CORNED BEEF WITH EVERYTHING! Lard, Bacon, Chunks of Cheese ... a Coronary on a Plate? No, Says Our Nutrition Expert, These Wartime Recipes Could Be the Key to Healthy Eating on a Budget TODAY

Article excerpt

Byline: Jackie Lynch NUTRITIONAL THERAPIST

THINK of Army grub and you may imagine tasteless, depressing stodge that would be best avoided. But, in fact, many military recipes are carefully developed to be easy, cost-effective and nutritious.

A new book, Bully Beef And Boiled Sweets, revisits British military meals since the First World War, revealing dishes and ingredients that nowadays rarely grace our dining tables.

Yet as a nutritional therapist, I can see how many of these meals do have a place in a modern healthy diet.

The book's author, James Mannion, recalls that Napoleon said: 'An army marches on its stomach.' Well, that applies to anyone who battles through daily life - these recipes reflect our need for goodquality sustenance. Among the meals' merits are a high provision of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. For example, just one serving of Woolton Pie - named after a wartime Minister of Food - provides an incredible four vegetable portions.

These meals are comforting, with such homemade appeal that children will love them.

They demonstrate not just the practical side of Army food - such as that wartime staple corned beef - but also the creativity rationing inspired.

Carrot fudge recalls the days when sugar was scarce. People still wanted something sweet so turned to carrots instead, as they have a natural sweetness. Today you can use the recipe to make healthier treats for children.

Here I introduce five of my favourite low-cost wartime dishes from the book and explain why they deserve a place in your repertoire of recipes ... ? Bully Beef And Boiled Sweets, by James Mannion, is published by Constable, priced [pounds sterling]14.99. To order your copy at the special price of [pounds sterling]13.49 with free p&p, call the Mail Book Shop on 0844 472 4157 or go to mailbookshop.co.uk.

THIS recipe, created by the head chef of the Savoy Hotel, was widely used by the Army and on the home front. It is low in fat, sugar and salt, and just one serving contains four of your five-a-day vegetable target. All that veg creates a great source of calcium - about 30 per cent of the recommended daily allowance, ideal for people with bone-density issues. The mix of veg and oatmeal also provides fibre, helping regulate cholesterol and optimise digestion. The individual vegetables have advantages too; cauliflower has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, while spring onions contain quercetin, thought to promote heart health. Costing just [pounds sterling]4.14 for the whole pie, it is excellent value. The only thing lacking is protein, so it could be an accompaniment to grilled meat or fish.

NUTRITION PER PORTION PROTEIN 7g CARB 36g (sugar 9g) FAT 4g (sat 2g) SALT 0.4g KCAL 187 BEST FOR GETTING YOUR 5-A-DAY INGREDIENTS SERVES 450g potatoes 450g carrots 450g swede 450g cauliflower 4 spring onions 1 tablespoon oatmeal pinch of salt and pepper chopped fresh parsley knob of butter, melted METHOD 1. Put aside two medium potatoes (for the pie crust), peel and dice the remaining potatoes, carrots and swede, and cut the cauliflower into small florets, discarding the stump. Finely chop the onions and combine all the veg, oatmeal and seasoning in a pan. Add water just to cover and boil for ten minutes. Take off the heat and leave to cool.

2. Cut the set-aside potatoes into 5mm-thick slices - enough to cover the pie. Drain the cooked veg, reserving the oatmeal cooking water. 3. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Put drained veg into a pie dish, add enough of the cooking water to not quite cover, and sprinkle over the parsley. Cover with sliced potato.

4. Brush over with melted butter and bake for 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked and brown. Serve with gravy (mix granules with any remaining cooking water for a lovely thick sauce).

THIS sweet dish offers an excellent alternative to traditional, fatty fudge - and could be a godsend for parents wanting to sneak vegetables into their children's diets. …