Blueberry Coconut Muffins

By Tiffany Wu – Makes 12 muffins

Friendly City Muffins Post-Oven 3These blueberry coconut muffins take full advantage of blueberry season and are bursting with flavor. The shredded coconut complements the blueberries nicely and adds a tropical twist to the muffins. In place of eggs, I used ground flax seed dissolved in hot water. The flax seed and water mixture is commonly used in vegan baking and binds the muffin batter nicely. I also made my own flour by blending oats on high speed for 30 seconds. You could easily make this recipe gluten free by using gluten free oats.



2 tbsp. ground flax seed dissolved in 5 tbsp. hot water

½ cup almond milk

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

1 cup applesauce

2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 ½ cups oat flour

½ cup shredded coconut, plus more for topping

1 ¼ cup blueberries (can use fresh or frozen)

Coconut Oil Spray

Friendly City Muffin Batter









  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place ground flax seed into a small bowl and mix with 5 tbsp. hot water.

Mixture should thicken after 5-10 minutes and have a gel like consistency.

  1. Blend oats in a blender until they turn into flour.
  2. Add melted coconut oil to a large bowl. Next, add in applesauce, brown sugar, and flax seed mixture. Mix thoroughly to combine all ingredients. Next, add oat flour, baking soda, shredded coconut, and almond milk and mix all ingredients together.
  3. Gently fold blueberries into the muffin batter.
  4. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin liners and spray each liner with a touch of coconut oil. Divide batter between the twelve muffin liners. Top each muffin with a bit more shredded coconut. Bake for 20-24 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.
  5. Once muffins are done baking, let them cool for 15 minutes before enjoying!



By Tiffany Wu / Guest Blogger

Tiffany is a student at JMU, majoring in dietetics. Her family owned a Chinese restaurant when she was growing up, so her passion for food and cooking began at an early age. She especially likes creating delicious and healthy plant-based recipes.

Wheat Bran Cranberry Bread

IMG_4430Whether you eat vegan, gluten-free, or simply want to eat nutritiously, there are many varieties of high-quality flours and grains available at Friendly City Food Co-op. The co-op carries an assortment of “Bob’s Mill” products which are a brand famous for pure, unprocessed flours, cereals, grains, and meals. You can find garbanzo bean, almond, and coconut flours as well as xanthum gum (used as a binder in many baking recipes). All of these highly nutritious ingredients are longing for someone to pick them up and explore new recipes!

I baked a delicious cranberry bread using whole wheat flour and wheat bran. Baking with whole grains is an easy way to add fiber and protein to your recipes. Swapping high-quality grains for processed, refined grains nourishes your body and is always a good idea!

Ingredients (Yield 1 loaf)

1 c. wheat bran
1 c. whole wheat flour
½ c. unbleached white flour
½ tsp. salt
1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts
1 c. dried cranberries
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ c. dark brown sugar
1 egg
½ c. milk
1 c. orange juice
Preheat oven to 375°. Mix egg, milk, and orange juice in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients including flours, bran, salt, baking powder, baking soda, pecans, and cranberries. Add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients, and combine thoroughly. Grease a loaf pan, and pour mixture into pan. Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes. Check doneness by wiggling the pan and sticking the loaf with a toothpick.

This recipe yields a dense and grainy bread that is best enjoyed topped with a pad of salted butter and a cold glass of orange juice. The bread is perfectly sweet, with the cranberries contributing just the right amount of sweetness to balance the dense grain texture.

Serve this cranberry-bran bread as a dessert or a sweet treat. With nutritious ingredients that are high in fiber and low in sugar, this is exactly the kind of baking a health-conscious eater should explore.

Good luck, and happy baking!


By Madeleine Wirth / Guest Blogger 

Madeleine is a senior at James Madison University, studying to be a registered dietitian. She loves exploring recipes with fresh and nutritious ingredients. As a native to the Shenandoah Valley, she passionately supports the local food economy in Harrisonburg.


Ayurveda for Summer Balance

VF01Ayurveda, the art of living daily in harmony with nature, is the mother to all of the world’s healing systems. It is also referred to as the “Twin Healing Science of Yoga” and the roots from which Greek, Persian, and Chinese Medicine originate. Working with the laws of nature by applying even a few Ayurvedic principles in your life can make a profound difference in the quality of your health and restore imbalance to balance through natural, effective, and time-tested methods. For example, the revered Nasal Rinsing or Neti Pot is a traditional Ayurvedic therapy thousands of years old. It safely cleanses the nasal and sinus passages with warm salt water and is now commonly practiced throughout North America.

