caring for creation while caring for family

Month: May 2016

Camping with Trim Healthy Mama: A week’s worth of “on-plan” camping menu ideas

When I started THM (Trim Healthy Mama) two years ago, we were right at the start of camping season.  Our family camps a lot in the summer and having a newborn doesn’t stop us from getting out. so we dove right into camping and I tried to figure out what foods I could bring to stay “on-plan” while in the great outdoors.  I posted a weekend allergy-friendly menu that I use for feeding a crowd of non-THMs and also how I stay on-plan with that menu (check out that post here).  However, I wanted to post a family size menu that works for feeding your family in the wilderness for a week or so.  Our recent family trip to Yosemite National Park provided the perfect opportunity to test out everything and also gave me the incentive to stay on plan the entire trip.

Camping with THM: A week's worth of on-plan menu ideas - perfect for a family camping trip -

My kids and I below Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite Valley

I am more of a THM Purist than a Drive-thru Sue, but I do own a microwave and I use it every day.  I don’t like to use “Franken-foods” so there were many items that I made ahead of time to bring with me, but a Drive-thru Sue could easily purchase something pre-made at the store – whatever floats your THM boat!  So, without further ado, here’s the menu I use for weeklong camping trips starting with what I prep ahead of time…

Before you go:

  • I made a large batch of Wonder Wraps (p. 205) of the THM Cookbook – these are wonderful for a lunch on the trail and they don’t get soggy like many “bread” options.  This video is fun to watch and shows you how to make them.
  • Mrs. Criddle’s Cowboy Cookies are SOOOO yummy, but they do crumble if they are in a bag.  I took them in a large plastic container and they didn’t get crumbled that way.  But, even if they do crumble, they are still super delicious and full of healthy energy!
  • I make the base to my Famous Taco Chili Recipe and freeze it so that I only have to add canned beans to complete the meal.
  • I add marinade to my chicken breasts and seal them back up to freeze again
  • I make some of my favorite snack recipes from the THM Cookbook – Praline Protein Bars travel well (p. 391) and Berry Crunch Bars (p.392) are a great granola bar replacement.  Trimtastic Chocolate Zucchini Cake (p. 296) also travels really well un-frosted as cupcake/muffins.
  • I bring cut-up veggies for healthy and quick snack options.  It is so easy to skimp on fresh veggies while camping, but this helps with that.

Breakfast ideas:

I like to fire up the griddle while camping with our family and these breakfasts are all quick and easy with minimal prep and cleanup. (Because who really wants to do that while camping?)

  • THM Baking Blend Pancakes and breakfast meat of choice (S) –  this one is super easy.  I generally feed my family whole-wheat pancakes because they don’t have any weight issues, but I make a quick singles serving of low-carb pancakes for myself.
    • 1/4 cup THM baking blend (you can get it at the THM store with my link)
    • 1 whole egg
    • a little almond milk or water to thin it to the right consistency

Surprisingly, this actually makes a pretty good pancake without any baking powder.  The egg gives it the lift that it needs and makes four filling pancakes without any fuss.  Simply cook this with coconut oil or leftover bacon or sausage grease and drizzle with some sugar-free syrup (I bring my own using the THM recipe from the book).

  • Sprouted Grain French Toast with Greek yogurt (E) – this is another simple and quick meal on the griddle.  I use egg whites, a little almond milk, and some sprouted grain bread.  I have a side of Greek yogurt (the individual Oikos 000 work great) for added protein and it’s all good.  For the kids, I use the leftover egg-yolks to make their French Toast and nothing goes to waste.
  • Fried eggs and breakfast meat of choice (S) – quick and easy again
  • Scrambled eggs with veggies (S) – use some that you prepped ahead of time or bring a bag of frozen veggies.  You can always add some cheese or spices to own-it.
  • Oatmeal packets (E) – Make sure to read the ingredients carefully when selecting oatmeal packets.  There are often added ingredients, even in the “plain” varieties.  I like to add a scoop of THM Integral Collagen powder for some good protein.  You could also enjoy it with a Greek yogurt.

These are only 5 breakfast options, but I like to mix and match them for some variety each day.

Lunch ideas:

I am not a brilliant lunch maker.  I was never the kid with the amazing lunch at school and my kids aren’t either.  I like to keep it simple – at home my lunches are generally leftovers or a big pot of soup I eat off of all week.  So, unfortunately, my lunch ideas are not too grand, but they are easy and they pack well if you are heading out for the day.

Camping with THM: A week's worth of on-plan menu ideas - perfect for a family camping trip -

My “Wonder Wrap” Wrap – two of these really hit the spot!

