Why I Love Aldi, or: How to Save $100s Each Month on Groceries

I’ve been an Aldi-exclusive shopper since grad school. There’s nothing like being broke AF to teach you about bargain shopping.

My mom shopped at Aldi for much of my childhood, so some of the more intimidating aspects (bringing a quarter, few name brands, bringing your own bags) weren’t an issue. BUT, I still remember going to Aldi for the first time on my own while I was in college. I forgot a quarter AND my reusable totes. So I just left and went to Walmart. Don’t be me!!!!

In case you are an Aldi novice, let me explain: Aldi is an incredible discount grocery store. They cut corners in ways that don’t matter to save you money on the things that DO MATTER. There are no shelves, just stacked pallets. The carts are all locked up, and you use a quarter to get one. You get your quarter back when you return it, which means they don’t have to pay cart wranglers. (If you put your cart back but leave the quarter so someone else can use it, you’re a Quarter Angel ™!) Bags aren’t provided, and groceries aren’t bagged. You bag your own stuff on the countertops beyond the checkout. Most people bring reusable totes, but you can buy paper and plastic bags for like $.05 each.

And here’s the real shit. I took two weeks of Aldi grocery hauls and price compared those items at my local grocery store. Week One, the total at Aldi was $104.60. At the Hy-Vee near my house, the same groceries would have cost $169.92. Week Two: $97.24 vs $162.02.

You may have an impression that Aldi is full of gross discount food. Since all of the food is store brand, it’s not as good as the name brands you can get at Target, Hy-Vee, or Price Chopper. This is so wrong! With every passing month, the food gets better and the selection gets more expansive. Just like any store brand, there are things I wouldn’t buy. Off-brand Oreos are just NOT WORTH IT. But the Aldi-brand caramel coconut cookies taste literally IDENTICAL to Girl Scout Samoas. They are a go-to potluck item for me when I don’t have time to make anything. Other Aldi misses: the Cheerios taste like the Trader Joe’s Cheerios, which means that they’re less crunchy and kind of dry…? I also don’t love the big jars of Casa Mamita salsa that are by the tortilla chips. The refrigerated salsa is GREAT, though, especially the varieties that come around summertime.

Another thing to note about Aldi and the way that I shop there: Since I buy mainly whole ingredients (veggies, meats, beans, grains), and not a ton of prepared foods, those are the things I know best at Aldi. Canned beans are canned beans, so you best believe I’m going to buy the cheaper, off-brand ones.

I’ve learned to make my menus based around what is available at my local Aldi. I live in a smaller suburb, so my Aldi doesn’t have as much variety as Aldis in bigger areas. My friend lives in a bigger, higher-income suburb and her Aldi IS BOMB! If my Aldi is a 7, hers is an 11.

NUTS ARE SO INEXPENSIVE HERE!

Aldi carries the same products year-round in 85% of the store. But other than the regular products, there is a center aisle with SPECIALS that are seasonal and discounted. This can include kitchenwares, patio furniture, all sorts of random stuff. Before you knock it, a shelf in our living room that we receive a TON of compliments on is from Aldi. Two fave seasonal items that I literally hold my breath waiting for: HORSERADISH FRIDGE PICKLES and various refrigerated salsas.

There are also tons of seasonal cheeses that you KNOW I bring to any holiday potluck.

Shopping at Aldi is a learning curve, and you will likely need to pick up a few things at another store. My Aldi doesn’t carry cashew milk or nutritional yeast, so I often swing by Hy-Vee on the way home and grab those couple items.

But once you’re familiar with your local Aldi and what they carry consistently, you will save SO MUCH MONEY. Seriously. When I was doing the price comparison at Hy-Vee, my eyes were bugging out of my head. I literally couldn’t believe how expensive some of the stuff was. A three-pound bag of apples at Aldi is $2.69. The same weight of apples at Hy-Vee? $5.94!!

Aldi introduced a TON of natural and health food products in the past year, like this cultured apple cider vinegar.

A few notes on price comparison: I chose the store brand at Hy-Vee when it was available. I made sure that I was matching organic to organic and conventional to conventional. I couldn’t find two items at Hy-Vee, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt and said they sold the product for the same price as Aldi. In the spreadsheet linked here, cells marked in yellow account for that adjustment. If a price at Aldi varied between weeks, I used the higher price in the comparison. All comparisons are based on weight. Things like cereal and crackers came in a same or very similarly sized box, but there was a HUGE difference for things like nuts. In this case, you would have to buy two bags of almonds at Hy-Vee to come home with the same weight. This is reflected in the spreadsheet.

