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“Good broth will resurrect the dead”

December 18, 2012 |  by  |  Nutrition, Recipes

Says a South American proverb and if you’ve had a soothing cup of homemade bone broth while fighting a bout of the flu or other illness, I bet you would agree. It goes down pretty darn easy. Bone broth, or stock, is simply broth made from animal bones and has been an important traditional food that’s been in the kitchen of cultures around the world for hundreds of years. It has become a lost art for the past few decades with the convenience of canned and boxed broths but it is now, thankfully, making a comeback. While still tucked away, I’m slowly starting to see it on shelves in certain markets. There are only a couple of retail sources in my area, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s a couple more than there were even two years ago and that is progress! So, with it being such a hard to find commodity, why not just make this liquid gold yourself.

Here are a few reasons to add bone broth into your diet:

Amino Acids

Glycine, proline, lysine, and arginine are just a few of the amino acids you get out of a homemade stock with glycine making up about 35%. It’s an important amino acid in Phase II liver detoxification, is crucial in maintaining healthy function of the central nervous system, helps to regulate the synthesis of bile acids, and is thought to promote wound healing and inhibit tumors.

Rich in essential minerals

Calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, and sulfate. Unfortunately, we live in world where our soils are depleted and devoid of the mineral content of years past. Minerals help maintain proper nerve function, pH balance in the body, contract and relax muscles, and regulate tissue growth. Kind of important stuff!

Supports bone and joint health and nourishes ligaments, tendons, and skin

Recognize any of these – glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, or hyaluronic acid? If you have joint issues then you’ve probably checked out supplements with these ingredients and promises of improved joint health. They are all part of glycosaminoglycan family found in collagen. A good homemade stock is a whole food with all of its complex nutrients such as collagen and gelatin working in synergy. Supplements just don’t hold up to the real deal.

Dr. Cate Shanahan, author of Deep Nutrition, writes… “Even more amazing, glucosamine can actually stimulate the growth of new, healthy collagen and help repair damaged joints. And collagen isn’t just in your joints: it’s in bone, and skin, and arteries, and hair, and just about everywhere in between. This means that glucosamine-rich broth is a kind of youth serum.”

Gut healing and digestion

Broth promotes gastric acid secretion needed for digestion. Broth can be a extremely helpful to anyone suffering GERD and indigestion by helping to balance stomach acid levels, which by the way are usually too low, not too high. It can also be a great way to give your digestion a break without going on a complete fast.

“Broths are often used in modified fasting and cleansing regimes. In the fasting state, glycine is used for gluconeogenesis. During periods of fasting when no food or energy source is being consumed, our body breaks down our own protein tissues, such as muscle, to create energy from. If broth is consumed, it supplies an outside source of glycine, which limits or prevents degeneration during the fast. Since glycine is also used for phase I and II detoxification, it puts broth into the category of a liver tonic (or liver supportive). Broth helps the body to detoxify during a cleanse, and in fact at any time it is eaten.” (Siebecker)

Last but not least, it’s belly warming delicious!

It can also be pretty budget friendly once you get your system down. Save your chicken bones and freeze them until you have enough for a good hearty batch. You will also want to grab some backs, necks, and feet. You can usually find them in the freezer at your health food store for $1-$3 a package. Sometimes, butchers will give out bones for free. I’ve yet to get that lucky particularly with grass-fed bones, but again, if you save your bones and stock up when you find a good price (don’t be afraid to mix and match bones from different animals) you’ll get a nutrient-dense and cost-effective food that can’t be replaced.

Chicken Stock (from Nourishing Traditions Cookbook)

  • 1 whole free-range chicken or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings* gizzards from one chicken (optional)
  • 2-4 chicken feet (optional)
  • 4 quarts cold filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley

*Note: Farm-raised, free-range chickens give the best results. Many battery-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels.

If you are using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands and the gizzards from the cavity and cut the chicken into several pieces.
Place chicken or chicken pieces in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all vegetables except parsley.
Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour then bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 8 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be.
About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth. Remove whole chicken or pieces with a slotted spoon. If you are using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses such as chicken salads, enchiladas, and sandwiches or curries.
Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in your refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in your refrigerator or freezer.

Always try and use bones from organic pastured-raised and grass-fed animals

Just a note – don’t get too obsessed with exact measurements and pounds, stock is pretty easy to eyeball which is how I do most of my cooking. Here is what I did with some of my stock.

Mexican Chicken Soup with Cultured Sour Cream

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1 Comment

  1. That’s funny – I lived in South America and I never heard that proverb in any language.

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San Luis Obispo County
(805) 242-3677

is a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner specializing in a holistic approach to nutrition and total body wellness. She helps clients with digestive, blood sugar, hormone, immune, and detoxification imbalances. Her methods include a Metabolic Type Diet, functional diagnostic testing, and food sensitivity testing (MRT). Laureen’s practice is located in Grover Beach and she serves the surrounding areas of the Central Coast including Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, and Morro Bay.