  • Wonder Wraps filled with goodies (S, E, or FP depending on your filling choices) – I was pleasantly surprised how well these little wraps held up, even while being stuffed in a backpack for the day!  I filled mine with lunch meat, cheese, avocado, tomato, and lettuce and two were very filling.  I’ve made a similar wrap with a low-carb tortilla on past camping trips, but they always get soggy when you pack them for a hike, but the Wonder Wraps do not!  That makes for a happy camper!
  •  Sprouted grain sandwich (E or CO depending on fillings) – this is my go-to easy packing option.  I can throw together a traditional turkey sandwich (made with lite-Mayo and without the cheese) for a filling E lunch.  Add a piece of fruit and I am set.  Or, if you are wanting even more energy, add some healthy fats (like avocado and cheese) for a CO (crossover) sandwich.  Yummy!
  • Hummus with veggies and Wasa Crackers (FP, S, or CO) – Our family LOVES hummus and we often bring it hiking.  Make sure to read the serving amount or it is easy to crossover, but this is a fun and healthy option.
  • Don’t Forget the Leftovers – leftover dinner can make an easy lunch.  Grilled chicken can easily be made into chicken salad the next day.  My chili is also really good as leftovers.

Snack ideas:

  • Fruit – apples, oranges, and bananas all travel well
  • Nuts – we love pistachios, but whatever you like best will be a great energy boost for a hike
  • Oikos Triple Zero single serve yogurt
  • Wasa Crackers with Laughing Cow Cheese
  • Lite Cheese Sticks with fruit for E or regular cheese sticks for S
  • Mrs. Criddle’s Cowboy Cookies
  • Popcorn
  • Lily’s chocolate
  • Many other make ahead options or bring some on-plan snacks from the store

Dinner ideas:

My not-so well kept camping secret is pre-made salads.  I always pick these up at the store for an easy addition of fresh veggies to our camping meals.  Add one to each of  your dinners, but read the ingredients and nutritional facts carefully.  Sometimes these “healthy” foods are not so healthy.

Marinated chicken breasts (E, S, or FP depending on what you eat it with)

  • Balsamic chicken breasts with Sweet Potato Packets (E)
Camping with THM: A week's worth of on-plan menu ideas - perfect for a family camping trip -

Prepping the sweet potato packets.

At home, I added Balsamic vinegar, a little olive oil, salt, pepper, dried basil, and granulated garlic to a bag of frozen chicken breasts.  I swished it around so that it covered the breasts, resealed the bag, and stuck it back in the freezer.  When it was mostly thawed in the ice chest, about day 2, I tossed it on the campfire grilled along with some Sweet potato packets.  It was really good!  I added a pre-made salad with a light vinaigrette dressing and we had a filling E dinner.

Sweet potato packets – simply cut up some sweet potatoes, add a little coconut oil or butter, and some seasonings (I used store bought Onion Soup mix).  Wrap in heavy-duty foil and put on the grill with the chicken.  Check carefully for done-ness (they are steamy, so be careful not to get burned).  Once they are finished, open up the packets and eat right off the foil or scrape onto your plate.

Camping with THM: A week's worth of on-plan menu ideas - perfect for a family camping trip -

Grilling the chicken and potato packets over the fire.

  • Teriyaki Chicken Breast Shish Kebabs (FP or E)

At home, add some soy sauce (or liquid aminos), a doonk or two of Stevia, and a little garlic to the frozen chicken breasts.  Swish around the bag and reseal and put it back in the freezer.  At camp, after a few days, take the thawed chicken out of the bad and cut it into small pieces.  Add some veggies of choice (we like red onion, mushrooms, and bell peppers – pineapple chunks are also good for an E option) and skewer them all and add to the grill.  This is a Fuel-pull meal (unless you use the pineapple).  However, add some instant brown rice for an E option or a large pre-made salad.  Or simply enjoy it as it is!

This is a staple in our camping menu.  It is loaded with hidden veggies and lots of great energy.  I always make the base ahead of time so all I have to do at camp is add the canned beans and corn for a very quick dinner.  On this last trip, we made it after a long day of hiking and it took about 10 minutes to make a hearty, healthy meal for everyone.  Add cheese and sour cream for a crossover and some on-plan tortilla chips.

  • Bratwurst with grilled veggies (S) or rice/sweet potato packets (CO)

We love to cook up some store bought pre-cooked bratwurst over the fire.  The kids get to grill their own, with supervision, of course, and they love it!  Our family favorites are Johnsville Cheddar Sausage and Smoked Brats.  I love to saute up some red-onions and bell peppers to eat with them – yummy!  They are also good with a side of rice or sweet potato packets for a crossover.

