): Now, I wasn’t a fan of meatloaf until recently and this particular recipe will even make the pickiest one in the house a convert too. This is a great way to reuse: Veggies (shredded or chopped and mixed into the minced meat), meat (you could even use cooked options and add extra fat and water to the mix) and even offal meats (aka nutritional-powerhouses like Liver or Heart!). Make sure you take the time to nail the spices and you’ll have a great recipe that everyone will love.

 Leftover Turkey Casserole: I’m a fan of casseroles. Consider this your blueprint but feel free to change the protein, veggies and cheeses involved to fit YOUR leftovers situation.

Lamb and Potatoes Pie: This is a bit counterintuitive on a mostly-Keto side, but pies like this one are great ways to reuse lamb. I easily change the potatoes for some cauliflower mash, added some spring onions and garlic to it and that alone cut the carb numbers greatly. Skip the breadcrumbs and use either cheese or almond flakes instead and you have a winner!

Anahi’s Left Over Beef Fajitas Salad: Now, this one is a recipe I created to deal with the extra meat we would have at times when indulging on BBQs during the summer. I’m always concerned about overcooking it, specially if it has already well-done, but in general the dish is super forgiving:

 

Leftover Beef Keto Friendly Fajita Salad

This Beef Fajita Salad will feel like a full on Fiesta in your mouth and will solve leftover issues!

This Beef Fajita Salad will feel like a full on Fiesta in your mouth and will solve leftover issues!

Ingredients:

  • 300grs Leftover Steaks, cooked and sliced*

  • 1 medium white onion, sliced

  • 1 small red onion, sliced

  •  1 pepper, sliced

  •  4 garlic clove, chopped

  •  3 Tablespoon Avocado Oil

  •  1 Teaspoon Dried Parsley

  •  ½ Teaspoon Dried Oregano

  •  1 Teaspoon Onion Powder

  •  1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

  •  Salt and Pepper to Taste

  •  ½ cup Broth

  •  2 cups Fresh Spinach

  •  2 cups Fresh Mixed Greens

  •  1 large avocado, diced

  •  ½ cup Salsa

  • 1/3 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated

Preparation:

In a pan at medium heat, put the spices and let cook for 3 minutes. Then add the red and white onion and let cook, without stirring, for 5 minutes. Add some salt and the garlic, cooking whilst mixing for 5-7 minutes. Add the peppers and let the vegetables cook for 5 minutes before adding the broth.

Let it cook at medium high and, when the liquid has reduced by half, add the chopped beef, mixing well to make sure all flavours are combined. Cook at medium heat until desired consistency. Taste and adjust spices and salt before turning off.

These colours are just pure LIFE!

These colours are just pure LIFE!

On a bowl, start plating with the greens and spinach, followed by the avocado and salsa. Top it all with the Beef Fajita and the cheese. If needed, add extra pepper on top.

 

*Please know the quantities of beef can vary and you can always swap it for a different protein you have handy instead!

The Beef Fajita could also work well with tortillas or rice, and you can always eat any leftovers the next day as a cold salad. It is beyond tasty and for sure will make your tummy and pocket happy!

Are you a Leftover Lover yet? If yes, what are your go-to Leftover recipes?

 

10 Lessons Learned in Istanbul

 

89 Hours, 2 boys, too much Ice Cream and not enough coffee!

Our final sunset in Istanbul, which coincide with the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan this year!

Our final sunset in Istanbul, which coincide with the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan this year!

Istanbul, the only city in the world stretching between two continents, is a destination that has fascinated me for decades. Since I was a child, back in Venezuela, I viewed Turkey as this capti vating country, full of great stories and legends, which fuelled my imagination and made me dream about visiting it at some point in my life.

Having lived in the Middle East for a decade now (yes, in May 2019 I officially crossed the 10 years mark!) my adult interest in Turkey, and particularly Istanbul, was much more about the fascinating historical heritage than about old tales and stories… and after reading Dan Brown’s Inferno, I desperately wanted to go to both Hagia Sophia, the famous Orthodox Church, turned Mosque, turned Museum; and the Basilic Cistern equally.

