We want to tell you about the best food shop in Northampton. It’s an independent shop hidden away off the Bedford Road.
There’s something about independent food shops that fascinates us. We behave as if we were at a museum or exhibition, taking one step every 30 seconds, staring at the exhibits, pointing at them, examining them. Can you imagine doing that at Tesco? No, but that’s precisely what we do when the food is interesting.
What constitutes interesting food? Anything you don’t find at the supermarket. But for us, it tends to be healthy stuff rather than fancy biscuits, preserves or processed foods, for example.
Other food shops are available!
Before I tell you about our hands-down favourite shop in Northampton, allow me to give a nod to some of the other stores selling interesting or healthy food:
- Smith’s Farm shop is a lovely shop to wander around. You might say it’s full of posh food. Some of it’s healthy, some of it’s naughty. But you won’t find much of it in a supermarket.
- Rothwell Grocery. This has an Indian theme, stocking lots of unusual fruit and veg and all sorts of Indian staples. Another shop with a similar theme is Al Hamra Supermarket on the Kettering Road – this one has a fresh meat counter.
- Sing Long near the middle of town. This stocks oriental foods – some packaged, some fresh, but all of it interesting. For some of it, if you’re not familiar, you’ll just be guessing what it is.
- Standard health food shops such as Holland and Barrett and Northampton Health Store. Both have an emphasis on supplements, but you’ll always find a few useful and healthy supplies.
But our favourite is one that we buy from regularly. It’s called Daily Bread, housed in The Old Laundry on Bedford Road. It gets our vote as the best food shop in Northampton because it stocks our kind of tucker; being health food nutters, this shop is right up our alley. You might call it a health food store, but you might also describe it as a ‘whole food’ store. The sign outside says ‘wholefoods open to the public’.
What we like about this shop is that it sells a lot of unprocessed food in bulk. You’ll struggle to find a lot of it anywhere else in Northampton. Some of it would be regarded as ‘ancient grains’, and most of it is as unprocessed as you can find anywhere.
For example, we all know oats are good for us. But in a supermarket, you’ll only be able to find rolled oats, powdered easy-cook oats like Oatsosimple, and Granola. Have you ever seen pinhead oats in the supermarket? No, nor have we. It’s what oats look like before they’re rolled! But in Daily Bread you can buy big bags of the stuff. And it’s very affordable too.
We’ve been to a fair few wholefood shops around the country, and we can genuinely say, for affordable wholefoods in bulk, we’ve not seen better than Northampton’s very own Daily Bread.
Why is it healthy?
As mentioned above, the reason we shop at Daily Bread is because we like to be healthy. But what makes the foods in there so healthy? It comes down to two things:
- First, they are unprocessed. They’re not pre-cooked, not canned in brine, not milled. That’s great because your body has to do more of the processing to get the nutrients out. That means these foods take longer to digest and have less of an impact on your blood sugar. In other words, they are low GI.
- Second, they are packed with fibre. Unprocessed foods have all their fibre left in them. That’s great for slow digestion, keeping you full and feeding your microbiome. It also means weight maintenance and optimal health are much more achievable.
Up to this point, you’ve probably only guessed what we buy. So, why don’t we show you what we bought last time we were there. Here’s our current top 10 foods to buy at Northampton’s Daily Bread.
Ten great foods to buy at the best food shop in Northampton
Black Turtle Beans
We call them black beans. You can get black beans in the supermarket, but they’re cooked and canned. Here, they are dried and unprocessed, so you can choose what to do with them. We use these in a chilli bean and carrot slow cooker recipe.
If you read our previous blog on the health benefits of beans, you’ll have noted that black beans are regarded as the most health-giving of all beans, due to the concentration of polyphenols. In the same blog, we provided a recipe for a version of the chilli bean stew mentioned above. Go and take a look!
As mentioned above, we prefer pinhead oats for making porridge. You’ll see from the photo that they don’t look like your standard rolled outs. They take a little longer to cook than rolled oats, but they’re tastier and slightly slower to digest. And, of course, they’re packed with fibre.
Notice how there’s no fancy packaging, no big brand. Just oats; packet; bosh!
Kimchi is a national favourite in Korea. Like sauerkraut, it’s a fermented food. That means it’s excellent for your gut microbes. It’s good practice to get regular intakes of cultured and fermented foods to keep your beneficial bugs topped up and fed.
We don’t have a lot of this; it’s quite spicy! We’ll have it as a side serving when we have other veggies.
These are smaller and darker than standard red or green lentils, and they’re really versatile. We put them in an Indian-inspired version of cottage pie, replacing half the beef with beluga lentils. They have a similar look and texture to beef, but deliver more fibre and polyphenols. We feel it’s a slightly healthier and more filling version of the dish when we substitute some meat for lentils.
These are also great in salads, adding texture, protein and carbs.
Split fava beans
These are just broad beans, dried. We use them for cooking up a wicked dal. A dal made with fava beans thickens at the end of the cooking and has a satisfying indulgent texture. Once it cools, it sets. If you eat it cold, you’ll have to cut it with a knife!
Below, we give you our recipe for Tarka Dal made with fava beans.
