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Raw food lampstands, entrees and crockery from Designmarketo

10 Apr

Everybody needs a lamp(stand) powered by a pumpkin


Last week I made it to DesignMarketo’s Spring Seeds and Sprouts dinner party at the Barbican.  For £30, we were surrounded by food-inspired design and fed three courses of healthy heaven by Executive Chef Quentin Fitch.  The dinner party  featured specially commissioned recipes and objects produced by DesignMarketo’s friends and collaborators including those you can see in the pic and many you can buy at their new shop at the Barbican.   While our main course was nowhere near raw, our entree, lampstands and the crockery for our herbal tea were…

Forgive me for using the word ‘cool’ but Designmarketo is a very cool enterprise who describe themselves as ‘a platform diffusing up-and-coming designers’ small and limited productions’.  I don’t really understand what that means but yes, their ideas are cool to me, as per the turnip lampstand on the left.

Herbal tea was served in mugs based on saucers made of honey and sesame snaps.

Fresh orange and pomegranate salad

Entree was a fresh leaf salad very similiar to the one I regularly scoff at Mexican restaurant La Taqueria. While I don’t have the break down for Design Marketo’s recipe, the ingredients listed at Taqueria  include romaine lettuce, cucumber, radish, onion, orange segments, pomegranate seeds, and avocado dressing.  I highly recommend it.

Walnuts crush other nuts for health benefits

3 Apr

Brain food that looks like a brain - walnuts are literally a top nut

Surely no-one missed the global groundbreaking news on Monday that US researchers declare raw walnuts to be the healthiest nut of them all and just seven of them a day will ward off heart disease, certain cancers and type-2 diabetes.

According to this BBC article, Dr Joe Vinson, from the University of Scranton, analysed the antioxidant levels of nine different types of nuts and discovered that: ‘a handful of walnuts contained twice as many antioxidants as a handful of any other commonly eaten nut. He found that these antioxidants were higher in quality and potency than in any other nut. Antioxidants are good because they stop the chain reactions that damage cells in the body when oxidation occurs. The antioxidants found in walnuts were also two to 15 times as powerful as vitamin E, which is known to protect the body against damaging natural chemicals involved in causing disease.’

In another study by Australian scientist T. M. Strathan (also backed up by the FDA) the advice is similar and even specific to vegetarians; ‘In vegetarian populations it appears that nuts may be exerting the strongest protective effect [for cardiovascular protection]. This was an unexpected finding since it was anticipated that the absence of meat eating would be the dominant factor. Although nuts contain approximately 80% fat the nut feeding trials have not shown any associated weight gain in those ingesting nuts suggesting the addition of nuts in the diet may have a satiating effect. It is concluded that the daily ingestion of a small quantity of nuts may be one of the most acceptable lifestyle interventions for the prevention of coronary heart disease.’

Walnuts are so rich in ALA that a daily amount of just half an ounce (15g) supplies 1.5g of the fatty acid will protect against heart disease – part of a 16-year study of more than 76,000 women reported to a meeting of the American Heart Association.

Walnuts are an excellent source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals such as Potassium, Phosphorus, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Sodium, Manganese, Zinc, Copper, Selenium, Vitamin C, Vitamin B1 (thiamine), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin, Vitamin E, and even the little known Vitamin K.

Only one thing to watch for is that walnuts are a little bit acidic. So stick to the seven as advised…

Spring equinox is time to spring clean your diet

27 Mar

Best food to eat on a spring equinox is seeds and sprouts - see new beginnings. Thanks to national geographic for this picture.

Not only have the clocks moved forward but today is the Spring Equinox and what a stunning day for a spring clean of the internal kind. My equinox began with a green breakfast smoothie, a handful of seeds followed by an all-day yoga detox workshop at Triyoga; a surprise gift from my lovely friend Kari.  Despite my focus on this blog, raw food is of course only one vital item on a lengthy list of ideal everyday actions for living a full nutritious life. (All of which I am equally hypocritical about.)  Yoga is also one of the top five.

Today’s marathon yoga session was led by our lovely teacher Jeff Phenix, and encompassed a full spectrum of asana  (twists, heart opening back bends and core work), bandhas (energetic locks), kriya (cleansing practices), mudra (sacred gestures or attitudes), pranayama (expansion of life force), chakra work (subtle energy centres), yoga nidra (deep guided relaxation) and meditation.  Needless to say I am cleansed, almost comatose relaxed and knackered.

