There’s nothing so annoying as seeing what looks like a great recipe using an ingredient you have no idea where to get. This page lets you know how to find the healthier-than-usual (or simply unusual) items used in my recipes or meal ideas. I will be editing this section continuously as I add new recipe with new ingredients. If my suppliers aren’t convenient for you, just google it and buy online – it really is amazing what you can source…
My 6 top ports of call for unusual products (in Dublin and online) are:
1. Good health Stores such as Nourish, Health Matters, The Health Store and the many fantastic independent health shops around the country. Make friends with your local health store owner, they will usually do special orders for you too.
2. Dublin Food Co-Op in Dublin 8 (see website for opening times) sells a range of fresh produce as well as a massive range storecupboard ingredients and is my first port of call. It also has a cosy cafe. Almost everything is organic. Breads, beans, pestos, sauces, wholegrains, honey, spreads, no-added sugar jams, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and much much more. You will find varieties of fruits and vegetables here that are almost impossible to get anywhere else.
3. The Green Door Market in Dublin 8 (see website for opening times) is a weekly organic outlet selling fruit, vegetables, bakery goods, meat, fish and eggs, as well as other goodies, hot drinks and bakery goods. Massive range of fresh produce.
4. Delgano run by John de Courcy in Co. Wicklow is a fantastic online source for unusual items such as coconut sugar/flour, dried cherries, mulberries, Himalayan salt, raw cocoa and much more. John is passionate about the quality of his products, most of which are organic. He sells a small range of goods at Dublin Food Coop on Saturdays, but mostly sells online.
5. Fallon & Byrne in Dublin 2 often stock items its hard to find elsewhere. This is a cross between a health food shop and a delicatessen/supermarket.
6. The Asia Market in Dublin 2 sells a wide array of spices, fresh fish, exotic fruits, herbs, beans & pulses (dried and tinned), tofu, brown rice noodles, curry pastes and lots more. I love this place, and it’s brilliant value.
When your body has enough essential nutrients it will not crave extremely sweet things. For an occasional treat or special occasion though, here are some of the best. Ideally keep sweeteners for occasional (not daily) use. Stevia is OK to use regularly or daily.
Stevia: this herb is 300 times sweeter than sugar but contains no calories. Unlike sugar, Stevia will not damage your health. Source pure stevia drops from Delgano (see top of page) or from good health stores, including Nourish but be careful to avoid so called stevia products that contain chemical sweeteners. One brand recently advertised on TV and in magazines actually contains sucralose, which, like aspartame, is a toxic chemical sweetener.
Xylitol: find 100% pure xylitol in most health stores under various brand names e.g. Totalsweet, Xylobrit, Xylosweet. This is a granulated sweetener, derived from birch tree sap, that looks and tastes like white sugar. It can be used one for one as a substitute in recipes that call for sugar. It is low GI, safe for diabetics and does not upset blood sugar balance. Unlike chemical sweeteners it does not appear to have detrimental health effects. Make sure the product you buy is pure xylitol.
Sweeteners – the best of the rest
Coconut sugar: Made from the sap of the cut blossoms of the coconut palm. It has a lovely caramel type flavour and is brown in colour. Because it’s not refined it does contain a few minerals. It has a lower GI (glycaemic index) than standard sugar but like all high-natural-sugar foods, doesn’t actively help your health and . Buy online from Delgano (see suppliers above) or in health shops.
the best quality honey is raw, from flower pollen (rather than bees fed in the hive on sugar). It will be dark or opaque in appearance. You will find it in health stores and gourmet shops but not necessarily in supermarkets. Again, honey is not a health-enhancing product as its high in natural sugars.
Maple Syrup: go for 100% pure, not “maple flavoured syrup” which is refined sugar. High in natural sugars. From delis, gourmet shops, health stores and supermarkets.
Raw Cane Molasses (light or dark): There are 3 types of molasses. Light molasses is made from the first boiling of the sugar cane juice. Dark molasses is from the 2nd boiling. Blackstrap is from the third boiling and is the least sweet. Unlike sugar, molasses still contains some nutrients like iron and chromium – which your body needs in order to process the sugar (glucose and fructose). It has a caramelised toffee flavour. Check label to ensure no added “preservatives” such as harmful sulphur dioxide. Find it in supermarkets and health stores.
