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Simmertime For The Wintertime

Inspire Health Event Calendar December 1, 2014

Step aside Green Smoothie, there’s a new sip in town.   

While the celebrated green smoothie is becoming a staple in the health foodie’s repertoire,  there is another sippable superfood that’s gaining notoriety.  This one’s not an exotic berry, amazonian fruit, or ‘green food’, it’s….bones.  Or more specifically bone broth. So let the blender go into hibernation and dig out the stock pot; it’s simmer time.

Bone broth is definitely the comeback kid in the food world these days. From the release of Sally Fallon Morrell’s new book, Nourishing Broth, to the opening of Brodo, NYC’s first take out window dedicated exclusively to serving broth, the revival of this old remedy is in full swing.  

Coinciding nicely with the recent popularity of grass-fed meats and backyard chickens,  bone broth’s timely resurgence finds us entering the coldest months of the year when few things feel more nourishing than a good cup of soup and the well-loved green smoothie is losing its appeal.

While the latter sippable craze serves us well in the summer months when fresh produce is at its peak,  and raw, cooling foods revive us,  it’s enough to turn us blue in the winter, when broth’s healing properties go far beyond warming our bones and curing the common cold.  

 

The Benefits of Broth:

The use of broth as a medicinal food has been documented as far back as the 12th century when Egyptian Jewish physician Moshe Ben Maimonides prescribed it to heal respiratory infections.  It continues to be a prized remedy in Traditional Chinese Medicine as well as a foundation to many staple dishes in cuisines around the world, from Vietnamese pho, to Matzo soup (also known as jewish penicillin).

The regenerative and healing properties of bone broth are abundant.  It’s renowned immune support comes from the fact that we are extracting the marrow from the bones, supplying us with copious amounts of red blood cells, immune and stem cells.

Keeping the ‘like cures like’ concept in mind, there is very little that bone broth doesn’t address.  The melting pot of bones, tendons and cartilage are providing us with a marrow-rich, mineral dense elixir of life that helps strengthen and support our immune system, bone matrix, joints and connective tissue.

It’s a rich source of gelatin, a hydrophilic colloid that attracts gastric juices, increasing digestive power and helping to soothe and heal the tissues of the intestinal lining.  In many cultures, a cup of broth before or during a meal is customary to support digestion.

Within the high gelatin content we also find an abundance of glycine.  This amino acid plays a powerful role in liver detoxification, which can come in particularly handy during times of overindulgence or if prescription drugs are being used.  It’s also been shown to have a significant role in neurotransmitter function, helping to support a healthy mood balance and sleep.  

Tissue repair is supported by glucosamine and chondroitin, two compounds commonly used in supplement form to help reduce joint pain and inflammation, and proline another amino acid that supports wound healing and collagen formation.

Teeming with minerals, bone broth provides us with essential electrolytes,  helping to increase hydration and strengthen our bones.  

At times when we are unable to eat solid foods or lack appetite, we can turn to broth for a source of easily absorbed nutrients.

 

Tips and pointers:

Traditional broths or stocks contain various proportions of meat and bones, and are generally simmered for a few hours.  True bone broth, however, is predominantly made of bones that are simmered for anywhere between 12 hours to 3 days, depending on the bones used.   It’s this long-simmering process that allows for the extraction of marrow and breakdown of the bones, resulting in such a nutrient-dense end product.

The importance of using quality bones can not be overstated here.  Since we’re literally breaking down what the animal was made up of, we want to be sure to use bones from organically raised, grass-fed and grass-finished animals.    This will not only result in a more nutrient-dense and flavorful broth, but also reduce exposure to harmful toxins consumed by conventionally raised animals.

Roasting the bones before simmering, although not necessary, will lend a much nicer depth of flavor to the end-result, and adding a little bit of apple cider vinegar to the pot can also help you get the most from your bones by helping to help draw out minerals.

From braising to deglazing and everything in between, there are many ways to incorporate bone broth in the diet.

It can be sipped on its own as an energizing warm beverage, used as a base for soups, gravies and sauces, or can even replace some of the cooking water for grains, beans and lentils.  

However you choose to use it,  bone broth’s health and flavour-boosting properties will have you hooked.  And while you may not want to retire your blender just yet, maybe dust off the old stock pot and give those bones a simmer.  

 

Here’s a simple and delicious recipe to get started:

  • 4 Litres water

  • 1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt

  • ¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar

  • 2 onions coarsely chopped

  • 3 carrots, scrubbed and coarsely chopped

  • 3 celery stalks chopped

  • 1 bunch fresh parsley chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed

  • 4 lbs. chicken, beef or other bones.  (may have meat attached if desired)

 

Place all ingredients in a large slow cooker or stock pot set on high.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer for anywhere between 12-48 hours, depending on the bones used. The longer it cooks the more nutrient dense it becomes.

Chicken or fish bones will break down usually within 8 hours, but larger beef bones will take longer.

Skim the foam off the top as it rises.

Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer or coffee filter into a large bowl and discard the waste.

As the broth cools, you may also wish to skim the fat off the top.

Broth can be frozen in ice cube trays for easy use or stored in glass jars in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  

If you choose to roast your bones, place them in a pan for about an hour at 350F. Then follow the above steps.   You can also throw in other aromatics such as rosemary, sage, ginger or thyme for extra flavor.   

About the Author
 
Hillary Krupa, RNCP, Nutritionist, InspireHealth – Vancouver Island Victoria

As a holistic nutritionist, Hillary encourages healing and balance through the use of whole foods.  She has seen how foods in their purest, most unadulterated form can serve as practical, powerful and fundamental parts of healing.