Uncommonly Raw

“Life is short and precious! Wake up and appreciate the beauty in this moment! Be adventurous: dance, play, love and respect nature and the harmony of all things! Be part of the solution – one bite at a time!”

The quote above resonates so well with us and including it here gives us a chance to express our gratitude for one of those less common companies that not only blazes a trail, but maintains both ethics and passion in pursuit of their goals. The company is Inspiral who sadly have seemingly been a victim of their own success, and are about to hang up their aprons and make way for others who, quite probably have been inspired by them (although possibly don’t put quality first). We have also been inspired by Inspiral through their products such as raw crackers and desserts, as well as the exciting meals at the café they used to run at Camden Lock in London.

We draw inspiration from many different sources and either sprinkle it into our own creations, or the opposite: we take a recipe and adapt it (usually to suit the ingredients we have in our fridge!) It always feels like a privilege to inspire others and we realised that as the summer gave us so much bounty, this post would be a good spot to highlight one or two of the foods we’ve really enjoyed and continue to enjoy, and who knows, some new ideas might be triggered as a result; we certainly hope so!

We could easily wax lyrical about the abundance of beautiful fruit this year .. the berries (we’re still picking blackberries), locally grown figs and now dozens and dozens of apples, but they’ve been so spectacular just as they are that we’ve mostly just enjoyed them in all their natural glory. Having said that, berries in particular often make it into a smoothie for breakfast and are delicious when paired with frozen banana to make a ‘quick blend’ ice cream. But there have been plenty of vegetables that we’ve welcomed multiple times into our meals and some of them are not so well known as ingredients eaten raw, so here are one or two that fall into that category.

Cauliflower is becoming increasingly well-known in the plant-based and paleo world as offering a different approach to traditional rice dishes, or as mash and even pizza bases, but we’ve also found that it works well in salads, ground up fairly small with other firm vegetables such as carrot, fennel, chilli pepper and then coated in a lemon tahini dressing. This is a super quick salad and pretty flexible with respect to ingredients. Not surprisingly, a meal like this works just as well with broccoli instead of cauliflower, but they aren’t the only cruciferous vegetables that lend themselves well to this quick and easy salad; we’ve just discovered kohlrabi … how did we both manage to miss out on it for so long?? Sliced kohlrabi also teams up very nicely with sliced apple and a sour cream-type dressing (for which we use cashew nuts).

If you’re keen to have grains but don’t fancy oats for dinner, and especially if you’re wanting to avoid gluten, have you tried raw sweetcorn? It’s sweet, juicy and slightly crunchy, so perfect in a leafy salad, but equally, corn kernels, blended with coconut milk and Thai spices make a pretty spectacular soup. We usually use hot water to make our soups unless keeping cool is desirable; a chilled pea and fresh mint soup was a favourite on some of the really hot days of the summer.

Raw Beetroot Hummus

It still takes us a little by surprise when we’re asked whether or not beetroot can be eaten raw; it’s our preferred way to eat it. A ruby red salad made with grated beetroot and carrot, apples, raisins, coriander and walnuts is a feast for the eyes as well as a wonderful sweet and crunchy salad. But as the weather is cooling, there’s another way to enjoy raw beetroot; as a hummus with a baked sweet potato! Sweet potatoes (unlike their more familiar relatives) can be eaten raw, and we do make soups with raw sweet potatoes, but we’ve never set out to be exclusively raw, our aim is to find ways of enjoying minimally altered natural wholefoods, and this recipe hits the mark! The hummus is both sweet and spicy owing to the beetroot and the addition of cumin and chilli, and along with a sweet potato, we have simplicity and luxury all on one plate.

If you’d like to find out a little more about raw food (or indeed, if you’re already a fan!), there’s an event which might appeal called !Raw! Eat Your Way to Health at Spark York at the end of this month. It’s a meal, provided by York Nurturing Community, preceded by a talk given by us! Details are here.

As always, we’re happy to hear from you if you want to get in touch.

~ Annette & Graham

Talking, Broadcasting …and Fatigue

What a memorable summer this has turned out to be .. because of the weather! How often do we get to say that? As well as enjoying the sun, buying fabulous produce and growing some of our own to put truly fresh fruits and vegetables on our plates, we’ve also engaged in something we really value: sharing our passion with others.

