Friday, April 29, 2016

ALDI Locations & Vegan Options

The other day I blogged about a Vegan Kale Burger I found at my local ALDI Store.  After reading the comments and a few other notes I've decided to blog a bit more about about the chain.  More specifically about their locations around the world, a bit about their history, and more about the vegan options that they seem to be offering more and more each day!
Above you will see a cropped screen shot of the world wide locations that I was able to find.  I know it's a bit hard to see - in some browsers you can click on it to see a larger photo OR you can keep reading because I have some more info on the locations in this post.  ALDI was founded in 1913...YUP!  103 years ago!  By brothers Theo and Karl Albrecht.  In 1962 they split into two companies...Aldi Nord and Aldi Sud.  They are headquartered in Germany.
This next screen shot is from their Wiki Page and it shows the name they go by, which Aldi group they belong to, which year they started showing up, and how many outlets they have in that part of the world.  When you get to the bottom you will see in RED that The US Locations show 1,400 locations bare the Aldi name and an additional 418 stores have the Trader Joe's name.  The explanation of this on the Wiki Page says: "Both Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd also operate in the United States; Aldi Nord is owner of the Trader Joe's chain, while Aldi Süd operates as "Aldi"."  The closest Trader Joe's locations near me are in the Buffalo, NY, area which is about a 2 hour drive (maybe a little less), the Pittsburgh, PA, area which is about 2 1/2 hours from me, and the Woodmere, OH, area which is outside of Cleveland and just under a 3 hour drive from my house.  My local Aldi's is about a 5 to 7 minute drive from my house.  I have to say I would LOVE to visit Trader Joe's more often but since they are all over an hour and a half away that isn't always possible.  Aldi's is a great alternative.
Here you will see how many locations are in each state here in the US.

A few issues the chain has had to face is back in 2013 when that 'horse meat' thing was taking place it was found they were one of the many stores in GERMANY that were found to have products that contained Horse Meat instead of "Beef".  From the information I found this was the case ONLY in Germany.  They quickly made the correction.  As a vegetarian/vegan I don't eat ANY meat so whether it's meat from a chicken, cow, fish, horse, etc I won't eat it regardless.  But I'm very much FOR consumer rights and the right-to-know, overall, regardless if the consumer is a vegetarian, vegan, or otherwise so this was something that was chalked up as a negative in GERMANY that is for sure.

Another thing that some critics have swung at them for is selling 'cheap' products.  This doesn't bother me.  I am often a thrifty shopper and like a deal.  I know a guy here that won't shop at Aldi's because you have to deposit a quarter to 'use' a cart.  I laugh at this because I think it is genius for more than 1 reason.  One...you get your quarter back!!!!  That means someone who works at the store isn't out casing carts all day long!  This is one of the cause/effect things as to why they have so few employees working at the location at any given time.  And you know what?  Those employees are paid pretty well here in the US.  Higher than minimum wage.  About 10 years ago I saw a sign that starting pay was over 30k a year here AND there were benefits!  I don't know what the current wage is but they are historically higher than minimum wage from what I have read about the history of their company.

A fun fact...in December 2002, a survey conducted by the German market research institute Forsa found 95% of blue-collar workers, 88% of white-collar workers, 84% of public servants, and 80% of self-employed Germans shop at Aldi.  I'm NOT sure the percentages here in the US but you see all sorts of people in there - as well as vehicles in their parking lot - everything from motorcycles, to Corvettes and Mustangs, to SUVs, Trucks, and Vans, to clunker and junkers.  So I like that they smash the stereotypes of only a 'certain shopper' shops there.  

Another reason I like that they have 'rent a carts with deposit' is because it encourages conversation.  What I mean by that is when you go to get your quarter back there is often another person coming in and needing a cart - you can either give them your cart and save them a trip to the cart area and they hand you a quarter OR you can do a good deed for the day and tell them to keep their quarter!

One of the other ways Aldi is different from other stores - especially here in the US - is they are one of the few chains who not only ENCOURAGES you to bring your own bags (and reuse them) they make it hard for you NOT to which in turn is better for the environment.  They sell bags.  The canvas ones are HUGE and only $1.99.  I've bought several over the years.  They sell heavy-duty plastic bags for around 10 cents.  I am not completely sure about that because I don't by them.  They also have thicker paper bags with handles for around the same price.  They even sell freezer bags as an option.  If you don't have a bag and/or don't want to buy a bag there is another way to transport what you bought, too!  In the photo above you will see the products on the shelves...they are stacked in boxes.  At any given time you can find one that is empty or close to empty and grab it for your own personal use.

Another interesting tidbit is that Aldi's doesn't have a 'back room' or at least the ones I have seen haven't had them.  I think this is WONDERFUL...here's why...

When their trucks come in...they unload the trucks and the products are brought out on to the floor right away!  This is DOUBLY important when it comes to the produce!  Their produce is NOT laying in the back room somewhere until they find a spot for it - instead - it's comes off the truck and on to the floor right away!  End result?  You get fresher produce than in other chain stores.  SCORE!

Not only is Aldi's getting more and more vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options - they are bulking up and offering more and more organic options, too!

And speaking of Vegan Options...check out what Ireland did for the vegans there...they have a printable PDF of all of the vegan products they offer!  I have yet to find one for here in the US but I think it because it's constantly changing!
I'm grateful that I have an Aldi's in the small area I live in.  I know that more of them are popping up around the US.  I heard there is one opening in San Diego this month, too!  Actually you can see there are many opening in California and other states in their GRAND OPENING section of their website.
Oh!  I almost forgot - on the same site for the Ireland Vegans - they also have a Meat-Free Zone on their site, too!  Check that out here!

Their US website is a great resource, too!

In comments - let me know if you have one nearby and what country you are in!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Vegan Kale Burgers at ALDI


This isn't a great photo but I'm pairing it with some pretty awesome finds!  Last week I found 2 vegan burgers that my local ALDI is now carrying!  One was simply called the Vegan Vegetable Burger and the other was a Spicy Black Bean Burger that did NOT contain animal ingredients in it.  This past weekend I spotted yet ANOTHER vegan option that they are now carrying.  This one is a Kale Burger and it is clearly marked VEGAN.  YAY...Aldi!

I topped it with a Vegan Mayo I made myself at home and a squirt of Sweet & Tangy Peach Haberno Sauce I found at another local shop that just so happens to be vegan, too!  

Here's the recipe for the Vegan Mayo:

2 Avocados 
1 T Balsamic Vinegar
1 T Lemon Juice (maybe more to taste)
1/4 t Garlic Powder
1/4 t Onion Powder
Black Himalayan Sea Salt to taste

REMEMBER...MidWeek Munchies is BACK!  Join in!  Link up below with ANYTHING Vegan...grocery hauls, product reviews, farmers market trips, recipes, restaurant reviews, newly found websites or blogs...YOU CHOOSE...you LINK up!  YOU ROCK!


Monday, April 25, 2016

Vegan 'Meaty' Stew?

I have to admit this sort of freaked me out!  Even my mother said it looked like 'meat' you would put in a stew.  It's not.  It's actually Jackfruit!

My mother is not a vegetarian and she sampled a little bit of this Sesame Ginger Teriyaki Jackfruit and thought it tasted like meat, too!

Normally I am not a fan of meat alternatives or fake meats but I think because this is straight up fruit based it seemed to be better than a lot of the others you see on the market.

It came as a packet that you could heat and serve and I just added carrots to it and poured it over pasta.



Here's a photo of the package!  It's from the Jackfruit Company.  It's Nut-Free, Dairy-Free, and Vegan.  It's the Sesame Ginger flavor.

Overall it was a very impressive product.  I don't think it's something that I would eat everyday as it was a little more salty than I like...but it had a good flavor.

The reason I bought it was purely because of the Jackfruit!  It's rare to find Jackfruit anything around me!  I've only ever had Jackfruit flavored things and have also had dried Jackfruit that I bought from The Raw Food World.  This was a nice change and certainly gave me some ideas as to what to do with it if I can find some down the road.  Other ideas that I am drawn to are Jackfruit Tacos and Jackfruit Sandwiches (instead of Pulled Pork Sandwiches), for example.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Carrot Seed Oil (And Other New Additions)


Here are 4 New-To-Me Essential Oils that I was lucky enough to add to my Essential Oil Collection.  I ordered from Piping Rock again and found some lovely blends - as you can see above - but also the Carrot Seed Oil that I have been wanting.

Come to find out Carrot Seed Oil tends to be overlooked or comes in as an underdog of sorts.  Below is some info I found about it...

Carrot seed oil is perhaps one of the most under-appreciated essential oils. But it is known to have antiseptic, carminative, cytophylactic, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue, and vermifuge properties

Here are just some of the other well-known health benefits of carrot seed oil:
Heals abscesses, boils, and other skin disorders
Nourishes , tightens, and rejuvenates skin
Alleviates pain due to menstruation
Helps stimulate appetite
Treats ulcers
Improves liver and gall bladder disorder, particularly hepatitis, colitis, and enteritis
Stimulates the lymph system
Helps women in breast milk production after childbirth
Eases hiccups, colic, and flatulence
Treats kidney stones and jaundice

Personally - I decided to grab this because of the mentions of healing abscesses and boils, Colitis, Lymph System Benefits, and I also read it can be good for Arthritis!

Some recipes and ideas I found to be interesting include:
Carrot Seed Oil Skin Cleanser
Carrot Seed Oil Make-Up Remover
Carrot Seed Oil Scar Treatment
All available at THIS LINK.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Surprising Snack & Vegan Memes

Here's another 'Eating From Your Pantry' sort of post.

A while back I had bought some canned peaches.  Then - when I bought more from The Raw Food World - I used to buy some of their Living Intentions 'Cereals' which were basically granola.  I found an unopened bag of one of them in my cabinet.

I decided to pour some over the peaches and have it as a snack the one night.  It was pretty darn good!  The Granola was Ginger Chia.  It also had other superfoods - and as you can see - shredded coconut.


In our backyard we have a cemented area and above it an overhang (kind of like a porch but not really).  It has a spot light which you can see part of here in the upper left hand side.  Near the rafters you can see 2 nest side-by-side!  The one on the left is from last year and the one on the right is from this year!  I don't know if I have ever seen 2 different nests that close to each other - naturally!

Nature is COOL isn't it?



One thing that I haven't talked about much here on my blog is that I am a fan of 'The Walking Dead'.  Then again...MANY...people are!  I was joking with a friend about how NEGAN sounded a lot like VEGAN and what do you know...I started seeing Vegan Meme's on Instagram shortly after.  In case you don't follow the series,,,NEGAN was FINALLY introduced in the season finale a few weeks ago.  In the comics - from which the series is based - the character is known for being a villain and carries a barbed-wired bat that he named Lucille and uses it as a weapon.  Here...the bat is replaced with celery!

Here's another Negan Vegan Meme I recently came across!  How funny!

SPOILERS below & possibly in comments...

So...who do you think 'met Lucille' if you know what I mean?  Post in comments!  I will let you know my thoughts there as well (in the near future.)

The actor who plays Negan is Jeffrey Dean Morgan.  I have been a fan of his for a while.  Eventho he's a 'bad guy' in this - I am looking forward to seeing what he does with the role.

In the comics (which I haven't read but have heard a lot about) Glenn is the one that 'meets Lucille' but the TV series doesn't necessarily follow the comics verbatim.

REMINDER!!!!  MWM (MidWeek Munchies) is BACK!  Clickable link and Link-up on the upper right hand side of my navigation bar!  Looking forward to your posts!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Midweek Munchies is BACK...and a Home-Made Tomato Soup!


Another quick post today!  First up another soup I have made and enjoyed!  

Tangy Vegan Tomato Soup

1/2 Sweet Onion
2 Cloves Garlic
1 T Grapeseed Oil
1/2 C Raw Cashews
4 to 5 Tomatoes
1/2 C Water
1/4 C Coconut Milk
To Taste:
Sprinkle of Nutmeg, Smoked Paprika, Basil or Oregano, and Pink or Black Himalayan Sea Salt.

It was YUMMY!  You can do this RAW or COOKED Vegan!

Midweek Munchies is BACK!!!

Check it out!  LINK UP Below!!!!  If you haven't ever participated in MWM (MidWeek Munchies) - all you have to do is link up with a post for a vegan recipe, product, review, shopping haul, garden pick, Farmer Market finds, etc...anything plant-based and/or vegan is welcome!



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Creamy Vegan Potato Soup

I had this big long post planned but I am short on time today so maybe tomorrow I will fill in some blanks.  In the meantime I figured I would share a darn tasty made-from-scratch vegan soup I made within the last week.  It's is a Creamy Vegan Potato Soup.  It turned out SUPER YUMMY and I really want to have a big bowl of it again soon!