WEEK ONE  BREAKDOWN

For that week, I purchased food for our regular breakfast, lunches, and dinners, plus a brunch with three girlfriends and a meal for friends with a new baby. You can view my whole receipt here

Price comparison standouts: Three multicolored bell peppers for $1.89 would have been $4.88 at Hy-Vee. Strawberries were also $1.89 and would have been $3.99 at Hy-Vee. Mother’s Day cards are what really saved my bacon, though. You know the beautiful cards at grocery stores with the cutouts and the sparkles, the ones that are like $6? Cards just like that were $0.99 at Aldi.

WEEK TWO BREAKDOWN

This was a week that went totally haywire, but when I went shopping, I planned on two meals for company and our regular breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. The receipt is here.

Big savers this week: Basmati rice ($2.99 at Aldi) was $7.88 (!!!!!!) at Hy-Vee. One pound of asparagus was $2.69 but would have been $4.99 at Hy-Vee.

A note on produce at Aldi: if you get the bag of onions home and notice that the two in the center are totally moldy, bring them back. Aldi replaces the item AND gives you your money back.

ALDI MUST-BUYS

I love these items, in the order that they appear at my Aldi: Outlander red wine, Savoritz 6 Cracker Assortment, tortilla chips strip-style, almonds, whole coffee beans, ground flax seeds, La Croix 12-packs, corn tortillas, the CHEESE selection, the supremely spicy hummus, and the basmati white rice.

Aldi also has DELICIOUS refrigerated pizzas that I’ll sometimes get when G is out of town, and I just saw on Saturday that they have Halo Top-style protein ice cream now. I haven’t tried it, but I’m telling you they carry it to show: Aldi is ALWAYS introducing new, trendy products, and they also keep up with the awesome stand-bys that keep us Wallaces fed.

$3.99 for a 12-pack!

Do you shop at Aldi? What fave products am I missing? If you’re not an Aldi shopper, what would you still like to know? 

My Picks for The Great American Read

If you want to see me really sweat, ask me to choose my favorite book. Sure, I just shared my top 10, but those were in no particular order and ALSO just my top 10 of March 2018. I fully expect that list to change over time (although I’m pretty sure Matilda will always be on there).

So when someone asks me what my single favorite book is, I really can’t do it. Does it mean the book I most enjoy reading? The book I recommend the most often? The book that taught me the most?

A new PBS documentary series, The Great American Read, is premiering next week, and it’s based around exactly that: 7,200 surveyed Americans picked their favorite novel, and a panel of judges narrowed that list down to the top 100 novels. And now we’ll vote, choosing the TOP FAVORITE NOVEL IN AMERICA!

I have a lot of issues with this premise. When my friend Lindsey handed me a list of America’s 100 most favorite novels (printed on a promotional bookmark), I immediately started analyzing: How does ANYONE pick one novel? Some of these authors aren’t even American? OK, I guess it’s favorite novel of Americans, not favorite American novel? And who THE HELL chose Fifty Shades of Grey?!

My initial thoughts about this list weren’t kind, I’ll admit. My degree-in-literature ass was judging the inclusion of certain novels (even some that I did enjoy reading). In my mind, the winner of this contest should be a serious work of literature. Maybe the words on the page are easy to read, but the themes aren’t. A good novel should make you think. About yourself, your relationships with others, the state of the world. And I don’t think that Flowers in the Attic accomplishes that.

BUT those initial thoughts are rude. Just because those are the criteria by which I choose my favorite novels does not mean everyone should or does think that way. I’m constantly complaining about how people don’t read enough, so I should shut my over-educated mouth and let people like what they like.

So that’s the last you’ll hear me complain about the selection of books on the list. (Exception: I will have some SHIT TO SAY if Fifty Shades wins. Read your erotic fiction all you want, no judgement there. Just maybe MAYBE maybe our favorite novel shouldn’t be so poorly written?  😳)

Voting opens after the initial show airs on Tuesday, and you can vote as many times as you want for your favorite book. I chose seven from the list that I love, and I plan to vote for them on a rotating daily basis. Maybe one of mine will emerge victorious, but it could also be the Left Behind series. Ahem.

