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FUN FACT: I’m really longwinded. (You knew that already? OK, cool.) I was asked to write a little blurb for an Instagram account that features THM encouragement and such, but my little blurb turned into a monstrosity that wasn’t going to fit within the Instagram post character limit so I turned it into this blog post and embellished it even more.
This post is (hopefully) full of helpful info for your Trim Healthy Mama journey. I’m…
- sharing what my basic food in a day looks like,
- giving you lots of simple supper ideas that are just normal food that your whole family will love,
- listing three of my top success tips for THM (or just a healthy lifestyle in general),
- AND telling you what I made for supper last night and how I could’ve made the meal fit the S (fats) or E (carbs) category.
My Day in Food
Even though I love to cook, I also love to have a life and I’m all about quick and easy recipes that don’t use every single special ingredient out there (‘specially not all at the same time). I may be a food blogger and have written 2 cookbooks, but more often than not I make big batches of things and we eat leftovers for dayzzz. A healthy lifestyle will last much longer if it’s easy enough to be sustainable and doesn’t require too much thought.
Here’s what a typical day looks like for me in food form:
Usually oatmeal of some sort, often my Easy Chocolate Oatmeal with added collagen for protein, half a banana, a dash of half and half, and a sprinkling of sugar-free chocolate chips. This is a THM E meal that contains healthy carbs, so go easy on the half and half and chocolate chips (which both contain some fats).
One of my favorite easy lunches is just a big ol’ salad with lots of leafy greens to fill me up! Here’s how I do it:
- romaine or mixed greens
- leftovers of some sort for protein, or if those are scarce, fried or hardboiled eggs or some canned sardines
- various toppings of choice, like shredded cheese, bacon bits, green olives, sliced cucumbers or colorful peppers or radishes, toasted sunflower seeds
- dressing of choice. Right now I’m into Ken’s Garlic Parmesan or Ken’s Lite Northern Italian (both available at Walmart and grocery stores). Creamy, non-sweet dressings like Ranch, Caesar, and blue cheese are usually safe options as well. Keep the carbs in storebought dressings to 2 grams per serving or less. I usually thin down the really heavy creamy dressings with some water to make them stretch; they’re too thick for my taste anyway. I often go easier on the dressing and add a splash of lemon juice and some THM Super Sweet Blend for extra flavor and moisture with fewer calories since I have plenty of fats going on already. If you want to make your own dressings, I have some super yummy options in Convenient Food, my second cookbook! (Asian Vinaigrette, Balsamic & Lime Vinaigrette, and Creamy Sweet Onion are some of my favorites!)
- I usually make these salads an S with fats and keep carbs to a minimum. I like to stir the lettuce, toppings, and dressing all together so the dressing coats everything. I don’t like dry salads. 😛
I also like to just eat leftovers for lunch! One of my favorite strategies is to make a big pot of soup for supper early in the week (like this amazing chili), then enjoy it for lunches throughout the week. Some simple fried eggs with a side of celery and peanut butter is another easy option. If you want an E lunch, a sandwich on sprouted or sourdough bread with low-fat toppings is great.
Low-fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt (here’s a tutorial for homemade Greek yogurt) with sweetener and frozen mixed berries makes an amazing Fuel Pull snack! Or use frozen mango chunks or other fruit instead of the berries for a THM E. I also like to have a piece of sourdough (or sprouted) toast with a teaspoon of butter and some Polaner all-fruit jam as part of an E snack. Celery or sliced cucumbers and peanut butter is a good THM S snack.
Easy Supper Ideas
I don’t know where to start! There are so many easy options that I didn’t feel like just listing one or two sample meals. (Remember what I said about being longwinded?) Here’s a list:
- hamburgers (THM S): over salad or in a Joseph’s pita for you, on whole wheat buns for the children and non-THMers
- spaghetti: no-sugar-added sauce with fried hamburger or another ground meat served over Dreamfields noodles or veggie noodles or just steamed veggies. Check out page 115 of Convenient Food for Spaghetti Three Ways with notes about how to make it fit various fuel types.
