These are some of the foods I've recently picked up from several shops, of which I always make sure I have in my cupboard ready to throw in any meal or snack to give a healthy boost and tastiness.
I am a vegetarian (= I don't eat meat or fish or animal products but do eat dairy products i.e. eggs, cheese, milk) and I have been for 7+ years and although my personal reason is more out of taste, there a lot of health and environmental benefits to eating less meat. I by no means have a perfect diet, but I try to make healthier choices and switches as much as possible and keep particular ingredients at hand to enhance the nutritional value of meals or to create alternative healthier snacks to your standard crisps/chocolate etc.
As I am based in North-West England, through exploring and researching I've found lots of local shops that stock a variety of health foods, as well lots of vegetarian and vegan options. There's some great little shops at amazing prices in Hebden Bridge, Oxford Road in Manchester and of course Vitality+ in Ramsbottom where I picked up some of these foody bits. I also often shop at GoodnessDirect.com, who ship to anywhere in the UK if there are no health shops near you. Asda, Tesco, M&S and other supermarkets are also becoming a lot more health-conscious and friendly towards plant-based diets - I found the tahini and agave nectar from Tesco and quinoa from M&S for only £2 which is a really good price for quinoa!
I always like to have lots of grain options in my cupboard, such as bulgar wheat, buckwheat and quinoa pictured above, as well as cous-cous, oats, brown rice, wholegrain pasta. I like to switch them up so I don't get bored, but also to avoid getting in a rut of eating refined carbohydrates like white bread and pasta by replacing them with healthier grains that slowly release energy and provide more protein and fibre too.
On the left is nutritional yeast, a vegan (dairy-free) cheesy powder that can be used in place of cheese as it has an umami, savoury taste. It's also a fantastic source of B vitamins, especially B12, which vegetarians and vegans are lacking in as it is only aquired through consumption of animal products. On the right is tahini, which is blended sesame seeds, which are a source of calcium and protein. Tahini is a very versatile ingredient, it's often mainly found in hummus. I like to use it as a spread on crackers/oatcakes as a snack or as a salad dressing.
Pictured above (left to right: chia seeds, dates, peanut butter, coconut oil and agave nectar) are some of my favourite items to have on hand to either add to porridge for my breakfast or to make some raw energy balls as snacks.
As well as these I've recently picked up, I love having mixed nuts/seeds and cacao powder to add to porridge, in baking and in smoothies for added healthy, protein-packed chocolatey goodness! Plus having lots of fresh fruit and vegetables at hand; bananas, frozen mango and berries are great to throw in smoothies or as healthy snacks if you add to plain, probiotic yoghurt. Carrots, courgettes and sweet potatoes are great as alternatives to naughtier things such as chips and pasta but taste just as good!
Hope I've given you a few helpful tips and tricks! Healthy eating doesn't have to be difficult or expensive, with some savvy shopping around and a few switches in your food shopping, you can effortlessly lead a healthy lifestyle!
My name is Helen Davison and I'm a NIMH registered practising Medical Herbalist based in Ramsbottom, Lancashire. I've had a keen interest in herbal remedies since my early teens and would experiment creating my own balms and bath bombs using natural ingredients, which prompted me in discovering and pursuing a career in Western Herbal Medicine.