1 Sweet Onion
4 Stalks Celery
2 Cloves Garlic
5 to 6 Baby Red Potatoes (the larger the better)
About 3 to 4 C Water
1 C Sweet Corn (I used organic, frozen)
2 Handfuls Raw Cashews
1/4 C Nutritional Yeast
All To Taste/Optional - Grapeseed Oil, Black Himalayan Sea Salt, Nutmeg, Smoked Paprika, Dill

All in a high speed blender.  Because I used the red potatoes it looks like specks of bacon - paired with the black sea salt - it just might 'fool' non vegans.



Monday, April 11, 2016

Winter was Spring & Spring is Winter

This is what I woke up to Saturday Morning.  But this isn't the first snow we have seen in the last few weeks!  Today it's raining but we might see some more snow over the next few days.  Not that much, really, but let's face it...it's SPRING!  Why isn't Spring acting like Spring?  Probably because Winter didn't act like Winter, either.  Oh well.  I've been thinking of doing a cleanse or detox of sorts and have been thinking of how to go about it.  I think FIRST what I might do is omit breads and pastas as I have been using it as a crutch lately and feel those are the two items that have added a few unwanted pounds.  I'm not going to go overboard, here, I really just want to shred 5 pounds...10 at the very most.  I seem to feel better at that weight.
I think I will try and NOT consume pasta or bread (unless it's sprouted bread like Ezekiel because I have a half loaf left).  I've also been thinking about doing soups, salads, for dinners and nearly Raw Til 4 up until then.  That may be a real challenge for me some days, however. More on that in the coming days.

In the meantime - here's something I made last night - it's a twist on Da(h)l.  Actually it started off as a Da(h)l and then I added Chickpeas and a handful of Cashews, too!  Mostly because I under estimated the amount of red lentils I had on hand prior to cooking.  So I guess this would qualify as an EATING FROM YOUR PANTRY Meal.  I sampled some last night when it was finished and it turned out good!  It will be my dinner this evening, too!

Recipe for Cashew Chickpea Da(h)l:

1 C uncooked Red Lentils
1 C Chickpeas
1 Handful Cashews
2 T Garlic Grapeseed Oil (Wildtree Brand)
1 Small Sweet Onion
1 t Ginger Powder
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 t Curry Powder
1 t Turmeric
1 Can Coconut Milk
Dried Cilantro (or Basil) to Taste
Black Himalayan Sea Salt to Taste
Nutmeg to Taste

Friday, April 8, 2016

Back-To-Blonde, The Good Kind of Peer Pressure, & Library Finds!

YAY for Fridays!

Sometimes Peer Pressure is a good thing!  After reading Vegan Power/Vegan Peace's blog posts about her KeVita Adventures over and over I was vegan-egged-on to go grab one myself!

So this photo is for her!  Mango Coconut Style!

We've been getting snow again...what a WEIRD year for weather!



I've been able to swing by the library a few times to de-compress lately and it's been nice.  I've chalked it up as a lunch hour or two!  I'm pretty sure I have already checked out all of the vegetarian and vegan and even raw foodie books my library has in stock but I visit time and time again to re-view a few of them as well as visit some of them I haven't looked at in a while.  Here are two that I recently viewed again.  I've been thinking about looking at some of the old cookbooks from specific countries and seeing what I can easily veganize.

It's been a few weeks now but I did go back to blonde again.  This is an old photo, however.  I need to get some more pics of me in my glasses again - I guess - but - I also need to get new glasses.  This morning my nose-pieces broke and one of the local eyeglass places replaced them for FREE.  How nice!

Any exciting plans for anyone this weekend!?  Let me know in comments!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring Leftovers & Napping Furkids


This is how I fell asleep the other night!  With Cricket & Riley laying on my legs right next to each other.  Paco sleeps in his pen area for safety reasons and his immune issues.  We would hate for him to try and jump up on something and injure himself.  He doesn't seem to mind it - I think he actually prefers it - it's his own space that no one else can invade!  But aren't these two so sweet?  Cricket is certainly sweet when she wants to be and other times she's the instigator!





In other news...Spring has sprung!  And here are some leftovers that are popping up on their own from our Rooftop Garden/Container Garden.

2 kinds of chives!  They look better than ever before!  They are mostly onion chives but I think one is a garlic chive, too!  In this background of this photo you can also see some Lavender as well!



This is a close up of our Rhubarb that is start over for the season!  How exciting!  Can't wait to see what else progresses!  I do know that we need to start planting seeds to see what happens with those soon, too!

With my full time job as of late - I have been doing a lot of local speaking for high school students and organizations.  It's been fun!  I'm also highly considering joining our local chapter of The League of Women Voters!