Welcome back to my kitchen!

I’ve done all the kitchen chores today. My timer is going off. I’ve been avoiding writing this like I avoid bean soup. I can’t stand canned bean soup.

This post is the hardest to write. The hard-core truth. Time to face the oven, heat on.

A year and half ago, I went cold turkey. I cut out pop. I determined that drinking 8-10 cans of diet pop a day was the cause of stomach issues for me.

Six months in, yea, it wasn’t the soda. The wrenching stomach aches continued. The Hubs and I figured it after narrowing other things out that it was red meat. Every time we ate a restaurant, serving red meat, I’d barely make it to the restroom in time. I went cold turkey again. This time, giving up red meat and continuing the no soda pledge.

Remember the tub of frosting and the knife? How can you forget that visual, right? True that! That was my 45th birthday. After licking the knife, like a kitten in heat, I slept all afternoon. The Hubs woke me up—to celebrate my birthday with a date night at our favorite joint for local theater. We had a nice dinner and went to the show. I started feeling oozing before the first act. I could barely keep my eyes open and was fighting it with every inch of my energy. I couldn’t focus on the storyline. I found myself staring at the rows of theater seats. Not at the stage. At intermission, I begged The Hubs to leave. He asked, “Really?” But agreed. On the way home, The Hubs suggested we top off the birthday with a nightcap of an ice cream cone. Of course, I didn’t disagree.

However, my stomach did, hours later.

From that night on, for one week, I struggled to eat without massive diarrhea. I’m not talking a newborn’s diaper of poo. I’m talking gut wrenching, tear flowing diarrhea. Over half of the time, I would run to the bathroom hoping to make it in time—unzipping my pants as I waddled to the toilet. Then, I’d rollback in bed.

I was looking forward to a summer trip planned with The Folks. But,I didn’t want The Folks or The Hubs to know how miserable I actually was. The Hubs and I packed our bags. I think he secretly was praying I wouldn’t have an accident on the airplane. On our layover, The Hubs asked if I was hungry. I replied, “Has that ever been a question?” He laughed. We found an airport greasy spoon diner. After browsing the menu, I told him I wanted to order chicken fingers, fries and an Oreo shake. “Really? It’s not even 9 am!” he asked. “Yes I’m craving a shake. You would too if you’ve thrown up for the past two weeks.” I replied. He ordered the same. Yes, every patron around us looked on with envy and intrigue. Ok, more heavy on the intrigue—no pun intended.

We landed—whew no accidents. I made it! The Folks greeted us with plastic goodie bags of homemade bars and other treats. A kind gesture and very Minnesotan. At lunch, I told The Folks I’ve been sick with the “flu.” But, I was on the mend and feeling better. The Folks said, “You are wore out and need to pace yourself. You work too hard.” I didn’t have the heart to tell them, I just spent two weeks in bed and was unable to function like an adult—let alone work.

We carried on with our planned vacation. Yes, a vacation to a cooking and golf resort. What a coincidence.

However, I didn’t make it very long. Almost daily, I found myself feeling okay in the morning and then early afternoon (post lunch) going from massive diarrhea to endless vomiting. Unlike me, I skipped every tour, cooking lessons and even a concert. Clearly, The Hubs and The Folks knew I had the “flu” and was downright sick.

After The Hubs got back from the concert, I asked him to get me some regular cola soda. He looked puzzled but didn’t question the year-long pledge of no soda. He brought me three bottles. I downed them rapidly. I wanted three more bottles. He brought more.

The next day, The Folks flew home. We went to Urgent Care. There, the nurse practitioner seemed stunned but finally opined I had a stomach infection. She prescribed an antibiotic. We went back to the resort. I didn’t feel well. The Hubs brought me more regular soda.

We had to fly home the next morning. I told The Hubs, I couldn’t. He politely said, “You have no choice. We need to get you home.” I refused to eat or drink anything– as I was afraid of an accident on the airplane. As we waited in the airport security line, The Hubs held my shoulder as my body was trembling and physically shaking. My teeth were chattering. I couldn’t even hold my hand still for the TSA agent. We flew. We had a layover. I grasped seeing how many gates I needed to walk. We found a personal attendant with a wheelchair.

For the next week, the “flu” was vivid and getting worse. I had a new craving. Popsicles. All I wanted to do was lick popsicles. Boxes of popsicles. Then, I’d find myself hurled over the toilet. Then, I’d eat another box of popsicles.

The Hubs asked if he could go golfing. I felt selfish and guilty as he was my nurse for the past three weeks and he didn’t leave the house. Surely, a grown independent woman could make it alone for a few hours? When The Hubs returned, he found me endlessly vomiting in the kitchen sink. He asked how long, I’ve been throwing up. I replied, “About four hours.”

“That’s it. We’re going to the ER!” he ordered.

We arrived at the hospital. As we approached the emergency room entrance, I told The Hubs, “I’m fine. Let’s go home.”

The Hubs said, “Not a f—ing chance. Get your ass in there.”

And with that —Our new life adventure began.

Come back tomorrow. But for now, here is a comfort food recipe of lasagna.

Pasta free. Sugar free. Guilt free.

No Sugar Baker—Zero Pasta Lasagna!

Ingredients for the “Noodles”

8 oz cream cheese
3 Cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 large eggs
2t.Italian seasoning

Ingredients for Lasagna Filling
½ C chopped onion
1 lb ground beef
1 lb Italian sausage
1 jar Rao tomato sauce (low carbohydrate)
1 C cottage cheese
½ C parmesan cheese, shredded
2 Cups shredded part skim low moisture mozzarella cheese

Easy directions: Preheat oven to 350F. Line two 9 x 13 inch baking pans with parchment paper. Melt the mozzarella and cream cheeses together. Stir until smooth and add in beaten eggs and Italian seasoning. Blend until evenly mixed. It should have a thick liquid consistency. Pour cheese batter into prepared baking pans. Use a spatula to spread batter across pans.Bake for 20 minutes. Set cheese noodles aside to let cool. While noodles are cooling, prepare your meat sauce.In a large skillet, add onion, ground beef and Italian sausage. Cook on medium heat until meat is browned. Drain excess fat from pan. Add in Italian seasoning and tomato sauce. Reduce to low heat and cook at a simmer. Next, evenly slice your cheese dough into thirds. Add a thin layer of meat sauce to the bottom of a 9X12 inch pan. Add first noodle layer over meat sauce. Mix the cottage cheese with the parmesan cheese. Add 1/2 of the remaining meat sauce across first noodle layer. Spread an even layer of the cottage cheese mixture across. Repeat with second noodle, meat sauce, cottage cheese mixture, and mozzarella.Add third noodle. Top with remaining meat sauce. Sprinkle on remaining mozzarella. Bake lasagna at 350 for about 40 minutes. Let lasagna set for 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

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