Monday, November 15, 2010

Food Storage- Nuts

When planning your food storage you need to store items in each of the three essential macro-nutrient categories: protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

I think storing fats/ oils is the hardest. Grains and beans/ legumes when stored properly can stay good for decades. In fact, I have heard that some archeologist found some grain in Ancient Egyptian tombs that were still able to be sprouted. That means these seed have been preserved for over 3000 years!

Unfortunately fats/oils have a pretty short shelf-life. Usually around a year or two. Even with the difficulty of keeping fats long-term, they are still essential for any food storage plan. 

I don't know if you have ever noticed the nutrition information on the back of cereal boxes. One day I was looking at one and was surprised to learn something. Each gram of carbohydrate or protein is 4 calories. But each fat gram is 9 calories. This is why oils/fats are so necessary in food storage. They pack quite a caloric punch per gram.

Most people automatically think about storing oil to cook with. That's great and you do need some for that reason. But, not all your food storage for fats need to come from oils. There are other ways to get fat into your family's diet that might even be healthier. Nuts

Nuts naturally have a high oil, protein and calorie content making them a highly prized food storage item for energy. Many are either a complete or nearly complete protein providing many essential amino acids. You have to eat both beans and rice together to make a complete protein compared to eating a handful of nuts. 

What's best about the oil in nuts is that for the most part it is made up of unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fat is the good kind that helps lower your LDL cholesterol levels keeping your heart healthy. 

Nuts are very low on the glycemic index making them ideal for people with insulin resistance problems like diabetes.They also are a good source of vitamins E and riboflavin and are high in folate, fiber, and essential minerals like magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, copper and selenium.

Nuts can be pretty expensive but there are alternatives. You can store peanut butter which is probably the most familiar to your family. Or chances are, someone in your family or neighborhood may have a nut tree and would be more than willing to let you have some for free.

 Nothing is better than free.

 I lived with a host family in Germany while I was going to college for a semester and I remember my host mom coming home one day with a bag of hazelnuts. I'd never seen hazelnuts still in their nut and needing to be cracked before. I found out that she had just gathered them off the ground from one of the schools nearby that a had a few hazelnut trees. The idea of actually getting nuts from a wild tree and eating them was such a foreign concept to me. I always just thought nuts came from the store in a bag. 

Now I know better. And in fact, my brother-in-law's family has a walnut tree. 

So for the past few years my sister-in-law gets him to gather me a box full of nuts for my food storage. 

Because of their high oil content, nuts will go rancid pretty quickly if just left on the shelf. You can dry roast them in your oven to make them last longer. The great thing about nuts, is that once they are cracked you can just bag them up and stick them in the freezer to enjoy for years.

They are such an easy way to get a little more nutrition in your diet. You can put nuts on salads, stick them in cookies and breads. I even pull out a few each morning to put in my oatmeal to make it more nutritious.

Sunflower seeds are an easy thing to add to your food storage because you can grow them yourself. I want to try that this year. Has anyone ever grown and collected their own sunflower seeds before and have any tips to share? 




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