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Grocery Stores Must Help Seniors Shop, Here’s How

Update 3/17: Several stores have taken initiative in helping the elderly shop before stores open, and in some cases even pregnant women and those with special needs. You can always call in to see if your local supermarket is offering these services, but several stores have been spotted doing so, such as:
Northgate Market, Ralphs, Target, Vallarta Supermarket, Smart & Final, Superior Grocers, Dollar General, and Stop & Shop.

I don’t need to tell you how swamped grocery stores are in the midst of this national emergency. You’ve watched the news, you’ve seen the videos circulating online, and you’ve certainly gone out to see the madness for yourself.

Fear of the unknown had caused people’s survival instincts to kick in, and now there’s no toilet paper.

As everyone shops and prepares themselves for the worst, the elderly are most vulnerable in this time, and their usual shopping time has been invaded by hoards of shoppers wiping out store shelves.

Measures should be taken to ensure that those of advanced age have a shot at getting their grocery shopping done, as well.

Over the weekend, Northgate Market in La Habra took a shot at letting 65-year-olds and up go into the store first, giving them a 30-minute head start.

It was a noble effort, and a good starting point, but as someone who has worked in a grocery store with a heavy flow of elderly people, and frequently helped them with their shopping lists, I know that’s not enough.

At best, 30-minutes gives them a chance to walk to the household products aisle and grab a roll of toilet paper, and maybe scurry over to the meat department, but definitely not enough time to do any sort of decent shopping.

Monday, Northgate adjusted this effort, not only expanding it to a full hour before official opening, but also expanding past their La Habra location, and doing it at all 41 of its stores, which should be the standard for all stores in these trying times.

In Britain, “Iceland Supermarket” has given the elderly a full hour head start, citing that it gives them a more “comfortable shopping environment,” according to Today. So between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., it’s prime time for those of advanced age.

At minimum, grocery stores should be letting in the elderly an hour early, if not two.

Also, stores are experiencing record sales, and even hiring like crazy at the moment. Use that abundance of hires, and have them go through the senior shoppers’ grocery list. There’s a good chance a clerk can run across the store and grab a gallon of milk a lot faster than a 70-year-old shopper with an arthritic knee.

By now you’ve probably seen the tweet by Rebecca Mehra, where she said:

“I went to the grocery store this afternoon. As I was walking in I heard a woman yell to me from her car. I walked over and found an elderly woman and her husband. She cracked her window open a bit more, and explained to me nearly in tears that they are afraid to go in the store. Afraid to get sick as they are in their 80’s and hear that the novel coronavirus is affecting older people disproportionately. And that they don’t have family around to help them out. Through the crack in the window she handed me a $100 bill and a grocery list, and asked if I would be willing to buy her groceries.

I bought the groceries and placed them in her trunk, and gave her back the change. She told me she had been sitting in the car for nearly 45 min before I had arrived, waiting to ask the right person for help.”

Yes, the story sounds a bit theatrical, and you never really know what’s true or not on Twitter, but whether you believe her or not, the viral tweet brought awareness to an issue that was not being talked about at the time, and that’s giving the elderly a fighting chance to get their groceries.

In Southern California, multiple grocery stores have adjusted their hours to give them more time to adapt to the influx of shoppers. Northgate is one of them, and even Ralphs shortened their hours, opening later and closing earlier in an attempt to give its employees more time to stock shelves, clean, and do their usual work before and after the madness.

If all these store hours can be adjusted, surely they can follow Northgate and Iceland’s lead, and also have a little bit of empathy for those who can’t wrestle away a case of water from you during the regular hours.

We now know that grocery stores will continue to be open in this quarantine period, and supply chains are reportedly in no danger, so hopefully the waves of shoppers will be a little less hectic, and everyone can get their food in less of a panic.

Either way, in a time where it feels like it’s every man for himself, maybe we should take a step back and think about those around us who might need some help.

