August 29, 2013

Good Gravy! -S

I mean, how you could you resist this face?
Granted, this was about 8 years ago, but this is
still the little face I see.
A few days ago I went on about how Trim, Healthy Mama is a plan for life where you real foods.  You don't have to ever use anything strange or weird or unusual as it really isn't necessary.
Then my little boy, who is actually not really so little anymore, wanted me to make him Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes (cauliflower mash for me) and gravy.
I can't disappoint my Jett, so I make THM-approved meatballs and make the potatoes and the cauliflower mash.  I would normally have the whole family have the cauliflower, but as a special meal request, I got him the real thing.

But the gravy.  It's not like I can make a real roux and stay on plan.  And who really wants a gravy made from almond or flax meal, it just doesn't seem to translate well to me.
So I considered Glucomannan.  It's one of those new, wacky ingredients that was introduced to me via THM.  It is a powder that is a soluble bulk-forming fiber derived from Konjac Root, and when added to liquids it will cause them to thicken.  This gluten-free product is low in carbs and calories and is very THM approved.  It works well for savory but also is used in quite a few sweets/pudding recipes found in the THM book.

So I had my gravy, and was able to stay on plan and enjoy a great meal with my family.

Good Gravy-S

  • 2 cups beef stock (as always homemade is best, but feel free to be a slacker, I am quite often, just not with stock)
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1-1/2 tsp Glucomannan
  • Liberal salt and pepper

Heat the stock in a pan stovetop and add the half and half.  Add the Glucomannan and whisk well to combine.  Taste and season as needed (it's gravy and it will need a decent amount, especially if you are using a lower salt, homemade stock).
I used it right away in my meal and it was a little runny, but it thickens as it cools so if you wait a bit it will be a more appropriate texture.

This post is shared as a part of Trim, Healthy Tuesdays at Stacy Makes Cents.

August 27, 2013

Seasonal Frittata-S

It's funny how we so often tend to stay within our comfort zones.  And of all the comforts out there, food is often the one that is hardest to change.
Our tastes are cultivated from an early age, and as I read thru the Trim, Healthy Mama boards on Facebook, I am often puzzled that so many people think that eating on plan means odd foods or weird new recipes and unfamiliar ingredients.
Let me just say, THM can be easy and include many of the staples you were already eating and know and love.  The main things are to get off sugar and empty carbs and watch how you combine foods.
You can still eat simply with a focus on proteins and seasonal veggies.  Add some good fat and you have S/Satisfying meals, or some whole grains or fruit with low fat and you have E/Energizing meals.

I find that I might not make meals like I once did, but the foods are still the same.
Something simple like a vegetable frittata with a salad is a filling meal that is quick, cheap and easy.

But if you are like me, you didn't grow up eating frittatas.  I made my first one a few years ago and thought it was a "big" deal and something new when my husband looked at me and said I had just made an oven omelet.  He apparently used to have them regularly as a kid growing up in Alaska, but suburban Atlanta didn't have them in the 70s or even 80s that I can recall.

And I will admit that I was somewhat taken aback that he considered my frittata to be nothing more than an oven omelet, but then there are eggs, cheese, veggies and maybe some meat.  So darn, I guess it really must just be an oven omelet.

But like a regular omelet, frittatas are versatile.  The difference is that they are so easy to make and pretty hard to screw up.  It's kind of quiche-like, but without the pretentiousness or crust.

I tend to vary my frittata fillings based on what I have on hand.  If there are tomatoes in the garden or peppers that need using up, in they go.
If there was a sale on cheddar, then that is my cheese of choice.
The base recipe follows, but please,please change it around as you see fit to meet the likes and tastes of your family.  I've written it in steps just to show how I do this.
All ingredients, short of the eggs, are negotiable.  And one 12" skillet feeds my family of 4+1.
And remember, THM, can be about real food, nothing strange and weird here (I hope).


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  • Melt 1-2 TBSP butter in a large cast iron (or any oven-safe) skillet over medium heat.
  • Add onions or any hard veggies like peppers and saute till soft-ish.
  • Add any pre-cooked meats, like Candian bacon or ham or salmon, and heat thru.
  • Mushy veggies like tomatoes or mushrooms go next.  I tend to cook them till the liquid is released and evaporated.
  • Add leafy veggies, like spinach, and cook till wilted.
  • Meanwhile crack and gently beat your eggs till just combined.  I generally use at least 7, but for a larger crowd have used up to 10 for this size pan.  If you have a really large group to feed or if your growing kids need to eat a lot, then you might need to make more than one.
  • Season the eggs with Redmond RealSalt and pepper, or cayenne if you are feeling adventurous.
  • Pour the eggs into the skillet.  You don't need to stir them or anything.  Just let them be and let them stay on the stovetop over medium heat for about 5 minutes till you see the sides of the frittata have set.
  • Top with the cheese of your choice, use caution with salmon or other fish if you please, and pop it in the over for 10-15 minutes.  I usually check it at 10 minutes and see how it is setting up.  If it jiggles, then it needs a bit more time.
  • Remove from oven and if you are feeling adventurous you can try and flip it onto a plate or serving platter.  I'm old and tired and my family can just put it on their plates from the pan as I'm not going to flip an iron skillet.

