Cheeseburger Bug Soup (THM S)

We had this delicious Meatball Cabbage Soup on the menu tonight (the meatballs are TO DIE FOR, and low carb too), but I just couldn’t make it happen. Sick hubby, sick kids, tiring day. Making a two-step meal sounded exhausting.

I decided with similar ingredients I might be able to make a Cheeseburger Soup! I googled a few recipes (here and here) to tweak, scoured the fridge and pantry, and came up with this delectable yumminess. My 3 year old daughter was convinced the bits of dried basil were ants. She called this Bug Soup and was very reluctant to eat it! The older boys liked the name, so I think it will stick. Bug Soup is GOOD!

Cheeseburger Soup(Not the best photo, is it? I would have taken another, only I actually dropped my iPhone into the soup right after snapping this one! Whoops!)

Lowcarb Cheeseburger Bug Soup

2-3 lbs of ground beef

1 yellow onion, chopped

Steak seasoning (sprinkle to taste)

Salt to taste

About 3 tablespoons dried basil

8 cups of beef broth

5-6 carrots, peeled and sliced

6 stalks of celery, diced

About 3 tablespoons of minced garlic (jarred kind)

About 4 cups of raw baby spinach

1/2 cup turkey bacon (would be even better with pork bacon!)

1/4- 1/2 cup sour cream (all I had left, so I had to use yogurt too)

1/4 – 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (leave it out if you want to use sour cream only)

A heaping tablespoon of red palm oil (mentioned in THM book for health properties – I never know how to use it!)

A 1/2 cup cheddar cheese (all I had left – would be good with more)

Heavy whipping cream (to taste – until soup is a pretty color)

Brown ground beef and onion with spices. Add it to the beef broth and begin to simmer. Saute the celery, carrots, and garlic a little bit (I added a bit of water to soften quickly – everyone was HUNGRY), then add them to the soup base as well. Toss in chopped bacon. After about 15 minutes, throw in the spinach. After another 10 minutes, add the sour cream, yogurt, and cheese to your preference. Add the cream right before serving. For special presentation, you could have bacon and cheese available to sprinkle on top.

This soup was delicious and very nourishing. I couldn’t stop going back for refills of the broth to drink! Rich, just a little creamy, a beautiful, deep yellow color, sweet from the basil – yum! This is definitely going into my menu rotation.

(Carrots aren’t usually part of S meals. I don’t think there were enough carrots in here to make much of a difference. I gave most of mine to my 11 month old, tho, just in case!)

Recipe as is made about 10 hearty servings.

*Please note that all measurements are estimated – I don’t really measure! I do plan to make this again and will come back and edit this post to refine the instructions.

Love Yer Liver

I have thought for several years that I might have liver issues of some sort or another, and done a few things to improve liver health (dandelion tea here and there, milk thistle on occasion – especially while pregnant, etc.) but it was not until a few days ago that I realized it might by my liver’s fault that I am not losing weight!

I began Trim Healthy Mama in earnest in early 2013. It took me about 5 months to lose 17 pounds. That’s not fast weight loss, but I wasn’t complaining. I did join the THM “Turtle” group to be around others that were losing weight slowly. I became pregnant in May of 2013 and had a wonderful THM pregnancy. I ate so much food, so much healthy food, and only gained 17 pounds back! The baby was well-nourished and happy too. Then post-partum hit. I always gain weight during post-partum days, but I had hoped being on THM would be different.

I’ve done THM off and on in the 10 months since giving birth. It seems like my M.O. is to go about 6 to 8 weeks 95% on plan, only to realize I’m not losing weight at all (or to the tune of 3 pounds by the end of 8 weeks). At that point, I tend to think, “Why eat so carefully if it’s not helping me lose weight? Bring on the pizza and McDonald’s and sugar.” And then I feel really gross, and usually gain a lot – like 5-6 pounds in a few days! Then I’ll go back to about 75% on plan and stay there for awhile. Unfortunately, I’m up to full pregnancy weight at this point, plus 1 or 2 pounds depending upon the day.

It’s discouraging.

And because I’m not consistent, I wonder if it is my fault by not doing THM well enough, or if something is wrong with my body. Lots of women claim they just cannot lose weight while nursing. I figured that must be it, and I would resign myself to wait until my hormones normalized a bit. But not having the hope of weight loss definitely makes it easier to cheat.