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3 Vegan Taco Recipes That Actually Taste Like Meat

What’s your food New Year’s Resolution? For lots of us, it’s gonna be about eating healthier and potentially going plant-based. Giving up tacos while attempting this cleanse is no easy task, but this trio of vegan taco recipes should help you get going.

vegan taco recipes

These vegan taco recipes are recreations of some of the top taco meats out there, but made entirely out of plants. The three different flavors are as follows:

vegan taco recipes

Suadero Mentiroso, aka “The Lying Suadero,” made from mushrooms,

vegan taco recipes

Yaca Carnitas, a spin on carnitas that utilizes jackfruit,

vegan taco recipes

And Hola, Soy Al Pastor. You can probably tell what the “pastor” is made from based on the punny name.

All of these vegan taco recipes are crafted to taste pretty close to their original forms in terms of flavor and texture. You might even be convinced you broke your New Year’s Resolution a little early, who knows?

All of the recipes and ingredients for these vegano tacos can be found at Northgate Market. There’s a full holiday cookbook available that includes these recipes, but you can also find them all below.

Each of these recipes makes 10 tacos.

vegan taco recipes

Suadero Mentiroso

10 Northgate corn tortillas
12 oz oyster mushrooms
Juice from 2 limes
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp salt
1/4 cup oil
2 onions, chopped
1 bunch cilantro

Step 1
Wash and dry the oyster mushrooms before pulling them apart. Place the pulled mushrooms into a bowl, and add lime juice, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt. Mix everything together to fully combine.

Step 2
Add oil in a skillet and set to a medium heat. Add your chopped onions, and saute until golden. Place in the marinated mushrooms, and cook for 10 minutes until the mushrooms go golden brown.

Step 3
Assemble the tacos by warming the tortillas and loading each up with the mushroom filling to your liking. Garnish with cilantro, onions, and your favorite salsa.

vegan taco recipes

Yaca Carnitas

10 Northgate tortillas
2 20 oz cans of jackfruit in water
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/4 oil
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
2 onions, chopped

Step 1
Drain the canned jackfruit before shredding with your fingers or forks. Squeeze all the water out of the shredded jackfruit using a towel or cheesecloth.

Step 2
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the jackfruit, cumin, paprika, and garlic. Cook until the jackfruit is browned and slightly crispy around the edges.

Step 3
Warm the tortillas and add a large spoonful of cooked jackfruit to the center of each. Top with cilantro, onions, and your favorite salsa.

vegan taco recipes

Hola, Soy Al Pastor

10 guajillo chiles
4 7 oz cans chipotle chiles
1 tbsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 onion
1 8 oz bag soy meat
½ cup chopped pineapple chunks
1/4 cup oil
10 Northgate tortillas

Step 1
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, add the soy meat and turn off the heat immediately. Let soak for 5-10 minutes before draining the water.

Step 2
Remove stems and seeds from the guajillo chiles by cutting in half. Place in a pot, and boil for 10 minutes. Once cooked, pour into a blender with the chipotle chiles, garlic salt, oregano, black pepper, and onions.

Step 3
Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Place in your soy meat and fry for 15 mins or until browned. Add the pineapple chunks, and cook for another 15 mins. Pour in the adobo sauce before cooking for a final 5 minutes.

Step 4
Assemble the tacos by warming the tortillas and adding a large spoonful of the cooked soy al pastor to the center of each. Serve with cilantro, onions, and your favorite salsa.

Created in partnership with Northgate Market

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Chorizo, Queso & Tequila Combine For A LIT New Year’s Party Dip

Whether or not 2018 has been good to you, it’s coming to an end, and it’s time to celebrate. That means turning up the queso as much as all the other attendees at your New Year’s Bash.

Start by loading it up with copious amounts of chorizo, going big on flavor with the Oaxacan cheese, and – of course – spiking it with plenty of Casa Mexico Tequila. It’ll be a queso to remember, regardless of what else happens as you ring in the new year.

You can find all of the ingredients to make this festive queso at Northgate Market, who also has a holiday cookbook coming out with all of the recipes you need for this season. If you want this boozy, meaty queso ASAP, though, you can peep the full recipe below.

Servings: At least 6

5 oz Northgate Market pork chorizo, plus more for garnish    
1/2 cup Casa Mexico Tequila
1 cup milk
3 1/2 cups shredded Oaxaca cheese
3 cups Mexican taco cheese mix
1/2 cup Crèma Mexicana
2 1/2 Tbsp Green Hot Sauce   
1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
Chicharrons, whatever size you want, for dipping
1/4 cup Cotija
1 jalapeño, sliced
1 tbsp chopped green onions


Step 1
Cook chorizo in a sauté pan or saucepan until all of the meat is fully cooked. Drain off the residual oil, and set the chorizo aside to add in later.