The cool thing is that you can have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  It pairs nicely with coffee and is filling in the morning, or at night a side salad and a few ounces of red wine are lovely with this.  I also will save leftovers and pop them in the toaster over or microwave the next day and it always heats up well.
So, eat healthy, on plan with THM, cheap and no weird ingredients (unless you just want to use them).

This recipe is shared as a part of Trim, Healthy Tuesday in conjunction with Stacy Makes Cents and Gwen's Nests.  Check them out for more THM ideas.

August 26, 2013

Cauliflower Mash- A Very Rich S Recipe

I've found it can be a very polarizing ingredient, but if you live in my house you might want to hope you like it as it is a nutritious, filling staple here.
It does have a taste and texture, but they can be so versatile and mimic so many other things.
Just before starting THM, I found the perfect mashed potato recipe. I have to admit that I truly love good mashed potatoes, and to be honest, even bad ones aren't always so bad?   This recipe from Ree Drummond was overly indulgent and perfection and I actually had these a few times after starting the plan (and still lost weight, just to fully disclose) but then I discovered cauliflower mash.  

One thing I think I like the most about cauliflower is that it isn't a wimpy vegetable.  It's cruciferous, like broccoli or cabbage, so it packs a bunch of nutrition and fiber and is perfect for the Trim, Healthy Mama way of life.  

It really does mimic the taste of mashed potatoes, and you do feel a bit decadent with the richness and creaminess that these have.  I figure you can have cauliflower that is just mashed or you can truly elevate it and make it something special, and I kind of prefer the special.

I will add that I do currently make these in my Blendtec in the Wildside jar, but prior to getting it, I used a food processor and it worked well.  You would never mash potatoes like this (please, please don't as you will get soup), but the Blendtec batter setting works perfectly.


Cauliflower Mash

1 head of cauliflower steamed, or (quick and easy) a bag of frozen cauliflower defrosted
1/3 cup of lowfat cream cheese
1/3-1/2 cup half and half
3 Tbsp butter
Season with RealSalt Organic Garlic Salt or plain sea salt and pepper if you like

Combine all in your Blendtec and process on "batter" setting or in a food processor until smooth and creamy.  Season to taste, transfer to serving dish and heat more if needed.

This post is a part of Trim, Healthy Tuesday at Stacy Makes Cents.

August 25, 2013

Busyness and Redmond Bath Salt +

Life gets busy sometimes.  Actually, most of the time it seems lately.
There is always something to do, and some things that seem to keep going on the to-do list as I never am able to get them completed.  
Some days you feel like you are barely treading water and then it all falls to pieces.

But I am a big believer in maintenance care.  I find it so much easier to prevent disease and injury rather than treating it after it has already set in, and so often our body's response to stress can wear us down and open us up for illness.
This is why I am such a believer in massage therapy. 
Now before you think I'm talking a nice spa day where they do a facial and your nails (which is nice for what it is), I'm actually talking bodywork.  I'm talking moving out toxins and manipulating muscles for release of tension.  This type of manipulation can often be uncomfortable and border on painful depending upon your perceptions.

It had been too long since I had my last massage actually.  I shoot for once a month, but life and finances put it at the bottom of my to-do list pretty regularly.
So the one I had recently about killed me.  It has been about 6 months since my last one, and between losing 40 pounds, increasing the quantity and quality of exercise, stress of homeschooling 2 older kids and having a toddler along with a husband working 50-60 hours a week of evening shift...... well, I was apparently carrying more tension than I realized. 

So when you have a sudden flood of toxins, acids, and general ickyness into the blood stream, what should you do?

I used to use this analogy at the hospital.  If you hit your finger with a hammer, it will swell as part of the local inflammation process.  If you have major surgery, you whole body has been assaulted and you will often see the whole body swell.
I'm not comparing massage to major surgery, but there are some similarities.  You muscles and tendons and ligaments have been manipulated and you will often see whole body swelling, and I choose to use a systemic approach to recovery.

My goal following a massage is to get rid of the flood of toxins and things contributing to the inflammation.
To do this the best thing to do is drink water.  Not a little water, but more than you normally would have.
Also a soaking, medicinal bath can help with recovery.  I am known to hate taking baths.  The whole process of filling a tub and then just sitting there makes no sense to me.  BUT, if it is medicinal, then I find I can get over it.
But a bath of just water is just that.  You need to add some epsom salts or even better, Redmond Bath Salt +, for the therapeutic value.
I use the Redmond Bath Salt + as they contain the great Redmond salt but also include clay.  Clay is also a great detoxifier and turns your tub of water into a mineral and mud bath.
(It is probably strange, but it just hit me that I'd prefer to take a mud bath than a regular bath which does seem a bit ironic.)  There's no oils or scents, just salt and clay from the earth.
It's also the kind of thing that I will add to my kids' bath, even the baby as he has some days that include more tumbles and bumbs than others.  He can't tell me, but I'm sure his little body is sore sometimes and I don't want to use anything harsh with such a little guy.
So, take care of your body, both with keeping things moving and healthy on the inside, but also in removing all the bad stuff that needs removing.

I also want to say that I enjoy Redmond products and make no money in saying so.  I was provided the Redmond Bath Salt + to try by the company and am grateful for their generosity.

August 12, 2013

THM Menu, The Sequel

This has been a great week as far as staying on plan with Trim, Healthy Mama.  I'm pretty close to, if not already at, goal weight, and lost 2 pounds somehow last week. Body fat and inches are down as well.

I will admit that I've been craving lighter meals and more E/energizing meals lately and that might be what is helping?  I just feel like my metabolism is really revved.  This time of year also makes me want to eat a bit lighter as well though.

I've also just completed Focus T25's Alpha level, and so far, I feel like I'm totally nailing the Beta level.  The Alpha level was hard and I struggled some days, but I made it all the way through.

Remember, as far as menus go, this isn't the BK or IHOP.  I don't take orders for food and we all pretty much eat the same things as a family for meals.
The main exception is at breakfast when my growing boys usually have toast with butter, full fat cottage cheese and some fruit.  They also get S meals that have been rounded out with rice or bread, or E meals with added fats.   And instead of a green smoothie for a meal, they might have a wrap or a hot dog even.
And with a husband on second shift, we eat our 'dinner' at noontime and our lighter, lunch meal in the evening.

If I can, I have included a link or page number from THM, but I don't have time to do a nutritional analysis and I don't count carbs, fat, calories or fiber grams.  I use the food lists in the book as a guide, and have lost 38 pounds in the last 9 months eating this way.  There is some repetition as I like some things better than others, and tend to shop sales.

Lunch:  Pink Smoothie- E 
Snack: half an apple with almond butter- S-helper

 Breakfast:  Coco-Banana Muffin-S
Lunch: Salmon patties with cauliflower mash and peas-S
Dinner:  Frittata with spinach, tomatoes and cheddar, side salad- S

 Breakfast: 2 pieces of artisan bread (homemade) with Almond milk/protein powder-E
Snack: half and apple with almond butter- S-helper
Dinner:  Huge chef salad with veggies, hard boiled egg, cheddar and light ranch dressing -S

Snack: Cottage Berry Whip-FP (pg 379)
Dinner: Tuna salad on low-carb pita with sweet potato fries-E

Lunch:  Pulled pork burritos with low-carb wrap and salad-S
Snack: Just-Like Wheat Thins with wedge of Laughing Cow-S (pg 396)
Dinner: Huge chef salad with veggies, hard boiled egg, cheddar and light ranch dressing -S 

Breakfast: Non-fat cottage cheese with strawberries-FP
Lunch:  Low-carb wraps with lean meat and low-fat cheese and side salad and green smoothie- FP
Dinner: Fooled Ya Pizza-S (pg 276)

Lunch: Baked chicken (lean), roasted sweet potatoes, and salad with veggies and low-fat dressing-E
Snack: Choco Pudding-FP (pg 363)
Dinner:  Chicken Thai Soup, side salad and a low-carb pita-FP

This recipe is shared as a part of Trim, Healthy Tuesday link at Stacy Makes Cents and Gwen's Nest.  Check out the site for more THM ideas and recipes.

August 10, 2013

At the Coco, Coco-Banana!

You are supposed to now have that wonderful tune by Barry Manilow stuck in your head, just to let you know.

I love food that makes me happy, and up until Trim, Healthy Mama, bananas made me happy.  They could take a green smoothie and make it just wonderful.  I wasn't big on sugar, but I did eat bananas.  A lot of bananas.
They were, in fact, almost the deal breaker for me in starting THM as I wasn't sure I could live without them.
But I trudged on in a banana-less life.
And yes, I know you can still have them in moderation, but moderation isn't really a word I enjoy.  I don't want to live a life of moderation, I'm pretty sure.

