My local health food shop: The Beanbag

I use to think of Health Food Shops as musty places with jars of herbs where hippy people and artistic women in tie-dye clothing did some of their food and medicine shopping. My sister Dr Riekie Smit, who lives in South Africa and whom I miss very much, was the one who introduced me to joys of health food shops. She use to send me parcels with  dairy free milkshakes mixes, raw honey, and carob coated raisins. I was in my late teens and desperately trying to shed my puppy fat. To my astonishment, switching my sugared coffee habit to herbal tea with a drop of honey, drinking less dairy and eating nut bars rather than chocolate bars had me feeling healthier and skinnier and hooked for life on the wonderful alternatives to be found in health food shops.

Here in the UK we are fortunate to now have many health food products in supermarkets as well as some big chain health food stores showing that health foods are growing in popularity. However, I honestly feel that if you want to find the very best alternatives in terms of food, supplements and ethical products you can do no better than visiting your local independent health food shop. I’m lucky enough to have fantastic local shop about 10 minutes away in our nearest town Witney, and it’s called the Beanbag (isn’t that a great name!?).

What I love about the Beanbag is that the staff there are helpful and know their stuff. I went to the shop before my trip to India, looking for a natural insect repellent, and they recommended other products to help combat Delhi belly and to keep me healthy on my trip. Not only was the insect repellant brilliant at keeping me free of bites, but with the recommended products from the shop and some careful eating I managed to stay free of any stomach upsets for two weeks in India. Success! I love that if I’m in a hurry I can run in there and quickly grab a snack knowing it wont be full of horrible ingredients, and if my eco washing liquid runs out I don’t even have to buy a new bottle, I can refill it in the shop.

May favourite products from the Beanbag are:

  • Hemp Milk – by far my favourite milk replacement, makes tea nice and milky and tastes great on quinoa
  • Organic tins of Coconut milk
  • The big jars of Coconut Oil
  • Matcha powder for that extra boost in our morning smoothies.
  • Flax seeds for adding to smoothies , breads and to make yoga eye pillows (yes there will be a post about that soon too)
  • Nakd bars – non nonsense date and nut bars, I love them!
  • Pukka tea and Yogi tea – both of those brands do fantastic tasting herbal teas.
  • All the wheat flour alternatives… quinoa flour, ground almonds, buckwheat flour etc.
  • And at Christmas they sell the most amazing gluten-free Christmas mince pies!


Oh, and see the baskets at the bottom of the photos? Those are the shop’s shopping baskets, aren’t they fab?

So for those of you who have never visited a health food shop, go ahead and try the alternatives to the sugar and preservative loaded snacks you’ll find in the supermarket, you might just get hooked.

In South Africa my mom is lucky enough to have a health food shop that delivers foods directly to them…

Have you got a favourite health food shop near you? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!

Hanri & Banjo