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Natural Healthy Foods Birmingham is an independent Digbeth shop, stocking vegan, gluten-free, raw, dairy-free and nutrition-led food and drink.

 

The store is well matched to its surroundings, neighbouring popular vegetarian restaurant The Warehouse Cafe on Allison Street.

The warehouses and railway bridges of Digbeth provide a suitably alternative backdrop for a shop equipped with everything from dairy-free cheese to Himalayan rock salt.

Natural Healthy Foods Birmingham belongs to Simon McCarroll and his partner Susan Waldron.

I paid a visit to Simon at the shop to find out how it started, what they sell, and if you can really make good cheese without milk...

So, what inspired you to set up this shop? Have you always been into healthy food?

Well, for the past seven years I've been on a personal healing nutritional journey.

I used to have a rich Western diet, with lots of eating out, sweet desserts and protein-rich foods.

Going through an illness made me look at how you can use food to heal yourself.

Now I lead a plant-based lifestyle. No refined sugars, completely meat and dairy free, with lots of superfoods and vitamin and mineral supplements.

And you found that changing your diet improved your wellbeing?

Yes, I'm fully converted to a healthy diet. There are ethical reasons too.

It's made a huge difference to my weight, general wellbeing and personal health.

What kind of food and drink can people find at Natural Healthy Foods?

We have a lot of raw products (food which hasn't been cooked above 40 degrees Celsius). We stock dairy-free, meat-free and organic products.

Also, natural energy drinks, pre-gym snacks, and Indian nibbles - vegetable bhajis, aloo tikka with strawberry and tamarind dips.

We do nearly 2,000 product lines and we're aiming for more. Everything we sell is vegan. We even have vegan beauty products.

What are your plans for the future? More space, a second shop?

We're planning to expand to other sites in Birmingham and the surrounding areas. Maybe North Birmingham and the city centre.

And we're about to launch chilled vegan ready meals, like mixed bean dhaal, vegetable curry and pumpkin curry.

8 food and drink groups to try at Natural Healthy Foods Birmingham...

Here's a look at a few of the different products available at the healthy food shop in Digbeth.

1. Gluten-free

A range of gluten-free products suitable for those with an intolerance or simply avoiding gluten.

Cereals, flours and bread are among the wheat-free goods on offer.

2. Chocolate

Yes, you can still indulge in one of life's greatest pleasures here. The chocolate range at Natural Healthy Foods Birmingham is plentiful.

We tried: Mr Popple's Flower Power. The rose and dark chocolate bar was deep, rich and aromatic. Definitely chocolate for adults.

3. Dairy-free alternatives

Alternatives to traditional milk including soya and almond milk, as well as dairy-free yoghurts, spreads and cheeses.

We tried: No-Muh Golden vegan cheese. The flavour was tolerably cheesy but the texture was a bit too crumbly and chalky.

4. Raw foods

The raw food movement says that subjecting products to high heat reduces the nutritional value.

So these snacks, including chia bread, kale crisps and sea lettuce, have been processed at no higher than 40 degrees Celsius.

5. Coconut

A firm favourite of health hunters, coconut can be found in the form of milk, oil, water and chips at Natural Healthy Foods Birmingham.

We tried: Smokin' Coconut Pecks. These were crunchy, nutty and a tiny bit sweet. Potentially addictive!

6. 'Superfoods'

Although not a medical or nutritional term, 'superfood' is used to describe foods with a reportedly high nutritional benefit.

Wheatgrass, mulberries and yacon (sugar-substitute also known as Peruvian ground apple) fall into this category.

7. Snacks

Snacking between meals without guilt is easy. The shop's shelves carry <strong>pitta crisps, organic fruit bars and protein snacks.

We tried: Pulsin Vanilla Chocolate Chip Protein Snack. It has a peanut-buttery taste and texture, but the flavour was a bit understated.

8. Drinks

From Fairtrade colas and lemonades, to birch water and kombucha (fermented tea), there are many drinks to choose from.

The shop also stocks a Romanian springwater reputed to be among the purest in the world, as it comes from land unsullied by agriculture.

So if you're looking for a spot to launch your detox diet, this looks like the ideal place to start.

Natural Healthy Foods is at 54 - 57 Allison Street, Digbeth B5 5TH.

*First published November 2015 - Updated January 2017*

Posted by Ahmed Ahmed