Monday, June 29, 2015

Guest Post: Superfoods for Armageddon and Everyday

by Beth O'Hara

Beth O’Hara is an enthusiastic food prepper and Health and Wellness Coach who works with clients internationally. She is experienced in working with clients to transform areas that include health and wellness, relationships, self-understanding, self-esteem, and life balance. You can contact Beth through her webpage at Conscious Living Center

Super Packing 
Your Prepper Pantry

When thinking about stocking a pantry for disasters, most people think of Spam, beef stew, beans and canned vegetables. While those are all well and good, they are often loaded with sodium, requiring you to need more water, and aren’t necessarily the most nutritious of foods. With a little planning, you can optimize your pantry for the greatest nutrition and survival benefits.

You have more flexibility when planning what to have on hand if you have to hunker down at home, as opposed to stocking your bug out bag with nutrient-dense food. While you may still have electricity and be able to eat out of the fridge and freezer, we’re going to focus on what to stock in case there is no electricity and limited fresh water. Here are some items to consider for your prepper pantry.

Canned Salmon and Sardines
If you like fish, include some of these wild fish in your pantry for their nutrient density.

Buy Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon to avoid chemicals and dyes often added to farmed salmon. Wild caught salmon is also high in Omega 3 fatty acids, important for heart and nervous system health. Salmon provides vitamin A, D, B12, niacin and calcium.

Sardines are high in calcium, and vitamins A, D and B12. Because they feed mostly on plankton, they also have lower levels of mercury and other contaminants than larger fish, like shark and tuna.

Be aware that many food cans are lined with Bisphenol or BPA, a chemical used to prevent aluminum from reacting with the food. There is research showing that this chemical may be harmful and there are also links between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease. If concerned, you can look food in glass jars, BPA free cans, and Tetra packs.

Canned Lentils and Black Beans
Canned legumes are actually higher in antioxidants than those you cook at home; the heat and pressure of the canning process increases the availability of the antioxidants.

Lentils and black beans are among the highest phytonutrient legumes, with respectable amounts of protein and high levels of molybdenum, folate, fiber as well as good levels of manganese, vitamin B1, phosphorous, magnesium, and iron. Red kidney beans and yellow split peas are also particularly high in antioxidants. According to a 2006 European study, four or more servings of legumes can reduce your risk of heart disease by 22 percent.

Legumes lack an essential amino acid: methionine. This is why many people combine beans with a grain (like rice) for a complete amino acid balance. Add brown rice, quinoa, or even corn for a high quality protein meal. Blue corn is particularly high in antioxidants.

You can find low or no sodium beans, or just rinse the salt off before eating. Legumes often come in Tetra packs as well.

Jarred Artichokes
The gray, bland artichoke has a surprisingly higher antioxidant value than all the other fruits and vegetables you can find in your average grocery store. They are high in inulin, a pre-biotic which feeds healthy bacteria in your gut, and also fiber. Artichoke hearts packed in water or oil are highly nutritious and last a long time. While a little pricey for the weight, they are worth it in nutrition. Stock up when they are on sale.

Tomatoes – canned and jarred, sauce and paste
The most nutritious tomatoes are the ones processed they day they are picked, cooked under high heat and canned under pressure. This makes canned and jarred tomatoes especially high in lycopene. Tomato paste is cooked until it is concentrated, and that gives it ten times more lycopene than fresh tomatoes. Consuming lycopene helps decrease one’s risk of sunburn, an important benefit if you have to be working outside.

Prunes are dried plums. While they have a reputation as being a food more for the geriatric consumer, they are actually sweet and have a complex flavor. They are higher in antioxidants than most other fruits, are a good source of the bone-supporting mineral boron, and of course are rich in fiber --important for keeping you regular under stress and diet changes. I buy them in bulk and keep in the fridge to keep them soft. Outside of refrigeration, they will still last a few months and may just need to be soaked in water prior to eating.

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Ghee
It is important to keep high quality fats on hand. All of these fats will last a long time -- with the exception of extra virgin olive oil, which t needs to be rotated out more frequently.

Most supermarket brands of extra virgin olive oil are actually rancid. Smell it before buying, if you can; it should have a clear olive smell with no off flavors. I purchase mine from a small family business, locally, in 5L containers. The oil is shipped directly after pressing and bottled at time of purchase. This ensures I get the most antioxidants from the olive oil.

Rancid fats and oils actually create free radicals in your body which are toxic. Buy good oils that last. If you buy in bulk, you can bring the cost down.

See Superfoods for Your Bug Out Bag for more on the health benefits of extra virgin coconut oil and ghee.

Nuts and Nut Butters
Nuts are nutrient-dense in both vitamins and minerals, and have high amounts of good fats and protein. Like olive oil, nuts also go rancid easily. Choose raw or dry-roasted nuts and store them in the fridge or freezer (unless the electricity goes out).

High Quality Sea Salt
Salt is an essential source of minerals. Table salt is bleached and depleted of minerals and includes synthetic iodine, so keep some Himalayan Sea Salt, Real Salt, Celtic Sea Salt or equivalent unrefined sea salt on hand for the minerals. I buy it in 25 lb bags. It is also good for bartering in disaster situations.

Other Recommendations
Canned items can last 5-10 years. (Actually far longer than that - listen to my podcast segment for more information. - Erin) To be on the safe side, however, be sure to rotate your items and check cans for expiration dates as well as any bulging or leaking. Bulging or leaking cans may have been exposed to bacteria and could make you very ill.

Try to keep a three month supply of food on hand at all times. This "food insurance" will be of benefit not only if you are in a disaster where you have to hunker down for an extended time, but also if you lose your job, the dollar bubble bursts, or in many other scenarios. Be sure to have food on hand to feed you and your family and extra to barter, if necessary.

We will all be able to prep better if we combine our knowledge. What high nutrient foods do you stock and why?

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