We were in a very remote area of Honduras where the sanitation as you can guess is not quite what our microbiomes are used to! By the time we arrived home, very few team members had not gotten sick. We arrived home very thankful for (among many other things) hot showers, reliable electricity and clean water.
Once home, I resumed cooking for Paul and myself and made an effort to love our guts back to health with our meals. Every meal I have cooked for the past week has included bone broth in some form or fashion. I was inspired to share with you what we've done, but I didn't think of it early enough to take foodie photos! But hopefully these will give you some ideas for foodie ways to love your guts!
If you're already in the paleo/primal/holistic healing circles or reading their blogs, you're probably aware of the great many benefits of bone broth. It's something I regularly recommend to my patients. Here's a brief primer for those of you who are not. Bone broth is a longer simmer than cooking stock in an effort to extract more of the connective tissue building blocks such as minerals, amino acids, and precursors to collagen. Some of the minerals and amino acids you can get from vegetarian sources, but not all of the collagen building blocks. Using the animal source provides vastly increased efficiency for your body to produce those tissues. It's great for bone health and healing from any injury, since the body requires these building blocks for the repair process: recovery from surgery, pregnancy and postpartum, diastasis recti, arthritis, joint strains and sprains. Bone broth is a great source of the amino acid glycine which helps stabilize blood sugar levels (thereby mitigating inflammation) and is a precursor to glutathione, a very important antioxidant and detoxification enzyme. It also provides a great source of glutamine, an amino acid important for tightening the junctions in the small intestine to reduce permeability (aka healing leaky gut!). I could go on forever about the benefits, but instead, here are a few resources for you to peruse to your level of interest:
- Traditional Bone Broth in Modern Health and Disease http://www.townsendletter.com/FebMarch2005/broth0205.htm
- Role of Glutamine in Protection of Intestinal Epithelial Tight Junctions http://benthamopen.com/contents/pdf/JEBP/JEBP-5-47.pdf
- Bone Broth Benefits for Digestion, Arthritis, and Cellulite http://draxe.com/the-healing-power-of-bone-broth-for-digestion-arthritis-and-cellulite/
HOW TO MAKE IT
A quick google search will yield tons of recipes, but here's how I make mine.
- Whenever possible, I use organic, pastured products - which are easiest for me to find at the farmers market. One vendor sells bulk bags of mixed beef bones at $2/lb! I fill my old crockpot full of bones: a whole chicken or turkey carcass, a mixture of joint and meaty bones from lamb or beef. You can use the bones raw, or after you've cooked another dish and saved them. Chefs often pre-roast the bones for culinary stock for improved flavor.
- I pour filtered water just enough to cover the bones and add apple cider vinegar: 2 TBS for chicken, 1/2 cup for beef. I then let the bones "cold soak" for 1 hour before turning on the slow cooker to low. The cold vinegar soak is supposed to leach out a greater portion of the minerals into the broth Then, I let it go on LOW for up to 48 hours for chicken, up to 72 hours for beef.
- When it's done, I let it cool to room temperature and strain it into a glass jar then put it into the fridge and skim off the layer of fat from the top once it cools. If I'm using it right away, this is the end. Most of the time, I pour it from there into ice cube trays and freeze it, then I have easy to portion ready-made bone broth for whatever recipe I need it. The unflavored beef broth I have also put into smoothies instead of ice where the only thing you taste is a creamier mouthfeel than if you had used water ice.
- You can flavor the broth after the fact if you'll use the same batch for many different recipes, or you can flavor it during the making. I will often dump a whole bulb of garlic in with the broth while it is cooking, a couple of bay leaves and any hearty veggie scraps I have: celery and carrot tops, onion ends and skins, turnip ends, etc. You can keep these things in the freezer until you're ready to make stock as you cook - save greens and moldy stuff for the compost bin, but these for the stock pot. You can do a lot of things flavor wise, but this version is fairly versatile.
- If the bones aren't complete mush when I strain my broth to use, I'll cover what's left with water and go for another round. This 2nd round never gels, but it doesn't have to gel to get the health benefits.
HOW TO USE IT
Drink it plain. There's nothing like a cup of hot bone broth first thing in the morning. Maybe it can become your coffee substitute (some of you are thinking YEA RIGHT!) But really, some of the nutrients are best absorbed on an empty stomach.
Soups and stews - In the past, I've made Vietnamese pho, Japanese miso, Hawaiian oxtail....this week, I made a couple chicken soups and a beef stew. You can make meatless soups with bone broth and still get some high quality amino acids!
