An important part in the diet

I’m back looking through the 1944 ‘Cookery for To-day and To-morrow’ by Nell Heaton, a wonderful little cookery book – it actually is little, 6½” x 5½” and written in a tiny font on the cheapest of paper, now yellow with age, because of course it was published during the war. I’m looking at the section on Pulses (Beans, Lentils, Peas); this is what the very up to date National Health Service website says about them:

Pulses include beans, lentils and peas. They’re a cheap, low-fat source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, and count towards your recommended 5 daily portions of fruit and vegetables. A pulse is an edible seed that grows in a pod. Pulses include all beans, peas and lentils, such as:

  • baked beans
  • red, green, yellow and brown lentils
  • chickpeas (chana or garbanzo beans)
  • garden peas
  • black-eyed peas
  • runner beans
  • broad beans (fava beans)
  • kidney beans, butter beans (lima beans), haricots, cannellini beans, flageolet beans, pinto beans and borlotti beans

People have been eating beans, lentils and pulses for thousands of years, and cooking them for almost as long; they have been a cheap, plentiful and nourishing food for ordinary people, and were thought of as the food of the poor until now when they have become popular and enjoyed by everyone. As Nan says, ‘pulses play an important part in the diet; they are a source of second-class protein and should be used to help build up the nutritional value of the foods chosen. They can be served in many ways and make appetising meals.’

She suggests they can be served in soups, puréed if wanted, or served as an additional vegetable with seasonings, a little margarine and chopped chives, or garnished with grated cheese and paprika. I guess people these days would add olive oil! She has separate recipes for butter beans including one with parsley sauce, sprinkled with brown breadcrumbs and grated cheese and browned under the grill… She also has a rather less interesting recipe, serving them with brown gravy and garnishing with parsley, and one in a curry sauce with rice. In this section is a recipe for Boston baked beans (with a tomato sauce, bacon and a spoonful of treacle or syrup) and another curry recipe.


Lentil cutlets

  1. wash and season with salt and pepper
  2. add an onion and herbs and cook slowly
  3. drain
  4. mix together equal quantities of cooked lentils and mashed potatoes, season with more herbs,, salt and pepper to taste
  5. form into the shape of cutlets, flour and fry

Potted lentils

  1. cook as above
  2. mash into a purée
  3. check seasoning, press into jars and cover with melted butter or dripping

Roast lentils

  1. prepare as for lentil cutlets
  2. coat and cover the shaped lentils with brown breadcrumbs
  3. heat thoroughly in the oven and serve with brown sauce (made with dripping, flour, vegetable stock, grated onion and carrot, bacon rind, a bayleaf, simmered and strained)


    1. Lois

      Dad always grew peas and tehy were delicous straight from the pod – but I don’t remember eating the pods as well. When we had a garden we grew sugar peas?snap peas and then we’d eat them pod and all! it must be so good for you, all those vitamins!


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