Whilst many want to shop their life away in the over-4-thousand shops at the Grand Bazaar or relish in the artwork and curiosities in the city’s countless museums, my bucket list for Istanbul was simple:

1.     Visit Hagia Sophia – Walk around its ancient corridors, look at the second church’s ruins and take a moment to witness its amazing centuries-old frescos; and

2.     Visit the Basilic Cistern – Walk around the dark and humid pathways that once guaranteed water supply for a big art of the city, visit the two Medusa heads and imagine Robert Langdon’s experience in this mysterious location in Inferno.

In all honesty, anything extra that I could tackle during our 3-day tour in Istanbul with 2 boys in tow, was a bonus, since whilst in my heart, I wanted to see it all, I knew that holidaying with children is a whole different ball game.

Before having children I could walk for hours on end, moving swiftly in between alleyways and stopping only for seconds to take photographs of the different things I encountered… tourism with little humans is about compromising, negotiating and constant stops to either take them to the toilet, feed them or let them play for a bit. Not to mention navigating the ancient streets with strollers.

If you, like me, have been fascinated about Istanbul and are planning a trip with your own family, here are the lessons we learned, things we loved and challenges we faced:

As cute as they look, these streets were a pain to push a stroller at!

As cute as they look, these streets were a pain to push a stroller at!

1.     Don’t leave without sunscreen: Seriously. So much sunscreen. For real. I am NOT pale. In fact, I’m quite tanned in general, yet the long strolls made a number on me and #MrB and we learned that SPF50 can surely make holidays better.

2.     Beware of the roads: Even though we aren’t expert travellers, our trips with the boys have always involved strollers and that was never a big deal… except here! The ancient uphill roads, cobble stone streets and narrow alleyways meant manoeuvring them was hard. Like, REALLY hard. If your kiddos aren’t great walkers, beware. Or perhaps take some heavy weightlifting in the previous months to be prepared for it.

3.     Read the small print: I normally make extensive research before we travel to have clarity about what to do and avoid whilst in our destination. However, I didn’t have a chance to do so this time and I paid for it. I found a deal that seemed too good to be true and it certainly was. Costing us 320 euros for 3 days of “activities”, it ended up giving us anything but sorrow. The offer was mostly deceitful and full of fluff that we didn’t even need. When I dared to complain, the supplier was rude and we ended disappointed and having to cancel it on the second day.

4.     Trust the Local Guides: Again, I don’t normally do this. But, with a closing door, a window was opening and, as I was calming down after the original heartbreak of our original tourism company failing us, we stumbled upon a fantastic local guide who took at heart the challenge of guiding us and went above and beyond to make our visit to Sultanahmet perfect. If in Istanbul, forget the fancy companies or complex deals and go with a local who can cater to your needs. I told Yunus: “We have until 6:30pm (aka 4hrs) to visit Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace and the Basilic Cistern. All, with the strollers. Can you do it?”. His response? “Yes, let’s go!”. And he made it happen! If he hadn’t entered our journey, I would have probably continued crying and feeling sorry for the misfortunes of the trip. Instead, we left with a completed bucket list, thanks to this true gentleman and learned scholar who focused on us enjoying our time there while imparting his knowledge (at least part of if) of the vast historical journey of this amazing city we now call Istanbul.

As always, Yunus kept us company and allowed us to discover Istanbul happily!

As always, Yunus kept us company and allowed us to discover Istanbul happily!

5.     You think you know, but you have no idea: When we booked our little Istanbul flat, the owner warned us about the mosque in the back (Istanbul is the Turkish city with the largest amount mosques with over 3,100 for its 14 million population). “We come from Qatar, mosques aren’t an issue” we thought. That one was a mistake. As beautiful as they sounded at 8pm, as they announced the breaking of the fast, they kept us awake through the night and without the A/C noise that protects us back home, they did a massive number on our sleep. 

6.     English isn’t enough: This one was a shock. Outside of the touristic areas, and even within some of them, like the airport, English isn’t widely spoken. In fact, most of the people we met, including the lovely janitor of our AirBnB, can’t speak or understand English at all. Not a big deal if you’re patient and loving… perhaps a bigger deal if you lose your cool. Just in case, toilets are called: Tuvaletler.

The boys’ first breakfast consisted of French Toast made with our homemade bread, strawberry jam and bacon. The boys LOVED it!

The boys’ first breakfast consisted of French Toast made with our homemade bread, strawberry jam and bacon. The boys LOVED it!

