Trim Healthy Table Review and Giveaway

It’s time for a giveaway! I previewed this book over here, and now I’m ready to review it, after using the book and testing many of the recipes for over a year. So, first read my preview, over here. Then come back here and read the rest of this, and enter the drawing for the giveaway by making a comment below.

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Here are my favorite recipes from the book:

  • cheesy chicken spaghetti squash casserole
  • stew of love
  • pizza casserole
  • nachos made from cauliflower slices (see below)


  • garlic parmesan asparagus


  • caramel apple BAM cake (bam stands for bust a myth, the myth being that you can’t have bananas on the THM plan, based on the banana BAM cake from the first book )


  • pumpkin bam cake
  • cinnamon bun shake
  • gingerbread secret big boy shake
  • lemonade
  • lemon whip
  • teriyaki beef and broccoli

I have to admit though, a few times the recipes are a bit too complicated for me.  Even Pearl’s “Drive Thru Sue” recipes can have too many steps. I love to be more simple. I often take the idea of the recipe and simplify it. Nobody here at my home, including me, knows what it’s “supposed” to taste like it so it works! For example, I thought the cheeseburger soup was far too complicated to make because it says to cook the squash with the ground beef and the cauliflower and the broth. Then you are supposed to pick out the squash and cauliflower, avoiding the meat, and puree the veggie blend in a blender, then add it back to the pot with the meat and serve with the meat in crumbled up chunks but not whizzed up. That took too much time. Next time I will cook the squash separately so I don’t have to pick it out from the meat.

Here some of my adaptations from the newer book:

Here are some adaptations from the first book:

Here is what I learned from this book, in other words, what wasn’t in the first book:

  • The idea of Trimmy soups, invented by Serene, which are superfoods-y and comforting at the same time. They include gelatin and lecithin
  • how to make a cream of wheat substitute
  • how make oatmeal stretch so you have more volume in a serving but still fit in the limit allowed for an E meal
  • how to make a low carb bread that looks like white flour sandwich bread (top photo of this post, with a sweet cinnamon swirl version, pictured below)


  • that baobab powder has the highest Vitamin C content of any food
  • how fun it is to have themed family dinners (We did this for the spring General Conference Weekend, where I made the THM cauliflower nachos for between sessions and then the scones and jam gravy for the next day) The books has recipes for sushi night, burrito night, pizza night, salad bar night, and more
  • that THM has a new line of natural extracts. They are included in many of the recipes, but weren’t ready at the time of publication. Now they are available. Hooray! I have the first batch released. I love the caramel and maple. The other flavors are OK (banana, coconut, pineapple, and cherry). I haven’t used those other four much, yet. When I do I will give a review of them. I do have to wonder though, how can extracts be completely “natural”?
  • how to make a Yuck Yum Bitty (a smoothie in a meal that can be FP, E or S) one of Serene’s latest concoction fad
  • how to have your cake and eat it too. The THM cakes can be eaten for  a meal, just as in the first book, but in this book Serene and Pearl suggest what to do if you are eating the cakes and not losing weight.

I have just scratched the surface of this book in this post and in my cooking! I give it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars, only because it didn’t meet my hopes of going deeper into the numbers and the science of the plan. It didn’t. I think it’s also too bad that the color codes of the fuels: E, S, and FP  for the circles at the top of each recipe aren’t the same  colors as in the first book. That can be confusing. Those are super minor things though, hence I only took half a star away. Overall I love the book. I love how it has testimonials of weight loss from people using the THM Plan from all kinds of people young and old, including men, married couples, sisters, and young men and women. It’s also wonderful to see a recipe index in the back according to the fuel categories of E, S, and FP. So if you know it’s time for an E, S, or FP meal, you can go to the index and pick out a main dish, side, breakfast or baked good, dessert, drink, or sauce for that fuel type. There is so much more I haven’t even tried, like the salted caramel cupcakes, the Almond Joy and Ding Dong look alikes, all the one skillet recipes, the crustless quiche, all the new bars, crackers, and the dressings and sauces, like kale pesto.