Step 2
Bring your tequila to a boil in a separate saucepan over a medium heat, and reduce the liquid by half. Add the milk and reduce your heat to medium-low. While stirring, sprinkle in your melted cheese a little bit at a time to fully combine. Add Creme Oaxaca sauce, and stir to mix thoroughly.

Step 3
After all the cheeses are melted, add in the hot sauce, green chiles, and cooked chorizo. Stir to fully combine.

Step 4
Garnish with cotija, more chorizo, green onions and jalapeño. Serve hot over chips, chicharrons, or any of your other favorite foods to dip with.

Created in partnership with Northgate Market

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Spiked Ponche Navideño Will Make Everybody’s Spirits Bright

Some of Christmas’s best memories come after the dinner is done, the family is all together around the couch, and the aroma of ponche Navideño fills the room. It’s a time of relaxation, comfort, and getting the best stories possible out of tia.

If you want to make sure the juiciest tales are revealed, make sure that your ponche comes with a little extra kick. This version, served in an optional apple mug you can snack on, comes with a shot of gold rum packed into each cup to keep the fun times rolling all night long.

You can find all of the ingredients you need for this grown-up ponche Navideño at Northgate Market. There will also be a holiday cookbook available with all of the recipes you need for the celebrations to come.

If you’re a huge ponche Navideño fan and want to get a pot going already, though, you can peep the full recipe for this rum-laden version below.

Servings: 12


For the Ponche

2 navel oranges, reserve 1 for garnish

12 whole cloves

6 tejocotes or red cojotes

1/4 cup dried hibiscus flowers (flor de jamaica)

3 cinnamon sticks

12 cups water

2 Granny Smith apples, sliced

1 pear, sliced

1 sugar cane stick, cut into 4 inch long pieces. Get some more for garnish if you can, but if not, cinnamon sticks are also great.  

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

12 oz gold rum

Fresh hibiscus flowers for garnish

For the Apple Cups

Large red apples

1/2 cup lemon juice


Step 1

Use the pointed ends of the cloves to insert them into a whole orange, leaving the entire fruit studded. Cut the orange into wedges, and also cut some slits into the tejocote.

Step 2

In a large pot, bring the hibiscus flowers, cinnamon sticks and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until your water is a deep pink color.  

Step 3

Remove the hibiscus flowers, leaving the cinnamon sticks inside to infuse further. Add the orange wedges, tejocotes, apples, pear, sugar cane, and brown sugar to the pot and stir. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 4

When the ponche is cooking, prepare some apple “mugs” to serve the festive punch in. Cut off the top of each apple, and use a paring knife to score the rims. Scoop out the center of the apple using a spoon or melon baller. Coat the inside of the apple with lemon juice to keep it from turning brown.

Step 5

To serve, ladle the punch into an apple cup, making sure each cup gets some slices of fruit as well. Garnish with an orange slice, fresh hibiscus flower and sugar cane (or cinnamon) stick. If desired, add 1 ounce of gold rum to each cup to give the punch an extra kick.

Created in partnership with Northgate Market. 

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Slow Cooker Concha Bread Pudding Might Be The Easiest Dessert Ever

One of the holiday season’s most decadent dessert ideas might also be one of its easiest to make: Concha Bread Pudding that you can set and forget in the slow cooker.

concha bread pudding

Made with a fragrant custard with notes of cinnamon and rum, all you need to add in otherwise is a few chopped-up conchas. Day-old pieces of the Mexican sweet bread are best, but any leftover or fresh ones you have will work perfectly for this bread pudding.

Other than that, it’s a simple manner of loading everything into the slow cooker, setting it for a few hours, then coming back to a luscious and sumptuous treat. This concha bread pudding is the perfect dessert to have going on in the background while everything else comes together for the holiday feast.