Raw Agave Syrup: from health stores. Low GI. Go for 100% agave, not adulterated products. Low GI, high in fructose. Fructose slows down liver function so like most other syrups, agave is not actively good for you. From health stores.
Dried, Frozen or Unusual/Organic Fruits
Dried fruits: if you can, go for organic as these don’t contain the toxic preservative sulphur dioxide, linked to toxic bowel effects, asthma and allergy. Health stores and wholefood outlets like the Dublin Food Co Op sell unsulphured dried fruit but check the labels…
Dried apricots. Pure unsulphured only (these will be brown, rather than orange).
Dried cherries. Ideally unsweetened. From Delgano (see top).
Dried mulberries. These are naturally very sweet, like mini toffees. From Delgano (see top).
Frozen cherries. From Fallon & Byrne (see top).
Frozen berries – mixed, blueberries, raspberries or strawberries can be found in the freezer next to the ice cream section in large supermarkets or from Fallon & Byrne (see top).
Papayas. Get gorgeous, ripe, enormous ones in the Asia Market, Dublin 2, from Halal/ethnic shops in your area, or sometimes from M&S.
Organic fruit. For a huge selection go to Dublin Food Co-Op. If you cannot buy organic, discard the outer peel.
Chocolate & cocoa
70% or higher (cocoa solids) dark chocolate: find it fair trade in health stores, Dublin Food Co Op (see top) or discount supermarkets.
Plamil do a sugar-free plain dark chocolate that is really delicious and sweetened with xylitol instead of sugar so it won’t rot your teeth. This is available in some health stores.
Cocoa – ideally raw, organic and fair trade. Otherwise use whatever cocoa you can get your hands on. Health stores, supermarkets.
Oils & Fats
Cold-pressed seed oils: sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, rapeseed, flax/linseed – from health stores and gourmet stores. Avoid heating these delicate oils. Keep in the fridge. If you cannot get cold-pressed, then avoid. Health stores, Dublin Food Co Op (see top) and good delicatessens sell these.
Cold-pressed nut oils: walnut, hazelnut. From health stores and gourmet stores. Avoid heating these delicate oils. Keep in the fridge. If you cannot get cold-pressed, then avoid. Health stores, Dublin Food Co Op (see top).
Virgin coconut oil: this oil is safe for cooking/baking as (unlike nuts/seed oils) it does not create high levels of toxic trans fats when heated. Buy it from large supermarkets, gourmet shops, good health stores, Dublin Food Co Op and Delgano (see top).
Virgin macadamia nut oil. Available from Down to Earth in South Gt George’s St, Dublin 2. This is a more neutral tasting oil. Also safe for cooking with.
These are all available in health stores, Dublin Food Co Op (see top) and sometimes in supermarkets. Use for cooking, tea/coffee, cereals where appropriate.
Almond milk – look for unsweetened, a great all round dairy-free milk. Gluten-free.
Oat milk – this is a really nice substitute for cow’s or goat’s milk. It is usually not gluten-free. Nice in tea, Rooibosch tea, coffee but it’s is not great for making sauces with as it tends to separate when you boil it.
Hemp milk – another dairy-free option. Again, look for unsweetened.
Koko coconut milk – nice, mildly coconutty flavour, great in coffee, smoothies, cereals. Naturally gluten-free. This is a milk substitute and is not suitable (its too thin) for my recipes for curries and sauces that call for tinned coconut milk.
Organic non-gmo soya milk (unsweetened): this is OK to use now and again and to make sauces. However raw, unfermented soya products are not really good for us whereas fermented soya (tofu, miso, tempeh) have proven benefits. Naturally gluten-free.
Dandelion coffee: buy the whole roasted roots in health stores and grind your own in a coffee or spice grinder. Tastes bitter like real coffee but without the health-damaging effects. Cotswold brand is pure. Avoid instant dandelion coffee which is high in added sugar (lactose or dextrose).
