Category Archives: Tips

Tips and Activities for Young Children

I had a sweet young mama call me this week and I was honored to share with her. One of the things I shared was some ideas on how to get things done with a little one under foot.

It is a good idea have some things you do at different points of the day; here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Bible story and talk about Jesus time
  • Cuddle time reading books
  • Music/Dance time
  • Outside Play/Nature Time
  • Blocks, play dough, finger paint, or coloring time

I also want to remind you of a couple of posts I’ve done in the past because there are two important things to keep in mind:

I hope these ideas are helpful and/or encouraging to you.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Beginning Trim Healthy Mama

Healthy food ~ Lifeofjoy.meI’m writing this post, not as an authority in the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) community but more for those of my friends who are interested in beginning this eating lifestyle.

Here are my tips for beginning:

  • I recommend you get the Trim Helthy Mama Plan book either from the library system, new or used online or in a bookstore. You can just get the Trim Healthy Table cookbook which came out recently and has a summary of the plan in the first 3 chapters but for a better understanding, I recommend the plan book. If you cannot get that, here is an online resource you can use.
  • You want to eat your fats separate from your carbs. So although you can have brown rice or sweet potatoes you cannot have them with steak but you could have it with chicken breast. You want to have lean meats with your carbs. It is important to have all your meals anchored with protein; this doesn’t mean you need six ounces of protein but definitely some. Protein slows the rise of blood sugar from eating carbs.
  • You want to have three hours between eating. Don’t eat sooner, even if hungry. If you are hungry prior to 3 hours, note what you ate last and increase amounts next time or drink a sipper, cup of tea, or water. It is actually good to be hungry because that means the body has run through the fuel you gave it and is now ready for more (and should get it from your fat stores). You can change your fuel source after three hours, so you can have a meal with nice healthy fats and three hours later a meal with yummy sweet potatoes.
  • You will need lots of non-starchy vegetables. I suggest lettuce, onions, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, and frozen okra. These are our basics.
  • Did I mention eggs? Yeah, we use lots of eggs. I really like eggs. I bake a lot with eggs.
  • Find a sugar alternative that you like. If you want to only get yours from a local store, I’d look for Swerve or Pyure (be sure it is only erythritol and stevia, they have some with extra ingredients that are not on plan). I also like stevia glycerite. But if you can order online, I recommend getting Gentle Sweet and Pure Stevia Extract Powder from THM. Here is my post on sugar alternatives.
  • You will also need a flour alternative, since on THM you do not use things made of regular flour. I highly recommend Baking Blend from THM.  I also like to have coconut flour, blanched almond flour, whey protein isolate powder, flax meal, and oat fiber on hand to make baked goods. I get coconut flour and blanched almond flour from my local Wal-mart. The flax meal from either Walmart or Sprouts. Whey protein isolate powder I get from Sprouts as well, from their bulk section. However the oat fiber must be ordered online. I prefer LifeSource 500 brand which I get from; I’d stocked up and have not yet tried the THM oat fiber. Nili’s Blend is a good alternative but you need collagen and I get my collagen from THM, so might as well buy the baking blend. However, having said that, I do keep this recipe on hand for if I run out THM Baking Blend.
  • Some items we have decided we love using are THM collagen, nutritional yeast, and sunflower lecithin. We also get sprouted wheat flour and/or spelt flour for making homemade bread for use in a carb meal.

Well, I think that is enough for today. If you have questions, let me know and I’ll see if I can help.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Chicken ~

Prep Chicken

Tender, moist chicken for easy lunches or to make dinner quicker.

I heard Trim Healthy Mama co-author, Pearl Barrett, mention at some point that she super prepared chicken. I didn’t know exactly what she meant, but I immediately thought about prepping by cooking some chicken breast in the crock pot.

This produces a great source of lean meat that can be used in any meal. It can be used in an “S”/keto meal, an “E” or “FP” /low fat meals. If it is used in an “S”/keto meal, simply add healthy fats. I have found that I need to have more fuel pull meals when I desire to lose weight.

