Mrs. Pamela’s Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal | THM: E, GF, DF

All the credit for this delicious recipe goes to a friend of a friend, who gave it to me with permission to share with you! We’re calling it Mrs. Pamela’s Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal, but since it’s a Trim Healthy Mama E Breakfast, you can substitute any fruit for the apple. Peaches and blueberries are also incredibly delicious here! 

I used Lakanto’s Classic Monkfruit Golden 1:1 Sugar Substitute in this recipe. It gives a wonderful, “brown sugar” flavor to Mrs. Pamela’s Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal. If you don’t have any of this on hand (though I highly recommend it as a 1:1 substitute for brown sugar…and you can use the Coupon Code: northernnester to save 15% off your order!), you could also use xylitol in the same amount, or Gentle Sweet in half the amount with a teeny bit of molasses added in. 

You can enjoy this Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal straight out of the oven, as a snack, or in a bowl with almond or cashew milk poured over top. Either way, it’s a deliciously filling way to enjoy some energizing carbs! 

I like the texture of quick cooking oats best in this baked oatmeal, but old-fashioned plain also works wonderfully. 

If you’re on a tight budget, E meals tend to be pretty frugal ways to stay on plan. Oatmeal is a cheap and healthy complex carbohydrate that’s higher in protein than most grains, and high in vitamins and minerals. It can lower bad cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, relieve constipation, and keep you feeling full! Apples, applesauce, and egg whites are all very budget-friendly, too. This Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal is a fantastic way to keep a larger family happy, healthy, and on plan! 

If you’re looking for more budget friendly, on-plan oatmeal recipes, check out this round-up of 11 Trim Healthy Mama E breakfasts that prove oatmeal is anything but boring!

Yield: 9 servings

Mrs. Pamela's Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal | THM: E, GF, DF

Mrs. Pamela's Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal | THM: E, GF, DF

Mrs. Pamela's Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal is a super frugal, super easy, super delicious and filling way to feed the whole family on plan! A THM E, this recipe is free of both dairy and gluten!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes



  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9x9" baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk applesauce, sweetener, egg whites, almond milk, and vanilla extract together. In a separate bowl, stir together salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and oatmeal. Add to wet ingredients and stir until well combined. Stir in chopped apple. Pour into prepared pan and spread out evenly. Optional: sprinkle with 1 Tbsp Lakanto Classic Monkfruit Golden 1:1 Sugar Substitute.
  3. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Serve hot or cold, with or without almond milk poured over top!


You can prepare this dish the night before and bake it in the morning as directed.

Any fruit may be substituted for the apple. Peaches and blueberries are especially good!

Hearty Garden Vegetable Soup | THM: E

This Hearty Garden Vegetable Soup makes the most of this time of year when everything in the garden seems to be ready at the same time! A Trim Healthy Mama E meal, you can serve this soup with a slice or two of sprouted or sourdough bread for dunking.

Generally, beef is not an acceptable ingredient in E meals because red meats are too high in fat for carb-based meals. However, extra lean (look for 96% or higher) that’s been rinsed in hot water (you can do this in a colander) to remove any excess fat after it’s been browned, fits within Trim Healthy Mama’s E meal guidelines.

For this Hearty Garden Vegetable Soup, you can brown your meat first, rinse it, and then put it back in the pan before scramble frying it with your spices and adding the other ingredients.

Since this is an E meal, you can add whatever veggie (except white potatoes) your heart desires to this soup! Zucchini, corn, tomatoes, beans, peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, onions, celery…the list is pretty much endless! If you plan on freezing this soup, leave out flowering veggies like broccoli and cauliflower until you’re ready to re-heat. They may get mushy otherwise.

I’ve included my favorite combination of soup veggies here….and the ones my kids will eat without wrinkling up their noses. 😉

Like all the other recipes on my site, you don’t need any special ingredients for this Hearty Vegetable Soup:

Yield: 6-8 servings

Hearty Garden Vegetable Soup | THM: E

Hearty Garden Vegetable Soup | THM: E

This Hearty Garden Vegetable Soup makes the most of this time of year when everything in the garden seems to be ready at the same time! A Trim Healthy Mama E meal, you can serve this soup with a slice or two of sprouted or sourdough bread for dunking.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 1lb extra lean ground beef, rinsed
  • 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 5 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • water (if you'd like a runnier soup)
  • Optional Add-Ins:
  • green beans
  • corn
  • peppers


  1. Fry extra lean ground beef in a large soup pan. Rinse under hot water in a colander to remove any excess fat. Return to pan. Add in seasonings and fry together for a few minutes. Stir in vegetables and cook, partially covered over medium-low heat until veggies are tender-crisp, stirring often. Pour in chicken broth, canned tomatoes, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes. Simmer until ready to serve.

