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By Kellene Bishop

Diatomaceous Earth photo c/o shadowridgedonkeys.com

Diatomaceous Earth photo c/o shadowridgedonkeys.com

So what’s in my buckets of wheat? Diatomaceous earth! Don’t worry. You don’t have to pronounce it. Just USE it.

What is diatomaceous earth? Well, it’s a HECK of a lot better than oxygen absorbers. It doesn’t suffocate wheat and it easily takes care of the weevil eggs that are inherent in all wheat. (The better the quality of wheat though, the less you have.) Oh, and it’s good for you too!

Let’s start with the wheat first though. Wheat is actually intended to be a living, breathing organism when you eat it. I’m sure you’ve heard or read of “the staff of life” before, right? It is actually living, just like a seed. So you actually WANT it to continue to breathe a bit. Just like anything else you want to sprout, you want this to essentially stay alive. So putting oxygen absorbers in it essentially sucks the life out of it. Eating “dead” wheat vs. ‘live” wheat is essentially the difference between eating freezer-burned produce and freshly picked. That’s not to say it’s a “no-no” to do so. It’s just not the best way to have your wheat. So how about using something in your wheat that not only is good for your wheat, but good for YOUR body too?

To put it in simple terms diatomaceous earth (DE) is actually the remains of fossilized algae. It’s found in deposits from seas and lakes all over the Western US and is usually about 1,000 years old when it is mined. This means that if you store it well, it has an unlimited shelf life! Yay!

Diatomaceous earth also helps with deworming. Photo c/o ehow.com

Diatomaceous earth also helps with deworming. Photo c/o ehow.com

Diatomaceous earth contains silica, sodium, magnesium, and iron exclusively. Not that I’ll be making a DE casserole anytime soon, but it is perfectly ingestible. (Be sure you ONLY USE FOOD GRADE DE—not pool grade!) It is heat resistant (BIG PLUS), absorbs liquid, (another plus) and is a natural insecticide. It can also be used as a mild abrasive, blood clotter, and as a water filtration aid. It’s also is a solid combatant against  mealworm, flea, tick, bed bug, ants, cockroaches, slugs, worms, and parasite infestations as well! (Just about every insect critter you can think of, actually.) Ideally you want your DE in a pure white color. The more gray it is, the more clay it contains. Understand that the food grade DE is not a chemical.  It works in a purely physical manner (of which I’m not sure I want to go into here so that I don’t gross anyone out).  Because of its ability to “deworm”, it’s commonly used to eliminate parasites and worms in livestock and pets. (I LOVE multi-purpose items, don’t you?) And it actually also has been known to enhance appetite in horses and cows. (Hmmm…maybe it will help 4 year-old picky eaters too?) Oh, and by the way, it also reduces the nasty smell of waste!

Now, let’s talk about human consumption for a moment. Food grade DE actually comes with a recommendation of 1 heaping tablespoon for humans DAILY in order to absorb endotoxins, e-coli, viruses, ethyl mercury, drug residues, as well as eliminate parasites, and regulates digestion. So there’s no need to worry about 1 tablespoon in your 5 gallon bucket of wheat. And yes, it’s perfectly safe for children and pregnant women. Diatomaceous earth has a negative charge and bacteria has a positive charge.  So it’s actually great at eliminating bacteria in your body’s system—without eliminating the good bacteria in your stomach. 

Just a spoonful of diatomaceous earth photo c/o earthworkshealth.com

Just a spoonful of diatomaceous earth photo c/o earthworkshealth.com

You only need about a tablespoon of DE for each 5 pound bucket of wheat in order to successfully inhibit infestation. It actually adds 15 trace minerals to your wheat prior to grinding. Should you use it? Well, a study done by ACRES, USA showed that after 12 months of storage untreated grain had 16,994 insects in it. Compare that to treated grain which had a whopping 15. I vote YES! (There’s a litany of other benefits for the body that simply won’t all fit in this article.)

