For as long as I can remember I have been a picky eater. One of my fondest memories was the first time I tried pineapple. I was about 10 years old and I did not want that yellow, creepy-looking fruit anywhere near me. Until one night, just days before we were scheduled to go to Hawaii on a family vacation my parents informed me that I wouldn’t be let into Hawaii unless I tried pineapple. As a 10 year old I believed them and the fear of being stranded at the airport scared me. So I cried for about 15 minutes before finally trying it, and guess what? I loved it! Although, I was too proud to admit my parents were right. Now that I’m older I’m all about trying new things and now came my time to try Kombucha. One

The first thought that comes to mind when I think of a coconut are memories of sitting between two palms while sipping on a sweet frozen beverage.  But there is more than meets the eye with this exotic treat. Coconuts have been utilized for centuries for their juice, meat, milk and oil. Until recently coconut fat has been deemed “unhealthy” because of the presence of saturated fat which we now know to be untrue in the case of the coconut. So what makes the fat from coconuts healthier than other fats? It all has to do with the composition of fat molecules within the coconut. All fat is made up of chains of fatty acids which are then classified based on their molecular length. The longer and more complex the fatty acid, the harder it is for the body to break down

Grapes have always been the perfect summertime treat. Sweet and juicy with a pleasant pop, no party fruit tray would be complete without them, and their size makes for convenient eating on-the-go or straight out of the fridge. But let’s face it – while tasty, the basic options of Red vs. Green (and sometimes Black) haven’t made for much excitement over the years. Growers such as Divine Flavors have begun to change the grape landscape with new and exciting varieties that are unexpected in shape, color and flavor. And the best part is - they are certified organic!  Cotton Candy Grapes Cotton candy: an image that spins up memories of county fairs, parades, circuses and baseball games – not to mention sticky fingers. Let’s face it, as fondly as we remember the sweet taste of cotton candy, the confection consists of sugar and

It's that time of year when those beautiful, beloved and tasty heirloom tomatoes start showing up on supermarket shelves. In our northern region, enjoying heirloom tomatoes in early summer may mean they might be trucked in from warmer southern states.  However, with access to local providers like Wisconsin Growers Cooperative, locally grown and fully ripe heirloom tomatoes are available right now! You may be wondering how that is even possible, coming from a neighbor state that shares the same northern climate as Minnesota with short-growing seasons? Wisconsin Growers Cooperative is a unique farming community involving 35-40 small-scale Amish farmers located in Western Wisconsin, where farming practices favor horse-drawn plows and hand tools over fossil-fueled machinery to grow their produce. They use labor-intensive methods which allow them to harvest both early and late season vegetables. It’s what sets this farming cooperative apart, making them truly unique in our northern region. According to Al Weinrich, sales manager for Wisconsin Growers Cooperative, two

Remember when smoothies were something akin to a fruit milkshake? In the past, many smoothies were heavy on the flavor and sugar. Commercial fruit smoothies were more like a dessert than a health tonic. By: Charli Mills, Editor, Living Naturally (Valley Natural Foods' print publication). Featured in the Spring 2016 Living Naturally edition. Click here to view the entire issue. Photo by: Melissa Berg What was once a syrupy new fad at the mall food court has evolved into a powerful way to deliver a balanced meal or snack when time is crunched. Today’s smoothies are of the healthy variety made with fruits and vegetables. You can even blend spinach into the mix and no one will ever know. Careful using kale, though. Because it is a heartier leaf, it doesn’t blend as well and might be noticed. Other healthy additions to any smoothie include chia seeds, flax seeds, raw protein powders and veggies. Whey protein and wheat germ are good,

Who doesn’t like the ooey, gooey melt in your mouth goodness of a grilled cheese sandwich? I know I would never pass one up. Just thinking of it makes me salivate at the idea of biting into two crunchy, butter pieces of toasted or grilled bread, only to have a sharp, cheddar cheese ooze out of the middle of it. It’s the perfect comfort food or it can make a quick meal idea, especially when combined with deli meat and grilled as a panini. When you are splitting hairs on what to serve for dinner, know that grilled cheese can be that old favorite that will make even the pickiest of eaters happy. Cheers to cheese! According to our cheese department buyer, Shelly, add your favorite pesto or jam to your grilled cheese sandwich to liven up this old favorite and

Since my first name is Erin, I’ve been asked many times if I’m Irish and unfortunately I have to tell people I’m not. But with an Irish name and St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner on March 17, whose to say I can’t pretend, just for a bit! After all, we all want to be that lucky Leprechaun that finds a pot of gold under the rainbow! While Valley Natural Foods may not be able to offer lucky pots of gold, it can offer festive St. Patrick’s Day novelty foods that can make pretending to be Irish and celebrating the day all the more fun and flavorful. Here are my top four picks for authentic St. Patrick’s Day fare or food items that simply make the day memorable:   1. Cahill Farm’s Irish Whiskey Cheddar Cheese - $21.99/lb. If authentic Ireland is what you are looking

Shopping organic on a budget is easier than you think at Valley Natural Foods. We know saving money is important so we want to be sure you are aware of 5 ways to save every day at the co-op! Co-op shopping does not have to be expensive as it is more about following the sales, shopping our bulk department and taking advantage of everyday low prices through our Co+op Basics program. Also, most of these options are available for all shoppers! Remember, everyone is welcome to shop at Valley Natural Foods.   Fresh Deals - For Everyone  Our Fresh Deals are deep weekly discounts on organic produce, meat and deli items. Look for new Fresh Deals in-store and listed on our blog every Wednesday:  These deals are really great too as for example, you could get 2/$3 mangos one week or 4/$5 avocados another week! Co+op Basics -

The whole idea behind smoothies, hence the name, is that they are healthy, smooth drinks full of chunks of blended fruits or vegetables. You can also add liquid (fruit juice, milk, or yogurt), ice and nutritional add-ons such as protein powders for a consistent texture to meet your individual taste desires. Click here for tips on making your own smoothies from National Co-op Grocers. However, dependent upon the amount of liquid, and the fruits and vegetables used, some smoothies are not as smoothly blended as others. And have you ever been on a quest to find the smoothest smoothie of them all? My quest ended when I tried our Emerald Pineapple Smoothie, available in our deli’s Coffee and Juice Bar. Our employees love this smoothie so much they chose it as their “Love List” item of the week! It’s a great treat

When glancing at this picture, one would think this strange, yellow apparatus is part of a Halloween display, perhaps representing some ghoulishly freakish goblin fingers. Yet I bet the last thing you would guess is that this large yellow spindly thing is edible and that it is actually a fruit. Called Buddha fingers or Buddha's hand, this fruit is a member of the citrus family although it looks nothing like an orange, lemon or lime. It also features bright yellow, segmented finger-like sections with a thick peel, which can infiltrate any room with a strong, fragrant, citrus aroma. In fact, in Asian countries, a primary use for this fruit is as an air freshener along with it being the base of perfumes and fragrances. Yet similar to traditional citrus, one can eat Buddha's hand, but not necessarily directly as people commonly