WHY BONE BROTHS?
One of my patients asked me “What do you eat in the winter?”
The answer is: Bone broths!
Oh bone broths…how I love thee. Let me count the ways!
It’s no surprise that many cultures throughout the world have their own signature bone broth dishes. One of my all-time favorite dishes is Naeng-myun which is a Korean cold beef broth dish with potato noodles. I may have eaten 3 bowls in one sitting the last time I visited my uncle’s restaurant in Korea. The first thing I crave when I start to come down with a cold is Vietnamese Pho with tons of jalapeno peppers. I consider chicken broth and (gluten-free) matzo meal to be staples in my kitchen just in case my husband comes down with a cold. It is undeniably the first thing he asks for.
Turns out there’s some smarts behind these cravings. What do you get in every spoonful of bone broth?
Cysteine has an effect of thinning the mucus in our lungs. So if you are fighting a cold, it will loosen the mucus so you are able to expel it more easily. See? There was a reason your mother cooked you chicken soup when you were sick as a kid!
Collagen is the common matrix for our joints, ligaments, bones, brain and connective tissue. I don’t know about you, but I am a fan of keeping all those parts of my body healthy. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body, making up 25-35% of our total protein. As we age, collagen production slows down and contributes to the signs of symptoms that we simply attribute to “growing old” – creaking joints, sagging and wrinkly skin, brittle bones. The process of simmering bone broth over hours works to denature the collagen and make it more bioavailable to us when we consume it. This 2009 study illustrates that collagen has a positive effect on treating patients who suffer from osteoarthritis.
Collagen supplementation is particularly important for people suffering from diabetes. Chronically high blood sugar levels have a tendency to damage the collagen in bodies and will result in poor bone health.
I also always recommend collagen bone broths for patients who are planning a pregnancy. It is important to set your little one up with the proper building blocks. More important than prenatal vitamins is proper supplementation with whole foods and diet. Whole foods are complex and contain a variety of vitamins and essential components. The interaction of these nutritional components are more successful at treating the whole body rather than conducting your body like a science experiment and supplementing just the pieces that you think are missing.
GLYCINE and PROLINE
These are two very important amino acids that feed the connective tissue in our bodies. We need glycine and proline to prevent injuries because we are feeding our ligaments and bones to be as strong as they can be. They are also needed for the healing process for wounds big and small, from broken bones/torn ligaments to the cellular damage that happens to our body systems on a daily basis.
Glycine is also known to inhibit the immune system and reduce activation of inflammatory processes in our bodies. It is also important for the healthy functioning of our nervous systems by inhibiting excitatory neurotransmitters thereby producing a calming effect. It can also be converted to serine, which promotes mental alertness, improves mood, and reduces stress.
While we can actually create our own glycine and proline in our bodies, it is far more efficient to consume it. Also, if we are relying on just the glycine and proline that we create, we cannot make enough to keep up with the demands of our daily life.
This is a family of carbohydrates that are found in bones and connective tissue that show an effect in reducing joint pain. The most famous of these GAGs are glucosamine and chondroitin, which many of us spend our hard-earned money on buying as supplements. The glucosamine and chondroitin that is found in bone broth is easily absorbed by the body and implemented for good bone and ligament health.
Who can benefit from bone broth?
- Athletes who are trying to build bone and muscle strength
- Folks who are suffering from auto-immune diseases.
- Diabetic patients who are trying to support their bone health and prevent osteoporosis.
- Women who are trying to get pregnant or are pregnant. You are building your little one and consuming bone broths gives your body the quality building materials to set you and your baby up for success.
- Anyone who is simply trying to eat a healthy diet that supports a healthy immune system and wants to slow the natural aging process.
Here is the recipe that I use to make a bone broth. I usually use free-range, organic chicken but you could also use free-range, organic beef bones as well. It is very important to start with the right ingredients.
The build-up to making a bone broth is a daily practice at my house. I have what I call a “Broth Bag” in my freezer. It’s basically just a big ziplock freezer bag so that I can put chicken broth ingredients in it until I’m ready to simmer it up. Whenever I buy chicken for dinner, I’ll purchase a whole chicken or thighs with the bones still in them. It’s nice if you can make friends with the butcher because that way you can ask them to cut up the whole chicken into its parts. Or I buy rotisserie chicken from the Downtown Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market and use it for dinner and save the bones for a bone broth. Using a roasted and spiced chicken adds a layer of savory depth to the flavor profile. Into the “Broth Bag” the skin and bones go and I’ll just keep it in the freezer until it is ready for use. I also toss into the bag any vegetable cuttings that I accumulate as I’m cooking my daily dinners. Mushroom stumps, broccoli stalks, the green parts of leeks, the ends of zucchini, carrot pulp from juicing, the list goes on…and you’d be surprised how quickly the bag fills up!
Then I pick a day when I know I will be home for the majority of the day. I love the smell of chicken broth simmering on the stovetop all day. Just the process of making chicken broth feels incredibly grounding to me.
In a large stock pot, add:
- the contents of the broth bag (usually at this point, I have 3-4 ziploc bags that I’ve filled with goodies)
- 1 large onion quartered, with the skin left on
- 1 large garlic quartered, with the skin left on
- 4 large carrots chopped up roughly
- 4 large stalks of celery chopped up roughly
- 2 large bay leaves
- a healthy dash of Himalayan sea salt
- a dose of fresh ground pepper
- a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (helps leach the minerals from the bones)
- add filtered water to fill the stock pot
Bring all this magical goodness to a light boil and then simmer for hours and hours. I like to simmer mine for a minimum of 10-12 hours.
Strain through a fine-mesh strainer or a coffee filter and enjoy!!
You can enjoy over the course of 2-3 days if you refrigerate your delicious bone broth or you can freeze it and enjoy it over several months. Something to note is that when you cool bone broth, it can turn a little gelatinous. Don’t be grossed out. This just means you’ve made a really good batch of broth full of collagen.
HOW DO I ENJOY?
Now that you’ve got a delicious bone broth, what are some ways to enjoy this you ask?
- add (gluten-free) matzo balls and some julienned carrots and celery for Matzo Ball Soup!
- add whatever fresh veggies you’ve got (bok choy, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, sprouts, etc) and some cooked soba noodles for a delicious noodle treat!
- use it to cook grains like quinoa or brown rice for a rich flavored side dish!
- simply warm it up for a quick protein rich snack/drink! It’s healthier (and in my opinion, more delicious) than coffee. The perfect pick-me-up for that mid-day slump when you would normally reach for a cup of joe.
If you have any other ideas or any questions, shoot me a comment below! Or take a picture of your delicious pot of bone broth!