The Many Benefits of Bone Broth

Bone broth in my mug. My favorite breakfast!

Bone broth in my mug. My favorite breakfast!

Considering that I have only recently converted to an omnivorous diet after being vegetarian for half my life, my family still does a double take whenever I swoon over meat products. Imagine their increased surprise when I drool over bones, marrow, and liver, and venture into small tasting sessions of eyes and hearts. Although I still sympathize with the ethics of vegetarianism, I know right now my body needs the nutrients that high quality animal products provide.

I imagine each mug of bone broth to be like drinking a mineral supplement. Bone broth is a long-simmered stock, usually of chicken, beef or fish. The longer you cook it, the more nutrients are released from the bones, cartilage, organs, and meat in the pot. And a little bit of acid from lemon juice or cider vinegar will help pull out even more nutrients. You can add  flavor and additional minerals with some veggies, seaweed, and sea salt. Personally, I also like to add the anti-inflammatory powerhouse turmeric to my broth.

When making bone broth, in order to maximize nutrients and reduce toxin consumption, it is especially important to use organic, pasture raised/grass fed meat and bones. Plain old organic simply isn’t enough. Organic chicken feed is usually grains like corn, but chickens need to be outside where they can also eat other things like bugs in order to get all the nutrients they need. For example, egg yolks from pasture raised chickens contain way more vitamin A than conventional and organic ones. And in case you haven’t been told yet, when shopping for animal products, “free range” is not the same as “pasture raised” or “pastured”, since the regulations of the term “free range” are not rigid enough to exclude chickens provided access to a small patch of dirt outside an open door.

And the same goes for cows. They are meant to eat grass, not the grains fed to them in organic feed. Since they cannot digest grains properly, they are often plagued with digestive and malabsorption issues, and are lacking the nutrients available in fresh grazing land. One important nutrient that grass fed beef has more of than conventional beef is omega-3 fats, providing for a higher omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, which is what our bodies need. Not to mention, a pasture raised life for any animal is a lot nicer than life in a factory farm.

When the animals we eat were happy and fully nourished, we can reap huge rewards. When I want to give my bones, ligaments, and digestive system some extra TLC, bone broth is my go-to food. It is especially rich in calcium, but has loads of other nutrients as well. The wonderful Sally Fallon says,

Science validates what our grandmothers knew. Rich homemade chicken broths help cure colds. Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain. (http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/broth-is-beautiful)

My favorite way to consume bone broth is to drink it by the cup. Any time of day. But it is incredibly versatile and freezes well. I like to make a large batch and freeze it in quart portions so I know how much is there for future recipes. I’ll either thaw a few quarts and make a big pot of soup. Or I’ll use it to cook two cups of rice with. Although it’s simple to use broth instead of water for rice, it can make a huge difference between “blah” rice, and rice that tastes so good you can’t stop shoving it in your face. Add a huge pat of raw, grass fed butter, and you’ll be in heaven.

Sources: Bauman College (http://www.baumancollege.org/), The Weston A. Price Foundation (http://www.westonaprice.org/)

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