And then, someone posted this gem on the THM Turtle Facebook page: 3 Steps to Reverse a Slow-Metabolism. (It’s worth a read if you’ve ever struggled with losing weight.) The article in general is promoting eating healthily, not neglecting good carbs (THM E meals), and finding out if there are hidden problems sabotaging your weight loss. One of the possible problems is that your liver may not working properly. Out of the 17 Signs of Impaired Liver Detox, I recognized the following:

  • Sensitive to chemicals (tobacco smoke, fumes, perfume, cleaning agents, etc.)
  • Pain between the shoulder blades (off and on for years)
  • Stomach upset by greasy foods (especially before THM – not at all when I eat on plan)
  • History of nausea, motion sickness, or morning sickness
  • Headache over the eyes (occasionally)
  • Gallbladder attacks (several years ago I thought I was having gallbladder issues but the ultrasounds showed it was fine. I went gluten-free for 2 years and that seemed to stop the attack-like symptoms from happening.)
  • Bitter taste in the mouth, especially after meals (not all the time, but occasionally)
  • Become sick or easily intoxicated if drinking wine (wine makes me feel like crud!)
  • Varicose veins (worse during pregnancy)
  • NutraSweet (aspartame) consumption (faithfully and daily, for over 20 years)

Um, that’s kind of a lot. And I may or may not have left out symptoms that were a bit gross to mention. I’m also sensitive to MSG, another symptom of liver problems.

In just a bit of web research, it turns out that getting back on to Trim Healthy Mama at a 99% on-plan rate might significantly help me. For example, Diet Coke and french fries hurt my liver? Whoops. These are 2 items I have not fully let go of over the 2 years of trying out THM! And, according to Love Your Liver of Austraila, almonds, oats, blueberries, salmon, tea, yogurt, broccoli, and spinach will all improve the quality of my liver function! Each of these ingredients is a star player in the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating!

A few ideas I’ll focus on over the next couple months:

1) Ditch Diet Coke! (Interestingly, I’ve been feeling badly about my Diet Coke addiction recently and decided to take at least 5 months aspartame-free – just about 11 days ago now. How encouraging to think I’ve already, accidentally, made a step toward liver health!)

2) Add in good fruits, especially those with Vitamin C. (I will try to have one E meal each day, and include a fruit with it whenever possible. We have mandarins from my mom and dad right now – yummy!)

3) Add more non-inflammatory proteins. (I will buy and consume beef gelatin, and more fish. Eggs are already on the menu quite a bit.)

4) I will drink Earth Milk, 4 quarts a week (recipe only found in Trim Healthy Mama book – basically juiced greens with oolong tea).

5) I will drink at least 1 quart of Good-girl Moonshine a day (basic and caramel apple). (One of the articles stated that malic acid in apple cider vinegar would help with liver strengthening – and GGMS is yummy! Another article stated that ginger heals the liver, so I’ll be sure to pick the original GGMS which includes ginger at least 50% of the time.)

6) Add in a few supplements. (After Christmas rolls around and we have a bit of money, I’ll order more milk thistle. I have stinging nettle in the cupboard already and will get to using it starting today. I have lots of loose-leaf herbs from my pregnancy tea and plan to drink some of that concoction daily as well (a mix of raspberry leaf, peppermint, rose hips, dandelion, and bilberry). If I were purchasing now, I’d stick with raspberry and dandelion to get the most bang for my buck, but bilberry helps with varicosities and rose hips is full of Vitamin C, so I don’t think they’ll hurt!)

7) Add in beef liver. I’ve been wanting to do this for years, so now seems a good time. I’m going to try to find a good local source of real liver, but if I can’t, I’ll try supplements.

Words cannot express how delighted I am that perhaps I do have something I can DO to lose weight! Not only is there something I can do, much of it will be taken care of just by me being more faithful to the Trim Healthy diet I already love!

To your health and mine!

Nagging Mama

A Facebook link yesterday led me to this amazing post over at The Chaos and the Clutter.

This part stopped me in my tracks:

“When I really stop to think about what my kids are hearing from me the majority of the time, it’s not overwhelmingly positive or affirming. I don’t want their childhood memories to contain the background noise of a nagging mom.”


Oh, man.

Nagging mom. Yep. That’s been me lately.

To be fair, I have 6 children. Getting them to help around the house feels like herding cats. I suffered a back injury a week ago that had me bedridden a few days and hobbling around after that, with some physical restrictions still to follow. So the house is a mess – more of a mess than usual – and I’m stressed over it. And I’ve simply had to rely on the children to help out.

But because I am moving so slowly yesterday and today, I can hear myself talking to them. I’m not always nice. I have frustration growling in my voice when they do not complete a job the way I want to. I feel my eyebrows arching and eyes rolling when they do not understand a command for the umpteenth time. I’ve yelled some, but more than anything I’ve consistently put forth the drip drip drip of nagging.

