One of my favorite summer activities is gardening! It’s become one of my favorite empty nest hobbies to watch the plants and flowers bloom and grow. They make the perfect backdrop while enjoying summer evenings on our porch.

Now that the seasons are changing, it’s time to set aside some of my summer habits for fall ones. I get a little nostalgic for fall and have some favorite activities I associate with the cooler weather. I still take advantage of my porch as much as possible, but now I’m more likely to end my evenings with a warm cup of tea (preferably Good Earth’s Sweet and Spicy flavor). I also tend to enjoy warming up with a cup of soup as I watch the fields around our 100-year-old farmhouse get harvested.

Not only are my activities changing, but I also like to switch up my go-to recipes in favor of some of my fall favorites!

There are times when meal planning can be challenging, regardless of what stage of life you are in. When I was a new mom I dreaded making a meal plan and planning a trip to a grocery store with my little ones in tow. As I moved into other stages of life, it never seemed to get any easier. We could all use a hand planning out our meals and these fall-inspired recipes are a great way to get started!

Jennifer Garner’s Sweet Potato Chili

This vegetarian meal is so hearty and tasty. I promise you don’t even miss the meat. Mark and I make this throughout the fall about every other week! It’s very budget friendly, too. I’ve included the original recipe below along with notes on how I modify it.

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Onion, Chopped
2 Medium Sweet Potatoes, Diced
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Green Bell Pepper
2 Jalapeño Peppers, Seeded and Diced (Omit if you, like me, don’t do spicy!)
3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
3 Tbsp. Chili Powder (I use 2 Tbsp)
2 tsp. Ground Cumin
2 tsp. Dried Basil
1 tsp. Dried Marjoram
1 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (I leave out to avoid the spice.)
3 Bay Leaves
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
½ tsp. Ground Pepper
6 Cups Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth
1 Can Chopped Tomatoes
1 Beer (You can leave this out.)
½ Cup Bulgur or Barley—(Or you can also use 1 cup of Quinoa)
2 (425g) Cans of Black Beans, Rinsed and Drained

Directions: Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over med heat until sizzling hot and add onion. Reduce to low and cook, stirring often for about 10 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, bell peppers and jalapeños, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes more. (I usually add in a little of the broth here too.) Stir in garlic and cook while stirring 1 minute longer. Add everything else except the black beans and stir to combine, bringing to a low boil. Reduce to simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 40 minutes. Remove bay leaves from chili and discard. Add black beans and stir to mix and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are heated through for about 10 minutes. Serve warm with wedges of lime to squeeze into chili and any of the toppings you want to add! I love to top it with avocados, sour cream, cheese, and lime wedges.

Taco Stew

My friend gave me this very easy recipe—dump and heat! It’s so delicious too!

1 lb. Browned Ground Beef or Ground Turkey
1 Small Onion, Chopped
1 16-Ounce Bag Frozen Corn or 1 Can
1 Can Diced Tomatoes with Chilis
1 Can Plain Diced Tomatoes
1 Can Chili Beans with Sauce
1 Can Tomato Soup
½ to 1 Cup Water (Depending on if you want soup or stew.)

Directions: Mix all ingredience together and cook on the stovetop or in a crockpot. You can top it with your favorite ingredients, but I like to top with shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, and avocado slices.

Apple Pie Banana Bread

This recipe has very little sugar and you could honestly reduced the sugar even more. It’s gluten free, but you’d never know it! We served it at Thanksgiving last year and everyone LOVED it!

1 Cup Butter, Melted
¼ Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
A Spash of Vanilla Extract
3 Ripe Bananas
1 1/2 Cups Oat Flour
Pinch of Baking Soda
Pinch of Sea Salt
1 tsp. Cinnamon
2 Apples Peeled and Sliced

Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan. Mix everything but the apples together. Then stir in apples and pour mixture into the loaf pan. Bake 45-50 minutes until golden brown. Let cool completely before removing from loaf pan and slicing. Soooooo good!

Let me know which recipes made it to your meal plan this fall!



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