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Independent health store advice on kitchen cupboard essentials

Looking for advice on natural health and wellbeing? Your local independent health store can offer a wealth of expertise. This month we talk to Izzy Hoden, assistant manager of Ganesha Wholefoods in Axminster, Devon.

We all lead busy lives and sometimes it can be hard to find the time to cook healthy food. It can really help to have some staple foods and ingredients in your kitchen cupboards that you can use to whip up a quick nutritious meal. Here are some of my top picks.

Herbs and spices

Adding a bit of spice to a meal can completely transform it from a bland, flavourless dish to something more interesting. I think chilli powder and chilli flakes are great kitchen cupboard staples, as they can give some dishes a much-needed kick. Cumin and coriander are good too as they can be added at the start of a dish and will really bring out the flavour towards the end. They’re a nice option if you want some spice but not too much heat.

Mixed herbs can be added to pretty much anything and I particularly like to use them in homemade pasta sauces. Cinnamon is great for sweetening dishes when you don’t want to use sugar, and some research has shown it may help to balance blood sugar levels. Turmeric adds colour to dishes and has long been used traditionally for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Cooking oils

I use extra virgin olive oil for everything from roasting and light frying to sautéing and drizzling. It’s high in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, so it’s a good, healthy kitchen cupboard staple. Flax oil is a great source of omega-3 and is good for drizzling on salads, whereas sesame seed oil is good for high heat cooking as it has a high smoke point and works well in stir frying as it brings a lovely flavour to the dish.

Tinned items

Chopped tomatoes are great kitchen cupboard staples as they are the base to so many meals. I use them in curries, sauces, and soups among other things. Chickpeas are fantastic too, and they’re an excellent source of protein, particularly for those eating a plant-based diet. Lentils and beans are so versatile too. You can add them to many different recipes, and they’re brilliant for bulking out certain dishes such as soups. I like to make a vegetarian Bolognese using lentils instead of veggie mince as it’s so tasty and filling.

Pulses and grains

Rice is a staple for so many easy, filling dishes. Pearl barley is like lentils in that it’s great for adding bulk to dishes such as stews. Split peas make a great base for soups and dahls and are a great thing to keep in your cupboard as you can use them in an abundance of recipes.

Pasta and flour

Pasta and flour are ubiquitous kitchen cupboard staples, and we stock a wide range of them at Ganesha. In addition to traditional flours such as strong bread flour, rye, spelt, and multipurpose self-raising and plain flours, we also stock a variety of free-from varieties. These range from buckwheat and coconut to brown rice flour, to the Doves Farm Freee™️ flours. In terms of pasta, we have all the regular wholewheat and white varieties as well as free-from options such as buckwheat, brown rice, and even an edamame and mung bean pasta.


Oats are incredibly versatile and can be used in many dishes from porridge to puddings. In our stores we stock our own organic porridge and jumbo oats that we hand pack, but we also stock a gluten-free porridge for those who can’t have traditional oats. We also have a range of mueslis, as well as brown rice flakes, buckwheat flakes, quinoa flakes and millet flakes, which can be used as a breakfast alternative to oats.

Nuts, seeds and dried fruit

We stock a huge range of top-quality nuts – I’d say they make up the bulk of what we sell the most. My favourites include walnuts, which are full of omega-3; almonds, which are high in magnesium; and Brazil nuts which are an excellent source of selenium.

All seeds are nutritious in their own way, but my top picks include chia seeds, which are packed full of minerals and are high in protein; pumpkin seeds, which are high in iron and zinc; and linseeds/flaxseeds which are high in omega-3.

We stock a plethora of dried fruit. Dates are particularly good if you’re looking to make sweet treats but don’t want to use refined cane sugar. Prunes and figs are both high in fibre which can help promote a healthy digestive system.

As you can see, your local independent health food store is a great place to stock up on all these kitchen cupboard essentials!.

Ganesha Wholefoods

Ganesha Wholefoods has three Devon-based shops located in Axminster, Honiton and Sidmouth. Their story began in 1979 when Fred and Penny Easton opened a vegetarian-vegan restaurant in which they handmade everything from the soy milk to the hummus and the beanburgers. They then moved on to a market stall where they sold some of the healthy ingredients that they used in their restaurant dishes. This led to the opening of the three health food shops which are now run by their son, Richard Easton, who has been imperative in bringing the business to where it is today. Izzy says: “They are a fantastic family to work for and I couldn’t ask for a better job! It’s a great place to work because you are always learning something, whether it’s discovering new supplements or a new fact about food or nutrition.”

For more information and to shop online, visit:
Axminster: 01297 33957
Honiton: 01404 43225
Sidmouth: 01395 578526
or follow the shops on social media:

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