- Simple chicken soup: our first day back, our bellies were the most angry. So I made a super simple chicken soup with homemade chicken bone broth I had made from a whole foods rotisserie chicken, then put some of the chicken meat back in to the soup. I mixed in some carrots, a little sea veggies and sauerkraut just before eating for extra health bennies, but believe it or not the flavor addition was great too!
- Thai coconut curry chicken soup: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/thai-chicken-soup-recipe.html. Mine was loosely based on this recipe - highly flavorful for such a quick recipe! I used coconut oil in place of vegetable. I only used half the can of coconut milk and saved the rest for smoothies. I used more of the homemade bone broth and the rest of the rotisserie chicken. I always put the bell pepper and carrots in toward the end because we like the still crunchy. I left out the rice noodles and used spiraled zucchini noodles and shredded cabbage - just put them in the bowl and poured the soup on top.
- Beef stew: http://thehealthyfoodie.com/slow-cooker-squeaky-clean-beef-bourgignon/ I used meaty soup bones from the farmers market rather than stew meat, and then didn't need to add the tapioca starch to thicken at the end. Once we strained the soup, I put the bones back in the pot to make more broth! (in case you haven't guessed, there's nearly always a slow cooker of broth on my counter)
Ground Meat Dishes - Bone broth can add nutrition and moisture, since quality grass fed ground meats are going to be a little more dry than the 80/20 grain fed stuff at the supermarket. For that matter, any braised meat dish I include bone broth in lieu of or in addition to whatever liquid the recipe calls for.
- Spagetti Sauce: I sautéed some mushrooms, garlic and grass fed ground beef in pan. Then deglazed with 2 cups of bone broth and added a jar of tomato sauce and let it reduce until it was back to spaghetti meat sauce consistency. I served it over spiraled zucchini noodles. This method would also make a good sauce for lasagna or pizza.
- Ground Lamb with Moroccan Spices: http://www.freshbitesdaily.com/moroccan-ground-lamb/ I used bone broth for added moisture, and made this with some roasted butternut squash and cauliflower, and roasted the squash seeds to use with the lamb in place of the almonds.
Curries - http://eatdrinkpaleo.com.au/scrummy-paleo-curry-with-lamb-and-coconut-recipe/ Bone broth works anywhere you need moisture, and the longer you cook it, you can add a lot of nutrition and very little moisture by reducing it. I was out of coconut milk, so I used bone broth in place of both the coconut milk and water, and used about 1/4 cup pulverized (in the vitamix) raw cashews to thicken it up a bit.
Sauces and gravies - another sky's the limit application for bone broth
Grains - for those of you who can include some grains in your diet without problem, cooking them with bone broth instead of water adds to the flavor and nutrition. We do this with rice and quinoa.
Powdered Gelatin - if you can't make bone broth, or don't like it, you can get some of the nutrients from grass fed, pasture raised powdered gelatin. Bulletproof, Vital Proteins and Great Lakes are all solid brands. You can put it in a hot mug, smoothies, use it in any of the aforementioned recipes, or even get creative with desserts. Sometimes I use it as a thickener in recipes in lieu of cornstarch or arrowroot powder.
Sneak in some turmeric
Live probiotic foods
- Live sauerkraut or kimchee: my kid self would gag to know I am now enjoying sauerkraut on a regular basis. I have made my own in the past, but in a pinch, I buy Bubbie's, Farmhouse Culture, Wild Brine or any brand that is "wild" "Live" and "unpasteurized". These will always be in the refrigerator section. They taste much better than what I remember of dead, canned sauerkraut. You can go crazy with homemade recipes for sauerkraut and fermented veggies - some made with just natural fermentation with salt, others with starter cultures or even probiotic capsules.
- Coconut water Kefir: this stuff I think actually tastes good (man of the house disagrees). You can purchase Coco-biotic or Inner Eco, but again I make my own. Cheaper, and so easy. Just put kefir cultures, or a shot of another live kefir in a glass jar and fill with coconut water. Leave out at room temperature until it begins to fizz, then put it in the fridge. Its like a tart soda with tiny bubbles and contains a great deal of probiotics and electrolytes.
Hopefully this gets you started on some gut loving' ways of livin'. And in the meanwhile, I have to step back and have gratitude that food is plentiful enough that I can worry about organic, grass fed, probiotic nutrition, and not basic subsistence living.