Well I did it! Survived the first month and was as true as I could be to a WW2 diet! For anyone new to my blog I’m carrying out another year long experiment to see the effect living 100% on a wartime diet will have on my physical health, weight and mental health.
I’m taking this mighty seriously. I’ve had baseline blood tests done for cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL (good) cholesterol, liver function (Bilirubin, Alkaline phosphatase, Gamma-GT. Albumin, Globulin) iron, Vitamin B9 and B12, Vitamin D levels, diabetes, CRP levels (inflammation), Thyroid function and the protein levels in my blood which will measure whether I am getting enough protein in my diet. These levels have been measured at the beginning, and will be repeated 6 months in and at the end.
I’m also having weigh-in and blood pressure checks every month at my Doctors surgery and will be monitoring my blood pressure levels once a week at home as well as keeping a journal/diary recording my general physical and mental health noting everything that crops up. Additionally, I’m also going to have a course of therapy to address any possible reasons that may have caused me to use food as a coping mechanism (because I’m pretty sure it’s not just completely because I like the taste of it!).
I’ve started to read an amazing recipe book by Margaret Y. Brady called “Health for All – Wartime Recipes” and I will be recreating many of these recipes as I go forward through this journey. (See my reference to NUTTER in the video above!!!)
I thought I’d share her introduction below, it resonated with me especially the middle, common sense, paragraph on page 11.
Well, I’m nearly 1/12th of the way through this 1940s Experiment. February 9th will be the end of month 1 and quite honestly it’s mostly been plain sailing so far!
Perhaps the only real challenge was my monthly get together with a friend of mine. We take it in turns to spend a few hours at each others houses one evening a month (although mostly at mine right now as I need to be home a lot for personal reasons) and I really look forward to it. BUT those evenings normally consist of crisps, nibblies and a slice or two of pizza PLUS wine! Although I did put some crisps and spring rolls out for my friend, instead I ate lots of delicious veggies/cherry tomatoes/tomato dip and some buttered baked herb bread. I also enjoyed a couple of bottles of ale (the only alcohol I drink in a full month). I gave the leftover crisps and spring rolls to my youngest (Em) once my friend left so there wasn’t any temptation! The only thing I had which was probably very difficult to get during WW2 were some olives BUT hey I had a jar in my pantry (pre-war) and they needed using up. I figured some people would have had olives in their pantry before the war seeing as…
Quote: “Iron Age Britons were importing olives from the Mediterranean a century before the Romans arrived with their exotic tastes in food, say archaeologists who have discovered a single olive stone from an excavation of an Iron Age well at at Silchester in Hampshire.”
I’m really happy how things have gone so far. I’m loving not eating loads of junk food in between meals like I had been doing for many months towards the end of 2022. I’m hopeful and positive what the future will bring.
This was such a simple and delicious recipe, especially so as I LOVE swede! (other names include: Yellow turnip, Swedish turnip, Russian turnip or Rutabaga). From the recipe I was able to make 6 swede cakes and I ate 3 of them with a plateful of soya mince stew that had various vegetables included too. The plateful cost me around 90p for the ingredients.
1 lb of swede cooked and mashed
2 oz of plain flour
1 tsp salt
Some margarine for frying
Cube and cook the swede until tender. Mash, you can add a little margarine into the mash if you have enough free from your weekly ration!
Mix in the flour, salt and pepper thoroughly.
Place some margarine into the frying pan and once hot add three dollops of the swede mix and form into patties. Brown both sides. repeat the process again to cook the rest.
I feel like I’m rapidly morphing into some bizarre Cropleyesque ration book aficionado. My compulsions to experience strange wartime combinations in my kitchen seem stronger than ever and I often spend my evenings flicking through old wartime cookery books to get my next fix of weird.
