by Kris Mays, The Organic Prepper:
Are you or a family member dealing with inflammation? Are you gluten-free or Celiac? Or do you perhaps want to stock a larger variety of grains in your preps to avoid being too dependent on wheat? Good news! Below I have compiled a list of alternative gluten-free grains you should consider for your preps and a few suggestions of what to do with them.
Dent corn is a good option but requires some processing.
You’ll want to stick with organic for this one. Avoiding GMOs will protect your gut from any further damage if you suffered from gluten sensitivity or Celiac for a while before diagnosis. Field or “Dent” corn as I call it is not the same as sweet corn, which we generally think of when corn is mentioned. It’s the type of corn ground up and used to make polenta (coarse ground) cornmeal (medium ground) for baking cornbread or masa flour (fine ground) for tamales.
If you plan to stock dent corn, you’ll need to be sure to research how to lime your corn, which is via a process called nixtamalization. It uses calcium hydroxide to break down the hulls and make the Vitamin B3 and protein in the corn bioavailable. Without this process, your corn will not give you the nutrition you need. You’ll need a way to grind the corn after it’s been soaked in the lime water mixture, so your grain mill won’t work for this in an off-grid situation.
Alternatively, you may grind your corn and then soak it in lime water afterward. You’ll still get the hulls, but this should help release the protein and B3 for your body to use. I have yet to experiment with this, so please comment to let us all know your results.
Quinoa is a versatile gluten-free food.
Quinoa comes in several different colors, but you’ll see red, white, and black most often in your local store. Quinoa is actually not a grain, but a pseudo-cereal related to spinach. It requires a quick soak and rinse to remove the natural saponin layer on the outside because who wants their food to taste like soap? Your quinoa to liquid ratio is 1:2. Cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes and it’s ready to eat. It’s a great substitute for rice and a great meat extender, too. Add some to your ground meat in any dish to help stretch your budget.
Oats are available in gluten-free varieties.
If you have Celiac Disease, you’ll want certified gluten-free oats because oats are often cross-contaminated during packaging. Oats can be stored rolled, cut, or as groats. Surprisingly, oats in any form other than flour are equally shelf stable, unlike most other grains. Who would have thought? It’s unusual since most grains store longer the closer they are to their original state. But apparently, the process of hulling, rolling or cutting oats stabilizes the oils inside, making them just as shelf stable in any form. I stock both.
Whole oat groats are oats with the hull removed. They’ve been heat treated, so they cannot be sprouted. But they can be soaked and cooked to eat as a hot cereal, or for use in savory dishes. The ratio is 1:3, or 1 cup oat groats to 3 cups water and they cook for 45-60 minutes on the stove if your oats are not pre-soaked. I will talk about pre-soaking your grains a bit later.
Commercially, the oat groat is steamed and then rolled through a machine to produce rolled oats, or what you think of as oatmeal. There are several different cuts of rolled oats, but I keep old fashioned oats in my stocks because to me it’s more versatile. I use them for granola, hot cereal and overnight oats (which are soaked and uncooked – great survival food!).
If you have a grain grinder, you can grind your oat groats into flour for gluten-free baking. Many grain mills also have flaker attachments which will produce the closest thing you can at home to your own rolled oats. If you want to grind oat flour with a non-electric mill, you will want to store oat groats.
Sorghum and millet are tasty and packed with nutrition.
Both sorghum and millet are powerhouses of nutrition, full of antioxidants, easy to store and cook. Sorghum requires a grain/liquid ratio of 1:3 and 40-55 minutes of cooking on the stove. Millet can be cooked as a looser grain like quinoa or into a porridge. For a loose cooked grain, cook with a 1:2 grain to water ratio on the stove. For a more porridge-like consistency, use 3 cups of water, instead, and stir continuously while cooking. Both can be toasted a few minutes in a pan before cooking to bring out their nutty flavor.
These pseudocereal grains can be used in soups, as salad bases with fresh vegetables, herbs, and dressings or ground into flours for gluten-free baking.
Buckwheat’s name is deceiving.
It’s not what it sounds like. Buckwheat is a starchy seed and not related to wheat at all. It’s a heavier, toothy grain and is good to cook from groat form for a filling hot cereal. Your cooking ratio is 1 Cup buckwheat to 3 Cups water and cook 15-30 minutes depending on the texture you’re looking for.
Buckwheat groats can be ground into flour and often you can find buckwheat Soba noodles in the Asian section of your local grocery.
Try Jasmine, Wild, and Forbidden rice for variety.
This is our favorite rice. It has a lovely flavor and works with a variety of dishes. It’s my go-to. You won’t see me suggest brown rice for two reasons: My family really doesn’t care for it, and it is not shelf stable beyond around 6 months. For us, there is little value in keeping it.
Ratio to cook Jasmine rice is 1 cup rice to 2/3 liquid. You can cook it via any method you prefer. In a survival situation, you can soak it overnight and cook it very quickly, conserving your cooking fuel.
Native to North America, wild rice is loaded with nutrients, has anti-inflammatory properties and contains more protein than oats or quinoa. It is somewhat expensive, so you’ll usually see it in a rice blend. But you can buy it alone, too. Wild rice is a great addition to chicken soup as an alternative to noodles, but it takes 50 minutes to cook.
And lastly, Forbidden rice, also known as black rice. It was once reserved only for emperors – hence the name. It might be one of the highest antioxidant foods available. It’s even higher in anthocyanins than blueberries which means it blocks cholesterol and benefits your heart health. It has a wonderful, nutty flavor and is a great addition to a power lunch bowl with greens, nuts, and vegetables. One and ¾’s Cups of water to 1 Cup of rice and cook for 30 minutes. This rice is kind of special and definitely worth checking out.