Hygge – the word can be as confusing for non-Danes to pronounce as the concept is to understand. Let’s get the pronunciation out of way first. Probably the closest an English speaker can get to hygge is ‘who-ge’ – with the ‘ge’ as in ‘teach-er’…but without the ‘r’! Taking it a step further we also have the word hyggeligt meaning ‘hygge-like’ (roughly pronounced ‘who-glid’); for example, “that open fire is very hyggeligt.” Now we’ve nailed the pronunciation, why am I writing about it? David and I recently returned from a trip to Denmark and discovered that Danes are the happiest people in Europe, according to the European Social Survey, and much of it is down to the concept of hygge. So, I carried out some research of my own and now bring you the Nutritious Lolly quick guide to hygge and how you add a little more of it to your life.

What Exactly is Hygge?

Pronouncing hygge is easy – defining the concept is a bit more difficult. The Oxford dictionary describes it as ‘cosiness.’ While that’s true, it is more about a feeling of contentedness from being around family, friends and the simple pleasures in life. Here are some examples of hygge to give you some inspiration.


When asked what they associate with hygge most, 85% of Danes will say candles. In fact, Danes burn more candles per head of population than any other country. However, they are also taking notice of recent research by the Danish Building Research Institute which states that candles throw more particles into the air than either cigarettes or cooking. To counteract this, you can air your room after burning candles and choose candles which are made from high-quality natural wax with no artificial scents.


Lighting by John Cullen Lighting

Like candles, Danes are obsessed with lighting which perhaps comes from the lack of natural light between October and March. This doesn’t mean that indoor lighting should be bright – in fact, the lower the temperature the better. Renowned Danish lighting designers such as Poul Henningsen created pendent lamps which diffused the light into a softer glow. Original PH lights can go for up to £20,000 at auction, but you can buy similar styles from many lighting stores. The trick with lighting is not to focus on one big light in the centre of the room, but instead make little caves of light in alcoves and on side tables. Warm and cosy, not cold and bright.

Watch The World Go By

Just sitting watching the world go by is very hyggeligt. the simple act of switching off for a while to focus on other people going about their business is calming and can recharge your batteries. The same can be said for sitting at a table at a pavement café (in the warmer weather of course) people-watching, with a coffee and a good friend to share the experience with. You don’t need to converse, just be comfortable in the silence between you.

Be in the Moment

Smartphones have become an integral part of our lives, but there are times when you just need to switch them off and be in the moment…with people in the same room, not miles away across a network. A simple, home-cooked meal shared with family and friends around your dining table followed by an old-fashioned board game is very hyggeligt indeed…without the phones.


This brings us nicely on to food. Remember that my 6-Week Whole-Body Plan is designed to introduce small habits to help you change your life rather than by calorie counting or any other food restrictions. You may also be familiar by now with the 80/20 rule. Keep your treats for 20% of the time and this is where hygge can really come into its own. To quote Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book Of Hygge “cake is hyggeligt. Coffee or hot chocolate is hyggeligt. Carrot sticks not so much. Something sinful should be part of the hygge ritual. But it should not be extravagant. Foie Gras is not hyggeligt. But a hearty stew is.” Enjoy your treats in your special hygge moments and for a really heart-warming stew, see my recipe for lamb tagine – the perfect hyggeligt dish.

Sourdough bread is also very Hyggeligt and nothing beats the comforting smell of bread baking in the oven. Also, the result doesn’t have to be perfect – in fact, the more ‘rustic’ looking your home-baked loaf is the better.

De-Clutter = De-Stress

Nothing de-stresses quite like a good spring clear out. Yes, we may still have snow on the ground at the time of writing this, but spring is just around the corner. Getting rid of all the stuff gathering dust in your attic can really clear your mind. If some of your bits and bobs are too good to throw in the bin, donate them to a charity or community recycling scheme. Alternatively, if you feel you would rather get something in exchange for them have a ‘swap party’ which is very hyggeligt. Invite your friends round for snacks and drinks and ask them to bring their unwanted items which you can all swap. One person’s unwanted food processor is another person’s bread-maker.