MY SELECTIONS

  • Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie This is a complicated and beautiful novel. The author’s TED Talk was sampled in a Beyonce song the same year this novel came out, which is, if we’re being honest, what drew me to the book in the first place.
    In the book, the main character moves from her home in Africa to America, and she has to deal with race for the first time in her life. In a country where everyone is black, race is not an issue the way it is in America. There’s also a love story. The premise is thought-provoking and the writing is beautiful.  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood You all KNOW I love this one. My review is here. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
    I can’t help but think Handmaid’s Tale (and 1984, also on the list) will have huge advantages because they’re currently on television. So we’ll see how that plays out.
  • Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott I LOVE THIS NOVEL! It’s about sisters! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
    But, for real, if you ever want to see me ugly-cry, turn on the 1994 movie with Winona Ryder and Kirsten Dunst. (And I promise that this isn’t a PBS ad, but they’re currently airing a Little Women adaptation that is pretty good.)
    This novel may have been my first introduction to the format of novels that I love so much — multi-decade family drama!! I love that we meet the sisters as children and follow them through adulthood (well, most of them 😭).
    (ALSO, many of the other entries on the list are series — the entire Harry Potter series, the Chronicles of Narnia, the Lord of the Rings. Does that mean that the other Little Women novels are included when you vote for Little Women? Because they are not… quite as good.)
  • The Color Purple, by Alice Walker You all know how much I love the musical, but I loved the book first. A deeply sad story about Celie and her sister, I can’t read it without crying. Sisters separated by circumstance ALWAYS makes me sob. The novel is short, but it covers so many important themes: poverty, racial violence, marital abuse, familial sexual abuse. It is a HARD read, but it’s an important one. Celie’s life circumstances aren’t made up, even though she’s a fictional character. The things that happened to her happen to real women, too. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold This is a beautiful novel. AND it’s about crime and murder, so you know I love it. I’m sure many of you know the basic plot, since it was a movie (that I never saw, I’m just now realizing) in 2009. The protagonist is a dead teenage girl who watches her murder investigation unfold from her own personal Heaven. It’s EXCELLENT. I’m seeing via Google that the movie was terrible, so please give the novel a try if you didn’t like the movie. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Stand, by MY DUDE Stephen King I love, love, love this novel. It’s about an America in the very near future, where a superflu has killed 99% of the world’s population. It is famously long (so long, in fact, that King cut 400 pages before the initial publication, and an unedited version was released after the novel’s initial commercial success), around 800 pages. I feel like its length will hurt it in the voting process, but I’m happy to see a King novel represented on this list. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee OK, OK, OK, this will probably win. It’s a widely beloved novel, we all had to read it in school, and it’s about racism, but the protagonist is white. ☕ People love this novel! And I do, too. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I was so, so, so sad when Go Set A Watchman was released against Lee’s wishes. No one deserves to have their first drafts published! That shit is PRIVATE.

Other miscellaneous thoughts on The List:

  • I love Harry Potter deeply, and I am so happy that those novels got children to read. I just wish they’d maybe read some other novels, too.
  • The children’s books that are included, like Charlotte’s Web, make my heart break with cuteness.
  • I love that Jurassic Park is on this list. LOVE. Michael Crichton was teenage Caitlin’s favorite author.
  • I feel weird about books that were very recently released being on the list, like The Martian. Sure, I liked it, too. But how can you call a book your favorite if it hasn’t traveled through the years with you?
  • Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut is on The List, and that’s the novel that James Delos was reading in his weird Ikea apartment last week on Westworld. IS THIS AN HBO TIE-IN?!

So there you have it. My thoughts and feelings about America’s favorite novel. My educated guess? Mockingbird will win. Or maybe Harry Potter.

Please, not 50 Shades. I’m not going to say any other winner would make me happy, because I am too dramatic for that. But PLEASE not 50 Shades.

Banana chocolate chip muffins (VEGAN!)

I had my first vegan baking fail last month. I tried to make Tracy Shutterbean’s Hippy Banana Bread recipe vegan. Which I think is doable, I just did it wrong. I tried to sub applesauce and an extra banana for three eggs and that did NOT go well. I should have tried flax eggs. Grant kindly told me that it wasn’t a fail… it was just more of a pudding than a bread.

