THM Bloggers Spring Giveaway!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission off of purchases made using these links. If you’re interested in fitness, the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, or just living a more healthy life, please consider using one or more of the links below. The money made helps me feed my growing family and keeps this blog running with free recipes. Thank you!

Spring is in the air! To celebrate, I got together with some of my blogger friends on the THM Bloggers Seasonal Recipes page to bring y’all an awesome Spring surprise – MONEY.

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That’s right! One lucky winner of this giveaway will receive a $125 Amazon gift card. The giveaway is open to all, and it ends on April 1 so make sure you get in your entry. The drawing will be on April 2nd.

Enter the giveaway here.

Good luck! And happy Spring. ❤

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Prep Don’t Fret! Challenge Week 1

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission off of purchases made using these links. If you’re interested in fitness, the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, or just living a more healthy life, please consider using one or more of the links below. The money made helps me feed my growing family and keeps this blog running with free recipes. Thank you!

I am so excited to share this meal prep challenge with you guys! Prepping meals ahead of time has made my hectic life so much easier. Dinner has been a breeze, and breakfast has been a no-brainer.

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Here are the specifics of the challenge…

I’m providing you with the links to the recipes for this week, a menu planning template, and a shopping list based on these recipes. I have planned 4 dinners and one week’s worth of breakfast for you. You will print off the shopping list, mark off what you already have in your cabinets, and snag the rest at the store. Then you’ll print off the planning template and plan these meals throughout your week (remember dinner leftovers can become fabulous lunches too!) on whichever days you want, and fill in the holes with leftovers or any other plan you want to make. All that’s left to do is follow the recipes and pick your prep day! I found it really easy to prep 2-3 meals in one day (for me that day was Sunday, but it’s your choice) and reheat when we were ready.

Here are your recipes:

BreakfastPaleo Sausage and Veggie Omelette Bites (THM S) If you’re following THM, follow the recipe as-is for a perfect S breakfast every morning. You can remix them with sour cream, cheese, salsa, or any other S-friendly toppings you desire. Prep the complete recipe, and store them in gallon bags in the fridge until you’re ready to eat. Reheat them in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds at a time until thoroughly heated.

Dinners:

  1. Sunday Bolognese (THM S) – Prep the recipe completely, and reheat it by gently heating it in a sauce pan with a lid on low heat until warm and bubbly. Serve with spiralized zucchini or Dreamfields noodles. You can add a side salad (add those ingredients to your shopping list!) or any one of my S-biscuit recipes (make sure they’re on your list also, if needed).
  2. Clean Eating Shepherds Pie (THM E) – Prep the recipe up until oven baking, cover the top with plastic wrap. When you’re ready to eat, take the plastic off and switch it for foil. Bake covered for about 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake about another 15-20 minutes or until browned and bubbly. You can add another E-friendly vegetable side, if you like, but this meal is very hearty and it isn’t necessary.
  3. Crockpot Fiesta Ranch Chicken Tacos (THM E) – Crockpot meal! Prep the chicken in its entirety and store in the fridge until you’re ready to eat. Heat it gently on the stove, microwave, or warm it in the crock. You can also remix this as a salad for lunch or dinner another day during the week.
  4. Low Carb Chicken and Spinach White Pizza (THM S) – This meal you can prep the night of, and it doesn’t take a ton of time. Follow the recipe for the low carb pizza dough, and you can either use my flavors here or choose your own (add those ingredients to your list!). You can also add a side salad with my Buttermilk Ranch Dressing.

That leaves three nights during the week where you can fill in your holes with leftovers or your own choices.

Print off your Weekly Menu Planner to plan out your meals this week, then print off your Week 1 Shopping List. I included ALL ingredients needed in the above recipes, so feel free to mark off what you already have in your pantry then pick up the rest on your shopping trip.

If you have any questions about the challenge, feel free to post them here or join us on Facebook.

Now get to prepping!