- stir-fries with chicken, non-starchy veggies, soy sauce, and seasonings, served over brown rice or quinoa (use chicken and keep the fat low and you’ll have an E if you add the rice or quinoa as your carb source) or cauli rice (for an S or FP option, depending on the fat content of your stir-fry). Check out this Sweet Onion Teriyaki Stir-Fry here on my website or check out both of my cookbooks for other options.
- baked or fried chicken tenders, like these 5-ingredient Parmesan Chicken Tenders or these Panfried Chicken Strips. Both are THM S entrees.
- grilled chicken with baked sweet potato and steamed veggies (THM E). Use a low-fat marinade like one of these THM Fuel Pull or E marinade recipes on chicken breasts cut into strips (or chicken tenders): Easy Basic Marinade | Asian Grilled Chicken | Pineapple Marinated Chicken. Leftover grilled chicken is great on salads or in quesadillas! You can find more yummy marinade recipes in both of my cookbooks.
- meatloaf (THM S)
- meatballs (THM S)
- chicken cheese quesadillas in low-carb wraps (THM S)
- soups with sourdough or sprouted toast or yummy cornbread (various fuel types)
- grilled sausages in low-carb wraps with non-sweet relish, chopped onion, ketchup, and mustard (usually THM S)
- Trim Healthy Pancakes topped with low-fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, sugar-free syrup, berries, and/or peanut butter made from defatted peanut flour (THM E)
- waffles. These 5 Ingredient Waffles are a THM S, and these Cheater “Sourdough” Waffles are a THM E option that don’t require a sourdough starter or sprouted flour.
- scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon bits – my personal go-to when I’m short on time or ingredients (THM S)
My cookbooks both have tons of easy, family-friendly dinner and side dish recipes as well. CLICK HERE to check ’em out!
- roasted veggies. Mushrooms, okra, thinly-sliced sweet potatoes, broccoli, eggplant, thinly-sliced summer squash – all are amazing this way! I chop or slice the veggies, spread them out on a sheet pan, spray lightly with olive oil cooking spray (coconut oil spray would be more ideal for high heats but I don’t usually have it on hand), and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, or whatever you prefer! Roast at 400*-450* until tender and browning. For a lot of these veggies, I prefer to err on the long side so they’re good and roasted. If you just mist lightly with oil, the non-starchy veggies are a Fuel Pull and the starchier options like sweet potatoes are an E. Use a larger amount of melted butter or coconut oil to toss non-starchy veggies before roasting and you’ll have an S side dish.
- steamed veggies (fuel type will vary based on whether or not you use non-starchy veggies and how much fat you add)
- baked butternut/acorn/spaghetti squash (Butternut and acorn squash should be limited to 1/2 cup in an S and FP setting, but eat all you want in an E setting! Spaghetti squash is considered a non-starchy.)
- tossed salads with all your favorite toppings (THM S salads are easiest and I have options for that above, but you can make Fuel Pull or E salads too if you find or make an on-plan low-fat dressing and leave off the fatty toppings like cheese/seeds/nuts. Add a carb source like fruit for an E.)
- I love to make a quick cabbage salad with thinly-sliced red cabbage, olive oil, red wine vinegar, THM Super Sweet Blend, salt, pepper, and onion powder. (THM S – actually a Deep S, if you want to get particular)
- Cabbage sautéed in butter, salt, pepper, and garlic powder is a great THM Deep S side dish!
- cucumber salad (THM FP)
- seasoned brown rice or quinoa (THM E) – Convenient Food, pages 203-209, will give you lots of easy recipes for these.
- Big batches of pinto beans or lentils with simple but delicious flavor make a great budget-friendly THM E side dish. Check out Convenient Food, pages 210-213, for some of my faves. If you make a big batch it’ll last for several meals – or use leftovers as your protein source for lunch the next day!
The sky’s the limit. Keep your carbs and fats separated, include lots of veggies, and center around protein and you have the basics down!
Three of My Top Success Tips
1) Don’t overthink it. If you have to choose between eating the same thing over and over and going off plan, eat the same thing over and over. Menu planning a different meal every night would give me hives. If you enjoy that, go you, but I’m a leftovers kinda gal. Center around protein, separate carbs and fats, cut out processed junk, and eat lots of veggies. If you’ve got that down, you’re pretty much good to go. You don’t even have to bake anything if you don’t want to. My Fried Cream Cheese & Berry Taco is a great S dessert if you want something sweet, and my Mango Soft Serve for One is a delicious E treat. Both only take a few ingredients and 3 minutes max.
