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When the “Helpful Ingredient Substitutions for the THM Beginner” post received so much enthusiastic response a few weeks ago, I realized that a few more posts in the same vein would be in order. I was so glad that you all enjoyed that post because it really caught the spirit of what I feel called to do here on the blog: help YOU all learn so you can create your OWN recipes!
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Helpful Ingredient Substitutions for the THM Beginner
Thank you so much for your help with ideas for this post! I asked my Facebook followers to pick one entrée or side dish that they would like to be “THMified” and they gave me some doozies! Many of them I was unfamiliar with, so you’ll have to forgive me if what I found on Google doesn’t quite match what you’re used to. Hopefully my suggestions will at least give you a good place to get started. If I knew of a THM-friendly version of what you asked for, I provided it here, and if I didn’t, I found a link to the unhealthy version and gave suggestions for how to tweak it. Many of these ideas have found homes on my recipe ideas list, so maybe you’ll see them in healthy form in the future. 😉
I plan to publish at least one more post along these lines and have already collected your generic “favorite foods to THMify”, so if you want to be sure to catch that post when it comes out, subscribe via email!
I’m not going to fill this post with Amazon ads to all my favorite products, but if you would like comprehensive lists of ingredients from various companies that I shop from, head over to my Starting THM page. There you’ll find:
- A quick summary of Trim Healthy Mama and its various books.
- My 5 top tips for getting started.
- Helpful links to posts that answer all your questions.
- Roundups of easy, beginner-level recipes.
- Explanations of all the new-to-you ingredients and where to find them.
- Click here to check it out!
Asian cabbage salad with crunchy Ramen topping
- You can find my version of this on pg. 148 of my cookbook. I used some other crunchy elements to replace the Ramen for the crunch factor without the carbs. Very easy, and the family liked it!
Beans with rice
- Rice & Beans (Necessary Food, pg. 79)
- Easy Mixed Rice & Beans
- Black Bean Stew (could be served over brown rice)
Beets as a side dish (orange beets, pickled beets, etc.)
- I’m with you – pickled beets are one of my favorite foods! I have quite a few beet recipes on my list to make, but I was traveling for a lot of the summer and didn’t get a chance to experiment with any of them! Hopefully next year. There are quite a few no-sugar pickled beet recipes to be found online though. Here’s a recipe for pickled beets with no sugar (if you want them sweet, add a bit of stevia!), and you could definitely add some orange zest and/or orange sections for flavor, I’m sure.
Biscuits and gravy
- Right here! (Necessary Food, pg. 76)
Bulgogi (Korean BBQ beef)
- I thought this recipe looked like a good place to start. If you want to eat it over brown rice, you could go the Crossover route (beef and oils = fats, apple and rice = carbs). In that case, all you’d need to do is use an on-plan oil for cooking (butter or refined coconut oil) and replace the brown sugar with some on-plan sweetener and a smidgen of molasses. If you want to go the THM:S route, omit the grated apple in the marinade and serve over riced cauliflower or some other vegetable – like spaghetti squash or roasted broccoli!
Bush’s baked beans
- You can easily make your own sugar-free baked beans that would fit into the THM plan as an E dish! If you follow this recipe, reduce the molasses to 2 tsp. (THM approves 1/4 tsp. per serving for flavor but doesn’t recommend large amounts due to its glycemic load.) and use a no-sugar-added ketchup and barbecue sauce. (OK, frankly we just buy regular ketchup and use it because we’re not usually eating a whole bunch of it at once and don’t feel like making our own, but the homemade ketchup recipe in the original THM cookbook would be a wonderful idea. You could use this homemade barbecue sauce recipe in the baked beans, or if you’re like me and don’t feel like making BBQ sauce in order to make baked beans, you could just use additional ketchup in place of the BBQ sauce, increase the rest of the spices in the recipe, and hope for the best.)
- Or just make my Baked Beans recipe on pg. 129 of Necessary Food.
Cashew chicken (Springfield, Missouri-style)
- Looking off of this recipe, I would replace the flour with a mixture of THM Baking Blend (or my baking mix) and flaxmeal, using maybe 2/3 baking mix to 1/3 flaxmeal. Fry the chicken in a shallow pan in half refined coconut oil, half butter. Replace the sugar with an on-plan sweetener, and thicken the sauce with oat fiber and xanthan gum, adding oat fiber in 1 T. increments and xanthan gum in 1/4 or 1/2 tsp. increments until the desired thickness is achieved. I wrote this recipe down on my ideas list to work on and perfect in the future. My suggestions here are just places for you to start experimenting; until I try them in real-time, I don’t know if they’ll work or not!
