One of the greatest pieces of advice I can give for living with food intolerances, is very simple. Get to know your local health food shop.
I have been visiting mine for as long as I can remember. Really. I have probably been going there all my life. I have very early memories of visiting this shop as a child. An aladdin’s cave, selling big jars of all manner of spices, huge tubs of dried fruit and nuts. The smell of delicious spices which hits you as you walk through the door takes me back instantly. Fortunately, this shop still exists, largely unchanged and is such a wonderful resource to have. Spill the Beans, in my home town of Wimborne in Dorset, is a very special health food shop. Set up by the wonderful Maggie Drennan in the 1970s, it was originally viewed as a bit wacky, but how times have changed since then. They clearly were, and still are, doing something very right.
As a nation, I think it’s fair to say we have a growing obsession with health and health foods. As more and more people develop a greater awareness of food intolerances, independent health food shops are an ever valuable resource to tap into.
I recently popped into Spill the Beans on a Saturday morning, mid-morning. The shop was bustling with customers after all manner of foods and Maggie, who still runs the shop to this day was offering knowledgeable, impartial advice to customers. It really does make me happy to see such a great independent shop. I urge you to seek out your local gem. It probably carries an interesting range of freefrom foods. Health food shops are often great for different types of pastas and noodles, flours, baking ingredients and often fresh dairy free and vegan ingredients, such as dairy free cheeses and tofu. But I don’t urge you to visit any old health food shop. In my opinion, the health food chains are stuffed full of foods which I wouldn’t really class as health foods or whole foods. They also sell an alarming number of supplements, which I am wary about taking without proper advice. Furthermore, the staff are frequently unable to assist in my experience, as they don’t appear to have a grasp of all the products they stock and their uses. Your independent health food shop is likely to be run by knowledgeable people who really care. I will get off of my soap box now, but I cannot tell you what a difference this makes.
Spill the Beans for examples sells a fantastic range of gluten free flours. Better than anywhere else I have found. It sells the really hard to find flours that you wish you could find so you can try out a great recipe you have found. And if they don’t have it, they can order it in. As much stock as they can is sold using minimal packaging, too.
Walking around the shop, Maggie is roasting spice to make a delicious homemade garam masala. Not only does this smell wonderful, but Maggie shows people how to try out some different ideas, which are easy to recreate at home. Spill the Beans really is an important part of the local community.
This weekend, I will be cooking at Wimborne Food Festival. 3.30pm in the Demonstration Tent, to be precise. I’ll be making healthy, seasonal cakes using some lovely ingredients from Spill the Beans. I’d love it if you could make it. For more information, please see the below link: