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Since I published a post about my top 5 most-used special ingredients for THM last week, I thought it only fitting to follow it up with a post of my top 10 non-special ingredients for THM (especially since I made it a point to say that you really don’t have to have any special ingredients to do THM). I could’ve included so many more – lettuce, green beans, Greek yogurt, butter, chicken, ground beef, BACON, cabbage, sweet potatoes, garlic, cream cheese, cocoa powder – but I had to stop somewhere. What do you think of my list here? Do you think I forgot any major ones? Comment below and tell me!
Click here to see my index of No Special Ingredients recipes! (All the ingredients in these recipes can be found locally. You may need to substitute some of the sweeteners I used for your favorite locally-sourced sweetener.)
(In alphabetical order to obliterate partiality…)
Black beans, Great Northern Beans, chili beans – canned beans or dry beans – beans make a great slow-burning combination carb/protein source for THM:E meals. When it comes to feeding a family on a budget, beans can’t be beat!
Brown rice is a cheap THM:E carb source. I love to add lots of seasonings and use it as a flavorful side dish paired with a lean protein such as grilled chicken. Brown rice also makes a good foundation for a casserole or stir-fry.
This versatile non-starchy veggie can be used in any THM fuel type! Because of its mild taste and firm texture, it comes in handy as a low-carb potato alternative (note that I did not say “substitute”). Cauliflower can be used in anything from cake to soup bases, as you’ll see in the recipes below.
I’m calling this THM:S healthy fat source a non-special ingredient because it can be found so readily in local grocery stores these days. We have actually started purchasing our coconut oil online from Amazon (Nutiva brand) for the best quality and price, but I also like Louana coconut oil from Walmart. We purchase refined coconut oil so it doesn’t have a coconut taste that way we can use it in sweet and savory applications. Coconut oil is a heat-stable oil that nourishes the body inside and out and helps rev the metabolism, so I use it for frying, baking…and even skincare!
Low-fat cottage cheese makes a versatile THM Fuel Pull protein source, but regular cottage cheese belongs in a THM:S setting. I love to hide cottage cheese in ice cream, milkshakes, soups, and sauces to make recipes creamy without a lot of added calories. We buy our cottage cheese in big tubs from Sam’s Club because we go through it so fast! Since cottage cheese doesn’t have the tang of Greek yogurt, I personally find it to be more versatile.
Eggs can be found inexpensively at Aldi and make a wonderful THM:S protein source. Use only the whites (we buy those from the carton at Aldi as well) and you have a THM Fuel Pull protein source that can be used with any fuel type! Eggs add structure to gluten-free baked goods, thicken and cream-ify hot oatmeal, make an easy on-the-go protein source when hard boiled, and thicken puddings and ice creams to rich textures.
CLICK HERE for recipes that use egg whites.
CLICK HERE for recipes that use egg yolks.
Found relatively inexpensively in big bags at Aldi or Sam’s Club, frozen berries add some color (and vitamins) to your life. So much flavor, so many uses. Berries can be used in any THM fuel type, but blueberries should be kept to 1/2 c. in a THM:S setting since they’re naturally higher in sugars than other berries.
CLICK HERE for all my strawberry recipes.
CLICK HERE for all my blueberry recipes.
CLICK HERE for all my cranberry recipes.
Unsweetened almond milk
This versatile low-carb milk alternative can be used in any THM fuel setting (unless you make your own, in which case you may need to reserve it for THM:S meals depending how high in fat yours is). Shakes, ice cream, soups – unsweetened almond milk is an integral part of all of them. I’ve heard that cashew milk tastes better than almond milk, but to be honest, I haven’t tried it yet! People with nut allergies can find carton coconut milk with similar nutrition info to unsweetened almond milk (please note that carton coconut milk is far different from canned coconut milk, which is much richer!). I don’t care for the taste of coconut milk as much as almond milk, but it’ll get the job done. (Many people with nut allergies can handle coconut products just fine, but check with your doctor first to make sure.)