I use this meat in Michael’s daily lunches. I get chicken breast for $1.89 a pound at Aldi which is significantly less than price of deli meat and even less than prepackaged lunch meat. Plus there’s the added benefit of having meat already cooked for addition to a casserole, soup, salad, or wrap.

I use a general seasoning but you could change it up if you desired, giving it a Mexican, Italian, Asian, or even Indian. The decision need only be based on the how you decide to use the meat. I keep it very basic, so that I can use it in any meal and just change the seasonings at the time I use it.

It is uber simple. You simply place the chicken breasts in the crock pot and season with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. There are really no measurements, just sprinkle it on as you deem fit. You can always add more when you use it.

Prepped Chicken ~ Lifeofjoy.meSeasoning ~ Lifeofjoy.mePrepped Chicken ~ Lifeofjoy.meCook it on low for about 6 hours or on high for about 4. (I didn’t get pictures of the finished product last week, so I took them this week and that is why you will see more breasts and more seasonings in the following pictures.)

Chicken ~ Lifeofjoy.meWhen it is cooked and cooled, bag the meat and put the small amount of broth in a jar. Before you use the broth, remove the fat, if you are using it in and E or FP (low fat) meal, there won’t be much.

Bag Chicken ~ Lifeofjoy.meJust pull it out of the refrigerator and break off the amount you want to use.Bagged Chicken ~ Lifeofjoy.meI just break it apart to add it to Michael’s wraps for lunch or cut it up and add to a soup or casserole.

Yesterday I added it to konjac noodles for a nice stir fry.

Prepped Chicken ~

I sincerely doubt this even needs a “recipe” but I’ll add it for ease of seeing the seasonings I add. ;)

Prep Chicken


  • 4-5 pounds chicken breast
  • salt
  • pepper
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder


  1. Place chicken in crockpot in a single layer (or if you are doing more than fits in a single layer, season each layer of chicken breasts)
  2. Season as desired
  3. Cook on low for about 6 hours or high for about 4.
  4. Cool, bag, and refrigerate until needed. If it isn't used within a week, I'd recommend freezing it and use it in a soup or casserole upon thawing.

When I get home from running errands, I throw it in the crock pot and before bed be sure to bag and refrigerate it. And even though there is only about one to two cups of broth, save it! It is very flavorful.

I have found this so helpful and time saving. I recently made a dinner and was able to get it done more quickly because I already had my meat cooked.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

P.S. I have since found out that she super preps by roasting/baking three whole chickens in the oven. I think my way is easier and leaner. ;)


Bacon Hack ~

Thick Bacon Hack

Make the less expensive thin bacon into thick bacon, with this tip.

My family has gotten spoiled with the thick cut bacon I’ve been buying at Sprouts lately. It truly is delicious. But it is a tad bit expensive. So I buy the cheaper thin bacon to add to what I buy of the thicker bacon.

However, nobody really cares for the thinner bacon. Although I do have to admit, sometimes it is so nice and thin and crispy that I call it a bacon chip. ;) But  most of the time, we don’t prefer this cut.

Well last weekend when I was baking up some of the bacon for the week, I had run out of space and still had half a package of thin cut bacon left. Then it hit me . . . I can put two pieces together and make it a thicker piece of bacon. And that is just what I did and it turned out nice.

So for today, I thought I’d show you how to do it in a skillet but the same technique applies to putting it on sheet pans and baking it.

Place two pieces on the skillet together. The big ones on the right are two pieces and the little piece on the left is just one.

Bacon Hack ~ Lifeofjoy.meThey may separate some as they cook but this is okay. :)

Bacon Hack ~ Lifeofjoy.meJust turn the two-piece piece over as one piece.

Bacon Hack ~ Lifeofjoy.meI actually prefer it baked in the oven but this was okay too. Now, I’ll admit that this is not as good as thick bacon but it makes it a bit tastier this way.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Baked Pancakes

An unconventional, easy, time saving way to make pancakes.