For an intro to the THM Plan, go here.

For my 10 Tips for Doing THM On the Cheap, go here.

For my Top 3 THM Food for Purists, go here.

If you would like to be entered in the random drawing of the giveaway of the book, please comment below as to why you want the cookbook.

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What I Learned from Come, Follow Me: Week #7

I am loving the Come, Follow Me curriculum! It is the study guide that my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is using to study the Bible, specifically the New Testament. For Week #7, we studied Matthew 4, and Luke 4-5.

I had a bunch of insights on the doctrine for those scriptures, but I’ll just share a bit of those here. The stories in those scriptures were Jesus fasting in the wilderness with the temptations from the devil, Jesus announcing in the temple that he had fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-2, publicly announcing that He is the Messiah, and then Jesus calling Peter to be one of his apostles.  Here are five questions I asked my family relating to these stories:

1. “What do you do to commune with God, like Jesus did when He went into the wilderness?” This actually brought up the comment from one of the kids that he doesn’t want to commune with God. So that is feedback for me to pray that he will want to commune with God, that he will want to feel God’s love.

2. “What did Jesus do to resist the powers of the devil? What do you do to resist the temptations of the devil?”


3. “When did you feel that Jesus is truly the Messiah, the one that had been prophesied about in scripture?” This question is to apply the doctrine to our own lives from the story in Luke 4:16-32, that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah. I shared the story of the first time I felt the Spirit confirm to me in unmistakable terms that Jesus is my Redeemer and Savior. I was practicing the organ to play for my congregation’s Sabbath meeting, our sacrament meeting. I was struggling to get through a song with my four-month-old-baby in tow. I had put her on a blanket on the floor. (She’s now 23 years old, married, with her own four-month-old baby.) I was hoping to get in at least 30 minutes of practice before she started fussing, wanting to nurse or be held. As I practiced the Easter hymn that has the words, “rising from the purple east, symbol of our Easter feast,” I felt the Spirit burn within me that the Savior is indeed my Savior. I played the organ with triumphant sounding stops and the whole moment was just this glorious enrapturement feeling of peace, joy, triumph, and victory through Christ Jesus. It’s hard to describe. in that moment, I felt the Savior also accepting my sacrifice of time to fulfill my calling as an organist, to serve Him, and that He was helping me to juggle my responsibilities as a young mother of a baby and toddler and an organist. I only hope that each one of you can feel that same witness to strengthen you in your responsibilities.

4. As a follow up to the previous question, I read aloud the scripture that Jesus had cited, Isaiah 61:1-2. I asked my husband and kids over dinner what role that is listed in that scripture they felt Jesus was fulfilling when they felt a witness that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah. We had such an enlightening conversation, full of the Spirit.

5. I shared the story of Jesus inviting Peter to do four things in Luke 5:1-10. (If you read that passage, you can find the four things.) The last invitation was to cast the net out again, even though Peter had been waiting to catch fish all night with his net out. Catching nothing, he had brought it back in. Maybe he had even cleaned it up and repaired it when Jesus asked him to cast it out again. Peter probably felt that the Savior’s invitation was illogical but he put the net out again, trusting Jesus. So my question to my kids was, “When did you feel a call from the Savior, through His Holy Spirit, that seemed illogical, but you did it anyway like Peter, and you were astonished at the results?” I asked this over dinner. My two big boys at home, ages 17 and 20, shared wonderful answers that gave me insight into their lives. The younger kids don’t have an answer yet. That’s OK. We can always revisit the question.

I love this gift of Come, Follow Me because it is giving me amazing questions to ask my kids that are spiritual in nature, which I had never thought of before. All over dinner! We don’t have to set aside any extra time to do this. For the past two years I have been using a Question and Answer a Day book I bought on Amazon to ask questions over dinner time, but so many of the questions are silly and not amazing. So I’m grateful to this new curriculum to help me see that I can just use the doctrines from stories in the scriptures to come up with questions, questions that resonate eternal truth and deal with real life application.  The study guide often has questions that I use or I tweak them to come up with my own. I also watch the video released every week on the YouTube Channel called “Don’t Miss This” by David Butler and Emily Belle Freeman to get ideas for questions to ask my family and to use as journal writing prompts.

