What would you guess is the most commonly recommended food for someone with a cold or flu? What always made your throat feel better or your body feel warm when you were sick as a child? If you grew up like I did, your answer would be chicken soup. Due to the rise in convenience foods over the last couple of decades, there are people in this country who don’t recognize chicken soup as anything but the stuff that comes in the can — a watered down, artificially flavored, over-salted imposter of the truly healing food.
Did you think that eating chicken soup to get well was an old wive’s tale?
I’m here to tell you that the healing properties of chicken soup are real, and that most of them lie within the constituents of the warm broth — but only in the homemade version. The canned stuff doesn’t quite cut it. When chicken flesh, skin, and bones are boiled for a long period of time in water, and especially when a bit of acid like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar is added to the liquid, the healing properties are leached out of the chicken and into the stock. When certain veggies, herbs and spices are added to the stock, it magically turns into a delicious, nutritious, healing medicine. Whether you have a cold or not, homemade bone broth is an integral part of a healthy diet.
Why should I drink bone broth?
The health benefits of bone broth are myriad. For me personally, when I started drinking just 1 cup a day, my lifelong acne was cured, and my digestive issues were all but resolved. I’ve heard and seen posts from other bloggers professing the same result. Dr. Mercola breaks it down in a chart on his post about the benefits as well. Below I’ve simply explained a few of the nutrients and benefits you might achieve by adding a bit into your diet every day.
If you’ve ever roasted a chicken (or purchased an already roasted chicken from the grocery store) and then let it sit in the refrigerator, you may have noticed the gelatinous pools that collect in the tray. That gelatin is leached from the bones when the chicken is cooking, liquifies, and then solidifies again when cooled. When you make your pot of broth, it should turn to a jello-like consistency in the refrigerator. Nothing you buy in the store will do that. Gelatin offers the following benefits:
- improving hair, skin, and nails
- support for the digestive tract
- enhanced immune function
- hormonal support
- bone and joint health
- increased overall vitality
The best way to ensure that your broth is going to be full of gelatin is to add a few splashes of raw apple cider vinegar or the juice of a whole lemon into the water. The acid will leach all the good stuff from the bones and assist in breaking them down into the broth.
Veggies are technically optional in bone broth-making, but it’s my opinion that if you’re going to go to the trouble to do this yourself, it might as well taste fantastic. Onion, garlic, celery, and carrots are a great place to start. They have a host of benefits on their own, and because you have control over the quality of what goes in, you can ensure that you’re getting the most of those veggies. Flavor-wise, these ingredients (or some slight variation) are the basic building blocks of nearly all traditional pot cooking, creating the first layer of flavor an complexity. As far as nutrition goes, they contain the following vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients:
- Beta carotene
- B vitamins
- vitamin A
- phytonutrients (especially potent if you pick them from your back yard garden)
How should I drink bone broth?
Depending on your routine, you might find it easiest to start your day with 1 cup of warm bone broth in a coffee mug (that’s how I do it). If that doesn’t work for you, another option is to freeze the broth in ice cube trays and use them to cook with. You can saute veggies or start a soup. You can also use it as a braising liquid. As long as you get it into your diet somehow at least a few times a week, you’re on the right track.
It’s more accurate to call this a set of instructions than a recipe, as you’re simply throwing everything into either your large slow cooker or your biggest stock pot and filling it up with filtered water.
- three large carrots
- 2 small yellow onions
- 1/2 a bulb of garlic
- 7 or 8 small celery stalks
- a giant bunch of parsley
- 2 freezer bags of chicken and turkey bones.
I chopped nothing but the onions in half and thoroughly scrubbed the dirt off of the carrots.
Once the pot is filled, add in a few splashes of raw apple cider vinegar and about a tablespoon of either sea salt or REAL salt. Turn the stove or slow cooker on low, and let simmer for anywhere between 8 and 24 hours. If you’re uncomfortable leaving your stove top on unattended, a slow cooker might be better for you, as there’s no reason for you to be in the kitchen during this process. I usually set this up on low heat, go to sleep and work the next day, and take it off the fire when I get home.
Once it cools as bit, use a slotted spoon or strainer of some kind to fish everything out until you’re just left with the broth. I will often put the cooled pot in the refrigerator over night so that the excess fat will float to the top and solidify. If it’s a super thick layer, I’ll skim that off and toss it so that my morning cup of broth isn’t too oily. After that, separate the broth into jars and store in the freezer until you’re ready to use it.