Being on a low-carb diet, sometimes means that you need to incorporate more fiber. Sukrin has a fiber syrup that we like to use on pancakes – yes, low-carb pancakes. :) Yummo! Anyway, I decided that maybe Sean might want to have some on a daily basis but making pancakes every day is NOT going to happen.

Then I remembered reading on a fellow Oklahoman’s blog, that she made pancakes in the oven. She said it works for any batter that has two cups of flower in it. I wondered if this would work for these low-carb pancakes I’ve been making. (Well, actually, I’ve been using the recipe in her cookbook: Cooking Keto With Kristie: A Journey Worth Taking and it is slightly different than the one in her video, which is slightly different than the one she references on the video.)I decided to give it a try when I wasn’t under pressure; so I attempted it for my breakfast yesterday. It Worked! :) I use her recipe but substitute coconut flower for the pork rinds right now, since Michael cannot have them.

So, here’s how to do it.

Prepare you batter.

Baked Pancakes ~ Lifeofjoy.meGrease your sheet pan. Mine is about 15″x11″ in size. I used coconut oil.

Baked Pancakes ~ Lifeofjoy.meSpread batter into pan.

Baked Pancakes ~ Lifeofjoy.meSorry about the bad pictures today!

Put in the oven and bake on 375º for 12-15 minutes.

Baked Pancakes ~ Lifeofjoy.meI cut it into 16 pieces because this recipe is for 8 servings.

Baked Pancakes ~ Lifeofjoy.meOne serving. :)

Baked Pancakes ~ Lifeofjoy.meTiffany was in the mood for some chocolate, so she added some Lily’s chocolate chips (they’re sweetened with stevia).

You cannot see my pancake very good but it was delicious.

Baked Pancakes ~

Baked Pancakes


  • Pancake batter that has 2 cups dry ingredients.


  1. Prepare batter.
  2. Grease sheet pan/jelly roll pan.
  3. Pour batter into pan and spread out evenly.
  4. Bake at 375º for 12-15 minutes.

I hope this makes your life easier. I believe it will mine.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Weekly Menu Planning

Menu ~ Lifeofjoy.meI don’t know about you but when it comes time to make a menu I frequently have the same meals pop into my mind. I find that every so often I need to remind myself of other things I have previously made and enjoyed or ones I saw and wanted to try. I currently have no schedule for this but am thinking I should do this at least once each season.

Usually when the weather changes I know which recipes I am eager to have once again but after the first couple of weeks, it is a good idea to go through my recipes for menu inspiration.

Fall is approaching and we’ve already had a few cooler weathered days. I never used to be one that cared much for soup but in the past couple of years I have found some soups that I really like. I look forward to sharing those with you over the next several months.

Occasionally I go through my cookbooks and my Pinterest pins to find new recipes to try. It is always fun to make something new but it usually takes longer to make a recipe the first time I make it, I make sure to plan accordingly.

Each week, usually the day before I head to the grocery store, I make a list of what I will make over the next week. From this list or menu if you will, I create my grocery list checking the recipes against what is in my refrigerator/freezer and cabinets. I also keep a small dry erase board on my refrigerator to write down things as we run out of them.

I usually just write down either things I am hungry for or a favorite of a family member. I have read that others make their menu planning easier by having a certain type of food on certain days of the week like Mondays is Chinese food, Tuesdays is Italian and so on; others put a certain type of meat on specific days. I just find it easier to go with what I’m hungry for. Have I mentioned that I love food? I can usually come up with 4 or 5 meals without much struggle. It is usually the last two or three I struggle with. That is when I rely on either something I know a family member likes or browse through my recipes.

Here is the menu I created for this week:
Meatloaf and Scalloped Potatoes
Hamburgers and Baked Beans
San Francisco Chicken and Noodles
Chicken Parmesan, Noodles, and Brussel Sprouts
Chicken Enchiladas

I had planned for us to eat out on Sunday but I wasn’t feeling good so we didn’t leave the house. I had a back-up plan of Waffles, Turkey Bacon, and Sausage. I always keep some breakfast meat in the freezer for either a special Saturday breakfast or breakfast for dinner, like we had Sunday.

