Spiced Sugar Cookies (Vegan)

As the holiday season approaches, it is important to make time for baking. Gingerbread cookies, chocolate truffles, peppermint candies, and spiced sweet breads are desserts that warm our hearts as we enjoy this special time of the year with the ones we love.

I absolutely love this sweet treat of a recipe: spiced sugar cookies with maple icing. This is a vegan recipe that I enjoy baking during the holiday season. These cookies will be a joy to bake as the rich smells of cinnamon, allspice, maple, and nutmeg fill the kitchen.

Vegan baking recipes will call for substitutions for butter, eggs, and dairy products. All of these items can be found inside Friendly City. Cacao nibs, dairy-free butter, a wide variety of dairy substitutes, oils, and flax can be found in the refrigerated and bulk food and baking sections. A variety of flour blends can be found in the baking aisle for gluten-free baking as well. Be sure to pay attention to how substitutions are used in these recipes because small deviations may ruin the product. My spiced sugar cookies have a simple substitute for butter: an equal ratio of dairy-free butter.

Check out how you can make these sweet cookies below. One of my favorite ingredients is Maple Flavor. Friendly City is stocked with flavors and extracts galore that are absolutely perfect for baking desserts. Cinnamon, Lemon, and Peppermint flavors are all options that you could use to bake other delicious treats like spiced cinnamon cupcakes with sweet lemon icing or chocolate-peppermint bark.

Ingredients (makes 32 cookies)

2 ½ c. flour
1 c. organic cane sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
½ tsp. maple flavor (in the baking aisle)
1 c. soft vegan butter (I used Earth Balance Original)
½ c. water

1 c. organic cane sugar
½ c. soft vegan butter
½ c. non-dairy milk
½ c. maple syrup
½ T. maple flavor

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add butter and water to the dry ingredients, and mix with a hand mixer until the dough forms a ball.
3. Form the dough into balls (using 2 T. of dough), and flatten into the size of a hockey puck.
4. Arrange cookies on a greased baking sheet about 1” apart.
5. Chill the dough / baking sheets for about 10 minutes before placing in the oven. Bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes until they rise. They will firm up as they cool.
6. As the cookies bake, begin making the icing: add all the icing ingredients to a small pot on the stove. Mix, and bring to a boil on high for approximately one minute.
7. Turn the heat off, and allow the sugar sauce to sit for 10 minutes.
8. Whip the icing with a hand mixer for about 3-4 minutes until thick.
9. Drizzle the icing over the cool cookies on parchment paper.

Enjoy these irresistible spiced cookies, and good luck with all your baking adventures this holiday season!


Madeleine Wirth
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.



Own It.

There are lots of good reasons to be an owner of the co-op – and you may be surprised at some of them.

A co-op has a unique ownership model – it’s a different kind of business in which no one person owns more than anyone else. Each person (or household) owns a share. The co-op is driven by the shared values of its owners – the way it runs its business as well as the good it does for its owners and the community.

Co-ops do local best – there are fewer degrees of separation between you, who grows your food and who controls access to the food.

Co-ops are considered progressive – working for the re-creation of our local food system, supporting small farmers, advocating for fair treatment of workers, and for transparency.

You don’t have to be an owner to shop at the co-op, because everyone is welcome. But, if you are an owner, you can take pride in the fact that you are a part of something bigger – something you have a say in, and something that is an invested part of your community.

You get financial benefits as well. There are store-wide discounts on special days, rewards accrued just by shopping, coupon books which are mailed to you, discounts or free admission to Co-op Learning classes, and annual patronage dividends in years when the co-op makes a profit (subject to board approval).

You also have the chance to run for a seat on the Board of Directors, and/or to vote in elections. As an owner, you may also choose to attend monthly board meetings.

You can find out more about the many benefits of ownership on our website, or by speaking with a team member when you are in the store. We’d like you to consider becoming an owner because we think you’ll agree – the greatest reward is in knowing you are supporting your local farmers and producers, and your community.


Apple Pie Oatmeal (Vegan)

fullsizerender-3By Tiffany Wu – Makes 1 serving   

Still looking for ways to enjoy sweet, local apples? Friendly City is stocked full of this delicious fruit right now. I bought a big bag of crisp gala apples on my most recent trip to Friendly City and was inspired to make apple pie oatmeal. I love gala apples because of their sweet, mild flavor and their satisfying crunch. They are the perfect apples for making this apple pie oatmeal. This oatmeal is loaded with nutrients such as fiber and omega-3 fatty acids and makes for a scrumptious breakfast.