Yes, this is a processed food. But, as breads go, it’s about as healthy as you can get. That’s because it is dense, fibrous and slow to digest. It has a GI around 40, compared to almost all other bread which is in the mid-70s. If you love bread and feel you can’t do without it, try a healthier version like this. It will improve your health and help you maintain your insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control.
It’s not great for sandwiches. But try it as a snack with sardines on it, or to scoop up home-made dips.
These are ancient British peas that have been around since Elizabethan times. They are advertised as an alternative to chickpeas. But their darker colour means they are denser in nutrients and anthocyanins.
If you read our blog about dips, you’ll have seen a version of houmous made with chickpeas. Try making it with carlin peas instead. We also like these as a quick healthy meal, mixing them with some halved cherry tomatoes, olives and an oily fish such as mackerel or sardines. Add some balsamic vinegar or Worcestershire sauce, and you’ll have a tasty, filling, high protein and nutritious meal, prepared in about 5 minutes.
You can get carlin peas ready cooked in water to save you cooking up a batch and storing it.
Of course, these are readily available in the supermarket. But at Daily Bread, you can buy a great big bag of them at a low price! And for some reason they are better – crunchier – than the ones you get in the supermarket. We also get pumpkin seeds like this.
Seeds are great. They have a nutritional profile similar to nuts – packed with goodness, good fats, fibre and protein. They give a nice crunch to anything – we add them to our yoghurt when we have it with fruit. Instead of having full-fat yoghurt and accepting the higher saturated fat content, choose 0% instead, and add the fat back by sprinkling seeds in it. That way, you substitute saturated fat for healthier monounsaturated fat.
They’re also great in salads to add a bit of crunch.
Red lentil flour
Higher in protein, higher in fibre and more nutritious than standard white or wholewheat flour. We use it to make high protein flatbreads. Lentils are very low GI, so these flatbreads are perfect for slow-release carbs and keeping you full for longer. See below for the recipe.
To show you it’s not all ancient grains and pulses, here’s a branded product. These are great for adding to slow cooker recipes and, of course, traditional Christmas dishes.
There are hundreds of other products in Daily Bread; it’s well worth a visit and a browse. But be careful, it’s one of the best tourist attractions in Northampton – you could spend hours in there!
Recipe: Red lentil flatbread with fava bean Tarka Dal
Here are the recipes for a couple of the foods we mentioned earlier. A dal goes well with flatbreads. You could have it as a snack between meals; as a dip before a meal, or simply as one of the components of a meal.
Fava bean Tarka Dal
For the dal, you’ll need
- 400g of Split Fava beans
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 4 cm/thumb-size piece of root ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 4 or 5 small green chillies – 2 finely chopped, 2 or 3 left whole
For the Tarka, you’ll need
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 small red onion, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- Fresh coriander, chopped to serve
And here’s how to make it. For the dal
- Put the beans in a large pan with a lid and cover with cold water.
- Boil for 10 minutes, drain and rinse, then return to the pan.
- Cover with 1.6 litres of cold water and bring them back to the boil.
- Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, chopped chillies and a pinch of salt.
- Turn down the heat and put the lid on the pan, leaving space for steam to escape.
- Simmer the dal, stirring occasionally and checking that it isn’t sticking. Add water if required.
- After 40-50 minutes, the beans will have broken down and become creamy.
- Either add boiling water or reduce the dal further to achieve the consistency you prefer.
- Season to taste.
- Add the 2 or 3 whole chillies and simmer for a further 15 minutes.
And for the Tarka
- Heat the oil and add the onion.
- When golden, add the spices and cook for 2 or 3 minutes until the mustard seeds start to pop.
Then, to finish:
- Stir the Tarka and half the chopped coriander into the dal.
- Sprinkle the remainder of the coriander on top.
This batch will give you 1325 calories; 23g of fat; 120g of carbs; 99g of protein and a whopping 117g of fibre! It’ll do for several meals or snacks.
Red lentil flatbreads
For these, you’ll need
- 2 to 3 tbs oil to grease the pan or dish.
- 96g red lentil flour.
- 2 tbs ground flaxseeds.
- 240 ml of water.
- Seasoning to taste – sea salt.
And here are the instructions:
- Preheat the oven to 180 C.
- Grease a 20×20 cm pan or baking dish with the oil and put it in the oven.
- Add the remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until well combined. It should resemble a thick but pourable pancake batter.
- Pour the mixture into the hot dish and add freshly ground sea salt to garnish.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the bread forms a golden crust.
This batch will give you around eight small flatbreads, each with 70 calories; 3g of fat; 6.5g of carbs; 3.7g protein and 2.7g fibre.
When you put both these recipes together, this is what it looks like. Looks tasty doesn’t it? And it is!
We’ve just given you a small selection of the kind of foods you can buy in the best food shop in Northampton. If you want to eat more healthily, then you should certainly visit. Even if you walk away with nothing, you’ll have had an interesting time.
But perhaps you could at least buy some fava beans and red lentil flour. Then you can give our flatbreads and dal a try.
Why not commit to eating more healthily. Choose whole foods; you’ll get loads of nutrients, plenty of health-boosting, filling fibre and a much better blood sugar response from all your meals. That’ll help to keep you full of energy, make it easier to lose weight and reduce your risk of developing a metabolic disease like diabetes. Go on, pay a visit to Daily Bread, the best food shop in Northampton.