I hope this gives you an idea of how to plan a menu and make your weekly grocery list.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Frozen Meat Tips

I have no idea how food bloggers blog several recipes a week. Do you realize that at just one a week that is 52 a year and over a hundred every two year? How in the world do they do that? Well, clearly I am a newb!

Do you have those days when you forgot to defrost the meat you were supposed to use for dinner? I sure do. Years ago I found a way around this dilemma, other than remembering to get the meat out ahead of time. ;) I had purchased a Turbo Cooker on clearance at Walmart and read the directions. I found out that if you put frozen meat in the pan and the lid on the pan, it would cook the meat — all the way through. It was amazing! I loved it and it saved my behind many times.

Well, we had this pan for years and it finally was so scratched that I was very concerned about the negative side effects of the non-stick surface being scratched, as I had heard that it can be so bad the fumes could kill birds. So, I sadly got rid of the pan. I replaced it with a cast iron skillet. I really missed cooking meat from frozen, so one day I tried it. Do you know what? It worked!

So here’s what you do: Put your chicken breast, pork chop, or other similar piece of meat in a skillet that has a lid over medium to medium high heat. I like to spray my skillet with oil spray first. Place the lid on the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes, length of time depends on the thickness of the meat. When the meat is gray and some of the blood is on the top of the meat, flip it over; what was on the bottom should be nicely browned. At this point you can choose weather or not to put the lid back on because it is nearly done. As soon as this side is browned. If at any point it seems to be burning or smoking a lot, add a tablespoon of water or so to release the meat from the skillet. It will take a few minutes longer than if the meat was thawed first.

Cutting Frozen Chicken ~ LifeOfJoy.meIf you have a strong knife with a serrated edge or a sharp edge, you can cut slightly thawed meat by putting pressure on the knife and pushing it through the meat, if you need your meat cubed. It will cook faster in small pieces but it might take a while to cut it depending just how frozen it is.

Cut Frozen Chicken ~

My favorite is frozen ground meat because all you do is get it out of the package and put the frozen block of meat in the skillet with the lid on top. Every few minutes, rotate the meat and scrape off whatever part has browned and/or is soft, letting it cook on another side. Since the lid is on the skillet, meat on top of the frozen block will soften. It can be scraped off into the pan to brown. It is a great dinner saver! :)

Until  next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


A Few Kitchen Tips

Kitchen Tips ~ LifeOfJoy.meWell I failed again at planning for the recipe of the week. :(  I’m going to have to get a bit better at this. ;)

Consequently, I thought I’d share a few kitchen tips with you.

  • When chopping onions, it won’t bother your eyes if you chew some gum.
  • When storing cut onions, completely wrap in foil and store in the refrigerator.
When Sauteing:
  • I start sauteing veggies in a pan sprayed with oil, when they begin to stick, I add a bit of water to release them from the bottom of the pan. I add more water as needed to keep them from sticking.
  • You probably already know this but here goes anyway. Wrap celery in foil and store in the veggie drawer.
  • When I buy a head of leaf lettuce and get it home, I put paper towels in the bag with it to absorb some of that moisture that the store sprays on it so frequently . . . ugh.

I think that is all I have for today. I’ll try to have a good recipe for you next week!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Cooking Failures

Crockpot Rice Mishap ~ LifeOfJoy.meI think it is sometimes good to share mishaps. Firstly, because it lets you know that nobody is perfect and everybody has things happen. Secondly, so that others can learn from our mistakes.

I decided to put our dinner in the crockpot Sunday, so that when we got home from church, we would have a nice hot yummy meal ready for us. As you may have already guessed, this did not happen as planned. ;)

I was up early and managed to get the chicken, salsa, and seasonings in my 6qt crockpot. I then put the brown rice and water in my little 1.5 qt crockpot. I then put a note on the front door to ensure that we had turned ON the crockpots. Yes, I learned this one from experience. You see, we are gone for about 5 hours and I am typically filling the crockpot an hour before we leave. We do not need food in the crockpot an extra hour, so I wait until we are getting ready to walk out the door to turn it on and then just as I am walking to the door, I usually put my hand on the outside of the crockpot to feel if it is warm, thus ensuring that not only did I turn it on but I also have it plugged in. Yes, another thing learned the hard way.