7.     Whenever possible, keep it Simple: When it came to the food, we kept things pretty straightforward. I packed our own bread from Doha, as well as some Kiddo-Approved snacks, and we focused on eating fresh local produce and simply grilled proteins whenever possible, even repeating food choices time and time again. As much as I’m a fan of variety and change, when in holidays simplicity is relaxation.

8.     Kids are Royalty: If there was one common theme we encounter time and time again was people who would bend over backwards to interact, engage and entertain our boys. At first, I thought it was something to do with MY boys (they are really cute after all!), but I soon realised it was something about children in general. In cabs, restaurants, queues, museums, shops or cafes, children are cared for and given sweets, treats, smiles and high-fives from strangers abundantly. Now, if yours are on the shy side, like mine, and if you’re into bodily autonomy, like we are, this might make things awkward. But, don’t be surprised, apparently it’s a Turkish thing!

9.     Small can be Better: As much as I wanted to see the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul’s almost 600-year-old market, I’m not a fan of over-crowded places, so instead of heading there for sweets, spices and souvenirs, Yunus proposed to take us to Arasta Bazaar, a smallish strip of shops where you can find all the items from the other Bazaars minus the stressful spaces. What a treat that was! We found all our treasures there whilst the boys played (and were given more sugar than they had ever eaten before because… well read #8!) and left without any stress or overwhelm (other than on our credit card!).

Beautiful and small Arasta Bazaar in the Sultanahmet Area in Istanbul

Beautiful and small Arasta Bazaar in the Sultanahmet Area in Istanbul

10.  Dared to be Surprised: In the end, my biggest learning here was to allow myself to be wowed, surprised and amazed, not by its luxury or exuberance, but by its natural beauty, colourful flowers, stunning sunsets and warm people. 

That was it for us. Eighty-nine hours packed with long walks, loads of data and information, colours, smells, flavours and connection time. We left knowing we had witnessed a city with much more to share with the world than it has till this day. As the French Naturalist Petrus Gyllius said:

“All other cities are mortal, but I think Istanbul shall be eternal as long as mankind exists.”

After our time there, I couldn’t agree more.

 

Top 10 Breads on Keto - The Ultimate Lifesaving List

 

When it comes to Keto living, one of the things many struggle with is living life without their daily bread.

Literally.

Who doesn’t crave some bread here and there on Keto?

Who doesn’t crave some bread here and there on Keto?

In fact, this is perhaps in the top 3 of the biggest fears my clients have when starting Keto: What will they do about “The Bread”. Now, in all fairness, because I had been living Gluten Free first, followed by a Paleo/Primal lifestyle, when I shifted to Keto bread wasn’t my biggest stress. I knew I could live without it.

In fact, not even fruits were my biggest concern, as I wasn’t a fan to begin with. To me, the toughest foods to let go of were Corn and Corn Products (hello, Arepas!🇻🇪) and Rice (specially some rice dishes like Appams (amazingly delicious fermented rice “pancakes” typical in Sri Lankan cuisine).

However, because I know there’s a big need for these, here come my top 10 bread (and bread-like) Keto-Friendly recipes (that aren’t in my own!):

  1. Sara Louise’s French Baguette: Now, in general, I tend NOT to overindulge in recipes that have Cream Cheese (which is why I’m not a Fathead fan!) but this particular recipe is a winner and one that I might add to certain weeks, when soups are on the menu.

  2. The Best Keto Buns: To be very honest, there are countless versions of this recipe all over the internet. In fact, I have played with one myself and use to teach it in my cooking classes a few years ago. They tend to hold well and freeze beautifully, so no excuses there. (PS: I’ll be adding my version to my Starting Keto Right! Recipe Book for the Pre-Summer relaunch too, so tay tuned!).

  3. Sourdough Keto Bread: This is a recipe I tried before Christmas, as I was looking for options for easy dinners with Turkey leftovers. It’s a winner, super easy, kids approved and (most importantly in my busy life) it freezes AMAZINGLY!

  4. Keto & Paleo Tortillas: Unfortunately, this recipe didn’t meet my kiddos’ palette (all those apple pouches and gourmet fries do spoiled them!😂) but I liked them enough to make a little batch every month or so for me. I’ll probably test taking some of the flaxseed out in the near future and see if they like them.