Cheesy hash brown casserole/cheesy potato casserole/potluck potatoes
- This was an oft-requested item!! So much so that I have expedited it to the front of my 2000+ recipe ideas and hope to have a THMed version for you before the holidays. Hopefully. (UPDATE: Here it is!) My mom has a stellar recipe for cheesy party potatoes that she makes pretty much every time we have company, so I have a good starting point. The trick will be finding a good potato substitute and making a quality sauce that will stand up to your discriminating taste buds. 😛 We’ll see how it goes. I do have a Scalloped Cauli & Ham recipe in my cookbook (pg. 78) that may please some of you, but I think that I should try to do a version with grated “hashbrowns” too. Stay tuned! (If you want to be sure to catch the recipe when it comes out, sign up to my blog via email.)
Chicken and dumplings
- *whispers* Um, I’ve never had chicken and dumplings. To me, it looks like a pot of soup with soggy biscuits and I don’t know why anyone would desire such a meal if there are other options to be had. BUT, so many of you asked about a healthy chicken and dumplings recipe that there must be something to this business! I know there’s a recipe in the original THM cookbook, and here’s a low-carb recipe from the blogosphere, and maybe, just maybe, I will do some experimenting myself. I just kind of have my doubts about dumplings that take tablespoonfuls of glucomannan…have any of you tried a recipe like that? How did it taste? What was the texture like? Help a gal out so I don’t have to have so many flops if I do decide to try to create my own version, pretty please with a cherry on top? 😉
- Sour Cream Cornbread (Necessary Food, pg. 167)
- Budget-Friendly Cornbread (Necessary Food, pg. 168)
Country style steak
- I’m assuming that country style steak, country fried steak, and chicken fried steak are the same thing. Here’s a recipe from All Day I Dream About Food that looks delicious!
- I would use this recipe as the base and turn it into quesadillas using low-carb wraps! Wonton wrappers are kind of impossible, but you’ll be able to get the same flavors and the same crispy fried feel using the low-carb tortillas and some refined coconut oil.
- This one had an overwhelming number of responses as well, and since Thanksgiving is coming up, I thought that perhaps I should set my sights on concocting a healthy dressing and stuffing recipe! You could go many different ways with this, but a basic recipe should work for both bread and cornbread and be able to be easily adapted for a skillet version or a stuffed-inside-the-bird version. If you don’t want to wait and see what I come up with, I recommend substituting an on-plan S or FP bread recipe (like this Basic Bread or this cornbread) into your favorite stuffing recipe. Most stuffing recipes probably include butter and other fats, so you’ll need to omit or replace any carby ingredients and keep the stuffing/dressing in a THM:S setting. It may be a good idea to cut your bread or cornbread into cubes and dry it out in the oven a bit before using it in your dressing or stuffing recipe since a lot of alternative baked goods are more moist than regular bread.
- I’ll be honest – egg roll wrappers are going to be well nigh impossible to replace. I prefer to go the easy route and just make Eggroll Stir-fry (Necessary Food, pg. 75). If you want a wrapper, try filling a low-carb tortilla with the stir-fry mixture (already fried and completely cooked), wrap it up like one of my fried tacos, and fry it in refined coconut oil until crispy! I still want to turn that into a proper recipe someday….
- You can find a Creamy Chicken Enchiladas recipe on pg. 61 of my cookbook, and I have a few other enchilada ideas written down on my list for the future as well. (Have you gathered yet that I have far more ideas than I have time to make them? Haha….)
- You could also try these Easy Chicken Enchiladas, Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas, and Sour Cream Beef Enchiladas from Mrs. Criddle’s Kitchen.
- I looked at this recipe for research purposes. The only off-plan thing is the pasta, but if you use Dreamfields pasta and only cook it until it’s al dente, you’re good. (If you reheat leftovers, you’ll lose the pasta’s low-glycemic properties, so eat it cold or feed it to the kids.) Since there are so many tomato products in the recipe I linked and tomatoes are higher in carbs than non-starchy veggies, I would use a really lean ground meat such as ground turkey or venison in place of the ground beef (or use lean grass-fed beef and rinse it in hot water after frying to remove as much fat as possible) and use this meal in a THM:E setting. You’d need to add some more carbs to make it a true E meal.
Green bean casserole
- This recipe (Necessary Food, pg. 124) is simple to make and uses a crunchy cracker topping to replace the traditional fried onions! If you want an onion topping, I would try sautéing onions until they’re pretty well done, then stir in some grated cheddar cheese and use it to top the casserole. Bake uncovered, and if you want a crispier finish on the topping, put it under the broiler for a few minutes at the end. I just tried this on a Southwestern Meatloaf recipe that will be hitting the blog soon, and it turned out really yummy!
