Pre-THM, the only way I knew how to make oatmeal taste delicious was by adding heaps of butter, cinnamon, pure maple syrup and salt to it (I still do this for our kids! They often request “Mommy’s Oatmeal” when I have no clue what to make for supper).
However, after almost 6 years on plan, it has become one of my favorite ingredients, and these 12 Trim Healthy Mama E breakfasts prove oatmeal is anything but boring!
Benefits of eating oatmeal.
Oatmeal is a very frugal ingredient.
It helps my milk supply (I eat it almost every day when I’m nursing).
It’s higher in protein than most grainsandhigh in vitamins and minerals.
Also, oatmeal can:
lower bad cholesterol,
regulate blood sugar,
and keep you feeling full!
Bob’s Red Mill Organic Gluten Free Old Fashioned Oatmeal
My favorite oatmeal is Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Large Flake Oats. Sometimes I find pieces of the hull in generic brands of oatmeal – very unpleasant to have stuck in your teeth! Not so with Bob’s. It’s a quality brand that I don’t mind paying a few pennies more for, since oatmeal is so cheap anyway.
If you have a blender, you can make your own oat flour by simply blitzing oatmeal into a powder. You can also purchase pre-packaged oat flour (This brand of Bob’s Red Mill oat flour is gluten-free, too). Oat flour makes delicious E pancakes and other baked goods that you want a cakier texture for. Ground up oats (oat flour) is used in a few of the recipes below.
Because oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate, it should only be used in E meals for weight loss. If you’re at goal weight, pregnant, breastfeeding, or preparing it for growing children or a husband with a physical job, feel free to turn it into an XO and serve it with whole eggs, butter, coconut oil, or other healthy fats!
12 Trim Healthy Mama E Breakfasts Prove Oatmeal Is Anything But Boring
These Apple Flapjack Pancakes are a delicious way to start of the day in THM E mode! Initially, I tried adding chunks of apple to the original Trim Healthy Pancake recipe in theTrim Healthy Mama Cookbook. They fell apart, so I started from scratch, starting with whole, old fashioned oats instead of oat flour, adding applesauce as a binding agent, grating the apples, instead of dicing them, adding a bit more liquid (cashew or almond milkwill do) and cinnamon for flavoring.
This incredibly easy Chocolate Macaroons are the perfect THM Crossover snack for growing kids, pregnant or nursing mamas, those at goal weight, and those with active lifestyles! They are gluten-free and made without any special ingredients. If you prefer, you can turn them into an S snack by replacing the oatmeal with unsweetened coconut flakes.
I started looking at house plans months before we bought our property. Our new build will be the 5th house I have ever lived in, and we had a list of features that we liked and disliked about each place.
Brad and I are both drawn to the same style of houses; when I showed him the plan that caught my eye, we both instinctively knew it was “the one.” We looked at several more plans online, but we always came back to “our house,” an open-concept Craftsman Style bungalow.
It needed some modification to really suit our family well, so we sent the plan to our builder and asked if he could amend the drawing with the following changes:
Reverse the drawing so it would work better with our lot.
No walk-out basement. We liked this idea at first, and a slope at the back of our lot would have worked well for a walk-out, but we didn’t like the idea of the younger kids (and older guests) having to use a stairs to get to ground level if they exited the back of the house.
Make the kitchen island straight so it’s less closed in. With 8 people home all day, we wanted each space to to allow multiple people to pass through freely
Change the Walk in Closet into an office for Brad.
Change existing office into a smaller entry way closet.
Add more cubbies in the mudroom so each kid could have their own.
Our builder spent some time revising the drawing according to our specifications, but the quote came in higher than we were willing to spend.
Back to the drawing board we went!
Designing a custom home on a budget
We were able to shave off $50,000K from the quote by making the following edits and we ended up up with floor plan that we liked even more than the original.
Removed the angle of the garage. I really liked the stylish angle, but angles add a lot of extra cost. They require extra material and a make the roof line a lot more complicated. Besides being less expensive, keeping the garage in line with the rest of the house resulted in less wasted space, too.
Removed bedrooms 2 & 3, and the the bathroom in between them while expanding the space of the living area. We decided to finish 3 bedrooms (also leaving space for a 4th and 5th, if needed later) and a bathroom downstairs instead. Originally, we had planned for each child to have their own room, but now they’re all going to share, which they’re used to anyway. Sharing rooms is nice for accountability and camaraderie, too. 😉
Removed stone from the exterior. Vinyl has come such a long way in the past decade, and is easily the most cost-effective option. Stone is expensive, and something we could always add later if we wanted to. We heard regrets from others about putting it around the base of the perimeter for aesthetics reasons because it just ended up hidden by shrubs and perennials anyway! If we add a little stone, it would probably be around the base of the porch posts, and armor stone in the gardens.
Removed the timber detailing in the gables. It amazed me how much extra cost this had added to the project. The cost was more in the labor not the material: each piece needed to be hand-cut and assembled, which required a lot of man hours! We removed all the detailing from the gables and decided to make the timber frame front porch the focal point.
Changed the flooring budget to reflect Luxury Plank Vinyl instead of hardwood. Not only is LVP half the cost of real hardwood, it is more kid-friendly and requires less maintenance. Bonus: LVP mimics real wood so well these days, not many people can tell the difference!
Items We Chose Not To Skimp On
The Kitchen. This room has always been – and probably always will be – the heart of our home in every sense of the word. It’s where I prepare food approximately 2,000 times a year for our family. It’s where I create recipes, homeschool our children, and teach them to cook and bake. It’s where they look for me when they want to talk. It’s where the Littles play at my feet. This place is a workhorse in our home, and we felt in was worth the investment to build a quality, large family-friendly kitchen that would stand up to many more years of great memories.
Windows. Long, cold, gray Winters take their toll on mental health (mine anyway), so we chose to maximize the amount of windows in the house to allow in as much natural light as possible! This included a double-vaulted ceiling in the Great Room to allow for an extra large window.
9 Ft. Basement. We shrunk the square footage of the house to keep costs down and put the kids’ bedrooms in the basement, along with a third bathroom and rec room. To keep it from feeling too “downstairs-ish,” we opted to add an extra foot to the length of the walls and maximize the ceiling height. This cost approx. $3,000 more than 8 ft. ceilings, but it’s a permanent structure that would be too hard to change down the road.