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So You Wanna Be A Trim Healthy Mama…

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission off of purchases made using these links. If you’re interested in fitness, the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, or just living a more healthy life, please consider using one or more of the links below. The money made helps me feed my growing family and keeps this blog running with free recipes. Thank you!

I’m not going to lie – it’s pretty great being a Trim Healthy Mama (and, no, I don’t get paid to say that). I don’t have to count calories or feel deprived. I can still eat bread, fruit, butter, and cheese. Best of all, my body feels good from the inside out.

As a former “newbie,” I know the plan and lifestyle can feel daunting, or even confusing, at first. So, I’m here to give you my best tips for starting (or restarting) the Trim Healthy Mama Plan.

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  1. Keep. It. Simple. The best way to implement big changes in your diet or lifestyle, is to keep things simple. Know the basics of the plan for S and E meals. Make yourself notes, charts, graphic sketches whatever helps you keep the information fresh in your mind. Stick to recipes in the original book or THM cookbook, to start. Once you know the ins and outs of the plan, then you can venture out to the many great THM blogs for more inspiration.
  2. Find your support system. I was lucky to have my mother-in-love helping me with my first THM steps. I was always asking her questions and trying the recipes. Having her support and knowledge was incredibly important, not to mention helpful, in those first months. Ask a friend to go in with you. Head over to the THM support pages on Facebook and ask for a mentor, pen pal, or heck, a new friend. It will be a life sanity saver.
  3. Set yourself up for success. Busy working mom? Homeschooling mom with a few kids in your flock? Working and/or going to school full-time? Use your time wisely. You may not have much time to spare, so what you get is precious and it has to be used to your advantage. Plan your free time. Pick a day during the week to plan your meals (not just dinner – breakfast, snacks, and lunches too!). Scour the weekly ads of the stores in your area, make your list, and shop. Pick a day for meal prep, and get most of the work for the week out of the way. If you can, plan a few crockpot meals during the week that you can set and forget. Yes, you’re busy, but you are NOT too busy for yourself.
  4. Don’t be afraid. Making changes can feel difficult. Hello, we’re humans. Creatures of habit. None of us like change. But you know what? We adapt to change. Changing can be real gut-wrenchingly scary at first, BUT…we get over that. Once you get over that fear, guess what happens? Success. Everyone messes up a little at first, and you shouldn’t be scared to do that either. Push past your comfort zone. Try new things. Because that’s where the magic happens!
  5. Ask questions. There are SO MANY THM Facebook groups out there. The main group, Purists, Drive-Thru Sues, NSI (No Special Ingredients), Allergen Free, Turtle Losers, and Pregnant/Nursing just to name a few. Use them to your advantage! Ask questions. Look at the posts. LEARN. Trust me, it’s incredibly helpful having those groups around. Even as a “seasoned” THMer, I still use those groups for questions. When you learn the plan, and can answer member questions, jump in with your knowledge and keep the ball rolling. The groups also have files where you can access sweetener conversion charts, special recipes, fuel charts, and more. Again, use these things to aid in your success. They’re there for YOU, and they’re free.
  6. One at a time. Take it one meal, snack, and day at a time. Focus on what’s in front of you, and make it the best you can.
  7. Out with the old, in with the new. If it’s not on plan, either put it out of sight, out of mind or donate it. Again, it’s about setting yourself up for success. Can you really be successful with that Duncan Hines brownie mix glaring at you from inside the pantry? -_- Maybe not. I know, I know. “But what about the waste?” Food pantries are always in need of donations! Call a few that are central to you, and find out if what you have is OK to donate.
  8. Organize. I love my THM ingredients – gluten free flours, Pyure, extracts, collagen, whey isolate, gelatin, xanthan gum, and chocolate! I gotta have my chocolate. I’m also spatially challenged when it comes to my kitchen. Small cabinets, no pantry, and next to zero counter space. I got creative, painted and re-purposed some Costco-sized plastic containers for most of my ingredients. It’s especially helpful since I buy a lot of ingredients in bulk. You can also use clear plastic bins for extracts, spices, or the like in your pantry. They also double as excellent refrigerator organizers. Check out Pinterest for more organizing ideas.
  9. Look beyond the menu. If it’s one thing I’ve found out as a THMer on the go, it’s that you have more options than you know about. Options, that might not even be on a menu! You can still stay on plan at places like Jimmy John’s, Chik Fil A, Starbuck’s, Chipotle, Olive Garden, and even your favorite neighborhood Mexican/Tex-Mex joint. Jimmy John’s has the unwich (lettuce wrap). You can order breakfast wraps at Chik Fil A minus the wrap. Breve lattes at Starbuck’s, and bring your own sweetener. Burrito bowls at Chipotle minus the rice, beans, and corn. You can even have any pasta dish at Olive Garden served over steamed broccoli – who knew! My family and I love to hit our neighborhood Mexican restaurants, and I’ll usually partake in fajitas, minus the tortillas, or chilaquiles with grilled meat and veggies, minus the chips. All of this to say, just ask for what you need! Most restaurants are happy to oblige.
  10. Step away from the scale. It’s easy to be motivated by the number on the scale moving downward. It’s even easier to become obsessed with it. THM isn’t just about getting the scale number moving. In fact, you may not even see that number move much at first. Which is why you need to turn your focus inward – energy levels, blood sugar levels, fatigue, bloating, headaches. You’ll feel differences in these areas first, possibly before the number on the scale moves too drastically.