Seeing just one person become inspired to make some changes is incredibly rewarding, so perhaps not surprisingly, having the chance to reach more people at one time is an opportunity we typically grasp with enthusiasm. We’ve talked this summer to various groups about a range of our favourite topics: the three ‘M’s for managing stress better, herbs & spices, nuts & seeds, fruits & vegetables, living the sweet life without refined sugar, and the why and how of eating mainly raw food. The groups have been as small as 3 (great for interaction) to groups of 30+ and the most recent one may have reached a larger audience still .. but that depends on how many people listen to BBC Radio Humberside’s Culture Evening* programme which last week was all about food, and Annette had the good fortune to be interviewed about our food and why we do it!

We continue to extend our range of talks, and are keen to keep doing it. Please do get in touch if you know of a group that might appreciate having us as guest speakers, whether in the workplace or at a more social gathering. The Henry Talks page covers the sorts of areas we love to talk about.

*Here’s the link to the BBC Humberside programme for anyone interested in listening. It was played in two parts, the first at around 1 hour 33 minutes in and again 2 hours 40 minutes in. There are still a couple of weeks left to listen.

Resolving endometriosis through food is spectacular, but when Graham used the same way of eating and lost a significant amount of weight, the results were spectacular and highly visible! There’s more on this in the radio broadcast.





Finally, Annette is privileged to be involved in the Salus Fatigue Foundation’s endeavours to go national. The Foundation which started in the West Midlands, established for people with ME / CFS and other related chronic conditions is establishing a group here in York. Annette is the volunteer support group facilitator and it is hoped that the workshops, educational classes and special events that have been so well received in Birmingham and the West Midlands will grow from this. The first group will be on Thursday September 20th at 11.00am and will be in room 6 at the rather fabulous Explore Library at the Burnholme Centre.  Please pass this on to anyone who might it find it useful. For practical information, Annette can be contacted via annette@salus.org.uk Salus have a presence on Facebook and Twitter.

All Things Bright & Beautiful

If you’re not old enough to remember the summer of 1976, it really doesn’t matter because the summer of 2018 is proving to be pretty spectacular, and highly reminiscent of that season over four decades ago. Whilst ‘playing out’ had all of our attention back then, this year’s summer is wowing us with its colourful magnificence and wonderful edible produce.

It’s the edible produce that we want to talk about here, and not just because it’s the foundation of the food we eat ourselves, as well as the lunches we provide for guests, but also because we’re starting to really understand the immense value of these natural foods. If you watch TV, you’re likely to have noticed that in the past couple of months both of the major channels, BBC1 and ITV have had a thing or two to say about diabetes and carbohydrates: The Big Crash Diet Experiment – BBC1, The Truth About Carbs – BBC1 and the ITV documentary The Fast Fix: Diabetes. It was encouraging to see pretty unequivocal evidence of the role of ‘modern’ foods in creating or contributing to chronic illness, primarily type 2 diabetes. Less inspiring was the limited (or almost total lack) of references to the scope and excellence of natural foods. Whilst that part is disappointing to us, it’s not a criticism levelled at those who created and contributed to these programmes, they were, in fact pushing boundaries by revealing that diabetes can be reversed, and without medication.

The lack of reverence for natural food is cultural; we’ve had decades of the promotion of pre-packaged, convenience, processed foods whilst natural, just-as-they-are fruits and vegetables have been left to wither in the public consciousness with no marketing budget to sustain them. But there are signs of a revival, plant-based foods are capturing the imagination and for a variety of reasons, all of them uplifting, but based at least in part on what we no longer want: poor health, damage to the environment and massive commoditization of animals. This approach can leave us feeling that it’s all about ‘giving up’, ‘doing without’ and a loss of pleasure. Research and knowledge has come on in leaps and bounds since we as a species were eating only whatever was naturally available to us, and we do now know that fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices are immensely beneficial to our health but in all likelihood, the ‘natural food’ story is far more exciting than the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that we are aware of.

In order to adapt to modern life with all its rapid change, perhaps we need to fall in love again with what we’ve always had; think of the ‘plain’, quiet boy or girl at school who reappears as a vibrant and self-assured adult with revelations and insights about life that have us captivated. This could be our new relationship with natural food. We almost forget that natural foods of all kinds, but especially plants, have sustained humanity since the very beginning; if they weren’t ‘that good’, we wouldn’t be here! Unlike the analogy above, it isn’t the food that’s changed, it’s us, or at least our knowledge, the knowledge (proof?) we seem to need to convince ourselves that these are appropriate foods to eat. And the sooner we recognise the arrogance of our constant evaluation of nature along with our compulsion to deconstruct and then extract whatever we deem to be a key factor, the better. Every item of natural, plant-based food operates as a symphony that our bodies know exactly how to appreciate (providing they aren’t in a state of disharmony), and it always has done.