  • Tacos with Wonder Wraps (S)

Those handy wonder wraps are useful once again with some easy tacos.  The rest of the family enjoys their tacos with corn tortillas, but I like to use my low-carb option.  I brown some hamburger or turkey meat, add some taco seasoning, and load up the toppings.

  • Hamburgers and/or hotdogs (S)

These are a familiar camping option and still easy to do “on-plan”.  I like to wrap my cheese burger in a  big piece of lettuce and add plenty of yummy toppings.

  • Spaghetti (S)

With a can of sugar-free spaghetti/pizza sauce and some browned meat, this can be a super quick dinner.  Add some Dreamfield’s pasta, or Not- Naughty Noodles, or simply eat with some zucchini “noodles” (my personal favorite).

Dessert ideas:

I rely on items I bring from home for desserts, like some Cowboy cookies or Trimtastic cupcakes.  I love a hot cup of tea or sugar-free cocoa or apple cider while warming up by the campfire.

However, if you are feeling adventurous, I love the idea of trying some THM recipes in the Dutch oven.  I have yet to try this, but since we are going to be camping for about 1/3 of our summer, I will have a chance to try this out!  I will definitely share how it goes!

Camping with THM: A week's worth of on-plan menu ideas - perfect for a family camping trip -

I love to pick wild blackberries while camping to have as a tasty dessert.

One of my favorite camping desserts is to pick some wild berries and top with whipped cream!  It would be wonderful with a piece of THM cake, as well.  Yummy!

Camping with THM: A week's worth of on-plan menu ideas - perfect for a family camping trip -

Be still my heart – she is a daddy’s girl!

I hope these ideas inspire you!  They have worked well for our family – let me know how they work for you!  And if you liked this post, please head on over to my Facebook or Instagram page and give me a “Like” or “Follow”.  I love to connect with my readers!








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Under Grace: Ella’s Trim Healthy Mama Testimony

Diets are made up of laws, a lot of laws. I have been through plenty of diets (Atkins, South Beach, Slow carb, No carb, Medifast, Blood type, Paleo, the walk everywhere because you don’t have a car diet) and have lost weight, for a while. And reading the books, they are clear about this one thing. The laws of the diet have to be your new way of life. Forever. Period. So I would fail eventually. I could never make these extreme diets a way of life. I love carbs, and fats, way too much. And my body needed them. I couldn’t do the diets while pregnant or nursing because there was not enough to sustain myself through those. So I would gain again.

Under Grace: A story of grace, a story of freedom - Ella's Trim Healthy Mama Testimony -

Ella as a senior in high school

I have never been skinny. When puberty hit I got big. I don’t remember a time in my teenage years that I was less than a size 14. In college I gained my freshman 15 and then my sophomore 10 and then a junior 10 then a senior 5. My year of teacher training and my first year of teaching I was too busy to eat so the weight melted back off of me, but that didn’t last and I never made it below a 14 even then. I was resolved to be a size large.

My weight continued to yo-yo throughout the years as I tried one diet after another. I only had the will power to stay strictly with a plan for about a month. But the laws were too much for me. I would allow myself some leeway, some grace amongst the laws, and that always would sabotage my efforts. Eventually the cheating would overtake the good of the diet and I would just give up.

But then my sister Amy introduced me to a new plan. (You can read Amy’s THM testimony here.) She had success with losing weight with a new diet that sounded interesting. And, being a sucker for a new diet to try, I borrowed her book and started to read Trim Healthy Mama.

I was astounded to learn that I could enjoy my carbs and my fats in the same day and not gain weight! I didn’t have to cut out a food group for a long period of time. I didn’t have to count calories or go hungry. I didn’t have to eliminate desserts or exercise like crazy. I just had to be wise about how I enjoyed all these things. This was a plan I could see implementing for the rest of my life.

Under Grace: A story of grace, a story of freedom - Ella's Trim Healthy Mama Testimony -

Ella with her husband last Christmas

There are plenty of posts out in cyber space that explain the concepts of this way of eating better then I ever could (or better yet, read the book), so I will let you look those up yourself  if you are interested, but the part of this plan I want to talk about is the Grace.

For we are not under law, but under grace.

The writers of the book are Christians and believe their faith should permeate every area of their lives. They used their study of scripture to realize that the food rules we were living under were not placed there by God. They lay out clearly the food freedom that God intended us to have. The food Grace, He designed our bodies to live under. And it is a food freedom flowing with milk and honey, with bread and wine, with the fat and the lean.