Throughout history the spring (or vernal) equinox is known as a very special symbolic and important time.  As  Jeff said; ‘now is the time to break through the hard shell of our winter coats and break free.’

Other magic, pagan and borderline occult websites go into a bit more detail such as this from The spring equinox marks a time of year when day and night are of equal length, helping us achieve greater balance.

Add to this mix a rare alignment of the Sun and Uranus at the equinox point of zero degrees Aries. This alignment holds the potential to open energetic portals for inspiration, creativity, new insights and visions. It marks a time to listen to deep streams within and work with intentions powerfully aligned with our spiritual purpose for the highest good of all.

As we work with our highest intentions, we are able to align with others on the inner planes to anchor a new time in human consciousness. This weekend’s cosmic alignments will greatly facilitate these efforts.

We Stand at the Threshold of an Unimagineable Future

I love that last sentence. It’s so inspiring but National Geographic sort of dampens the magic with a more scientific view.  The length of day and night may not be equal on the vernal equinox, but that doesn’t make the first day of spring any less special.

The fall and spring equinoxes, for starters, are the only two times during the year when the sun rises due east and sets due west, according to Alan MacRobert, a senior editor with Sky & Telescope magazine.

Whatever and whoever you believe, if you look out the window at those daffs and blossoms, Spring is definitely here and you (and I) may as well make the most of it with a healthy body and mind.   To help you on your way – here’s Jeff’s list of essential daily detox dos and do nots:

  1. Yoga
  2. Meditation
  3. Eat nutritious food (Avoid processed food, dairy, sugar, coffee, alcohol) – I would obviously suggest raw…
  4. Drink lots of water
  5. Start the day with lemon and warm water to stimulate the liver
  6. Drink liquids at room temperature
  7. Dry brush to stimulate the skin (your biggest organ)
  8. Do a short juice fast
  9. Drink wheatgrass (if you can take it)
  10. Eat a big breakfast, medium sized lunch and light dinner – don’t eat late at night

Watercress cures cancer, baldness and dull salads

20 Mar

One of the super miraculous ingredients of watercress is...water

I’m in love with watercress at the moment and not just because my iphone app seasons says it is in season locally.  Watercress tastes delicious and peppery, has many medicinal properties (from cancer to baldness cures), speeds up metabolisms, is a diuretic, and helps pick up your energy if you’re feeling tired. Gram for gram, watercress contains more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach and more folate than bananas. But I’m not the only one who’s fallen for this super superfood, according to, annual sales have increased by £18 million a year over the past four years to more than £55 million in 2010.

As you can see from the table, it is rich in vitamin A (from beta-carotene) and vitamin C, and is a source of folate, calcium, iron and vitamin E. It also contains  vitamin K, thiamin, vitamin B6, potassium and iodine and is  low in sodium. It is 93% water and therefore low in calories, contains a tiny bit of carbohydrate and fat but also has protein. One cereal bowl contains roughly one of your one a day.

Historically – according to, in 400 BC on the Island of Kos, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is said to have located his first hospital beside a stream so that he could grow a plentiful supply of watercress to help treat his patients, the Greek general Xenophon made his solders eat it to increase their vigour before going into battle and Roman emperors said it enabled them to make “bold decisions.’

However the really blinding thing that qualifies watercress for super super status is the link to cancer cure. outlines a recent groundbreaking study linking watercress to a potential cure for cancer.  Here’s an extract:  water cress contains the compound, phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), which is able to interfere with the function of a protein called Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF), which plays a critical role in cancer development. As tumours develop they rapidly outgrow their existing blood supply and further development isn’t possible until they are able to obtain enough oxygen and nutrients to maintain the growth of cancer cells. To get past this roadblock, the cancer cells send out signals which cause the surrounding normal tissues to grow new blood vessels into the tumour which then supply oxygen and nutrients. HIF is at the heart of this process of inducing new blood vessel growth. However, PEITC, of which watercress is the richest natural source, was shown in laboratory tests to have the ability to block the function of HIF.

Watercress is a healthy leafy green raw vitamin essential

The best thing is that it is really cheap to buy and and really easy to use.  Although – I don’t recommend adding to your green smoothies unless of course you like a peppery kick with your apple flavoured breakfast.

Oh – and PS – also according to, it is also believed to be an aphrodisiac. In Crete, islanders swear by its powers and ancient recipes are handed down from one generation to the next. In the 1970s, an Arab prince was reputed to have had special consignments flown out from the UK, presumably to help him satisfy his harem! And in Hampshire its special powers are part of folklore.

Hamburgers and fried chicken are in my culture. Fruit and vegetables are out.

6 Mar

'It's not my fault I like fried chicken. It's my culture...'

1. Taste. 2. Price. 3. Convenience…1,204,895. Health.

According to the recent newsletter from Food and Drink Europe, a  survey of 200 Spanish consumers, published in Journal of Sensory Studies, showed that health and weight loss barely make our list of priorities when choosing what food to buy.  Pretty obvious results but as we dig deeper in the newsletter we discover that what influences our choice of taste is predominantly culture. And one of the problems us fat and sugar addicted people have is that we don’t want to give up our culture to eat healthily.  Well – we gave up eating healthily to eat badly didn’t we?  In fact – if we go way, way, way back – one could argue that our one true culture of food consumption is raw fruits and vegetables.

Carrillo and colleagues explained that fats and sugars provide major contributions to the sensory and palatable characteristics of foods, but the high availability of energy-dense foods in developed countries – particularly in the U.S and countries within the European Union – promotes preferences that are inconsistent with dietary guidelines and have a direct relationship to wider obesity problems.

“Increased consumption of foods with high proportions of these components is mainly due to taste preference, aroma and mouth-feel characteristics,” they added.

However non-sensory aspects of food choice, such as culture, can also have a major impact on food preference.

For example, previous research (Ethnicity & Health, Vol 9(4):349-67) suggested that certain populations of African-Americans in the US believe that ‘eating healthily’ would mean giving up part of their cultural heritage, and trying to conform to the dominant culture.’

This study initially frustrated me but on second thought it is inspiring. The solution to shifting our behaviours is simple – we just have to make healthy food sensorally attractive and culturally familiar.

‘Eat less red meat’, say experts and every newspaper in the UK. ‘Duh!’ say every vegan, vegetarian and raw foodist.

20 Feb

Cows are dancing for joy at the news that the SACN recommends we humans eat less meat...

Today was a good day for vegans, vegtarians, raw foodists and even raw food hypocrites like me.  Every Sunday newspaper in the UK has reported on the ‘advice’ due to be released by The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recommending that we eat less meat.  While the equivalent of three rashers of bacon a day still seems like a lot  to me – surely we are merely a stone’s throw from being ‘advised’ to be completely raw…

While the full report will be issued in a few days with the full advice and basis for it – here is the article I’ve copied from today’s Independent.

Britons should cut their consumption of red and processed meat to reduce the risk of bowel cancer, scientific experts are expected to recommend in a report.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) was asked by the Department of Health to review dietary advice on meat consumption as a source of iron.

In a draft report published in June 2009 the committee of independent experts said lower consumption of red and processed meat would probably reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

The committee said: “Although the evidence is not conclusive, as a precaution, it may be advisable for intakes of red and processed meat not to increase above the current average (70g/day) and for high consumers of red and processed meat (100g/day or more) to reduce their intakes.”

A daily total of 70g is equivalent to about three rashers of bacon.

The Sunday Telegraph said the full report, to be published within days, was expected to echo the committee’s draft report.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “The DH committee of independent experts on nutrition will shortly publish their final report on iron and health.”

The World Cancer Research Fund already recommends people limit their intake of red meat, including pork, beef, lamb and goat, to 500g a week.

The fund also advises consumers to avoid too much processed meat, including hot dogs, ham, bacon and some sausages and burgers.

The Telegraph goes further to reiterate that ‘links between red meat and cancer, which have been suggested by a series of scientific studies, have provoked long-running controversy.

In 2005, a European study found those who regularly ate 160g (5.6oz) of red meat a day increased their risk of bowel cancer by one third.

High consumption of red and processed meat has also been linked to many other cancers, including that of the breast, bladder, stomach and digestive organs, but the evidence is weaker.’

