Eggs Are Not Vegetables, and other things I never thought I’d say.

 

My Stack of Vegan Cookbooks

My Stack of Vegan Cookbooks

Happy New Year! Hope you are all excited about the possibilities for 2017. A new year often comes with resolutions for life changes and I have a story to tell about my own recent life change. It wasn’t a resolution though. It was more of an in-your-face, you-better-do-something-about-this-now crisis…

November 20, 2016 I woke up around 2 AM with the most excruciating abdominal pain. A quick Google search– you know you do it too!– revealed it could be anything from a bad case of gas to appendicitis. Not one to overreact, I took some GasX. I took some Ibuprofen. I took a hot bath.

Finally I had my husband take me to the ER.

One CT Scan later the doctors discovered I had a 9mm kidney stone lodged at the opening of my ureter AND the blockage had caused my kidney to rupture. Urine was spilling into my abdomen. I was admitted immediately, pumped up with fluids and pain killers, and had surgery to insert a stent to bypass the stone so my kidney could heal. Three weeks later my kidney was recovered enough to withstand lithotripsy (a procedure where shock waves are sent through the kidney to break the stone into pieces). One week later another Xray revealed I was clear of the stone and I could finally have the 18″ stent removed.

The hospital, the doctors, the nurses, all took wonderful care of me, but the whole experience humbled me, threw me out of my life for an entire month, and truly knocked some sense into me about taking my body for granted. After talking to my urologist, two dietary changes were in order: drink 2.5-3 liters of fluid per day and eliminate animal protein from my diet. The stone analysis confirmed that my kidneys could respond positively to these changes. There are no guarantees it will eliminate stones forever, but it’s definitely worth a try.

SO I’ve been a vegan now for 45 days. Yep, that means NO meat or animal products (beef, chicken, pork, seafood, fish, eggs, or dairy). Whenever I tell someone, they mostly feel sorry for me. Or they lecture me on how I’m missing out on necessary B12, amino acids, and calcium. Really, not to worry. I’ve got these nutrients covered.

But the funny thing is, I really like the way I feel. I have sooooooo much more energy– like at least ten years younger energy. Insomnia used to be a close, personal friend of mine, but now, I sleep soooooo much better. I’ve lost a little weight (about 8 pounds). My skin is in great shape too. My migraines have reduced in frequency, duration, and intensity. And an interesting side-benefit? My vocal range has improved. I’m a liturgist at my church and sing in an ensemble there, and I have an easier time hitting both the higher and lower notes now.

Ratatouille Vegetables

Ready to make some ratatouille

It’s not always easy, this plant-based way of life. Challenges include 1) cooking for me vs cooking for everyone else, my thirteen year old often comes over to the V-side, but it’s a struggle for the rest of my family; 2) I can’t quite get the hang of tofu–every time I use it, it’s disgusting; and 3) eating out at restaurants. I went to Potbelly Sandwich Shop and ordered an all-veggie salad. It came to me with egg and cheese on it.

“I was told it would only have vegetables,” I said to the young lady at the counter.

“There’s no chicken,” she answered.

I point at the sliced hardboiled egg, “What about this?”

“That’s egg. It’s a vegetable.”

“Umm. No. Eggs are not vegetables. And neither is cheese.” Two things I’d never thought I’d say.

But then again, I never thought I’d say, “I’m a vegan.”

 

What’s to Like About Rockford: The Kroozin Kooler

Kroozin Kooler comes when you call!

Kroozin Kooler comes when you call!

This summer I had one of those BIG BIRTHDAYS. You know, one of the ones that end in “0”. My kids thought it was a big deal, even if I was in denial. “Who me? I cannot possibly be that old. Must be a clerical error.”

Alas, my mother confirmed, I was indeed that old. She insists she was there at my origination.

After briefly considering accidentally dropping my drivers license into the shredder, I decided to embrace my inner child. What better way than to gorge on ice-cream? And rather than imbibe in the dark, alone, with a quart of double fudge brownie delight and a very large serving spoon, I scheduled the Kroozin Kooler and invited my neighbors to join me.

The Kroozin Kooler?

Yep.

I’m old enough to remember when ice cream trucks drove around the neighborhood twice a week in the summer time. My brother and I would turn off the sprinkler and dash, dripping wet, down the street with hands full of change. Our goal?

The Bomb Pop.

The Bomb Pop

The Bomb Pop

Now that I live in Rockford, I can just call up this local company, Kroozin Kooler and schedule an ice-cream truck to come to my house. My ice-cream lady carries the good stuff too.

Some of the selection

Some of the selection

I love this idea. A fleet of ice-cream trucks ready when and wherever you are. I love this company. The drivers are cheery. The trucks are bright and clean. The music is nostalgic. The product is divine and the price fair.

Their website: http://www.kroozinkooler.com/ Their phone number: 815-708-1558 Their event request form: http://www.kroozinkooler.com/event-request.html and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Kroozin-Kooler-Frozen-Treatz-106807652815/timeline/

You know you want one right? No matter what your age, your orbitofrontal cortex will thank you.

What’s to Like About Rockford: Nunzio’s Restaurant

Nunzio's Restaurant, Loves Park, IL

Nunzio’s Restaurant, Loves Park, IL

It’s been a while since I wrote a “What’s to Like About Rockford” post. During most of 2012-2013 I was in the habit of posting one feature per month about my favorite places unique to the city I’ve called home for the last fifteen years. Rockford tends to get a bit of bad press and since, for the time being, my family has planted our roots here, I thought spreading some optimism was warranted.

So why did I stop writing these feel-good posts? I’m thinking it had something to do with my serving jury duty on a horrific murder trial and listening to the testimony of a dozen or more local police officers. Yes, I admit I was a bit jaded about my home town afterwards. My posting habit was broken.

Yet, there I was at Nunzio’s last Saturday night, enjoying the food, the service, and the conversation with my gal pal about everything writing (she’s one of my critique partners) and everything wedding (she just got married), when I realized, “Hey, I really like this place. I should write about it on my blog.”

So in the spirit of revealing Rockford’s gems rather than ruminating about my beleaguered city, I offer up Nunzio’s as another entry in the “What’s to Like About Rockford” series.

Nunzio’s is a family-owned restaurant that has been in Rockford for over thirty years. Their menu features Italian cuisine from pizza to pasta to pork chops. It was certainly the go-to place last weekend. We had a long table next to us that seemed a bit grim when they were first seated, but they loosened up after a few cocktails, and left in a very good mood right before us a mere 3-1/2 hours later. Prom goers sat at most of the other surrounding tables and there was enough sparkle to steer a ship through a fog bank. In other words, there was an awful lot of this:

Sequins, sequins, everywhere

Sequins, sequins, everywhere

But the real star of the night was the food. My friend Jen and I both had the famous Steak Sinatra, a char-broiled New York Strip, covered in De Jonghe butter and crumbs, baked in an oven, and then bias cut. It comes in two portion sizes, 14 oz and 20 oz.

Steak Sinatra, the smaller one ;)

Steak Sinatra, the smaller one 😉

One half of this meal for dinner, and the other for breakfast!

If you’ve never been to Nunzio’s you should give it a try and if you haven’t been there in a while, well what’s keeping you? Check out their menu here and their website here.

Photos of Nunzio’s by Karin Blaski; Photo of sparkle © Jessie Eldora Robertson