Canadian blogger Carolyn Ekins of Nova Scotia set out to lose 100 pounds eating a 1940’s British WWII diet. As of October 1, 2011 Ekins had lost 75 lb. and seems to be keeping the weight off as of 2012. Overall, she feels much healthier.
History buffs and senior Americans growing up in the 1940s may remember the WWII rationing; this national frugality was put in place by the American governent to help free up resources for the war effort.
Tires, gas, rubber and fuels were rationed, so were foods like meats, butter, cheese, certain canned goods and sugar. People became choosy with their travel and creative in their cooking/baking, such as making meat-stretching casseroles and sweetening cookies with molasses.
WWII-era England was hit even harder by wartime rationing. The Brits gave up their beloved meats and white bread and suddenly had to switch to a diet of whole wheat bread, powdered eggs, SPAM, and plenty of vegetables. A typical weekly ration for an adult included one fresh egg, 4 pieces of bacon, 2 ounces of butter and 1 cup sugar.
Once the 1950s’ arrived, people were eager to leave behind the austerity of wartime eating, but we can learn some things from the simple-living of the wartime 1940s. People reaped the health benefits of eating more whole grains and vegetables, and stretched their budgets by eating thrifty-yet-healthy recipes.
Ekins discovered that many of these simple, frugal wartime recipes are quite tasty, healthy and cheap! Some British wartime recipes speak of the times (Mock Duck) but others seem quite yummy, like “Brown Betty” or “Lord Woolton Pie”, a root vegetable pie topped with mashed potatoes or whole-wheat pastry.
If you want to live more simply and frugally in 2013, why not take a cue from the 1940s? Head to The 1940s experiment and cook up a piece of WWII history.
Bonus Cake recipe:
Heard of “Wacky Cake?” Wacky Cake is a wartime-era spongy chocolate cake made with no eggs or butter. The secret is that it’s leavened with white vinegar and baking soda. Plus, it’s dairy-free, egg-free and vegan-friendly…and very frugal!
SPECIAL BROWN BETTY
- 3 cups baking apples, cut into chunks (mix of tart and sweet kinds)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 6 slices day-old sandwich bread, torn into crumbs OR 3/4 cups Grape-Nuts Cereal, bran flakes, or raisin bran cereal
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup firmly plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Arrange peeled, chopped apples in greased baking dish. Sprinkle with the lemon juice, mix together with the sugar and flour. Grate (or process in food processor) the bread into very coarse crumbs. (The crumbs should be about the size of a bean.) Cream together butter, salt, and sugar. Add bread crumbs or Grape-Nuts and cinnamon and mix well with fingers. Spread topping evenly over apples.
Bake, covered with foil, in moderate oven (350° F.) 30 to 35 minutes, or until apples in center of pan are tender when pierced with knife. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes longer, or until topping is brown and juices are bubbly. Serve warm, plain or with cream or ice cream.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
*Or use 1 1/2 cups Corn Toasties, Grape-Nuts Flakes, or Post’s 40% Bran Flakes, or Post’s Raisin Bran instead of Grape-Nuts.
From Recipes for Today, published by General Foods Corporation, 1943.
BROWN BETTY, ENGLISH STYLE
- 8-10 slices of stale bread
- 2 large apples, grated and unpeeled
- 6 tablespoons of golden syrup, maple syrup, or honey
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground or grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 oz (1/4 cup) margarine or butter
- small teacup of water (3 oz, 1/3 cup)
- 1 lemon, juiced and rind zested
Brush a pie dish or 9”square baking dish with melted margarine or butter. Put a layer of stale breadcrumbs in the bottom, then cover with a layer of grated apples (leave skins on). Drizzle half of the golden syrup over the apples—if you don’t have golden syrup an alternative like maple syrup or honey will work well. Dot with margarine/butter and sprinkle over the spices mixed together and the grated rind from half of the lemon. Repeat the layers and spices again, and top with a final layer of stale breadcrumbs. Dot with margarine/butter. Mix the lemon juice with the water and pour over the pudding Finally, sprinkle with a few teaspoons of sugar. Cook in a medium oven 180 C (350° F.) for 45 to 60 minutes, serves 6.