What Do I Buy at ALDI? Cheap, Healthy Food

When people hear I shop at ALDI, one of their questions is usually…”What do you buy there?”

Now just like any grocery store, you can make all kinds of food choices at ALDI – everything from junk food to good, real food. They stock a lot of organic foods, chicken and lunch meats from animals raised without antibiotics (#1 factor in my book for meat purchase), and a huge selection of quality produce at prices you won’t believe.

The closest ALDI to me is about 15 minutes away, so I typically don’t go in for just a few items. I make a list of what I need and know that I’ll inevitably pick up a few extra too. Some of the items I like there (for different reasons, but almost always related to cost) are: tortilla chips, almonds, wine, eggs, yogurt, bacon, lunch meat, chicken, frozen fish and shrimp.

So here goes for what my last trip there yielded with prices.
Grand Total was:$72.07

  • Romaine Hearts $1.99
  • Baby Portabella Mushrooms $1.99
  • Cauliflower $1.99
  • Salami Bites $3.49
  • Ham (lunch meat) $3.29
  • Broccoli Crowns $1.79
  • Granola (organic) $2.69
  • Pretzel snacks $1.79
  • Egg Noodles $1.49
  • Beef Broth $1.79
  • Whole-Milk Organic Yogurt $2.99
  • Tuna (Pole-Caught) $.99
  • Sharp Cheddar $1.89
  • Peas (Frozen Organic) $1.99
  • Linguini Noodles (Organic) $1.19
  • Pineapple $2.29
  • Mangoes (four) $2.36
  • Avocados (two) $1.78
  • Lemons (bag of six) $2.79
  • Gala Apples (3 LB) $2.99
  • Flower Bouquet $3.99
  • Roma Tomatoes (16 OZ) $.79
  • Bananas (Organic 2 LB) $1.38
  • Green Peppers (2 Pack) $.89
  • Blueberries (2 Pints) $2.58
  • Baby Spinach (Organic) $1.99
  • Kefir $2.89
  • Oven-Roasted Almonds $4.99
  • Tortilla Chips $1.69
  • Large Eggs (Dozen) $.89
  • Large Eggs (Dozen) $.89



White Chicken Chili – Easy and Delicious!

This new recipe from 100 Days of Real Food took me just about 40 minutes from start to finish and was absolutely delicious!

It is part of the brand new cookbook “Fast and Fabulous” from Lisa Leake that  was released on Tuesday, Oct. 24. The cookbook is full of great recipes that I can’t wait to make for my family. 

This White Chicken Chili is easy to make, yet tastes like something you’d order from a restaurant. She achieves great flavors without using tons of ingredients. It’s a complete meal in a bowl.  

I gathered everything I needed to make the recipe easy to prepare. 

I always recommend using the best tasting ingredients you can find. And for me, that includes using Publix Greenwise chicken. 

Personally I love making soup in my Dutch oven. I included a few photos of it cooking as I added the ingredients. 

Here was my bowl topped with fresh, chopped cilantro, avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream and sliced jalapeños (not pictured). 

And the best part… my son loved it!

Don’t take my word for it. Order your copy of this gorgeous hardcover cookbook for yourself directly from Amazon for only $16.48 – click here

I Got the New Cookbook and I’m Excited!

Today was a great day for me, and one big reason was that I received my brand new, pre-release cookbook from the writer and creator of the website “100 Days of Real Food” in the mail.

It’s called “Fast and Fabulous” and is the second cookbook from author Lisa Leake. Her first cookbook made it to #1 on the New York Times Bestsellers List. 

I have a passion for cooking ‘real food’ for my family, and the website “100 Days of Real Food” was one the first big inspiration for me on this path. 
I can’t wait to share some recipes from the new cookbook with you soon!

You can pre-order it now from Amazon here (ships Oct. 25). 
You can order the first cookbook from “100 Days of Real Food” on Amazon here also. 

Happy cooking!


Crunchy Roasted Chick Peas!

30 minutes is all it takes to make up this protein-packed, satisfying snack. Great for adults and kids alike. Anyone who likes popcorn will love this fun and healthy snack.

You season them yourself, so make them with garlic, cajun, italian, mexican, spicy or any other flavor you want.


(for my preferred seasoning)

  • 1 Can of Chick Peas (garbanzo beans) drained
  • 1/2 TBL Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion poweer
  • Couple dashes of salt (amount need varies based on how much salt is in the can)
  • Dash of cumin


  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  • Mix chick peas, olive oil and seasoning together
  • Spread out on baking pan (I like to put mine in the toaster oven, but any oven works)
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes (time varlies slightly depending on your oven and how ‘done’ you want them)
  • Remove from oven, leave on pan for five minutes or so before eating
  • Enjoy!


Easy Avocado Dressing

Avocado Dressing

This dressing is quick and easy to make with a few handy ingredients. It can easily be altered to match different flavors for your meal. The avocado provides the main oil ingredient of the dressing so no mayonnaise or olive oil is needed.

