Six Letters Re: Adapting Family Food Storage for Gluten Intolerance

James,

I found out last year I am gluten intolerant, and my little girl was symptomatic with me. In our case, we found we can’t tolerate any grains–not even corn or rice. Below are some ideas for those with either condition or who are on lower-carbohydrate diets for health reasons.

* In addition to beans, other carbohydrate-rich foods that you can store include potatoes, yams, peas, beets and tapioca. To avoid the additives found in some dehydrated foods, I have freeze-dried potatoes, yams, and peas. I also have some home-canned yams and plan to grow more. Beets are only available in regular cans. I have those, plus regular canned peas and potatoes. Tapioca isn’t as nutritionally rich as some of these others, but it’s nice to be able to have a treat and it stores well. (Most prepared puddings have problematic thickeners.)

In terms of rice, I did some research when I was eating grains. White rice is the least nutritious grain–eating it actually depletes your body’s nutritional reserves, which isn’t a good idea in a stressful SHTF situation (where the stress alone will deplete you of B complex). Brown rice is much better for you, but doesn’t store well. So I would suggest storing more corn than rice, and using rice as a treat or as a break from monotony.

* Don’t forget lentils. They aren’t used nearly enough in American cuisine (mainly soups). I have found some fabulous Middle Eastern and Indian recipes for them. They store well, and are a wonderfully nutrient dense food. The brown ones don’t always look that appetizing, so I often opt for the red ones. You can add these to tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce dishes to boost protein and not even realize they’re there. And like most anything else, they taste even better with cheese on top.

* To avoid the corn syrup present in nearly all canned fruits, I looked until I found a local store brand that uses only pear juice. (I can’t have sugar either, and won’t use artificial sweeteners.) I pay extra for a couple of other fruits at Whole Foods that are also canned in pear juice. I have also canned a variety of fruit. And I store some freeze-dried fruit instead of the dehydrated, which sometimes have some unfriendly additives and aren’t necessarily cheaper. Nice fruit is important when you can’t have a traditional breakfast. Canned or freeze-dried can be heated and turned into a compote, or put into a smoothie for a nice breakfast shake–one of my daughter’s favorites.

* Finding MREs for a bug-out bag was very difficult. One company makes gluten-free MREs, but they don’t run batches every year–so the MREs may last only a year or two. I finally found one Mountain House pouch entree that looked okay (chicken with potatoes), and opted for that, plus canned meat and pouch sides of veggies (potatoes, peas, etc.).

* Coconut flour has a shelf life of 1 year at room temperature, possibly longer if you have a cold basement. I have been experimenting with recipes and found it yields a result similar to wheat flour. Coconut pancakes are similar to buttermilk pancakes. It is not cheap ($7 / lb.) but you use a lot less of it per recipe than regular flour. Bob’s Red Mill makes some, and you can buy it in larger bulk quantities on the web. Due to the expense, for us it is a treat on weekends, birthdays, holidays, etc. But the results so far have been good, and the taste is scrumptious. It also works as a substitute for flour if you’re making oven-fried chicken or breaded things. Coconut flour is a carb[ohydrate], but it has a high fiber content (6 g/serving), which helps with blood sugar stabilization. Those watching carbs could top coconut pancakes with peanut butter (and a dash of honey or syrup), or heat up some frozen or canned fruit to make a simple compote that’s lower in carbs than maple syrup.

* Almond flour is a fabulous substitute for wheat flour, and yields results that are more similar to flour-based breads (rice and corn products tend to be dry). There are also two great books with wonderful recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (Grainfree Gourmet). However, it is twice the price of coconut flour, and is not suitable for using in a SHTF situation because it can easily go rancid if it’s kept out of of a freezer or a refrigerated environment. It is also not calorie-free. But it is really nice to work with if you’re watching carbs because it counts as a protein. For this reason, it’s my choice for “bread” for holiday meals.

* I have also had to change a lot of my condiments and sauces. Soy sauce, for example, is wheat-based. So I use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. Most ketchups, barbecue sauces, and relishes include corn syrup. I found a barbecue sauce and ketchup that don’t, and now make my own ketchup with a recipe I found on the web. I also make up my own Worcestershire sauce. It doesn’t take long, and I know it’s safe to consume.

* Since I can’t use cornstarch to thicken, I use arrowroot–and have a lot of it on hand. I also use mashed potato flakes (the kind without preservatives that lasts about a year) to thicken soups and in place of cracker crumbs in recipes.

* Where I have been put on a lower carb diet, I have had to pay more attention to protein than many folks do in their preparations. I need protein, and can’t produce it myself. So I try to have an extra deep larder of it: dehydrated eggs (for scrambled eggs), canned cheese, freeze-dried cheese, freeze-dried cottage cheese (good with canned fruit on top), lots of salmon (for salmon breakfast patties), and lots of canned meat from Best Prices Storable Foods. After Hurricane Ike, we used some of our canned meat. It was great, and I didn’t get sick (unlike a friend who at store-bought meat with lots of additives). I can’t buy canned beef or pork in the stores–too many additives I can’t have.