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I Know President Nelson is a Prophet of God

Last Sunday we had a treat! President Russell M. Nelson, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a prophet of God, came to Arizona! We got to go to our local church building to see the livestream. I distinctly felt the Spirit more than once bear witness to me that He is God’s prophet, chosen by Him to preside over the kingdom of God on earth today. We also got to hear from his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, and President Dallin H. Oaks and Sister Kristen M. Oaks. It was wonderful to bask in the Spirit of God emanating from these leaders. I will always remember this night as a time I felt the Spirit strongly and distinctly.

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Sourdough Pizza Using Breadmachine Kneaded Bread Dough




This makes two large pans of pizza, using cookie sheets or jelly roll  pans. Only use this recipe if you like the taste of sourdough crust. Sourdough crust is better for you because the phytic acid in the grain is neutralized, therefore making the wheat much more digestible.

First, use the bread dough recipe over here. Put the bread loaf pan in the bread machine and set it for the whole wheat dough cycle. Be sure to set it for the dough cycle, otherwise you will get a loaf of bread instead of pizza dough.

After the pizza dough has risen for however long you want it to rise, take it out, divide in half, and roll out onto two greased cookie sheets or jelly roll pans. Ideally you let it rise for several hours but sometimes I forget to plan for that. Sometimes I take it out as soon as the kneading is done. Anyway one time I rolled out the dough on an upside-down pan to see if that made it easier to cut with a pizza cutter. I wanted the pizza cutter to roll all the way past the edge, instead of an inch away from the edge, which happens when you are using a pan with an edge. It’s easier as long as I have some cutting board or something similar close to the edge to run onto. A pizza stone is on my wishlist!

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Cover each pizza with tomato paste using a rubber scraper. Tomato sauce is too soupy.

Sprinkle on onion powder, mineral salt, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and pepper. This is important because the tomato paste tastes too sweet without salt, and the other seasonings enhance the tomato flavor.

Cover pizza with desired toppings. I like the following:

  • grated cheese
  • sliced olives
  • artichoke hearts, with the leaves separated a bit
  • sliced bell peppers and onions (to save time I use a bag of frozen peppers and onion mix)
  • pepperoni
  • ground beef
  • mushrooms

Sprinkle on more of the same seasonings as mentioned above.

Bake at 500 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden brown and crisp. After baking, add sliced fresh avocado. So delicious!

Enjoy! Serve with salad greens topped with vinaigrette then chocolate for dessert. Yum! The top picture shows pepperoni and no ground beef in our pizza, the bottom has ground beef and no pepperoni.I’m sorry the picture is blurry. Either one tastes great! I make this about once a week for dinner. Life is so much better with pizza!


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Mr. Rogers Meets Swing

So I’ve been falling in love with Mr. Rogers. My son’s Mastering Knighthood group studied him as a hero for January. Hence, we’ve been reading a book about him written by a Texan journalist, Tim Madigan, appearing in the video below. (He wrote the book for adults, so I’m paraphrasing some parts before I read them aloud to my son and my other kids.)

Tim kept up an email/mail/occasional in-person relationship with him. The relationship healed the journalist’s broken relationship with his own father. This book is so tender! I have found myself tearing up in a few parts.

As a kid I sometimes cringed at Mr. Rogers’ slowness, his emotional vulnerability, and occasional geekiness. His awkwardness, however, has faded away and he is now considered awesome. Not just by me, but countless others. He really was a cool guy. He wrote all the songs for his show and was just so kind. The world needs more Mr. Rogers. I have to say, I think he was cool because he really got who Jesus was and modeled his life after the Savior. He was an ordained minister, so I’m sure that helped him know Jesus.

I have a hunch that his mother also had a huge role in his life as a Christian, but I don’t know. Mr. Rogers treated everyone as a child of God and honored everyone’s feelings.

While I’m on the topic of his show, I will just vent that I also did not like the ugly curtains in his living room or the Lady Elaine puppet. She absolutely terrified me, with her harshly painted face and abrupt ways. I know she would not pass the Waldorf Education test for gentle-looking toys. I was afraid she was going to appear in my nightmares, call me Toots, and snatch me away to endlessly trap me for a ride on her merry-go-round museum.

Anyway, if you like jazz and Mr. Rogers, you will like the versions of these songs. Here’s the whole playlist. Enjoy! I’ve been reliving my childhood by singing the songs. My  mom bought the songbook before I was even born so the book was a permanent fixture around our house. I feel so nostalgic as I sing these. You can see all the lyrics to Mr. Rogers’ songs here. 

Here’s a bio of the singer, Holly Yarbrough. I love her voice singing these songs! She sings beautifully!

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What I’m Learning from Come, Follow Me: Week #5

What are you all learning as you study the New Testament this year using the Come, Follow Me Study Guide?

For last week, I studied Matthew 3, Mark 1, and Luke 3, which was Week #5 in the Study Guide. My biggest gem/nugget of truth that I found this week was that Jesus arose a “great while before day” and departed into a “solitary place” to pray (Mark 1:35). This was just what I needed to hear! We read about John the Baptist calling people to create fruits of repentance. This is my fruit for repentance God is calling me to give. For me, it’s a watermelon, and not a grape, as one of my Sunday School classmates said yesterday, because I love to sleep. “Before day” means before daylight, and solitary means alone. I have felt Jesus inviting me to follow him in that way.

I used to be a lot better at praying before the family woke up, in the darkness of the early morning. I had let that habit slide, so that I was saying a short prayer with the family right before our family Power Actions (devotional, i.e. family scripture study and prayer) and then waiting until midday to have my long, meaningful personal prayer. I found the day was getting away from me, and then I realized that was why. As much as I love to sleep in, I have been getting up earlier to pray, since reading that, and the results are marvelous.I have a lot of other insights to go with this scripture but that’s all I want to say for now.

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Out of the Best Books, Classics We Studied: Jan. 2019

Can we celebrate?! January is over!!! I’ve decided the best thing about January (beside it being the anniversary month that I had a home birth, of my second daughter) is that it’s a great month for reading. Not much else is going on, so reading is much easier to do during this seemingly dreary time. I’ve been making about one night a week a time we just gather around the table or in the family or living room to read instead of watching a movie.

Here’s what we read/learned from this month. I’m listing the books we’ve been learning from for our homeschool. These are the books we either finished, or we started reading and are still reading from. The big long ones I didn’t necessarily read every single word cover to cover, but I am gleaning from.

The one above, about Mr. Rogers, is for my son’s Mastering Knighthood group. Every month the boys read about a heroic man. January’s theme is Mr. Rogers. So I found this book It’s the story of a newspaper reporter’s relationship, mostly by phone and mail, with Mr. Rogers. I read it aloud to the younger kids during kitchen cleaning. Some of the parts are a little boring for the kids so then I skip a bit and summarize. I’ve learned that Mr. Rogers was great friends with Henri Nouwen, a minister and writer, and Van Cliburn. It’s really cool that the headings for each chapter use a font made from Mr. Roger’s handwriting. I love the different scenes of human nature that play out. I’m liking it a lot more than the kids, probably because it was written for adults.

Come Follow Me– we are reading this study guide at church and for “homechurching.” See my posts here for what I’m learning.

We finished the Book of Mormon as a family and now we started it over. I love the peace and protection that comes from applying its principles.

I read most of this in December, but I’m still copying my favorite quotes into my reading journal. It has so many gems!


Reading a book about cooking every so often keeps me inspired to be in the kitchen. This is an amazing book by a chef who worked at Chez Panisse. So interesting! I love the illustrations!

Understanding the Times: A Survey of Competing Worldviews

This is for Quest, a class for homeschool teens, to help my teen son and me understand worldviews. It’s very biased towards Biblical Christianity but I suppose it’s the best book out there to represent so many worldviews at once.

