22 Oct

National Honey Week

Next week is “National Honey Week” and although most bees have been tucked up for the winter, quite wisely trying to avoid Storm Brian, we will be waving the flag for bees and honey.Honey bee

How do you think of honey? Is it just another jar on the supermarket shelf, or does it conjure up happy memories or associations? My granny was a huge honey fan, she always chose the finest Manuka, not for spreading, but for its medicinal properties. A cut or graze, even a small scald would be dressed with Manuka, a spoonful for a sore throat. A lesser honey would be a teatime or breakfast favourite used in the “classic way”. Quite honestly we could all learn a trick or two from my granny, she lived into her 90’s and tutted at the concept of banned food groups, “a little of what you fancy does you good” was her motto! It is very easy, as with most foods, to take honey for granted. Actually, beekeeping is a very time consuming business that Man is making evermore difficult through the transportation of diseases and pests around the globe and through the spraying of cocktails of chemicals to keep our crops healthy but, as current research suggests, is at the expense of our vital pollinators. In the last few years fields of oil seed rape have been found to have large patches left unpollinated due to a lack of bees. Beekeepers are a rare breed, of dedicated fanatics and are almost as rare as bees themselves.


The term ‘raw‘ describes honey that has neither been heated above natural hive temperature nor micro-filtered. It is simply spun or crushed from the comb and filtered at ambient temperature through a mesh coarse enough to allow the pollens held in suspension to pass through. After that, it is either put straight into jars or stored for future packing.

Left in this natural state, raw honey is a ‘whole’ food, packed with nutrients. These include amino acids (proteins), vitamins B,A,C,D,E & K, active enzymes and a range of minerals. Honey straight from the hive has been esteemed for thousands of years as both food and medicine. The anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties of raw honey are now being analysed by modern medicine, making it the subject of research in several key fields. I am a keen user of honey, and truly believe that is has more to offer us than just its exceptional sweetness. I substitute sugar with honey in baking so that I can [probably unjustifiably] tell myself that at least the sweetness is not just empty calories. I will be consuming a “super food”and a natural food although I realise that cooking does break down a lot of benefits….

So why isn’t all honey sold raw?

Sadly, bulk honey is one of the most tampered-with food products on Earth…right up there with wine and olive oil. Sold as a commodity on world markets, it is then subjected to commercial processing, severely diminishing its nutritional and active components. Blending to optimise profit, excessive heating and filtration are amongst the worst practices. This is why good honey bears a very different price tag to commercial honey, like a goof oil or wine, the care and attention takes time and efgort and time is money.

For the overwhelming majority of the international food industry, honey is purely a sweet commodity; bought as cheaply as possible from many different sources and blended to what they see as an acceptable – and endlessly repeatable – standardised colour and viscosity. It has to meet extremely low supermarket price points (making adulteration with cheaper sweeteners such as corn syrup tempting…) and must retain ‘shelf appeal’ as long as possible by delaying the natural crystallisation process.

To achieve all this, honey is subjected to a series of industrial processes. These include pasteurisation (extreme heating) and micro-filtering to remove as much pollen as possible. This is not only because pollens naturally cause crystallisation but also because stripping out native pollens removes the traceable ‘DNA’ of honey, making its origins invisible.

This allows honey from under-regulated countries to make it into the mix. These tend to be the world’s largest honey producers, such as China, where beekeeping processes can be corrupt, including routine dosing of beehives with antibiotics which then get into the food chain. Countries suspended from trading honey on world markets can get around this by trans-shipping through third parties in a process known as ‘honey laundering’.

If you are looking for authentic, straight from the hive, raw honey, you need to check labels carefully. Descriptors that should alert you to commercially blended, cooked and filtered products include ‘Blend of EU and non-EU honeys’ or ‘Blend of non-EU honeys.’ You’ll be surprised how regularly you see it.

The best way to find nutritionally and flavourfully complete honeys is to buy direct from local beekeepers, small honey producers or trusted retailers who have sourced quality raw honeys. Thankfully, it’s becoming more easily available. Artisan beekeepers in the UK and Europe, decimated by cheap imports for decades, are now starting to win back ground as more and more consumers become increasingly aware of the real benefits of raw honey – true honey.