2) Give yourself grace. If you went off plan, you didn’t “fall off the wagon.” You just had an off plan meal ON PURPOSE and now you’re going to eat on plan ON PURPOSE. YOU have to be in control – not the food. For me it’s best to keep junk out of my house so I’m not tempted to eat it, and if I’m at an event where there’s a sweet treat that’s calling my name, my personal strategy is to choose to take a few bites of it instead of stalling and stalling and then caving to a big bowlful. You know those skinny people who aren’t doing THM but still seem to stay skinny? They’re often pretty good at portion control. (If even a few bites will cause you to binge or feel awful physically or not lose weight or you just don’t want a speck of sugar to pass your lips, don’t do it. This is my personal strategy that works for me. I’ve been on plan for about 6 years now, THM has become a lifestyle for me, and I’m pretty happy with my weight right now, so I’ve learned that my quality of life is improved by a few bites of regular ice cream now and then – guilt free. It feels like a treat and it’s something I enjoy and it doesn’t control me. I don’t want sugar to control me, but I don’t want THM to control me either. Make sense?)
3) Eat those E meals. THM doesn’t count calories, but that doesn’t mean we have to abuse calories unnecessarily. Pearl and Serene speak from this mindset on the Trim Healthy Podcast all the time. E meals are naturally lower calorie than S meals are because carbs are lower in calories than fats, so it’s important to include them in your diet to balance out your overall calorie intake. Plus, your body needs carbs to function healthily long term and give you energy! I’ve found that I personally need to go easy on the heavy S desserts and not have them in large quantities every day. Since it’s only Ryan and me at home I rarely make desserts. My Greek yogurt with sweetener and frozen mixed berries couldn’t be easier and has become a perfectly acceptable dessert in my eyes. I love fruit in E meals; those little yellow honey mangoes? DELISH. Definitely listen to your body on this one, but I personally need plenty of E meals in order to lose (or maintain) weight.
I don’t have a hard and fast number of E meals that I shoot for every week, but I’d say that about half, or maybe a little under half, of my meals and snacks are Es now. That being said, I’ve been on plan for 6 years now and my body definitely wants those healthy carbs more than it did when I first started the plan. When I first started, I craved those healthy fats and the E meals didn’t leave me satiated. But now that my body is more in balance and not inflamed and bloated by junk? Those E meals fill me right up just like S meals do. I’m not saying that you have to eat as many E meals as I do, because that might not be what your body needs right now. You might need those healthy fats in abundance to heal your body after years of throwing all the blood-sugar-spiking refined sugar and flour at it. I’m just saying don’t neglect those E meals!
Need help figuring out what an E meal is, how to create one, and how to actually stay full on one for 3 hours? Want to hear what some of my favorite E meals and snacks are?
What I Made for Supper Last Night
I thought it would be fun to show you what I made for supper last night! It took me about 40 minutes to make, and that included taking pictures, setting the table, etc. I just put it together using stuff I had on hand and the only thing I had to do ahead of time was get the ground turkey out to thaw.
- spaghetti (using ground turkey) over Dreamfields noodles
- roasted eggplant
- Italian salad
- low-fat cottage cheese and fresh honey mangoes
So, my friends…S or E?
Answer: could be either! The deciding factor for me was that I wanted to drizzle tahini over my roasted eggplant because that’s my favorite thing ever. So for me, I made this an S. Keep reading to find out how – because I did have to leave something from the list above off of my plate in order to stick with one fuel (fats).
Here’s how I did it:
I browned a pound of ground turkey in a saucepan with a dash of water to draw some of the fat out. When it was done, I drained the water/grease off; added a jar of pizza sauce (use your favorite brand without any added sugar); and amped up the flavor with some dried minced onion, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Since I was going to use this in an S setting I didn’t have to rinse the meat under hot water, but I still like to drain the extra grease off because I just don’t need that in my food.
