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The Benjamin Franklin Diet September 22, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Food & Drink, Vegetarian Recipes.

While scouting the library stacks for inspiration, I stumbled upon an interesting diet book . . .

I added it to the stack of books in my arms, ignoring the oft quoted adage and admonition . . . “neither a borrower nor a lender be.”

At home, I settled down to learn about Ben’s diet.

* At a young age, Ben swore off meat and quaffing pints of ale so as to have more money to spend on books.

* In so doing, he noted that he felt better and had greater mental clarity after meals consisting of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

* He also noticed that he felt better when he exercised for 15 minutes before each meal.  If the weather wasn’t being cooperative, he spent his 15 minutes leaping inside the house ~ forward and back or side to side.

In addition to the fascinating narrative of Ben’s life philosophy, the author, Kelly Wright, collected and shared a number of colonial recipes for grains, soups, stews, game, and sweet fare, including:  Hasty Pudding, Dauphiny Soup, Oatcakes, Classic Colonial Bread, Hoecakes, Tavern Bread, and Garlic and Herb Cream Cheese Spread.

Inspired, I whipped up a loaf of Mrs. Wright’s Beer Bread in minutes.

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Combine 3 cups whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup raw sugar, 1 Tbsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt.  Stir in a bottle (12 ounces) of beer or ale.

Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 5 loaf pan.

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Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.

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“Hunger never saw bad bread.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Delighted with the result, I followed Ben’s lead and leaped and leapt about.

Aah . . . that’s better! 

To learn more:  The Benjamin Franklin Diet (Book) * The Benjamin Franklin Diet (Website)


1. suzicate - September 22, 2014

I’ve only had beer bread once and it was good!

nrhatch - September 22, 2014

I like it as well or better than whole wheat bread made with yeast. And it’s faster and easier . . . as long as the baker doesn’t drink too much of the beer. 😛

2. Silver in the Barn - September 22, 2014

You’re a culinary archaeologist!! Did you eat it with BOLOG….oh, never mind! LOL.

nrhatch - September 22, 2014

Bwahaha! I thought you would ask me if I served any Proscuitto de Parma with it. :mrgreen:

3. Jill Weatherholt - September 22, 2014

Wow, everyone’s got a diet book out these days. 🙂 Have you thought about opening up a bakery, Nancy? You are quite the baker!

nrhatch - September 22, 2014

I seldom bake sweets (cakes, cookies, brownies, muffins, pies, or pastries), but we love having hot from the oven bread with meals.

Most of the time, I allow my Bread Maker to do the mixing, kneading, and baking of bread for us. But sometimes it’s fun to dive into the dough.

4. granny1947 - September 22, 2014

Excuse my ignorance…what is RAW sugar?

nrhatch - September 22, 2014

From the web:

Raw Sugar

To make sugar, machines are used: sugar cane (or sugar beet) is initially pressed and the juice is then mixed with lime to achieve the desired ph balance and to help settle out impurities. Reduction of this solution through evaporation produces a solid mass that is passed through centrifuge to get sugar crystals. It is then dried further to produce granules. This sugar is light brown in color and is termed raw sugar. The brown color of raw sugar is due to presence of molasses.

It is the most natural sugar you can hope to lay your hands on.

What is the difference between raw sugar and white sugar?

To make white sugar, sulfur dioxide is added to cane juice before it gets evaporated. This gas does the bleaching of the juice so that it does not turn brown and produces white sugar. At later stages, phosphoric acid, calcium hydroxide or carbon dioxide is added to absorb impurities. This juice is then filtered through a bed of carbon and then crystallized in a vacuum many times. Finally the crystals are left to dry on their own to get paper white crystals of sugar.

To read more: http://www.mslimalicious.com/2012/04/white-raw-brown-sugar-what-are.html

Since I didn’t have “raw sugar” . . . I used brown sugar. 😉

granny1947 - September 22, 2014

Thank you for that…I never eat white sugar.

nrhatch - September 22, 2014

I prefer maple syrup or honey to refined sugar, but I’m not a purist about it.

5. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - September 22, 2014

Wow! That’s too cool! And did the bread taste good? I don’t now if I’ve ever had beer bread.

nrhatch - September 22, 2014

We loved it, Kate. Dense, chewy, nutty, yummy goodness.