How do I break this habit?

Sharla suggested simply adding the words “I appreciate” to my vocabulary. I did this yesterday. I didn’t stop the nagging and I still felt the frustration teeming. I apologized for my show of irritation – a few times.

Here are just a few things I appreciate about each of my children, to put me in the right frame of mind before I hobble downstairs to get dinner going tonight.

Levi (age 10 months): Levi is a sweetheart. Such an easy baby. And he loves his daytime naps. And he loves kissing his mom. I could just eat him.

Gracie (age 3): Gracie is a born-mommy. Her heart toward stuffed animals and dolls makes me want to me a better mom. She likes things put away in their proper places too. I appreciate another woman in the house and I hope to learn from her someday.

Dwayne (age 11): Wow, has Dwayne changed so much in the 4 years since we adopted him. I appreciate his sense of humor. I appreciate his energy. I am so thankful that even when he gets angry, he backs down quickly and makes things right with family members.

Daniel (age 12): I appreciate Daniel’s steadiness. He is a rock that I can count on. When I need a task done, I ask him. With the back pain, how many times have I had him run upstairs to get my Ibuprofen or run downstairs to fetch my water? And I really appreciate the keen eye Daniel keeps on the little ones! More than once has he rescued them from a potentially dangerous situation while mom was distracted. And he’s hilarious.

Micah (age 14): Micah, my big teddy bear.  I appreciate his creativity and deep thoughts. I love that he will share with me the many ideas taking form in his mind, and that he combines logic with emotion while forming those thoughts. I love that he is interested in figuring out a godly worldview.

Christian (age 16): I appreciate Christian’s get-it-done attitude. When he knows what he wants, he doesn’t stop until he gets it. He pushes me when I would lollygag.

Those are just a few things I can think of off the top of my head. I am so thankful for the children. I’m asking God to bless me today by transforming me from a nagging mom to loving mom – but somehow still make sure the kids get the things done we need done.

THM Meal Plan, Autumn 2014

Menu – 4 Weeks of Fall


(E) Summer Porridge for moi and Soaked Oats for kids

(E) Beanadillas/Bean Burritos/LC tortillas/Beans & Rice etc.

(Weeks 1-4) (S) Spaghetti with ground turkey (over Zucchini noodles or Dreamfields for me, regular noodles for kids)




(S) Muffin in a Mug w/ crm chs (Kids: Bagels w/ Cream Cheese)

(E or C) Sandwiches (Egg Salad, Lunch Meat, Tuna, etc.) Raw veggies, chips

(Weeks 1,3) (S) Spicy Chicken Wings or Drumsticks (THM pg 323)

 (Weeks 2, 4) (S) Sponge Bob Crabby Patties



(S) Eggs & Flax Toast (Regular toast for kiddos)

(S) Salmon and Salad  (Kids: Mac n’ Cheese and Veggies)

 (Weeks 1,3) (S) Meatball Soup

(Weeks 2,4) (S) Egg Roll in a Bowl (Rice for kids)



(E) Soaked Oatmeal (and Cottage Cheese for me)

(S) Leftover Meatball Soup or grilled chicken and veggies

(Weeks 1,3) (E) Bryan’s Red Lentil Soup or Marquez Lentil Soup
(Weeks 2, 4) (E) All-Day Chana Dahl (THM pg 311)




(S) Eggs or Mug in Muffin                 (Kids: Cereal w/ Milk)

(S) Leftover Soup

Pizza Night!

(Weeks 1,3) (S) – Pizza Casserole (pg 327 of THM)

(Weeks 2, 4) (S) Little Caesar’s for kids and Holy Grail Pizza for adults




(E) Trim Healthy Pancakes

(S or E) Leftovers, Mac n’ Cheese, or Bean Meal (burritos, beans/rice, etc.)

(Weeks 2, 4) (S) Coney Island Casserole (Crock Pot)

(Weeks 1, 2) (E) Italian Chicken (Crock Pot – THM pg 313)



(S) Meat and Eggs                                                                       Add Toast

Out to Eat Lunch! Maybe a Crossover or S Helper!

(F) Whey Shake

 (Weeks 1, 3) (E) Creamy Taco Soup (add fixin’s for kids/hubby – omit yogurt, read reviews)
(Weeks 2, 4)  Hearty Chicken Butternut Stew (chicken breast to stay E)

Edited to change Weeks 2, 4 to Tonya’s Chicken Chili (E without fixings – can have the baked blue corn chips from Trader Joe’s, tho!)

On the Horizon, 2014 – 2015

I’m a little bit addicted to change. I love a fresh perspective. I love the chance to start over. I love looking out at all the possibilities.