* One critical change has been to play to what we can eat and truly enjoy. My husband loves pineapple. So I used the internet to find several recipes we can eat that use pineapple. They’re now family favorites–and safe for me and my little girl to eat. This really helps with the sense of deprivation, which can be an issue in sticking to any diet. Focusing on these new delicious finds has helped ease the pains of missing pasta, oatmeal, etc. So for morale purposes if nothing else, I’ve made sure our larder includes the ingredients for the “family faves” that we can eat.

* For snacks, we usually eat dried fruit and nuts. I have a good stock of both, especially the nuts, since I can’t grow them here (not enough room for a pecan tree). While they won’t keep long-term, they will keep a good year and I rotate my stock. Buying in bulk from www.nutsonline.com and www.bulkfoods.com has saved me a ton of money and yet let me make sure I’m getting fruit without syrups or sugar added.

* Another snack is fresh bananas with peanut butter on them, honey optional. I have also been stocking up on banana chips–these make a great substitute for crackers. Since I plan to nurse a new baby this summer and won’t be able to eat peanuts while nursing, I have also been stocking up on almond butter.

* Instead of granola bars, we eat fruit strips (100% real fruit) or Lara bars. Since these are rather pricey, I’m learning how to dry fruit and looking into recipes to make my own bars. But in the meantime it works, and they would be great in a bug-out bag. I always keep some in my purse and in the diaper bag. (Finding snacks I can eat while “out” is very difficult.)

* For “junk” or convenience foods, we often use potatoes and sweet potatoes. We make oven-baked fries, and buy the occasional bag of chips for garnishing stir-frys or giving crunch to a soup or salad (instead of croutons or crackers).

* When sick or overheated, I can’t rehydrate with Gatorade (sugar, etc.). So I either make my own Gatorade, or drink fruit juice and eat a fresh banana. We also store fruit juice in various forms (100% juice pouches for my daughter, bottles for when we’re sick or going through a heat wave).

* I also can’t start eating again after the flu or morning sickness with crackers or noodle soups. So I make my own Gatorade and use baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, or yams. My toddler preferred oven-baked fries the last time she was recovering from the flu.

* I have also had to change our shampoo, lotions, and even over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to avoid grain products and sugar. For OTC medicines, I usually look for the dye-free packages, and these usually have fewer troublesome ingredients.

Since my 3-year-old daughter was symptomatic with me, and the doctor indicated my soon-to-be-born son will most likely inherit the genetic tendency, our whole family has switched to my diet. (My husband is a saint! He does get bread and normal food when he eats out with his clients.) With my daughter, it is much easier to simply not have “off-limit” foods in the house.

As a postscript, I found out I was gluten intolerant because I was eating what I was storing. I was subclinical–did not exhibit any of the traditional symptoms despite eating a “healthy” whole-grain diet for years–until I tried a homemade bread recipe that called for extra gluten. In my case, the results were catastrophic. However, I am so grateful to found out before I needed to rely on my supplies (and good medical care might be unavailable). Needless to say, I am a big advocate of using what you store. – CL in Houston

 

Sir,
After reading your post today Letter Re: Adapting Family Food Storage for Gluten Intolerance I remembered reading recently about Kamut a possible low gluten wheat substitute for individuals what are gluten intolerant. I did a quick search on your blog and could not find a previous article about Kamut so I thought I would drop you a note to let you know about it.
You can read more about Kamut at the Walton Feed web site.
Regards, – Eric in The Desert

 

Sir,

My youngest daughter and I are sensitive to gluten. We have discovered that “alternative” grains like millet, quinoa, and amaranth are quite good. All three can be cooked as is as a side for supper or as a “porridge” for breakfast. Also, all three can be ground into flour or purchased bulk as flour from different sources. Sorghum and buckwheat are also good alternative flours. Millet would be good for anyone to investigate storing. It stores for a long time with little preparation — one to two years. It can be stored longer with better preparation — oxygen absorbers, etc. You cook millet like rice. You rinse then boil or you can rinse, toast, then boil. But, you use less millet than rice per cup of water. So the millet goes a lot farther. Generally, you cook 1 cup of millet per 2-1/2 cups of water. I cook brown rice at 1 cup of rice per 1-3/4 cups water. However, because of this, when grinding and baking with it, your baked item may be a bit dry from the millet absorbing so much liquid. With a touch of practice, you can remedy that.

As you mentioned, there are many good sources for cooking gluten-free. Blogs are wonderful resources. You can find a lot of practical advice from people who are dealing with it on a day to day basis.