These muffins are the opposite. They’re super simple, super quick, and super vegan! I’ve made these probably a dozen times, and they always come out perfectly. I served them last weekend with a strawberry and grilled chicken salad for a pretty delicious brunch.

I love these muffins for a couple reasons: they’re vegan without a single weird ingredient (a standard pantry could make these pretty easily!), they’re sturdy so they travel well, and they use up the countless frozen bananas taking up space in my freezer.

These would be an awesome, easy Mother’s Day treat, wink!


Banana chocolate chip muffins (VEGAN!)

Makes 10 muffins

¼ c coconut oil, melted

½ c brown sugar

2 super-ripe bananas*

4 oz applesauce (a standard lunch cup)

1 tsp vanilla

1 ¼ c flour

½ tsp kosher salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

½ c dairy-free chocolate chips (I like the Costco brand!)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the coconut oil and brown sugar together until combined. Add mashed bananas, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix with a spatula until combined.
  3. Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
  4. Add chocolate chips to the dry mixture, and stir to combine. Adding the chocolate to the dry mixture coats it in flour, which prevents it from sinking to the bottom of the muffins.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and gently fold together. Stop when there are still a couple of flour streaks. You don’t want to overmix!
  6. Scoop the batter into a greased muffin tin. I use 1.5 loose scoops from this batter scoop in each cavity. You should get ten!
  7. Bake for ten minutes. Rotate the pan (turn the tin around so that the muffins that were in the front of the oven finish baking in the back of the oven), and bake for another 8-12 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in a center muffin comes out with only a few crumbs.
  8. Cool in muffin tin for 10 minutes and then let cool on cooling rack or enjoy warm. If you eat them warm, you’ve got to add butter!

* I throw ripe bananas in the freezer when they’re turning black, whole and in the peels. When it comes time to make banana bread, thaw them on the counter or in the microwave in a glass bowl. YOU MUST USE THE BOWL OR A PLATE OR SOMETHING because they will ooze like crazy. You’ll end up with basically liquid bananas, perfect for banana bread.

Adapted from this recipe.

Currently//April 2018

Guys, remember when we were all complaining about how slowly January crawled by, but then we blinked and it’s MAY?! What. Were. We. Thinking? Pretty soon it’ll be ten years from now, and we’ll really be regretting wishing that month away.

I hope you all had an awesome April. Mine was crazy busy (what else is new?!). We started the month celebrating our first wedding anniversary at Big Cedar Lodge in Branson. It was so relaxing and beautiful, and we had great customer service at every turn. Highly recommend. Right after that trip, I turned around and went to RISE, which was SO incredibly fun and rejuvenating. You can read about the lessons I learned at the conference here. The rest of the month was full of dinners with friends, baby showers, and family time. The kind of activities that are so worth the time and energy, but leave you a little depleted just the same.

We spent this past weekend relaxing and recharging, which was incredible. I finished one novel and started another, caught up on The Handmaid’s Tale 😱, washed all of our bedding, and enjoyed our first deck dinner of the season.

It was incredible to have a weekend spent largely at home, and I woke up Monday morning feeling READY for the week ahead. Which doesn’t really happen after a jam-packed weekend.

INSPIRING

Something I didn’t write about in my RISE recap is the answer to the question I outlined here. What am I doing? What am I working towards with the Fruitful brand?

And I didn’t find an answer to that question. I did find a different answer, though. I may not know exactly what I’m doing, but I do know why. My mission is to inspire and motivate other women. To be healthier, stronger, more responsible, more ambitious, more focused, more whatever they want to be!

The why matters more than the what. Now that I know the why, I can figure out the what as I go. Right now, that means trying a million different things until I see what sticks. This is exhausting and time-consuming, but also very exciting.

Right now, I’m working on hosting a meet-up for women in Kansas City that are searching for community and motivation. I love the online relationships that I have with so many of you, but I want to take that into the real world! I posted about the possibility of this meet-up on my Instagram stories, and people were EXCITED, which means I’m excited to make it happen. Please leave me a comment below or email at caitlin@thefruitfulblog.com if you’re interested.