The Great Outdoors

When it comes to hygge style activities, taking the family camping in Scotland (before the main midge months!) can be a simple, yet magical bonding experience. Relaxing in a warm and cosy sleeping bag, with a hot mug of tea and the sound of the rain tapping on your tent is totally hyggeligt, as is cooking on an open fire. If you do decide to give camping a go, especially in late spring, remember to pack extra warm and cosy socks to wear in your sleeping bag!

More Hugs Please

Photo by Morgan and Rose photography

Finally, hygge sounds very like hug and this may be more than a coincidence. Hugging, or touching, releases the neurohormone oxytocin which makes us feel happy and reduces stress and fear. So, hug your loved ones more, whether it’s family, friends or the family pet and bring more hygge into your life.

Is counting calories the answer to healthy and natural fat-loss? Nutrition and exercise consultant, Lorraine Cunningham, AKA Nutritious Lolly explains why it’s time to stop counting calories once and for all.

Not all calories are created equal

The big day is almost here, a time for family and friends to get together. It’s also a time to make resolutions about becoming fitter and healthier during the year ahead – to set ourselves challenges and goals we would love to achieve. For many people this means jumping back on the yo-yo diet treadmill again in January and counting calories as their preferred way to lose body fat. There is however, a major flaw with this type of ‘weight-loss’ regime, which centres on the fact that not all calories are created equal. In fact, a healthy diet has much more to do with what foods you get your calories from rather than the number of calories themselves. Here’s a scenario to illustrate this.

Are you ready to ditch the yo-yo diet once and for all?

In our bid to lose ‘weight’ (the basis of most restrictive diets), we may choose to allocate around 1,500 calories per day to the cause. Let’s say we’ve used up most of our allowance during the day, but it’s now 7pm and we have 165 calories left – what do we choose? Well…to use up 165 calories we could grill 100g of chicken breast. This would give us a healthy dose of protein and keep us fuller for longer. The chicken also contains vitamins B-6 and B-12 which together help to keep the body’s metabolism in tip-top shape and our nervous system functioning.

We could also choose to eat 300g (a substantial portion) of silken tofu – another excellent source of protein along with iron, calcium, manganese, selenium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamin B1. But, we’re craving something sweet, so we decide to forego the previous options in favour of a Mars Bar. However, as the standard bar is 58g we can only eat two thirds of it (saving the rest for tomorrow’s sugar hit).

What nutritional value have we gained by choosing the Mars Bar? Nothing except sugar…oh and saturated fat. Still, we’ve stuck to our calorie allowance, so we’ll lose weight…right? Wrong! Unlike the chicken and tofu which can deliver the nutrients we need to drive our metabolism into fat-burning mode, the Mars Bar contains processed sugar which is highly addictive, and because of this, the odds are high that you’ll have scoffed the remaining third of the bar before your head hits the pillow that night.

Our bodies treat calories in different ways

Are you getting the picture? Basically, your body doesn’t treat all calories in the same way. Good quality calories come from foods that are rich in nutrients. They keep you fuller for longer and your body has to work harder to break down fibre which in turn burns fat, whereas a diet rich in processed foods may contain the same number of calories, but the added sugar and refined grains (also known as simple carbohydrates) aren’t satisfying in the long term which prompts us to eat more. Plus, because our bodies don’t have to work hard to break down the components of the processed food, we end up storing fat rather than burning it.

Where will your first steps take you in 2020?

Stop dieting…change your eating habits gradually instead

So, what’s the answer? The first thing to do is enjoy the festive season with your family and friends and stop worrying about dieting. It’s only once a year so make the most of it. Then, when January comes around make a pact with yourself to give diets the heave-ho and get off the calorie-counting treadmill once and for all. It’s the time to look at a healthy way to kick-start your 2020 by changing your eating habits in small steps which will completely change your relationship with food and get you fit for life. 2020 is the year to make your date with Nutritious Lolly.