Looking for more soup to use your garden veggies in? Here are some of my other favorite Trim Healthy Mama-friendly recipes!

(You can check out my whole THM Soups archive here)

Spicy Sweet Potato (E)

Cream Of Broccoli (S)

Chicken Soup (E or FP)

Butternut Squash Soup (E)

Mom’s Tomato Spice Soup (FP)

Creamy White Chicken Chili | THM: S

This Creamy White Chicken Chili is a wonderful alternative to the more traditional, beef-y, tomato-y varieties. My dear husband, (who happily held the spoon in the air for me while I took pictures of this dish!) told me this was at least as good as his previous favorite chili, the one I even named “Brad’s Favorite Chili!

Even though this dish contains no special ingredients and is a very frugal meal, the flavors are extraordinarily delicious together! A perfectly pleasant level of heat is brought to you by:

4 small cans of chopped green chilies

a teaspoon of cumin

half a tsp of cayenne (you can change this to 1/4 tsp, if young children will be enjoying the chili, too)

Fresh garlic and onion, butter, chicken broth, mineral salt, ground pepper, dried oregano, sour cream, and heavy cream, are added to the chicken thighs (or you can use chicken breasts, if you prefer) and white kidney beans to make up the rest of the chili’s phenomenal flavor.

Since a pot of this chili will yield at least 10 servings, there are not enough beans in this creamy white chicken chili (less than 1/4 cup per serving) to put you into S Helper or Crossover mode. You are welcome to add more if you’d like to enjoy one of those fuels instead of an S.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Creamy White Chicken Chili | THM: S

Creamy White Chicken Chili | THM: S

This Creamy White Chicken Chili couldn't be easier or tastier! A delicious alternative to beefy, tomato-y chilies. A no-special-ingredient THM S.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or 5 breasts), cut into small cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 15oz can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 4oz cans chopped green chilies
  • 2 tsp mineral salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 cup whipping cream


  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Stir in chicken, onion, and garlic, and cook for 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.
  2. Add in beans, broth, chilies, and spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes (or all day, if you prefer!).
  3. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and whipping cream until smooth. Serve immediately.


Since this is an S meal, you can serve it with a generous sprinkling of grated cheese on top! White or yellow cheddar is my favorite.

Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Cups | THM: E

Pre-THM, Quaker Instant Oatmeal packets were my standard wintertime breakfast, and the apple cinnamon variety was one of my favorite flavors. Even though they were warm and comforting, those instant breakfasts provided little nutritional value. The combination of oats, sugar, and chemically processed flavorings were highly refined, and with almost no protein to act as a buffer, my blood sugars took a hit and I didn’t feel full for long after. However, the flavors wrapped up in those convenient brown packets were on point and also the inspiration for these healthier, heartier Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Cups!

These Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Cups are a deliciously flavorful Trim Healthy Mama-friendly E breakfast or snack, made with no special ingredients. An infusion of protein comes from:

A single banana is the “secret ingredient” in these baked oatmeal cups. You can’t taste it at all, but it provides a very natural sweetness and cuts down on the amount of sweetener needed (I used xylitol, but you can also Gentle Sweet in half the amount), making these oatmeal cups a very frugal meal, too. Unsweetened applesauce and cinnamon are mainly responsible for the flavor here.

This recipe makes 24 apple cinnamon baked oatmeal cups. They can be frozen or stored in an air-tight container in the fridge. I find myself craving carbs around 3:00pm every day, and these are so nice to have on hand for a quick grab-n-go snack with a cup of coffee. My kids love them too, and they make excellent breakfasts on busy morning with a glass of low-fat or double fermented kefir.

These are best made the day before. They are delicious warm out of the oven, but they will fall apart if you remove the liners before they’ve had a chance to cool completely. You can have 2 per serving and still be within the 45 gram carb limit for E meals.

Yield: 24 oatmeal cups

Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Cups | THM: E

Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Cups | THM: E

These Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Cups are reminiscent of instant oatmeal packages in the same flavor, but this version is much healthier and heartier. A THM E.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 1 1/2 cups cashew milk
  • 4 egg whites (or 1/2 cup liquid egg whites)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup xylitol
  • 3 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp mineral salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk cashew milk, egg whites, vanilla, applesauce, mashed banana, and xylitol together. In a separate bowl, stir oats, salt, baking powder, xanthan gum, and cinnamon together. Add to wet ingredients and stir until everything is well incorporated.
  3. Use a spoon or ice cream scoop to divide batter evenly in lined-muffin tins. Bake @ 350 F for 30 minutes.


