Kickin’ Up Route 66

After Vegas, we headed down to the Grand Canyon. Um, wow.

GCGrand Canyon

Yep, we went there. We stuck around til the sun went down, and saw one of the most beautiful night skies on the planet. Sadly, I’m not skilled enough in photography to have captured it, but this is the idea:

stars

We didn’t see a whole lot of wildlife on this trip, but one thing we did see was…. Elk. One one of the heavily populated walkways at the Grand Canyon, a big ol’ Elk was just hanging out, people-watching. At night as we drove through the Coconino National Forest en route to Flagstaff, we had to slow down twice for Elk crossing the road.

Flagstaff was FREEZING. Seriously, between the cold and the reindeer I could have sworn we were at the North Pole.

For breakfast, we decided to warm up at Brandy’s, a wonderful local restaurant and bakery that was featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. What a place! Just a small hole in the wall place with great people and absolutely delicious food. The best pancake of my life. And the best pumpkin spice latte I’ve ever had. I ordered a chipotle scrambler (eggs, chipotle, cheddar, and a tortilla). James had eggs and a pancake. Oh. my. gosh. I would almost move to Flagstaff just to be close to this place.


Brandy's
Brandy's insidePumpkin Spice LatteChorizo Scrambler
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

And with our stomachs full, we hopped in our car and headed for the Pacific!

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The Cheese Log Tries Paleo #EatLikeYourAncestors

In the last few weeks, here at The Cheese Log, we’ve gone Paleo.

Yes, it’s rather ironic, given the name of this blog. Paleo is diary-free. No dairy (cheese, yogurt, milk), no grains (bread, wheat, rice, quinoa, etc.), no legumes (beans, peas, peanuts).

Omg reaction gifs

I know, right? WHY WOULD WE DO THAT? Won’t we, like, starve… or something?

Quite the contrary, friends. This is what we eat:

  • Veggies (lots of salads, greens, broccoli, peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes)
  • Fruits (Bananas, plums, strawberries, blackberries, apples, grapes, dried fruits)
  • Meat (Chicken, lamb, turkey, pork, sausage, beef, fish, crabs)
  • Nuts/Seeds (Almond butter, peanut-free trail mix, cashew flour)
  • Baked goods (made with coconut flour, honey, maple syrup, almond flour, cashew flour, almond milk and dark chocolate)

It’s the last item on that list that has made this diet sustainable. I don’t feel like I’m giving up everything because I’m still eating cookies, brownies, banana bread, pumpkin bread, pancakes, you name it. I’m just making them out of healthier ingredients.

And guess what. It’s working.

I’ve lost 9 pounds so far. Aside from that, I feel so much better. No more bloating, no more sluggishness, no more GI issues. I feel awesome. I’ve “cheated” a little, having a bite of cake or ice cream or “real” cookies at parties- but I was able to control myself an only have a bite, since I know that my new way of eating is making me feel so much better.Plus, how can you feel deprived eating this breakfast:

Paleo Breakfast

 

Yes. I feel like I eat more now than I used to eat. Yet I’m losing weight and feeling better.

Disclaimer: I don’t know if this will continue to work, but with 20 years of dieting, this is the most promising endeavor I’ve ever begun. I’m going to stick with it for at least 2 months to see if it continues to be so awesome.

So how ’bout those egg muffins? I made a dozen on the weekend and heated them in the microwave each morning for breakfast. It was perfect.

You die-hard cheese lovers can make these with a bit of shredded Colby or even Manchego baked right in, but I do encourage you to try this Paleo-style and see what you think.

Egg Muffins

 

Ingredients:

10 eggs, beaten

1 lb bulk breakfast sausage

1/2 red pepper, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1/4 cup chopped red onion

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the muffin tin with baking cups. If you don’t, you’ll ruin your pan.
  2. Cook the sausage on the stove until it’s almost done- no pink left. Remove from skillet, place on paper towel to drain grease.
  3. Saute the peppers and onion in the pan until soft. Add the sausage and remove from heat.
  4. Divide the pepper and sausage mixture among 12 muffin wells.
  5. Fill the wells the rest of the way with egg.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes at 350°F

Our First Spaghetti Squash

About a week ago, James and I started working out together to Shaun T’s Rockin’ Body. It’s really intense and definitely takes a lot of effort, so I’ve been trying to cook a little healthier so we don’t sabotage our exercise. We don’t have a particular diet, really. Just trying to go whole grain with lots of veggies.

Saturday Morning, I sautéed some peppers, red onion, and thyme from my herb garden, sliced up a little sausage, then mixed in an egg and added a little cheese on top. It was really good!

Breakfast Done Right

Breakfast Done Right

 

After breakfast, I went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of fruits, veggies, quinoa, Ezekiel Bread, and chicken. It’s hard to eat poorly when your house is full of healthy stuff, right?