Once the drawings were finalized, we were able to apply for permits…
…and all of our plans to build came to a screeching halt.
In fact, at the time of this writing, we are still waiting for the green light to build!
In the next part of The Story of Our Homestead, we’ll share the permit saga and why we’ve been waiting (unnecessarily) for months to get started.
We just wanted to take a minute to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!
What an adventure this year has been for our family! By far, it has been the most eventful year of our lives.
It began with with our 3 week old in the hospital with a collapsed lung from RSV, followed by surgery for me to remove retained placenta, major (good!) changes within my husband’s company in April, coordinating our provincial homeschooling convention and purchasing a building lot in May, the sale of our home in July, moving into a 758 sq ft. rental in August, finalizing our building plans, and then having them stopped short by city officials in September (we are just beginning to see a breakthrough in that regard, and are so thankful!).
Many other mentally exhausting things too private for Facebook also took much of our time and energy, as did homeschooling, and blogging when life allowed.
I’m thankful for a VA that manages Pinterest and most of the Facebook scheduling for me! We have also hired a writer to help round out Northern Nester with other content.
Due to space constraints in our rental, I have not been able to create any new recipes, so I’ve been updating old ones to make them the best they can be for you! I am eager to start developing new ones again when my work surface is a little larger than the surface of my stove, ha!
Our new lot.
Lord willing, the construction of our new home will be able to begin in the New Year. We are still waiting for the permits to come through for that. So many of you have asked that we blog about the process, and we plan to do so!
Thanks for sticking with us in the shift from recipes to home building and everything in between!
I am looking forward to 2020! It looks like another year of many changes, but 2019 was a reminder that no matter what our circumstances may be, God is a faithful and loving Father, and whether we understand it or not, all He does is for His glory and our own good. His desire is to conform His people to His image, and He will stop at nothing to achieve His purpose.
May 2020 be the year we find peace in resting in the unchanging character and goodness of God. May we be less anxious about the things we cannot control because “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8: 38-39
Brad & Jacinda, and the kids.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT AGAIN!
We do not take this for granted and are so appreciative of how you support our family when you purchase your THM or Lakanto products through our affiliate links! This helps pay for things like web hosting and email service providers, so we can maintain the blog and offer recipes for free!
Walk-In Pantry. This is handy for charging cordless vacuums/Roombas, or hand held dust busters. If you have a counter in your pantry, an outlet for a percolator/crock pot is also handy when you have company and are preparing extra food.
Kitchen Island. Baking is a breeze if you can plug your mixer into your work surface.
On top of kitchen cabinets. If you enjoy Christmas lights on top of your cupboards, this will eliminate unsightly cords. This is also a great place for surround sound system speakers, security cameras, and rope LED lighting.
Every 2 feet above your kitchen counters, so you’ll never wonder where to plug in your guests crock-pots/warming dishes, or your coffee pot, mixer, toaster, etc.
Best Places To Put Electrical Outlets In The Bedroom
I’m so excited to share our IKEA Kitchen Reno with you!
From beginning to end, this was an 8-week labor of love that my husband and I did together, and I’m spilling all the details in this post!
IKEA Kitchen Planning
Our IKEA Kitchen Reno began by taking a serious evaluation of the original kitchen and determining what changes were necessary in helping our lives run more smoothly.
Good planning is essential to a good outcome!
The lack of cupboard and storage space in the kitchen was one of the first things we noticed about our house when we bought it two years ago.
For the elderly lady who lived here previously, the kitchen was ideal, but despite our minimalist bent, it’s a challenge for our family of seven (now 8!) to find a place for everything.
Our kitchen truly is the heart of our home.
More than just the place where food is prepared, it also serves as our dining room and homeschool room.
We eat here, talk here, play here, and study here. We decided to renovate the most used room in our house this year by designing a homeschool-friendly kitchen on a budget.
The main goal for our new kitchen was functionality. Aesthetics are important too, but our biggest objective was to squeeze the most use out of our space!
To do this, we’ve settled on a few features:
tall cabinets (40″)
no glass doors or open shelving (I love the look of open shelving, but it would cut down greatly on our storage space. Glass doors are pretty, too, but they’re also more expensive and can look cluttered if they’re not styled properly.)
a built-in desk
cabinets for school books
Why an IKEA Kitchen?
A few months ago, I found a used kitchen on Kijiji that appeared to be ideal for our space for $1200. It came with a new, stainless steel 36″ double door refrigerator with a bottom drawer freezer, 2 stoves, and a dishwasher. I knew the refrigerator alone was worth well over $1200, so even if the cabinets didn’t pan out, we still would’ve scored big time. The tall, shaker-style cabinets were right up my alley, but they were stained a light brown with a pink undertone, so our plan was to get them refinished in white (I adore white and grey kitchens alike, but our kitchen is too dark to handle grey cabinets).
I sold the two stoves, the dishwasher, and an unused fridge in our garage for $450. We consulted with a cabinet maker who priced out the cost of refinishing the cabinets. It was 3x more than I expected, and he told us that the cabinets only had 5 years of life left in them. It was simply not worth it. I re-listed the cabinets on Kijiji and they sold within a few days for $1100. We kept the refrigerator, which essentially ended up being free after the sale of the cabinets and the other appliances!
I went back to the drawing board and researched (read: scoured the Internet for inspiration and visited all of the custom cabinet builders in our town) different ways to achieve a simple, affordable, quality farmhouse-inspired kitchen with a touch of elegance that suited the style of our house.
We concluded that an IKEA kitchen would be the best option for us. Their price was unbeatable.The cost of a brand new IKEA kitchen was less than the price we were quoted to refinish and install the used cabinets I had originally bought off Kijiji!
After talking to other friends and family and touring their IKEA kitchens, I was convinced the quality would stand up to heavy use by our tribe of seven, too.