This year will include many big changes for our homeschool, Soaring Arrow Academy. For the last 5 years, we have been involved in a Classical Conversations community. What a wonderful experience for our family! Due to finances, with the exception of my 14 year old son, Micah, we will be taking a year off of meeting formally for CC. Micah will be entering Challenge I. He has been with the same group of kids through Challenge A and B, and is thriving. He hopes to stay in CC all the way through Challenge IV.

My eldest son, Christian, began College Plus this week. We’re hoping he will graduate from high school and college in 3 years through this program. He’s a real get-er-done kind of guy and didn’t want to be bogged down with years of studies, so this may just be the perfect fit for him.

My one and only daughter, Gracie, just turned 3. Though we won’t be homeschooling her formally, I have put up 4 “tot school” boxes in our front room. I figure if each of the boys (4 of them, not counting the baby, of course) does one activity from the daily box and reads her one book from the shelf, she’ll be golden. (I sneaked some review activities into her boxes so the boys will think they are simply teaching her but really going over the list of presidents, art history cards, etc., for their own benefit.)

That leaves just the two boys in the middle to be micro-managed this year!

I am looking forward to spending lots of one-on-one time with Daniel, getting him ready for Challenge A should he decide to go in 2015 (I tutored Ch A for 2 years and am slightly biased that it is just about the most fun homeschoolers could have – and so educational too!). Dwayne, age 11, has only been with us 4.5 years ago (adopted in 2010). He has learned an immense amount in the time he has been with us, but shows signs of a learning disability. We joined a charter school this year so that we can pursue testing and possibly an IEP for him. In the past, he was diagnosed with severe ADHD and some type of behavior disorder.. I know that both of these aspects of his personality, whether the labels are worth stating or not, make it difficult for me to tutor him. However, thanks to many years of puttering away at phonics with him and the fact that my dad has been intensely tutoring him for us this summer, Dwayne is just starting to read. Perhaps the ability to read will turn homeschooling on its head for him, and we will see even more progress in other academic subjects.

After prayerfully considering the myriad of homeschooling choices and styles this year, we will be returning to our Charlotte Mason-esque roots. I am absolutely delighted to focus on short lessons, a full, diverse curriculum, narration, and living books this year. I always have claimed that Charlotte’s ways should be considered classical anyway, and true to that belief we will be meshing ideas we’ve picked up from classical education with Charlotte’s ideas. I plan to re-read For the Children’s Sake, A Charlotte Mason Companion, and Educating the WholeHearted Child this year, to keep me on the right track big-picture wise. Because we intend to get back to CC at some point, I planned our homeschooling year around Cycle 3’s memory work.

Here’s the lineup:


Read through gospels as part of morning routine

Jesus Storybook Bible at breakfast

Memorize John 1:1-7


Heritage History: We will read these living books together for a broad overview of Western Civilization. We also have many delicious American history books lying around the house, so we’ll throw those in this year as well (like these beauties!).


Have you had a chance to look at Apologia’s Exploring Creation series? These textbooks read like living books and include lots of fun hands-on activities. I just love these books! We haven’t touched one in years, so this year the hope is to get through not one but two of them. We’ll only do Science 2x a week, tho, so we’ll play the speed by ear. I don’t mind if we are doing Science next summer if need be.

Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy

Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics


Brave Writer – I’m super excited about joining the charter this year because I can try out this expensive curriculum. It appears to be very Charlotte Mason-oriented, using living books, encouraging a delight in writing, and including dictation, copywork, and tea time! I plan to order several back issues of their monthly publication called Arrow. These publications will give us specific activities to do that reference the literature we will be reading as a family for bedtime stories.

We are hoping to read (and use as springboards for writing) the following books this year:

James and Giant Peach (stylish synonyms) (this one is free on their website so we’re trying it out)

Because of Winn-Dixie (collage)

Pippi Longstocking (onomatopoeia)

Henry Huggins (names)

Rascal (consonance)

The Penderwicks (dialogue)

Gingery Pye (personification)

 Bud, Not Buddy (onomatopoeia)

The Horse and His Boy (writing projects)


Daniel and Dwayne will both need to read aloud to Gracie each day. Both will be required to read every day as well (I hate that I have to require this – my older 2 boys LOVED to read. These boys need more of a push!). 2 days a week they will read from our History choices, and 2 days a week for fun. I will go through Reading Pathways with Dwayne to help with fluency. This book really helped Daniel pick up speed in his reading a few years back.


I think we’ll do All About Spelling for Dwayne and Spelling Power for Daniel. Normally I like to have my children using the same curriculum, but the adoption part of our story (and resulting very close ages of these 2 boys) has created a scenario where the least amount of competition between the two boys, the better.