½ cup rolled oats
1 ½ cups water
1 Gala Apple, diced
1 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tbsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. pecans

1. Add water and oats to a small pot and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil turn heat to low and add in diced apple, chia seeds, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Stir well to combine and cook for three minutes. Next, add in pecans and mix well. Transfer oatmeal to a bowl and enjoy!


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.

Cauliflower Alfredo

nov28Looking for an impressive date-night recipe or a nutritious kid-friendly dinner idea?

This Alfredo sauce may be just what you’re looking for. Using fresh cauliflower, this Alfredo sauce is nutritious and delicious while carrying half the calories and fat. Unlike other recipes that use whole milk and butter, this rich Alfredo sauce is made with cauliflower, yogurt, and low-fat milk and flavored with shallots, lemon, parmesan, and cinnamon. Cauliflower, low-fat dairy, and whole wheat pasta create a tasty and filling meal full of protein, fiber, and vitamins in this recipe!

I made this dish for my family, and everyone was shocked to learn the sauce was made using cauliflower. Because the ingredients are lower in fat, we enjoyed our delicious dinner without feeling bloated afterwards. The recipe is especially perfect for sneaking vegetables onto kids’ plates!

Fresh produce makes a difference; your taste buds and belly will thank you!

Ingredients (makes 8-10 servings)
1 head cauliflower
5 cups 2% low-fat milk
5 shallots, chopped
1/3 c. plain low-fat Greek yogurt
16 oz. whole wheat spaghetti
1 T. butter
1 ½ lbs. baby kale leaves
2 cups grated parmesan
1 lemon, zested
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper

1. Chop cauliflower florets off the head.
2. Simmer florets in milk with the shallots and cinnamon. Cook covered for about 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is very soft.
3. Transfer the contents to a blender. Pulse until silky smooth. If necessary, add a tablespoon of milk.
4. Transfer the puree to a small bowl, and whisk with the yogurt. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Cook linguine in boiling water approx. 10 minutes. Drain the pasta from the large pot.
6. In the large pot, melt butter, and sauté kale leaves until wilted or about 2 minutes.
7. Add pasta back to the pot of kale. Add cauliflower sauce, lemon zest and 1 ½ cups parmesan.
8. Serve sprinkled with parmesan and red pepper flakes if desired.

Happy cooking!


Madeleine Wirth
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.

Vegan Chocolate Pie

choc-pieThis recipe features a vegan chocolate pie! How exactly is a vegan pie possible, you may wonder? Are butter and eggs necessary?

In this no-bake pie, they are not. Sugar, chocolate, and tofu hold up the thick creamy texture. Silken tofu is used in many vegan-based recipes such as creamy soups, dips, cakes, and muffins. In this recipe, the high water and protein content allows the chocolate filling to retain its structure and rich taste.

Tofu is an excellent nutrient-dense food. Tofu is an awesome source of complete plant-protein, calcium, omega-3 fats, iron, manganese, and other minerals. Many people avoid tofu because they have not been exposed to it. However, incorporating a nutritious food into a decadent dessert is a win for vegans and non-vegans alike!

Whether you are looking for a new vegan dessert recipe or are willing to use tofu in your next baking adventure, this is a delicious pie you have to make!

This recipe is so simple, all the taste in no time. Try it out this Thanksgiving.

Ingredients (1 pie)

9” graham cracker or regular pie crust, purchased or baked according to recipe
12 oz. cacao nibs
1 lb. silken tofu
1 c. sugar
½ tsp. cayenne
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
Optional: shaved chocolate, sliced strawberries

  1. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add sugar, and stir until dissolved.
  2. Add the sugar mixture along with all other ingredients to a blender. Blend until very smooth using a spatula to scrape the sides down.
  3. Pour pudding into cooled crust. Chill until firm at least 3 hours. Garnish with fresh fruit or chocolate bits.

Happy cooking!


Madeleine Wirth

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.


Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan)

img_7460Makes 24 cookies
These fall inspired sweet potato chocolate chip cookies are super scrumptious and easy to make. The addition of sweet potatoes gives the cookies a decadent, fudgy texture and also makes the cookies moist and chewy. I used Bob’s Red Mill Spelt flour, which is 100% whole grain and a good source of fiber. Spelt is related to wheat and has a unique nutty flavor that compliments the sweet potato nicely. If you have not baked with spelt flour before, I encourage you to try it out in this recipe. One of my favorite aspects of Friendly City Food Coop is their wonderful bulk bin section. The bulk bin offerings are so diverse and I was delighted to find Fair Trade Chocolate Chips in one of the bins. These Fair Trade Chocolate Chips give the cookies rich chocolate flavor in every bite and will leave you reaching for another!

