Above shot of baking ingredients and equipment
30 March 2021

Easter: Food and prayer

World Vision's Bev Jarvis-Pearson explores the meaning of Easter tradition

A recipe for new life this Easter

Do you know the tradition behind Pancake Day? As World Vision UK’s Bev Jarvis-Pearson has discovered, it’s all about using up ‘pleasurable foods’, like meat and dairy, before the period of Lent replaces it with a plainer, simpler diet and even fasting.

But, there’s a more surprising history to the food we eat as Lent ends.

Denise, 20, mixes ingredients in her kitchen
Denise, in Honduras, enjoys baking so much she's started a cake-baking business to support herself.

Easter food

In the UK today, I’m not sure many of us would associate Easter as a time for food being scarce or of cake being nutritious!

But in the past, both were true.

As food markets have globalised, whether we like it or not, we consumers have become increasingly detached from our dinners’ production. Do you know which fruit and veg are grown locally to you and what’s in season? And, these days, unless you’re a farmer you’re unlikely to know how long a good harvest might last and when it’ll begin to run-out and become scarce.

Yet our ancestors knew this only too well – and developed special recipes because of it.

A fork lifts from a slice of Armenian honey cake

The secret of Simnel cake

One of these special recipes is for the traditional Easter Simnel cake. This is a fruit cake, decorated with 11 sugary marzipan almond balls to represent the apostles (minus Judas Iscariot). The Simnel cake was originally baked at Easter as food stocks were low, and the high-calorie cake was useful to boost nutrition.

So, this Easter, you’ve been given permission to bake a Simnel Cake – because it’s nutritious!

There are plenty of wonderful recipes to follow, whether you’re a fan of the baking queen Mary Berry or a devotee of Nigella Lawson, check out their recipes and get baking today.

A small boy and girl (brother and sister, Pedro and Teresa) sit outside together eating from the Plumpy'nut paste packetsthat will help them recover from malnutrition in Angola.
Brother and sister, Pedro and Teresa eat the Plumpy'nut paste that will help them recover from malnutrition in Angola.

Milk, malt & peanuts

Boosting nutrition is something parents around the world often do.

It’s quite a few decades since I was a child, but I clearly remember my Mum buying gold top milk to “help me grow”. Instructions from the doctor, even though the creamy, Jersey milk was really beyond her budget. I also remember being given daily doses of sticky, dark, malt extract by the spoonful, to help boost my nutrition.

In Angola, a nutritious paste named Plumpy’nut rescued Pedro and his sister Teresa from severe malnutrition. Climate change has led to extreme weather where they live – swinging from drought to flood.

“During the drought, our maize crops died, our beans died. Everything dried up. Sometimes a whole week would go by and Pedro and Teresa would eat nothing but green leaves,” shared Maria Louisa, the children’s mum.

Thankfully, World Vision, in partnership with the health department in Angola, has helped to train health workers to spot when children are undernourished. And if a child needs extra nutrition, they’re given Plumpy’nut, a peanut-based ready-to-use therapeutic food. It will give them the calories and nutrients they need to recover, grow and thrive.

Little Pedro and Teresa sit on their parents' laps outside their mud and thatch home
Pedro and Teresa, can recover at home with their mum and dad, thanks to extra nutrition.

An Easter prayer

Easter reminds Christians around the world, that hope is found in Jesus.
My prayers are for hope to manifest itself in the love, care and compassion we show to others – especially vulnerable children like Pedro and Teresa.
And a prayer for you:

AN EASTER BLESSING

May the risen Christ fill your heart with joy, bring you hope, and bless you with peace this Easter.

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