IKEA Grimslov Kitchen Inspiration Pictures
Aesthetically, I had a couple dreams for our new IKEA kitchen. My wish list included:
white GRIMSLOV cabinets (Luckily for me, they are one of IKEA’s most affordable options per linear foot! I really wanted pure white cabinets, but GRIMSLOV ‘s shaker style doors only come in off-white. With the right counter top, wall paint, and backsplash, I think it will still be bright and beautiful! Plus, off-white shows dirt less, right? :) )
a chimney style range exhaust hood
brushed nickel door and drawer pulls
subway tile back splash
granite-look laminate counters, or solid surface in a medium grey color/pattern
How To Use IKEA’s Kitchen Planning Tool
After taking our kitchen measurements (a boring, but essential step), I spent a few days designing our kitchen on IKEA’s handy kitchen planner tool. IKEA was on top of their game when they launched this thing (which now allows you to design your own office, bathrooms, and closets too!).
With a keyboard and mouse, you can have a realistic picture of what your future kitchen will look like without even visiting the store.
The IKEA kitchen planner features a floor view and a 3D view. You can zoom in and pan out; add, delete, and open up all the different cabinet, drawer, and pantry configurations; change the door fronts for a different look; move cabinets and appliances around; add furniture; select different handles, knobs, pulls, faucets, and sinks; add counter tops and crown mold, and even choose your wall and floor colors!
Proposed new kitchen layout via IKEA’s Kitchen Planner
There are a few things to be aware of if you use IKEA’s kitchen planning tool to design your own kitchen:
Disable any ad-blockers for IKEA’s webpage. I was getting frustrated about not being able to set up an account (which is free, but necessary in order to use the planning tool), until my husband disabled the ad-blocker for the IKEA webpage. The planning tool worked like a charm after that.
Measure, measure, measure, and be sure to add any permanent fixtures such as windows and doors to your plan.
Be aware that your ceiling height must be at least 96″ in order for the IKEA’s taller 40″ cabinets to work. This is standard for newer homes, but double check, just in case!
Take into account any plumbing or electrical changes. The plumbing for our kitchen renovation is staying the same, but we will need an electrician to hard wire the under counter lighting, the exhaust, and the new lights above the table.
The software can be a little glitch-y at times, so it’s important to save your work as you go. (Did you notice the misplaced cover panel next to the window in the drawing above? That was one of the issues the planner couldn’t resolve for me!)
Keep the “Work Triangle” in mind as you plan your layout. You want your fridge, stove, and sink to be close enough to each other that you’re not wasting steps between them.
Change things up to see how they look. I changed my mind about a few things after seeing how everything looked put together. Play around before you buy so you don’t have any regrets later!
Make use of the open cabinet feature. This allows you to see what’s behind your cabinet doors so you can plan your kitchen with maximum efficiency and functionality.
Don’t forget to add cover panels to your design. You’ll want these on the sides of any cabinets that are exposed to the eye to cover the frames.
Initially, I thought I wanted black knobs for our doors and black pulls for our drawers, but realized it looked too heavy for the cabinets. I eventually settled for much sleeker, matching LANSA handles of the same size for all the cabinets and drawers (pictured above). They feel classier and more cohesive to me.
I also changed our sink selection at the last minute. Instead of the pure white DOMSJO double-bowl apron sink, which I thought clashed too much with the off-white cabinets, we chose the stainless steel NORRSJÖN sink. It can be top-mounted or under-mounted.
After touring IKEA’s kitchens, we decided to pass on their laminate counter tops.
I really loved the look of their grey stone and white marble laminates, but one stretch of counter top will be over 10 feet long, and IKEA’s largest laminate slab is 98 inches. This means that we would have a seam somewhere in the stretch that would be near the sink or over the dishwasher, which can cause major moisture induced problems later on.
White Ice Granite laminate counter top via Formica
We settled on Formica’s Argento Romano laminate. Real granite is not in the budget, but laminates have come a long way and the White Ice Granite or Argento Romano laminate looks incredibly close to the real deal!
Best Backsplash for IKEA Kitchen
I was torn between a light grey subway tile backsplash with white grout, or white subway tile with a light grey grout.
I like the depth grey adds to white kitchens, but I feel grey tile is a fad that will be over long before white tile is. I planned to paint the main walls a very light grey paint, and the accent wall by the patio doors a wonderful charcoal paint called (Cracked Pepper by Behr). Paint is easier and less expensive to change.
Subway Tiles That Match IKEA Grimslov Cabinets
White subway tile appeals to me because it’s timeless, bright, and has a definite farmhouse feel about it. The trick is finding an off-white tile that will work with the GRIMSLOV cabinets. Pure white tile would make the off-white cabinets look grungy.
After searching online, I discovered Home Depot has an off-white 3×6 tile by Daltile that’s almost an exact match to our kitchen cabinets! I took a cabinet door to the store with me last week to make sure, and was thrilled to discover that these perfectly matching tiles were on sale!
IKEA Kitchen Lighting
For the lighting in our kitchen, we settled on IKEA’s hardwired under cabinet lighting by UTRUSTA. We currently have recessed lighting over our sink that will be staying, and I’m still deciding on which pendant lights to put over our farmhouse table. It’s a toss up between IKEA’s RANARP or ALVANGEN pendants:
or, these pendant lights I found on Amazon:
For the wall color in our kitchen, I was leaning towards Sherwin Williams’ Repose Gray, but since Behr paint is my favorite, we checked out Home Depot to see if they carried a similar color. My 7 year-old found nearly identical match: Dolphin Fin.
Dolphin Fin will be our new main floor color. It’s a gorgeous gray that has just enough of a greenish brown undertone to keep it from feeling cold.
For a depth and drama, I planned to paint the accent wall (where the patio doors are located) and possibly the walls behind the cabinets Cracked Pepper by Behr.
I think it will make the cabinets pop. Miss Mustard Seed did this in her kitchen and I love how it adds a bit of contemporary moodiness without detracting from the farmhouse feel.
While my type of farmhouse style has evolved over the years, I’ve always loved the country look. Even as a little girl, I decorated my side of the bedroom (my poor sister) with twinkly lights, tin pails, and anything wooden or rustic. I’ve saved several farmhouse pieces, similar to the ones below, and can’t way to display them in our new kitchen!
IKEA Kitchen Ordering & Delivery
After I finished designing our IKEA kitchen, we decided to make the trip to our nearest IKEA (a 40 minute drive) and order at the store instead of online.
I am so glad we did!
We bought our kitchen cabinets during IKEA’s Kitchen Event, which resulted in the kitchen department being insanely busy. We happened to arrive half an hour before the store officially opened, so we were third in line. By the time we had placed finished ordering, the line-up of people waiting to talk with a kitchen staff member was longer than the whole department!