And here is an excellent blog on going gluten-free. – Emma

 

Mr. Rawles,

Another place to get gluten free recipes is Frugalabundance.com. I hope that this proves helpful to any SurvivalBlog readers that are gluten intolerant. Regards, – Gloria

 

Hi Jim:
I read Tim’s post yesterday about his wife being diagnosed with Celiac disease. As you may recall, I was the one who posted one year ago about my daughter being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and a month later, learning she and my other ladies having Celiac disease. I can certainly sympathize with Tim as it is daunting and overwhelming when a loved one is initially diagnosed. From our year long experience with this, here is what I can offer.

The blessing and curse of these times is Celiac. While so many foods include wheat and gluten as part of their overall production, many more foods are now Gluten Free. This is driven in part by a growing awareness of the Celiac disease, gluten intolerance in general, links of gluten and Autism and simple dietary issues. More foods than ever are gluten free. We began by eliminating all sources of gluten and wheat from the house. Any wheat or gluten in our house would cause my diabetic daughter to begin to violently throw up, causing dehydration and ketone spikes. So it all went away. What was usually a two or three grocery store ensemble has now grown to seven (7) different stores in our region in order to find the various things. One store carries some things, another store different things and so on. Our best sources for gluten free foods has been the local Fred Meyer (owned by Kroeger) and Whole Foods. Some products are now clearly marked as “gluten free” so spotting them has been easier. For instance, instead of a loaf of wheat bread, we now use rice flour bread made at Whole foods (about 65% more expensive that regular whole wheat bread). Instead of the usual wheat flour waffles on the waffle maker, it’s now waffles made with rice or tapioca flour from the local health food store (Manna Mills). The treat of freezer cookies are accomplished with a brand of gluten free freezer cookies from Whole Foods. Cereals are rice or corn based. All chips are either corn tortilla or pure potato and we eat far more rice eaten as a staple.

One of the things we have encountered is that the carb load on these are typically higher, leading us to better watch our weight and how much we eat. As I indicated before, our grocery bill went up over 50% in one night when we switched. Many of these foods have a significantly shorter shelf life, especially when processed. As an example, a loaf of rice bread in my cool, dry house will spoil within 36-48 hours. But we found many, many on-line and local resources to help us in making the correct food decisions. My girls religiously reading the labels, looking for any signs of gluten, wheat or wheat family products that could contaminate. There is a very good magazine called Living Without which addresses foods without certain items such as gluten or wheat. Amazingly enough, our local Kroeger owned store was found to have a sizeable gluten free section in the natural foods section. And of course, we eat less processed foods, more fresh fruit and vegetables.
Naturally, the shift from a wheat based survival foods platform to a rice based platform was expensive. Many survival, dehydrated and MRE based foods were given away as they all contained either wheat or gluten. I bulked up on more rice and shelf stable wheat free survival foods (very little out there, I must admit).

Last November, our family took a much needed vacation to Disneyland. It was one of our most positive eating experiences as we learned that Disney (and other major theme park enterprises) takes Celiac disease seriously. They had gluten/wheat free alternatives based upon breads made in our area by Energee Foods. My girls were able to enjoy pizzas made with tapioca flour crust. We were even able to communicate with the head chef for Disneyland food service for information. That made for a more enjoyable trip. A visit to a local Von’s and Trader Joe’s and we had a great gluten free vacation.
For Seattle, Washinton area SurvivalBlog readers, here is a list of local stores we have been successful in finding wheat free or gluten free foods at:

Costco – Rice chips, corn tortilla chips, beans (bulk and canned refried), rice, Robert’s gourmet foods like Smart Puffs
PCC (Puget Consumers Co-Op) – Commercially produced gluten/wheat free foods
Whole Foods – Wheat free bread, rolls, pizza crusts, Angeline’s
Manna Mills – Bulk rice and tapioca flours
Fred Meyer – Crackers, Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flours, cereal, rice cakes, soy crackers, etc.
Ener-gee foods – Local commercial based gluten free foods (products used exclusively at Walt Disney resorts)
Trader Joe’s – Wheat and gluten free frozen waffles, pancakes, chips, crackers

I wish Tim and the other Celica readers great success! – MP in Seattle ( a Ten Cent Challenge subscriber)

 

Hi There,
In response to your reader post about food storage and gluten intolerance, I would like to add that if you plan to mill your own grains, and plan to store wheat for those that can eat it, you will need to get two grain mills and never mill grains containing gluten on your gluten free mill. Mills are too difficult to fully clean and there will be traces of gluten left from milling grains such as wheat or barley.

Every coeliac has a different level of intolerance, but it is not worth risking problems. Gluten free grains suitable for beer making are probably also suitable for substituting for wheat and barley in other foods too. Some of these are millet, buckwheat, corn, rice, quinoa and sorghum. Just remember to only use your gluten free mill to mill gluten free grains and store both the whole grains and flour in separate dedicated containers.- The Anonymous Economist

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