Even Crafters Like Vegetables

On a lazy Sunday morning, one of my favourite websites to browse is the ever-growing UK crafters market, Folksy. For me, Folksy satisfies my urge to constantly find something new and creative. Plus, it’s full of fun and unique gift ideas at reasonable prices direct from the person who made it.

Art and Crafts on a Vegetable Theme

During my latest browse, I discovered numerous Folksy crafters who have taken on the humble theme of vegetables! Here are a few of my current veggie favourites.

The Botanical Concept

Canvas art Three Tomatoes I’m a fan of having food pictures on the kitchen wall so I was delighted to discover the work of Charlotte Linder.

Charlotte’s Folksy shop, The Botanical Concept, includes realistic images of vegetables, flowers and fruit, all featuring her original watercolour paintings.

Among her box canvas prints are ‘Three Brussels Sprouts’, ‘Parsley Pea Pods’ and my favourite, ‘Three Tomatoes’ (pictured).

If you order soon, you could get your hands on the limited-edition print, ‘Aubergines’.

Kate Broughton

Toadstools cotton tote bag

Kate Broughton has hit on a great idea for greetings cards.

Printed with her own illustrations on recycled card, her greetings come with a pack of seeds attached and instructions on how to grow them. The cards even come sealed in a compostable corn starch packet.

Great for children, or any beginner gardener, you can choose from Kate’s Carrot Seed Card, Broccoli Seed Card or Beetroot Seed Card.

And that’s not all! Kate also has something for fungi lovers! A funky felt mushroom brooch and a toadstools cotton tote bag (pictured).

Grandma’s Miniature Market

Grandma's Minature Market crate of veg

If there’s a dolls house fan in your family, they can fill their kitchen with fresh produce from Grandma’s Miniature Market.

Crafter, Shirley Chalkley, has created an extensive range of Fimo food for twelfth-scale (1/12) dolls houses of which any farm shop would be proud.

Shirley’s crate of mixed vegetables (pictured) reminded me of the veg boxes I used to have delivered when I started this blog. Her cauliflower trug, box of mushrooms and string of garlic also caught my eye.

One thing’s for sure – the dolls in Shirley’s dolls house are extremely well catered for.



10 Tasty Tomato Recipes

Five red tomatoesTomatoes are bursting with goodness and look great on the plate, but sometimes you want to do something different than just put them in a boring cold salad. From chutney and jelly to pasta and quiche, and hot and cold soups, here are a range of tasty tomato recipes to try.

1• Chilli Tomato Jelly

Use to accompany cheese or white fish, add to pasta or bread. Packed with antioxidants from tomato, lemons and chillies. (www.waitrose.com)

2• Rosemary Tomato Tart With Creamed Goats Cheese

Tomato on a bed of puff pastry, flavoured with rosemary and scrumptious goats cheese. A great starter dish. (Marie Claire Australia)

3• Sausages and Green Lentils With Tomato

The Italian take on sausage and mash. Good, hearty, casual food. Serve in a bowl and tuck right in. (www.jamieoliver.com)

4• Roasted Tomato Soup With Crispy Bacon

Onions, garlic and bacon add a tasty touch to this sweet, roasted tomato soup. (www.waitrose.com)

5• Pasta Bake

Here’s a good basic tomato and cheese pasta bake. Add to the ingredients to suit your mood, anything goes: chicken, tuna, bacon, prawns . . . (www.utterlyrecipes.com)

6• Feta, Prosciutto and Tomato Quiche

Look at the picture for this recipe and you’ll want to make it. Make it vegetarian by using veggie sausage instead. The recipes says use ‘grape’ tomatoes, but any smaller tomato, like cherry tomatoes, will do. (www.taste.com.au)

7• Fiery Tomato and Mustard Seed Chutney

A beautifully contrasting chutney for cheese, with spice courtesy of chillies, ginger and mustard seeds. (www.waitrose.com)

8• Chilled Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

A silky smooth soup that dazzles the tastebuds with robust flavours of roasted peppers and tomatoes, and a warming touch of ginger. Serve chilled. (www.bbc.co.uk)

9• Awesome Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

Crispy, golden, cheesy cannelloni stuffed with spinach in a tomato base. Pure gorgeousness. (www.jamieoliver.com)

10• Greek Salad

A traditional Greek salad. Perfect for summer. (www.itv.com)

Tomatoes are bursting with goodness. Find out all about the nutrients in tomatoes.


