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.

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.

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!

Marinated Maple & Orange Salad with Turnips & More!


I brought home some fresh “salad” turnips from a local market today that the lady working the stand described as “slightly sweet.” My three year-old son actually picked out this specific bunch because they were the “biggest” ones. She suggested we slice them in a salad. Two things came to mind: 1. I bet my boys will eat them sliced and 2. I can’t wait to make a salad with them tonight.

If you’d like to try it, here are the ingredients:

  • 1 Turnip (small to medium) sliced as thin as you can, then cut in half
  • Turnip greens attached to the turnip you sliced, Chopped in half
  • 1 Tomato chopped
  • 2 Red onion slices (thin)
  • 1/4 Cucumber sliced and cut in half
  • 1/4 cup Pecans toasted for a few minutes
  • 1 TB Maple syrup (the real stuff)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp Orange zest (before you cut up the orange) – more orange flavor with less liquid
  • 1 Navel orange cut into pieces
  • 1 TB fresh squeezed orange (from the rest of the orange along the rind)
  • 1 TB Olive oil

Finishing directions:

  • Put all vegetables into a bowl
  • Drizzle with maple syrup
  • Drizzle with olive oil
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Toss well with tongs
  • Sprinkle toasted pecans on top
  • Let sit for 5-10 minutes
  • Toss once more and serve
  • Optional: top with Parmesan, Manchego, Goat or Feta cheese (my wife and I both commented that the salad was great, but a little cheese would have been nice too)

I would love to hear if you try and how yours comes out!

Happy cooking,

Bacon, Parmesan and Green Bean Pasta


When you need a quick pasta dish that the whole family will like, try out this recipe. It’s a one dish meal. You can serve a green salad on the side also if you want more veggies (3 out of 4 of us at that too). My boys both loved it, but who can blame them with bacon, bacon fat and spaghetti?

I used this recipe from Tasty Kitchen as a base, but tweaked it a bit. I cut the recipe in half, which was perfect for my family (2 adults and 2 small kids), but adjust it to your needs.


  • Six strips of bacon
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
  • 1/4 cup of whole milk (or cream)
  • 1 cup of frozen cut green beans
  • 1/2 yellow or sweet onion diced
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz. spaghetti (or other pasta)
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes chopped (optional topping)


  1. In a skillet with lid (contains splatters), fry the bacon. When done, remove bacon onto paper towel. Leave bacon fat in pan (this is the good stuff).
  2. Sautee onion and garlic in bacon fat for three minutes, and then add in green beans. Cover and cook for about 8 minutes. Stir periodically, and cook until beans are done to your liking.
  3. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until done (according to package instructions).
  4. Place milk (or cream) and cream cheese in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat until cream cheese is melted, and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat. Add the parmesan cheese, egg, and pepper. Whisk until blended.
  5. Drain pasta (reserving 1/4 cup of hot water) and return to pot. Immediately add the white sauce and toss to coat. The hot pasta will cook the egg. Dump pasta mixture and crumbled bacon into the pan with the veggies.  Add the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce.
  6. Serve!
    (This is an easy dish for your kids to use tongs and serve themselves getting some protein, pasta and veggies in one grab)

Knives (Guest Post)

Every meal that I prepare begins in the same place, at the cutting board. I love to prep the meal by cutting, chopping, and dicing all the ingredients I will need before I ever turn on the oven or stove. The cooking process is so much smoother and faster when you don’t have to stop and chop veggies between steps.

Morimoto's Knives

I place great stock in the knives that I use and take great care of them. Get a good knife, treat it properly, and it will have a very long life. If you don’t treat your knives well, it doesn’t matter what quality of knife you buy, they will not last you. Top of the line knives can dull, pit, or rust from misuse (even stainless steel, don’t be fooled). So, if you’re looking for ways to care for your knives, here are a few tips from my kitchen to yours.

First, make sure you have an appropriate cutting board. Wood or plastic are the two best options out there as they are softer, providing more give against your knife and therefore doing less damage to the sharpened blade. If you have a board made out of a hard surface with no give (glass, marble, stone), get rid of it! Contact with a cutting board is the most frequent cause of a dull blade.

Even if you are careful about your blade and cutting surface, your knife will dull in time. You will need to sharpen your blade with some regularity as your knives begin to dull. I cannot recommend a specific timeline for this as everyone uses their knives with different levels of regularity. The picture below shows an extreme example of wear on a knife. The knives are from Iron Chef Morimoto’s restaurant. The top knife is new and the bottom is one that has been used for three years.

If you notice your knife start to dull or if you feel yourself using more force to cut an object, please make sure and sharpen your knife (Many knife companies will even sharpen your knives for you if you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself!).

Finally, washing and storing your knives are important. NEVER wash your knives in the dishwasher. The heat and abrasive chemicals will damage your knives faster than any other method. Instead, hand wash your knives directly after each use with warm water, mild dish soap, and a soft sponge. Dry them directly after and store them. store them either in a drawer or a knife block. If you store them in a drawer, it is best to leave them in their sheath. When using a sheath, though, make sure it is not leather, as leather will hold moisture which can pit your blade. Storing your knives in a knife block is the best option, and I tend to recommend standard wooden knife blocks.

If you follow these simple steps to caring for your knives, your knife set should last you a long time.

Happy chopping!
Danny Bennett