The main eight branches of Ayurveda include pediatrics, gynecology and obstetrics, ophthalmology, toxicology, geriatrics, general medicine, otolaryngology, and surgery. Today we recognize these as the central branches of modern medicine. Further, massage, diet and nutritional counseling, herbal remedies, psychiatry, polarity therapy, shiatsu, acupressure and acupuncture, plastic surgery, color and gem therapy, kinesiology, and meditation have roots in Ayurvedic practice and philosophy. Traditionally, Ayurveda was first taught before learning specific Yoga practices and is considered essential to living a Yogic lifestyle.

Ayurveda recognizes that our health is significantly influenced by our unique, individual constitution, as well as external factors such as the changing of the seasons throughout the year. Understanding how to best make decisions in balance with the rhythms of nature through the ideas of Ayurveda can greatly improve our ability to heal, quality of life, productivity, and longevity.


By Whitney Erwin, M.Ed., CMT / Guest Blogger

Whitney is the owner of Four Seasons Harmony- and will be conducting a class on Ayurveda at the co-op on Saturday, June 18 at 2pm.

Please visit our events page on Facebook for more information-


Alternatives to Milk

MilkAlternativesAlthough milk alternatives make up just 8% of overall milk sales in the U.S., the market for these dairy free products are on the rise. For vegans, individuals with food allergies, the lactose intolerant, or simply those who want low-calorie, low-sugar, lactose-free alternatives for their coffee in the morning, plant-based milks are the product for them. Below are some of the most well-known milk alternatives, with information including health benefits and recommendations for use. Enjoy!



Soy milk has a creamy, rich flavor and a nutritional profile that is the most similar to dairy milks. In addition, compared to other non-dairy drinks, soy milk contains a higher amount of protein and calcium. Due to its thick and creamy consistency, soy milk is ideal in smoothies, cooking and baking.



Rice milk is typically made of 14% rice with the rest oil, salt, and water. Although it is a bit watery compared to other non-dairy products, rice milk provides a naturally sweet taste with only 1% fat. In addition, rice milk is very good for those with nut, soy, or seed allergies as it is incredibly easy on the digestive system. However, since its main source is rice, this alternative contains a much higher amount of carbohydrates and does not contain as much protein as other non-dairy milks. Because of its thin consistency, rice milk is best used in cereal or smoothies.



Hemp milk is non-dairy product that comes from hemp seeds that are soaked and ground in water. This results in a nutty-creamy flavored milk that contains a high amount of calcium and protein. In addition, hemp milk has essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 that can reduce the risk of heart disease and help to build healthy cells. This type of milk is recommended to be used in cappuccinos or lattes as it froths much better than other plant-based varieties.



Almond milk has a light texture and a subtle nutty taste. In comparison to other non-dairy products, almond milk is naturally packed with vitamin E, vitamin B, magnesium, calcium, healthy fats, iron, and zinc (to just name a few). Due to its milder flavor and thinner texture, this type of alternative is ideally used in coffee, tea, and smoothies.


By Emma Patrone / Student Blogger

Emma is a junior at James Madison University, pursuing a degree in communications with a concentration in public relations. She has a double minor in writing as well as British communications and media. She is also a member of the PRSSA club at JMU, as well as a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha fraternity.





Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie

IMG_3953May is my favorite month, not only because it marks the beginning of summer, but also because I have many fond memories of strawberry picking in mid-May. Buying local Virginia-grown strawberries here at the Food Co-op is a great alternative to picking your own fruit, especially if you do not have the time to visit a strawberry farm. The strawberries I bought at the Food Co-op were delicious and perfectly ripe.
Strawberries are my favorite fruit. Finding a perfectly sweet, juicy and bite-sized strawberry will just warm your heart in contentment! These fruits are great in smoothies, yogurt, and salads. It is important to eat plenty of raw fruits to allow your body to absorb the maximum nutrients. High in antioxidants like Vitamin C and manganese as well as potassium and vitamin K, strawberries are sweet sources of necessary vitamins that are best available to your body when eaten raw. Pack a cup of strawberries with your lunch, or nibble on them as a sweet snack or dessert!
The season for strawberries peaks in late May, so now is the perfect time to plan out all your favorite fresh strawberry recipes. This pie is oh-so-yummy as a dessert on summer evenings and certainly easy enough to prepare for the next cook-out or dinner with friends. The recipe takes no time at all; in total, I prepared this strawberry pie within 30 minutes. Aside from baking the crust a bit, this pie does not require baking in the oven. I love that this recipe is “no-bake” because this makes it even easier to prepare! The ingredient list calls for a lot of strawberries (about 2 pints of strawberries from the Co-op), packing the pie with lots of the awesome and natural fruit sugars. Check out the recipe below.