Are high-fat foods really the enemy?

Are high-fat foods really the enemy when it comes to losing weight or getting fitter? With low-fat this and low-fat that being the war-cry  of the diet industry, it may be worthwhile knowing that it’s not always as straightforward as simply cutting down our fat intake.  In fact, we’re far more likely to gain body-fat because of the amount of refined sugar and processed food that we eat.

So, for my latest Nutritious Lolly blog, I thought it would be worthwhile to list 12 facts about fat that might surprise you. Enjoy!

12 facts about fat

  1. Not all high-fat foods are bad. In fact, our bodies need fat. It’s an essential component of a healthy, balanced diet. Hence the term – essential fatty acids
  2. Fat helps the body absorb vitamins A, D and E.
  3. The fat we eat is broken down into fatty acids. Any fat not used by cells or for energy is converted into body fat.
  4. Eating some fatty foods can make you leaner. Good fats are needed to improve cell walls, which in turn are better able to metabolise insulin.  When I want to burn more body fat, I increase my essential fatty acid intake.
  5. Your brain needs fat. Our brains are around 60 per cent fat and need the Omega 3 fat DHA to spark communication between cells.
  6. Nuts, seeds and avocados are three foods that are packed with healthy fats (essential fatty acids).
  7. Healthy fats are vital for skin, hair and internal organs AND help to moderate our body temperature.
  8. Hydrogenated fat or trans-fat found in convenience and processed food is not good for you at all.
  9. The benefits of healthy fats are not just physical as Omega 3 fat can help to combat depression.
  10. Organic coconut oil is a source of healthy saturated fat.  It is the only thing I ever put on my skin as a moisturiser and one of my favourite things to cook with.

    Coconut oil can be used for cooking as well as a skin moisturiser
    Coconut oil – a source of healthy saturated fat
  11. Essential fats help children stay physically healthy, reducing the risk of allergies, asthma, eczema and infections due to their anti-inflammatory and immune supporting properties.
  12. Essential fatty acids help prevent viruses, infections and toxic substances from entering and destroying cells.  They help prevent cells from becoming cancerous and are vital to the efficient functioning of the immune system.

If you’ve signed up to my 6-week Whole-Body Plan you’ll know that I’m a fan of chia seeds. Actually, fan is a bit of an understatement. The truth is… I absolutely love them! You’ll have also heard me say that food should be our medicine and our medicine our food. Well, chia is the perfect example to illustrate this. So, here are just some of the benefits of including chia seeds in your daily diet which are based on science and not just the ravings of a very excited Irish nutritionist!

5 healthy chia recipes from Cityline

The importance of enzymes

Before we get into chia seeds, let’s touch on whole foods in general. We all know that eating natural whole foods in their raw state, is better for us than eating cooked and processed foods. Why? Because, not only does cooking and processing reduce valuable vitamins and minerals, it destroys the enzyme component of whole foods.

Enzymes are needed for many biological processes such as our digestion, and if we can’t get the enzymes we need to top up our own internal supply, they soon run out which can need to numerous health issues. So, what can we do to prevent this? Well, we could reduce our consumption of processed food and increase the amount of enzyme-rich, raw whole foods in our diet. That’s where seeds come in. Seeds are amongst the most nutrient-dense of all whole foods. This is because all the good stuff the plant takes from the soil is pumped into the seeds ready for reproduction, so they’re a mega-rich source of enzymes. And, the king of all seeds with the most amount of nutrients than any other is chia.

The king of seeds

Take a few moments to digest the wonder of chia seeds. They have:

  • 5 times more calcium than milk
  • Twice as much potassium as a banana
  • 3 times more antioxidants than blueberries
  • More iron than liver
  • High levels of boron which promote growth and can help manage arthritis
  • Over 20% protein
  • All eight essential amino acids – almost three times more than any other grain
  • 15 times more magnesium than broccoli
  • 7 times more vitamin C than oranges
  • 30% fibre which keeps you fuller for longer and keeps you regular
  • Evidence to suggest chia seeds can enhance sports performance

Chia seeds and omega-3

We should be taking in about twice as many omega-6 fatty acids as omega-3. However, we’re taking in much more omega-6 than that. Up to 20 times more in fact, and our bodies were never designed to cope with those levels. But, it’s difficult to avoid omega-6 if you include vegetable oils, margarine, fast food and the gooey sweet stuff from your local bakery in your diet. Even meat, which used to be a good source of omega -3 is now dominated by omega-6. This is because confined animals are being fed omega-6 rich-grains instead of omega-3 dominated grasses they’re supposed to be eating.

So, what does omega 6-and omega-3 do for us? Our bodies have a natural inflammation setting which kicks in if we have an injury. This is followed by anti-inflammation which heals the wound. The inflammation response is triggered by omega-6 whereas omega-3 takes care of the anti-inflammatory response. If we have 10 times more omega-6 than omega-3 we get all kinds of local and systemic inflammation which is now linked to all major degenerative diseases. Where do chia seeds fit into this?

Chia is the highest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids (over 62%). In fact, it has 8 times more omega-3 fats than the equivalent weight in salmon. It also has a good balance of omega-6 fats to improve the balance of both essential fatty acids.

Endurance runners can see enhanced performance with chia seeds

Losing body fat with chia gel

You may have come across weight loss meal replacements which expand in the gut to leave us feeling fuller for longer. The only problem is that they rarely have any natural nutritional benefits (and are loaded with high corn fructose syrup and palm oil into the bargain). So, what natural food supplement can you take to help you feel full and which is also jam-packed with even more nutrients than your average meal? You guessed it…chia.

If you add a tablespoon of chia in a glass of water for about 10-minutes, it turns into a thick nutrient-packed gel which you can add to freshly squeezed juices for even more nutritional impact. Children love this orange, apple or watermelon ‘jelly’ which puts a bit of fun into supplementing their diet with healthy stuff. I’ve also got a recipe on my website for chia pudding which gives a great start to your day so click here to check it out.

High fibre chia

Chia also contain 30% soluble fibre which can be added to high GI foods to help avoid the normal blood sugar spike associated with simple carbohydrates which are quickly absorbed into the blood stream. Try adding a little chia gel to your mashed potatoes to reduce the high GI content, or keep a shaker of chia seeds beside your salt and pepper and sprinkle them over your food.

I’m all about changing habits a bit at a time, 20% change = 80% of a difference, so by simply adding chia seeds to your diet will help you on your way to your new-found healthier lifestyle.

Before I go into what I’ve learned recently about tackling global warming through nutrition farming, prepare to be shocked. Our food contains only 20% of the nutrients the food our grandparents used to eat! This was a lightbulb moment for me. As a qualified nutritionist, I’m always on a quest to find out more about better nutrition and ways to make our food more nutrient-rich at source. And, so is my other half, David Cunningham, who is doing some great work on biological farming in Scotland.

Biological farming can not only help create more sustainable and natural farming practices, it could even provide a major part of the solution to global warming –  but more on that later!

Nutritious crops without artificial chemicals

Lorraine with Graeme Sait –
CEO of Nutri-Tech Solutions

As part of his work, David invited Graeme Sait, CEO of, Australian company Nutri-Tech Solutions who not only have an online health store but are pioneers of nutrition farming. Graeme was invited  to Haddington, to give a talk to local farmers about the company’s product development which is pretty mind-blowing to say the least. Nutri-Tech has developed a range of natural products and training courses designed to reduce the use of artificial chemicals in farming. This means we can have more nutritiously-dense crops with no artificial chemicals, while farmers get better yields, bigger profits and sustainable businesses…what’s not to like?

Here are some brief key-points about biological and nutrition farming. I’m not going to bore you with too many details, but it’s good to know more about the food we put into our bodies and what we can do to play our part in tackling global warming, so here are a few points I learned from David and Graeme.

Humus or Hummus…What’s the difference?

Okay let’s start off with Humus. No…not the chickpea and garlic dip…that’s Hummus (but watch out for my Hummus recipe in a couple of weeks’ time). Humus in the soil, as you keen gardeners will know, is the result of the breakdown of plant and animal matter and is the primary storage that holds all the nutrients in the soil together, including carbon. Humus therefore increases the nutritional value of our food. Now here’s the scary bit!

The scary bit

There has only ever been the same amount of carbon molecules on the planet and these molecules flit between the soil (the biggest storage system of carbon), plants and the atmosphere. A great deal of carbon that used to be in the soil as humus is now in the atmosphere as Co2, creating a blanket of greenhouse gases and heating the planet – in other words – global warming. To tackle global warming, we desperately need to return more of this carbon back to the soil.

Tackling global warming

We’re all aware of global warming but very few of us really understand it. Companies like Nutri-Tech are doing their bit through science and product development to tackle the problem, but there are a few things we can choose to do as consumers which will help. They include;

  • Choosing to buy our food from those practising regenerative biological and nutrition farming. This means shopping from farmers markets and more local food producers so we can gain a better understanding on where our food comes from and support those who are doing the right thing.
  • Lobby politicians to get behind the practice of paying carbon credits to farmers who actively increase their soil humus and practice regenerative farming.
  • Start composting. Everyone from homeowners to food producers and councils and to be composting more. This is being tackled to a certain extent already through the use of food bins but more needs to be done.

I really found Graeme’s visit inspirational and so much of it tied in with what I believe about nutrition myself which was great to know.  If you’re keen to find out more, you can watch one of Graeme Sait’s 20-min TED talks on tackling global warming through nutrition farming by clicking here.


Protein is amazing stuff! Our bodies need it to function, but this doesn’t mean you have to wolf down a pound of rib-eye steak at one sitting (although I do love a steak!). In fact, you don’t even have to eat meat at all to get your daily dose of protein. So, here are my recommendations for some great sources of protein for meat lovers, vegetarians and vegans alike.

But first…the science bit!

Essential amino acids

Protein is made from amino acids and there are twenty different types. Eleven of them can be made by the body… but nine of them can’t. These nine ‘essential’ amino acids can only come from the food you eat and your diet must provide them every day if you want to stay healthy.

Some foods contain all nine essential amino acids and are called ‘complete protein sources.’ Examples are animal-based foods like meat, fish, poultry, milk, eggs and cheese.

Grass-fed beef

I just love grass-fed beef! Some research would suggest that it has more nutrients than meat from grain-fed animals, includes more linoleic acid, which may help reduce heart-disease and cancer risks, and antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin E. Plus, …it just tastes so much better!

If your budget allows, shop around for good quality grass-fed beef. The Shannon family at Thankerton Camp Farm near Biggar run a farm shop and online business called Damn Delicious. The cattle at the Shannon’s farm are all Aberdeen Angus and are outside 365 days a year. They don’t need antibiotics as they’re not housed in winter and are on a 100% green diet of grass, kale and fodder beet with no impurities making the meat more tender and higher in Omega 3.

Check out Damn Delicious by clicking here.

Michael Shannon operates a unique farming system for his business Damn Delicious

Vegetarian and vegan complete protein sources

Animal-based food is a complete protein source, but there are some great plan-based foods that do the same job. Here are just some:

  • Amarinth
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Soy Beans
  • Hemp seeds
  • Spirulina

Spirulina is a complete plant-based protein food but it tastes a bit like devil’s snot and let’s face it, life is too short! If you want to try it, go for it, but you might want to disguise the flavour in a smoothie! The others on the list will give you all the essential amino acids you’ll need, plus you can add processed meat replacement such as Mycoprotein products like Quorn, which is also a good source of dietary fibre.

Getting your daily protein intake

It’s also worth bearing in mind that you don’t have to stick to complete protein foods to get your daily essential amino acids. By combining ‘incomplete’ protein foods which are good for you, you’ll get the essential amino acids your body needs and you’ll add variety to your diet. To achieve this, try combining grains with legumes, or seeds with legumes, or grains with dairy products.

For the perfect complete protein meal try my Chicken, Butternut and Quinoa One-Pot recipe. If you’re vegetarian or vegan just leave out the chicken. It’s easy to make, totally delicious and all the family will love it!

Ginger Power Bites – Makes 20
1/2 Cup Raw Almonds,
1/2 Cup Cashews
1/2 Cup Pitted Dates
1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
1 inch piece fresh ginger
Few drops of Vanilla Essence

Method:  Blend in a Blender. Roll into Bite Sized Balls. Refrigerate for 10 minutes and then nail them

Chia Pudding – a Breakfast Favourite. 1 Serving
40 grams Chia Seeds
240 ml full fat Coconut Milk
1/2 Tbsp Honey

Method:  Mix together in a small bowl or jar. Set in fridge overnight. Top with Fruit and Nuts! Yum Yum – like heaven in a jar!

Once part of the staple diet of poor people around these shores, oysters are now regarded as a luxury food. But, how do they stack up when it comes to nutrition? Time for some Nutritious Lolly analysis.

Oysters are Packed with Protein

An average portion of oysters is around 85g (3oz). 16g is pure protein – around a quarter of the RDA for an adult of around 11 stone in weight. Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth, and oysters have it in abundance.

High in Vitamins and Minerals

Not only do oysters pack a protein punch, they’re loaded with vitamins and minerals. They’re also jam-packed with omega-3 which is good for brain function and helps to lower LDL cholesterol. Oysters also contain high levels of zinc (responsible for their reputed aphrodisiac properties for men), magnesium, niacin, iron, riboflavin, thiamine (vitamin B-1), vitamin C and phosphorus. They also contain a large amount of vitamin B-12 which supports our nervous system.

Cholesterol and Sodium

An average 3 oz portion of oysters also contains a moderate cholesterol content. However, only about 25% of the cholesterol in our bodies comes from the foods we eat with the other 75% being made by the body itself so it’s important to get things in context. Also, the omega-3 content in oysters can reduce bad cholesterol in the blood stream and stop it from binding to blood vessel and artery walls. In this way, it reduces the chances of plaque accumulation and a variety of health complications, including cardiovascular disease.

Oysters also have a high sodium content – around 8% – no great surprise to those of you who’ve eaten them raw and think they taste of nothing but sea water. The high sodium content combined with the extremely high mineral content is why oysters should be eaten in moderation. But, if the truth be told, they’re too expensive to include in your daily diet anyway!

Potassium and Magnesium

The high potassium and magnesium content of oysters can help lower blood pressure and relax the blood vessels, thereby increasing circulation and oxygenation of the blood. This in turn reduces the strain on the cardiovascular system. Finally, the vitamin E in oysters increases the strength and flexibility of cellular membranes, which is a third level of protection against dangerous heart diseases.

Zinc and Iron

The high levels of zinc in oysters help wounds to heal more quickly and boosts the immune system against various infections and microbes (and did I mention the aphrodisiac properties…woohoo!). They are also a very impressive source of iron, with more than 90% of our daily requirements in each serving. Iron is a key component in forming red blood cells in the body. It is also the primary defence against anaemia, which can lead to fatigue, cognitive malfunction, stomach disorders, and general muscle weakness.

Mercury – the Silver Elephant in the Room

Although I’m bigging-up the nutrients in oysters, it’s important to also talk about the elephant in the room – mercury. Mercury, when consumed in large enough quantities can cause brain damage, so it’s ironic that fish which contains a high level of omega-3, which is good for brain function, may also contain a substance that can have the opposite effect. However, it’s good to get things in proportion. Whereas large sea-caught, carnivorous fish such as swordfish can sometimes contain more mercury than is healthy (depending on where they’re caught), farmed oysters should contain little, if any. Also, if the digestive system contains good levels of gut flora, it will nullify any effects of mercury. This is a great argument for taking a good quality pro-biotic regularly.

In an Oyster Shell

In summary, oysters are the perfect protein and mineral-packed food. They make a welcome addition to your diet when eaten in moderation. If, however, you already have a heart problem then the high sodium content could be an issue so they may be best avoided. Also make sure your oysters are from recognised oyster waters or, better still, from an oyster farm which means you can eat them raw or cooked according to your preference.

A barbecue is the perfect way to enjoy socialising with friends and family and making the most of the warm weather. Here are my tips for barbecuing the healthy way. I’ve also included some barbecue recipes and watch out for more being added to my website in the coming weeks.

Choosing your barbecue grill

First up in our quest for eating al-fresco is to look at the age-old gas v charcoal debate. Research has shown that unless you’re going to be cooking something for hours at a low temperature, to get that ultimate smoky flavour, there’s not a huge difference in taste whether you cook on gas or over charcoal. So, it comes down to personal preference. However, gas barbecues, although cheaper in the long run, do cost more to buy initially so if you’re a barbecue virgin you might want to start off with a mid-priced charcoal barbecue and see how it goes.

You might also pick up a pre-owned grill from Gumtree or eBay from someone who thought barbecuing was a good idea at the time, but singed their eyebrows once too often. For the purposes of this article I’m going to stick with the good-old fashioned charcoal Barbie and recommend that you invest in one with a lid you can close for even-cooking.

Healthier fuel

Choosing the Right Charcoal

You’re going to need some charcoal and there are basically two kinds – charcoal briquettes and lumpwood charcoal. What’s the difference? Well, charcoal briquettes are the little ‘pillow-shaped’ pieces of charcoal. On the other hand, lumpwood charcoal looks like charred bits of wood…because that’s exactly what it is. Briquettes have fillers added and chemicals to make them burn longer whereas lumpwood is simply carbon with no fillers added. Although lumpwood charcoal is a bit more expensive and doesn’t burn for as long, I think it’s a healthier way to barbecue, so I’m willing to pay a bit more for it. You can buy both kinds of charcoal at local DIY stores and petrol stations, but if you want to push the boat out and go for the restaurant-grade lumpwood charcoal you can you can buy it online.

Lighting Your Fire

So now you have your charcoal…how are going to get it to burn? Again, there are all sorts of firelighters on the market and gels that you can buy from your local store, but they smell like petrol and can often taint your food…never a good thing. There are healthier options available however. Wood wool is like the stuff used to pack wine boxes. It comes in little rolls which are easy to light and will burn for ages to get your barbecue going. Brands include If You Care – a totally natural biomass products which has no smell, won’t taint your food and are available online.  Oh, and remember to buy a gas BBQ lighter – so much easier than using matches!

Perfect Barbecue Food

Now for the interesting stuff – the perfect barbecue food. You can cook most food products on a barbecue – it’s just another way of grilling. But, there’s something special about the flavour and succulence barbecuing adds to a dish, not to mention eating in the open air, that makes it so special. I’ll add more dishes to the barbecue section of my website but here are some to get you started.

Quick tip – Wipe your grill with some olive oil before cooking which will make your food less likely to stick. Also make sure your flames have died down and you cook over the glowing white embers for the best effect.

Homemade Beef Burgers

My homemade beef burgers are easy and quick to make. Serve them on brioche buns or on their own with a dollop of homemade burger sauce, a side portion of potato salad and corn on the cob.

Barbecued Corn on the Cob

Corn on the cob is delicious barbecued and so simple.

Vegetable Kebabs with Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

Barbequed vegetable kebabs with balsamic vinaigrette dressing make a delicious main course or side dish and are so easy to prepare. If you decide to use wooden skewers instead of metal ones make sure you soak the skewers in water beforehand so they don’t burn.

Barbecued Pineapple with Cinnamon

Totally delicious when served alongside steak, burgers, chicken and of course gammon steak for a bit of a retro touch. Click here for my recipe.