Rosie Greenaway roots through her store cupboard to learn how the therapeutic benefits of baking can be merged with the nutritional perks of superfoods
While the UK continues to live life under varying degrees of restrictions, a good proportion of its residents seem to think they’re competing in the Great British Bake Off – or at least you’d think so from looking at the empty flour, sugar and eggs shelves which were still evident in many supermarkets at time of writing.
If you listen to Dr Tamal Ray – anaesthetist by day and season six Bake Off runner-up by night – he talks of baking being something of a moving meditation, a time to ‘forget about everything’ and lose himself in a task which bears no resemblance to the intensive care unit he’s been covering during the pandemic.
While many would agree that baking is soothing for the mind, the long-term physical health repercussions of all that comfort eating don’t bear thinking about. But, with a little imagination, baking doesn’t have to be unhealthy.
Baking with a difference
Take a leaf out of Mintel analyst Emma Allmann’s book. She mastered the art of creating an artsy ‘focaccia garden’ during lockdown – time- consuming, of course, but undeniably easy on the eye. Crammed with nutrient-dense veggies, herbs and seeds, it’s a fine example of how easy it is to incorporate super-fresh ingredients – and indeed superfoods – into beautiful baked goods.
Isabelle Lloyd – registered nutritionist and staff member at Apothecary 27 – acknowledges that ‘superfoods’ can be an ambiguous term. “I think superfoods is one of those things where food gets a bit glamorized. People think they’re going to solve all your problems; they probably will help but they’re not miracle workers! I think it’s important that people know that these are good for you and will help your body function … they might help prevent things but they’re not necessarily going to cure anything.”
That said, Llloyd does agree that these little foodie superheroes are well worth encouraging your customers to use within baking – and we’re not just talking banana bread and Victoria sponge. Superfoods (aka nutritional powerhouses) can be incorporated into so many types of baked goods, the mind boggles. Breads, savoury muffins, pastries and quiches are all great vessels for ingredients such as seaweed, which Lloyd points out is ‘high in algae, which is really good for things like metabolism and immune system’, and mushrooms, which she adds ‘are a powerhouse for your immune system’.
“Berries are really high in antioxidants which are good for cell function, inflammation and fighting free radicals,” she adds, highlighting mulberries as a less popular but particularly worthy addition to crumbles, flapjacks and brownies. “You can add cacao in brownies as well – berries and chocolate always go nicely together. You can put different seeds in [energy balls], like flax seeds and linseeds which have omegas in as well, which are also good for inflammation.”
Along with incorporating ‘all the berries’ into everyday eating, Lloyd recommends turmeric for daily consumption, along with mushrooms for an immunity boost. “Here [at Apothecary 27] we have Pukka Mushroom Gold capsules – really good, really high quality. But we also do powders as well.”
Given that many superfoods ‘pack a lot of nutrients in a small amount’ (a prime example being matcha) often a relatively small intake will suffice, and this is where potent superfood powder blends – such as Bioglan Superfoods Cacao Boost, containing organic cacao, lucuma, hemp and maca – extend their versatility beyond smoothies and juices, and become easy and efficacious additions to cakes and sweet treats.
For Clearspring, matcha is a way of life. Marketing executive and family member Lisa Dawson points us to several recipes on the brand’s website which use matcha, including the Organic Matcha Energy Balls and the No-bake Matcha ‘Brownies’ – a collaboration between Clearspring, Whole Foods and Instagram influencer Shiso Delicious.
Scrolling through the recipe pages is like stepping into the Clearspring kitchen; many of those listed are ones she and her family eat themselves at home and in the office. “There are still thousands yet to be uploaded,” says Dawson, who joined the family business in 2015 and began focusing on expanding the brand’s platform to include more how-tos using Clearspring ingredients. “My goal is that every product has at least three recipes – one sweet, one savoury and one snack.”
The Organic Matcha Energy Balls were one of the first recipes Dawson came up with. “Since then I haven’t had the chance to write up dessert recipes, but now that you’re mentioning it, it’s making me want to do more!”
Dawson also published a recipe for vegan Matcha Panna Cotta with Clearspring Apple & Mango Purée, with an exceptionally crowd-pleasing geometric presentation – although she maintains the technique is very easy.
“We wanted to introduce Clearspring Japanese agar flakes … a setting agent which people in Japan use to make desserts like this,” she says, speaking of agar’s vegan ‘soft jelly-like’ form. Agar originates from the ocean, demonstrating the diverse and hidden ways in which sea vegetables can be fused with sweet cuisine.
(Coconut) flour power
Throughout lockdown it’s not been unusual to be met with supermarket shelves empty of certain products – but this is where many independents trumped the multiples, relying on their local connections to stay stocked up.
Tiriel Lovejoy, owner of Bristol’s refill store Preserve Foods, explains how he tracked down a source of flour and attracted new customers as a result: “We’d normally only order a couple of sacks a week … but we were ordering it every single day from our local supplier. Some days we’d get it and some days we wouldn’t, then it was getting to a stage where it just wasn’t coming at all. But there are lot of pubs and restaurants that are closed, so if you find different suppliers, ones that normally cater to them, then obviously they’ve got stock for their customers. We found a bakery supplier that managed to get us a whole bulk of flour. I just order once a week from them now, 30 sacks. 750kg came in today – so that’s probably about a week’s worth for us.”
Lovejoy notes that although this has been great in terms of meeting the demand, the generous sacks presented him with considerable storage issues. “We’ve got a very small shop, so I have no space for flour. My van is like my flour warehouse … I’m covered in the stuff every day!