  5. Flax-Free Keto Bread (with a Trouble-shouting Guide and all!): As someone who shifts seeds according to her cycle (it’s called Seed Cycling and it helps with hormonal imbalances, you see!) I’m always looking for Flax-Free recipes, to avoid overdoing it on the Flax front. So, I was very happy to find this one. The best part is that it comes with a little guide to make sure you nail your Keto bread no matter what!

  6. Keto Breadsticks: This. Recipe. Is. EPIC! Seriously, breadsticks are a great little extra for certain menus and meals and this Dairy Free recipe (which you can always pimp with some Parmesan Cheese if you want!) is pretty awesome.

  7. Best Keto Sandwich Bread: I have to say that this one made #MrB VERY happy, as my previous tries at Keto Sandwich bread were waaaaaay too egg-y for him. I’m pretty sure it would freeze well too, but I haven’t had enough left to test it. Sorry, the boys are bread gluttons!

  8. Paleo and Keto Yeast Sandwich Bread: Let’s say you’re missing the hold and fluff that gluten gives to bread (I get it, I’m mourning that too!😩) if you get yourself some GOOD QUALITY Whey Protein, THIS BREAD IS PERFECT. I’ve been using it to end my old supply of Whey Powder (that I no longer consume) and it’s amazing!

  9. Microwave Keto Bread: You can’t do Keto and not try these microwave recipes. If I’m very honest, I’m not a fan of them except when in a hurry and wanting something quick to put butter on. That’s it! The taste can be a tad eggy, but the convenience makes it a winner and it also keeps in the fridge for a few days… so I can’t be too choosey!

  10. Collagen Keto Bread: If you’re into Keto to heal yourself, THIS will be your best choice for bread, as the collagen will help you repair your gut lining and the ingredients in this one are CLEAN. In fact, if you’re on the Anti-Inflammatory Keto bandwagon, like I am, here’s a list of 30 Recipes curated by the Bulletproof team that will ALL avoiding allergens, inflammatory ingredients and nasties.

DAR_2119.JPG

There you have them, my dearest Ketonian. Ten recipes for you to experiment, play with and continue your Ketogenic Journey with renewed energies and vibes. Remember, these are just a blueprint. In the end, this journey is ALL about you making things work for YOU.

From swapping ingredients (when possible) to adding new flavours (like herbs or spices from your culture), to changing the presentation of dishes (making breads into more focaccia-like loaves!) this is where you get to be creative, have fun and even get your family involved (God knows my kids have a blast when they are allowed in the kitchen as my sous chefs!👨🏼‍🍳👨🏽‍🍳). Make it fun and make it YOURS.

Buen provecho and see you soon!

 

Three Lessons learned from Fu<£ing up... and causing pain through it

 

Between yesterday and today I crossed a line I shouldn’t have. And through this, I caused pain and distress to at least two women who did not deserve so at all.

In online spaces, we can still cause enormous pain when we continually act from our egos.

In online spaces, we can still cause enormous pain when we continually act from our egos.

I entered the space of a Black woman on instagram in one of her posts and, with one ignorant comment, I wrecked havoc and started a process that fully transform my day and possibly my life forever.

As I was called out by another black woman around my self-indulgent comment, I lashed out and from there started what became a two days tug-of-war between my ego and my commitment to becoming a better ancestor, whilst continuing to release poison and toxicity in a space that wasn’t even about me, and in that process I caused distress and pain to these two women who, from the get go, were just pushing me to check my privilege, do the work and respect them and their spaces, instead of just saying I would.

The more I got triggered by their requests, the more I slipped into it, causing more harm, becoming more and more the person whom I often judged and criticised: An entitled privileged toxic woman. It took me a night of little sleep to face my discomfort, and instead of justify the $h&tiness of it, to realised the whole deal, to own the fact that I brought that to THEM. It was ME the one in the wrong. It was ME the one invading THEIR space, causing THEM harm, gaslighting THEM, and denying MY responsibility and ignorance through it all.

Then today, as I blocked one of the commentators who righteously called me out on my BS out of fragility and then went with grandiose pomp to the original author about paying reparations, even though I wasn’t even truly owning my mistakes, I finally realised how I was behaving and decided to NOT do that again, NOT to continue that behaviour, and instead to really show up and do my work.