Tomatoes and Lycopene


When it comes to ‘superfoods’, tomatoes are among the most accessible. They are easy to find in the shops and not prohibitively expensive like other superfoods such as pomegranates, blueberries or goji berries. They are even easy to grow – if you’ve got the space.

So why are tomatoes so special?

What Nutrients Are in Tomatoes?

Tomatoes are a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Potassium and Manganese, and a good source of Vitamin E, Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper.

As well as this, tomatoes are currently the best known natural source of the phytonutrient lycopene.

Lycopene – a Protective Antioxidant

Lycopene is a natural pigment that gives the tomato its red colour. It is also one of our most powerful antioxidants.

Antioxidants have a protective effect on our cells and are often described as being ‘anti-aging’. Lycopene in particular has been noted for its ability to protect DNA and prevent disease, and it continues to be the subject of studies on heart disease and cancer.

In response to positive results from these studies, supplementation companies have released a number of lycopene supplements on to the market. However, many of these studies also support tomatoes in preference to supplements. It appears that the combination of nutrients in tomatoes is the key to lycopene’s health-promoting properties.

Tomato Purée vs Tomatoes – Which is Nutritionally the Best?

Unlike most fruits and vegetables, where nutritional content decreases with cooking, processing tomatoes increases the concentration of bioavailable lycopene.

Lycopene in tomato purée is four times more bioavailable than in fresh tomatoes. Other products, which contain higher concentrations of lycopene than raw tomatoes include pasteurised tomato juice, tomato soup and tomato sauce.

Because of its greater concentration of lycopene, tomato purée – also known by its Italian name passata di pomodoro – is often used in scientific tests. It consists of tomatoes that have been cooked briefly and strained to give a thick liquid. The ingredients of tomato purée should be 100 per cent tomatoes and nothing else – and if you can find an organic purée all the better.

TOMATO TIP: Use tomato purée in place of sugar-laden
tomato ketchup at meal times.

The Best Way to Absorb Lycopene From Your Food

To get the most out of our food, our body needs to be able to absorb the nutrients. To get the most out of tomatoes:

  • Choose processed tomatoes (purée, paste, soup or sauces) or crush and cook them yourself.
  • Check the labels on any tomato products you buy and opt for those displaying only natural ingredients.
  • Serve tomatoes with olive oil. As lycopene is fat-soluble, this increases absorption during digestion.

10 Tasty Tomato Recipes

Recent Tomato Research:

• Tomato Lycopene and Bone Health

In a study published in the January 2009 issue of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, a higher intake of lycopene was found to be associated with a lower risk of hip fracture, suggesting a protective role in bone health.

• Tomato Lycopene and Sun Protection

Lycopene is thought to neutralise the harmful effects of UV light. In 2008, the British Society for Investigative Dermatology presented research on the use of tomato lycopene as a sun-protection aid.

In their study, a group of people who received 55 grams (five tablespoons) of tomato paste with 10g of olive oil a day for 12 weeks showed 33 per cent more protection against sunburn.

As good as this sounds, tomato eaters should not consider giving up their sun cream as this increase in protection is equivalent to a sun protection factor of only 1.3. However, the longer your diet includes good quantities of lycopene, the greater the effect.

• Tomato Lycopene and Skin Aging

Increasing levels of lycopene in your diet could also have a positive effect on the skin aging process, keeping you looking younger for longer – and who wouldn’t want that!

The British Society for Investigative Dermatology found lycopene to boost levels of pro-collagen – which gives skin its structure and elasticity – and reduce damage to mitochondrial DNA in the skin.

• Tomatoes and Men’s Health – Prostate and Fertility

Research suggests that men who suffer from infertility often have low lycopene levels. Lycopene is believed to help in the production of agile sperm by fighting off free radicals, which can damage their cells and DNA. As well as lycopene, tomatoes contain good levels of vitamin C, potassium and folic acid, all of which are needed for male fertility.

In a study conducted by Portsmouth University, healthy men who ate 400g of tomato soup every day for two weeks increased their lycopene levels by between 7 and 12%.

Regular consumption of tomatoes is also thought to boost prostate health –  important for sperm production – and lower the risk of prostate cancer.

• Tomatoes and Asthma

Tomatoes were found to soothe inflammation in the airways of asthma sufferers in a trial at Australia’s Hunter Medical Research Institute. Scientists saw improvements in lung health after test subjects consumed a lycopene-rich diet with three glasses of tomato juice (the equivalent of 1.5kg of fresh tomatoes) a day over a period of time.

10 Tasty Tomato Recipes