Pure cranberry juice by Biona – in bottles from good health stores. This needs sweetening with stevia drops (see sweeteners above), stevia powder or xylitol.
Fresh ricotta – made from buffalo or cow’s milk, this is often available from good delis, Fallon & Byrne (see top), or Italian shops. Ricotta, being made from whey, is healthier than other cheeses. Try to buy an Irish brand, such as Toos Bridge Dairy, if you have the chance. If you cant get ricotta, thoroughly mash or process some plain low fat cottage cheese for a similar effect.
Low fat cottage cheese – lower in saturated fat then chedder or processed cheeses, this can be processed or mashed to give a nice smooth texture. All large supermarkets stock this.
Natural soya yoghurt: look for brands that do unflavoured soya yoghurts. This means they will only contain a tiny amount of (usually) agave syrup in order to help the yoghurt-fermentation process. Avoid any with added sugar. Available in the chiller cabinet of good health shops.
Coyo coconut yoghurt: Contains healthy coconut oil, tooth-friendly xylitol sweetener, and is delicious. From the chiller cabinet of good health shops.
Yoghurt & Kefir
Natural organic low-fat is the best. From all good supermarkets. Bulgarian yoghur is especially beneficial as the lactose (milk sugar) is thoroughly fermented, making this product lactose-free.
Greek yoghurt: this is made from sheep (ewe’s) or goats milk and is much easier to digest than cow-based yoghurts. “Greek-style” yoghurt is an imitation made using cow yoghurt and cream. Good supermarkets, delis and natural food stores and some ethnic shops sell Greek yoghurt.
Kefir is a yoghurt-like drink made by adding keffir grains to milk, soya milk, almond milk or coconut milk. It contains over 30 different types of beneficial bacteria and is a powerhouse for your health, more so than natural yoghurt. Find ready-made keffir in the chiller cabinet of good health shops or make your own by purchasing live keffir grains from Down to Earth, a health shop on South Great Georges St, Dublin 2. Donna Schwenk book “Cultured Food for Life” shows you how to make keffir and a myriad of other vitality-boosting fermented drinks and foods.
Good health stores and artisan bakers such as Blazing Salads in Dublin 2 or Dublin Food Co-Op sell a wide range of breads. Even discount supermarkets are starting to stock 100% rye or dark wholegrain breads. Read the ingredient labels to get 100% wholegrain options. Organic does contain fewer harmful pesticide and herbicide residues. Breads can be sliced and frozen, or purchased vacuum packed.
100% rye bread: check labels, most “rye” breads are mostly (white) wheat flour
Sprouted 100% rye bread: (sprouting pre-digests grains & makes them sweeter, deliciously malty tasting and super-easy to digest)
Sprouted 100% wholewheat bread: also called “Essene” bread. The wheat is pre-digested by the sprouting process so is easier on the stomach.
McCambridge’s or similar 100% wholemeal wheaten bread is available almost everywhere
High quality gluten free breads
Look for GF breads made from wholegrains, rather than low-nutrient white grains.
Biona Millet and Biona Brown Rice breads are great
Hanna’s gluten free wholegrain bread from health shops and the gluten-free section of Fallon & Byrne
ABO Quinoa bread is lovely, is expensive
Primal (made with coconut flour) breads – also diabetic-friendly
Crackers (containing gluten)
When it comes to crackers, the darker and denser the better for your health.
Rough oatcakes unsweetened eg Nairn’s
Rye crackers Ryvita, Finncrisp, Wasa
Gluten free crackers:
Again, wholegrains are king while white, puffy products contain few nutrients.
Les Fleurs du Pain Buckwheat (grain du sarasin) crackers – good health stores, gourmet shops
Natshas Living Wholefoods sprouted flax crackers – health stores/delicatessens
Nairn’s Gluten-Free Oatcakes – guaranteed uncontaminated by gluten – health stores
Flours, rising agents and binders
Aluminium-free baking powder – many gluten-free baking powders are free of this neurotoxin. Aluminium is often listed as “flow agent” or “anti-caking agent”.