Here are the downsides to diatomaceous earth. You don’t want to get it in your eyes. It will irritate them by drying them. It’s also drying to your skin if you are in long-term contact with it. (I HATE that feeling.) It will also kill beneficial insects such as lady bugs and bees. So be sure you want to use it where you place it.

Ok. I’m off to buy some more DE. What about you?

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

By Kellene Bishop

Is there a better way to store fruits and vegetables? Are there better kinds or times to purchase them? Is there one preservation process that’s more nutritious than others? The answers to these questions all depends on what you are ultimately more concerned about. Taste, texture, freshness, appearance (familiarity) or nutrition. What I’m going to provide you with today is simply a rule of thumb as to the hierarchy of the condition of the fruits and vegetables to obtain in terms of nutrition and cost. Then you’ll need to decide, as always, which type really fits your family.

Fresh Produce photo c/o Wiedmaier

Fresh Produce photo c/o Wiedmaier

The first choice for most people when obtaining fruits and vegetables is to get them fresh–either they grow their own or they purchase them from the store. However, you should be aware that the nutritional content does vary dramatically dependent on what types of pesticides and other chemicals are used and WHEN the fruits and vegetables are harvested. Obviously, harvesting them at their peak time in an organic setting will be the most enjoyable and nutritious for your family. The downside to fresh produce is that you don’t know if they were harvested at the ideal time. And even if they were, how long did they travel before they got to your store? How much will you end up having to toss as a result of spoilage? These types of mostly unanswerable questions make the top dollar you pay for fresh produce a bit of a gamble. I wonder if fresh really does belong at the top of the produce hierarchy?

Having said that tough, I’m all for making my own FRESH produce by growing my own sprouts. Sprouts have significantly more nutrition in them than just about any produce you can purchase anywhere. Not only that, but they are economical and they contain no nasty chemicals. Remember, you can easily sprout any whole grain, nut, legume, or seed. (Stay away from the flowers on tomatoes and potato sprouts. They are toxic.) I can’t believe I’m saying this, but my husband actually got me hooked on having sprouts on my sandwiches instead of lettuce. In fact, at the end of this article I’ve got a GREAT Orange Marmalade Sprout Salad recipe for you. Yum!

Blue Chip Freeze Dried Products photo c/o utahdealdiva.com

Blue Chip Freeze Dried Products photo c/o utahdealdiva.com

So, if not fresh, then what’s next on the hierarchy? Freeze-dried. Not to be confused with dehydrated. Freeze-dried produce typically contains 90-95 percent of the same nutrition as picked-in-their-prime fresh produce. And there are no contaminants with freeze-dried produce. I’ve not kept it a secret that I’m in love with all of the freeze-dried fruits and vegetables that Blue Chip Foods manufacturers. They truly are my favorite. I can do just about anything with freeze-dried produce as I can with fresh. They take very little, if any, time to reconstitute. The taste packs a punch of REALISM that you wouldn’t expect. The fruit doesn’t taste soggy like frozen, defrosted fruit does and I’ve also discovered that it’s actually quite economical. I don’t end up throwing away ANY freeze-dried produce despite the fact that my hubby isn’t a veggie fan. I find myself eating the strawberries, raspberries, bananas, and peas right out of the #10 cans. Dollar for dollar, the purchase price is the SAME between fresh and freeze-dried when you get the cans at regular price—even better when they go on sale. That’s right. I can pay $35 for about the same amount of raspberries at a farmer’s market right now as I would get freeze-dried in a #10 can. Yet there will inevitably be some waste with the fresh produce. That’s just how Mother Nature works. Whereas the freeze dried product I purchase is guaranteed to maintain its nutrition, taste, and texture for a full 18 months AFTER I’ve opened the can, and for years and years when prior to opening. This is why I use the freeze-dried versions as much as possible, everyday. I use the peas in my tuna casserole, the apple slices in my apple crisp, the strawberries in an easy jam made with clear gelatin and water, etc. etc. etc. I love how I never have to cry over cutting an onion. I just open the can, scoop up the amount I need, sauté it, and I’ve got carmelized onions or whatever the recipe calls for. I never have to slice or dice peppers, spinach, mushrooms, broccoli—well, you get the point. (I AM a bit zealous when it comes to my freeze-dried produce, aren’t I? I sometimes even get goosebumps just telling people about it in my classes. Too bad you aren’t close enough to get a sample of these yummy raspberries right now.) 🙂