1 Haas avocado
– 1 Tbl. Plain Yogurt (I prefer whole-milk. I did not use Greek)
– 2 Tbl. Sour Cream (I prefer whole-milk.)
– 2 Garlic Cloves minced or smashed and chopped
– 1 Tsp. Lemon Juice (more to taste if needed))
– 1/4 Tsp. Black Pepper
– 1/2 Tsp. Salt (more to taste if needed)
– 1 Tsp. Dried Herbs (Dill, Basil or a combination of both)

– Slice avocado in half. Scoop the fruit out into a bowl and mash.
– Scrape mashed avocado into jar or keep in bowl for serving.
– Add rest of ingredients.
– Shake vigorously with lid on jar or wisk if in bowl until well mixed.

Serve on your favorite salad and enjoy!
– another option would be to use a Tbl. of fresh chopped cilantro for a Mexican flare instead of using dried herbs.

Fast Baguettes for Dinner – In Less than 30 Minutes

Sometimes while working on dinner, I wish I had some fresh bread to go with it. Tonight was one of those times. At this point, there’s no time for a traditional bread recipe with kneading and rising. Thankfully, I discovered one that will take you no more than 30 minutes and only requires 5 ingredients.

You can follow the recipe as is below or go the extra fast way and make them like I did in my photos. I just shaped them into two loaves and put them on top of a lightly oiled (olive oil) pizza stone for five minutes. Then I baked them.


Dough, just shaped into loaves on baking stone.

Dough, just shaped into loaves on baking stone.

Baked baguettes, fresh out of the oven!

Baked baguettes, fresh out of the oven!


  • 2 cups very warm water
  • 1 packet yeast 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 4 cups flour (I use a mix of white and white whole wheat)
  • (optional) 1 TB ground flax meal


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Set the bowl on top of your preheating oven for five minutes. Stir in the salt and add the flour a half-cup at a time, until the dough becomes soft but not sticky. Add in the flax (optional) Knead the dough until elastic (mix with spatula then hands by folding over on itself).
  2. Cut the dough into four even pieces. Roll each of them into four long, thin ropes. Twist together two of the ropes to form one loaf. Twist the other two ropes together to form a second loaf. Transfer both onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. You can now bake the loaf right away (if you’re in a hurry) or allow it to rise for an additional 15-30 minutes on top of your warm oven.
  4. Fill a large bowl with 3-4 cups of ice. Open your hot oven and place the baking sheet with the baguettes inside, then toss the ice cubes on the bottom of the oven and quickly shut the door. Do NOT open your oven for 15 minutes. Bake until golden brown, about 15-18 minutes.
  5. (Optional but suggested) Check the internal temperature of the bread with a thermometer to make sure it reaches 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Here’s my pick for a four-second reading.
  6. Serve fresh and hot with your favorite olive oil for dipping or alongside a bowl of soup.

original recipe here.

My 4 Basic Philosophies on Eating Food

I have always loved food. For the last few years, I’ve been on a journey to learn as much about how to buy, make and eat good foods that benefit my family. Just like other areas, knowledge helps us make sound choices. Here are the four main philosophies that guide me most of the time. Call it clean-eating, eating real food or eating like our grandparents used. I strive to stick to these at least 90% of the time.

  1. Eat Real Food
    • This may sound obvious… but it means eating things like real butter, peanut butter, cheese, etc. <-Yes, those are actually good for you. If anything ever says something like “cheese food,” “peanut butter spread,” “buttery taste”… then it’s more of a food product. Our bodies were designed to eat actual food and not things processed with many additives.
    • Fat doesn’t make us fat, sugar makes us fat – Dr. Mark Hyman. Keep repeating that one. It will help you in many ways and hopefully help you rethink lots of foods.
    • Eat full-fat dairy products: whole milk, butter, cheese, yogurt. It was not until about 50 years ago that people would have even considered not eating whole-milk dairy products. And guess what? All of the low-fat and fat-free foods have just increased our consumption of sugar. Refer back to number 2. By doing this, you will enjoy foods in the least processed way you can.
  2. Care About Words Over Numbers
    • If it comes from a plant or eats plants, go for it. If it’s made in a plant, think twice! This matters more than how many calories something has, since not all calories are equal or have the same affect on our bodies.
    • If you have to count numbers, count the number of ingredients in your food. Counting calories makes us feel good about being in control. More often than not it makes us feel deprived,  wanting more or defeated if we don’t do it perfectly. Young children naturally stop when full. Most of us adults could learn something from that, too.
    • Some of the best foods for our bodies have no extra ingredients at all, because they are the ingredient.
  3. When Buying Organic Matters
    • Eating well is not all about eating organic. Eating all organic would be great, but most of us really cannot afford that option. So that means we have to choose what we will purchase.
    • Re-train your brain to only want good quality (organic usually and grass-fed when possible) meat and dairy. We cannot peel or wash these items like produce. The reality of most commercial meat and dairy farms is that they pump animals full of antibiotics their whole life. These are not good for us. Items not labeled organic may contain antibiotics. Many “free-range,” “cage-free” meats can be good choices as well. For milk, I personally recommend (for anyone in FL), Dakin Dairy brand. Whole Foods and Rollin’ Oats Market sells it.
    • When you want to support smaller farms and more sustainable farming. This may not be the case for all organic farms, but in most cases it does not make a difference.
  4. Wheat (Bread) is Not the Problem
    • The quantity of wheat we consume is more than most even realize. Many packaged foods contain wheat you probably didn’t even know about. We eat more baked goods than earlier Americans did. It wasn’t always so easy to buy a cupcake, doughnut or box of crackers.
    • Find some bread and baked goods that you can make from scratch. This is not just because they usually taste better than mixes, but you can control the ingredients. If you cannot pronounce the name of something in your bread, you probably do not want to eat it. Here are four of my favorit favorite bread recipes.
    • Buy quality pre-made bread and baked goods if you’re going to buy them. Read the label, look up the company if you have time. It will be worth it for your taste buds and your body.
    • I personally recommend King Arthur brand flour. As far as I can tell from some research, they don’t use many of the chemicals that others do, it’s an employee-owned company and in my personal experience things bake well with it. Plus, it can be found in most regular grocery stores.