This wartime recipe for Chocolate Truffles made with mashed potato was really quite up there with some of the stranger recipes created during the war. Don’t expect a chocolate truffle texture, the truffles were squidgy and much like a Japanese dish called “Mochi”. However, I really enjoyed gobbling all seven of them down in one sitting. So, actually, they tasted alright. For anyone who missed chocolate during the war, this would have filled that gap I feel!
4 tablespoons of mashed potato
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons caster sugar
A few drops of vanilla or almond essence
Cocoa powder for dusting
Cook and mash the potato, roughly one small potato is a tablespoon of mash (I left the skins on!)
Add in the cocoa powder, sugar and essence. Mix and mash until smooth and place in the fridge for an hour to stiffen
Once stiffened roll into balls and roll in cocoa powder
Return to fridge for another 30 minutes to stiffen
I’ve been uploading some quick video snippets (watch here) of what I’ve been typically eating throughout the last few weeks (started January 9th 2023) and months (last year dipping in and out of rationing) living on WW2 rations. There has of course been lots of bread, potato, porridge oats and vegetable based dishes (as there would have been during the war) and apart from porridge for breakfast, the most frequent dish I am eating is stew! My stews contain lots of lentils and other pulses and legumes, root vegetables and also lots of leeks, spring and savoy cabbage and spinach which I love!
Yesterday I made a HUGE Shepherds/Cottage Pie (neither really as didn’t use lamb or beef but rather soya mince) which fed myself and my youngest (25) who still lives with me AND I’ve set aside another large portion for them and I have 3 portions left over! I will freeze one portion today but the other two will feed me today and tomorrow with vegetables on the side!
I’m really loving the fact that I can produce 8 large portions (or 6 extra large portions!) for less than £2 plus the cost of whatever you serve it with. The protein amount per large portion is around 25g too!
Sometimes I think I must be putting weight on but my clothes are telling me different, they are not quite as tight so will look forward with interest to see what the scales tell me on February the 9th.
Was just browsing some “Ministry of Food” leaflets and came across these three simple recipes/ideas that I’m going to try this week. I’m not sure about mashed potato and cocoa powder but I’ll give most things a go once!
I have a 6.5 litre slow cooker that has been put through its paces this week. Consequently, my daily meals have mostly been bowlfuls of stew bursting with vegetables and plant based protein as I’ve used lots of dried pulses and legumes and soya mince. Thank goodness for the weekends where I can bake and make pastry, I’ve been craving pastry all week!
I can’t imagine a life without bread, potatoes and porridge oats right now. They definitely are a regular part of my daily diet as well as lots and lots of vegetables. I especially am loving cabbage and leeks right now and tonight I also enjoyed a bowl of lettuce in bed (after I ate my sliced apple).
How are my rations holding up at the end of week 2?
My rations are holding out rather well this week. I reduced my tea to two teaspoonfuls in a teapot which holds 1 litre AND later on I top it up with water and get another mug out of it. So I’m getting 4 or 5 mugfuls of tea from 2 teaspoons of loose leaf!
I’m still only halfway through week 1’s ration of sugar, I’m only using a teaspoon a day in my morning porridge and this week I’ve not made any bread and butter pudding so have used very little. I am absolutely sure in the 1940s household, some sugar would have been set aside every week for use in the summer to make preserves or set aside for celebrations! I have also read that at harvest time, the sugar ration was increased so people could makes their own jams.
My cheese, all 2 oz of it got used up pretty quick. Some tiny sprinkles went in a couple of sandwiches and on top of a stew or two, then that was it, all gone! I’m getting through my milk as I use nearly ½ pint a day in my tea and in my porridge.
All in all, it’s been a good week for rationing, I’ve not even thought about modern food. I haven’t even taken my sweet ration yet as I think it will be easier for me NOT to have sweets in my cupboard right now. There will be plenty of time for eating sweets during the year when I feel ready introducing them back in. I know if I was to do that now it would be a slippery slope!
What have I spent on food this week?