I highly recommend arriving well ahead of time if you plan on ordering your kitchen at the store during their sale. We received 10% back in IKEA gift cards which easily covered the cost of our back-ordered sink, and light fixtures.
When we got to the store, we looked over our selections on display in the kitchen department before ordering. I wanted to make sure everything looked as good in person as it did online.
This is where we made the decision not to use IKEA’s laminate counter tops. The largest slab of laminate was 8 feet long, and we needed a piece that was over 10 feet. In addition to very obvious seams, IKEA’s laminate counter tops looked more plastic-like to me than the Formica samples I had seen at Home Depot, so we nixed the idea completely.
Everything else was just how I imagined; better, actually, because the GRIMSLOV cabinets looked more white than off-white!
Suggestions from IKEA’s Kitchen Department
A member of IKEA’s kitchen staff, Maureen, looked over our design online with us, confirming measurements and placements, and made several great suggestions, one of which was purchasingan extra set of shelves for each 40 in. upper cabinet that we had two or more of in the same size.
Shelves are sold in packages of two, which we had included for each cabinet, but it turns out that 40 in. cabinets can fit 3 shelves very nicely. We had four, 24X40″ upper cabinets in our kitchen design, so we bought two more packages of shelves which gave us enough for 3 shelves in each cabinet.
Pay for delivery!
Maureen also convinced us to pay for delivery rather than picking up the cabinets ourselves and we are SO glad we did!
If you’re ordering a kitchen, do yourself a favor and pay the $75 to have your kitchen delivered to your house. IKEA takes care of picking out all the boxes from the warehouse, loading them onto the truck, delivering it to your house (which was a 40 minute trip for us), and unloading everything when they get there.
If anything is damaged or missing, they will deliver the replacements for free within 4 days. Our only complaint about IKEA’s delivery service is that the driver cursed an awful lot in front of our kids (which he thought we had too many of, ha!), even after my husband asked him to stop swearing.
Taking Inventory Of IKEA’s Kitchen Delivery the efficient way
Taking inventory was the first thing we did after the mountain of boxes arrived. We had 4 days to let IKEA know if anything missing or damaged if we were to receive free replacements and delivery. I started doing the job by myself, but was overwhelmed but the magnitude of everything that needed to be checked!
It didn’t help that our itemized sheet was sectioned by all the different parts needed to build each cabinet, rather than listing each item in alphabetical or numerical order. Brad stepped in to help me out and we quickly learned the most efficient way to go through the list.
First, we grouped like with like.
Doors and cabinets of the same size were stacked on top of each other, bags of matching hinges were grouped together, suspension rails and toe kicks were stacked together, sink components were set aside in a corner, etc.
Then, Brad counted how many of each box or bag was in a group and I used a highlighter to mark them off our list. Everything but two back-ordered items was there, and only one door was warped (which we found out about after it was hung), so we could get started on our kitchen as soon as we were ready!
How long does it take to build an IKEA kitchen?
8 weeks, we found out.
Between the 2 of us, working mostly at nights and on Saturdays, it took us 8 weeks to rip out our old kitchen and put together our new one. This included everything from building the Sektion boxes, installing the cupboards, doors, and hardware, installing the new appliances, light fixtures, and counter tops, and tiling our backsplash (a first time experience for both of us!).
It felt like a long haul while we were in the middle of the chaos, but now that it’s finished, I’m so thrilled we plowed through the challenges of doing a kitchen reno with 5 kids under foot!
This was the part where I seriously second guessed our decision to renovate the kitchen!
Most of the kitchen renovation went very smoothly. Brad fell off the ladder during the install of the upper cabinets at one point and busted a hole through the drywall on his fall down, but thankfully, that was the only catastrophe, and no bones were broken!
IKEA Kitchen Reno Pictures: Before & After!
I legit happy danced when the last kick plate was snapped into place! Words cannot describe how happy I was to have a have a stove after 8 weeks of “cooking” for 7 without one!
(By “cooking,” I mean we ate prepackaged carbs that tasted similarly to the boxes the came in.)
It’s an overcast day, so these photos aren’t great, but I thought I’d share a few shots anyway.
Here’s a photo of our old kitchen from the MLS listing when we bought our house two years ago:
This is our kitchen now!
Everyone asks where our microwave is….we hid it in the cabinet above the dishwasher!
Same spot, after:
A before photo of the dining area:
And how it looks now:
Removing the island resulted in a much better flow of traffic for our family of seven.
We also built our Farmhouse Table, and Brad drew up the plans, which you can find here.
The kitchen is so much brighter, even on this rainy day, thanks to IKEA’s white Grimslov cabinets, shiny white subway tile, under cabinet lighting, and new, recessed lights.
We chose Formica’s Argento Romano laminate counter tops because of their affordability, but everyone asks if they’re granite!
The addition of two pantries and a built in desk provide more than enough storage for food and all our homeschooling books.
The kids love to do their schoolwork here, and when they’re not using it, it makes a wonderful command station for me!
This invisible spice drawer in our double bank of drawers next to the stove is one of my favorite features. I love seeing my most-used spices at a glance and knowing how much of everything I have left.
Originally, I had envisioned an undermount sink, but since they aren’t yet compatible with laminate counters, we opted for IKEA’s NORRSJON stainless steel double bowl, top mount sink that sits almost flush with the counter. We’re loving our IKEA Kitchen Sink!
We also chose IKEA’s RINGSKAR faucet. It’s a super simple, sleek design with a pull-out sprayer. It’s quite high, which makes it really nice for filling up large stock pots.
Lately, I’ve been receiving some exciting emails and messages. They all sound similar to this:
Help! I want to do Trim Healthy Mama, but I’m overwhelmed! Can you help me understand it?
How is this exciting?
It tells me that people are taking their health seriously!
It’s a wonderful thing when people begin to treat their bodies as the temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells! From eternity, the Lord has all of our days numbered and we cannot surprise Him with an additional second by choosing to eat better; but, we can use our life on earth to serve Him with the energy, clarity, and joy that caring for our bodies affords.
Why Do I Feel Overwhelmed by Trim Healthy Mama?
I think the overwhelming feeling people get when they look into Trim Healthy Mama is largely due to the impending lifestyle change.