Honey walnut prawns
- From looking at this recipe, I am concluding that whoever suggested this just wanted to see me try the impossible. 😛 But never fear – nothing is impossible. OK, very few things, and I don’t think this is one of them. The basic lowdown: breaded, fried shrimp in a sweet, creamy honey sauce topped with sugar-coated walnuts. OK, we can do this, folks. I would first attempt a breading in a mixture of oat fiber and xanthan gum – maybe using an egg wash or the whipped egg whites mentioned in the recipe I linked. Fry in my favorite refined coconut oil/salted butter combination. For the walnuts, I would just fry them in a bit of butter and sprinkle with THM Super Sweet Blend or THM Gentle Sweet and some salt and pepper. For the sauce, mayonnaise, some cream or half and half, sweetener, and a bit of vanilla and honey extracts. Maybe a smidgen of real honey (1/4 tsp. or less per serving – we don’t want a fat and carbs collision here) to intensify the honey allusion. I just wrote this idea down on my list…maybe you’ll see it on the blog someday. 😉
- Try this recipe from My Montana Kitchen! This Toaster Pizza Pocket may be more your speed if you don’t feel like making a dough.
Indian chicken curry
- Someone shared this recipe from Pinterest, so I took a look and discovered that it’s actually quite easy to tweak. I would use oat fiber in place of the flour and use the cream suggestion. Don’t add any of the fruits unless you want a THM Crossover meal. With these changes, it would be a THM:S. (I’ve recently been introduced to the wonders of Indian cuisine, so I have a LOT of recipe ideas in that genre written down! Can’t wait to experiment with some.)
King Ranch Casserole
- This one was new to me so I had to look it up! Going off of this recipe, I would use a few low-carb tortillas in place of the corn tortillas and replace the cream of chicken and mushroom soups with this recipe from TJ’s Tastes. Since you’re adding chicken to the casserole anyway, I would personally omit the chicken breast in the cream of chicken soup recipe and just add a little extra chicken flavor with some chicken bouillon (a high-quality kind like Better Than Bouillon). Add some diced mushrooms for the cream of mushroom soup option and you’re good to go! This casserole actually sounds really good! I marked it down on my ideas list so maybe I can experiment with it myself in the future.
- As I mentioned in the ingredient substitutions post under the Pasta section, “To be perfectly honest, I usually leave the noodles completely out of my lasagna these days! The uber-popular Lasagna in a Bowl (pg. 60, Necessary Food) is testimony to that. You can find a full-size Lasagna Bake on page 59 of Necessary Food. So easy, and since I’ve never been a big pasta person anyway, I don’t miss the noodles.”
- This lasagna recipe from Peace, Love & Low Carb looks delicious if you do want a noodle substitute. I would also like to try using these cheese noodle things in lasagna.
- Of course there are plenty of lasagnas out there that use vegetables as filled material, so if that’s your thing, Pinterest should have tons of options. The Lazy Lasagna in Trim Healthy Mama’s first cookbook has been popular. I just made a lasagna that uses zucchini as the noodle replacement, so you’ll be able to see that in my next cookbook.
Lasagna (without ricotta, cottage cheese, or spinach)
- I can understand the aversion to adding veggies to lasagna, but I personally can’t imagine lasagna without ricotta cheese! If I were you, I would try this lasagna recipe and just omit the ricotta.
Loaded baked potato soup
- This recipe (Necessary Food, pg. 96) fooled my picky little sister who claimed that it was “too potato-y.” Haha…. She’s grown up a little since then and enjoys it now!
Mac & cheese
- Right here! (Necessary Food, pg. 123)
- Someone asked about mac and cheese made with spaghetti noodles. All you’d need to do is use Dreamfields spaghetti in the above recipe instead of the penne that I used.
- The traditional manicotti fillings are a great THM:S, but the noodles pose a problem. If I were to try to recreate this dish, I would experiment with making some of these cheese wrap thingys (or buying them) and stuffing them as the noodles in the dish.
- There’s a recipe for this in the original THM cookbook.
- The reader that requested this one said that her recipe used saltine crackers (instead of bread), but everything else was suitable for a THM:S recipe. I checked out a few oyster stuffing recipes online to get a feel for them (since this is another dish I’ve never had), and I see that quite a few actually use cornbread. If I were to make an on-plan oyster dressing, I would use this Basic Bread recipe (Necessary Food, pg. 158) or this cornbread recipe (Necessary Food, pg. 167) as the base, perhaps baking them in a larger baking dish (or even a sheet pan!) for a thinner, drier result for use in the stuffing.