Has science revealed everything we need to know about natural food? We can be confident that it hasn’t. So while the research continues, revealing perhaps only a fraction of what nature knows, eat those brightly coloured vegetables and luxuriate in the fabulous sun-drenched fruits that are so abundant at this time of year; they’ve kept us alive and thriving as a species, we’re still here, because they are ‘that good’.

Raw Food Lunches

Most of us know a thing or two about the potential improvements to health from eating more plant-based foods, and increasingly, we’re recognising the wider positive impacts of eating this way, so there’s no better time than right now to get excited about trying more plant-based meals.

We offer 3 course raw lunches for up to 4 people here at Derwenthorpe. Our aims are to create dishes first and foremost that are enjoyable – some of our guests come exclusively for the pleasure of trying imaginatively prepared dishes, but just as importantly we want to inspire those who wish to be inspired, whether their question is ‘Why eat more plants?’ or ‘How do we do it?’ Feedback from guests would suggest that this is indeed happening:

“Thank you both for the tastiest meal I’ve ever eaten. The colours, smells and textures of the stunning dishes you placed before us will live long in my memory.”

“I would thoroughly recommend lunch at Annette and Graham’s, for the vibrant food, charming mentors and the knowledge and experience you can take away with you.”

“This is not just eating, this is becoming enchanted by a feast for the senses!”

“Boy if only I could bottle the motivation and enthusiasm that I feel when I have spent time with you both!”

The full testimonials and others not included above can be found here.

Please contact us  either to find out more, or to make a booking with us.

When Sleep is Elusive

Whilst it’s good form to start a piece of writing with an appropriate introduction, I’m keen to get in quickly with an assurance that this piece will not contain veiled criticism of the nation’s poor ‘sleep hygiene’; we mostly know about the downsides of blue light from our devices late at night .. and for that matter, being up late at night when going to bed would work better. We even know about the effects of caffeine and alcohol, and we likely have an idea about the ideal temperature of a bedroom. Whether or not we take all of this on board, sleep, sometimes continues to elude us and it’s affecting huge numbers of us, so what might be behind it?

It’s our assertion that the epidemic of impoverished sleep has much to do with modern life; that multiple aspects of the way we live (some of them completely out of our control) impact our homeostasis, or in other words, take us out of our natural balance and for some of us, one of the most noticeable casualties is our ability to sleep. If sleep challenges are indicative of an imbalance, then I too must confess to being ‘unbalanced’, and my sleep story over the last couple of decades resembles a roller coaster with some very pronounced dips.

I’ve ‘resolved’ insomnia before, only to discover that when it recurred more recently, the previous solution wasn’t what was needed now, at least not for falling back to sleep. Sleep deprivation makes optimism and ambition more than a little challenging and yet I have flashes of both as I work at uncovering the root cause(s) of my sleep problem. I cannot deny that I’m extremely fortunate not to be doing this alone; Graham is interested and tireless in his efforts to help and there are signs of progress. It seems I may ultimately be grateful that this experience has highlighted something I needed to address.

The Power of Nature for Sleeping Better Class then, is less about the well-known remedies (although they will get a mention), and more about the areas to look to do the detective work for bringing the body back into balance and maybe even turning the trial of insomnia into a ‘gift’, at least with the benefit of hindsight.

  • Graham and I will provide information about food and supplements, including relevant research linked to sleep. Graham is both qualified and well-versed in answering questions about food and supplements for sleep-related matters.
  • We will also highlight the relevance of stress-reduction for improving sleep, or coping better with not sleeping; my experience of teaching meditation plus the direct experience of applying it to my own circumstances may prove to be relevant to others.
  • Essential oils have multiple benefits in respect of sleep whether to induce a relaxed state to make sleep more likely, to lend support in re-balancing the body, or as a means to replace the more toxic substances that impact us on a daily basis with something that works much better with our physiology. We are very pleased to be handing over to April Birch for this part of the class. Her commitment to essential oils comes not just from working with them, but most importantly from using them for herself and with those she loves.

The class details are here. Please do get in touch if this of interest to you. 

~ Annette Henry

Life isn’t always a bed of roses, but it may still prove to be spectacular!

What We Bring To The Table

For a whole variety of reasons recently, we’ve had cause to put the spotlight on what we value and why. It never seems good enough to simply reduce or eliminate something that we know to be detrimental to us, in fact the prospect is dismal and uninspiring. Human beings need the reward of progress, achievement and perhaps above all, the creativity to pull it all together. It’s this part that fires us up and which we love to share with others, so that they too can be fired up about looking at new and creative ways to be well or contribute to a more naturally balanced world.