Dehydrated fruits and vegetables photo c/o yes-green.com

Dehydrated fruits and vegetables photo c/o yes-green.com

Next in the hierarchy are dehydrated fruits and veggies. This level of nutrition is at approximately 70-75 percent of the same nutrition as fresh produce—even when you dehydrate your own.  You can enjoy dehydrated produce easily as a snack and they make easy additions to slow cooking dishes. Otherwise you need to reconstitute them and that may take a while and a bit of water. (You can also dehydrate meat successfully, but that’s another article.) When you dehydrate produce you don’t have to use your oven to do so. You can simply use the good old sunshine by itself or make use of a great solar oven. Dehydration is quite simple to do yourself, however, most dehydrated foods sold commercially are about the same cost as freeze-dried. If you have the choice, pick the freeze-dried version. Here’s a tip. When you’re rehydrating your foods, instead of using water to do so, use broth, juice, milk, or the water from the cans of other ingredients—whatever is already a part of your recipe. It will give your dish a much greater flavor. When I reconstitute apple chips, I use this yummy “Apple Delight” drink I get from Blue Chip. When reconstituting vegetables, I’ve also been known to use the water from the cans of other veggies I may be using in order to no throw any more nutrients and flavor out than necessary. I’ve also used the pasta water, potato water, etc.

Next, and definitely last in the hierarchy is canned. Canned produce keeps about 40-45 percent of the same nutrition as fresh right off the bat. Even when you do it yourself, you’re not likely to obtain more than 50 percent of the nutritional value as you would a fresh piece of produce. Obviously, the longer you store it, the more of its nutrition you lose. I personally do not can my own fruits and vegetables. Why? Because I can purchase the canned goods for a much better price than what my time and energy are worth—especially with coupons! And considering what all I get in return, in terms of nutrition, I just don’t think it’s worth the money. I’d rather pay more for the other options.

One point I do want to make. When you purchase fresh produce, such as the oversized bags of spinach at Costco, don’t hesitate to freeze it. The frozen produce is great and you don’t need to do anything special with it. Just seal it and throw it in your freezer. (The frozen spinach makes for great healthy smoothies or a lightly blanched spinach salad.) Of course you know that tomatoes, lettuce, and other high water content produce don’t freeze so well. So use your best judgment on that.

Hopefully you’ve learned a thing or two about what produce to select for your family for long and short term storage. While it may be more important that your family see something familiar at mealtime as opposed to something freeze dried, at least you can now make an educated decision.

Orange Marmalade Sprout Salad

Orange marmalade photo c/o notecook.com

Orange marmalade photo c/o notecook.com

Dressing:

Combine the following ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk

2 T. Orange Marmalade

4 T. Olive Oil

1 T. Balsamic Vinegar

1 pinch of red pepper flakes

 Drizzle the dressing over about 4 to 6 cups of fresh sprouts of your choosing. I also like to lightly toast some nuts and put these on the salad as well. This is yummy and something you can easily make with food storage ingredients.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing!

This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

By Kellene Bishop

food-storage-shelvesHere’s one simple tip so you never have to worry about HOW to cook what’s in your food storage. 

Many folks just plain don’t know how to cook with their food storage.  When I hear this, I ask people why they’re storing foods that are unfamiliar to them or their family?  Sure there are ideal lists which include long lasting grains and legumes, but if you’re not using such ingredients now to feed your family with, it’s not going to be helpful to them in an emergency.