Under Grace: A story of grace, a story of freedom - Ella's Trim Healthy Mama Testimony -

At goal size – all dressed up and ready for the ball!

The best part is that your body does a reset every three hours. If I do go off plan, have a cheat or a treat, I am only three hours from going back on. I don’t have to derail an entire day or week or month of hard determination for one moment of bliss. There is grace.

I am under grace, so I can choose to have a meal out every week with my family and eat whatever looks good to me on the menu and still lose weight.

I am under grace, so I can enjoy a holiday weekend away and not worry if there will be food that I can eat available.

I am under grace, so I can enjoy s’mores on a camping trip.

I am under grace, so I can eat a helping of the first cake that my son made completely on his own.

I am under grace, so I can enjoy popcorn at the movies and a corn dog at the fair and still lose weight.

I am under grace, so I can stick with this plan for life, even after reaching my goal weight.

Do you feel the grace tonight? Do you rest in the knowledge that God created you and your body perfectly and to function with grace? Can you have grace towards yourself?

I am excited to report, that under this plan, I am now at a lower weight then I have been at in my entire adult life. I am now wearing a size 10! And I am firmly a medium. These are huge things for this big girl. And you know what? I am not quitting this plan because I have reached my goal weight. I am just adding more crossovers and enjoying the food freedom and allowing my body to find its “happy weight.” I may go down more, I may not. I am not going to stress over it, because I am under grace. And that is exactly where my Father wants me to be.

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Running the Race

I want to introduce you to my dear friend, Christine.  Christine is a mom of four very energetic young boys and she has a heart of a Warrior Princess.  She is currently writing a book, a curriculum actually, on this topic.  She is a wonderful friend, mother, and teacher.  She is also a talented writer and speaker.  I’m honored to share her work with you!                    ~ Amy

I ran a marathon before I was married. I’ve never really cared for running, but caring for my body has been a priority for a while now.  Without access to a gym, training for a marathon was a great way to employ discipline to stay fit.   And the peer pressure of the friend I was doing it with was a great help too.
The marathon was in San Francisco, California. The course took us through all kinds of terrain; flat roads by the bay and wharf, hills by the Golden Gate Bridge and through Golden Gate Park.  Along the way I was presented with a few obstacles.  I broke out in hives on mile one so by mile 3 I was running with Benadryl in my system.  About mile 13 my foot started throbbing and swelling.

christine fam

Christine and her family

Just as the race course goes through different terrain and we are met with all kinds of circumstances- our spiritual life looks similar. As we approach the different seasons of life, it’s crucial to realize that this race we are in is a marathon.  This is no 5K.  This race is our lifetime and will impact eternity.  Friends, there will be a time to sprint and a time to walk.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Hebrews 12:1-3

Perseverance has been defined as a steady persistence in a course of action, steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success, a continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure or opposition.  So I would say following the instruction in Hebrews 12 means moving forward.  As long as we don’t let a circumstance take us out, if we take the time to deal with them so that we can continue in the course marked out for us, we are persevering. Let us consider Jesus, the way our God cared for Himself and others as He ran His human race.  His actions were never rushed, His ways were steady as He moved toward His finish line.

I was diagnosed with a hypothyroid a few years ago.  The season of discovering my illness and recovery was slow going, learning how to really rest was crucial to my recovery.

It was in this season I came to a much greater understanding of God’s grace.  My inability to run well forced me to lean into Him.  His grace carried me, and I had to be okay with not being strong enough. I saw this image of trying to run my race with my four young boys.  Like hauling them along with me- constantly verbally pushing them and physically dragging them along this dusty trail.  They were getting filthy and scuffed up.  I was getting nowhere and my exhaustion was not only going to destroy everything in my world but also kill me. This picture slowed me down.  And when I did the scene changed.   In this new picture I was not in workout gear sweaty and straining, but in more elegant attire.  Walking leisurely along this dirt road, holding a mug of coffee and smiling while conversing with the four children around me.  They’d discover things along the path, eager to show me and tell me all about it.  I was able to laugh and enjoy every bit of them. Although this picture is different than the one that comes to mind reading Hebrew 12:1-3 I think it can be applied.
I knew that Jesus had come to give me a full life- wanting me to thrive- not just survive, so I changed my battle plan.  It was time to look at the season I was in and consider the terrain.  It takes discipline to slow down.  Sometimes it takes more discipline to slow down then to “keep up”.  Sometimes the things that ensnare us on our journey are sins of pride as we seek perfection and holiness with our own effort and perhaps even competition with our fellow runners.

christine boys

Christine’s four boys

Run your race sister.  Focus on the ground before you, feel inspired and encouraged by the other runners, but remember they won’t be able to beat you in your race, because God did not make your life or my life a competition.  Others are running their own race and we can celebrate the successes they have, the ones they post on social media, just as we would want them to celebrate with us.