We can’t bring light to the world when we’re faking in life and living in inner darkness.

We can’t bring light to the world when we’re faking in life and living in inner darkness.

To be perfectly honest, I have been feeling a lot of shame about this today. I have felt small, useless, fake. I have been reminded of my own shortcomings, my privilege and how easy it is to centre life around me because of it. But that’s the thing, right? It’s easy for ME to do that. To become the victim, instead of realising that this discomfort I felt for being told off for my pathetic behaviour is NOTHING compared to the pain and distress I caused them.

See, that’s what I suddenly realised:

Standing in that discomfort is the price we ought to pay when we invade spaces created by Black People and People of Colour for themselves. This is what I deserved for coming in and bringing nothing but toxicity and ignorance.

Thus, I decided that instead of dragging yet another Black woman into this, asking for free education and salvation from a performative position, I needed to own it. The pain. The shame. The crappiness of my actions… and then I went back to the “blocked commentator” and apologised truly. With no buts, no excuses, because the reality is that my behaviour was awful. Period. There was no justifying it. And she deserved better. So I did.

As we got to talk, I realised that I was lucky for her. I didn’t deserve her support or help at all. And I was lucky for it. She didn’t owe me anything at all, yet she pushed me to grow, and for that I was lucky.

Personal growth will never stop if you truly hope to be a better ancestor and human. We still have much to unlearn.

Personal growth will never stop if you truly hope to be a better ancestor and human. We still have much to unlearn.

At times like this I realise that the reason why I need to remove the Pretty and Perfect Mask I tend to wear isn’t just to “live authentically” blah, blah, blah, but because if I don’t the chances of me causing pain and sorrow to oppressed communities is HIGH whilst the chances of me even realising my toxicity and potential for destruction VERY LOW.

This is why doing the work is key if I ever wish to become a better ancestor, to be a better example, to truly change the world. Because in all honesty, I can do events, talks and e-books and still cause harm, and still hurt others, and still oppress the same communities I say I’m committed to empowering

So, here are my three lesson learned after this day packed with pain, shame and realisation:

  1. I don’t get to ask for help, I don’t get to be the victim: Yes, we MUST learn, we MUST grow, we MUST do better, but unless we’re willing to pay abundantly to those offering the resources we need AND then doing the work we must to grow, we should NEVER just ask for help. That is entitled, fake and self-centred, and does NOTHING to repair the harm we caused.

  2. Only by showing up authentically, we stop doing harm: The more we maintain the Good Girl façade, that fake veneer of perfection, the least we realise that our self-righteous anger is an excuse to make ourselves the centre of events in which, most of the times WE are the ones causing harm, oppressing and disrespecting others, instead of realising that there’s still work to get done daily.

  3. Those oppressed can still oppress: Flaunting my Latina card should had tipped me off about this, clearly. Unfortunately, I was too busy causing harm to get it. Being part of an oppressed group doesn’t make you immune to causing harm unto others, to oppressing others, to distressing spaces NOT made for you. Just like reverse racism is poppycock, so it is to believe that not enjoying white privilege makes you somehow perfect. This I learned today.

As I continue doing the work, and clearly there’s a lot that needs addressing still, I hope to remain accountable and humble, honest and authentic, open to growth, open to being called off, open to saying I’m sorry and then changing.

This journey, with all its gains and loses, needs to continue and, as it does, I hope to learn new lessons without causing as much pain as I did today. One can only hope for the better in the end.

 

Five Lessons learned from being scammed Online

 

EDIT on April 27th 2019:

After writing this post over 1 month ago, I have been both shown the kindness of strangers on the internet, with comments, private messages and emails, as well as the meanness of others who, like all online bullies do, use the screens separating us to make it easy for them to belittle me, attack me and try to guilt/shame me into retracting from my words. They tried and tried. They didn’t (and won’t) succeeded.

Tabitha promised a full refund on a post where I commented and that NEVER happened.

She emailed me the same promise and that didn’t happen either.

After 2 months of her scam I know the money isn’t coming and that’s ok. I have made my peace with that fact. Meanwhile, I have received comments from at least a dozen of women who were scammed by her and some even mentioned an FBI investigation on her, including details of MANY different aliases she has used in the years she has been up to scams online.