Arrowroot powder – this product has a thickening action just like cornflour – use it the same way as corn-flour to thicken stews and sauces. It’s corn-free so safer for coeliacs (50% of whom have adverse reaction to corn/maize).
Buckwheat flour. Naturally gluten-free and traditionally used in Brittany to make buckwheat galettes (pancakes). Available in health stores, Dublin Food Co-Op (see top) and gourmet shops.
Gram flour – this is simply ground chickpeas so is gluten-free. From Asian and wholefood stores.
Gluten-free baking powder – available in Dublin Food Co-Op, health stores. Look for brands that do not contain toxic aluminium (listed as “flow agent” or “anti-caking agent”).
Quinoa flour – this is ground quinoa so it’s gluten-free. From health stores.
Xanthan gum – a powder from health shops for sticking gluten-free baking together so its not too crumbly when you cut it. Health shops.
Beans & Pulses and their ready-made products
The cheapest place to buy these is in Asian shops. Organic or wholefood markets such as Dublin Food Co-Op sell both tinned and dried. Discount supermarkets and mainstream large supermarket chains increasingly stock a good selection. If you buy tinned, check they are free from added sugar.
Pulses: chickpeas, lentils (Puy, red or continental), split peas
Beans: black-eyed, borlotti, butter, flageolet, white haricot, cannellini, kidney, mung.
Broad beans: Fresh in season June to September in good greengrocers, Dublin
Food Co-op or farmers markets. Frozen year round in Asian/halal shops or gourmet supermarkets such as Fallon & Byrne (see top)
Fermented black beans: these are soya beans that you can use to make black bean sauce. Find them in The Asia Market or other Chinese food shops.
Gram flour – made from chickpeas. Gluten-free. Asian and health stores.
Taifun Grill Herb Sausages (NB these are not gluten-free) – health stores
Taifun Basil Tofu, Tofu Rosso (these appear to be gluten-free) – health stores
Tofu (look for organic gmo-free), vacuum packed (also naturally gluten-free) – Asian stores, health shops, good supermarkets. Plain tofu is gluten-free.
Whole Earth Baked Beans (naturally gluten-free and sugar-free too) – health stores/Dublin Food Co Op (see top)
Humous – best brands are made with extra virgin oils (from health stores – see top). Next best: M&S red pepper/reduced fat humous (reduced amounts of harmful refined oils).
Porridge oatflakes – from supermarkets, health stores, Dublin Food Co-Op.
Jumbo oatflakes for making muesli
Lizi’s Oat Granola (contains honey) – from health stores and large supermarkets
Kelkin Tropical Mix Muesli (contains honey) – from large supermarkets
All these are available in health stores, Dublin Food-Co Op
Gluten-free oats (ie guaranteed uncontaminated with gluten grains such as wheat).
Millet, buckwheat or quinoa flakes
Naturally Gluten-free wholegrains
Brown rice (brown basmati cooks quickest) or rice flakes
Whole millet grains (cooks to look like couscous) or flakes
Whole quinoa grains, amaranth, buckwheat or their flakes
Wholegrain pasta (gluten-containing)
Gourmet shops, health stores and frequently Asian stores sell a good range of these. If you can, aim for organic as wheat crops are sprayed minimum 16 times with toxic pest/herbicides between sowing and harvesting.
Japanese soba noodles (contain wholewheat and a little buckwheat)
100% wholewheat pasta (from all supermarkets, health stores – whatever shapes you fancy…
Wholegrain pasta (gluten-free)
If you are coeliac or otherwise gluten-intolerant, check labels carefully to ensure you are not getting any wheat/semolina in the pasta.
Rice and Millet Pasta shapes (naturally gluten-free) – kids love the multicoloured pasta shells or spirals – and don’t seem to notice they are full of nutrients1
100% buckwheat pasta (naturally gluten-free)
Brown rice pasta (naturally gluten-free)
Brown rice noodles (naturally gluten-free) – Asia Market, D2, health stores
Flavourings, condiments, colourings, sauces, spreads & dips
Apple cider vinegar – great for joints, bones, digestion and flavour. Health/gourmet shops.