£12.95 in Asda! That’s it!! My food all week has cost so little but that is probably because I haven’t had to buy things like Marmite and milk yet! In the months and weeks leading up to rationing my food bill was around £45 plus per week but additionally I was getting into the habit of buying junk food via Deliveroo (the evils of big town living!) or ordering pizza so add another £25 to that!
How am I feeling?
This is where I get emotional. It’s been less than 2 weeks since I started living on WW2 rations 100% for a full year. No cheating, no sneaking an extra ounce of cheese or butter, 3 square meals a day and something to nibble on in bed. I’ve really gone back to basics but tried hard to incorporate nutritionally rich foods that are cost effective, lots of greens, pulses, legumes and also wholemeal bread, potatoes and porridge. Someone who was trying to fill a belly during the war wouldn’t have been worried about carbs, in fact the addition of potatoes every day was highly recommended. I never worried about my daily potatoes or porridge and toast for breakfast as a youngster, at those times I was a healthy weight, carefree and active. I’m hoping those days will return. I want the health noise we are bombarded with in the media to dissipate.
I’ve been monitoring my health data on my FitBit to see if any noticeable changes have taken place. My resting heart rate has dropped from around 70 beats per minute to 55 beats per minute, my night time oxygen sats levels have risen, my breaths per minute during the night have dropped, my pulse rate climbing the stairs has dropped from 130 beats per minute to 95 beats per minute and this week I managed to walk to work and back twice. And today as I write this, I managed to climb the steep hill (very slowly) to the post office and stand in the queue for 20 minutes (although it hurt standing). Yes I still have the crushing back pain BUT it is less severe than two weeks ago! I do believe I am losing weight, will soon find out at my monthly weigh in on February 9th!
Psychologically, I’m beginning to feel a bit brighter. The fog is beginning to lift and I hope over the coming weeks and months to get part of my old self back again.
I remembered to charge my camera and despite the awfully dirty windows, I was able to get some photos of the some of my garden birds feeding off my homemade fat blocks. According to my memory and to my “Collins Gem Mini Book of Garden Birds” that my daughter Jess got me for Christmas, I’m confident of three species, Great Tit, Blue Tit and Marsh Tit BUT in one photo there appears to be a couple of birds perched on top of the arms of the black feeding pole that I am unsure of. Could they be Long Tailed Tits? What do you think? C xxxx
I uploaded a video on some thoughts about going back to living on WW2 Rations for a full year last night. In addition to my day to day journal/diary I’m keeping a more in depth diary about the weight-loss side so thought I’d share this video and a page from my second diary.
I’m really interested to see how this whole year will also impact on my health. I’m having bloods/cholesterol levels done on February 10th and I also have some older blood tests from last year too and at the end of the year it will be very interesting to see what has changed, hopefully for the better.
I’m not counting calories, and if I do start trying to in my head and remind myself to stop it immediately! Ultimately I don’t want to live my life counting my calories. I want a carefree existence, free from obesity, where I enjoy all sorts of food and not feel guilty about it. It’s getting the balance right and during this year I hope to work towards that.
The only time I can remember truly feeling that way was when I was around 10 years old. Every generous meal that was served at the table was enjoyed greedily and without guilt. Three substantial meals and a light supper. No eating between meals. Scones and rock cakes, apple pie and custard were devoured on a Sunday along with a smashing roast dinner and occasionally Dad would take us along to the shop when he got his newspaper on a Saturday morning, and my brother and I would have a small bag of sweets from the penny tray! In those days I gambolled around in the countryside, enjoyed walking and getting up to no good and of course pony riding.
In those days I never thought about my body shape, never fretted about what I ate, never ate until I thought I was going to be sick. Food was something to look forward to but it wasn’t an obsession, it gave me energy to get back up and go and play outside, running around the garden, pretending I was “National Velvet“.
And here are the winners of the notebooks/journals! One copy of the journal will be sent to each winner so please drop a comment below and I’ll make contact with you, congratulations and thank you for entering everyone! C xxxx