We almost certainly know by now that sugar, especially refined sugar, is one of those things that should ideally be reduced if not avoided altogether. The latter in particular, however, is especially challenging and for most of us unnecessary as long as we find ways of making sweet foods differently, better, in fact! This is the basis for this Pay As You Feel class in which we will talk about solutions to avoiding the white stuff in favour of more natural and even nutritious ingredients. It is worth noting too, that in the process of creating better desserts and sweet things, we also quite naturally make them free from dairy and gluten. Click here for more information about the class on Saturday 14th April.

Creativity in the context of resolving sleep difficulties may seem less obvious than creative approaches to dessert-making, but for Annette in particular, this has become a necessity which has ultimately had some significant rewards. We’re delighted to be hosting this new class on May 12th alongside April Birch. She will demonstrate the power and significance of essential oils in respect of supporting both day and night-time balance for achieving better sleep. We will also take this approach, in our case by looking at food and mind-related approaches not just for getting better sleep, but also for those times when sleep doesn’t happen, no matter what. There are more details including how to book by clicking here.

Very recently we’ve got rather ‘wrapped up’ in the whole issue of packaging, waste, plastic and other single-use materials. As a birthday was approaching, the prospect of wrapping paper, some of which is unrecyclable due to plastic coating and other materials, seemed decidedly unappealing. So we set about looking at ways to do this differently and decided the Japanese way of wrapping might well be the ideal model for doing something more beautiful. The only potential challenge appeared to be that neither Annette nor Graham are adept with a sewing machine … and we did say beautiful! The answer for us came from Annette’s sister Jane who is both ‘can do’ and talented such that she now has a bit of a production line which we are proud to be making available for others like us who don’t have an affinity with needles and thread, but do like the prospect of enhancing a gift with something attractive, more tactile and reusable (at least for the recipient). Does wrapping like this appeal to you? Would you consider answering the super short poll in this link?

Finally, we wanted to draw attention to our Power of Plant-based Food classes. We ran a number of these last year under the heading The Power of Natural Food and noticed that sometimes they were well suited to individuals with specific requirements and who preferred the intimacy of a private class rather than a group setting. In most such cases participants have known what needs to be addressed, but are not always clear on ways to do so. These classes for one allow us to attend specifically to the individual and their wishes through both information and inspiration about food and the opportunity to enhance this by having lunch with us. We bring something different ‘to the table’; we aren’t medical practitioners or nutritionists and we can’t heal you, but we believe that you can heal yourself with a helping hand and exciting ideas based on our own experiences and extensive knowledge acquired over a number of years. The link here is for a class in our calendar. The format is similar for a tailored option.

Do please get in touch in any way that suits you if you want clarification on anything. We would love to hear from you!

Creative & Reusable

The combination of an impending birthday, and the not-so-suprising news that a lot of wrapping paper cannot be recycled made me stop and think. Plastic coatings, shiny foil, glitter and of course sellotape all contribute to the unsuitability of wrapping paper for recycling once the present is unwrapped and then, as it can rarely serve any other useful purpose, it’s destined for landfill. When David Attenborough demonstrated that our blue planet is now a speckled one, and that the speckled bits are plastic which is harming our marine life and working its way into our food chain, lots of us took notice, and the uplifting news is that this hasn’t simply become a hand-wringing response; people are taking action!

Graham and I are keen to phase out wrapping paper from our lives, and we know just the person who can help us, my sister, Jane. Within two days of mentioning the idea, a prototype landed on our door mat. This is material wrapping, two-sided cloth which can be used in all sorts of creative ways, not just to wrap gifts, but for other things too. The Japanese already do it and are seemingly very adept with a single square of decorative cloth. In Japan it’s known as Furoshiki (with the emphasis on the ‘o’ in the middle, in case you want to drop it into conversation!) We’d like to make it more widely available either by inspiring people to make their own, or for those like me with an allergy to sewing machines, to be able to buy, knowing that anything wrapped this way is an enhanced gift which also makes a statement.

Do let us know what you think. The poll is the very short kind …yes, no, maybe, and you’ll find it by clicking on the ‘Contact Us’ button below this photo. Thank you!

~ Annette Henry

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Living The Sweet Life

With sugar having such prominence in modern life, we’ve put together a class that looks at how it happened and why it’s so pervasive and challenging to us. Much of this is already known; the tricky part is figuring out ways to take more control of it and examining other options, especially if we do still want some sweetness in our lives (and most of us do!)

There are details in the poster below. Click on the image for more information, or you can access it via the Facebook Event

Don’t Panic!

