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.”

 

Improvised Eggs

For now, my kids are still into dying eggs for Easter. Usually we cover the kitchen table with newspaper, hard boil the eggs, and rely on Paas for all our egg-dying needs.

But when Easter falls in March and your March looks somewhat like this…

We are not driving anywhere today...

We are not driving anywhere today…

Driving out to Walgreens to pick up egg dye just isn’t the best use of your day.

So we improvised.

Bad tasting but makes a great dye.

Bad tasting but makes a great dye.

Earlier in the month my daughter needed packages of sugary water flavoring for a school project. Long story but, since the dollar store didn’t have Kool-Aid, we bought some FlavorAid instead. At 99cents for a pack of twelve it looked like a great deal. However, there is a reason FlavorAid is so cheap. Imagine the worst fake fruit flavor ever, multiply that by 100x and then sweeten it up with twenty tablespoons of sugar and you might come close to the flavor of Flavor-OMG-this-tastes-awful-Aid, (named for the fact that the flavor needs help?)

Cherry FlavorAid made the egg speckled red

Cherry FlavorAid made the egg speckled red

Needless to say we had a lot of it left over. So that’s what we used! Dissolved in a cup of water and three tablespoons of vinegar, it made a fine egg dye. Some of the eggs came out speckled too, which was an unexpected, but not unwelcome effect.

The Kiwi Watermelon flavor made green eggs. The Lemonaid flavor made yellow eggs. For some reason the Grape flavor made brown eggs, but they kinda looked like chocolate, so we didn’t mind. The longer the eggs stayed in the dye bath, the darker they came out.

It took a little while for them to dry and until they did, they were susceptible to smears. So if you do this project, expect some finger color transfer.

Now there's a nice looking Easter egg.

Now there’s a nice looking Easter egg.

My youngest had the idea to wrap some of the eggs in rubber-bands before submerging them into the dye cups and those eggs had great results! I think the rubber-band trick would work with any type of dye.

We’ve gotten similar results marking up the egg with a white crayon or a wax candle, but the rubber-banding was less labor intensive.

The blue coloring came from the Berry Punch FlavorAid.

Also, the colors did not seep through the shell into the egg itself, which sometimes happens when using regular food coloring.

 

Would we do it again? Yes! FlavorAid + Egg Dying = Project Success.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? If this stuff can color eggs, what's it doing to your body if you drink it?

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? If this stuff can color eggs, what’s it doing to your body if you drink it?

Photographs © Karin Blaski, 2016

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.