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Over the years more and more people have realized they are gluten intolerant or at least sensitive to wheat. This means that a lot of prepper foods are off limits, especially the less expensive flours. I stopped eating wheat due to stomach issues. After giving a gluten-free diet a chance, I have less digestive issues, and it has helped me lose 15 lbs over the last six months. Just cutting out a lot of bread has been a big help. I eat a variety of other grains, but I do not eat bread with every meal. My diet change has encouraged me to try other foods and make grain substitutions.
I plan on experimenting more with more grains to see what I can tolerate the best.
Learning to use different grains takes a little trial and error.
I always liked to bake. I was really excited when my future mother in law taught me how to make bread while I was in college. For years I baked a lot of bread, pastries, muffins, cakes, pies, etc. and then at 34 years old I had to learn how to bake all over again, so I feel your pain when it comes to learning to work with other grains in the kitchen!
Don’t just stash back the grains in my post for an emergency and never learn to cook with them ahead of time. When it comes to prepping you need to be in the habit of practicing and not just hoarding stuff back that you don’t know how to use.
Wheat sensitivity versus gluten intolerance
While a lot of people are avoiding gluten entirely, I want to point out that true Celiac Disease is rare. I absolutely believe that people have fixed their stomachs and some of their health issues by giving up wheat, but I don’t necessarily think it is the gluten itself that bothers a lot of us. The wheat we eat now is not the same as what our ancestors ate.
Even though wheat is not GMO, it is sprayed right before harvest so it dies back and turns the right color so it can be harvested at the same time. I think that a lot of people are sensitive to glyphosate and the varieties of wheat that are grown. Saying that you have a gluten-free diet is just the term everyone uses when they give up wheat. I can drink beer without any problems, but I cannot eat a sandwich with wheat bread. I was fed some cake that I thought was gluten-free at a Christmas event and had stomach pain for two days.
Variety helps curb prep food boredom
Just having one or two flours or grains put back is committing to a lot of the same thing for you and your family. Variety can help out during an extended emergency or SHTF. Beans and rice are great foods, but beans made chili style with a cake of cornbread sounds good too!
Having a variety of grains also means that you can cook for people in your family that have food sensitivities that may seek you out for help. If you are planning on helping out family or friends, it can be helpful to find out if they are sensitive to any particular grains.
A lot of us have plenty of rice put back. It is inexpensive and versatile in a lot of dishes. I have to say that you do need to be careful about how you cook rice if you plan on eating a lot of rice during SHTF or a long emergency. Rice contains varying levels of arsenic that while not anything to be too concerned about with typical consumption, could be a concern if it is the main component of your diet. For instructions on how to cook rice the way that drastically reduces arsenic, read my article “Removing Arsenic From Rice. ” These methods are what people in other countries do in order to safely consume so much rice. Some varieties of rice have higher natural levels than others. Brown rice has less for example. Some US growing regions have lower levels than others. This is a very important consideration for a real long term SHTF situation.
If you are concerned about arsenic in rice, you can also make sure to take some activated charcoal at times while consuming larger amounts.
Rye bread is really good. I am not sure if I can eat it yet as I have just not tried it. Rye is usually used for bread, but you could probably make crackers with it.
I really like Sorghum. It makes a delicious sweet flour and is very calorie dense. I remember when Matt and I grew a little patch and how we wintered a cow over on it. It is amazing stuff. You can buy whole or ground sorghum flour
Oatmeal is very nutritious, and it can be ground into oat flour. Cooking oats with some salt and adding jelly, butter, jam, fruits, and other mix-ins makes a delicious meal or treat.
There is a difference in quick oats and regular oats. For emergency use, I recommend using quick oats because they take less fuel and time to cook.
I really like Great River Milling because they have Organic whole grains and ground grains at a reasonable cost. I recommend buying all organic corn meal even if you don’t choose organic for all your other grains because corn is so heavily sprayed with Round-Up. Pure ground corn is very useful for a variety of dishes. If you have cornmeal and wheat flour or gluten-free flour you can make a decent cake of cornbread. Of course, you need a few other things, but the grain base is just corn and baking flour.
Grits are another way to buy corn that is very calorie dense and inexpensive. It can be hard to find them that are organic, but there are some mills that have better quality grits than others. In western NC we have some local mills that produce quality Grits. I advise looking for a local mill if you can.
Quinoa has a rich nutty flavor, and it is entirely gluten-free. It is used in a lot of South American dishes but has found its way into a lot of crackers and bread in the USA.
We have a malt house close by because we live in a region with a ton of different breweries. At the malt house, we can buy 50 lbs of barley for a low cost. It can vary depending on the current market price. Malted barley is very nutritious and can be used in a variety of soups, stews, and to make bread.
This is the barley you find at grocery stores traditionally. It is very good to cook with and easy to find. Of course, you can grind it into flour if you need to. The flavor is excellent.
The argument for buying a grain mill
Whole grains last longer than ground up grains. Of course, this limits how you can use the grain. The solution is a grain mill. There are many manual and electric options out there. Here are a few articles with different types of grain mills. There is something to be said for a manual mill for SHTF because it can be used at any time, but I have to say that it is not an easy job to grind grains or meat with a hand mill. I have ground beef we raised with a hand mill. I have also used a grain mill to grind coffee. We still have a manual grain mill for emergency use.
Of course, what is right for you should be based on your abilities and unique situation. I fully realize that a manual mill is not going to a good choice for some older folks or those with disabilities.
How much to put back?
Grains are fairly inexpensive calories to put back, but that also means it is all too easy to put back so much that you have a hard time rotating and using it up. On the other hand, grains that are whole and vacuum sealed with some diatomaceous earth and a moisture absorber should last for up to 25 years and possibly longer. Some people like to have six months worth of food put back, and some go for a year. I will say that if space is a factor to put back what you can. Remember that there are a lot of spaces you can stash some food even if you are in a smaller apartment or home.
What are your favorite alternative grains? Do you have any recipes to share with your fellow Backdoor Survival readers?
Samantha Biggers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.