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Keep calm and eat up your rations

While some food associated with wartime rationing makes the modern stomach shudder – there was an awful lot of corned beef eaten during the blitz – research by nutritional therapists and a brand new cook book of historical military recipes suggests that the meals of the era could be the key to finding hearty, healthy and economical recipes for families today.

Jackie Lynch, an expert in nutrition says the rationed dishes eaten during the two World Wars had high levels of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals – all of which provide quality sustenance to power a human through the day, which is the prime purpose of any meal after all. One meal alone, dubbed the Woolton Pie after a wartime minister for food, contains four of the recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables.

Lynch even says the high fat dishes of the day are better than some modern day equivalents.

Although the homemade sausage recipe of WW2 contains 27 grams of fat per serving, these fats are in fact beneficial to us. The poly and monounsaturated fats in the recipe promote hormone balance, increase brain function and help to keep skin and hair healthy.

The unattractively named ‘baby’s head pudding’ – a wartime alternative to the good old northern steak and kidney pie – contains double the amount of protein found in many commercial ‘bodybuilding’ shakes. Sweet rationing meant carrots were used to sweeten fudge instead of sugar, a much healthier option for a child with a sweet tooth. So far, so healthy.

But how can these recipes help us as 21st century consumers?

As food prices rise they could be one way of cooking food that is high in nutritional value but low in price. A cottage pie made using ration style ingredients could feed a family of four for £6.20 in today’s money.

Research published in The Telegraph indicates families are cooking smaller portions to combat food pricing. This could be the perfect way of filling up without splashing out.

Could cooking in a style still well-remembered by many people today (sweet rationing lasted until 1957, my Dad still remembers the joy felt by children everywhere when toffee was allowed once again) be the best way to keep both our pockets and our bodies healthy? Lynch, writing in the Daily Mail, certainly thinks so.

It’s a great idea and something I’m sure could work for many families – the budget element of the recipes is especially tempting, as is this the thought of hearty meals like Lancashire hotpot. However, I do think children are unlikely to be impressed when presented with carrot fudge.

Could you be tempted into trying a rationed recipe? If so, click here to try your hand at Woolton Pie and other wartime favourites.

Tagged with: , Food & Drink, PR Agency Manchester, Public Relations North West, rationing, rations, recipes, wartime, WW2