When I was in Texas, I relied heavily on the Sprouts in Southlake. Sprouts is a grocery store which emphasizes health. They stock all the normal grocery store goods, like fruits, vegetables, meat, cereals, etc, but focuses on the organic and natural. They sell vitamins and supplements, and also have a wide array of gluten and dairy alternatives. I could find any kind of gluten-free flour I could wish there, as well as dairy free chocolate chips, almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, and so on. It was the best. My favorite. And it was half way between my house and my doctor’s office, which made it seem even more magical.
I haven’t found anything quite like the one-stop shop Sprouts here, but the closest I’ve come is Rainbow Wholefoods. It’s like Holland and Barrett with more food and without all the confusion. Rainbow is a lovely little store in the amusingly named Labour In Vain Yard, up the hill from Tesco’s.
This is where I go for my cereal, baking ingredients, snacks, and the occasional tub of Booja Booja ice cream. The staff is friendly and they remember me when I come in. (Although I am slightly filled with jealousy towards them as I unsuccessfully applied for a job there a few months ago…) All of their products are organic, vegetarian, and GM-free. They don’t have the same array of gluten free flours that Sprouts does, but I can usually just about manage with what they do have. The staff are willing to order new products if I ask them to, as long as I can find a UK supplier.
I think the main difference is what I’m used to isn’t as common here in the UK. Being allergic to potato, I rely on other starches like tapioca, which just seems impossible to find here in stores. I have to order tapioca starch from websites such as healthysupplies.co.uk. It also seems impossible to find almond flour. Ground almonds is quite common, but it doesn’t work in my recipes for almond flour. It is too heavy and adds too much moisture. Frustration!
While Sprouts was great for allergy-free alternatives, Rainbow Wholefoods is great for those looking for vegetarian and vegan alternatives. There is even a vegan restaurant above the store. I am not a vegetarian or vegan (except in baking due to my egg and milk allergy) because I am allergic to so many vegetables, but I do love Rainbow.