Special thanks to guest contributor, Dawn Hutchins (from www.floridacoastalcooking.com) for this post!
Intro from Dawn: I’m so honored to have the opportunity to write this blog post for my friend, The Petite Prepper. She’s an incredible resource for anyone interested in being prepared for emergency situations and frankly, that should be all of us. I’ve learned everything from gardening tips, to the best radios, to emergency first aid.
Today I’ll share my best tips on prepping for a special diet, such as vegan, vegetarian or gluten free.
I once read that you can’t survive an emergency eating only a vegetarian or vegan diet. You simply can’t get enough protein. This is absolutely untrue – if you’re prepared. If you’ve got allergies, can’t digest animal foods or don’t want to store meat or hunt, I’ve got you covered!
#1 Purchase a variety of grains and beans
The best, (and cheapest,) way to do this is to check for sales in the bulk bins section at your local grocery or natural food store. I always find great deals on everything from black beans to rice, quinoa and millet. Store these in airtight containers in your pantry.
Some awesome options are black beans, kidney beans, butter beans, quinoa, oats, rice, and millet.
Quinoa isn’t actually a grain, it’s a seed called a pseudo-grain, so it’s very high in protein and fiber.
If you’re on a gluten free diet, stay away from wheat, barley and rye.
(Note from Petite: The effects of millet on celiac patients have been inconclusive in studies, so if you are sensitive to gluten, please take caution if eating millet.)
#2 Store nuts and seeds
You’re going to need adequate protein, calories and Omega 3 fats so you’ll need to store additional items such as nuts and seeds. Because of their high oil content, they can spoil faster than grains and beans. Pack in airtight containers, dry, or roast nuts for longer storage. If stored properly, they can last several months in a cool pantry or up to a year if refrigerated.
UC Davis has a great article about nuts.
Seeds: Hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds
Nuts: Cashews, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, almonds
#3 Add a source of Vitamin B12. Vitamin B6 can be found in turnip greens, spinach and bell peppers, but we also need B12, not found as readily in plant foods.
I suggest focusing on this whether you’re an omnivore or herbivore.
One delicious source is nutritional yeast. Be sure to calculate three tablespoons per day, depending on how long you’re preparing for. Additional options include B-complex supplements or brewer’s yeast.
Nutritional yeast can be found in the bulk bins at natural food stores. It’s grown by growing yeast on molasses. The molasses is then heated to kill the yeast and harvested. What’s left is a flaky substance that has a pleasant cheese-like flavor. It has 8 grams of protein in two tablespoons.
(Note from Petite: Anyone with gluten sensitivities should avoid brewer’s yeast. However, there are gluten-free forms of nutritional yeast available.)
# 4 Grow a garden (and sprout) a variety of plants
Be prepared to grow a garden and sprouts in order to have a variety of vitamins. Did you know many plants are a great source of highly absorbable protein, fiber, calcium, vitamins, nutrients, minerals and antioxidants?
Sprouting is another great way to unlock the vitamins and minerals in seeds. “The process of germination not only produces vitamin C, but also changes the composition of grains and seeds in numerous beneficial ways. Sprouting increases vitamin B content, especially B2, B5, and B6. Carotene increases dramatically-sometimes even eightfold.” Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, pg 112 http://www.westonaprice.org/book-reviews/nourishing-traditions-by-sally-fallon-and-mary-enig/
Sprout people is a great source for sprouting information and tools!
In these charts from one of my cookbooks, Plant-Protein Power, you can see some plant-based sources of calcium! Having a variety is key.
There’s nothing worse than choking down the same unseasoned rice and beans, day after day, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Have a variety of salts and seasonings to liven things up. After all, we don’t want to just survive. We want to thrive!
Seasonings can sometimes also be found in bulk bins at local natural food stores, purchased online in bulk, or bought at a big-box store. Salt, pepper and garlic powder are some of my favorites.
Remember to add fresh herbs to your garden!
#6 Dehydrate for convenience
If you’ve got a dehydrator, now is the time to start dehydrating veggies, fruits, beans and grains.
Beans and grains, in particular, can be pre-soaked and pre-cooked and then dehydrated. This cuts down on the cook time which can be excellent for storage and convenience in a survival situation.
Soaking is a must. It decreases phytic acid and makes these foods more digestible. Though phytic acid may have some antioxidant capabilities, it decreases the absorption of minerals such as zinc, calcium and iron – not what you want in a survival situation.
I typically soak any of these foods overnight with a tablespoon of baking soda. This cuts down on cook time and aids digestion as well.
To dehydrate cooked beans, soak for 24 hours, bring to a boil in a large pot of unsalted water, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Dehydrate at 115° for 24 hours or until completely dry.
I have a large Excalibur dehydrator. It’s a great, reliable brand with even drying – even in Florida.
If you don’t have a dehydrator and have the cash to purchase pre-dehydrated foods, the Outdoor Herbivore is an excellent source for vegan, vegetarian and gluten free ready-made meals for survival or backpacking. The meals are high quality, sourced within the US, and are delicious. They even have a trail sprouting kit if you have a need to be on the move.
#7 Learn how to ferment for probiotic benefits
Fermented foods have huge probiotic benefits. Sauerkraut, kombucha (fermented tea) and rejuvelac (fermented grains) are great options. Check google for lots of how-to videos and have some fun experimenting. Cultures for Health is a wonderful resource with kits and videos.
There are many more ways to prepare for emergency situations but hopefully these seven will get you started. I hope you enjoy and please feel free to reach out with questions at dawn (@) floridacoastalcooking.com.