Grocery Diaries: A Mom Who’s Into the Mediterranean Diet—With Some Flexibility


Finally, a dairy allergy is not the same as lactose intolerance and can be much more severe. In the case of food allergies, a person’s immune system reacts after eating a specific item, according to the Mayo Clinic. Eating any amount of the allergy-triggering food can lead to a range of symptoms from digestive discomfort to hives and breathing problems, which is why Alma takes such care to make sure her son is able to avoid dairy.  

Alma and her family live in an area with lots of grocery stores to choose from—here are 10 items she picks up on a typical grocery trip. 

“We eat a lot of green chiles,” Alma says. “My husband loves green chiles, and I do too.” Alma often uses these to make chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican dish made with corn tortilla chips and often served with other foods like eggs. But she also likes to keep them around to put on fish and tostadas (tortillas topped with lots of delicious ingredients such as meat, beans, and more). 

2. Wild-Caught Sockeye Salmon: $11.99

The Mediterranean style of eating emphasizes fish, which was an acquired taste for Jason. What helped? When he dabbled in fishing while stationed in Florida as a Marine for a few years. “He went deep-sea fishing and he caught a lot of different types of fish, and it was his first time to really enjoy fresh fish,” Alma says. “He was hooked after that.” Now the family eats salmon twice a week. Alma finds that it’s an easy way to make a meal using ingredients from each of their cultures. For instance, to prepare salmon in a way that incorporates their son’s Japanese heritage, Alma adds items that are common in Japanese cuisine, including ginger, chili peppers, and teriyaki sauce. “I use the flavors that are commonly found in Japan to give the meal some authenticity for him,” Alma says. She and Jason also try to support their son’s connection to Japan in other ways, like by reading Japanese folk tales together, learning about Japanese holidays, and seeking out connections with people from Japan in part so their son can have those important relationships.   

“I went through all the different milk alternatives to see which one he would gravitate to,” Alma explains of her son’s preference for Silk soy milk. “We really aren’t milk drinkers, so that’s what we use in recipes.”

4. Kale: $1.69

“We use this just about every morning,” Alma says. “I sauté some kale with red pepper chili flakes, some garlic, and a little bit of onions. I have that with egg whites on the side. My whole family eats it.” They also look for ways to incorporate extra vegetables into all of their meals, so Alma uses kale in her lentil and minestrone soups too.

For Alma, this seasoning brings back memories of the rice her mom used to make for her. “The typical Mexican way is that you make a tomato-like paste and you throw that on the rice. My mom always liked this spice better, so that’s the way she made it, and that’s the way I learned how to make it.”

Chelsea Kyle. Food Stying by Drew Aichele. Prop Styling by Campbell Pearson.

“We consume quite a bit of legumes, especially my son. He loves beans,” Alma says. Normally, they eat beans alongside a larger main dish. Sometimes Alma tops a bowl of beans with homemade salsa. Other times she fries them in a pan the way she learned growing up.

“This is also a staple in the house, especially when we have beans. We eat a lot of corn tortillas,” she says. Alma and her family use corn tortillas to make tacos or tostadas or as a stand-in for bread when eating soup. However, she opts for deep-fried flour tortillas when making a take on a meal commonly called Indian tacos, which the family then tops with a lot of vegetables and homemade salsa. (Also known as fry bread, this dish has a long and storied history in American Indian cuisine.) 

8. Ore-Ida Oregon & Idaho, Potatoes O’Brien With Onions & Peppers: $4.59

Alma describes this as a “yummy and filling” side option that comes together quite easily. She likes that these potatoes are simple to make in a pan with a little bit of olive oil and seasonings. Plus this dish goes nicely with the kale and egg-white dish she eats for breakfast. 

9. AllWhites 100% Liquid Egg Whites: $3.29

“This is generally what I have in the morning for breakfast with the kale,” Alma says. She adds green onion on top and sometimes eats this along with the potatoes for a protein- and veggie-rich way to start the day. 

10. Trader Joe’s Orange Chicken: $4.99

Alma’s son just happens to love this one, so she incorporates it into his meals but not her own—“I’m not really a fan of orange chicken,” she says. Her son, however, can’t get enough. “He requests it every day,” she says. “We give it to him at least once a week in his lunch.”

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