HoneycombWe are lucky enough to have our own honey man Graham Watson, he delivers his honey by pedal power so when it comes to an ethical, local food stuff it couldn’t be more innocent.We have just started stocking his honeycomb too which is undeniably delicious served on crisp, white toast, smudging the waxy comb into the crust is a joy, as is eating it!! *Licks Lips*


27 Jun

The Guild of Fine Food



This week I used my “day off” to visit the Fine Food Show at the Harrogate Event Centre. Admittedly part of the attraction is that, on this rare occasion, travel time was literally 20 minutes (we live locally) so no expensive train ticket; also the fair opening times are a very civilised  from 10am – 4pm so no struggle with the school run!

Ultimately it’s a gathering for smaller or startup businesses, so we can find products that are just launched, that haven’t made it to the supermarkets (thank goodness!) and who really value the opportunity to be showcased by the “independents”.

I don’t usually go to a show like this thinking that there will be aisles full of amazing new business leads, I’m happy to find one or two but this year I was spoilt!!

Here’s the low down on some of the people who took my eye with an appealing stand and intrigued me enough to stop me in my tracks and connect:

Turm Latte 1 (615 x 603)-500x500

1. Sweet Revolution: This is a family company who create a range of rather delicious superfood instant drinks. I think the word instant has a rather negative connotation, but what this means is the drinks are made up with the ease of boiling a kettle. The ingredients have integrity, here’s what they say

Eating should be a joy – but it should also be nourishing too! All our recipes are created using the highest quality ingredients, with an emphasis on ethically-produced, organic wholefoods, which are delicious and nutritious, to nourish your body and feed your soul. We select the ingredients for our products with great care and take time to understand how, where and by whom the product is produced. Everything is sourced not only for its suitability for the recipe but also for all the good things it contains. They’re all plant-based, processed as little as possible and many are used in their raw state.

Who could argue with that? I placed an order there and then so watch our shelves for these great new products..

The flavours they have are: Organic Instant Hot Chocolate with Raw Cacoa & Coconut Milk, Organic Instant Matcha Latte with Coconut Milk, Organic Instant Turmeric with Coconut Milk, Organic Instant Reishi Chai Latte with Coconut Milk, Organic Coconut Milk Powder.



2. Darkwoods Coffee: The packaging for this brand is what drew me instantly to the stand. My design background does mean that “the look” of a product is important, you buy with your eyes and we re-buy on taste so packaging is important in the first instance.

Paul made me a cappuccino with their “Under Milkwood” blend – origin Brazil, India & Ethiopia. It was smooth, sweet like caramel yet with a freshness given by the medium roasted Ethiopian element. The provenance of the staff is as impressive as the coffee, Tom is a coffee expert having previously roasted our House Blend at another roaster, Paul a former World Barista Championships judge has headed up a very impressive list of companies and training teams. I am excited to collaborate on whatever level we can.


3. Love Cocoa: The greatgin-_-tonic-dark-chocolate-love-cocoa-bar_1_b85516de-34bd-4698-b789-228adbc524da_1024x1024 great great grandson of Mr John Cadbury has taken over the mantle of producing chocolate. There is a very informative bio on their website explaining the position of Cadbury and how John Cadbury set up the business to the hostile take over bid that was made by the Americans in 2010. James Cadbury is young, charming and makes delicious chocolate – I feel compelled to have his products on our shelves. He has a great ethos and his chocolate contains no gluten, refined sugar or soya and the 70% dark chocolate was as smooth as I have tasted in a very long time.

Gin & Tonic 70% bar – what a lovely combination for a summers evening picnic?


Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 13.56.334. Shepherds Purse Artisan Cheese: We already stock a number of cheeses from Judy Bell of Thrisk, however, it’s always good to refresh the knowledge and the tastebuds. Three cheeses that I will be rotating in the counter are Mrs Bell’s Blue, a ewe’s milk blue cheese; Bluemin White and No. 7 Blue Monday (developed by Alex James of Blur). Katie from Shepherds Purse also said she would come and do a cheese tasting day around Christmas time so watch this space for an event date!