Think for just a moment what kind of chaos a financial collapse, an earthquake, an act of war, or some other kind of disaster could bring into your life.  Do you really want to complicate things by adding more stress into your life by consuming “foreign foods”?  You and your family are going to crave as much “normalcy” as possible.  Unless you’re already serving your family “Boston Baked Wheat” you don’t want to try it out on them while they are being quarantined for 90 days as the result of a flu pandemic.  In fact, it is exactly these kinds of times that you will want to provide the most comforting favorites for your family.  But…yes, there is a but…

Part of being prepared is being ready to live off of foods which are most nourishing and longer lasting than what your diet may currently consist of in your household.  (To this end I implore parents of picky eaters—or spouses of such—to do all they can to get them to embrace more nourishing foods.)  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are great now.  But how will they be when you have to make the bread from scratch?  Will your family even touch them?  Don’t panic.  Just start learning the lost art of bread making now.  I can tell you from experience that it’s a heck of a lot more rewarding than besting someone at an online game of Scrabble.  

Try sprouts on a meat sandwich! Photo c/o scanwiches.com

Try sprouts on a meat sandwich! Photo c/o scanwiches.com

Slowly introduce your family to new things.  For example, my husband, who I can’t get to eat a vegetable unless it’s on a slab of beef, has agreed to try and start putting sprouts on his meat sandwiches.  Why?  Because I am trying to get him used to eating this easy and widely accessible source of nutrition so when we are in the midst of an emergency, he can handle it—not only emotionally, but physically as well.  Being ready to live off those foods doesn’t involve just having the appetite for them.  We need to be prepared to use them and work with them as well.  If you’ve never tried sprouting, don’t think that the sprouter you’ve got in the basement is going to do much for you in a time of crisis.  Using it under such circumstances will only cause you more stress due to its unfamiliarity and you’ll avoid it at all costs. 

You also need to get your body accustomed to eating such foods.  In fact, if most people attempted to go from their existing diet to one containing whole wheat at the majority of their meals, they would actually DIE inside of 30 days due to the dehydration and diarrhea their body would experience in so drastic a dietary change.  This is one reason why I counsel people to store what they eat—at least a 90 day supply—and then work on introducing other, more stable storage foods, into their diet along the way.  Yes, it’s a lot less expensive to store a year’s supply of wheat, legumes, honey, and powdered milk as opposed to the ingredients for your favorite casseroles, Navajo Tacos, and brownie mixes.  But I assure you that those items won’t get used for much of anything if you haven’t already familiarized your family with them prior to a disaster.  So be sure to have at least 90 days of the familiar and then work on familiarizing your family with other foods that will have a great shelf-life in your home.  Remember, stress alters the mind.  It races the heart.  It breaks down the immune system.  If you’re in a quarantine situation, for example, can you really afford to expose anyone in your family to any of these physical stresses simply because you weren’t prepared with a realistic menu for them?  Perhaps now you may better understand why I go to great lengths to learn how to make bread, sprout, store M&Ms, make sour cream out of powdered milk, wax my own cheese, store eggs long-term, and create recipes out of what’s on my shelves, etc.  I do it in anticipation of a situation in which food and nourishment will be a comfort to the mind and the spirit, not just sustain life.  (And yes, there are indeed those times in which M&Ms sustain me. :))

I’ve been asked how I remember where all of my food storage is since it’s scattered all around the house.  I remember because I’m always in it—except when I’m on that blasted diet.  I’m always using what I store.  I’m rotating it.  (In fact I have a Mason jar full—er, half full—of almond M&Ms next to me on my desk as I write this.)  Other than the years supply of MREs we have stored in the back of the basement, there’s not a single nutritional item in my home that is “uncommon” to me.  If you have anything that’s uncommon to you in your food storage, it’s nearly useless.