I skimmed this one after watching the movie it was based on last month. I will check it out again next year and finish it for Christmas. I was hoping it would show Dickens’ sources of inspiration for A Christmas Carol. So far I haven’t found where the author mentions that.

Many homeschool mornings we listen to a chapter of this to help my teen boys who are studying the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for seminary this year. I love learning these stories! I haven’t been super consistent though so when we finish I’m going to start over.


This one is for Quest again. I had never read anything about the Dalai Lama. It’s fascinating to read about his life and teachings.


The Giver (Graphic Novel) (Giver Quartet)

For Quest. I blogged about it here, with the simulation we did for it.


The Chosen: A Novel

Again, for Quest. I had read it years ago so I reviewed the plot for our discussion. It has so many themes to discuss: father/son relationships, tradition vs. current times, scholar phase, healing, eyesight, Judaism, the study of psychology, friendship, how to parent. It’s not a “fun” read, just like the Giver isn’t fun, but it’s a must-read for everyone, for sure!

A friend reached out to me when I was venting to her about something and she felt prompted to tell me about the above book. I already owned it, having taken the class that goes with it over 14 years ago, so I unearthed it.  I’m also listening to the audios. My friend and I are doing one thought pattern a week. The author, James Cox, has a gift for connecting the dots of how to actually be Christlike. So, so, good, grand, and great!!!

It took only 2 car rides to our homeschool group (commonwealth) day to listen to the above book on CD. Then the sequel took another 2 car rides. (We drive 90 min. each way to meet with our homeschool peeps. It’s totally worth it!) I got the whole collection of Narnia stories on CD by Focus on the Family for Christmas. It is dramatized, with different voices and lots of beautiful music. This has been such a great follow-up to reading Lewis’ Mere Christianity.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Radio Theatre)

This one is for my book club. I’m excited that someone besides me picked a book I like. I am skimming it and capturing what nuggets I can. I started reading it years ago and mentioned it here on the blog but never finished so I’m excited to go more into it and discuss it with other women in person!

The World According to Narnia: Christian Meaning in C. S. Lewis's Beloved Chronicles by [Rogers, Jonathan]

I love studying the symbolism of the Narnia books. I’m reading the corresponding chapters that go with the Narnia stories we listen to in the car on Thursday nights when I’m snuggled in bed after our commonwealth day.

I’m bribing my two practice scholars to read the two Uncle Eric WW books for their Hero Project LEMI class. So far they haven’t felt motivated to read it so I’m reading the first one aloud. I’m hoping they pick it up on their own soon. It’s so important to learn about the non-glorified side of war from a Vietnam War vet himself. The two practice scholars also read Children of the Dust Bowl, All Quiet on the Western Front, and The Dream Giver for their Hero class.

This one is for the parents’ meeting of the commonwealth. I couldn’t attend that night and didn’t find the book on YouTube until after the fact anyway so I’m catching up by listening and reading. So amazing!

Now for the picture books I read, mostly to the 9 year old. I’ve resolved to read more picture books to the older kids too, a picture book a day. These are the ones I remember for January:

Beautiful art and poetry. Ahh, makes me want to go to the beach.

My husband came home late one night and read the whole thing. My daughter pored over it one morning. Fun!

No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas

This is the true story of Junius G. Groves, a Kansas potato farmer. So inspiring, a true rags to riches story.

The above book is amazing! So much to pore over on every page, for older kids, 9 and up. Recently published, so it includes inventions from 2017. Some things I learned from reading The Seventh Sense by Joshua Cooper Ramos were in here, like Sophia, of AI fame.

I love the above story, even though I’m not Jewish and it’s about Hanukkah. It shows the power of family tradition, remembering what happened, and honoring our elders. I read it and the one below because I love letting the holidays of December linger into January. The one below is a sweet story of healing that comes from the friendship of a child.

What did you read in January or are continuing to read in February? I would love to hear! Please comment below.

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