In many ways, they used my post to unite and come out of their own shame storms, and that makes me beyond happy. It’s a silver lining. Now, I have NO clue of what comes next in the investigations or whatever is going on, but I will continue to stand on my story, my words and my experience. She scammed, bullied and used many of us and we won’t be cornered EVER AGAIN.


After a massive breech in my Online Trust, I’ve been healing and learning loads about myself.

After a massive breech in my Online Trust, I’ve been healing and learning loads about myself.

A few days ago, I opened up on an Instagram Live about something that up until then had filled me with loads of shame and anger (which I turned into an IGTV Video and you can watch it here). It was very scary to even talk about it, even when I have been feeling like a fool and a bad entrepreneur ever since it happened, yet I couldn’t NOT talk about it, as I kept feeling more and more that the silence was crushing me worst than the shame.

The story I shared was that I had been a victim of an “Online Marketeer” scammer called Tabitha Paganelli, who after promising support, help and tricks to help me grow my online business, ended up stealing 900USD of my hard-earned money in one whooping transaction. (Also, beware of her business the Build and Grow Collective as she continues scamming people, sadly).

This whole thing started with us becoming friends on Facebook. Last year, as I realised that I wanted to shift a big part of my business online, I had started to become more and more and more active on the online world, joining different communities of (what I thought were) like-minded female entrepreneurs for support, promotions, etc. If you’re an online entrepreneur, you know what I’m talking about… and if you’re not, it’s basically a way to network online and Facebook Groups are HUGE at it.

Long story short, in the last 3-6 months she started popping up more and more on my timeline. I would read her updates and comments and would sympathise and relate at times, which as you might know is sort of how we connect with strangers in this new age of social media. At one point, I remember her asking for support to get her weight under control and that time I commented reaching out.

In the passing weeks, her posts changed. She started to share more about her journey as a successful online coach, how she has gain full financial freedom and was living her best life. It was ALL I wanted to create for myself and, in my naïve and overwhelmed state, I bought in. First simply commenting on posts and liking. Later by reaching out to her, particularly about her support with Pinterest, a platform I’ve been wanting to get on forever but still haven’t figured out; and eventually hiring her to be my coach on a program where she guaranteed to get you making 20,000USD in 90 days or refunding you the whole investment. 

As soon as I started speaking up on her pages she decided to start attacking me, shaming me and threatening me. Then she blocked me, obviously, yet the money NEVER came back!

As soon as I started speaking up on her pages she decided to start attacking me, shaming me and threatening me. Then she blocked me, obviously, yet the money NEVER came back!

Too good to be true? Well… it was. 

I paid her and then within a week or so she was gone. First, she would blow me off whenever I tried to connect on Zoom, the time zone lies worked perfectly for it as I live on the other side of the world; later she unfriended me and eventually blocked me. Then, as I posted a review of her business mentioning the fact that I hadn’t received the services I paid, she attacked me on a post and promised a refund that never came. That’s when the penny dropped, and I realised this was a scam.

Don’t let the soft smile and sweet face trick you, this woman isn’t to trust!

Don’t let the soft smile and sweet face trick you, this woman isn’t to trust!

You see, Tabitha has that girl-next-door look, little silver cross wearing and all. She is baby faced, sweet looking, blond and white. How could SHE do this to ME? The shame came in and it came in FAST and I started questioning the whole ordeal.

“Will she attack me if I post again?”

“Will she make fun of me?”

“Will anyone believe me over her?”

“Does she have any information that she can use to mess with my accounts?”

“Can she hack my profiles?”

“Was I that stupid?”

“What will happen to this next?”

Then the reprimands entered my mind and I was sinking into a full-blown shame storm.

“Of course no one will believe me. Who am I to say anything in public?”

“This happened for wanting to make more money”

“I should have seen it coming, I mean, no one believes people online anymore!”

To be perfectly honest, this was truly consuming my energy, which is why by the second day with little to no sleep due to the nightmares around this, plus the stress of life, kids and work without my amazing nanny around and the whole Venezuelan crisis, I decided to come clean and see if that would help me at all with the feeling storm… and I can honestly say, that was the catalyser.

I felt silly talking. If you follow me on any of my social media channels, you know shyness isn’t my thing, yet this time I felt VERY uncomfortable. Yet I pushed through. In the end, after the whole “confession” I was feeling lighter. I still didn’t know, however, that the true healing was yet to come.