Good ol’-fashioned oats – one of my favorite versatile ingredients! Oats are a good THM:E carb source, and they actually contain some protein as well so I personally don’t have a problem with eating a serving of oatmeal as my complete breakfast in the morning. (If the oats themselves don’t hold you over until lunchtime, add some lean protein by stirring in some collagen, defatted peanut flour, or egg whites.) It used to be a well-known fact that the Trim Healthy Mama plan recommended only old-fashioned oats or steel-cut oats due to the fact that they are less broken down and gentler on blood sugar than quick or instant oats are, but times have changed and according to admins over on the THM Facebook group, quick oats are acceptable as long as you include lean protein to blunt a possible blood sugar spike. This especially applies in cases where you’re just cooking the oats in a broth – such as for your morning oatmeal. When combined with other ingredients and baked, the effect is not as great. I personally still use old-fashioned oats for my morning oatmeal. I haven’t messed with steel-cut oats much, but I do know that they take much longer to cook than the old-fashioned oats I’m used to and can’t just be substituted into a recipe willy-nilly. Oat flour is also acceptable on the THM plan and is a very budget-friendly alternative flour! You can make it yourself by grinding old-fashioned or quick oats in a coffee grinder or blender. Oat flour is not as dry a flour as oat fiber, coconut flour, THM Baking Blend, or my baking mix, so it can’t just be substituted into a recipe for another flour. However, in recipes formulated for it (I have lots of them!), it works great! (Please note: when measuring oat flour for a recipe, measure *after* grinding the oats, not before – unless, of course, the recipe tells you specifically how many oats to grind for the recipe.)
RECIPES: Overnight Oatmeal 5 Ways | My Fave Overnight Oatmeal | Easy Chocolate Oatmeal: My Go-To Breakfast | Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Drizzle | Gooey Brownie for One | Apple Muffins | Blueberry Baked Oatmeal
If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know that peanut butter (a THM:S fat source) is one of my greatest loves – and greatest downfalls. Put simply: peanut butter is sooo good, but sooo calorie-dense. Do I eat it? Yep! Do I eat less than I used to? Yep! I really have tried to cut back on my lavish consumption of peanut butter, but I still enjoy it in moderate doses and you’ll find it in many recipes here on my blog. I’ve recently been enjoying more defatted peanut flour to take advantage of the peanut butter flavor and protein with a fraction of the calories (and it’s a Fuel Pull!), but that’s a special ingredient so we’re not talking about that today. If you’re following the THM plan, you need to use natural peanut butter – no sugar added. Walmart sells Smucker’s brand natural peanut butter which contains only peanuts and salt, and it has a deliciously intense peanut flavor. Personal confession: I often just use regular peanut butter. (When testing recipes for the blog, I use Smucker’s because I do recommend using natural peanut butter and natural peanut butter doesn’t always act like regular peanut butter. It’s stiffer.) No, that’s not on plan. But ya know what? It’s cheaper and more sustainable. I’d rather have a few extra bucks to go buy defatted peanut flour than always buy natural peanut butter. And if I don’t overindulge in peanut butter anyway (because the scales usually stalls when I do), the amount of sugar in regular peanut butter probably isn’t going to make a huge difference to me personally. I’m all for sustainable. (Note: I should insert here that we try to stay away from hydrogenated vegetable oils, so we often buy the store brand natural peanut butter from Sam’s Club. Its ingredients are peanuts, sugar, palm oil, and sea salt – 2g added sugar. Definitely not the worst choice out there.) Oh, and by the way, I use regular ketchup, too. That’s not on plan either. (Yes, I take this into consideration when writing my recipes – don’t worry.)
CLICK HERE for all my peanut butter recipes!
Do you shop at Aldi and Sam’s Club? Click here to find lists of products that we purchase at each of those stores!
You may also enjoy:
- Starting THM
- my recipe index
- my recipes grouped by fuel type, allergy info, and theme
- my no special ingredients recipes
- my THM sample menus
- my index of THM tips