2 cups sweet potatoes, mashed
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups spelt flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
Dash of Salt
1 cup chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large bowl, mix together mashed sweet potato, brown sugar, melted coconut oil, and cinnamon until well combined. Next, add in flour, baking powder, and baking soda and mix until all ingredients are combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Lightly grease two baking sheets lined with coconut oil. Form cookie dough balls with hands that measure roughly two tablespoons each (the size of a ping pong ball). Place cookie dough balls on baking sheets and lightly press down to flatten the cookie dough. Bake for 14 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy!


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.


Mediterranean Diet

eat-meFor the last couple of decades, many cardiologists, nutritionists, dieticians and the general media have bombarded Westerners to “adopt a Mediterranean Diet.” But what does that mean, exactly? Sopping up slices of baguette with flavored extra virgin olive oil and washing it down with a glass of cabernet? (Okay, I admit – this is one of my favorite unhealthy treats.) There are numerous websites and books that offer the basic ingredients of a Mediterranean Diet, which include the addition of more fruits, veggies, fish, nuts, and olive oil into one’s diet. But, what many of us don’t know, is how to put all the basic ingredients together to make a simple, satisfying and tasty meal the whole family will enjoy.

And the operative word is simple. We Mediterranean women love tasty, filling meals. We do spend considerable time in the kitchen, chopping and preparing the vegetables and meats; but most meals are not elaborately made. Meals are centered round fresh, locally and seasonally sourced vegetables, grains, and more sparingly animal fats and proteins. No one counts the number of vegetables and fruits consumed in a single day – we just eat because they fill us up, they are plentiful, and they will go bad if we don’t.

But, here’s the trick: veggies can be delicious! Flavorful and fragrant, I will teach you how to incorporate some classic Mediterranean salads in your everyday diet.


Claudia Hanna – Guest Blogger

A Harrisonburg native, Claudia Hanna earned a BA in Economics and Foreign Affairs from UVA and an MBA in Corporate Finance from Emory University. She was a management consultant for years before slipping off the power suits and donning flip flops and beach sarongs for a simpler, healthier life in Cyprus. She now publishes her own blog, writes for several nationwide publications, and is working on her first book, Live Like a Goddess: Unleash your Inner Aphrodite. Follow her @Like_A_Goddess and www.livelikeagoddess.com

Vegan Mac and “Cheese”

img_5784“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

It’s a popular saying, and many people feel this way about the idea of vegan “cheese”. Cheese is perfect the way it is, right? Why should we cook up a substitute for cheese? How could a vegan cheese substitute ever compare to the real thing?

Well, don’t get me wrong; cheese is awesome. But so is vegan “cheese”!

Admittedly, I was also very skeptical that vegan “cheese” could be tasty. Now, I am a total fan of the thick, flavorful, and nutritious sauce. In fact, I fully believe that anyone who has yet to try it is missing out.

Vegan “cheese” is full of whole ingredients and naturally transforms macaroni and cheese into a nutrient-dense meal. Comparatively, other macaroni and cheese recipes made using cream, butter, and cheese are high in saturated fat and calories and low in vitamins. The difference is due to the use of nutritional yeast instead of the fatty dairy ingredients. Nutritional yeast is a flaky deactivated yeast made from sugar cane and beet molasses. It is full of protein and fiber and rich in vitamins like riboflavin, folate, and zinc. One of the biggest health benefits of nutritional yeast is that it is high in B12 which is a vitamin that many people are deficient in.

Nutritional yeast has a nutty, cheesy, and savory flavor. It tastes amazing sprinkled over roasted vegetables, salads, soups, stews, popcorn, scrambled eggs or tofu, and even on bread. It adds a phenomenal dimension to many different foods. In this recipe, nutritional yeast gives the sauce a cheesy taste while complementing the flavors of curry and cumin. You can find nutritional yeast in the bulk foods section of Friendly City.


1 16 oz. package of macaroni (or whatever pasta you’d like)
1 ½ c. carrots, chopped (about 2 large carrots)
½ c. sweet onion, chopped (approx. 1 med onion)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled & chopped
¾ c. cashews, chopped
¼ c. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. curry powder
garnish: pinch of paprika & parsley

  1. Chop sweet potato, sweet onion, and carrots. Add to 2 cups of boiling water in a pot. Cook until tender or about 10 minutes. Do not drain the veggies.
  2. Transfer soft veggies & liquid to a blender and pulse until smooth.
  3. Add chopped cashews, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, vinegar, and spices. Pulse and swipe the sides with a spatula. Continue pulsing and swiping the walls of the blender until the sauce is smooth.
  4. Add water as needed if the sauce is too thick. I added about ¼ cup of water to the blender.
  5. Cook pasta, and mix with the “cheese” sauce. Serve with paprika & parsley as garnish.

