This article is an entrant in the 2nd Annual BCP Writing Contest.
Your Bug-Out Bag
Your Bug-Out Bag
What are Superfoods?
Superfoods are foods that are extremely high in nutrition and support health. The media has popularized exotic superfoods like acai and camu camu that, while nutritionally dense, can be rather expensive and difficult to obtain during any kind of civil breakdown. We’re going to look at superfoods that have a good cost to benefit ratio and are easier to obtain.
Why worry about nutrition when prepping?
Most preppers think about making sure they can get adequate calories and macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat), yet don’t take into account the body’s needs during high stress. Physical activity, and mental and emotional strain, take a high toll on the immune system, adrenal glands, and detoxification processes of the body – systems you need in high working order if you have to bug out. While MRE’s and equivalents can get someone already in optimal condition by for a few days, the level of preservatives and lack of micronutrients will eventually take a toll on even the healthiest body. For someone like myself, who has genetic detoxification issues and adrenal insufficiency, MRE’s become a liability rather than an asset. I can’t break down preservatives and need all the nutrition I can get, and I had to rethink the traditionally recommended foods for my personal Bug Out Bag.
Superfoods for your Bug Out Bag
So what are the alternatives? Foods for your Bug Out Bag need to be lightweight, provide plenty of calories, and be easy to prepare. On top of that, they need to provide B vitamins, Vitamin C, and Magnesium – micronutrients that are quickly depleted in stress. Here are some foods I stock in my bag that you ought to consider for yourself.
Quinoa is technically a seed and is high in protein, with about 8 grams of protein for 1 cup (cooked) as well as having good amounts of iron, magnesium, and potassium. Quinoa will go rancid if allowed to sit out at room temperature after a few months, so I store it in the fridge. You can keep a bug out food bag in the fridge to grab if you have to bug out, or if you store it in your bag just be sure to rotate your supplies often so it stays fresh. If stored sealed, it will easily last a couple weeks in your pack.
Quinoa, along with most seeds, nuts and grains, contains an enzyme inhibitor called phytic acid which impairs absorption of nutrients including magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium. If conditions allow, soak quinoa in purified water for 12-24 hours before cooking. (This will also reduce cooking time.) If you aren’t able to make a cooking fire, you can sprout the quinoa for a couple days after soaking it: just drain the water and rinse the quinoa in clean water a couple times a day. Small sprouts will develop and you can eat them raw. Sprouting further reduces the phytic acid and increases the vitamin C.More Articles?
If you just can’t prepare the quinoa (such as water being in short supply), you can also use it as bait to trap small mammals and birds.
Sunflower Seed Butter
While slightly more expensive than peanut butter, sunflower seed butter is higher in vitamin E, zinc, iron, magnesium, and phosphorous. It is easy to make fresh with a food processor or high powered blender, and making it yourself will reduce the cost. I soak sunflower seeds overnight (to reduce the phytic acid), dry them in a food dryer (or you could use an oven on lowest setting) and then blend with just enough extra virgin coconut oil to make it smooth.
The homemade variety won’t keep indefinitely, but it will keep for a couple weeks in your pack. I keep it in the fridge with the quinoa, ready to grab. You can buy sunflower seed butter in the natural foods section of grocery stores that will last even longer in your pack.
In addition to protein, you’ll need a good source of fat to keep you going. Contrary to popular media reports influenced by polyunsaturated fat manufacturers, saturated fats are extremely important to the health of bones, organs, nervous system and immune system. Ghee is clarified butter, which I keep in my pack because it is so shelf stable. It also has a high smoke point, making it useful for cooking over heat.
Ghee from grass fed cows is rich in Conjugated Linoleic Acid, which has anti-viral properties. The medium chain fatty acids make it a great, long-lasting energy source. It is also high in butyric acid, which is great for digestion and the immune system. On top of all of this, ghee is anti-inflammatory.
You can cook with ghee, mix it in quinoa, or spread it like butter. Store it sealed in your pack at room temperature for up to a year.
Rose hips are the “fruit” of the rose – the seed pods at the base of the flowers. Dried rose hips can be used to make a tea that is very high in Vitamin C, a micronutrient you will need to support your adrenals, as well as bioflavonoids, vitamins A, B3, D, E, and zinc. If you decide to process your own rose hips, you’ll want to do some research on which types of roses to use and how to process them to remove all the hairs and seeds in the pulp, which otherwise will cause unpleasant digestive issues!
Steep rose hips in boiling water for 10 minutes, or in room temperature water for an hour or more.
You’ll find dried rose hips in health food stores and online. They will last for months in your pack at room temperature.
Black Beluga Lentils
Lentils come in many different types and colors and are nutrient superstars, high not only in protein but also in fiber and cancer-fighting compounds. Black beluga lentils are especially nutritious with high levels of antioxidants as well as folate. One half cup of cooked black lentils delivers 12 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber. You can soak them to reduce the phytic acid and cooking time, however if you don’t have time for this step, they will cook in about 20 minutes. You can also soak and sprout like quinoa. You can find the black lentils in health foods stores and online.
Black lentils are slightly more expensive than others, so if you don’t want to spring for the extra expense, you can pack any other type of lentils and still get great nutrition for the dollar. Lentils have a long shelf life and will last well in your bag.
If there is interest I have related topics to write about, such as:
- Affordable Superfoods to Stock in Your Pantry and Freezer for when the SHTF
- Supplements for Your Bug Out Bag
- The Real Superfoods: Foraging Wild Edibles as a Prepping Skill