We like the comfort and stability of our routines, but sometimes we become too comfortable with unhealthy eating habits and it shows in our waistline, energy levels, hormones, and even our mental health.
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer, if “easy” means continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results.
Power to change starts with the mind; if you truly want to be a Trim Healthy Mama, you need to be willing to give some things up…but I promise you’ll gain a whole lot more (and I’m not talking pounds).
…the ability to feel satisfied for hours after a meal
…increased mental clarity
…a trimmer waistline…
…these are the things hundreds of thousands of women have gained by adopting the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, myself included, and we’ve done it while enjoying from all the food groups, and healthy versions of all our favorite meals that certainly don’t taste like diet food!
(Just to give you an idea of how well Trim Healthy Mamas eat, I’m going to litter up this post with photos of some of our favorite recipes, all of which you can find here.)
If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, and serious about getting healthy for life, I want to offer you a simplified explanation of Trim Healthy Mama, on the condition that you’ll buy theTrim Healthy Mama Plan (or borrow it from the library if finances are tight!), and allow yourself 5-10 minutes of devotion to the most thorough explanation of the plan, written, of course, by Serene and Pearl themselves.
Keep a highlighter and a notebook handy, and read it word for word. You owe yourself the best explanation of THM!
Below is my personal summary of this sustainable, healthy lifestyle based on biblical principles and backed by science that has helped me discover what Food Freedom really is and rediscover my love of cooking.
Trim Healthy Mama is not a quick weight loss program. You might finder faster, more immediate results with another program, but if you’re looking for life long trim, THM offers that with principles you can apply any time, anywhere.
Trim Healthy Mama does not count calories, points, or grams of fat. Trim Healthy Mama recommends keeping your “E’s” (healthy carb-based meals) to 45 grams of carbs and a maximum of 5 grams of fat in a sitting, but the authors don’t want you to obsess about these numbers. In 4 years of doing THM, I have never counted a single carb, even though I have lost 45 pounds post-partum on plan. I prefer to keep things simple and focus on separating fuel types (fats and carbs) instead of counting numbers. I’m sure there have been many times where I have had 6 or 7 grams of fat instead of 5 in my E meal, but it’s the consistent application of Trim Healthy Mama principles that makes this plan work and gives meaning to the term “Food Freedom.”
Trim Healthy Mama is not expensive. You can eat on plan very frugally using only foods that you grow or can purchase locally, or you can invest in the wide variety of specialty ingredients found online or in health food stores. The plan is completely doable on any budget. It’s as expensive as you make it.
Trim Healthy Mama does not require the use of special ingredients. By “special ingredients,” I mean things you can’t find locally. Even here in Canada, I can find every single ingredient for all of the recipes on this blog in my own town.
Trim Healthy Mama is not just for Mamas. Countless men and children are enjoying the THM way of life too. What makes this plan special is that it’s adaptable to pregnant, nursing, and menopausal women and has proven to work and even eradicate female related health issues such as PCOS, endometriosis, and menstrual irregularities, etc. Trim Healthy Mama was created by two busy mothers with the goal of helping other mothers become healthy and strong for their families like God created them to be. As a result, whole families are benefiting from physical and mental improvements in the Queen of her home, and even more so if they participate in the THM meals she prepares.
Remember, this is meant to be a lifestyle. Please don’t view it as something you have to do; it’s something you get to do!
You get to eat fat!
You get to eat carbs!
You get to get healthy!
This is a blessing, a gift! You’re about to learn a few principles that will equip you to loose or maintain your weight and heal your body from the inside out for the rest of your life. You can do this in any place, any time, on any budget.
Trim Healthy Mama in A Nutshell
Choose good fats (S’s) or good carbs (E’s) for each meal. Do not eat both together unless you’re pregnant, nursing, or need to gain weight. Eating both fats and carbs together is called a Crossover. These are excellent meals for growing children and men who have very physical jobs. Fuel Pulls, another term you’ll hear a lot, are meals that have a lean protein source and not enough fat or carbs to be considered either an S or an E. These types of meals can be helpful for stubborn losers who have trouble shedding pounds, but they shouldn’t be eaten too often by those who are at or near goal weight.
Always have a source of protein in your meal that fits your fuel type. Fat-based S meals can have a fat-based protein source like beef, cream, nuts, and cheese. Carb-based E meals need a lean protein source like chicken breasts, beans, collagen, broccoli, 0% fat Greek yogurt, egg whites, and 0% fat cottage cheese. Having protein with each meal keeps you feeling full, boots your muscle mass while you shed excess fat, improves your mood by helping to stabilize your blood sugar levels, maintains strong bones, protects your heart, and improves your mental clarity. In other words, it’s a very important part of every meal.
For your E meals, skip refined or empty carbohydrates or starches. No white potatoes, white flour, cornstarch, or rice flours. Choose healthy carbs like fruit, root vegetables, oats, and sprouted grains, etc., pair them with a lean protein source, and don’t combine them with fat.
Wait 3 hours between each meal (unless you’re pregnant or nursing; then you can enjoy a meal every 2 hours, if needed). This gives your body enough time to burn through its last fuel source. (Your two fuel sources are fats and carbohydrates).
Alternate fuel sources. I eat mainly fat-based meals (S’s), but it’s important to throw a carb-based meal (E’s) in there every once in a while to keep my metabolism guessing and revved up. Trim Healthy Mama recommends at least 7 E meals a week (or one a day). If you eat too much of one kind of fuel, you may notice a weight-loss stall, gain, or find yourself irritable if you’re not getting enough carbs (especially during PMS).
What do all the letters in Trim Healthy Mama mean?
S’s, E’s, XO’s, FP’s, GGMS, DST, MIM, ACV…if you’ve been lurking around the official Trim Healthy Mama Facebook page for a while, you might think learning Trim Healthy Mama is like learning a whole new language, but I promise you it’s not that hard. These are just short-forms or acronyms for popular THM terms.
S stands for Satisfying meals.
These are fat-based meals, desserts, or snacks that contain protein and fat, but no sugar and little to no carbs or starches.
A good example of an S meal would be: bacon, eggs, peppers fried in butter, and a coffee with cream.