Balsamic vinegar: this should say aceto balsamico di Modena on the label and contain no added caramel (a noxious colouring) – from health/gourmet shops
Black olive tapenade – this is olives ground up with olive oil
Coconut Cream – this is a block of dried compressed coconut milk. Really good value in Asian shops but you can also buy in gourmet shops and delis. I keep mine in the fridge to keep it fresh but take it out before I want to use it, to let it soften a bit.
Coconut milk – this is basically soft coconut flesh, with a little of the coconut water to dilute it. Buy the full fat version (better for you) in tins from Asian shops (cheap) or supermarkets and delis (more expensive). It should be reasonable thick in the tin. This is NOT the same as coconut milk in cartons such as Koko, which is thin and ultra-pourable, and intended as a substitute for cows milk.
Cochineal: a natural pink colouring derived from the wing casings of an insect – bizarre but true! This colouring does not have the toxic effects of artificial colourings. Gourmet or kitchen shops often sell it. If you can’t get it you could try using the natural juice of thawed supermarket frozen raspberres for a pink colour – just allow to thaw in a sieve over a bowl overnight to catch the juice.
Creamed coconut – available cheaply from Asian stores & gourmet shops.
Kallo stock cubes – vegetable, chicken, beef and other flavours. In gourmet shops, large supermarkets, health stores & Dublin Food Co Op. This brand is at present, gluten-free but always check labels just in case anything changes!
Kombu – a seaweed – rich in iodine and useful for speeding up bean/pulse cooking – buy it in wholefood stores or gourmet shops.
Marigold or Vecon Vegetable Bouillon paste or powder. Makes a very meaty-tasting veg stock. Comes in a jar and is normally gluten-free but always check labels. From health stores.
Miso paste – Health stores, Dublin Food Coop, Asian stores. Hatcho miso and brown rice miso are gluten-free but do take care not to grab the barley miso if you are coeliac/gluten-intolerant as barley contains gluten. Use it in boiling water or vegetable cooking water to make a beefy stock for cooking or to make an instant soup.
Pesto (basil or red/sundried tomato) – top quality ones will be made with extra virgin olive oil instead of refined oils. If you need dairy-free, check ingredients carefully.
Preserved lemons – these are used a lot in Moroccan tagines and have a really distinctive flavour. You can buy ready made in some Halal/Asian shops or Fallon & Byrne or better still, make your own with unwaxed organic (or well scrubbed) lemons and Atlantic sea salt or Himalayan (pink) salt from health/gourmet shops – pack in a jar and leave for 2 weeks before using – recipe with every relevant tagine recipe on this blog. If you cant get any and don’t want to make your own then you can use well scrubbed ideally organic lemon peels (fresh lemon juice/flesh may make your stew too acrid whereas the preserved ones taste more mellow).
Ras al hanout – this is a gorgeous, aromatic Moroccan spice blend that you can buy in some Asian or Halal shops. It’s essential for tagines. The best quality is what you can make yourself by mixing the spices as it won’t contain low-quality salt – the recipe is included in every tagine recipe I post.
Tamari sauce (a Japanese wheat and gluten-free soya sauce from Asian shops and health stores too)
Himalayan or Atlantic Sea Salt not table salt (as contains toxic additives)
Cinnamon for sprinkling on porridge, cereals – from Asian stores, supermarkets, health shops
Ground spices: cumin, coriander, turmeric + chilli – Asian/health stores, supermarkets
Thai green, red or yellow curry paste – the most economical brands (eg. Mae Ploy) are from Asian stores and these are hotter. Brands from supermarkets (eg. Amoy) and health stores tend to have very little heat and are much more expensive.
Thai fish sauce (nam pla) – Asian stores/supermarkets
Tahini: ideally raw (eg. Carly’s brand) if you can get it. Asian shops stock tahini.
Nut or seed butter: hazelnut, peanut, pumpkin seed, almond, walnut. Raw is best, if you can get it. Avoid added sugar brands.
Vanilla extract: Try to get “extract” which is made from vanilla. Vanilla “essence” is an artificial product concocted from chemicals which similate the vanilla flavour.