Foreign Language:

Visual Latin (lots of English grammar here as well) – this is a video series. We will watch together, but go very slowly. The boys will continue working on memory facts from Latin from the various CC cycles.


I’m hoping to use charter funds to put Dwayne and possibly Daniel too into Mathnasium for a bit.

Dwayne is currently using Dreambox for math over the summer. I really don’t know what else, if anything I want to add to his math plate. He will continue working on math facts from the CC memory work.

Daniel is not loving Saxon. I think he will give Teaching Textbooks 7 a try this year.


U.S. States and Capitals memorization, landmarks as noted in CC Cycle 3, and practice drawing the U.S. map at least once a week. Review geographical places from Europe, Africa, South America once in a while.

Memory Work:

We will continue learning Cycle 3 memory work this year, reviewing the other cycles when we find the time or I remember. Memory work covers History, Science, Latin, English Grammar, Math, and a World History timeline. 

Fine Arts:

D and D will continue using Child-Size Masterpieces during preschool time with Gracie (see what I did there?)

We will also have up art prints of Norman Rockwell, Georgia O’Keefe, Grandma Moses, NC Wyeth, John Singleton Copely, and Mary Cassatt (American artists) to narrate, discuss, and sometimes copy.

Maestro Classics (Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel, Peter and the Wolf, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice)


The boys will be playing flag football from August to November. We also have a trampoline and an above ground pool. With the charter resources, I may look into gymnastics or karate – but I don’t want to get too busy, so I may not.

That’s about it. Now to firm up the daily rhythm of our school days, organize the house some (please!), make a menu plan that I can deal with, and then we’re ready to hit the books!

My First Paleo Cookies

ImageYesterday, I came across this lovely recipe for Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies. Totally yummy, right? I fiddled with the recipe a bit and made the delicious cookies pictured above! (Actually, I was able to rope my 16 year old son into helping me this time, since the cookies were destined for a girl he fancies! I will have to use this new information to get further help with chores in some way…)

These are not Trim Healthy Mama cookies. I LOVE the low-glycemic THM treats. But for this event, I wanted cookies I could call completely and totally natural, and decided to not worry about the glycemic effect (I did still have the racing heart I get after eating white sugar while eating these)

3 ¼ cup almond meal (half blanched and half Trader Joe’s almond meal)

1 tsp grey sea salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup honey

½ cup butter, melted

1  cup Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chunks

1/2 cup walnut pieces

Because I am the world’s laziest baker, I generally mix my dry ingredients together first and then dump the wet ingredients into the SAME bowl (the horror, right? less dishes to wash!) After the batter was well mixed, I added the chocolate chunks and walnuts. Placed on parchment paper on a cookie sheet in spoonfuls, as per original recipe.

Baked at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes. There were a bit on the soft side. Tasted even better after sitting out a bit! The original recipe’s author suggests refrigerating the cookies and eating right out of the fridge for the least amount of stickiness. We took them to a Shakespeare in the Park outing, and they did get stickier and more crumbly as the night went on – but still tasted delish. Recipe makes about 24 cookies.


Trim Healthy Mama, Winter Menu, Week 2

Trim Healthy Mama Winter Plan, Week 2



(E) Quinoa with Cinnamon and Berries

(E) Beanadillas/Bean Burritos/LC tortillas (Kids: Regular Tortillas)

(S) Tomato Soup and Chicken Quesadillas




(S) Muffin in a Mug w/ crm chs (Kids: Bagels w/ Cream Cheese)

(C) To-Go Lunch for CC (lunch meat sands or salad, strawberry-walked-into-a-bar bars, apples, almonds, water bottles)





(S Helper) Eggs & TJ’s Protein Bread

(S) Salmon and Salad(Kids: Beanadillas and Veggies)

(S) Egg Roll in a Bowl



(E) Soaked Oatmeal (and Cottage Cheese for me)

(S) Leftover Egg Roll in a Bowl

(S) Chicken Curry, green beans




(S) Eggs or Mug in Muffin                 (Kids: Cereal w/ Milk)

(S) Leftover Meatball Soup

(E) Salsa Verde Soup




(E) Trim Healthy Pancakes

(S) Leftover Soup, Bread and Butter or Quesadillas

(S) Homemade Pizza (Speedy Crust in THM book and TJ’s dough)




(S) Meat and Eggs                                                                       Add Toast

Out to Eat Lunch! Maybe a Crossover or S Helper!

(S)  Chicken Alfredo (Dreamfields for me, pasta for boys)