I peeled two eggplants with a vegetable peeler; cubed them; spread them on a sheet pan; sprayed lightly with olive oil cooking spray; and seasoned with salt, pepper, onion powder, and smoked paprika (FAVE!). I then roasted the eggplant in the oven at about 400* for about half an hour, which wasn’t quite long enough but everything else was ready and it was OK. This is actually a Fuel Pull, but since I was enjoying it in an S setting I drizzled tahini over mine at the table.
The Italian salad was just romaine and mixed greens, sliced cucumber, green olives (current obsession on salads), parmesan cheese from the green can because I always have that in my fridge, and Ken’s Lite Northern Italian dressing. I stirred everything together to coat the greens in dressing.
I had fresh honey mangoes on hand that needed to be eaten, so I peeled and sliced them and put them on the table with some low-fat cottage cheese I got for a crazy low price on clearance at Kroger. This was for my husband, since I wanted to have an S meal and mangoes are an E fuel (healthy carbs). I could’ve had some of the cottage cheese with some Sweet Blend on top as dessert, but I was full. (My husband eats THM stuff for the most part because that’s what I make for dinner, and then he gets leftovers in his lunches, but he supplements his diet with other things he enjoys. 😛 He doesn’t need to lose weight, and he works hard, so I often feed him crossovers by adding fruit to the table but don’t eat it myself if we’re having an S meal. I’ll get mine in later with some cottage cheese or yogurt for a snack.)
At the very end, I prepared some Dreamfields spaghetti noodles per package directions. I hardly ever use Dreamfields, and I wouldn’t make a habit of it, but they’re approved as a personal choice item for occasional use on the THM plan. Different people seem to react differently to the noodles, so see how they affect your blood sugar and make your own choice on the matter. You can always just steam some broccoli or cauliflower to go with your spaghetti sauce OR bake a spaghetti squash! Or use zoodles. I just used a small portion of the noodles and left the rest for my husband. Some parmesan cheese on top of the spaghetti finished it off nicely!
To make it an E…
- Use a lean ground meat to make the spaghetti sauce. If it’s 96% lean or higher, you don’t need to drain it, but if it’s fattier than that, rinse in hot water and drain after cooking. Watch the fat in any parmesan cheese added to the spaghetti as a garnish.
- No tahini on the eggplant
- The salad is probably best left off the plate, although it’s a really light S. The dressing can just squeeze into FP territory because it has 4.5 grams of fat per serving, so if you leave off the olives and parmesan cheese (or use just a sprinkle of the cheese) and go easy on the dressing (stretch it with some vinegar or lemon juice?), you may be able to turn the salad into a Fuel Pull side dish that could be used as part of an E meal.
- The Dreamfields pasta can be used in either an S or E setting. It’s complicated, and I don’t know all the science behind it, but that’s just the way it is. 😛 Of course non-starchy veggies are fine in either fuel setting, if you decide to go that route. In an E meal you could actually serve your spaghetti sauce over roasted or steamed sweet potatoes. I’ve done that before. It’s different, but it’s good.
- To make this an E meal, you have to add a carb source! So far we don’t have any of those (unless you choose to serve your spaghetti over sweet potatoes), so you could actually call this a Fuel Pull meal so far. For an E, enjoy those honey mangoes for dessert! The cottage cheese is another Fuel Pull ingredient.
Wrapping it up…
OK, that was probably more like 3 blog posts worth of information. 😛 Is your head spinning yet? 😉 If you’re confused about what this whole THM/Trim Healthy Mama thing is about, check out this STARTING THM page. It’ll give you a quick synopsis of the plan and point you in a lot of helpful directions (other blog posts with tips and easy recipes, where to get special ingredients, etc.). To get a good grasp on the Trim Healthy Mama plan, the first thing you need to do is read the plan book. The one I linked there is the one I recommend because it will give you everything you need to know to understand how everything works in a relatively concise manner. There is a quick start chapter at the beginning of Trim Healthy Table (a cookbook), but I personally don’t find it to be nearly as thorough.
If it’s easy recipes you’re after, check out my cookbooks. I wrote them for people just like you! Each book contains about 400 recipes, many of which are just healthy recreations of the foods I grew up eating!
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