DSC_85815. Nutural World: I was fed every sort of nut in a butter form by the most charming older gentleman who was positively nutty about his products. All hand roasted and ground by him, all vegan and gluten free, with no added sugars or sweeteners, no added salt, oil or artificial flavours. My favourite was Pecan & Fig, there was also a great chocolate and Carob spread although knocking the Nutella jar off the shelf might not be as easy with the children.



original_home-baker-s-trio-of-nut-pastes6. Keeping in the nutty realm I also visited The Nut Kitchen. Here was yet another stand selling crushed nuts but packaged in a prettier pot or so I thought, but this company wasn’t just another nut butter company. The Nut Kitchen mkes nut paste, this isn’t a smooth or crunchy nut butter it is a perfectly smooth paste, with the mouth feel of cream. What sets this product apart is that you can take a small pot of the paste and make your own nut milk, no sugars, no thickeners, just nuts.  The average nut milk contains just 1-2% nuts the rest is water and to get the texture and sweetness rice and a touch of oil is added, but with the nut paste here is the recipe:

20g Almond paste, 250 ml cold water, Blend – et voila you have an 8% almond drink

– you could add a sweetener if you wanted to but I found it naturally sweet enough. It was AMAZING. Add a banana or some berries and you have a nutritious smoothie.

I also found a source of Yorkshire cured meats & salami, as well as a fish smokery. I ate and drank my way around the food hall, which was obviously SUCH a chore but I’m selfless what can I say ?

So as we make another attempt to shoe horn some more new and excititng products onto our shelves – it’s already time for us to place Christmas orders, no more room I can hear Santa shouting already. It will be mincepies and mulled wine before we know it…..

10 Jan

31 Days of January

Quarmby's Veg Web_

We’re already a few weeks into 2017 and as mentioned in a previous post we don’t believe in making “New Year’s Resolutions” (as we never stick to them!) we do however believe in having new goals and aspirations – ours mostly relate to food of course!

The goals and aims don’t have to mean making huge lifestyle commitments or banishing whole food groups. Instead, making small changes every day can make a big difference to your overall wellbeing. There are 31 days in January and so it’s never too late to start.

Download our 31 day goals and aims calendar for January for daily simple (and often delicious) tips to help make your life healthier, one step at a time.

Let us know how you’re doing on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook by tagging your posts with #31daysofJanuary and #Quarmbys!

Download the calendar here quarmbys-calendar


25 Nov

Staying healthy in winter

I am pretty lucky to have naturally good immunity and it’s practically unheard of for me to go down with a cold but I think as I get inevitably older and increasingly time poor, health is the first tell-tale sign that one is burning the candle at both ends or simply not making time for oneself.


In order to combat this we have to make sure we are giving our body the best chance of staying healthy to resist infection by consuming the best fuel possible. I am a true believer in the word NOURISH, it’s my answer to Hygge the “word of the moment”. I believe in Nourishing Body & Soul when you eat. I don’t do deprivation, I make sure if I am eating a treat – I enjoy it, guilt has no place in my kitchen. This is made easier when what we are eating, whether a meal or an indulgence, is made with wholesome, healthful ingredients. This is also true of drinks.

My all time favourite winter warmer is a hot chocolate, so try this for a really satisfying and nourishing version of the classic:


Raw Cacao Quarmbys

 Serves 1

2 tsp raw cacao powder

¼ tsp cinnamon (optional – but does bring healthful properties)

125ml almond milk

125ml additive free Coconut Milk (such as Biona)

1 tsp Xylitol granulated (or to taste)



Put the cacao powder and cinnamon (if using), in a small heavy pan and add 2 tbs of the almond milk. Stir over a  medium heat until thoroughly combined, then add the remaining almond milk and the coconut milk, then stir frequently until warmed through. Stir through the xylitol and drink immediately. Tastes best when served in your favourite mug!

This also works well with just almond milk – if you use the Rude Health Almond Drink taste before adding the sweetener as it is sufficiently sweet without for me.

Another way to combat the colder weather is to get out in it and enjoy it! Wrap up warm and get outdoors. It might take a good kick to get you out but once you’re breathing the bracing fresh air you will DEFINITELY feel energised and invigorated. Take the dog for a walk, get the children looking for different bugs, birds and animals (whatever ignites their enthusiasm), go climb a hill – it’s all good and your body with thank you for it by firing up your metabolism and allowing you a restful night’s sleep.

5 additional tips on  how to stay healthy in winter

Winter walks







  • Eat well, not too much, mostly green
  • Rest is as important as play – make time to recharge
  • Nourish your body
  • Exercise – getting outside is enough it doesn’t always have to be a slog
  • Listen to your body, respect it, refuel it with thought & care
  • Then you will be best prepared to make it through winter and the holiday season on top form.