The rest of the weekend was nice. Sunday after church we took a walk to the library. I picked up a few random history things- one about medieval female rulers of England and one about little known snippets in American history. Then we went to our local farmers market and bought crab dip mix, a soy candle, pizza for lunch, and wine for dinner.

Sunday afternoon I cooked my first spaghetti squash. It was really good! We both enjoyed it. All you do it cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, brush with olive oil, and roast face-down in a 450°F oven for 30 minutes. Let it cool, then scoop out the flesh with a fork. So easy! We ate ours with sausage and peppers.

Dinner

 

We got so much done this weekend, but still had time to eat healthy, take walks, read books, go to Mass, and visit family. I love our beautiful life.

Pumpkin French Toast

This morning was the coldest of the year so far. The car thermometer read 28ºF on the way to church. When we got home, James made a fire in the basement family room and I set to work upstairs on my newest creation: Pumpkin French Toast. I had about 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin puree left in the refrigerator after a failed Pinterest attempt from Friday night. I didn’t really want to waste it so I tried this today. It was a little risky since James isn’t a pumpkin fan, but even he liked these. Ingredients: 3 eggs, beaten a few tablespoons of milk (eyeball it) 1/4-1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree 2-3 big pinches of sugar Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves (dash of each, heavier on the cinnamon) 6 slices of bread Wisk together all the ingredients except the bread. Quickly dip the bread in the egg mixture and cook in a skillet or frying pan for  about 2 minutes on each side, medium heat. We ate these with maple syrup, which was great. If we had whipped cream in the fridge, though, that would have been perfect, like pumpkin pie for breakfast.

Lemon Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes

We’re finally MARRIED!! James and I tied the knot on June 1. After a beautiful wedding and a fabulous honeymoon on St. Thomas, we came home and had our first week in our house together. Pure euphoria is what inspired this breakfast from our first Saturday morning in our new home.

blueberry pancakes

I started with the standard Better Homes and Gardens cookbook recipe for regular pancakes (not buttermilk). It’s actually a pretty runny recipe on its own. Once you have that batter, add:

1 1/2 cup ricotta cheese

zest of 1 lemon

1 pint of blueberries

First mix in the ricotta and lemon, then gently folded in the blueberries. Cook them on a griddle at medium heat for about 4 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.

Hazelnut French Toast

I love going out for breakfast, but now that I have my very own house and my very own kitchen, my restaurant budget shrank a bit. No worries though! The greatest creativity comes when you’re forced to change your ways of doing things.

This Sunday after church, James and I had brunch at our house before getting to work on the subfloors (we’re turning into serious D-I-Y homeowners). French toast is James’s favorite of the breakfast trifecta (waffles and pancakes are 2nd and 3rd, respectively). So while he got to work with the drill, I set out to make breakfast. While getting my ingredients together, I remembered that I had neglected to buy vanilla extract. So, for a substitute, what else but a little Frangelico! I know, I’m out of vanilla but I have imported hazelnut liqueur laying around…

Ingredients:

5 slices of bread (I used Nature’s Own Honey Wheat)

3 eggs

small handful of sugar (about 2-3 tbsp)

2-3 tsp Frangelico hazelnut liqueur

cinnamon and nutmeg (about 1/2 tsp of each, eyeball it)

strawberries, sliced and mixed with a bit of sugar

Wisk eggs, sugar, Frangelico, and spices. Heat frying pan to medium and melt a little butter in the pan. Dip bread slices in egg mixture and fry about 1 or 2 minutes on each side. Serve with strawberries and maple syrup.

Tea vs. Coffee

 I LOVE the taste of coffee. I’m not exactly a Starbucks junkie, but I might happen to be first in line when pumpkin spice lattes are in season. I also love the soothing feeling of herbal tea on a cold, stressful afternoon.

I used to drink coffee every morning before work. I would sip it in the car, listening to talk radio, enjoying a sweet, intellectual morning before getting to the body shop for 9 hours of mindless paperwork. I drank my coffee, loving the taste, loving the kick, and not caring about anything else.

Recently, I went on a health kick to lose weight for my upcoming wedding to the love of my life. In an effort to severely limit my carbs, I talked to a cousin of mine who suggested switching to tea in the morning.

Thank you Mandy! It’s the best daily health advice I’ve ever gotten. I feel so much better. In fact, I never knew what the coffee was doing to me until I switched to tea and felt a huge burst of energy. I’ll have a cup of breakfast tea in the morning at work, and a sweet citrusy cup of Lady Grey in the afternoon. I feel so alive! And the best part is, the pounds are coming off faster without that load of cream and sugar every morning.

(Also, I broke down and bought Hazelnut coffee cream for work, had a cup of coffee yesterday, and felt miserable. Not doing that again.)