For those of us who like to keep an eye on seasonal, locally grown produce where possible, early March can be a little demanding when you live in the North of England; in other words, there isn’t much! And it gets a little bit more ‘interesting’ still when a blast of cold air comes in from Siberia and paints the landscape white, such that getting to any shops takes a little more planning and once you’re there, will the shelves be as well stocked as we’ve come to expect? Not only might the transport of goods be delayed, but there’s the knock-on effect of panic buying; we’re no longer used to not having the option to buy food 24/7 and we don’t much like it.

At the risk of sounding a little smug, we were very well prepared for the reminder from nature that it can slow us down and change our plans. But this actually wasn’t a case of foresight and planning, it was more a case of it happening to be the way we do things and then realising afterwards that it had served us well.

Red Cabbage Sauerkraut, Carrot, Coriander & Poppy Seed, and Crunchy Salad with Arame

Part of our food evolution has given us a heightened interest in fermenting food and drinks, meaning that there’s pretty much always some kimchi or sauerkraut on the go these days which is essentially value-added cabbage as a minimum (there’s rather more in kimchi). And it isn’t just the nutritional and probiotic highlights, this stuff can be really tasty. If you haven’t ever tried sauerkraut with cumin seeds, it really is worth giving it a go, especially when fresh produce may be a little harder to come by, or just in short supply in the fridge! 


Sprouting chickpeas, lentils & sunflower seeds

For a longer time now, we’ve been growing seed and bean sprouts, so that’s fresh food grown in our kitchen. They’re a real bonus on those days when you go to the fridge and realise that you’re going to have to be really creative with its minimal contents. Bean and seed sprouts extend the options, and sometimes even form the basis of something quite special; we’ve finally discovered a thoroughly enjoyable hummus made with sprouted chickpeas, and on a cold day, we have lashings of it with a baked sweet potato …we never said we were 100% raw. Sprouts are incredibly nutritious and it takes so little effort to grow them. If you like the idea but would appreciate a bit more motivation, maybe broccoli seeds would be a good place to start; they have wow factor!  

Both of the above are easy to do .. certainly easier than we used to think they were, but there’s something that’s easier still and so worth having in the store cupboard and that’s seaweed; nori, wakame, arame etc. It may take a little while to accommodate the taste (if you don’t like it already), but it’s rarely eaten in splendid isolation, so it needn’t be the focus of a meal. Seaweed can seem a bit pricey, but there’s often more than meets the eye; some varieties have to be rehydrated but this means that within minutes, you have green, brown, or red sea vegetables which really do have such a lot to offer!

Nori Rolls, Cashew Mayo, and Seed Sprouts

Seaweed is a very mineral rich food, typically containing minerals such as iodine, zinc, calcium, magnesium and when it claims to offer magnesium, it probably really does; soil depletion appears to have turned many of our other high magnesium foods into moderate or low magnesium foods, and deficiency is now extensive, estimated to be around 70% of the population at least. If you think you could be among that high percentage, along with us, then this YouTube video (30 mins) provides a clear and helpful starting point for understanding more.

Wishing you good health and exciting, creative food!

Get in touch if you want to know more.

~ Annette & Graham Henry 

York in the big freeze … not too beastly!

Taking Charge

At the risk of being controversial so early in the year, might we ask you to consider how you feel about the capacity of modern medicine to support you in maintaining or returning to good health, really good health? How do you perceive ageing and health? For us, the almost reflex response to pull out the prescription pad and address symptoms, rather more often than the root of a problem is disheartening and at times wholly inappropriate. Ageing is definitely a part of life that would potentially feel different if medicalising those over a certain age was not becoming standard practice under the apparent assumption that we need drugs, sometimes purely as a preventative measure, in order to be ok.

Fortunately this practice is starting to be viewed a little more questioningly, especially as we realise that many of our ills relate to aspects of modern life. If the way we’re living is impacting on our health, then bringing ourselves back into balance is likely to be much more rewarding and far-reaching than attacking symptoms with synthetic chemicals. Our bodies are amazing and complex and are constantly working to keep us and our systems in balance, so assisting them in this process through the lifestyle we lead, what we eat, how effectively we manage stress and even through recognition of our beliefs and perceptions can be genuinely life-enhancing at any stage of life. 

All of the latter forms the basis for how we live our lives and what we share with others, no more so than in the Class Series The Power of Nature for Ageing Well. The classes are recruiting well and at the time of writing, all three classes still have spaces available, especially class 1. If you would like to be involved in any or all of the classes, do get in touch; we’re happy to answer any questions. Information about the classes including dates, times and the venue in York are accessible via this page on our website.

Annette & Graham Henry