Ingredients (Makes 1 pie)
2 pints strawberries, sliced (approximately 4 c.)
2 cups sugar
16 oz. or 1 block of cream cheese (best used at room temperature)
1 pie crust, purchased or homemade


Bake the pie crust at 375 degrees for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and place cream cheese in the crust. As the cream cheese melts, it will become easily spreadable. Spread the cream cheese to create a base a layer on the crust. Layer the cream cheese with half the sliced strawberries (approximately 2 cups). Create the strawberry sauce by combining the remaining sliced strawberries and 2 cups of sugar in a nonstick pot. Simmer the mixture on the stove to release the natural fruit sugars, and a syrup-like liquid will form. Boil the strawberry syrup sauce for about 15 minutes until the syrup thickens to a sauce. Stir frequently to avoid burning the sugar. Next, pour the hot strawberry sauce over the sliced strawberry layer. Allow the pie to cool for several hours before serving. Store in the refrigerator.
The cream cheese base layer contributes a great contrasting texture and creaminess to the pie. If your diet does not include dairy ingredients, vegan cream cheese can be made within 48 hours using raw cashews, apple cider vinegar, water, and lemon juice. You can also purchase vegan cream cheese (Tofutti) at the Food Co-Op, which will supply an equally creamy texture.
I bought my own pie crust, but if you are more adventurous than I was feeling, try making your own crust! Recipes for pie crust are not complicated; simply mix several ingredients and bake. However, this process will tack on quite a bit of time to baking. I found my strawberry pie was delicious inside a store-bought crust!
I hope fresh strawberries make it home with you after your next trip to the Co-Op. You will be delighted with the natural sweetness of the little fruits especially in this simple Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie!
Happy cooking!

Kermit was Wrong…It’s Really Easy Being Green These Days!

You’ve hopefully read some of our updates on the green business practices of our co-op, and how we’re saving money on energy cost

Granola Bars

I personally love granola bars. They make for easy grab-and-go breakfasts and snacks. I recently decided to make my own homemade recipe with a few simple ingredients. These fresh bars are sweet, salty, and both perfectly crunchy and chewy. These little creations are affordable to make. The ingredients do the work in this recipe. All you need to do is mix, chill, and enjoy your tasty bars!

Fresh Medjool dates are the base of these bars and deserve all the yummy credit. Dates have numerous health benefits including a rich vitamin content including Vitamin A, Vitamin K, thiamin, and riboflavin. Dates are also high in fiber, making them a great fruit to be consumed for digestive relief. Spreading fresh date paste on bread or swirled into yogurt are great ways to make a sweet snack from the yummy fruit.

Dates blend down to a moist sticky base which binds the granola bars together well. I’m a big peanut butter lover, so I added extra peanut butter. I was also sure to use crunchy peanut butter for added chunkiness!


½ c. Rolled oats
½ c. Peanut Butter, salted
1 ½ c. Medjool dates, pitted
1 tbsp. Chia seeds
1tsp. Vanilla extract
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Optional: Chocolate chips

Soak dates in warm water for 10 minutes. Once softened, add the fruit to a food processor and grind down to a paste. The mix will form a moist ball when done. Transfer dates to a large bowl, and mix with peanut butter, vanilla, and chia seeds using a spoon. Next, add oats to the mixture, and stir until ingredients are well incorporated.

Transfer your granola mixture to parchment paper on a baking sheet. Cut into desired bar sizes or small balls. Chill in the refrigerator until the bars have set or approximately 30 minutes. And of course, last but not least – enjoy your tasty creation!
Good luck, and happy cooking!

Spinach Artichoke Dip

FullSizeRender-3-300x291A flavorful dip leaves a lasting impression on guests during a season of potlucks and social gatherings. Spinach artichoke dip is a yummy classic. Most people who dislike artichokes, do enjoy spinach artichoke dip for its flavor and creaminess.
The holiday season is notorious for fattening and high-calorie foods. Additionally, the snacky aspect of dips makes them easy to overeat. This recipe is low-fat and high-protein thanks to the substitution of Greek yogurt and white beans, while being just as delicious.



Ingredients (Makes 3 cups of dip)

  • 4 cups spinach
  • Approx. 4 cups artichoke hearts (2 cans of artichoke hearts), chopped if large
  • 4oz. low-free cream cheese, soft
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 medium jalapeno, finely diced
  • 1 cup, plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup, Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. fresh basil


Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large pan, and sauté onions and garlic. Once the onion is translucent, add artichokes, jalapenos, and ½ tsp. salt.
Cook for approximately 5 minutes until the artichokes are soft. Add spinach, and cook until wilted. In a food processor, blend white beans and cream cheese until smooth.
Remove from processor to a medium sized bowl. Add Greek yogurt, Parmesan, spices, and ½ tsp. salt to the bowl as well. Mix in the artichokes and spinach, and pour into a casserole dish. Cover with foil, and bake for approximately 25 minutes. Uncover and broil for another 5-8 minutes until golden.

