The Rhythm Kitchen: You Gotta Eat, but you don't gotta eat meat and dairy

By Joe Bennett

The Rhythm Kitchen: You Gotta Eat, but you don't gotta eat meat and dairy

January 3, 2013 Updated Jan 4, 2013 at 12:22 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- The You Gotta Eat crew has been to The Rhythm Kitchen before, but we have never showcased food quite this health-consciously and ethically, if that's your thing.

"You can consume more actually without feeling like you have to lay down and take a nap,” said The Rhythm Kitchen’s Owner Shelley Lenzini. “The preservatives aren't in there, and everything is fresh."

For those who are unaware, someone on a vegan diet avoids all ingredients made from animals or animal by-products, including dairy.

The Rhythm Kitchen's menu includes many vegan-friendly meals, often substituting meat with portobello mushroom and dairy with soy.

Non-vegans can enjoy a variety of eclectic, health-conscious cooked recipes as well.

"I had the Pozole, pork, chicken, some veggies, with the mashed potatoes, which was great since it's a little chilly out today," said regular customer Morgan Grigsby.

Val Springborn had the California pizza.

She a returning customer and happens to be one of my high school teachers and mentors.

“I requested no onions on it,” said Val. “And the waitress told me to try the onions, because they were sautéed and a little extra special and they were very good."

Larry Foulk had the obviously non-vegan meatloaf sandwich with potato salad and a lemonade.

He said it was very good and especially liked the hint of barbecue he felt he detected in the meatloaf.

I ordered the large soy pizza, which comes with sun-dried tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, spinach, red onions, tomato sauce and of course, soy cheese.

It is fresh, organic, delicious and difficult to stop eating.

Because the ingredients lack preservatives and fat, your body can take on more of the natural nutrients and make the most of your meal.

Then again, Larry didn't seem to be getting any less from his meatloaf.

Lenzini explained, "People can come down as a couple and have a good vegetarian dish and a good meat dish."

No, that does not mean Larry and I are a couple, but we did have dessert.

A cherry brownie for Larry and vegan chocolate walnut brownie for me, baked right in the restaurant.

Our bill was $40.41 plus tip and keep in mind, I ordered enough pizza for four.

If you want music to add to the artistic atmosphere, there are live performances nearly every night.

"It's all local,” says Lenzini. We try to use all local stuff, artists, food and everything."

The Rhythm Kitchen is at 305 Southwest Water Street.

They are open for lunch and dinner and are closed on Sundays and Mondays.