Alex Hely-Hutchinson owns her business 26grains, has never had outside investment and raised £15,000 on Kickstarter to pay the first three months’ deposit on her first shop. I personally am continuously inspired by people who are brave enough to start their own companies, especially when they start something that promotes health and happiness, so I hope you’ll find her story as inspirational as I do. Alex makes the most wonderful food, especially porridge. It’s totally different to your average porridge – it’s tasty, healthy, artisanal porridge that comes in delicious flavour combinations such as raspberry, pistachio and elderflower or almond milk oats, banana, tahini, honey, sesame, milk, cacao nibs. It’s amazing! 26 grains is located in Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden.
26 grains offers a seasonally changing menu of colourful porridges loaded full of nutrition, plus the all-important yum factor – but you can not only find real morning treats on the menu (the banana tahini cacao is a wonderfully mixed creation), they also offer savoury dishes like weekly changing salads.
To celebrate a variety of the best quality grains and spices and to recognise each grain’s unique properties (their different shapes and sizes, tastes and textures).
Alex was inspired by the time she spent living in Copenhagen (she is a Denmark lover too). While she was there, she also cottoned on to “hygge”. “It’s not something you can strive towards, it’s something you realise with hindsight, when you’ve spent time with an old friend and didn’t think about it until you got home and thought it was great. Mine is definitely about sharing food, coming together, hearing the familiar voices in the kitchen while I’m cooking. For me, food is the ultimate ‘hygge’.” ’Hygge’ is a Danish word that has no literal translation in English, but it’s a word that evokes warmth, cosiness, and togetherness – everything a bowl of porridge can be.
You can find my blog post about my semester abroad in Aarhus and the Danish way of living here.
DENMARK: SPARKING HER INTEREST IN WELNESS AND HEALTH
She found that the more natural ingredients she chose to cook with, the better the food tasted and the better she felt. Even in the simplest of cafes, the bread was fresh, often rye, the menus were interesting, using delicious simple foods and really embracing foods for what they were rather than trying to give them a long shelf life, or over sweetening and salting them. They use lots of herbs and spices and it is an exciting way to be able to eat delicious, good food.
She just embraced some of the things she loved most and put it out there. She once lived off porridge for a week during exams at University (who can relate? Definitely me!). She had found that in Copenhagen the Scandinavians really embraced grains and porridge as a base for trying interesting spices and flavour combinations.
WHY THEY ARE DIFFERENT
Quality for deliciousness, quality for the way we feel. By choosing the very best ingredients not only will the food be the juiciest, tastiest and most moreish, but it will make you feel your best too.
We make sure to soak our grains to break down their naturally occurring protective acidic layer (phytic acid) making them easier to digest and their nutrients more bioavailable. This means that not only are you getting the slow release of energy that makes grains so satisfying but you’ll also absorb the very most from them.
The grains are sourced where they grow best; in cold, muggy climates. Because of this, there is an abundance of grains in Europe. Where possible, they choose organic and lesser known varieties of grains. They avoid any overly refined foods, genetic modification, wheat and soy beans.
They are always keeping up to date with food trends, recipes and innovative ways of creating new and exciting dishes and products. They have tried every amazing combination, and believe me, it’s tasty. Even better, come and try for yourself…
Oats – creamy, slightly sweet, when hand rolled almost smell maple-y, toasty
Barley – versatile, great with strong flavours
Quinoa – mild, great with spices and fresh flavours
Millet – buttery, mellow
Rye – rich, earthy, great with spices
Spelt – nutty, textured, earthy
Buckwheat – rich, earthy and nutty
Amaranth – herbaceous, great with nuts, chocolate and Mexican flavours
Brown Rice – full flavoured rice, creamy
Black Sticky Rice – indulgent, balance between sweet and savoury
Conclusion: if you enjoy clever food and flavour combinations and such a high quality of ingredients make a stop at 26 grains.
1 Neal’s Yard
London WC2H 9DP
Social Media: 26grains