A Raw Food Retreat?? by Lotte Duncan

Claire and Lotte Duncan

Last month Claire appeared at the BBC Good Food Show in Harrogate to chat about raw food and Raw Horizons. Whilst we were there she was interviewed by the fabulous and funny Lotte Duncan (TV chef & food presenter) who claimed to have little knowledge of raw food and as a passionate foodie was keen to find out more. (You can read our blog about our visit here…)

Well, fast forward a few weeks and we were lucky enough to have a visit from the lovely Lotte, here at Raw Horizons. The talented writer, chef and BBC Good Food personality joined us for a 4 day raw food getaway and whilst she admitted to being apprehensive about kissing goodbye to her daily caffeine fix and living on gourmet raw dishes, she was enthusiastic about her stay and by the end of the week she was championing Claire’s raw food menu and feeling even more fabulous!

Here’s what she had to say….

By Lotte Duncan (TV chef & food presenter)

A few weeks ago I interviewed Dr Claire Maguire from Raw Horizons at the BBC Good Food Show in Harrogate. We had a lovely chat about her thoughts and beliefs surrounding raw food and I genuinely enjoyed hearing about it.

A week or so later, out of the blue, I received an email from her inviting me to Raw Horizons in Thirsk, Yorkshire for a few days at their Raw Food retreat.

I accepted, with a certain amount of trepidation – 4 days of raw food and no coffee? EEK!

My friends thought I’d be over the wall on day 2 – and I have to say I thought I would too.

But I’m quite a determined bird and once I make a decision I usually embrace it with enthusiasm and give it my best go.

So I drove up to Yorkshire a week later, to seize the challenge and encounter a week of firsts.

First time on a women only retreat – unless you count the odd Hen weekend away!

First time on a retreat where yoga, meditation and various workshops are on offer.

And finally first time eating raw food ALL OF THE TIME!

I arrived to a warm welcome from Ellie, Claire, Andrea and the team who run Raw Horizons and was shown to my beautiful attic room over looking their newly planted orchard. All I could hear outside was birdsong and the odd tractor in the distance.

After settling in, having a wander around the building (you are very much encouraged to treat it like home) and a peek at the garden and surrounding fields I had a very welcome massage and facial – with mandatory snooze!

At supper I met the other three guests staying at the Retreat. Two lovely ladies (Hilary and Johanna) who were doing a Juice detox and Munera, a fabulous lady from Saudia Arabia who comes to Raw Horizons every year, for one month to get away and relax.

So onto the food. Claire has written a super cookery book called ‘Fresh and Sophisticated’ and you eat her recipes at every meal.I ate Claire’s delicious dishes for four days and every recipe had punchy flavour, texture and interest. It’s all beautifully seasoned and lovingly prepared by Tiffany in the kitchen.

This was my biggest surprise – the amount of flavour drawn out of raw food by dehydration and the clever use of herbs and spices. This food is far from boring and I was full. So very, very full. You may not believe me, but you absolutely won’t go hungry.

Breakfast involved home made granola or muesli with almond milk, fruit and a smoothie. Lunch, which I couldn’t finish, was a huge delicious salad – again, I promise you won’t go hungry!

When the clock hit four (or thereabouts – there are no clocks anywhere at Raw Horizons) little treats appeared on the kitchen table – brownies or a clever version of millionaire’s shortbread. Supper was at 7 and involved two delicious courses – a main and a scrumptious pud.

Finally after all that eating, fresh air and walking I found myself in bed and asleep by 10pm. What a lightweight eh?

I slept soundly for eight hours a night there – I haven’t done that for quite a few years.
Was it the fresh air, silence, relaxed atmosphere or the fact my body was exhausted from digesting the food?

Probably all of the above – and the fact that the Retreat is rather magical. The atmosphere is gentle and serene and the people that run it do everything they can to make you happy and relaxed without being intrusive.

I’m not particularly lazy, but I can take relaxing very seriously and am very happy to put a day aside every so often for my bottom to attach itself to the sofa!

However, my days at the retreat involved lots of walking and thinking on my own. Every morning I strolled to a little church just outside the gates, where I sat in the churchyard and listened to the noisy spring birds. After breakfast I would walk the perimeter of the field next to the house a few times. Then I would get myself into the outside hot tub to read in the sun.

Lunch and a nap would follow, then I was up for tea and a treat with my book again.

A long walk before supper and then bed….out like the proverbial light!

Now, I’m happy to do that every day, but for those of you who fancy a bit more there is Yoga, Chakra dancing, workshops and lots more to keep you occupied.

I didn’t partake in any of them – I left that to the other ladies – but they had great fun doing it and I was happy to hear about it all from the comfort of the hot tub!

So, four days whizzed by. I didn’t try to scale the outside wall and escape. I didn’t miss coffee and I wasn’t hungry – once.

My digestion did take a bit of a battering – and more than once the conversation led to how many extra loo rolls each room had – but I also had lots of energy and felt really good. I felt vital, healthy and alert. Not sluggish or grumpy. The air was fresh, the surroundings beautiful and the countryside idyllic.

I can honestly say that Raw Horizons have really hit the mark for a place to retreat, relax and learn to take care of yourself.

Going there is like wrapping yourself up in a warm and cosy eiderdown.

The outside world doesn’t exist and you are free to ignore it for as long as you want.

And although it shouldn’t matter, it was actually nice to have just women there – we all muddled along very well together and yes, okay….we always had something to talk about!

Raw Horizons, Thirsk, North Yorkshire.

Go on, give yourself a treat and book a week there.

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