6. ericjbaker - September 22, 2014

Don’t forget a periodic jolt of electricity to improve alertness!

ericjbaker - September 22, 2014

Kite not included.

nrhatch - September 22, 2014

He had several “bright ideas” during his life! 💡

Maybe that’s because he lived TWICE as long as most of his peers ~ 84 years when the average span was 42 years.

ericjbaker - September 22, 2014

Same with Michelangelo. A steady diet of paint fumes and inhaled marble dust!

Or perhaps it was that famed Mediterranean food.

nrhatch - September 22, 2014

Yes! Pass the olives, please. :mrgreen:

7. Grannymar - September 22, 2014

I never made beer bread. I do have a recipe for beer batter and I also add beer to my home made pizza bases. That reminds me… I need to go make a new batch.

nrhatch - September 22, 2014

I don’t cook much with beer ~ I usually drink it. I do have a recipe for Beer Cheese spread that is delish. And another for a hearty Welsh Rarebit.

Grannymar - September 22, 2014

Both cheese dishes, alas I have to avoid them. 😦

8. diannegray - September 22, 2014

I love using beer in baking (beer batter is the best!) Cheers 😀

nrhatch - September 22, 2014

Cheers to Beer! Congrats on wining the “battle of the bikes.”

diannegray - September 22, 2014

YAY! Thank you. It’s been interesting to say the least 😉

nrhatch - September 23, 2014

Sounds like sanity prevailed. Always nice to see.

9. Behind the Story - September 23, 2014

What a fascinating diet! It sounds like many modern diets. The jumping around before meals is unusual, but probably a good idea–especially if someone else would do the cooking.

nrhatch - September 23, 2014

I found the book an interesting read, Nicki. Ben ate lots of grains (oatmeal, cornbread, whole wheat) with meats and sweets in moderation. He rarely over-indulged (until the end of his life as an ambassador in France). If he overate at the noon meal, he had porridge or gruel for dinner to even things out. And he exercised 45 minutes a day or more to keep things moving.

I turn on music when I’m headed to the kitchen to slice and dice or chop and drop ~ the music encourages me to dance as I cook.

10. Three Well Beings - September 23, 2014

What a fun and intriguing book, Nancy. I’d never heard the story of Ben’s very deliberate diet choices. I think the beer bread sounds wonderful. I hope you thoroughly enjoyed it. 🙂

nrhatch - September 23, 2014

We loved its whole grain goodness, Debra ~ and it toasted up like a charm. I shall be making it again.

The book is fascinating. There’s a chapter on 13 Virtues (Temperance, Patience, etc.) ~ he would focus on one a week until he cycled through them all. Then he would start again. Four cycles a year.

He also discussed how he made decisions using a Pro/Con ledger ~ a simple and effective technique for looking WITHIN for guidance.

11. Pix Under the Oaks - September 23, 2014

That looks really good, crusty on the outside!

nrhatch - September 23, 2014

Crusty chewy whole grain goodness! And easy peasy to make.

12. jannatwrites - September 23, 2014

That sounds like an interesting book. Ben Franklin was a wise man (I don’t leap often, but I’d leap for bread 🙂 )

nrhatch - September 23, 2014

The book was an interesting read ~ and the diagrams of Ben leaping about made me laugh out loud.

13. valleygrail - September 24, 2014

Very cool post! I love making bread, and finding new recipes. My bread machine is a favored kitchen aid, and few things taste better than fresh, warm bread. I will try old Ben’s recipe.

nrhatch - September 24, 2014

When we started to simplify, we got rid of the ice chopper, the milkshake maker, the ice cream maker, the electric fry pan, and numerous other kitchen appliances. We kept the bread maker.

And when it died . . . we bought a new one.

valleygrail - September 24, 2014

Oh yes! I have had one since my kids were little. I used the timer, and had it set so bread would be ready just as they got home from school. Few things smell or taste better than fresh baked bread. And the cool thing is it’s not limited to white bread. Lots of variety. But I also love quick breads. I think, after this, today definitely is a bread making sort of day.

nrhatch - September 24, 2014

It’s our favorite kitchen aide. Have a happy bread making day, VG.

14. “Hunger Never Saw Bad Bread.” | Spirit Lights The Way - April 11, 2016

[…] cannot live by bread alone . . . but it’s a start!  Here’s two quick breads ~> Ben Franklin’s Beer Bread and Irish Soda […]

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