Vecon vegetable bouillon paste. This is gluten-free but always check labels if revelant to you. From gourmet shops and health stores.
Protein powders & lecithin
Protein powders are high quality and great for thickening smoothies or porridge to give you long, slow burn energy for many hours. Good health shops, The Natural Dispensary (you can phone and they will ask for a practitioner name, which is Anna Collins, or order on the internet), and Dublin Food Co Op stock some of these. Avoid protein powders with sweeteners and chemical additives.
sprouted rice protein – ideally organic as non-organic rice can contain large amounts of toxic arsenic. Sprouted rice protein is very easily digested as sprouting essentially pre-digests foods. Delgano suppliers at the top of this page supply high quality rice protein but so will any good health shop.
Solgar Whey to Go Vanilla (whey protein concentrate) – contains dairy but is free from junk sweeteners such as fructose, dextrose, sucralose, lactose etc. Great for supporting your liver as it boosts liver-protecting glutathione in the body.
Lamberts Pea Protein – this tastes quite savoury. You can use to thicken soups. In a smoothie I prefer it mixed 50:50 with sprouted rice protein so neither flavour dominates.
Sun Warrior Vegan Protein Powder – this is vegan, great quality and is often sweetened with harmless, calorie-free stevia so its delicious too.
Lecithin granules: usually derived from soya (look for gmo-free), these are available in every health shop. Lecithin breaks down the fats you eat in a meal, helping you digest them. It also contains phosphatidyl choline important for memory.
Raw nuts, seeds
Buy the freshest nuts and seeds, ideally organic, in wholefood markets such as Dublin Food Co-Op, or in health shops with a high turnover of goods to ensure freshness. Many supermarkets now stock raw nuts and seeds and all health shops do too.
Linwoods milled seed blends or pure linseed for sprinkling on porridge. Wholefood stores stock the freshest nuts/seeds. If possible, avoid roasted/toasted crunchy ground seed brands, a cooking/toasting damages their healthy oils. After grinding seeds, keeping them in an airtight glass jar in the fridge keeps them freshest.
Nuts: almonds, Brazil, macadamia, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecan, peanut. Nuts soaked overnight in filtered water are the most digestible of all.
Chestnuts: Available cooked and vacum-packed from gourmet shops or dried from good health stores such as Down to Earth, South Great George’s St, Dublin 2 or sometimes from oriental shops. To prepare the dried ones, simply soak overnight and then boil till tender.
Seeds: sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, flax (also called linseed), chia. Grind tiny seeds to release the beneficial nutrients.
Chard: this is a dark green leafy spinach-like vegetable that’s sold in posh groceries and in the Dublin Food Co Op (see top). You can substitute spinach if you cant get chard.
Chicory: a pale green, tight bud with a slightly bitter taste that’s fantastic for helping digestion. Dunne’s Stores, Dublin Food Co Op and fancy groceries sell it all year.
Fresh is best as the plastic coating in tins contains Bisphenol A, which leaches into the food inside and is harmful to health. Keep tinned fish to no more than once or twice a week.
Salmon (tinned/smoked): ideally wild, alternatively organic if possible. Discount supermarkets are now selling tinned salmon at low prices.
Mackerel: fresh, smoked or tinned in tomato sauce/water
Sardines: fresh or tinned in tomato sauce/water (not oil)
Vegetables in tins (or better still, jars)
Tomatoes: tinned, sieved (passata) or puree – from supermarkets, health stores
When possible choose glass packaging instead of tins to reduce exposure to toxic bisphenol A (BPA) from plastic can and carton linings. The contamination tends to be less in foods not containing fat (BPA is drawn to fat molecules).
Herbs & spices
Fresh herbs: best value from Asian/Halal shops (flat leaf parsley, coriander, mint, dill especially). Also available from good greengrocers.
Spices: best value from Asian shops such as the Asia Market, D2 (see above). Supermarket spices are usually not as fresh as those in exotic shops with high turnover of goods. See flavourings, condiments section for specific spices and spices blends.