Simplify: Gift Giving

standard December 9, 2016 Leave a response


I absolutely love this time of year. The food, the music, the decorations. It all makes me so happy. The only real issue that can overshadow it all is the obsession with STUFF. I love getting gifts. I love giving gifts. But I really do not enjoy the push for materialism and wish lists and consumerism that comes from this time of year. The good news is I’ve found a way to reduce the noise and enjoy the moments that matter. It is possible to simplify this season and the gift giving process. I shared a little on this last year in terms of gifting better, and as I’ve continued to simplify, the season has only gotten more joyful.

1. Love others. Spend time with family. With friends. Make new traditions with your neighbors or your kids or your core group of friends. Give the gift of time and memories that will last.

2. Focus on giving. Give to those who have big needs. And little needs. The things we don’t often see or think about. Refugees come into our cities with nothing. Homeless shelters get overcrowded when the weather turns cold. Our neighbors have needs that often go unnoticed. Go say hi. Bring joy. Bring blankets and shoes and grocery gift cards. Everyday items can be the greatest blessings.

3. Give the unexpected. Instead of heading to the mall to buy sweaters and electronics and toys, think outside the box. Give experiences. Give handmade. Give love.

In need of some simple gift ideas?

  • Simplified Planner or Recipe Binder // TODAY is the last day to order for pre-Christmas delivery!
  • 2017 PowerSheets // Goal setting isn’t just for New Year’s but it is a great time to start fresh and plan for a great year of intentionality and simplicity.
  • Handmade Treats // Check out this post and this post for some great homemade food gifts.
  • Gifts with Purpose // Check out companies that do more than just make profit, and give back in some capacity, such as Sseko or Noonday Collection.
  • Buy Small // Shop in your community, from small businesses, from people who are working hard to pursue their passions. I love Taylor Custer Jewelry, coffee from local shops, and friends’ home-based businesses. Send someone a hot meal from Chasing Food ATX, pamper someone with spa items from your local Mary Kay consultant, or gift a comfy tee from LulaRoe. With so many businesses like these popping up, there’s something for everyone on your list.


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links may result in a small commission used to support

Spiced Chili Taco Soup

standard December 7, 2016 Leave a response


Chilly, cold, rainy winter weather calls for spicy bowls of smoky comfort food. Soup is a classic go-to, but it also needs to be substantial enough to keep you going through the day. This soup is a cross between classic taco soup and the unique Cincinnati style chili characterized by warm cinnamon and cocoa flavors. Add extra liquid to make it a brothy bowl of veggies and protein, or let it cook down to a thick and hearty chili, enjoyed on its own or over pasta. Either way, you cannot go wrong with a batch of this for lunch after errands in the cold or dinner after a long day at work.


Spiced Chili Taco Soup

Yield: Serves 4

Calories per serving: 230 kcal


  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 c onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 c shishito peppers OR 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1/2 c frozen corn
  • 1 15 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 c dry green lentils
  • 1 T cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 chipotle in adobo + 2 tsp adobo sauce
  • 4 c vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper
  • diced onion, for garnish (optional)
  • cilantro, for garnish (optional)
  • vegan cheese or avocado (optional)


  1. Heat oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add onion and peppers and saute until softened.
  2. Add corn, tomatoes, beans, and lentils. Add spices, chipotle, and adobo sauce and stir to combine. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors are combined, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add stock, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, and let cook until soup slightly thickens and lentils are cooked through, 15-20 minutes.
  4. Serve with toppings of choice.


For a protein boost, add a cup of crumbled seitan or tofu to the pot with the lentils.

If you are in the mood for chili vs soup, reduce broth amount by half and let cook uncovered until desired thickness is reached. Serve over spaghetti for an authentic Cincinnati style dish.


Per serving (without toppings): 230 calories, 45 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat, 11 g protein, 884 mg sodium, 10 g sugar


Seasonal Eats: Peppers

standard December 5, 2016 Leave a response


In most of the US, peppers are a summer staple. Here in Texas, they seem to be a year round bounty. I’ve had multicolored shishito peppers in each of my CSA bushels for the past few months, almost without fail. So even though it’s December, let’s talk about peppers. And then make some smoky, cozy chili.



Most peppers are generically classified as either sweet or hot. Sweet peppers are mild, and can be slightly sweet, though the name is to mostly differentiate them from their spicy counterpart. Bell peppers, banana peppers, and pimentos are all considered sweet. Hot peppers include chilis, jalapenos, serrano peppers, habeneros, and thai peppers. Poblanos, Anaheim peppers, and shishito peppers are all somewhere in the middle, with mild heat characteristics.

Sweet peppers provide about 20 calories per 100 grams, with most of that energy being water and carbohydrates. Hot peppers have roughly 40 calories per 100 grams, with a higher carbohydrate to water ratio, due to a higher sugar content. Both varieties are high in vitamins and minerals, with greater than 5% DV of vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese. Peppers are extremely high in vitamin C at over 130% DV for sweet peppers and a whopping 400% DV for hot peppers, per 100 grams. Hot peppers are also a significant source of iron, copper, folate, and magnesium.


Peppers contain capsaicin which aids in increasing metabolism by raising body temperature and expending energy. Hot peppers contain much more capsaicin than sweet peppers, so add some heat to your meals to get things going.

The incredibly high levels of vitamin C in peppers provide significant antioxidant power to the body. Vitamin C is also a key factor in collagen production, which gives structure to skin, bones, and blood vessels. Red bell peppers as well as hot peppers have the most concentrated amounts of vitamin C, so stock up on this ruby color.


Add some sweet and heat to your menu this week with these fun pepper recipes:


Peppers, hot chilis, green, raw. USDA Food and Nutrient Database.
Peppers, sweet, green, raw. USDA Food and Nutrient Database.