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Bone Broth: New Health Craze or Traditional Staple?

CC image courtesy of Billfromesm

CC image courtesy of Billfromesm

Seems like bone broth is getting a lot of media these days... here, here and here. There's even entire books devoted to bone broth! Which is fine by me! Frankly, I don't care if it is a craze or not. I do know that bone broth has been around for many, many years and probably arose from trying to get as much nutrition out of food as possible and without letting anything go to waste. 

In fact, broth has been touted to be a healing potion as far back as the days of Hippocrates. Bone broth, the kind you make at home, is extraordinarily rich in nutrients, namely minerals and amino acids and collagen. Bone broth is rich in arginine, glycine and proline. Glycine supports the body's detoxification processes and is used in the synthesis of hemoglobin, bile salts and other compounds within the body. Proline, especially when paired with Vitamin C, supports good skin health. Bone broth is also rich in gelatin which improves collagen status and also supports skin health. Gelatin also supports digestive health which is why bone broth plays a critical role in therapeutic diets such as GAPS, SCD, Paleo and AIP. Ever hear that chicken soup is like "Jewish Penicillin"? There's a reason for that! Chicken broth inhibits neutrophil migration; that is, it helps mitigate the side effects of colds, flus and upper respiratory infections.

But here's the thing, while bone broth has a ton of wonderful nutrients in it, amino acids, collagen, some minerals, etc. there's one thing that people make an assumption about and that is that "bone broth contains a lot of calcium". Fascinating to learn in this AHS 14 Presentation by Kaayla Daniel, Ph. D, that bone broth only contains calcium if there are lots of vegetables cooked with the bones! Pretty interesting huh? 

For most people, they think it's a hassle to make or that you have to use scary ingredients (like chicken feet). But really, Im here to tell you that its super simple and with a few tricks I have collected over the years, making bone broth is easy to do and easy to use! No need to fret about the bones any more than making sure you are sourcing bones from pasture raised animals. If you don't know how to make bone broth, I use the technique outlined at Zenbelly's site.

Good broth will resurrect the dead
— South American Proverb

Tips and Tricks for Simple Broth

  1. Save all the bones! This is pretty basic, but if you cook entire chickens, turkeys, or cuts of meat with bones in them, just save them. I have two plastic bags in the freezer that I dump all the bones into: one for poultry and one for beef/pork/lamb bones. I will toss the bones (not picked clean mind you - I use the extra meaty bits for flavor) into the bags and save them until I have enough for making a batch.
  2. Save the veggie bits too! The veggies, as we know now, provide a lot of the minerals in broth. Plus they add a lot of flavor. If I have a bunch of coriander stems, carrot ends, broccoli stems when trimming my veg, then I will toss those in the freezer too to save for making a batch of bone broth! My friend Simone over at Zenbelly does this too!
  3. Use Soup Socks! What? What the heck is a Soup Sock? Seriously makes the whole bone broth process super simple. I stick my bag-o-bones, my bag-o-veg and some smashed cloves of garlic into a soup sock (basically a huge net "stocking" to hold all the goodies in), tie it up and plop it into my Instant Pot (see #4). When the broth is done, I simply pull out the one large "sock" of stuff in one step - no fishing for bones with tongs, no ladling into a strainer... Saves a ton time.
  4. Instant Pot - As if you didn't already have reasons to get one of these! Bottom line, you can make super broth in 2-4 hours instead of 12-36 hours! Its like getting a Tardis without the whole "its bigger on the inside" bit. Plus the Instant Pot is a true kitchen multi-tasker and totally worth it! I pressure cook my broth about 4 hours each time I make it.
  5. Reduce - Simone (Zenbelly) is a self-proclaimed (and rightfully so) Bone Broth Jedi Master. If you read her tutorial, take note of her reduction step. This is the key to making the most gelatin-laden savory "jello" out there. When my batch is done in the Instant Pot, I switch modes to low sauté, this gives me a nice simmer and I let it reduce for 30-60 minutes. Perfect gelling every time. 
  6. Portion Freeze - I often times can't drink/use as much broth as I make in a batch. And instead of wasting it, I freeze it. But freezing in mason jars is impractical as I sometimes only need 1/3 cup for braising, etc. And then I found this ice cube tray that makes about 1/3c pucks. So I freeze up my batch into 20-30 of these pucks (bag-o-pucks) that I keep in the freezer. (Do you see the trend here? bag-o-everything!) I pop out ~4 of them to make a mug of broth, or use one as a braising liquid when cooking veg later in the week.





Nose-To-Tail Adventures - Part 2

Last week, I covered our foray into Nose-To-Tail eating in the purchase of our first whole hog. We left that story with my friend Julie Kelly from Nourish Balance Thrive lending me moral support whilst we tackled the bits of the hog that weren't so common: The head and a huge pile of fat! I have to be honest, I was really squeamish about dealing with the head and seeing parts I could recognize from the cute piglet (okay he was an adult). 

Julie writes up the Part 2 to the story over on her blog Nourish Balance Thrive - go check out the details on our cornucopia of head cheese, luscious broth, home-rendered lard and lardons!



Nose-To-Tail Adventures Part 1


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It might surprise some of you to find out that I twice used to be vegetarian, because I thought it was the path to health, and because I was concerned about animal welfare. Both times lead to declined health. So "going Paleo" has had a hugely positive impact on my health. However, I've had to adjust my thinking to include more animal proteins in my diet and part of the mental shift I had to make was about the killing of animals for food. 

I've not always been averse to eating animals, I grew up in Colorado after all, and we often lived off of venison that was harvested each fall. So I know that there is a means to honor the animals that are used for food. I decided that I would adopt a similar mindset when re-introducing meat to the household. We came across the concept of Nose-To-Tail eating early in our paleo adventures and the concept resonated with us on a spiritual level - to always ensure that the animals were raised with the best life possible and that nothing would go to waste. 

Enter a book called Beyond Bacon, Paleo Recipes that Respect the Whole Hog by Matthew McCarry and Stacey Toth. This book described the process from start to finish on how to find, purchase and process a whole animal. So, we took the idea to heart and last year we purchased a whole hog from a local farmer, had it processed and located a chest freezer to store the various cuts we got. Now, don't think we got 165 lbs of bacon, because we didn't - we got it all: organs, chops, bacon, trotters, sausage - all of it. 

So, its been a year and we have been able to honor that hog with friends and family over many yummy meals. We are so grateful. But now we need some freezer space (for a different bulk purchase) and Im facing the parts that I have been to scared to deal with. Well one, part actually: the head. I mean what do you do with a head!?! Of course Beyond Bacon has the answer and a simple recipe for head cheese. But I still had doubts, I was never raised with the stuff (liver is a different story) so I was squeamish. I didn't know how it would be to handle the part I could most recognize, nor what it would smell or taste like.

Phone a friend! When in doubt, you can always phone a friend right? I called my friend Julie from Nourish Balance Thrive who regularly orders head cheese from US Wellness meats. At least she is familiar with it. She was game enough to be part of our kitchen adventure of making head cheese from our lovely hog from last year. So last Sunday, we did just that!

Stay tuned for Part 2 where we document our Sunday Kitchen Nose-to-Tail Adventure!