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Rude Wonders

Ask Away: independent health store advice on healthy snacks

Looking for advice on natural health and wellbeing? Your local independent health stores can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This issue we speak to nutritional therapist Ann Gannon Dip NT, mNTOI, who offers nutritional therapy at Healthy Beings in Strokestown.

Most people at some point in the day reach for a snack and snacking isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Eating little and often - three meals a day plus a couple of snacks in between – is good for keeping blood sugar levels stable and preventing energy slumps.

It is also a great way to stop you feeling ravenous come dinner time when you are more likely to overeat. The problem lies in your choice of snacks – i.e. reaching for poor quality snacks, such as scones, coffee hits, sugary snack bars, biscuits or chocolate bars. They do help to perk you up immediately, but are generally followed by an energy slump leaving you fatigued and craving for more.

Fortunately, a good health store will focus on whole, real food providing healthy nutritious snacks, and ready meals which not only promote good health but are also tasty and delicious.

For those who are avoiding certain food groups such as gluten or dairy or those who wish to make organic choices and foods without preservatives etc this is the place for you.

Ideally you want to look for snacks which offer good quality protein, healthy fats and anti-oxidant power.

These are generally found in wholegrains, nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, fresh fruit and veg. Ask for advice and read labels to ensure foods do not contain artificial colourings, flavourings and sweeteners or high levels of salt and sugar. Here’s my pick of the best snack foods available in health stores.

Snack bars – choose ones containing pure fruit, oats, nuts and seeds with natural sweeteners such as honey. Some contain super greens and live enzymes for added nutrients. Many are gluten- and dairy-free.

Nut butters – spread on oatcakes, wholegrain crackers or crispbreads. Or check out the fridge for fresh hummus or guacamole, which are great sources of omega 3 and 6 healthy fats.

Nuts, seeds and dried fruit – organic options and free from preservatives are so quick and handy to eat, truly one of nature’s fast foods.

Crisps – ones made with sunflower or olive oil are healthier options than vegetable oil crisps. You can also get dried and baked vegetable crisps that are low in calories, free from sugar and salt and which contribute to your five a day vegetable intake.

Chocolate – organic chocolate and raw chocolate taste great. You can also get dairy-free and sugar-free chocolate. Dark chocolate is the better option for higher antioxidant value.

Smoothies and juices – made from fresh fruit vegetables. Try beetroot and apple juice, unsweetened cranberry or cherry juice, these are a great alternative to those with either high amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Coconut water – a refreshing drink proving popular with sports enthusiasts due to its high potassium and great hydration properties.

Yogurts – opt for natural live yogurts without added sugars. These also contain beneficial bacteria for healthy digestion. Check out the delicious coconut yogurts now available only in health stores.

Cupboard essentials – to make a fast meal stock up on tins of soup, stews, beans such as cannellini, kidney beans, mixed beans and cans of tomatoes – perfect cupboard standbys for a quick meal. They are already cooked and just need to be heated, just add a few vegetables and you have a quick meal that is nutritious and healthy.

Fridge basics – falafels and marinated tofu are popular quick ready-made meals. Tubs of couscous with feta cheese, olives and semi sundried tomatoes make a quick delicious lunch.

Who's who and what's what at Healthy Beings

Teresa Callaghan is the owner-manager of Healthy Beings which she opened in 2008 and is centrally located in Strokestown. “We are the only health store in the town and we try to stock as many relevant products as we can in order to cater for the needs of local people. Our customers tend to be of a wide range of ages, but we have increasing numbers of people in their mid-30s with young children who are health-aware and looking for natural baby products for things like teething and colic. Local people from Strokestown and the area are very supportive of Healthy Beings.

“Our food range includes everything from herbal teas and coffee substitutes, nuts, seeds, organic porridge oats, spelt products, alternatives to sugar and dairy including coconut milk and yogurts, soya milk, dairy-free spreads, hummus and free-from sauces. A lot of people in this part of Ireland are gluten intolerant so we stock a wide range of gluten-free products. One range of gluten-, wheat-, yeast- and dairy-free bread includes fruit breads, treats like muffins and breakfast breads and they taste great.

“Customers are increasingly looking for flax and hemp oils, krill and eskimo oils as we learn about how important they are to the body. Plant sterol products are also popular. We sell all the big brands in supplements and vitamins. We run an organic fruit and vegetables delivery service and our sports range is popular with the running clubs in the area.

“Organic and chemical-free products for the body and home are becoming more popular. Customers like our baby range and my speciality is the hampers I make up for special occasions. Our eco-cleaning products include washing-up liquid.”

Visit: Healthy Beings, Elphin St, Strokestown, Co Roscommon

AND TRY: The therapy room with nutritional therapist Ann Gannon, reflexologist Laura Grace and chiropodist/podiatrist Amanda Challender.
Speak to: Owner-manager Teresa Callaghan.

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