So, I'm missing bananas, and then I discover banana extract.
I will be honest.  It isn't the same as the real thing, but it's close enough and sometimes that has got to be good enough.
I really went by ratings on amazon when it came to extracts.  Some of the more 'natural' ones didn't get good ratings for tastes and were more expensive.  I'm not going to be using this daily in large amounts so I figure it's alright to use a non-organic flavoring for a cheaper price.

So this is yet another version of the "muffin in a mug/MIM", and it is  my attempt to make a chocolate banana bread.
If you cannot have nuts, I am sorry.  I use walnuts in this muffin and they help to take it to the next level.
Also walnuts are good for you.  Like really good for you.  You can google to get the specifics, but they are a great source of protein, have the best omega fatty acids, can help lower cholesterol, aid in sleep, and help keep your arteries clear.
So omit them if you have to, but otherwise, enjoy!

Nutty goodness!
The Coco-Banana!

1 beaten egg
1/2 tsp banana extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
4-5 T ground flax
1 T cocoa powder
1 T truvia (or to taste)
1 tsp coconut oil (feel free to use more, but I cut back since there is fat in the nuts)
walnuts, chopped (I just throw in a small handful, probably2-3 Tbsp)

Mix all of the ingredients well in a mug, and nuke in the microwave for 1 minute.
Top with some whipped cream (low-sugar, of course) and a drizzle of skinny chocolate or sugar-free chocolate sauce.  (don't go over-board like I did ;)  )

This recipe is shared as a part of Trim, Healthy Tuesday link at Stacy Makes Cents and Gwen's Nest.  Check out the site for more THM ideas and recipes.

August 8, 2013

Almonds + Blendtec = Love

I thought I loved my Ninja.  I really only liked it though.
At first I felt like I was cheating on it when I had the opportunity to get my Blendtec.
"I can destroy 3 Ninja's for the price of one Blendtec."
Or, "How much smoother can my smoothie REALLY be in a Vitamix or Blendtec?  Not enough to make that much of a difference in price, right?"

I was wrong.  The Blendtec really, really is that much better.
Smoothies aside, take something as simple as a nut butter.  I'm avoiding peanut butter because I have the most laid-back pediatrician in the world.  He doesn't give a rip if I vaccinate, but he does say no to peanuts.

My answer was to make almond butter.
But it takes 7 long, noisy minutes in a food processor.
It takes 35 seconds in the Blendtec Twister jar.
Yes.  I said 35 seconds.

And it is perfect and lovely and means love at our house.

I use 1 and a half cups of roasted almonds without salt.
Yes, I could buy raw ones and roast them myself, but that didn't happen this week (or the one before, or the one before that either).
I put it in the Twister Jar, select level 4 and let it go for 35 seconds, twisting the special lid as needed.

Quick, easy and perfect every time.

I don't get anything or a kickback for this, but I got mine as a package deal from QVC.  It comes with the large Wildside Jar (holds up to 90 oz) and the Twister jar as well that I used for the almond butter.  Cookbooks and a special spatula and easy pay make this a great deal.

August 7, 2013

Quick and Easy: Pasta Alfredo with Clams and Veggies-S

This is another quick and easy meal that can be slammed out on those busy days, or if you just got behind and forgot about all those people in your house that always seem to want food.

It is quick and easy, but also healthy, nutritious and on THM plan.  What more could you want?
Well, it tastes pretty good too, or at least we all enjoy it at our house.
There is nothing homemade, or purist, about this dish, and I'm happy for you if you milked your cow and then used the cream to make the alfredo sauce, but feel free to use short-cuts as you feel led.
I will add that this is another place where I use frozen veggies.  Yes, if I have some from the garden, or get a great deal on them, I'll chop and steam them myself, but that would add some time.  Plus, like I've mentioned before, the frozen 1 pound bags at the store are pretty affordable.

Pasta Alfredo with Clams and Veggies

The ingredients include: Dreamfield's Pasta (I like the spaghetti), a can of minced or chopped clams, on plan (lite) alfredo sauce, a 1 pound bag of frozen veggies (mine is a stir-fry blend with broccoli, mushrooms, water chestnuts and a few carrots), and parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta.  Follow the directions exactly, or the carbs will become unbound and will not be THM-friendly.
Meanwhile combine your alfredo and the clams, juice included, in a pan and heat.
Defrost the veggies and add them to the alfredo when they are warm.

When the pasta is ready, drain and combine it with  the alfredo, clams and veggies, or simply serve it over the top as I did.
Top with some parmesan cheese, if you desire.

A salad pairs nicely with this dish.

This recipe is shared as a part of Trim, Healthy Tuesday link at Stacy Makes Cents and Gwen's Nest.  Check out the site for more THM ideas and recipes.