You can have 2 per serving and still be within the 45 gram carb limit for E meals. 

75 Gift Ideas for The Minimalist

75  Gift Ideas for The Minimalist sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Isn’t giving stuff to someone who loathes clutter kind of…cruel? It could be, but it certainly doesn’t have to be! Not all gifts require money or gift wrap, and not all stuff is clutter-y. If it’s useful or thoughtful, it will most certainly be appreciated!

Ask yourself 8 different questions when gift-shopping for a minimalist, and you’ll have a plethora of ideas to choose from!

Is it something they want?

The easiest way to ensure you’re getting them a gift they really love is if they’ve asked or hinted specifically for it. If they’re too modest to do that, ask them! Perhaps they would like certain:

Is it something they use?

Food and toiletries/make-up are two major categories of consumables no minimalist can avoid completely. These things run out and need to be replaced. You could replace their regular products, or maybe take it up a notch, and gift them with a better quality version of what they would normally purchase themselves. Here are some things a minimalist might use that would need to be replenished:



Other consumables might use include:

  • gas card
  • essential oils
  • vitamins
  • beeswax candles
  • paper products But, really. Who gives toilet paper as a gift?! Happy birthday! I know you’re a minimalist, so this is all I could think of to get you. It’s useful and beautiful…I think. And it cost a lot more than the paper-y kind I buy, so I hope you see my heart in this.

Does something need to be replaced?

Perhaps your friend has been married or living on her own for several years and standard household items are starting to show signs of needing to be replaced.

Does it serve more than one purpose?

Minimalists are not usually big on gimmicks or single use items. If you can find something that serves multiple purposes for the same amount of space, you’re golden.

Does it take up square footage?

Some of the best gifts don’t take up any room at all, except in the heart. Experiences and digital gifts fall into this category.

  • E-books
  • i Tunes gift card
  • Amazon gift card
  • online service subscription (i.e. menu planning membership)
  • dinner at a restaurant
  • coffee date
  • hike in the woods
  • day at the beach
  • trip to the zoo
  • free babysitting
  • lawn and garden maintenance for a week
  • one week of housecleaning

Is it perishable?

If so, wonderful. Minimalists are know for throwing things out anyway.

  • slice of cheesecake
  • pot of soup
  • fresh fruit bouquet
  • flowers
  • bulbs
  • perennial cutting from your garden

Does it help organize their home?

Gifts that help keep other things organized are typically well-received by minimalists! A couple budget-friendly clutter control tools include:

Would you be hurt if they parted with it?

Remember this if you notice your well-thought out gift has been purged, sold, or re-gifted by its recipient: the removal of something materialistic from their life is a reflection on them, not on you! True friendship runs much deeper than what can be measured by the accumulation of stuff….a part of your heart is the very best gift you could ever give anyway.

Where To Find Free Or Frugal Farmhouse Decor


Perhaps it’s my Dutch heritage coming through, or maybe it’s a byproduct of growing up in awe of how the Lord always provided for us supernaturally, but when it comes to decorating, I rebel against spending much on material things that, while they may beautify a home in this life, they have no value in the next. It seems imprudent to invest in things that moth and rust will destroy. This life is but a vapor, and even in this quick breath of earthly existence, stuff gets “dated,” color trends are just that – trends, and patterns and textures go in and out of favor.

Nevertheless, I love beauty. Everybody loves beauty; we are meant to. God loves beauty. He created beautiful things for His glory and He delights when we delight in what He has made. It is a good thing to make time for beauty and order in our homes. Aside from it being a reflection of God’s character, it also tell those who live there that their personal comfort is important to us.

It’s an interesting dichotomy, and the balance – it’s hard to achieve, isn’t it? For the most part, I’ve found that decorating our home with free or frugal things helps me not grow attached to perishables. If it’s easily replaceable and has no real monetary value, there’s no need to stress over the “thing” being broken.

This is why I love an edited farmhouse style look. The less things there are around, the less there is that can get wrecked. Clutter-free homes are naturally more peaceful; minimizing decor minimizes home management and maximizes relaxation. The farmhouse decor that is on display is already characterized by beautiful imperfections; chippy paint, rusty metal, weathered wood – if these things get bumped and banged, they increase in their appeal! I am certain it was a mother that popularized modern farmhouse style. Oh wait! It was. Her name is Joanna Gaines.

Here is where to find free or frugal farmhouse decor so you can help your house become a home without breaking the bank.

1. When you’re hunting for a particular piece of decor, always check the thrift store first. I was searching for a Spring wreath to display on our mantel in the living room, but I couldn’t justify spending $25 (plus shipping) on a boxwood wreath from Amazon. Instead, I found a pink and yellow pastel egg wreath at a thrift store for $2.99. It was not my style at all (other than peony bouquets from the garden in June, there is no pink decor in our house!), but a few coats of leftover white paint, a couple splatters of grey with an old tooth brush, and sphagnum moss remnants from another project strategically inserted and glued into the gaps, resulted in a fresh, farmhouse-y wreath that works just as well as the more expensive kind.

Thrift stores are also great places to find inexpensive baskets…

…headboards and night tables (I found bought our oldest son’s headboard for $3, and his night table for $7)…

…and vintage artwork, like the gold-framed herb prints above.

2. (Professional decorators, this is the part where you look away and move onto the next blog.) I must confess, the Dollar Store is one of my favorite places to look for home decor. You can’t find huge, ornate statement pieces there, but you can find lovely little treasures that when group together, can create a big impact on a small budget. The black frames that hold our botanical prints in the kitchen and our family photos in the living room (above), are cheap-o Dollar Store purchases. Hung together, they create a minimalist, symmetrical focal point on the wall. For pennies, prints and photographs can easily be switched out to create a new look.

Faux florals is another favorite Dollar Store purchase of mine. Some of it can look pretty fake, but every once in a while, I’m delighted to find rather realistic looking boxwood balls (and bowls to put them in)…

….forsythia and pussy willow twigs,

…even tulips!

The Dollar Store also sells vases…

…stainless steel bowls…

…even wooden cutting boards!

3. The side of the road is my absolute favorite place to find farmhouse decor. There is such a thrill in finding your own treasure, absolutely free, in someone else’s trash! I am incredibly incentivized to get my exercise the night before, or the morning of Big Garbage Day.  A walk around the block has yielded (among other things): an outdoor patio set, a wooden rocking chair, Christmas trees, a sleigh, 2 bar stools, outdoor planters and urns, a baby carrier, brand new sheets of plywood and melamine boards, a blanket ladder, an old window frame, and a scooter.

Since I loathe clutter, I sell most of our junkin’ finds, but every once in a while, I keep a piece that is perfectly suited to a space in our house. Then I smile every time I walk by it, thinking of how kind the Lord is to allow us the enjoyment of simple gifts that remind us of His area of expertise: turning ashes into beauty.

4. Build it yourself. Neither my husband nor I are professional carpenters at all, but building projects together is a hobby we both find relaxing. It’s productive, quality chat time, and we’ve saved hundreds of dollars this way. Plus, there’s great satisfaction in using something you’ve made yourself. Nothing we’ve made is perfect, but that’s lovely thing about farmhouse decor, am I right? Flaws add character!

We built our large (it seats 10-12 people) farmhouse dining table and bench using preformed deck posts and pine boards. The total cost came to $300 – a far cry from purchasing one brand new!

I built our headboard for a total of $9.17, using leftover fencing boards we had sitting in the garage and nails from another project. All I had to purchase was the tiny can of light blue-grey stain, “Mussel Shell” by Cabot.

Most of the signs in our house were made for pennies using scrap wood from the neighbor’s trash, wood glue, nails, stencils, and leftover paint.

5. Sew it yourself. Our table runner took minutes and just a few dollars to make using tea towel material from the fabric store, and our old living room pillows stay fresh and clean with washable covers made from drop cloth and leftover paint.

6. Look online. I found our set of coffee tables on Kijiji (Canada’s Craigslist) for a steal. They needed some love, but a weekend later, they were looking beautiful and we didn’t break the bank. I’ve also found a few things on local Facebook Buy/Sell pages.

The botanical prints in our kitchen are free downloads from the Biodiversity Library (you can read more about how I hung them here)….

…and the vintage egg prints in our bedroom are freebies from The Graphics Fairy.

And of course, Amazon has loads of farmhouse decor, some of it very cute and inexpensive, but that’s a dangerous place to hang out, yes?

7. Captain Obvious here, but farms are great places to find cheap farmhouse decor! My parents live on one, and it’s a win-win for both of us when I declutter some weathered boards, windows, milk cans, metal troughs or wooden crates from their shed. Have a farmer friend? Ask him (or her) if he’d like some help cleaning up his barn!

Do you love the farmhouse style, too? Tell me your favorite free or frugal places to collect decor for your home!