I loved how this recipe turned out. It hits the spot just like your favorite restaurant dip, while replacing some of the high-fat ingredient. With healthy twists on classic favorites, indulging during the holidays may be good for your health.
Good luck, and Happy Holidays!


MadeleineMadeleine Wirth
Madeleine is a junior Dietetics student at James Madison University. Her interests include community nutrition and sustainable food systems. She enjoys experimenting with whole foods and preservation techniques, as well as exploring ways to educate people on adequate nutrition. Madeleine also enjoys the outdoors, running, and swim coaching children in the summertime. She is actively involved with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and the JMU Student Government. After graduation from JMU, Madeleine hopes to pursue a dietetic internship, obtain the Registered Dietitian credential, and educate children and families on the affordability, accessibility and importance of fresh, whole foods.

Turnip Puree

IMG_2990-300x300Is anyone else getting a little bored with roasted vegetables? It seems to me that every simple recipe for root vegetables calls for salt, pepper, and an oven preheated to 350.
Don’t get me wrong, I love quick fixes and simple seasonings… but my taste buds have been needing a change!
Well, my palate found exactly the change it was looking for, as well as the inspiration for this recipe, from Harrisonburg’s Bella Luna.
The local wood-fired pizzeria Bella Luna served a lovely specialty dish: cured pork belly, sautéed spinach, and pickled carrots over a turnip puree… a refined twist on classical fare bursting with contrasting flavors and textures! I was surprised at how perfectly the simple turnip puree complemented the heartiness of the salty pork.
Previously, I had only enjoyed turnips roasted and certainly never cooked with them; but after trying Bella Luna’s pork belly over the turnip puree, I had to give them a shot.
My creative little recipe for mashed turnips and parsnips is probably a bit different from what you may be used to. Turnips and parsnips are starchy vegetables; similar but less starchy than potatoes. They have about a third of the carbohydrate content of regular white potatoes, making them a candidate for a lighter substitute in a mashed potatoes recipe. The result is less fluffy, but certainly just as flavorful. Root vegetables such as turnips, parsnips, carrots, and potatoes often appear in cultural Irish and Scottish cuisine due to their compatibility with the climate of the country. Perhaps a root vegetable mash like this one will find its way to your table on St. Patrick’s Day; a good idea can never come too early!

Here’s my recipe – a delightful way to explore new cooking techniques and discover a fondness for turnips! During the winter months, turnips and parsnips are in-season. You will find them in the produce section.


(yields 3-4 servings)
16oz., turnips, peeled and diced (approx. 2 medium turnip roots)
8 oz., parsnips, peeled and diced (approx. 2 medium parsnips)
2 tbsps., unsalted butter
½ tsp., fresh thyme
½ tsp., ground white pepper
¼ tsp., garlic powder
Salt and pepper added to taste


Peel and chop turnips and parsnips. Add to a large pot of water, and bring to a boil. Cover partially, and cook for about 20 minutes until fork tender. Drain the vegetables, and transfer to a food processor or blender. Blend to desired consistency.
To make the recipe go a bit further, you could certainly add a few potatoes. I tried to keep this recipe minimal by avoiding too much unnecessary fat and preserving the natural flavor of the vegetables. Certainly these mashed turnips served with a hearty meat or substituted for mashed potatoes in a meal ensemble are perfection.
Good luck, and happy cooking!


MadeleineMadeleine Wirth
Madeleine is a junior Dietetics student at James Madison University. Her interests include community nutrition and sustainable food systems. She enjoys experimenting with whole foods and preservation techniques, as well as exploring ways to educate people on adequate nutrition. Madeleine also enjoys the outdoors, running, and swim coaching children in the summertime. She is actively involved with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and the JMU Student Government. After graduation from JMU, Madeleine hopes to pursue a dietetic internship, obtain the Registered Dietitian credential, and educate children and families on the affordability, accessibility and importance of fresh, whole foods.

Ginger- Garlic Kale with Mustard Roasted Potatoes

FullSizeRender-4-300x296Every time I walk inside the Food Co-Op, I peruse the colorful array of fruits and vegetables. I’ve been eyeing Lacinato or “dinosaur kale” for a while now and considering ways to cook with it. Read more