Well, this Sunday as I was putting the finishing touches on my hair, Mike asked if I wanted the crockpot turned on low. I said yes and knew he was standing right over the crockpot when he asked, so I knew it was done.

When I walked out of our bedroom, ready to leave, I went over to the little crockpot and turned it on low. I ensured that the light came on and out the door we went.

Fast forward five and a half hours. We walk in the door and all I’m smelling is rice. No nice spicy aroma of taco chicken. :( Uh Oh!!! I asked someone to check the chicken because I didn’t think it was done, if it was even on, while I changed my clothes. (One of Mike’s pet peeves is when I cook in my good clothes.) I overhear that it is not cooked, so I yell out to them that they should put it in the dutch oven on the stove and have a snack until dinner ends up ready.

I finished changing my clothes and checked on the rice. I was eager to see how it had faired. I’d read a blog post somewhere recently where a lady made a chicken and rice dish in her crock pot but when she used brown rice it came out really sticky. She fixed this by using instant brown rice instead.

I removed the lid and saw nice pieces of rice. I put my spoon down in the crock and felt MUSH!!! I folded the rice and took a taste — UGH!!! Rice was totally mush! What was the problem? Now, I will tell you that I did cook it on low because we were going to be gone for over 5 hours and on high it would have been a burnt mess.

Oddly enough, I saw a blog post link on my facebook news feed yesterday morning about cooking rice in a crock pot. I read her post and saw that she did use brown rice too. So . . . I commented on her page and hopefully she can tell me how to fix it. I’m guessing that since it is in my crockpot for so long that I need to reduce the amount of water that I add. See when I cook brown rice on the stove, even in one of my pots with the tightest fitting lids, I have to add the higher end of the water suggested rather than the lower end. However, I am guessing with the crockpot since no steam escapes at all that I need to use the lower measurement. I will try this one day with a smaller batch of rice. If I get a response from Carrie over on, I’ll update this post.

Thankfully, all was not lost with the rice as our cats, chickens, and even one of our dogs enjoyed it. Dinner was good about an hour and a half later even though I had to cook the rice too. ;) Actually, I almost burnt the taco chicken on the stove because I was expecting it to take longer to cook than what it did. LOL Oh well, live and learn!

Update: Carrie thinks I just overcooked it. :( Bummer! Now I’m wondering if Auto would work . . . I think I’ll try that next.

Until next time, I hope you don’t have any cooking mishaps, and God bless,

Michele ºÜº

How to Core an Apple

Well, I thought I might share my egg roll recipe here today but I realized that we did not take any pictures of the final product last week. :(  I’ve toyed with what other recipe to share today and decided that rather than push it and be rushed getting this post published that I would share a tip with you today.

I have broken my fair share of apple corers. So much so, that I have stopped buying them. I still have times when I need my apples cored though. I’ve been using this method for so long that I’m not sure if I came up with this on my own or if I read about it online but here it is any way. :)

Cut the apple in half pole to pole, from stem to blossom end.Apple Cut Pole-to-PoleSplit apple and melon baller

Now, take a melon baller (You know that odd little tool that you keep in your gadget drawer that you never use because you cut your watermelons in slices.) and remove the core from each half of the apple.




The last step is to notch out the stem and blossom end.




When I make apple pie or apple cake, I peel the apples before cutting or coring.

Today I made a Waldorf Salad with my apple. It is very simple to make. I chopped the apple, finely diced 2/3 of a stalk of celery, cut about 12 grapes in half or fourths, and chopped about 1/3 cup of walnuts.IMG_9070

Then I add about 1/3 cup Miracle Whip Salad Dressing, sprinkling of sugar or drizzle of honey, a dash of milk but you could add a dash of lemon juice instead, and a dash of salt (and pepper if you like).

Wasy Waldorf Salad

I hope you enjoyed this tip and simple “recipe.”

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº