Why you should join the home-grown revolution  

A picture to show nearly ripe home-grown strawberries

Some home-grown strawberries ripening under the sun 

Growing your own vegetables and herbs has never been cooler.

Celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Sienna Miller and even American chat show queen, Oprah Winfrey are all at it.

And an increasing number of us are following suit and deciding to get dirty and start digging.

A staggering quarter of British adults now grow their own fruit and vegetables.

A recent Which? report revealed that the ‘green finger’ growth was largely due to people trying to save money while a third said they were growing veg for themselves in a bid to lead healthier life styles.

So what’s The Good Life attraction?

Well for a start there is the smug factor when you serve up a colourful salad that started out as tiny seeds in your garden.

Then there is the fact that you know exactly what pesticides they have been spray with. (Hopefully none)!

And for those of you with young children, there are many lessons to be learnt in the veggie patch – aside from trying to eat earth and worms.

And another reason to get digging is how it makes you feel.

Those with green fingers have long known that gardening is good for you, physically and mentally.

But now it has been proven scientifically. Researchers have found that digging the earth and pulling up weeds can lower blood pressure, increase brain activity and produce a general upbeat feeling.

Even just looking at vegetables and plants growing in your garden can give you a positive boost.

So for those of you who are not sure how to get growing – here are a few ideas.

If it’s fresh fruit and veg you’re after – totally hassle free – look no further than the East Lothian gem of the Walled Garden in Archerfield.

(see www.archerfieldwalledgarden.com)

The Deli has become mecca for foodies far and wide who enjoy its mantra of ‘Seasonality and Locality.’

There is a huge range of fresh produce on sale, including a selection of herbs picked to order from its extensive garden.

For those wanting to grab a bite to eat the menu has mouth watering dishes which include garden crudités, falafel, pitta bread, olives, humus and blushed tomato dip.

Work at the Walled Garden is currently being carried out to restore the raised beds first planted over 100 years ago.

To find out more have a look at a blog by the head gardener Erica Randall – just click on blog.

For those wanting to get down with the dirt but are short on space, a window box is the perfect place to plant some herbs.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has some top tips when it comes to starting your own window box here.


If you have a garden, why not turn one of the borders into raised beds to grow your favourite fruit and veg.

Gardening expert Charlie Dimmock shows you how to build your own on this YouTube clip.

For others with grander plans, how about trying to book a plot at your local allotment.

There really is no excuse not to join the green-finger revolution, so go on, get healthy and start growing.

Cacao energy bites

It’s not difficult to make sure you nibble a bit of raw food every day.

There’s no cooking or really much washing or chopping – just good old fashioned chomping.

That’s why I know that after you’ve read this post – you WILL increase the amount of raw food you eat – especially when I tell you that sinking your gnashers into a stick of carrot or nibbling on some nuts actually helps you lose weight.

Before I get to the science bit I thought I would list all the reasons why raw is good – just to really get you in the mood.

The List

Eating raw foods leads to: 
Increased energy 
Reduces cellulite 
Eliminates water retention 
Reduce ‘bad food’ cravings 
Healthy glow and sparkle 
Optimum Health 
Oh! and weight loss 

What is Raw?

Okay so this might sound a bit basic – but let’s look at what is considered ‘raw’ food.

Well anything frozen is on the list – but anything canned or pasteurized is not. Simple really.

Here is the science bit….

Raw food is fresh whole food that has not been refined, chemically processed, denatured or heated above 48 degrees C, so its nutritional content is preserved. 

The major raw food groups include: 

sprouted seeds
sea vegetables
natural fats 

When we eat foods in their natural, uncooked state we receive  all the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and enzymes that good old Mother Nature intended us to eat.

In contrast, when we cook our foods we lose around 70 per cent of these essential nutrients.

Why Raw helps with weight loss

If you increase your raw food intake, then it will naturally reduce your craving for sugary food. Hence the weight loss bit.

Also many people notice their energy levels increasing when they eat raw – this is because your body doesn’t have to use so much energy digesting it.

Raw foods are hydrating 

Eating lots of raw stuff can help with sluggishness, dry skin and false hunger that hits us when we don’t drink enough water.

Raw foods contain loads of fibre

Fibre is essential for sweeping the digestive tract of waste – which basically means ‘it keeps you regular.’

Many health problems such as gas and bloating can stem from poor digestion, but it can also cause other nasties such as irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections, skin conditions such as acne and even colon cancer.

Raw foods contain phytonutrients

So what the hell are phytonutrients?

These are plant chemical compounds that act as anti-oxidants, immune boosters and hormone stabilizers and have huge health benefits, such as detoxifying the liver, preventing heart disease and cancer, and protecting our eyes from macular degeneration – so pretty important really.

A phytonutrient called Lycopene is found in red fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, watermelons, red bell peppers and papayas and has very powerful antioxidant properties.

Research suggests it is also effective in preventing cancers, especially prostate, lung and stomach cancer.

How Raw should you go?

Well you don’t need to be a vegan to enjoy the benefits of raw food.

The starting point is that any amount of raw food is beneficial.

But if you want to give your body that healthy kick start, aim for five portions of veg and three fruit a day.

A don’t forget to include essential fats in your diet – maybe a handful of nuts or some oily fish such as salmon.

Raw food tips and ideas

If you add a smoothie and a bowl of muesli with fruit and yoghurt to your breakfast menu and a salad with lunch and dinner – you’re already there.

There is also Raw Chocolate to nibble on – who knew – healthy chocolate!

For more healthy recipes have a look at my previous post – where I tell you how to make Ginger Energy Bites and Chia Pudding

If you want any advice or a tailor-made diet plan you can email me, Nutritious Lolly at cunningham_lorraine@yahoo.com


If you thought that eating five pieces of fruit and vegetables a day had health benefits – try munching eight – it will actually put a smile on your face.

No really, its true, new research has shown the more fruit and veg you eat, the happier you become.

Boffins at the University of Warwick made the discovery after looking at the psychological effects of eating more of the good stuff.

And they found that as well as reducing the risk of cancer and heart attacks, it boosted your mood too.

In fact, after studying more than 12,000 people, they concluded that people who went from eating no fruit or veg a day to consuming eight portions experienced an increase in life satisfaction equivalent from being unemployed to getting a job.

The well-being improvements occurred within 24 months.

So the message really is, get eating.

An easy way of upping your intake of fruit and veg is through juicing and smoothies. That way you can sneak more of the healthy stuff into children’s diets and make sure you start the day with a glow.

A few smoothie ideas to get you started

Tropical Mango, Pineapple and Coconut Smoothie

1/2 Mango

Thick slice of pineapple (200 g)

1 mug coconut water (300 ml)

Handful cashew nuts

2 tablespoons coconut milk

Juice of 1/2 lime

Optional: handful of porridge oats

Peel the mango using and cut its flesh off the stone into the blender. 

Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy

Simple Banana and Spinach Smoothie

1 ripe banana, peeled

Big handful of spinach

2 Medjool dates, pitted

1 heaped teaspoon almond butter

1/2 mug cold water or almond milk (150 ml)

Place all the ingredients into your blender and blend until smooth.