Appreciation for Smarties

Welcome to Daylight Savings Time…if you live in a place that celebrates/honors this system. I used to love DST, but no longer as it just means that my kids now wake me up at 630am until their little bodies adjust slowly. That means my “extra hour” gets spread out in minute increments for a week or so and I don’t really “catch up” on sleep….again. 😦

However, the Halloween rush is now over and the Thanksgiving Feasting can commence! If you’re lucky enough you’ve made it through the weekend without eating ALL of your children’s candy. How do we handle it at our house you may ask? We allow our children one piece of candy that they worked so hard for by walking from house to house and looking ADORABLE! They get to choose it and they only get one, so if they chose poorly….

Only a lot less dramatic….sort of. But they still only get one. How do we get rid of the rest of the candy? It’s easy, the Great Pumpkin takes it! The kids leave their buckets full of Halloween goodies (we also let them keep any raisins they get) by the fireplace and while they are sleeping the Great Pumpkin takes the candy and leaves them presents. Usually it’s something like pencils or stickers; pretty much whatever we could get our hands on for a small fee that will satisfy children of this age. The candy makes it way into a large bowl that sits up very high and Mom and Dad get to slowly eat it until we’re tired of it and then throw the rest out. We don’t eat it in front of the kids so that they don’t see this habit and also don’t get too keen on who the Great Pumpkin might actually be. They’re not old enough to have the curtain pulled back just yet.

It might seem a little shameful, stealing your kids’ candy, but they have not yet learned moderation and this is why I love SMARTIES. They are one of the few candies that comes with many pieces in one package, but which you can suck on to make them disappear. This is a handy trick I use for being mindful and stopping when I’m full. The longer anything takes to eat, the easier it is to feel satiated by it because your stomach and brain have time to communicate and tell the mouth to stop. We also didn’t get too much candy this year (despite having two trick or treaters) because we are in a new neighborhood and stuck to our street. Then there was the “empty candy bowl” incident at our house which meant that my husband raided our kids’ buckets to give to the (as he put it) swarm of children who were at our door after someone else had stolen our full bowl of candy. I told him to just turn the light off, apologize for being out, and say Happy Halloween/Goodnight. He said that I couldn’t understand that it was like the zombie apocalypse out there and that he had no choice. Oh well, less candy for us to eat.

Candy has not been my only indulgence this last week. We have had people over for dinner a few nights and both included S’mores for dessert. In addition I made some killer caramel sauce for dipping apples (I subbed buttermilk for the half and half/vinegar combo and used maple syrup instead of corn syrup) which we have also used on both chocolate chip and pumpkin pancakes this weekend. However, the thing I’ve most enjoyed all week has been my black bean chili. Because, hey, it’s fall and that screams CHILI TIME!

Here are two of my favorite meated chili recipes:
White Lightning Chicken Chili
Crock pot Sweet Potato and Quinoa Turkey Chili

I have made all kinds of substitutions/additions to make each of these fit the likes and tastes of my family, but each are wonderful in their own right as written, so I encourage you to try them out. But my favorite chili recipe will always be my own black bean chili recipe. I never used to like black beans until I tried to make a chili. And ever since I add them to almost anything I can think of. I made this for the first time in the crock pot this week since I had a lot of people coming. It also made for easy clean up and allowed me to work on the seasonings as I went. When I make it on the stove it is a one pot deal, but cooks fast and that makes it hard to get it just right. I had it in the crock pot on high for a couple of hours (I think it was 3) and then turned it on low for the 30 minutes before I planned to serve it so it wasn’t scalding hot. I think I would turn it down sooner in the future and then turn it all the way off at some point too.

Sorry, I’m not yet a real food blogger, so I don’t have fancy photos to show you of all of the steps, but this is SIMPLE Simon Sunday, so I want it to be easy peasy!

Take your crock pot and dump in 2 cans of reduced sodium black beans and 1 can of Mild Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles. Chop up some onion (I usually use green onions, but this time I used about 1/4 of a  nice sized Vidalia for double the recipe) and add alongside some frozen corn (I used half of a 16 oz bag of super sweet organic for a double recipe). Then, add the following according to smell and taste (adjust as you go along):
Garlic Powder
Hot Sauce
Liquid Smoke
Cilantro
Chili Powder

What I mean by smell and taste is that if you like it spicier, add more chili powder, cilantro, and hot sauce. I like mine to have a fair amount of kick and I also like a good smokey smell, so I’m generous with the liquid smoke. I’ve found that the garlic powder works best in the chili over minced garlic and occasionally I used onion powder instead of the onion because my kids can be weird about the onion if it’s not chopped fine enough. Then I just let it all simmer and soak and bubble until we’re ready to consume.

This week we had a lot of people coming over, so I doubled the recipe and checked in on the flavors/smells every 30 minutes. At one point I was told that more people were coming, so I emptied a fifth can of beans and rinsed them to add them without liquid. You could also rinse all of the beans and add them without liquid, but you would need to add some veggie broth to keep it all from burning. The more liquid the more like soup and the less like chili.

I love to top this with avocado slices, cheese, and sour cream. Some people enjoyed it with tortilla chips, but we also had corn bread. The next time I make my chili this fall I will be making these delicious muffins to go with: Honey Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins.  YUM!

That’s all for this Sunday, but I’m curious:

What happened to the Halloween candy at your house?
Are you a sweet or spicy chili lover?
What kind of beans do you like best?
How do you practice mindfulness during the holiday seasons?
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5 thoughts on “Appreciation for Smarties

  1. My daughter gets a couple pieces of candy after supper if she's eaten what I've given her. I also let her pig out if we have a long car trip. I want that candy gone fast and I don't want to eat any of it. We are good teeth brushers here.I like mild chili…I love cumin in mine. 🙂 – no beansI like green beans. I am a dork and don't know what you mean by mindfulness…so yea.

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  2. Ahh, I so LOVE that we live in the middle of pretty much nowhere, on Halloween. I've never celebrated it anyway, so for about the last 10 years, Oct 31 is my pre-Christmas Day. I make gifts and/or ornaments, drink hot chocolate, sometimes I'll make cookie dough to freeze from later. This year I made candles. Lots of dipped tapers! Loved it. Not a single piece of candy came in or out of our house, except the sour patch kids that I always have on hand as my one treat.We have had one group of trick-or-treaters come to our door in 14 years. Only they were taller than me and kind of scared me, and it was like 10 pm. So, yeah…Chili! OMG. I'm canning chili this week– zesty with just a little kick of heat. I make tons of it and can it, and Shane takes it for lunch all winter. It's a recipe I developed, and it beats anything from the grocery store hands down. I'm defrosting beef as I write this…. Which reminds me: gotta go– 😀

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  3. I read the one you linked to me. Definitely am mindful of food…too much. I'm mindful of the tastes and textures, but I over endulge. Which is why I am currently mindful of portion sizes. Also, mindful of some sort of daily exercise (well…5 days a week at least.). I have lost 10 pounds (as of 3 weeks ago) in 2 months!

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