These are meals that contain both fats and carbs. These types of meals are not conducive to weight-loss, but they are wonderful options for men who have physically taxing jobs, growing children, and can be enjoyed as a treat by those who have reached their desired weight and are in maintenance mode.
A good example of a Crossover meal would be: A sandwich made of heavily buttered sprouted bread, a smear of mayo and mustard, sliced meat, cheese, lettuce, and tomato.
These meals are S meals with a enough carbs in them to push the meal out of S mode, but not enough carbs to be considered a Crossover. These types of meals aren’t talked about as often since they’re more frequently utilized by diabetics and the same people who benefit from Crossovers.
A good example of an S Helper would be grilled steak, broccoli with cheese sauce and 1/4 cup of brown rice.
This is a delicious non-alcoholic, drink with numerous health benefits (improves digestion, clear up skin, boosts the metabolism, gives you energy, etc.) that my husband and I enjoy every single day! I kick myself for waiting so long to try it because I was so put off by the thought of drinking apple cider vinegar! Don’t be like me! GGMS can be made in all kinds of flavors (here’s a great list from MamaShire) and none of them taste anything like ACV! My current favorite is the Shrinking Southern Sweet Tea ‘Shine!
DTS stands for Drive Thru Sue.
This is a term of endearment for Trim Healthy Mamas who often need to eat on the fly, with little time or ability to prepare their meals at home. The beauty of THM is that Drive Thru Sue’s can still eat on plan at virtually every restaurant!
MIM stands for Muffin In A Mug.
These are fabulously quick muffins (most of them low-carb) that can be cooked in a mug in just a minute in the microwave. Want to make your own quick MIM? I’ve got a list of 22 favorite THM Muffin In A Mug recipes, right here!
These are the most popular THM (Trim Healthy Mama 😉 ) acronyms. If you’re wondering about one I haven’t listed here, feel free to ask in the comments.
Since its recent release, I now recommend Trim Healthy Table to start. It contains a summary of the whole plan in the first 3 chapters, along with over 300 recipes to get you started.
If you can afford it, I also highly recommend purchasing The Trim Healthy Mama Plan by Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison. This book doesn’t contain any recipes, but it is a wonderfully detailed, accurate, humorous, authentic explanation of THM, and it’s 100% worth the investment.
If you’re purchasing through Amazon, you may see copies of the original, 600+ page book entitled Trim Healthy Mama: No More Fads, also by Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison. This is an enjoyable read and contains hundreds of wonderful recipes but is no longer in print, so it will likely be very expensive because it’s practically a relic. 😀 The revised edition, Trim Healthy Mama Plan, is much more succinct and simpler to follow.
Helpful Trim Healthy Mama Resources
Aside from the Trim Healthy Plan, there are a couple of other very helpful things, I would recommend to every Trim Healthy Mama at any stage in her journey. These include:
TheTrim Healthy Mama Cookbook – this is the first official recipe book published by Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison. Our family has tried and loved almost everything I’ve made from it and the vast majority of the recipes can be made without the use of special ingredients.
The Poddy podcasts. “The Poddy” is the name of Pearl and Serene’s raw, unfiltered, unedited podcast host by “a guy named Danny.” Every Wednesday, a new Poddy is released. I listen to them on Podbean via Bluetooth during my daily walk, and I cannot even begin to express how much I enjoy getting inside the sisters’ heads. They are a wealth of wisdom, and full of grace, humility, and honesty, with tremendous knowledge regarding physical, spiritual, and mental health. These podcasts are free and I highly, highly recommend listening to them as soon as you can.
THM Sweetener Conversion Chart. I created this THM Sweetener Conversion Chart because I wanted something that was easy to read and follow! I have an entire post dedicated to explaining all the different sweeteners, how they taste, and how to you can use them, here.
Lakanto Monkfruit Sweeteners. I recommend these Monkfruit sweeteners to everybody! Not only do they taste and measure like real sugar, they have an extremely low glycemic index and are easy on the digestive system. They aren’t fatal to pets, and they are easy on the digestive system, too. You can read my entire review of Lakanto Sweeteners here, or use the Coupon Code: NORTHERNNESTER and save 15% OFF your purchase, here.
The Slim & Staisfied HandbookIf you’re still feeling overwhelmed after reading this summary of Trim Healthy Mama, here’s my digital 4-week NSI (No Special Ingredient) Menu Plan, The Slim And Satisfied Handbook, to help you get started! It contains gluten-free, sugar-free, high-protein recipes for every meal of the day and alternates low-carb and low-fat meals for the optimum metabolism boost! You can read all the details about this digital download here.
Absolutely! Here’s a list of things I use almost everyday to make the Trim Healthy Mama plan work for us.
A good blender. I have a Ninja blender, which is a middle-of-the-road choice when it comes to blenders, but it has held up incredibly well during the last 4 years of THM which involved me using it several times a week. Eventually, I’d love to save for a Vitamix!
Quality stoneware. I love using stoneware, especially for E meals because it keeps things like baked goods and chicken breasts very moist without any need for additional greasing. My stoneware is from Pampered Chef, but American Bakeware is another excellent brand.
A Mason jar and straw. Some of the THM drinks are so huge, you really do need a Mason jar to enjoy them in! I enjoy all my drinks in my trusty glass jar now.
Pantry basics. The following ingredients will help you be able put together a wide variety of recipes. This list excludes “special ingredients,” which I hope to dedicate a different post to another day.
Do you have any tips for Beginner Trim Healthy Mamas?
Yes! I so wish somebody had told me these 5 things the day I started:
Don’t wait until you have everything figured out before beginning. Start by making one THM-friendly meal at a time, and then make another 3 hours later. You are not a failure if you make Crossover by accident. Every 3 hours you have the opportunity to re-set and start again!
Drink at least one GGMS every day. I usually have two. They are so hydrating and life-giving. They help with digestion and will keep you “regular.” Tweak the amount of sweetener and ACV in your moonshine until it’s exactly how you love it, and then drink, drink, drink!
S meals are the easiest and, in my opinion, the most delicious. I aim for 2-3 meals a day, and try to eat E snacks, or 1 E meal a day. Just remember to switch up your fuels and not eat too much of one type. Keep your metabolism guessing and enjoy all the food groups!
If you give in and eat off-plan, you don’t need to eat 27 cookies just because you ate 3. Your day does not have to end off-plan just because it started off-plan. As the sisters say on The Poddy, practice your comeback!