… and then simple searches showed that I wasn’t the only one who was scammed by her!

… and then simple searches showed that I wasn’t the only one who was scammed by her!

Messages of support started to flood my inboxes. From friends offering me to gang up against Tabitha, to other people telling me their own scamming and shame stories. It was unbelievable. It was honest. It was healing… and then came what I so needed. A couple of powerful women in my life helping me process this, the pain, the shame, the odd feeling that was choking me, yet I couldn’t understand. Suddenly, I wasn’t judging me for doing wrong, I was loving me as I was wronged. I let go and compassion came in.

The always wise Layla F. Saad, who I’m lucky to call my friend, walked me through this and helped me go back into wholeness. She allowed me to express my pain and reminded me that I hadn’t done anything wrong, but instead someone had done me wrong. She helped me get the tools I needed to move on from this, not from shame and heaviness, like the one walking home ashamed and feeling dirty the morning after; but from power and honour, like the one who walks confident and full of pleasure back home, knowing herself in charge of life and her choices. This is what I needed.

And so, after processing, journaling, going back and forth and honouring my stories and choices around this, I want to share the lessons I learned from being scammed by Tabitha Paganelli and how will this affect my life moving forward:

1)   Trust needs collateral – At least online: I know there are countless of amazing Online Coaches in the world willing to offer people services and products from a place of authenticity and honesty. Heck, I’m among that crowd after all! But there are also scammers. So, in the future I’ll ask for real referrals, if possible, from people I know and with conversations with them included.

2)   One rotten apple is just that: When I realised Tabitha had scammed me and dared to face my CFO (aka Mr.B) about it, I said: “Don’t worry. This won’t happen again because I’m never trusting anyone again online”. He looked at me and said: “Babe, that’s not real nor ideal” and he is right. As I work on growing my business and expanding my reach, I will trust again, I will hire people and I know that her behaviour won’t be the bar I use to measure them. She is an anomaly, not the norm.

3)   The victim never “has it coming”: I don’t think this one requires much explanation, but just in case, this is a universal truth. Regardless of the situation, victim shaming is NEVER helpful. Yes, I could have not hired her, I could have not trust her, I could be asked to stop giving people online money as if it was my fault, but the truth is that SHE wronged me. I was wronged not wrong. This lesson works for ANY victim, by the way, and we never need to learn to spot perpetrators, instead we need compassion.

4)   Check your stories –Race and worth included: As I started talking to Layla and truly walking myself through the emotions that I was struggling to digest, I realised that one of the biggest fears I had about speaking up was precisely around being attacked as a woman of colour if I tried to expose Tabitha, who is a white woman. I felt my story, my “version” wasn’t valid because I was in disadvantage. In fact, I thought at some point “who would believe a Latina over her?”. Checking our internalised racism and biases helps us make sense of the emotions so we can heal them. Once I unmask this, I could validate myself and move on stronger.

5)   Showing up is the antidote: Had I not decided to speak up, I would still be feeling used, abused and ashamed. I would still be struggling with all of these emotions in full isolation. It was when I showed up fully, ashamed, stressed, saddened and vulnerable that I allowed the wound to dry and start healing. Shame, as mould, grows better in darkness.

Now that a big part of the storm has passed, and considering the bunch of things happening daily in the world, I can say that whilst I don’t wish this on anyone nor want to relive it, I can appreciate the lessons that I have managed to grasp through it. This allowed me to see so much of myself and my own wounds, not to mention that it made me even more furiously committed to being the best coach, mentor, writer and speaker I can, to serve from a place of wholeness and abundance, not because I need to but because I choose excellence above it all.

I will show up again, I will grow, I will succeed and I will help other women do the same. I will be a better ancestor through this because it is my purpose and my mission.

I will show up again, I will grow, I will succeed and I will help other women do the same. I will be a better ancestor through this because it is my purpose and my mission.

Experiencing this gave me insight about the emotions of those vulnerable to abuse, it reminded me of my many privileges and blessings and, above it all, it showed me how much the world needs honesty and vulnerability and how healing it is when we connect to others from there.

How about you? Have you gone through a situation that made you reframe yourself and life through victimhood?