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,

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

And the time to plant is quickly arriving.  In our area, potato planting happens mid-April, as soon as the soil warms and 1-2 weeks before the last frost date.  The ideal potato-planting soil is loose, well-drained and slightly acidic.  At least six hours of sunlight are needed. The day before you plant, cut the larger potatoes into pieces with one “eye” (dormant bud) per piece.  Let the pieces dry overnight.  Small potatoes (1-1.5” diameter) can be planted whole. Dig a shallow trench (6-8 inches) and mix compost into the bottom of it.  Replace some of the soil, in order to set the potato pieces 3-6 inches deep, with the eye facing up. Plant each piece 12 inches from each other, and if you’re planting more than one row, keep 30-36 inches between the rows.  Cover the potatoes with the soil you took

A friend of mine visited the horticultural building at the State Fair a few years ago and struck up a conversation about growing grapes. After discussing site selection, varieties, soil conditions, trellis construction, pruning and trimming, the woman leaned over the counter and said: “Just stick them in the ground. They’re weeds. They’ll grow.” A perfect message, it turns out. The vines will grow easily and will produce grapes, yes, without much effort or knowledge. With a little info and preparation, however, the homeowner can achieve ‘commercial production’, maximizing outputs on limited space. To give some scope: “commercial production” = 60 clusters/vine growing across an 8-ft span = 1 ½ gallons of grape juice = 1 gallon of wine. What you need is a bit of land you intend to stay connected with for a few years, the ability to sustain delayed gratification,