“We seem to be a destination for flour from lots of customers who wouldn’t usually visit our shop. We’re selling between 15-20 times what we would normally sell. It’s mad! It sounds brilliant, but it is, and it isn’t, because while we’re selling a lot more flour we’re selling less of other things – so it’s not exactly profitable and it’s hard work.”
With most types of flour seemingly as in demand as gold dust, the store has tried to satisfy the appetites of many new faces turning up at its door by stocking a wide variety of organic and gluten-free flours, mostly from Doves Farm, as well as coconut flour from Essential.
Coconut flour – produced by many brands including Biona, Coconut Merchant and Tiana – can be used with great versatility in cakes, waffles, cookies, pancakes and pastry, all of which are being cooked up in kitchens around the country by would-be Bake Off contestants. Some of them are even becoming unofficial flour distributors themselves: “I had a lady … contact us through social media – she bought half a sack of each type of flour that she’s going to distribute in her street. Lots of people are doing things like that. People have WhatsApp groups; they collect shopping for each other. It’s nice.”
Lovejoy hopes that when life reaches a ‘new normal’ baking is one of the habits resurrected during lockdown which will stick around. And with so many superfoods at consumers’ fingertips via the nation’s plentiful health stores, the possibilities are endless for healthier versions of cake classics.
Alara Organic Milled Linseeds Range
You may know Alara Wholefoods by now for our delicious home compostable, organic cereals. We are launching a new range of organic milled linseeds in 6 flavours: Raw Milled Linseeds, Mixed Seeds, Mulberries, Maca & Mulberries, Superfoods Mix and Acai Bowl. These products contain no added sugar and all 6 varieties are high in fibre, a tasty source of Omega 3, GMO free and suitable for vegans. Sprinkle over porridge, yogurt, dessert, add to smoothies or simply eat a handful as a yummy, healthy snack. All Alara products are completely plastic free – the inner packaging is made of eucalyptus cellulose.
Clearspring Add New Reduced Salt and White Miso To Range
Organic Fine Foods brand Clearspring has added two new authentic Organic Japanese Miso products to its market-leading, award-winning range. The Organic Japanese Unpasteurised Reduced Salt Miso contains 25% less salt than their flagship Brown Rice Miso, whilst delivering an authentic Japanese umami punch. Clearspring Organic Japanese Unpasteurised White Miso is made to a traditional family recipe in Japan’s Nagano prefecture, delivering a delicious balance of sweet and savoury. Available in glass jars, both are incredibly versatile and can be used to create a delicious array of dishes including soups, stews, dressings or as a glaze.
Organic Traditions Amla Berry Powder
Amla berry, or Amalaki commonly known as Indian Gooseberry, is a small, greenish fruit with a tart, sour taste. It is a source of whole food vitamin C and fibre. One teaspoon of powder provides 42mg of whole food Vitamin C, making it particularly good as a tonic during cold and flu season.. Cultivated in India for thousands of years, the fruit has been used in Traditional Ayurvedic Medicine as a rejuvenating tonic beneficial for balancing the body and for aiding daily, gentle cleansing and detoxification. Sustainably grown and harvested, certified organic, kosher and raw.
Seagreens® Food Capsules & Food Granules
20 years in daily use, restoring dietary micronutrient balance, this classic whole blend of primordial seaweed has many applications in nutrition therapy. Capsules (Granules in smoothies) provide a remarkable spectrum of microvitamins and minerals not available from land foods, with protein, amino acids, enzymes, unusual antioxidant and polyphenol levels, and polysaccharides with a high ratio of soluble fibre. Seagreens® leads research on our native seaweeds in obesity, weight regulation, diabetes, digestion, thyroid iodine, and balancing dietary salt. 10 years’ independent compositonal data ensures you know what you’re eating – certified to NFS and Organic standards. Email for nutrition and product information.
Raw Living offers the most comprehensive selection of superfoods in the UK. From Ashwagandha to Wheatgrass, we stock over 30 different superfood products, all in our beautiful eye-catching packaging. In business since 2002, as long-term raw vegans ourselves, quality is paramount to us. We are confident you won’t find such a premium quality range anywhere else, and we keep our prices as low as we can, because we care about making these wonderful foods accessible to all. If you need advice on setting up or improving a superfood section in your store, we are happy to assist.
Sun Chlorella ‘A” tablets
Sun Chlorella Corporation
Tel: 020 3478 1090
Sun Chlorella ‘A’ is natural, pure, nutrient rich green food supplement that can help to maintain your body’s defences:
• contains a wide range of nutrients including protein, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron and many more, which can help to keep your immune system fighting fit
• provides a higher percentage of the cleansing and purifying chlorophyll more than any other food, which can help to eliminate toxins in the body
• provides highly concentrated antioxidants such as beta-carotene which helps to combat free radicals that can undermine immunity.
Tree of Life Organic Superfoods
Tree of Life organic, plant-based, nutrient-dense superfoods provide an easy solution to boost the power of everyday meals, snacks and smoothies. We’ve scoured the globe for the finest quality organic seeds, nibs and berries to build our range of 8 superfoods including beauty berry Acai Powder, plant-protein packed Spirulina and Hemp Powders and our unique Maca Powder blend of red, yellow, purple and black maca roots. Simply blend into smoothies, mix into bakes or sprinkle over yoghurt to add a natural, nutrient boost. Part of the Tree of Life range of natural wholefoods helping to make health easy every day.
Golden Greens Organic
Vegan protein is set to be the growth area in 2020 with more people moving to the vegan diet, especially those involved with sport. The high quality organic proteins from Golden Greens provide a perfect choice offering the highest quality soil association certified Pumpkin, Rice, Hemp and Pea proteins at great value. Golden Greens offers one of the largest range of Organic nutrient powders and focusses its support on the Independent Health stores.