EXERCISING

Early in the month, I broke my own rule and deprioritized exercise when life got busy, and I’m sure you all know how hard it is to get back on the horse once you fall off. I broke that cycle with a pretty amazing yoga class in the lobby of the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts one Saturday. A friend and I bought tickets weeks and weeks ago, and the event popped up on my calendar just when I needed it. The yoga class stretched out all my lazy muscles and gave me a kick in the ass. It reminded me how good exercise makes me feel. (ALSO, the marble floors in the Kauffman lobby are HEATED! Isn’t that nuts? I’d obviously never been barefoot in this fancy lobby before, but now I may take my shoes off every time I’m there (kidding!) (maybe).)

I also ran an awesome race Sunday morning. The trolley run is an annual KC event that benefits a great charity AND got me to run four straight miles for the first time in my life. I really had only ever run a 5K before, but I felt confident I could tack another mile on there. And I could! Minus a quick ankle stretch in the middle of mile four, I ran the entire thing. And in only 36 minutes! I know that’s not crazy-fast, but it’s fast for me! My friend Courtney and I ran side-by-side, and we both ended up pushing each other to a faster pace than we’d ever have run solo. Now that I’ve done four miles, maybe a 10K is next? (No, I won’t ever be marathon training. No thanks! Not for me. I’m kind of attached to my toenails.)

EATING

Nothing is quite as good as all the California food I ate at the beginning of the month, including the Shake Shack I had for breakfast at the airport otw home.

I loved Pine & Crane, Poke N Roll, and also the Glendale Embassy Suites that assumed Brooke and I were guests (we were not) and served us during their free-to-guests happy hour. The best vodka soda is a free one.

Poke N Roll enjoyed on the deck at our Airbnb.
The 3 Cup Chicken and the Dan Dan Noodles from Pine & Crane.

If you haven’t tried the vegan queso I made for the blog, check it out. Dairy often makes my skin break out, and this is all of the queso goodness with just PLANTS! It’s best enjoyed with tortilla chips and a few cocktails.

LISTENING

I’m loving the podcast The Habitat, a true story about six “astronauts” that are living in a simulated Mars habitat for a year. This is the dress rehearsal for the real thing with real astronauts, so these volunteers can’t leave the habitat without suiting up. (They also won’t see their families (or anyone outside their fellow volunteers) for a FULL YEAR.) If someone opens the habitat door without following the proper protocols, BOOM, experiment over (because the volunteers will be “dead”).  

NASA is using the volunteers to study the ways that people can live in close quarters together for an extended period of time. There’s also a lot of audio about space travel in general that has been VERY interesting to learn about.

ALSO the new Janelle Monae album and Water Me by Lizzo (“I am my inspiration.” 🔥 )

READING

If you follow my Instagram Stories, you know how LEVEL TEN EXCITED I was about the Golden State Killer. I was crying at work, shaking as I waited for the county prosecutor’s press conference to start, and telling anyone who would listen ALL ABOUT THIS CASE.

GSK was the white whale. He was like the Zodiac, except Jake Gyllenhaal didn’t star in a movie about him. He hadn’t been active for OVER 30 YEARS! This case was as cold as can be, and they CAUGHT HIM. I am crying just typing this.

GSK burgled 100s of people, raped at least 50 women, and murdered a dozen people. When they arrested the suspect last week, he was in his seventies. He could have died and gotten away with it. That’s what made me cry. The fact that all of these survivors and the families of victims get to look at his face and know that he will face the consequences of his actions. After 30!!! Years!!!

I love reading about crime and cults and all kinds of weird stuff, and Michelle McNamara’s book about the GSK was one of the best true crime books I have ever read. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer is INCREDIBLE. Michelle spent years and years researching this case, devoting countless hours to reading, combing through evidence, visiting crime scenes, and more. She died before the book was completed and before GSK was caught. But you BEST BELIEVE she was looking down on us, smile-crying.

Police departments pretty famously don’t acknowledge writers and journalists that help break cases. And, to be clear, that police force 100% deserves a mountain of credit for the decades of hard work that they put into the case.

But I have a hard time believing that a break in the case mere months after Michelle’s book was released is a coincidence. She’s the one that NAMED HIM the Golden State Killer, for pete’s sake. Michelle even suggested in the book that GSK would be found using an ancestry DNA service. And girl was RIGHT!!!!

I’m going to warn you that the details of the crime in the book are upsetting. This man stalked families, learned their schedules and the locations of all of their light switches and telephones, and used that information to hurt them. BUT THE BOOK IS SO GOOD. Michelle is a warm and concise writer, which is a hard combination to find. It is a true tragedy that she’s gone.