A few websites and resources I particularly recommend to help you on your journey:

If you would like to discuss or ask questions about anything listed or left off of here, just leave them in the comments.

Chocolate Chip Muffins Will Help You Eat Zuchinni!

Yes you just read the title correctly. You will want to make these Chocolate Chip Zucchini muffins not just because they have some veggies in them, but because they taste amazing.. Trust me… my 2-year old nephew that does not eat veggies loved them! That made my day.

So why bake your own muffins? Life is busy right? Compare the ingredients that you get to choose to add to these muffins with those in a typical box of muffins from the grocery store. Your taste buds will thank you. And if you’re making them for others to enjoy, you’ll be confident in knowing you’ve created something with real food that tastes great.

Don’t feel like you have to eat them all the first day. These things freeze super well! Then you’ll have a quick breakfast ready to go for any morning.


  • 1 cup finely shredded and chopped zucchini
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (white whole wheat or pastry if you have it)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray or line with muffin liners. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Shred the zucchini and then chop it finely with a knife. This will help it really mix in and be less “noticeable” by skeptical family and friends.
  4. In a medium bowl whisk together the egg, canola oil, honey and vanilla. Add whole milk and stir until combined.
  5. Slowly pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until incorporated. Fold in shredded zucchini and chocolate chips. Don’t over mix. It’s okay if a few lumps remain.
  6. Divide batter evenly between prepared muffin cups and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let muffins cool in muffin pan until they’re safe to handle, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely and enjoy!

First step is to shred the zucchini

Then you want to finely chop it.

After you pour the wet in with the dry ingredients, fold (not stir) in your chips and zucchini.

And here they are cooled and ready to serve!
This is what happens when you bake them for other people. You have to try one.

I adapted this muffin recipe from the Chef-In-Training blog.

Quick “Restaurant Quality” Salsa at Home


Anyone can make this restaurant quality salsa at home. It’s not too chunky or completely pureed, but in my opinion is the perfect consistency for dipping.

No blender. No food processor. Just tomatoes from a carton, some onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice and a few seasonings.

My preference is to buy Pomi brand tomatoes in a carton. You want to get the finely chopped ones. This way they come ready to go for salsa. If you haven’t tried this brand before, you will be in for a treat. You can buy them at Publix or other local grocery store right next to the canned tomatoes.


  • One 26 ounce carton of Pomi tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a medium sweet onion chopped small
  • 2-3 fresh garlic cloves pressed (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
  • Juice from half a lime squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin (omit if you don’t have on hand)


  • Mix all ingredients together in a non-metal bowl
  • Let sit for a couple of minutes and enjoy!
  • Will last for 4-5 days in the fridge

Granola 2 Ways – Slow and Fast

I have always loved cereal and have especially loved granola. In the last two months I’ve started making my own. It made great Christmas gifts for some friends and family poured into mason jars.

Some of you have asked for the recipe, so here goes.
The first one is baked low and slow and is well worth the wait.
I got the recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, 100 Days of Real Food. You can find it here. Below are the things I chose to add in it:

  • Oats – I prefer Bob’s Red Mill Thick Cut or Trader Joe’s Rolled Oats.
  • Almonds, walnuts, pecans and pumpkin seeds. I left out the sunflower seeds.
  • Get the unsweetened coconut from Whole Foods (or other similar store). It’s worth it. Much better than the other.
  • Add in some raisins, cranberries, cherries or any other dried fruit you like after it’s cooled a bit.

Then there are those mornings where you’d really like granola, but haven’t made it yet. That’s where this one comes in. You make it on the stove top and let it cool for a few minutes. Voila! Fast granola from scratch.


  • 2 cups oats
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons raisins or cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut


  1. In a large skillet, toast oats over medium heat until golden brown. Careful not to burn. Remove and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, cook and stir the honey and butter over medium-low heat until bubbly, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the almonds, raisins, coconut and oats until coated.
  4. Pour into a large bowl or tray to cool.
  5. Enjoy with milk or yogurt!