And last, but certainly not least, remember who you’re doing this for – you. Be kind to yourself. Celebrate your victories (not with cheat meals). And remember this is not a short-term deal. You’re in it for you, and you’re in it for the long haul.

Favorite Things: Trader Joe’s Edition

Before Monday, I hadn’t been to Trader Joe’s in months. I’ve been almost exclusively shopping at my local Sprouts, and completely forgot how wonderful TJ’s is.

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Oh, Trader Joe’s, how I’ve missed you!

Let’s start with the front of the store and produce

Right now, they have tons of seasonal goodies – succulents in cute sugar skull pots, decorative mini pumpkins, baking pumpkins, as well as their glorious selection of fresh flowers. Moving on to things you can actually eat – I love their brand of sprouted breads. I like them better than Ezekiel, but if you prefer the name brand they carry it also (they have very few name brands, so that’s a big deal). Also in this section are the TJ’s brand of low carb tortillas. Produce-wise, the most unique or well-priced items they have are seasonal squashes (acorn, butternut, and spaghetti amongst others), beets (fresh and pre-cooked), and cauliflower rice. Another great seasonal deal they have going on is for apples – that huge bag you see in the back  there is 4lbs of japonica apples, which was $4. Other items that deserve a mention are bagged sweet potatoes, avocados (always a good bargain, less than $1 each), and bagged red onions.

Moving on to Dairy 

My favorite dairy item to get at Trader Joe’s is their low fat plain kefir. If you haven’t tried kefir before, you’re missing out! They have regular grocery items like cream cheese, sour cream, mascarpone, ricotta, cream, half and half, flavored creamers, juices, yogurt, etc. The most mentionable of which would be their unsweetened vanilla almond milk, plain kefir, and plain Greek yogurt.

Now, we’ll discuss the aisles – 

The best changes on the condiment/dry goods aisle would be Trader Joe’s gluten free pasta (one quinoa/brown rice blend, the other black bean), pasta sauce, vinegar (raw apple cider vinegar as well as fancy salad vinegar), dijon and other specialty mustard, natural peanut and almond butters in smooth and crunchy varieties (nuts and salt only, no sugar), juice-sweetened jellies (only 2 or 3 specific ones, so read the labels), unsweetened applesauce, coconut oil (both solid and spray), and some of the best coffee you can get for a great price. Their baking items are also stuffed with THM-friendly items such as blanched almond flour, almond meal, coconut flour, canned coconut milk,  stevia (both liquid and powder), as well as an array of budget-priced spices and blends (some, not all, sugar-free). Always available on their dry goods aisle, you’ll find raw nuts and seeds, flax, chia seeds, and oats. 

On the frozen goods aisle, they have a new product (likely seasonal) that’s perfect as an E side – frozen julienne-cut root vegetables (sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, and beets). They sampled it with herbes de Provence (which they also have as a steal!), and they were delightful. Their frozen meats are also very handy – frozen shrimp and bagged chicken breasts and thighs (value-size), amongst others. They also have an array of frozen fruits and veggies – cherries, berries, peas, chiles, potatoes, mushrooms, etc.

Moving on to the “Deli”

Trader Joe’s is a small chain, so they don’t actually have a “deli,” so much as a really awesome cheese case with a few different kinds and cuts of deli meat. Check them out though! My personal favorites are the blueberry goat cheese, New Zealand cheddar, cheesesticks, shredded mozzarella, sliced salami, sliced turkey, and rolls of turkey summer sausage.

NOTE* Near the deli, by the sampling counter, they are hiding a new wonderful item – organic blackstrap molasses! I know, I was shocked too, and if I didn’t have 2 bottles of it at home I would have snagged it.

Other dry goods – 

Other great items that deserve mention are their baked blue corn chips, salsas (verde!), flavored (unsweetened) sparkling water, and WINE – SO MUCH WINE.

Do you have a Trader Joe’s near you? What are some of your favorite items?

Steakhouse Dinner for 2

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission off of purchases made using these links. If you’re interested in fitness, the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, or just living a more healthy life, please consider using one or more of the links below. The money made helps me feed my growing family and keeps this blog running with free recipes. Thank you!

I have a love-hate relationship with Mondays at the grocery store for two reasons: 1) the produce is pretty heavily picked over, and 2) there are tons of manager specials on meat.

I love a good discount shelf! You can find some gems you otherwise wouldn’t think of, or are too expensive at their regular price.

A lot of times, steak comes with a hefty price tag.

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My husband and I love our date nights, but we like to be more relaxed on our dates and head to our favorite bar, unless it’s a special occasion. With 2 toddlers in tow, it’s not like we can (or even want) to venture out to a steakhouse on a regular night with the family.

Brandon loves his ribeye, and it’s his steak of choice whenever we go to steakhouses. When I saw ribeyes on manager special, I was jumping for joy (on the inside, of course. I was already dancing to music  – adding leaping to that would’ve gotten some stares).

Ribeye has really great flavor on its own because of all the marbling. A very tasty and underrated cut of beef, if you ask me. So, I decided to keep it simple by seasoning the steak itself with only salt and pepper (a great cut of beef doesn’t need a whole bunch of fluff), then topping the finished product with herbed compound butter for richness and flavor.

One of the best tips I learned about cooking steak was to let the meat rest on the counter prior to cooking. This helps take the chill off of the meat, so that when it hits the hot pan it won’t seize up and become tough.

Also, it’s hard to go wrong with steak if you cook it in a cast iron skillet. Cast iron will give you an even sear and cook throughout, while keeping a steady temperature. Plus, it’s a single pan that can do the work of the stove and the oven – winner!

I served with simple steamed asparagus (Brandon’s fave) and mashed cauliflower that I topped with crumbled bacon. For my mashed cauliflower recipe, look here. You can even shake it up, and make it even FANCIER, by doing a Wedge Salad with Homemade Buttermilk Ranch.

This meal is a super simple way to have an affordable, yet fancy, date night at home with your sweetie.

Top it off with quick and easy truffles for dessert, and that is one romantic weeknight.

Seared Steaks with Compound Butter (THM S)

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


Credit: Erin Murray, My Fling with Food

Ingredients

  • 2 ribeye steaks, bone in or out – your choice
  • 2 Tbsp softened butter (usually I go for unsalted, but I used Kerrygold in this recipe which has salt in it. If yours has salt, don’t add salt to it. If no salt, then add a pinch.)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary, plus more whole sprigs for cooking
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, grated finely (I use a fine hand grater to ensure there are no large pieces of raw garlic.)
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine butter, pepper, chopped rosemary and parsley, and garlic in a small bowl and stir. Place in the fridge to harden.
  3. Let steaks rest on the counter for at least 10 minutes prior to cooking.
  4. Preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Season the steaks liberally with salt and pepper on all sides. Place the steaks into the preheated skillet. Let them sear on the first side for 2-3 minutes. When you begin to see a good sear, flip them over, add a pat of regular, unseasoned butter to each steak and place whole sprigs of rosemary on top. Place the whole pan into the oven to finish cooking. Mine were in there for about 6 minutes, which achieved a perfect medium.
  5. Once they come out, let the meat rest in the pan another 5 minutes. Place the steaks onto plates, and top with a scoop of compound butter.

My Favorite Things: Costco Edition

Costco is a glorious gift to mankind. And parents.

However, it’s so vast and exhausting that unless you want to spend hours there, you may not know the entirety of what Costco can offer you.

Lucky for you, I have wandered Costco many times. {Sometimes looking for items that they discontinued without my permission, but I digress.}

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Costco’s Best Clean-Eating Items (* denotes THM friendly)

  1. Dry Goods Aisles – *Apple cider vinegar WITH “the mother.” It’s raw and unfiltered, just like the slightly more expensive variety in the grocery stores for a much better price ($4.99). *Distilled white vinegar. I use it for laundry and cleaning mostly, but it’s still a better buy in bulk ($2.99). Vega Protein and Greens. The only difference between this and the One formula is that it doesn’t have omega 3s or probiotics, other than that the formula is the same with a lower carb count. *Unsalted mixed nuts (no peanuts, if that’s a concern for you). *Almond butter and peanut butter. I was surprised to learn that Kirkland’s nut butters ONLY contain nuts – no sweeteners or additives of any kind. *Parmesan Whisps. These are basically baked “crackers” that only contain parmesan cheese. They’re fantastic as a chip, crouton, or any other fun use you can think of. Kids like them too! *Coffee, *coconut water, *dried beans and quinoa, *canned tuna and salmon, and *marinara sauce (the Premium Organic Paesana brand uses ZERO sugar and is quite tasty). *Bai is available where the boxed drinks are, and it’s amazing. It’s sweetened with erythritol, which is zero calorie and zero glycemic impact. Some stores carry the flat (pictured), and others carry the bubbles. Big bottles of *vanilla extract are also available on the baking aisle.
  2. Refrigerated Foods – *Cream cheese, *unsalted butter quarters (Kerrygold is also available), * 0% Fage plain yogurt, *half and half, *heavy cream, *bacon (Many varieties – I like the Farmer’s brand and the Kirkland thick-cut.), *cage-free eggs, and *unsweetened vanilla almond milk.
  3. Freezer Aisles – *fruit (they have everything from mango to cherries and berries), *vegetables (I like the broccoli florets and green beans. Mixed are also available), and * Dr. Praeger’s veggie burgers.
  4. Deli Aisles – *cheese (SO MUCH CHEESE. Sliced, shredded, chunk, block. I like to get *asiago blocks – cheaper than Parmesan, *Cabot cheddar blocks, and *sliced cheddar/muenster/havarti. There are also *deli meats available. Which, if you can eat 2lbs in about a week it’s good. If not, stick to the grocery store for that.*Seafood – Costco has the best salmon around, unless you live in a coastal area with an awesome fish monger. In which case, I am jealous. They also have crab, lobster, shrimp, scallops, and tilapia fresh.
  5. Fresh Vegetables and Fruit – I am LOVING their 3-pack of *English cucumbers, and I have a feeling it’s a seasonal item. *Avocados, and any other fruit or veggie that you eat a lot of in a fairly short time. This is bulk buying, so it will be multiple pounds, but you don’t want to buy it solely for the deal and have half of it go bad before you eat it.