Pasta in a Pan
- The person who suggested this said that it is “a layered concoction of shell pasta, a special sauce with ground beef and hot Italian sausage, then a layer of sour cream, then a layer of Provalone, then a layer of mozzarella.” If I were you, I would make a deconstructed skillet version with Dreamfields pasta (a once-in-awhile personal choice item for Trim Healthy Mamas). Since Dreamfields loses its low-glycemic properties when overcooked or reheated, I would cook it separately (al dente) and serve it topped with the meat sauce, sour cream, and cheeses. Each person could just construct his or her own “stack”.
Pennsylvania Dutch pot pie
- The reader that requested this one said that it’s not the kind in a pie crust but is rather “the REAL stuff with the homemade noodles.” I’m afraid I’ve never had this “real stuff” and don’t know what it is – and Google offered a lot of variety. 😛 If you’re looking for an on-plan homemade noodle recipe, you could start with this Homemade Pasta Dough from Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved. (Judy says that you must use the glucomannan called for, not xanthan gum.) I’m familiar with a PA Dutch favorite that combines turkey (or chicken) with noodles and gravy, so if that’s what you’re referring to, you could make a gravy using a thinned-down version of this cream of chicken soup recipe.
- Never had these either, but they look good! I’m not sure what the consistency of the dough is like, but you could try Judy’s pasta dough recipe. Another option would be the dough from this pizza crust recipe. There seem to be many, many filling ingredient options, so I’ll leave you to your own devices on that end and assume that the dough is the hardest part to get right. (While it may not be traditional, baking may work better for some dough options than the traditional boiling method.)
- This recipe (Necessary Food, pg. 163) is the best THM-friendly crust I’ve tried, and my family liked it! According to the comments, many of you like it too!
Potato substitute for ham, green beans, and potatoes slow cooker meal
- I covered quite a few potato substitutes in this Helpful Ingredient Substitutions post, but my substitute of choice in this instance would be radishes. They lose their “bite” when cooked and are a nice mild accompaniment to meats and other veggies! The texture won’t be exactly like potatoes, but you can mash them with a fork and top with butter, salt, and pepper no problem.
- While small amounts of corn are allowed on the THM plan in an E setting, large and frequent helpings really aren’t recommended for weight loss due to corn’s impact on blood sugar. Any decent scalloped corn recipe you make would have to be a gigantic crossover at the very best because of the corn, butter, and eggs involved. You could make it technically on plan by using an on-plan sweetener, corn without additives, and the dry ingredients from an on-plan cornbread recipe in place of the traditional muffin mix called for, but it really would not be friendly to weight loss.
Shoepeg corn and green bean casserole
- Someone shared this recipe as a request to be tweaked. Adding the corn to my Green Bean Casserole recipe and calling it a crossover would be the easiest solution. You could also follow the recipe that was given, making your own cream of celery soup and making your own topping with crushed Wasa crackers and some melted butter. Definitely a crossover!
- You can find a recipe for this on pg. 132 of my cookbook.
Sweet potato casserole
- Right here! (Necessary Food, pg. 125)
Tuna noodle casserole
- Check out Judy’s yummy-looking tuna noodle casserole recipe right here!
You may also enjoy:
my recipe index
recipe index by fuel type/allergy/theme
my entrée recipes
my side dish recipes
What is this “Necessary Food”?
“So what is Necessary Food?” you may be asking. That would be my cookbook! It’s spiral bound, contains around 400 recipes (some from here on the blog, some exclusive to the cookbook), and sports lots of pictures! You can CLICK HERE to get more info, take a peek inside, and order!
Calendar Preorder Ends SOON!
You might also want to check out my newest project – Necessary Time 2018. This calendar with twelve NEW recipes (and a collectible recipe card for each!) is only available for preorder through October 22, so that means you have less than a week to get your order in! The calendar will be available as supplies last, but during preorder we’re offering a special shipping deal: $2.50 shipping on single-calendar orders! This offer will not be available after the preorder ends, and unfortunately calendars are not eligible for Media Mail shipping, so please take advantage of this special pricing and order now! These calendars would make the perfect Christmas gift, and we’re offering special deals on orders of multiples, so take advantage of that! PLUS, if you order a calendar during preorder, you’ll get a coupon for $2 off Necessary Food! CLICK HERE to get your order in!
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