kuhn-rikon-pressure-cookerPoint being, no one should have trouble cooking with their food storage, because their food storage should contain what they are already consuming and thus what they are already familiar in preparing.  Practice making your food in a Dutch Oven, or in a pressure cooker over a small butane stove, or in a solar oven.  Go to classes to learn how to make the essentials.  They are usually free.  Go through cook books and experiment with “less than fresh” items as substitutes in recipes, such as canned chicken for frozen, canned green beans for fresh, etc.  Find out from your family what their absolute favorite meals are and then find the most efficient way to stock the items for those meals.  We’re not in the dark ages here, folks.  Cooking with your food storage doesn’t have to involve an Indian dance and an archaic tool for grinding your flour.  Even without the luxury of electricity, we still will have the benefit of the luxury of knowledge and technology galore. 

Keep in mind that in a previous article I wrote, I recommended that folks start their food storage by storing their food in “meals” as opposed to “pounds of items.”  In other words, if your family loves waffles, then be sure you have the makings for waffles.  If you have such ingredients sufficient to make them 12 times, then you only have to come up with 29 other meals.  (Or less, depending on how often you want to eat waffles.  I recommend coming up with a great variety for your family though so that they don’t suffer from “appetite fatigue.”)

It all boils down to this: Store what you eat and eat what you store.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing!

This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

By Kellene Bishop

fresh-vegetables

I’m sure you’re family is accustomed to cooking regularly with fresh produce.  However, in a time of emergency, regardless of the season, fresh produce will not be readily available.  So what can you do now to ensure some semblance of normalcy even in the event of an emergency?  Learn alternative recipe methods. 

  1. There are countless types of freeze dried vegetables that will add some spice back into your dishes such as onions, green peppers, celery, carrots, peas, and corn.  Simply do a Google search on “freeze dried vegetables” and you will find a proverbial garden of resources. 
  2. Photo by IndiaMart.com
    Photo by IndiaMart.com

    Remember that you can dehydrate many of your own favored vegetables as well such as shallots, zucchini, green onions, mushrooms, and so much more.  So, there’s no need to feel slighted in your cooking repertoire.  For an example of dehydrating onions, click here.

  3. Adapt your present recipes to accommodate some canned vegetables now.  I’ve begun using canned peas, corn, and green beans regularly in my cooking so that I don’t feel deprived when I’m faced with a produce crisis.  I’ve also successfully used more trendy canned/jarred vegetables such as artichoke hearts, canned potatoes, canned asparagus, etc.  In our kitchen, I’m sure to also have on hand plenty of dried minced onion, and jarred minced garlic to ensure that I don’t have to suffer a loss of taste in my cooking.
  4. Feel free to load your freezer full of vegetables.  I wouldn’t hesitate for one moment to invest in plenty of frozen vegetables.  In the event your power goes off, you will still be able to utilize that which you have in a freezer for a long time so long as you keep the opening and closing of the freezer to an absolute minimum.  Keep in mind that frozen vegetables won’t go bad as quickly through the thawing process as will fresh produce.  While you’ll need to focus on using the frozen items first during a prolonged power outage, it still beats having no access to those vegetables you love.  (I haven’t found a good canned broccoli yet, so I’m grateful for this option.) While some of what you store may experience some freezer burn, keep in mind that the use of a pressure cooker will rehydrate such items quickly and bring out their desired taste just fine.  (Also, here’s a tip: when you buy those enormous bags of spinach at the warehouse store, don’t hesitate to freeze it.  It will keep just fine and is still great for steamed spinach and green smoothies as well.  No need to waste perfectly good spinach.)
  5. Square foot gardening is a great answer to ensure you don’t have to rely on the stores to produce your favored vegetable picks.  Square foot gardens are large enough to grow items that you don’t normally find frozen or in cans such as cabbage, broccoli, radishes, and lettuce, etc.  You can build your square foot boxes above the ground—so no roto-tilling is required.  Simply layer the bottom with a weed resistant ground cover, then fill them with your preferred soil and water regularly.  You won’t have to bend as far down to tend to them, and you will have a minimal amount of weeds as well.  (Photo by www.throughtheillusion.com)
  6. Get familiar with sprouting.  Sprouts are a great substitute for fresh produce.  Sprouting can provide you 10 times more nutrition than any of the other vegetables that you’ve come to know and love.  For example, broccoli sprouts have been found to contain 50 times as much of the antioxidant sulfurophane as mature broccoli.  Sprouts are busting at the seams with antioxidants and  they are full of protein, chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals and amino acids.  They are a veritable whole food.  If you start incorporating sprouting now into your diet, your family won’t go into “shock” with such a new alternative.  You can sprout almonds, wheat, all kinds of beans, amaranth, barley, corn, buckwheat, millet, oats, quinoa, rice, cabbage seeds, kale seeds, mustard seeds, pumpkin seeds, radish seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, peas, and SO much more.  Sprouting is also very fulfilling as it’s a relatively quick process.  You get to benefit from the fruits of your labors a lot sooner than planting. 