May this recipe set aside skepticism of vegan “cheese” and showcase the surprises of nutritional yeast.

Happy cooking!


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

Veggie Sushi (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

img_6876-croppedBy Tiffany Wu – Makes about 48 total 

This veggie sushi recipe is one of my all time favorites. It is simple to make, tastes amazing, and has a nourishing ingredient list. You can easily customize these rolls by adding your favorite veggies. My personal favorite is the combination of creamy avocado, refreshing cucumber, and crisp carrot. Friendly City Food Co-op has an amazing array of Asian ingredients and I was so excited to see nori and rice vinegar in their Asian section. Nori is a large, rectangular sheet of seaweed ideal for making sushi and the rice vinegar gives the sushi rice a rich, tangy flavor. These sushi rolls are a great lunch option to take to work or school, because they are portable and healthy.


1 ½ cups white jasmine rice
3 cups water
4 tbsp. rice vinegar
6 sheets nori
1 avocado, sliced
¾ cup cucumber, shredded
¾ cup carrot, shredded


  1. Rinse rice with water 2-3 times until water runs clear. Add rice to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Once the rice reaches a boil, reduce heat to low. Cover and let cook for 15-20 minutes until water is completely absorbed.
  2. When rice is done cooking allow it to cool for 15 minutes. Once rice is cooled, add in rice vinegar. Mix well to combine.
  3. To begin assembling the sushi rolls, get a sushi mat and lay out one sheet of nori. Add a thin layer of rice (about ½ cup) on top of the nori and gently spread it out over the nori. Next, layer your cucumber, carrot, and avocado in a horizontal line on top of the rice. Make sure you put your veggies towards the bottom ½ of the rice closest to you.
  4. To begin rolling your sushi, use the bamboo mat to fold over the roll. Pull the bamboo mat tightly towards you as you roll more. Make sure to press tightly each time you roll to keep all ingredients together.
  5. Cut the sushi using a sharp knife into eight pieces. Enjoy!


Note: If you don’t have a sushi mat, you can roll the sushi on a clean surface using your hands. Roll the sushi up like you would a burrito or sandwich wrap (just don’t tuck in the corners)





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.




Local Vendor – Teeny Tiny Spice Company

nick-thora-ed-maddy-squareBy Colleen Lyons
Connecticut native Thora Pomicter never planned to start a company; she was an English major in college and a stay at home mom for years. Always passionate about cooking, she wanted to make the process simpler. This lead Thora to making pre-made spice blends, and after many compliments from her friends, she, and her husband Ed, decided to create Teeny Tiny Spice Company. Now, Teeny Tiny Spice Company products are available in roughly 140 stores around the United States and on Amazon.

This past year, Thora and her family relocated from Vermont, where she spent 30 years, to Harrisonburg, where they set up shop next door to the Friendly City Food Co-op, and the partnership has worked very well since. She raves about how supportive Friendly City Co-op has always been of Teeny Tiny Spices and credits them for playing a huge part of integrating her family’s company into the Harrisonburg community.

Thora says her favorite part of owning Teeny Tiny Spice Company is tapping into her creative side when creating new spice blends, even though it can sometimes come with a lot of trial and error. The blends work great on everything– burgers, meats, fish, any type of vegetarian dish– in casseroles, egg dishes, chilies, bean, soups, and sauces. You are only limited by your imagination.

She recommends the Ethiopian Berberé blend, since it is her favorite with the heat and richness. It’s particularly tasty on sweet potatoes because the combination of hot and sweet is so tasty.

A visit to the Teeny Tiny Spice Company website recipe page will give a dash of inspiration to your cooking. Here is a recipe the Pomicter’s say is a favorite of theirs. You may want to add less spice the first time, depending on your heat preference.


Quick Barbeque Sauce

Better than anything in a bottle, you can quickly whip together as much of this barbeque sauce as you need. It can be used on fish, meats, or even tofu. Vary the spice blend to bring an exotic influence to your grill or smoker. Makes 2 cups.


6 oz. Tomato paste

½ C Cider vinegar

½ C Water

1/3 C Maple syrup

2 T. Teeny Tiny Spice Co. of Vermont® Ethiopian Berberé (or your spice blend of choice)

  • Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer together for 10 minutes to meld the flavors.
  • Add more water if needed to achieve desired consistency.
  • Season with salt to taste.


Colleen Lyons / Guest Blogger
Colleen majored in communication studies at James Madison University. She graduated in May of 2016 and plans to move to Boston and work at a public relations agency. She enjoys writing, travelling and spending time on the beach.