A Healthy Breakfast 1940s Style

VM0402H_moms-homemade-granola_s4x3_lgI suppose that what I used to feed the children for breakfast was an old-fashioned version of muesli. Oats or wheat berries would form the base of the meal, and added to that would be any summer fruits that we had, chopped cob nuts or even walnuts if we had them. A few slices of apple mixed in, a little honey for sweetness and fresh milk made it a breakfast that would keep them going for hours.

We had a much more physical lifestyle back then, and our diet was more restricted when compared to what’s around today. It was very important to make sure everyone went about their business on a full stomach. I never knew of vitamins and minerals and all that back then, you just kind of knew what was good for a body and that was what you fed your family.

In the winter I would add apples and berries that I had dried above the range when they were plentiful, the nuts of course kept well in their shells so we were rarely without them. We always made sure we had a good supply of oats and wheat berries at the end of harvest time. Dry roasting them very slowly to reduce the moisture in them allowed me to keep them for longer. A couple of the children preferred the flavour of the winter grains to the fresh ones…you never can tell with children can you?

During the last year of the war, the older children benefitted from the luxury of pineapple and bananas given to us by the American soldiers stationed in the field at the top of the lane. We would swap them fresh eggs and suet for fruit and the occasional bar of chocolate if one of the children had a birthday coming up. Mmmm, I remember tasting pineapple for the first time, it was wonderful. They were very generous giving away lemons I recall, we became quite accustomed to lemon marmalade on fresh bread for supper.

Of course, as time went on more products became available, boxed cereal and the like, but we stuck with our grain and fruit mix as everyone enjoyed it and it was cheap and filling.

I did eat the modern muesli for a little while, but the bag was sitting on the table and I was reading the back of the packet…it has sulphur dioxide in it. No I have no idea what sulphur dioxide is, but I know it’s not a grain, berry or nut and I had no desire to have it for breakfast. Now I have a handful of oats and a mix of whatever fruit is in the house, and nuts if we get the pre-shelled ones. Neither Edith or I have the strength to use nutcrackers anymore so pre-shelled it is, the aging process gets us all one way or another.

Edith said that doing it ourselves is better, and it works out no more expensive than the manufactured stuff. One of the grandchildren did the shopping when Edith had the flu last year. Neither of us was sure what it was in our breakfast bowls, but it looked like cat litter and possibly tasted like it as well, horrible stuff.

Well I have to go now, it’s almost 11am and the nurse is paying us a visit today. We go through this every year. They come to try and insist we have an injection to stop us getting the flu. We never do, it seems wrong to put bugs into your body when you don’t have to. We are so rarely ill, and Edith only got the flu because one of the kids came to visit with it, why would you do that? Stay home and keep your germs to yourself I say.

So, it looks like Nurse Joiner is about to be disappointed once again, that won’t please her at all, she can be very insistent can Helen Joiner. I went to school with her grandfather, I can see where she gets her brash ways from.

Alright then, I will write soon, love to you all



Granny Spear was born in a small cottage in Devon, Southern England in 1925. Married to farm labourer Ernest, she raised her family in the heart of the countryside without any of the amenities we rely on today. Using skills passed down from her mother, who had learned those same skills from her mother, she not only survived but positively thrived living a self-sufficient, off grid lifestyle. Outliving her husband, one of her children and two of her grandchildren she stayed in the cottage until 2003 when a serious fall saw her hospitalized. She now lives with her daughter just four miles from her old home. For her 89th birthday her grandchildren and great grandchildren brought her an iPad, which she instantly rejected until they showed her Angry Birds…After much persuasion she has agreed to share some of her knowledge with us about what she calls the ‘old days’

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published October 1st, 2014
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2 Responses to A Healthy Breakfast 1940s Style

  1. Garlic7girl says:

    I love listening or reading old stories from our seasoned elders. It is so rich!

  2. Annathule says:

    What are “cob nuts” and for that matter, what are “wheat berries”??

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Granny Spear! These are AWESOME articles – I should have been in bed ages ago!! Such a sense of humor! It’s like having my Grandmother tell me tales, if she were still alive to do it. Makes me SO ashamed that I spurned her life history when I was younger, when I should have been lapping it up like a cat laps up milk. My grandaughter loves my tales but they’re only different from her life in that we had no electronics (she’s so proud she remembers life before cell phones were surgically attached to humans…LOL) but we’re all so close in age – her, my son/her uncle and I – that I can’t teach her anything more than what she already knows, except I have the shame of being white in a discriminatory system, while her mother’s mother was black in that same system. It gives her quite an outlook on the times back then…… Yes, it was changed a few years after I was born, well before I knew anything like that existed, or could do anything about it, but she and I see the differences in our various lives and has been the result. My granddaughter can really appreciate her two heritages, unlike many whom it angers. I wish more could see and less could be angered…Ah, well maybe when the Lord comes again…

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