You can find all of the ingredients necessary for this one-pot sweet at Northgate Market, who will also have the full recipe in a holiday cookbook coming out soon. In the meantime, you can peep the directions to get this festive food party going below:

Servings: 5

4  conchas (7-8 cups), cut into 1-inch pieces (day-old conchas are perfect for this!)
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 tablespoons Bacardi rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Vanilla Ice Cream for serving


Step 1
Butter the inside of a crock pot/slow cooker with 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter. Add the concha cubes to the pot.

Step 2
In a large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, egg yolks, brown sugar, cinnamon, rum, salt, and vanilla extract. Pour the egg mixture over the conchas, ensuring it covers every piece. Gently push down on bread with a spatula or spoon so that the concha on top soaks up the liquid as well.

Step 3
Cover and cook for 3 1/2 hours on a low setting. Turn off the crock pot and let cool for 15-20 minutes before serving with a heaping scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream.

Created in partnership with Northgate Market

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Neapolitan Atole Cheesecake Is THE All-In-One Christmas Treat

The most difficult part about Christmas dessert for me is choosing just one to enjoy. With vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry options abound, I want to just shove them all in my face. Fortunately, there are desserts out there like this Neapolitan atole cheesecake that let me enjoy all of those flavors at once.

Made with instant atole mix, this cheesecake is more decadent than your standard New York variation, but adds in a nutty flavor that you wouldn’t get otherwise. It has triple the layers of your standard cheesecake, with vanilla as a foundation, a chocolatey middle, and a vibrant pink strawberry finish.

The treat is made even sweeter with a base made from Maria’s Cookies and buñuelos, with even more buñuelos and cajeta garnishing the top.

Those looking to make this all-in-one dessert can find the ingredients to do so at Northgate Market. You’ll also soon be able to find a cookbook that covers this recipe as well as a host of other Christmas treats in Northgate Market. For those who want to make it before then, though, you can find the full recipe below.

Servings: 10

12 Maria’s Cookies, crushed
5 6-inch buñuelos, crushed,
4 tablespoons butter, melted
6 cups 2% fat free milk,
3 (1.6 oz each) packets of instant atole mix: 1 vanilla, 1 chocolate, and 1 strawberry flavor
3 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, room temperature, divided
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon unsweetened cacao powder


Step 1
Spray the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper as well to prevent the cake from sticking to the bottom.

Step 2
Make the cheesecake base by combining crushed cookies, 2 crushed buñuelos and the melted butter in a small bowl. Stir until fully combined into a wet, sandy mixture. Press that into the bottom of the parchment-lined springform pan with the bottom of a tall drinking glass or large spoon. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes so the base can set.

Step 3
Make the vanilla cheesecake layer using the vanilla flavored atole mix. Dissolve it into ½ cup cold milk in a small bowl. Meanwhile, bring 1 ½ cups milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in vanilla atole mixture into the hot milk, lower the heat, and continue to whisk slowly until the liquid thickens to a pudding-like consistency. Let the mixture cool at this point.

Step 4
Combine 1 package of cream cheese, ½ cup sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl.  Mix with an electric mixer for 5 minutes, scraping the sides with a rubber spatula to ensure everything combines evenly. Gradually add vanilla atole mixture while mixing. Once everything is combined, pour it over the cheesecake base and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes while second layer is prepared.

Step 5
Repeat Step 3, but use the chocolate atole mix this time. This will be the middle layer of your Neapolitan cheesecake.

Step 6
Repeat Step 4 for the chocolate atole mix, adding in the cacao powder as well while mixing the cream cheese together. Pour on top of the vanilla cheesecake layer, then place in the freezer for 15 minutes while the top layer is prepared.

Step 7
Repeat Steps 3 and 4, using the strawberry atole mix this time to make the final layer of cheesecake.

Step 8
Pour the strawberry atole cheesecake mixture over the chocolate layer, spreading evenly. Carefully top with your remaining crushed buñuelos, pressing them lightly into the strawberry layer. Chill for 3-5 hours, or overnight.

Step 9
Run a knife around the edges to help the cheesecake release from the springform pan. Once that is freed, drizzle with a generous amount of cajeta and serve!

Photos by Pete Pham

Created in partnership with Northgate Market

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Thanksgiving Leftover Arepas Let You Relive The Turkey Day Magic

After Thanksgiving, there’s always a massive pile of festive leftovers in the fridge you eat through for the next few days. You can get pretty creative with these recalentados, including this arepa that elevates the standard Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich to new heights.

