Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Frugal Eats - THM Special Ingredients on a Budget

As I am reading the Facebook boards it seems a huge concern for many is the cost of starting and maintaining the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle.  Really, it is as expensive as you want to make it.  The plan itself can be successful with the foods you eating right now, minus the refined sugars and flour, simply by separating your carbs from your fats.  

Let's say you want to follow the plan a bit more closely than that but finding it's not fitting your budget, what can you do?  The first idea I have for you to consider, and this one might hurt a bit, is to step away from the new cookbook.  I know, I know, and I'm sorry to say it out loud myself.  I love the cookbook.  It's full of tasty recipes and it's fun to check in with your favorite online  groups and see what everyone is making and join in the fun.

The problem with the cookbook is that it uses so many special ingredients and the cost of the products can be enough to break the bank and when you add on to it shipping cost, because so many items can only be found online, then it becomes overwhelming. 

 OK, I feel that you are not loving this idea of shelving the cookbook, so let's work with it.  Here's a few suggestions.

 Be discerning when using special ingredients.  

The first item that comes to mind is collagen.  I kind of think people are overusing this one.  I see pictures posted of meals including eggs, bacon and coffee with collagen or whey added in.  The purpose of collagen or whey is to add protein.  If you already have bacon and eggs on your plate you have plenty of protein.  We each have different protein needs but for me, your average not-too-busy-stay-at-home-mom, my needs are roughly 20 grams per meal.  One egg is about 8 grams of protein.  Just so you know, when you consume more protein than you need, it can lead to a weight gain.  Now when you sit down to a bowl of oatmeal with no protein, by all means add that scoop of collagen or if you are making a shake or smoothie for a stand alone meal, get that whey powder in there. 

Gluccie is another ingredient that is not always necessary even when it's written in the recipe.  A lot of shake recipes call for cottage cheese, whey and gluccie or xanthan gum.  Uhmm, why?  All three of those ingredients will add creaminess and thickness to your shake and I find you really only need to choose one.  Yesterday I made a shake that simply had 1 small banana, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1 cup nut milk and sweetener.  It was delicious.  Thick and creamy and I never even missed the whey or gluccie.  Play around with your recipes and find what works for you.  You can always add it in if you find you have to have it.

What about sweeteners?  Recipes in the cookbook can call for any of 4 or 5 different sweeteners and often a combination of them.  Is this necessary?  I don't think so.  Personally I only use stevia (Better Stevia), copycat blend of Gentle Sweet and raw honey. I find pure stevia is best in cold food and drinks and bearable in my coffee.  If I am cooking, baking or anything with chocolate (for some reason stevia is like kryptonite to chocolate), I use Gentle Sweet.   When I am making sauces I love to use raw honey.  I'm not comfortable feeding a lot of stevia to my five year old or husband so when I make pasta sauce, ketchup, salad dressing and the such I use raw honey.  I know it will spike my blood sugar a bit more but it is nutritious and I don't have diabetes so I will chance it.  

Baking Blend it's your turn for me to pick on you.  Personally I love using my copycat version of Baking Blend.  But do you have to have it?  Nope.  You do not even have to have the expensive nut flours.  There are tons of recipes online that simply use oat flour.  Just whiz up your rolled oats in the blender and you have oat flour.  Nice, easy and inexpensive but oat flour can only be used in an E setting.  I saw on a blog earlier tonight that said you can replace oat flour for the baking blend 1:1 in the cookbook.  If you are looking for cheap S recipes, try to master coconut flour.  It's tricky but the least expensive of nut flours and again, there are tons of recipes online. 

Extracts and spices - Uggh, I have a spice rack full of regrets.  I have spent and wasted so much money because I had to have that extract for that recipe or that expensive specialty spice. Seriously give it some thought if you actually need that extract or spice.  Can you use vanilla extract instead or find a way to use the spices you already own to make a masala blend?  One day maybe I will actually make Buttah Chicken...

What are my must have speciality items?  MCT oil, gluccie and whey powder are items I use daily.  The months that I cannot afford them I simply use coconut oil and cottage cheese. If I could only have one, I would pick MCT oil.  Mainly because I am a sipper junkie and I like how it helps the the sippers to emulsify.  

What about you?  Any hints or tricks to help the mama's out?

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