Stick with easy, no-special-ingredient recipes at the beginning. There’s a small learning curve to baking with different flours and sweeteners; we don’t want you giving up on THM just because you’re learning your way around a few new ingredients in some seriously delicious (but a bit complicated) new recipes.
Where can I find free, on-plan Trim Healthy Mama recipes?
Allow me to introduce you to some of my dear friends and their amazing Trim Healthy Mama-friendly blogs. You’ll have so much fun looking through all the plan-approved dishes they’ve created for us to enjoy!
I’ve loved to cook and bake ever since I was a child, but 6 1/2 years ago, when I dove head first into the Trim Healthy Mama plan (read my testimony here), I traded in all I knew about working with all-purpose flour and white sugar for a whole new world of healthier baking with different ingredients!
It took some time for me to get comfortable baking with alternative flours and sweeteners, but through a lot of trial and error, I’ve come to love baking the Trim Healthy Mama way even more than I previously enjoyed baking off-plan.
There are few kitchen experiences more wonderful than making a scrumptious cake that not only looks and tastes divine, but does your body good, too!
If you’ve been disappointed trying to bake on-plan, I hope these tricks will eliminate the learning curve!
Here are my top tips and tricks for successful Trim Healthy Mama baking!
Cookies and baked goods made with Trim Healthy Mama approved sweeteners are not nearly as shelf stable as baked goods made with sugar. They should be stored in the fridge or freezer in an air tight container.
Trim Healthy Mama baking tastes the best the next day. This gives alternative sweeteners a chance to lose any cooling effect or aftertaste.
Trim Healthy Mama baking is typically much more filling than traditional baking with empty carbohydrates. It contains more protein and fiber, and the ingredients are usually more dense, so you can serve smaller pieces and get more servings out of a recipe!
For fluffier cakes, I use a stand mixer to whisk the eggs for a solid 5 minutes until they’re very light and airy before adding in my dry ingredients.
1:1 substitutions are my favorite. Aside from the obvious bonus of not having to do any math 😉 , 1:1 subs generally provide the best results in baking because they have a similar consistency to their traditional counterpart.
Often, the bulk of a granular sweetener is needed for a baked good to turn out properly, which makes erythritol or xylitol based sweeteners (i.e. Lakanto Classic, Swerve, and THM Gentle Sweet), a better choice for baking than pure monkfruit or stevia.
Pure monkfruit and stevia are only needed in minuscule amounts, and can have a bitter aftertaste if too much is used. These sweeteners are better fit for drinks like Good Girl Moonshine, Singing Canary, and The Shrinker. Any aftertaste is usually masked by the stronger flavor of apple cider vinegar and flavored teas. Adding a pinch of salt in drinks sweetened with pure monkfruit or stevia also helps take away any bitterness and diminishes the cooling effect.
Xylitol has a nice granular consistency, a bit larger than real sugar, which gives volume and substance to baking. Some people use a coffee grinder to decrease the size of the granules, but I don’t find it necessary.
Xylitol is not a perfect sweetener. It doesn’t dissolve quite as well as real sugar, so it requires whipping or beating longer than normal to get it fully incorporated. Xylitol is also not a good choice if you have pets; it can be fatal to furry animals, especially dogs. Additionally, xylitol can also cause digestive distress in some people if they consume excessive amounts.
To me, the perfect THM Sweetener should:
not have a bitter aftertaste
measure cup for cup like regular sugar
taste like real sugar
be available in granular, brown, and icing sugar consistency
be available locally
be pet friendly
be easy on the digestive system
My quest for the perfect sweetener found me experimenting with all kinds of brands: Pyure, Swerve, SweetLeaf, Trim Healthy Mama, Truvia, Xyla, and generic Bulk Barn sweeteners. In the end, one sweetener stood out among the rest.
LAKANTO MONKFRUIT SWEETENERS
Disclosure: I am a Lakanto Affiliate because we use and love their sweeteners! We earn a small commission from purchases made through our link.
Lakanto Monkfruit Sweeteners were the last ones I tried, and I kicked myself for not giving them a go first! They were the only sweeteners that met my long list of “perfect sweetener” qualifications.
are available locally (In the U.S., you can find them at Costco; in Canada you can often find them at Winners or Home Sense)
Lakanto Monkfruit Sweeteners are affordable! If you use the Coupon Code “NORTHERNNESTER,” you save 15% off all your online purchases (plus, they offer $5.99 flat rate shipping, and free shipping on orders over $75!).
Lakanto also offers a variety of other sugar-free sweeteners and THM-friendly products, including:
Trim Healthy Mama-friendly baking blends tend to be more thirsty and drier than whole grain flours, so you cannot substitute cup for cup with all-purpose or whole wheat recipes. THM flours are also missing the gluten that holds wheat-based recipes together.
This means that, when substituting with a THM-friendly Baking Blend in an off-plan recipe, you will need to add more liquid (ex: eggs, butter, coconut oil, or nut milks for S; egg whites, nut milks, 0% fat Greek yogurt, pumpkin puree, mashed banana for E), and you’ll need a binder (like eggs or egg whites, xanthan gum or gluccie, pysllium husk, oat fiber, or whey protein powder) to keep your baked good from falling apart.
Coconut flour is also on plan as an S ingredient. It is a very absorbent flour, so you will only need a small amount in recipes that call for it.
It’s very hard to substitute for coconut flour in recipes because of its unique thirsty properties, but sometimes you can replace half a cup of coconut flour with 2 Tbsp of pysllium husk mixed with 1/2 cup of almond flour.
Boston Cream Pie: this cake uses psyllium husk powder as a high-fiber binder in the cake layers.
Pysllium huskis extremely high in fiber and can absorb a lot of liquid. It has a tendency to gel, and works well as a binder, holding dough together much like the gluten in wheat flour does. You only need a very small amount (1-2 Tbsp) in a whole batch of dough. It is carbohydrate-free. You should be able to find it in the laxative or supplement aisle of your grocery or health food store.
Trim Healthy Mama Oat Fiber
Oat Fiberis a carbohydrate-free ingredient that is nearly impossible to purchase locally, but you can buy it online and use it to flour your pans, and as a fiber-enhancer and moisture-absorber in homemade baking blends.
Other Baking Ingredients
Xanthan Gum and Glucomannanare interchangeable in recipes.They act as thickening agents and binders. You can use them in sauces and puddings you might have previously thickened with white flour or corn starch, but you will need much less with these two. Glucomannan (or “gluccie”) tends to be slimier than xanthan gum.
Gelatin is such a wonderful and interesting ingredient. In addition to being a relatively tasteless, dairy-free source of protein, it has the ability to set liquids into delicious desserts and treats that are firm enough to slice. You can read more about it and find 44 Trim Healthy Mama-friendly gelatin recipes here.
E baking can be tricky since little to no fat is used. I’ve found the best fat-free ingredients to use for moisture are egg whites,unsweetened applesauce, pumpkin puree, 0% fat Greek yogurt,nut milks, and mashed bananas.
Trim Healthy Mama Pristine Whey Protein Powder
Trim Healthy Mama Collagen
Aside from giving baked goods a protein boost, protein powder and collagen can often act as a Fuel Pull flour and a lifter in Trim Healthy Mama-friendly cakes, breads, and muffins.
Egg yolks can accumulate quickly on Trim Healthy Mama since only the whites can be used in Fuel Pull or E dishes. My favorite use for extra yolks is turning them into these Lemon Squares which use up 7 of them!
Pure Vanilla Extract
Pure extracts are a big part of Trim Healthy Mama baking and beverages, so they are well worth investing in. I can hardly wait until Trim Healthy Mama’s Natural Bursts line of extracts becomes available (which should be very soon!). The extracts I use most are:
Low-carb Pumpkin Muffins: replace the butter with coconut oil and leave off the whipped cream frosting for a wonderful, dairy-free muffin!
Coconut oil, eggs, cream cheese, sour cream, heavy cream, and butter are readily available and essential Trim Healthy Mama-friendly baking ingredients. In most recipes, you can replace butter with coconut oil and heavy cream with canned coconut fat for dairy-free alternatives.
Trim Healthy Mama Himalayan Salt
Baking soda, baking powder, and salt are regular baking ingredients that you can still use with any Trim Healthy Mama Fuel type. Consider switching from refined salt to Himalayan salt and from regular baking soda to aluminum-free to increase the nutritional benefit of your baking and decrease the toxicity.
I hope that was helpful to you! If you have Trim Healthy Mama baking related question that I didn’t address, feel free to ask in the comments and I will do my best to answer. 🙂
Ever wonder what gets served for the holidays in the homes of the Recipe Bloggers?!
We’ve put together a collection of our very favorite Trim Healthy Mama friendly Holiday Recipes, the ones we personally love best – recipes our own families request and look forward to each year!
These are more than just fan favorites, they are our favorites.
They are recipes we’re excited about about sharing with guests and non-THM extended family members. Consequently, you can feel confident about serving up these Trim Healthy Mama Holiday dishes to yours, too!
Note: Always disclose alternative sweeteners to guests, as some of them may not tolerate all of them well. You wouldn’t want to be responsible for ruining their dinner!
Trim Healthy Mama Friendly Holiday Recipes
I’ve divided our favorite Trim Healthy Mama Holiday Recipes into two categories: Savory and Sweet. One section for dinner and the other for the dessert table!
Each recipe is categorized by fuel type, and discloses which blogger’s table you can find it (you know, in case you want to crash their party, ha!).
We think Holidays are great opportunities to enjoy a Crossover, so go ahead and create your holiday menu with a pile of S’s and E’s!
This low-carb, gluten-free Chicken Cordon Bleu looks impressive, but is incredibly easy to make! A Dijon Cream Sauce brings vegetables to the next level. A great THM S meal to serve to company. From Northern Nester
Tart cranberries, crispy pecans, rich whipped cream, and a special low-carb veggie make my Aunt Kathy’s cranberry salad Trim Healthy Mama friendly. I’ve loved this dish as long as I can remember and I hope this delightful recipe will become a favorite at your holiday tables, too. From Oh, Sweet Mercy
Say hello to your new favorite fall (and holiday) dessert, Trim Healthy Mamas! My No Bake Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust pairs light, airy, creamy, fall-spiced pumpkin filling with the warming spice of a buttery gingersnap-flavored crust. All without sugar or gluten (or baking)! Perfect for taking to family dinners, holiday parties, and potlucks to avoid the temptation of sugar-laden, off-plan desserts. From Oh, Sweet Mercy
This Low-Carb Pumpkin Cake With Maple Frosting is an incredibly impressive dessert that’s easy to make and doesn’t require any special ingredients! A perfect blood sugar-friendly recipe to add to your Fall repertoire! A gluten-free THM S. From Northern Nester
This Peanut Flour Chocolate Cake will rock your low-carb world! It’s light, moist, and chocolaty, full of healthy fats and high in protein! THM S, Keto, GF. No special ingredients. From Northern Nester
This no special ingredient Trim Healthy Mama, keto, and gluten-free Chocolate Peppermint Log has just the right amount of festive peppermint flavor in the creamy filling, and without any flour in the cake, it’s a cinch to roll up without cracking! From Northern Nester
This low-carb Strawberry Pretzel Dessert is a deliciously slimming version of the classic, made without sugar, gluten, or artificial colors and flavors! A THM S with no special ingredients. Sweet ‘n salty, creamy ‘n crunchy goodness! From Northern Nester
This delicious Blueberry Cream Cheese Custard Pie is so easy to make and incredibly satisfying! A graham cracker-like crust, cheesecake filling, and sweet blueberry topping make this THM S dessert a no-special-ingredient crowd pleaser! From Northern Nester
A dear, seasoned homeschooling mother and mentor, Monica O. shared these beautiful poems in a support group recently. I was so blessed by them, I asked her if I could turn them into printables to share, and she graciously gave me permission to do so. Thank you, Mrs. O!
I hope you’re encouraged by them as much as I am!
You can print them off by simply right clicking on the image and downloading it to your computer. They are formatted to fit a regular 8.5 x 11″ sized piece of printer paper.
It features the latest homestead happenings, new Trim Healthy Mama recipes, and woodworking plans, our favorite resources for a living education, the BEST homesteading deals we can find for you… stuff you can use! (P.S. You’ll get a free gift, just for subscribing.)