Tesco join the raw food revolution

13 Feb

The bananas are popular at Tescos since they've moved to the front of store

My local Tesco on Portobello Rd has just been renovated. They’ve done a new paint job and added some diy cashier points but the real news is that they’ve swapped the cakes and crisps that used to be at the front entrance for rows of fresh fruit and vegies. While they haven’t exactly sent out a press release about joining the raw food revolution – I’m sure that’s what they’re telling us and I love it.

Repositioning the fruit and vegies immediately reprioritises the average person’s purchasing options; from bad to good, unhealthy to healthy and processed to raw. It shows that even a monster British retailer knows the value of fresh plant foods and also demonstrates their commitment to improved health and nutrition. I’d say they’re on the raw bandwagon for sure…

By the way – please excuse the quality of the pics – Tesco security are a bit uptight…

Dr Carrot is back

6 Feb

Dr Carrot and his companion Potato Pete were two of the Ministry of Foods most popular creations, and Pete even had a song about him sung by Betty Driver of Coronation Street fame.

It seems carrots are the ‘it’ vegetable at the moment especially since the British Carrot Growers Association (BGCA) has re-launched the Ministry of Food’s wartime ‘Dr Carrot’ campaign this week.  ‘Functional foods’ or foods with added nutritional benefit such as Vitamin Water or Yakult, are the fastest growing area in food manufacturing and they make my heart sing, but raw fruit and vegetables are the first and only true functional food and make me positively levitate. And the more people who understand the true point and value of healthy food, the better.

According to Horticulture Week, a publication I’m sure you read daily; ‘Dr Carrot was first developed by the Ministry of Food during the Second World War as part of an educational campaign to encourage healthy eating during rationing.  The BCGA, which represents more than 80 per cent of Britain’s carrot producers, is working with television’s Dr Christian Jessen on the project to convey the character’s original words of advice in modern times.’  From what I can gather from the carrot museum (huh??), this slogan was Carrots keep you healthy and help you see in the blackout.

So what’s so great about carrot besides helping you see in a blackout?

Firstly half a medium-sized carrot contains twice the daily recommended intake of Vitamin A.  According to various sources Vitamin A is essential for the immune system. It keeps skin and mucous membrane cells healthy and moist and therefore more resistant to bacteria and viruses.   Nutritionist Jennifer Brett, N.D. on Discovery Health goes as far as to say that Vitamin A fights cancer by inhibiting the production of DNA in cancerous cells. It slows down tumor growth in established cancers and may keep leukemia cells from dividing.

The carrot museum also tells us (I have checked with other sources…) that carrots are rich in antioxidants Beta Carotene, Alpha Carotene, Phytochemicals and Glutathione, Calcium and Potassium, and vitamins B1, B2, C, and E, which are also considered antioxidants, protecting as well as nourishing the skin. They contain a form of calcium easily absorbed by the body. A carrot also:

  • Enhances the quality of breast milk
  • Improves the appearance of the skin, hair and nails.
  • Lower cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Raw carrot contains beta-carotene, a strong antioxidant that can prevent cancer
  • Helps the adrenal glands (the small endocrine glands situated above the kidneys)
  • Increase menstrual flow.
  • Regulates blood sugar
  • Promotes colon health because it is rich in fibre
  • Alkalises the system

And of course, as the slogan says, vitamin A is essential for our vision, particularly in low light.

Dr Jessen is the new Dr Carrot

I know I don’t have enough vitamin A in my diet and on reading how vital it is to nibble half a carrot every day I’m onto it. Despite lovely Dr Jessen’s unfortunate middle parting I am sure he’ll do a great job at convincing the rest of us to grab a carrot a day.

Carrots are sexy say researchers

30 Jan

Me with a fake tan

Being the very fair skinned child in a family of olive skinned naturally tanned siblings and parents, I have always fantasised about waking up one day with a tan.  I did try fake tan once – but I looked more like an oompa loompa at Madame Tussauds than an actual person. Well – according to this article on St Andrew’s University website – all I need to do is eat a lot more carrots.

St Andrews University ran the study jointly with Bristol University and tell us in the article that, ‘people who eat more portions of fruit and vegetables per day have a more golden skin colour, thanks to substances called carotenoids. Carotenoids are antioxidants that help soak up damaging compounds produced by the stresses and strains of everyday living, especially when the body is combatting disease. Responsible for the red colouring in fruit and vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes, cartenoids are important for our immune and reproductive systems.’

That’s great of course, but I have to say the real news was deeper in the actual paper.  Here’s the extract that explains that the joy of carrots goes beyond a healthy immune system; as in the case of the rear ends of our monkey friends, reddened skin apparently enhances our sexual attractiveness.

Being attracted to a suntanned (reddened) mate is primitive instinct

‘Stephen et al. (2009) found that the physiologically relevant cues of increased skin blood perfusion and oxygenation color enhance the healthy appearance of faces. This relationship shows similarities to color signals displayed in nonhuman primates, particularly Old World monkeys (Dixson 1998). Increased redness due to increased blood perfusion is associated with aspects of health such as hormonal status (Czaja et al. 1977; Dixson 1983; Rhodes et al. 1997; Setchell and Dixson 2001) and reproductive status (Rhodes et al. 1997; Setchell et al. 2006) in this group. Redness in nonhuman primates is also associated with social factors such as dominance rank (Setchell and Dixson 2001; Setchell and Wickings 2005) and is preferred by the opposite sex (Setchell 2005; Waitt et al. 2003, 2006).’

I love carrots and often juice them and add them to salads but this is an incentive to eat more of them that reaches a whole other level.  However, I can tell you from experience that sunburn isn’t attractive to anyone, including monkeys.

Great Swapathon is a big step forward for the obese

17 Jan

The British are swapping deep fried mars bars

FOR lovely carrot sticks

I’ve read conflicting views of the Department of Health’s recently launched Change for Life Great Swapathon. A mouthful in itself, the idea is that the British government, with the help of the world’s biggest food businesses (Asda, Birds Eye, JJB Sports, Nestle, Mars, Unilever, Warburtons and Weight Watchers), The Sun and News of the World, bribe the British general public to drop their deep fried mars bars and pick up an apple instead. We’re offered a book of £50 vouchers to swap bad for good and that’s the problem. The ‘good’ is not necessarily that good especially if it is a branded box of still highly sugared yet ‘baked’ cereal that costs twice as much as the usual without the coupon.

British magazine Marketing Week wrote recently of the ‘Great Swapathon rip off’ and the BBC reports that Professor for Food Policy at City University in London Tim Lang called it a ‘corporate brand protection strategy rather than a public health one.’

At first I agreed with them. You can no doubt pick up a hint of cynicism in my intro and having a marketeer’s DNA I can smell a brand campaign a mile away. At first glance, spending £250m to convince fatties to be healthy seems like a giant waste of my hard earned taxes. I’ve only just convinced my Mum to drink freshly squeezed lemon juice and warm water in the mornings. However, and a big however – something has to be done. Obesity in children as one impact of bad nutrition has increased to 30% from 25% in 1995,  and the statistic is due to grow.

People like me, who care about and know about basic nutrition are the unusual and the extreme. Others have a clue that they should be eating better, but not even heart attacks or cancer scares can make them cut back and change. Will this work for a generally ignorant general public looking for a quick fix?

When I do my sums, the campaign only costs taxpayers a fiver a head and, having worked on a proposed arts council campaign to bring the arts to the general public, I can say that £250m is peanuts and alone would make no headway whatsoever. We need the additional food manufacturer and retailer budgets and distribution channels to reach the masses and then we need their ‘healthier’ range of products to ease them into making life long changes.

The 5-a-day campaign is working - so will The Great British Swapathon

And – most importantly when you look at statistics for the 5-a-day campaign. It is working. 21% of children now eat 5 portions of fruit and vege a day compared to just 10% in 2001.

Charlene from Essex may not swap her daily bacon butty for a carrot stick for a million pounds but she might choose omega plus enhanced granary bread instead of preserved white plastic slabs.

It’s not raw food, and not chlorella smoothies but I think the programme is a brilliant step in the right direction, superb value for money considering the long term benefits to children in terms of fundamental education and awareness and the food companies, for once, are doing something positive too. This is marketing. Marketing works to change behaviours in this case – for good. The critics, including the Children’s Food Campaign, who said, ‘this analysis exposes the Great Swapathon for what it really is – a great marketing opportunity for the companies involved, but of little benefit to consumers’ pockets or health’, should get over it and behind it, unless of course, they have a better idea.