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My favorite grains & beans for food storage

By Denis Korn

I am often asked which grains and beans do I recommend for long term food storage?  The ones I recommend I eat often and they taste great.  I must admit I am prejudiced in my selection because I come from 35 years in the Natural Foods Industry.  My list is short and the choices are generally found in Natural Food Stores.

GRAINS:

  1. Quinoa – originates from the mountains of Peru and has the highest protein content of all the grains.  Cooks in about 20 minutes and expands to 3 times its original volume.  Quinoa’s nutty flavor is delicious in stews with small red beans.  Some brands of quinoa should be rinsed before cooking.
  2. Amaranth– is technically not a grain, but this ancient Aztec food supplies an impressive amount of nutrients, especially protein, calcium, iron and zinc.  Amaranth seeds add a slightly nutty taste to homemade recipes.  Great for breakfast.
  3. Millet – is higher in iron and protein than most grains.  It is easily digestible and considered one of the least allergenic of grains.  One third of the worlds population considers this grain a staple in their diet.  Blends well in all recipes.

BEANS:

  1. Adzuki (also called Aduki) – are native to Japan and are one of the most digestible beans.  These very small red beans taste similar to kidney beans, and can be substituted for them in recipes, though they are somewhat more flavorful.  They mix well with quinoa and millet, and cook in about an hour.  Good for sprouting.
  2. Lentils (various varieties) – are best known for making hearty soups.  Two types of lentils are commonly available: small flat red lentils and the larger brown lentils – many stores also carry small French green lentils.  All are fast cooking and do not require presoaking.  Red lentils are often found in Indian cuisine.  Brown lentils work well in salads and as the foundation for vegetarian burgers and loaves. Great in stews and curries.  Great for sprouting.
  3. Mung – are very popular in Asian and Indian cuisine.  Their flavor is complimented by spicy seasonings such as curries, chilies and ginger.  Mung beans can be substituted for lentils or peas in many recipes.  Precooked mung beans and sprouted mung beans are delicious additions to a vegetable stir-fry or salad.  Cooks in about 45 minutes.  Sprouts easily.

Why do I like and recommend these foods?

  • They are nutritionally superior and store well.
  • They are small and therefore cook faster than larger items.  Important when time, water, and fuel are a consideration.
  • The beans and grains combine excellently for a complete protein.
  • These foods taste wonderful, blend well in stews and casseroles, and are easy to season.
  • These items have an unique “lightness” to them and digest more easily than other “heavier” grains and beans.
  • Adults and children like them for any meal.
  • Most will sprout easily creating an expanded level of nutrition.
  • Their smaller size will store more compactly than larger items.
  • They are gluten free.

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