I don’t think we’ll ever catch the Zodiac. But they did get the GSK, and Michelle can totally claim that win alongside law enforcement. 


Our Airbnb in L.A. We stayed on the bottom floor, through that archway on the left.

Happy May, everyone! Summer is almost here. I can smell it.

What’s the best thing you did or read or ate this April? 

Black bean & sweet potato burrito bowls with VEGAN queso Happy Cinco de Mayo!

The last time I celebrated Cinco de Mayo was May 5, 2015. I know this because I went to work May 6th with a massive hangover, and I was laid off May 8th. I also know that these things aren’t related, and I bet I *~celebrated~* so hard because of the looming DOOM at work, but regardless: I’m not sure I’ll ever unlink the association. Cinco de Mayo makes me remember the weird humiliation of being laid off from a job that I didn’t even like that much.

But I had this vegan queso recipe that needed to be shared, and what better time than now? If you, like me, don’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo, GREAT. This food tastes just as good any day of the week.

It’s very fitting that, when I made the food for this post, I fed it to my dear friend Lindsey to celebrate her birthday. I met her through this old job, she was there the whole weird layoff day (from literally breakfast through drinking that evening), and I’m so thankful for that job if only because I met her.

Me and the birthday girl

Cinco de Mayo is on a Saturday this year, but I don’t think that you should use that as an excuse to go wild. I encourage you to make this meal with friends in the safety of your home, drink one (just one!) too many tequila-La Croixes, and scream/sing along to the live Dixie Chicks album from their recent tour.

The burrito bowls are flavorful and filling, and the queso takes the meal over the top. Vegan queso may sound intimidating (or even gross. I get it 😜), but it’s not! All it takes is nuts, water, and a few seasonings. You get a rich, tasty dip that’s as spicy as you’d like.

This meal is best enjoyed at a crowded table.

VEGAN BURRITO BOWLS

This makes enough for four adults, plus leftovers for lunch the next day

Black beans (4 15-oz cans)

Rotel (1 10-oz can)

Salt and pepper

Sweet potatoes (5 lb bag)

Cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil

Bell peppers (6, various colors)

Onions (one red, one yellow)

Salt, pepper, olive oil

For assembly:

Cooked white rice (toss with cilantro and lime juice if you remember to! I did not!)

Various salsas and hot sauces

Diced avocado (would be amazing, but I didn’t include since Grant is allergic)

These directions are very loose. They’re burrito bowls, not algebra. Do what I say unless you have an idea that sounds better.

  1. Drain and rinse the beans. Add to a pot with the Rotel. Fill the Rotel can with water and add to the pot, as well. Season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, pop the lid on, and leave it be for ~45 mins. Stir when you remember to.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425. Roughly chop the potatoes (if the pieces are similarly sized, they’ll cook evenly!), spread on a large baking sheet, season with salt, pepper, and a dusting of cumin, drizzle with olive oil, and toss. Roast in the preheated oven for ~25 mins, tossing halfway through.
  3. Slice the peppers into strips. Same with the onions. Throw in a HUGE pot with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Let them sear over high heat for a few minutes before you stir. This is what makes the blackened spots like when you order fajitas at a restaurant. Continue until the peppers are cooked to your liking. These will hold over low, low heat for a long time.
  4. Assemble with white rice, lime wedges, hot sauce, salsa, guac, and vegan queso on the side!

VEGAN QUESO

1 ½ C raw cashews, soaked for 6 hours*

½ C water

½ C nutritional yeast**

1/4 tsp cayenne (more or less to taste!)

½ tsp chili powder

½ tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

Tortilla chips for serving

* I buy my raw cashews from the bulk bins at Hy-Vee in the Health Food Market. I know that Planter’s also makes them, and those are in the aisle with the snack nuts. “Soaked” means just what it sounds like. Cover the cashews with water and let them sit for at least six hours, up to overnight.

** This is a cheesy-tasting, plant-based powder seasoning. I buy mine from the bulk bins, just like the cashews.

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender*. Blend. Taste for seasoning. The END!

    * I’m sure this would be super-velvety and luxurious with a high-powered blender, but all I’ve got is a Cuisinart, and it works JUST FINE.