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Interview: Primrose’s Kitchen

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We chat to Primrose Matheson of Primrose’s Kitchen about key foods for runners and why her breakfast products are different to others on the market.

Introducing Primrose’s Kitchen

There are so many products out there on our supermarket aisles these days, that the choice can be overwhelming. Not only that, in our fast-food, ready-made culture, we don’t always know what we’re putting into our bodies.

But there are companies out there trying to make a change and create foods that are good for us and nourish our bodies. Particularly as runners, what we eat can have a big impact on our performance and energy levels.

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Meet Primrose Matheson. Based in Dorset, Primrose has designed a range of breakfast cereals that break the mould. These products have a variety of different flavours that might seem a little unusual, such as Raw Beetroot & Ginger Muesli or Courgette & Cacao Granola.

We meet with Primrose to find out more about the range, what makes it different and why breakfast is so important for runners.

Can you tell us a bit about Primrose’s Kitchen and how it got started?

We launched five years ago, and the inspiration for it really came from my own health. I had suffered from chronic fatigue, IBS and various energy-level problems. I had to seriously look at my diet and the way I was living in order to try and work out what I could do to improve how I felt and take responsibility for my own health.

It led me on a journey going to every sort of healer, nutritionist and herbalist under the sun, learning about what made up a balanced diet and lifestyle. And that is what I now talk about with Primrose’s Kitchen: a naturopathic lifestyle. This is about creating balance in all aspects of your life, from the food you eat, the people you surround yourself with and the environment you place yourself in.     

Diet was a major part of this mix of things. For me, going gluten-free and focusing on organic was a major element. Over time, I realised that the most important thing is whole foods and eating food as nature intended. Unadulterated foods that are presented as much as they can be in their rawest form.

I am more a creative than I am a businessperson. I am always looking for things that I want to eat and do things that are different. I think getting vegetables in in a way that you don’t know they’re there, or don’t feel so frightening, is good. It challenges the status quo, which I think is very important in a world where we like what we like and we don’t like what we don’t like.

I started with two mueslis. I was terrible about getting enough vegetables in my diet. I knew I should be eating them. Like so often, we know what we should be doing, but incorporating them into my diet in an easy way wasn’t easy. I didn’t like to spend a lot of time cooking. I thought I would love to get them into the meal that I like to eat the most, which is breakfast, because it’s really easy to assemble.

What makes Primrose’s Kitchen’s products different?

At Primrose’s Kitchen, we use fresh fruit and fresh vegetables. The idea is that you’re getting what was there at the beginning, with all the nutrition and vitamins. And you’re also getting the flavour, especially with the oranges and the lemons, because everything we use is air-dried at low temperatures. I guess that’s why we’re different to your regular cereal producers out there who roast and cook everything, and combine with the oats and oil and sugar and everything else. We just slowly air dry for up to nine hours the fresh fruit and vegetables, which we get straight from our supplier/farmer. So, you’re getting the best ingredients, prepared in the best possible way [to give you a] final product that is the best it can be. It gives you a really nurturing, nourishing start to the day. It doesn’t have to be just for breakfast; you can eat it throughout the day.

Oats are great to have before you go to bed, as being a nerve relaxant they help you sleep. Putting vegetables in was what started me off. Beetroot and carrots were the most versatile vegetables to start off with. Beetroot, being such a super food, I loved anyway. I used to do lots of juicing with beetroot. Carrot came next. It was part novelty with that and part that people were actually really enjoying the product.

Why do I need to eat breakfast?

It’s very important, because when you’re asleep your blood sugar level drops slowly. You’re using up all the food, sugar, carbohydrates and glucose you were eating the night before. You wake up in the morning with a low blood sugar level. When our sugar drops we tend to reach out for the highest sugar snack that we can find. This leads to spikes in our adrenal levels, which eventually leads to adrenal exhaustion. The long-term effects of that are something like chronic fatigue. I know that’s an extreme version, but that’s what you’re looking at long term. It’s about trying to nip it in the bud right at the beginning. In order to do that, you need to eat regular meals. Breakfast needs to nourish your nervous system, which is why I think oats are very good for you first thing in the morning. They are also slow release, so they keep you full for longer. Having that balance of protein is really important as that fuels the nervous system and that helps with your energy levels. Especially if you’re running; you may need that extra protein. You’ll be using up more glucose than anyone else. It’s important to maintain those levels in a balanced way.

Should I eat breakfast as soon as I get out of bed?

Start with a warm drink, as that stimulates your kidneys and liver to start moving. The same with the stomach – it warms it up. You don’t want to be putting cold food into a cold stomach, as that won’t help with digestion. Allow half an hour between when you drink and when you eat, as you would water down the enzymes which help with digestion. Then you can create your breakfast. Focus on eating, which can aid digestion by slowing down and being more mindful.

What should I be eating as a runner to nourish my body?

I take a straightforward approach. It’s about common sense. Eat vegetables as they come and straight from the grocer. Fish or meat, if you eat them, once or twice a week, are really important to have for your protein levels as a runner. If you’re vegetarian, you need to go for pulses and grains. There has to be a balance. There’s no one right way. What’s most important is you, as an individual, listening to your body and having a variation in what you eat. It’s having that mentality and looking at ways you can bring that variety in, and not just sticking to the same habitual things that you eat. Avoid processed foods and ready-made foods. Cook from scratch and use spices, which are natural healers, like turmeric and ginger. It’s about taking responsibility for your own health, rather than relying on ‘experts’ to tell you what to do. We know our bodies best and what works for us. The most important thing you can do is give yourself time to do that, and think about what you have eaten and how it made you feel.

If I’m preparing for a long run, when should I have breakfast?

If you’re going to eat before, you need to leave at least an hour to digest. If you’re doing an early run, stick to something simple, like oatmeal and chia. Something that will be nourishing, will fuel you and will keep those energy levels going, but will something that can work its way through your system simply. After your run, re-fuel on a couple of handfuls of orange and cashew granola, with high protein. It also has vitamin C, as your levels deplete when you run. This helps to boost your immune system levels, which is especially important when you’ve been working hard or out in the cold.

Find out more about Primrose’s Kitchen and its products here: https://primroseskitchen.com/

Primrose's Kitchen

Julie Bassett
Julie Bassett
Julie is the editor of Run Deep and a keen runner. Taking part in everything from parkrun to ultramarathons, Julie lives, breathes and writes about running. Usually found getting lost on a trail or footpath somewhere in Dorset.

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