Here’s hoping you can successfully begin implementing these sound strategies now so that you and your family can enjoy the benefits of vegetables in the future.  I’ve also included a couple of recipes below that are simple “dump” recipes that include vegetables.  They are yummy now and are ideal in the event of an emergency.

One Pot Dinner

½ to 1 pound of ground beef, turkey, or canned beef, browned and drained

¾ pound of real bacon, from a package or fresh, diced into small pieces

1 C chopped onion (frozen, fresh, or ½ cup dried)

2 one pound, 5 ounce cans of pork and beans

1 one pound can of kidney beans, drained

1 one pound can of buttered lima beans, drained

1 C ketchup

½ C brown sugar

1 T liquid smoke

1 T white vinegar

1 t. salt

Dash of black pepper

Combine ingredients.  Stir.  Cover and cook slowly for about 4 hours, or in a pressure cooker for 25 minutes. 

Pasta and Canned Veggie Salad

2 cups of uncooked gemelli or rotini pasta

½ cup of chopped red or green onion (frozen is fine)

1 ½ cups of canned carrots, drained

1 C balsamic vinaigrette dressing

½ t. seasoned salt

8 ounces asparagus spears, cut into 2 inch pieces

1 jar (6 ounces) marinate artichoke hearts, drained and liquid reserved

1/3 cup of Real Bacon bits

1 Can of halved black olives, drained (optional)

1 Can of small mushroom buttons, drained (optional)

1 cup of your favorite sprouts (optional)

Cook and drain pasta according to package directions.  Place carrots and onions in a shallow skillet with ¼ cup of the dressing.  Sauté until lightly warmed.  Then add asparagus spears and ¼ cup of the dressing as well as the seasoning salt, and sauté until warmed through.  Remove from heat and add to pasta.  Also add artichoke hearts, bacon, reserved liquid, remaining dressing and bacon bits.  (This is when you would add your optional items as well)  Toss lightly and serve.

Easy Minestrone

1 T. olive oil or vegetable oil

1 ½ cups frozen or dried bell pepper and onion mix

2 cups frozen or canned mixed vegetables

2 cans (14.5 ounces each) Italian Style stewed tomatoes, undrained

3 ½ cups of beef flavored broth

½ cup of uncooked small pasta shells

1 can (15 ounces) of dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 T. minced garlic

1 T. of Italian Seasoning

In a 4-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add peppers and onions and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender.  Stir in mixed vegetables, tomatoes, and beef broth.  Heat to boiling, breaking up the tomatoes with spoon as mixture cooks.  Stir in pasta.  Cook uncovered over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables and pasta are tender.  Stir in beans. Cook 4 to 5 minutes more until thoroughly heated.  As a special treat, top with garlic croutons, or parmesan cheese, or both!

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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