Made with a quick homemade arepa you can prepare within minutes, this sandwich also gets a spicy and savory kick with the addition of bacon, Havarti cheese, and jalapeños. Combined with all of your recalentados, this makes for a hefty, hearty sandwich that’ll have you eating through the entire stock of turkey and mashed potatoes in no time at all.

You can find all of the ingredients needed on top of your leftovers for this arepa at Northgate Market. Northgate Market also has a holiday cookbook coming out that puts twists on the Thanksgiving classics as well, including a mole-sauced turkey that would make for a tasty addition to this sandwich.

If you want to make this mouthwatering arepa, peep the recipe below.

Servings: 2

For the arepas
1 cup P.A.N. pre-cooked white cornmeal
½ tsp salt
1 cup lukewarm water
2-4 Tbsp Pompeian Safflower oil (Enough to cover bottom of the frying pan)
For the filling
1/2 cup leftover mashed potatoes
1.2 cup leftover stuffing
1-2 cups leftover turkey meat
3-4 Tbsp cranberry sauce
4 slices bacon, cooked until crispy
4 slices Havarti cheese
¼ cup fresh jalapeño slices
1/2 cup leftover gravy, warm


Step 1
In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, water and salt. Knead dough a few times in a bowl, then divide into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then gently flatten to 4 inch discs.

Step 2
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook arepas in oil until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer cooked arepas to a paper towel-lined plate to drain until cool, about 5 minutes. Carefully slit arepas halfway and transfer to a lined baking sheet.

Step 3
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. To assemble, lay 2 slices of arepa and top in this order: 1/4 cup mashed potatoes, 2 slices cheese, jalapeño slices to taste and 1/4 cup of stuffing.

Step 4
Bake in the oven for 5 minutes to melt cheese. Include the remaining 2 arepa slices to get extra crispy.

Step 5
Finish by distributing the turkey between all cheese topped arepas, followed by cooked bacon.
Smear cranberry sauce on the 2 plain slices. Place cranberry side down and top arepas. Serve with a side of gravy for dipping and enjoy!

Created in partnership with Northgate Market

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Move Over, PSL: This Is The Pumpkin Drink You Really Want This Fall

Atole and its chocolatey cousin champurrado are commonly enjoyed during the festive winter months. If you want to get a jump on atole season, though, this pumpkin version is designed to be enjoyed during Fall.

For those who’ve never tried atole, the warm, masa-based beverage is the ideal comforting drink for the colder seasons. This version incorporates spices like cinnamon and star anise while mixing in pumpkin puree for an autumnal flavor.

One of the keys to this recipe lies in its sweetening agent, piloncillo. The cone-shaped “sugar” can be found at places like Northgate Market, and is an unrefined ingredient made from boiling and evaporating cane sugar juice. It’s flavors are key to bringing the atole to life.

You can view the full recipe to this fall-based Pumpkin Atole in Northgate Market’s new holiday cookbook, arriving in early December. If you want to make it ahead of then, though, check it out below.

Servings: 9-10

1 cup masa harina
6 cup water, divided
4 cups milk
1 cup pure canned pumpkin
2/3 cup grated piloncillo
1 1/2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp ground turmeric
pinch salt
1 vanilla bean split
1 large hollowed pumpkin (approximately 11” wide), small hollowed pumpkins for cups (approximately 4-5” tall and wide)
Extra long cinnamon sticks, star anise and pumpkin pie spice for garnish


Step 1
In a medium bowl, combine masa harina and 2 cups of water. Stir well to avoid any lumps.

Step 2
In a large saucepan, combine milk, pumpkin puree, remaining water, piloncillo, pumpkin pie spice, turmeric and salt. Whisk together until piloncillo is dissolved. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Step 3
Slowly stir the masa harina mix into the saucepan, add the vanilla bean and bring back to a simmer, whisking occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and keep simmering until thickened to desired consistency, approximately 5-10 minutes.

Step 4
Serve hot or warm in a large pumpkin punch bowl, using small hollowed pumpkins as mugs. Garnish with a cinnamon stick straw, star anise and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.

Created in partnership with Northgate Market