Bones, Broth, & the Basics

I always knew there was something different about my mom’s soup. This wasn’t a constant in our diet, but it stuck out mostly during my high school and college days. No matter what the main ingredients in her soup were, mung beans for Ayurvedic cleansing or mushrooms and lentils because those were the only things left in the cupboard, I found her soup enticing, hearty, and healing. Before I was aware of myself, or more so, aware of the implications of a typical American lifestyle had on myself, I didn’t understand the basics of cooking. I wanted to eat hearty soup, rich creamy pasta, and puff pastry desserts all day. But every time I did, I would end up with some health issue – a migraine, acne breakouts, intense mood swings, or drastic weight changes. I was, and still am, on a quest of enjoying the delicious delicacies of world cuisine while maintaining optimal health and balance in my life.

Let me elaborate on the phrase “maintaining optimal health and balance in life”. Certain aspects are obvious: a healthy height to weight ratio, the absence of terminal disease, the ability to walk and talk as a functioning adult, a heart that doesn’t explode when I walk up the stairs, a healthy sex drive, regular menstruation with the ability to have children if desired, etc. Some aren’t so obvious: the ability to feel fully one with your body, reducing the amount of cracking and popping your joints do with movement, being able to progress a yoga practice to include handstands, or backpacking deep in the wilderness. Each person has a different perspective on how their ideal life would be – and that, in my opinion, should be directly related to living in optimal health and balance.

To quote, “I am my own healer. I have a radiant voice within that guides me. I can make decisions for myself. I can rely on others as needed, but at my discretion. It is my body, my health, my balance, and my responsibility to make right choices for myself. Right choices include working with competent health-care professional when necessary, allowing friends and family to help as needed, and, above all, being true to my beliefs, with the wisdom and willingness to change as part of the path of healing.” ~Rosemary Gladstar, A Mantra for Home Health Care

Okay back on the broth train…So in the past month, I’ve read at least 5 articles discussing the benefits of bone broth and the new “fad” in NYC to serve broth in coffee cups, through a window! Say what?! As more and more members of our society learn about the health benefits of bone broth, we are going to see a switch in the mindset of the average folk. Middle age women who have been fad dieting for years will start to realize the benefits of broth and fat. Men who love their red meat will relish in the health benefits of a hearty and beefy soup. The factory beef farmers will have to change their ways as the demand for grass-fed and pastured beef skyrockets. Athletes will be begging their coach to give them bone broth to heal their stiff joints. Kobe Bryant even eats this stuff!

I’ll save the lecture for another post, as I promised just the basics here. Here we go!

Whether you live in NYC and can grab it to-go, or you live in rural Idaho (like me), and you make it at home, bone broth is a beneficial addition to any persons diet.

As usual, with fads, come a change in the definition of words. Most press calls this new superfood “bone broth” but technically,  bone stock is a more appropriate title. Stock is a combination of bones, meat, aromatics (herbs and spices), an acid (vinegar or wine) and vegetable trimmings (celery, onions, etc). Stock is cooked in water for a long period of time and strained then, usually, cooled, and the fat is removed (not necessary). When this stock is clarified, which is the removal of sediment and fat with egg whites, it is called consommé. Broth is a combination of mostly meat and some bones. It is cooked for a shorter period of time.  Either term can be used to market this boney elixir. Whether it is chicken, beef, lamb, or any combination of meats is dependent upon your taste preferences, the availability of product, and ease of use. Try different types and see what you like the best. When you buy a “bone broth” make sure to ask for the following information:

  • What type of meat and bones were used in the broth? (The more variety, the better, sometimes)
  • Are the animals grass-fed, pastured, local animals? (If not, stay away)
  • What aromatics have been added? (Get the ones you like)
  • How long has the stock cooked? (You want at least 24 hours)

If you want to make your own bone broth, here are your basics.

  • Start saving your vegetable trimmings – carrot ends, celery ends and insides, onion peels…
  • Buy high quality, grass-fed bones – your local whole/health food store may carry, and if not, they should start!
  • Save bones from meat you eat (in or out) – T-bone steak, lamb shank, etc.
  • A full stock pot makes A LOT of stock – so start with small batches (2 or 3 quarts) unless you have enough freezer/fridge space or love it so much that you drink a quart a day
  • Add bones, vegetables, a splash of vinegar, and aromatics into your stock pot, and cover with water
  • Bring to a boil, skim foam, and simmer for however long you have (8 hours at the least)
  • Strain and enjoy!

I’ve discussed making chicken stock, in detail, in an old post, so please read this one for detailed and photographed instructions. It is time for an update, so soon I will pull out my dusty camera and set up shop. In the meantime, there are tons of blogs who are sharing their recipes and tips for making broth. Check them out!

Wellness Mama

 Nourished Kitchen – whom also just posted an article reviewing chicken based bone broths – homemade was the best, which is no surprise!

Nom Nom Paleo

Enjoy your broth can be fairly simple if you like the flavor as is – just drink it as is. However, I’d estimate 80% of people don’t like the flavor but drink it because it is good for you. If you want to boost the flavor, and the health benefits, here are some tips:

  • Chop onions, ginger, and garlic, sauté together, and add broth.
  • Add any variety of herbs/spices you like – my favorite is turmeric and black pepper (nutritional powerhouse combo)
  • Add a miso paste – and if you do this, make sure to let your broth cool to 115 degrees BEFORE adding miso
  • Add more collagen (doesn’t change the flavor much, but a great add-in)
  • Fresh herbs as a garnish, like parsley or cilantro, can really enhance the basic broth
  • Add an egg – let a whole egg soft boil in broth, or scramble eggs and make an egg-drop soup
  • Add in micro-greens for extra crunch and a nutritional boost – I’m loving pea shoots at the moment
  • Mix bone broth with veggie stock (basic recipe: fill pot with vegetable trimmings, add water, boil and cook for at least 30 minutes, but no more than an hour and a half) for a more balanced flavor – I love adding beet green broth to the lamb bone broth
Adding some flavor to your daily cup - onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and black pepper.
Adding some flavor to your daily cup – onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and black pepper.

Adding a cup of broth to your daily diet is good way to ensure you’re getting a full spectrum of minerals and amino acids. It can also help heal your gut, reduce aches and pains, and boost your overall health and well-being. It is a cure-all, healing food that is just starting to become well known. I hope this helped your understanding of bone broth and that you’ll give it a try!

Golden bone broth
Golden bone broth

Any tips or tricks you’ve learned along your journey? I’d love to hear about them!

Until next time, love yourself and others; heal yourself, and share with others. – Amy

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