By Rachel Sircy
Well, we’re in the midst of hurricane season once again and I thought that I would use this post to recap some of the things that people who are gluten free can do to prepare themselves. Of course, most regular hurricane safety precautions apply to everyone – you of course need water, flashlights, first aid kits, etc.
However, people with celiac disease or gluten allergies or sensitivities have an added challenge: how to find shelf stable gluten free food that is actually edible and nutritious. Thankfully, we have a lot of options:
The first thing that always strikes me when I’m preparing for a trip or an emergency is just how hard it is to find gluten free bread that you don’t need a toaster to make tasty. Well, I’m still looking for that bread, to be honest, but in a pinch, rice cakes can substitute. Plain rice cakes are cheap and shelf-stable. Yeah, they’re a little bit like eating cardboard, but think of it this way, you’re trying to survive, none of the fare for hurricane survival is going to be exactly sumptuous. Since rice cakes aren’t exactly filling, I would recommend topping them with something like peanut butter (if you don’t have a nut allergy and soy butter or sunflower seed butter if you do have an allergy.) Just make sure that any protein butter that you choose is shelf stable. Don’t buy natural peanut butter because most kinds of natural nut butters need to be refrigerated after opening. You want all those yummy preservatives…☹. Seriously though, regular PB that doesn’t need refrigeration is a great source of protein and it works really well on rice cakes.
Also, you can top those rice cakes with apples. Fresh apples can last quite a while without refrigeration. They’re full of fiber, too, so they’re pretty filling. Cereal is a good way to get a meal and use up that milk that’s going to go bad fast. There are so many good gluten free options. I go for plain Corn Chex (or an off-brand) because I don’t always want a super sweet cereal. Of course, protein or whole food bars like Lara Bars, Epic bars and the like are a great addition to your shelf-stable hoard of food. As are pickles. From what I’ve heard, pickles can survive without refrigeration for a while because of the brine that they’re in. Beef jerky can be a difficult one for the gluten sensitive, but more brands are coming out with gluten free jerky. I believe that Oberto makes a natural and gluten free beef jerky. Krave and Epic jerkys are gluten free as well, as are a few of types of jerky that Aldi sells. Dried and canned fruits and vegetables can make a great addition to your stash as well. You can mix the dried fruits and nuts together to make your own trail mix.
Nuts, if you’re not allergic, can be a great, healthy source of calories and good fats. And, if you can get nuts in the shell, you can store them long-term. I recently purchased peanuts in the shell. They apparently are good for several months after their sell-by date even without refrigeration. One place I read online said that you can store nuts in the shell for 2 years without refrigeration. Now, take that with a grain of salt (pun intended). Always test food that you’ve stored for a long time to make sure there’s no spoilage. Look, smell and taste a small amount to make sure it’s good. For canned goods any dents or bulges are a bad sign, I wouldn’t risk it. For home canned goods, any off color or smell is your best indicator of spoilage. Don’t take chances with botulism. It won’t be fun if you guess wrong.
A recent life-saver that I’ve run across in Aldi is this little guy:
It’s a ready to eat quinoa salad. I’m sure that you can find similar ready to eat meals at other stores, but I prefer this one because it’s $1.99, 230 calories and 5 grams of protein. You don’t need to heat it or add water. Just open the container of pre-cooked quinoa and open and add the container of flavorings (in this case it’s basil pesto). This is a perfect grab and go for lunch or a car trip also.
Last but not least, a deep freezer and a gas or charcoal grill can be your best friends when you don’t have power, as long as you can afford them and have the space to keep them. Frozen meats and vegetables will stay frozen for at least a few days in a deep freezer and can be cooked on the grill as they thaw. Just don’t open your freezer more than absolutely necessary. Of course, I don’t have either of these things because we live in an apartment with no real outdoor space that I would use, so I can’t really elaborate on what using the grill is like, but I’m sure many of you out there already utilize this plan in power outages.
So, stay safe and well fed everyone!