Warrior, strive to press on, enjoy and embrace the terrain God has brought you to. This requires us to beat our body into submission.  Practically speaking this will mean striving to keep up in spin class or telling our body to be quiet, and climb in bed mid-day to read a novel.   Maybe it’s doing the dishes, and maybe it’s snuggling with a child.  God has called us to run the race as if to win.  You will need to pace yourself.  Depending on the terrain you’re on, acting in the spirit of discipline will be to reach out and say “yes” to the leader in church who’s asking you to serve.  Other times it will mean beating that people- pleasing desire down and saying the word “no.”

As we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith we will be able to run with perseverance the race marked of us.  Our goal is progress- not perfection.  Perfection is being with Jesus at the end.  For the joy of being with Him in eternity- of finishing the race with a smile and an embrace from our proud Lord.

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God Cares About Mom Friends: and other seemingly trivial requests

When January comes around each year, like so much of the world, I like to reflect on the past year and come up with some goals for the new one. Some years I come up with a whole list of resolutions and some years I decide on a word that I want to focus on for the year (for example, this year my word is discipline).  However, one year, when I was a young first time mom, I only had one New Year’s wish – only one cry of my heart – I really wanted a friend.

I had lots of friends, don’t get me wrong, but as a new mom I felt what, I believe, is common for so many new moms – I felt lonely.  My life was suddenly so different and I had very few friends who were in the same place that I was – a mom who mostly stayed at home (I did work a couple days a week), nursing an infant, in need of a friend.   Becoming a mom changes things in so many ways that you do not expect – I felt lonely and isolated.  It kind of snuck up on me.  That New Year’s I realized what I needed – what I wanted more than any lofty goal – was a mom friend.  So I asked God to bring me a friend that wasn’t miles away or too busy with work or school or kids activities.

It was one of those prayer requests that you think really doesn’t matter, right? It wasn’t a request for healing from cancer; it wasn’t something catastrophic; it almost seemed trivial, mundane, ordinary.  Would God really care that this young mom was lonely and just wanted a friend?

But, friend, I know my Jesus. I know how much He loves me – how much He loves you.  And just like my husband would never want me to be lonely, my Jesus wants it even less. Sometimes, God is just waiting for us to ask…

I have asked God for many things in my life and although I have received many “yes” answers, the more frequent response seems to be “no” or “not yet, my child”. But I was reminded of the words of my Jesus – words that mean so much more to me now that I am a parent.

 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7: 9-11

All I had to do was ask. So that New Years night, sitting exhausted on my bedroom floor after feeding the baby (again), I prayed for a friend.  Then, I fell asleep, exhausted, and forgot all about it…

Sometimes prayers take a long time to be answered and sometimes I think God is standing there, holding a gift out, just waiting for us to take it.

I don’t remember how many days later it was, but less than a week, I somewhat begrudgingly attended a baby shower for a neighbor.  Usually I like showers, but I was not looking forward to this one at all.  In fact, I told my husband I was going to make a polite appearance and duck out as soon as possible.  So, I took the baby – always a good excuse to leave early – and reluctantly walked down the block to the shower, gift in hand.

I am a strange combination of personalities – an extroverted introvert.  I can certainly be confident and bubbly and make acquaintances easily, but I secretly hate small talk and long for deep conversation with someone I really connect with.  Going to the baby shower, without really knowing anyone was uncomfortable and required a lot more energy that this sleep deprived young mom wanted to give.  But I went and God met me there with the gift that I had asked Him for.

You know when you meet someone and within minutes you know there is a connection?  That was the case with my friend Jen. I had met her before – we were also neighbors, but we had only introduced ourselves at the mailbox and pointed out our houses.  At the party, both not really knowing anyone, and both not being comfortable in that situation, we connected.  We talked the entire party, and as we walked home together after the party (I didn’t leave early after all), we made arrangements to meet for coffee and shopping a few days later. And, without even realizing it until several months later, God answered my prayer – my silly, trivial, won’t stop the world’s problems prayer – because He loved me.

God loves to give good gifts to His children, no matter how trivial they may seem. -

My friend, Jen, and I on a recent coffee date (well, we both had tea)

So, my friend, what is your heart longing for today? What seemingly trivial request do you have for our Father? Because, you know, He loves you more than anyone in the world – He thinks about you all the time – He delights in giving you good gifts.  All you have to do is ask…


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