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Ask Away: Independent health store advice on raw foods

Looking for advice on natural health and wellbeing? Your local independent health store can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This issue Katherine Colfer, manager at Full of Beans, Waterford talks about raw foods

The Paleo diet, popularised by Dr Loren Cordain, has been in vogue for the past few years and it seems to be here to stay. The increase in the amount of raw foods sold in Full of Beans can definitely be attributed to the popularity of the Paleo diet. People are trying out new recipes, and are looking for raw foods needed for recipes, and what better place to source these ingredients than a health food shop?

The most popular raw food we sell is raw organic virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil is versatile and can be used for both savoury and sweet dishes. It can also be used in cosmetics and makes a great moisturiser and nourishing overnight hair mask. Coconut is now recognised as one of the healthiest oils to cook with as it can be heated to high temperatures without going rancid. It makes a delicious alternative to butter for those that are following a dairy-free diet.

For sweet treats cacao powder and cacao butter are very popular. Cacao is high in minerals and antioxidants. For anyone looking for a healthy chocolatey snack these form the basis of most recipes. Nut butters such as almond, cashew and peanut are added to many recipes – the protein helps to balance blood sugar levels and helps keep us fuller for longer. People are becoming more and more aware of the negative effects of sugar on our health, with that in mind they are looking for a healthier alternative.

In Full of Beans we find that raw coconut sugar, raw honey and raw agave syrup are among the most popular natural sweeteners with our customers. These raw sugar substitutes are used to add a natural sweetness to treats. We like to make raw home-made protein balls from ingredients in the shop, and bring them in to share with staff. They are great for a mid-morning or afternoon snack.

We sell a large amount of raw nut butters. Our favourite among our customers is definitely raw peanut and almond butter. Nut butters are often added to protein shakes or smoothies to add extra protein. We sell a wide variety of raw bars – catering for not only those after a work-out in the gym but also those who are looking for a nibble with a morning snack. These bars often include raw nut butters.

Raw foods have become popular not only for gym-goers but also for those who have become more health conscious and want to ensure they are getting the best ingredients for their recipes. We see those who have had health problems and have turned to food as their medicine and are reaping the benefits from including raw foods in their diet. We think that raw foods are here to stay.

Who's who and what's what at Full of Beans in Waterford

Full of Beans in George’s Court Shopping Centre in Waterford has been open since 1980 and was one of the first health food stores in Ireland. Frances Coffey opened her second Full of Beans store in Ardkeen 11 years ago and Barry her husband came on board. Their son Robert joined the family business seven years ago. Katherine Colfer, also a nutritional therapist, has been the manager of Full of Beans in Ardkeen for more than two years. Shop assistants Ivana Jambrichova, Niamh Ryan, also a dietitian and Sarah Keating work between the two shops.

Full of Beans in Ardkeen is part of a busy shopping centre and opposite Waterford regional hospital. “We have a lot of regulars and visitors to the hospital dropping in,” says Katherine.

“A lot of our customers are quite discerning and know a lot about health. We get younger people who go to the gym and are looking for paleo foods that their personal trainer may have recommended, as well as coconut oil, cacao and nut butter, protein powders and bars. Retired people come in looking for natural cosmetics, and we stock all the major beauty brands as well as haircare and skincare.

“In the summer we get holidaymakers looking for help with mosquito prevention, insect bites, allergies and hay fever, sunscreens and looking for natural alternatives. We often recommend quercetin to help reduce histamine levels as well as vitamins.

“We stock a full range of green laundry and eco-cleaning products. All the big names in supplements and vitamins are on our shelves, and the most popular are ones that have no fillers and binders and contain ingredients such as spirulina and bilberry.

“Our fridge and freezer is stocked with kombucha, sauerkraut, vegan cheese and frozen foods, tempeh and veggie sausages, coconut and soya ice-cream and yogurt, and dairy alternatives. We would sell a lot of local honey in June and July.

“We stock a lot of incence-related products including oil burners. Our stainless steel drinking bottles are popular with kids for school.

“We give discount cards to nutritionists and gyms who refer people to us. We have new product tastings about once a month. We try to help customers with specific requests and queries, but when they need to be referred to therapists we can help them with that. Our regular customers know us by name and we get to know them quite well.”

Visit: Full of Beans, Ardkeen Shopping Centre, Dunmore Rd, Waterford
Speak to: Manager and nutritional therapist Katherine Colfer, dietician Niamh Ryan, Ivana Janbrichova and Sarah Keating.
Or buy: www.fullofbeans.ie

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