The butcher had a blank stare on his face…

“You want just bones?”

“Um, yes that would be correct thanks.”

This exchange didn’t actually happen to me, but it did recently happen between a butcher and a friend of mine. She was buying bones for…wait for it…home-made bone broth, which happens to be all the rage these days.

Lucky for me, I live in New York City right next to a Whole Foods, where (get this!) they sell bagged bones in the freezer section. And yes, before you even think to ask I will tell you that these bones are from grass-fed, free-range, organic blah blah blah cows. Factory-farmed bones need not apply. I think I paid like 6 bucks for the whole bag of bone goodness. Cheapest thing in WF.

bone broth

I’ll admit, I’m a late arrival to the bone broth party. I mean, everyone I know in this nutty health and wellness world I live in has been drinking bone broth by the gallon for ages. I’ve had it here and there, but haven’t actually worked up the stamina to make it.

Another admission: I’ve been mildly terrified of the process – especially after reading what it would look like and how damn long it would take! Not necessarily an undertaking for the faint of heart/busy gal like me. Or a busy gal like you for that matter! However, I know store-bought broth is not a substitute for home-made at all!

So naturally I found a short-cut in the form of a pressure cooker! 🙂 But I’ll get to that in a moment. First I wanna tell you why you’ve got to get down with the bone broth girl!

Broth or stock (as it is commonly called) is a mineral-rich infusion made by boiling bones of healthy animals with vegetables, herbs and spices.  It has been used for centuries in many traditional cultures as a healing, and fertility-enhancing food. There’s a reason chicken soup is recommended when we’re sick with the flu and there is even evidence to support this theory. And the medicinal properties of bone broth certainly don’t stop at the flu – check it out…

bone broth

Bone broth is incredibly healing for the gut and your hormones!

Do you know that about 90% of women who come to me with hormonal imbalances have some kind of gastrointestinal challenge – food sensitivities and allergies, leaky gut, chronic constipation, IBS – you get the idea. I suffered for years with f-cked up digestion and had no clue it was linked to all my hormonal woes.

Why are these two linked? Because if your gut is not functioning optimally, you are not digesting and absorbing enough nutrients. And what do you need to make hormones? Vitamins, minerals and nutrients of course! In addition to that, food sensitivities or allergies create an inflammatory response in your body, which promotes cortisol production and bam, this throws off your other hormones.

Bone broth “heals and seals” the gut, according to Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, the author of Gut And Psychology Syndrome (GAPS). The gelatin found in bone broth is actually what is responsible for this healing and sealing.  It essentially fills in the holes of a leaky gut and should be a part of any gut healing regimen.

Bone broth is great for your hair, skin and nails!

How much money have you collectively spent on those three body parts in this lifetime? If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent an obscene/unmentionable amount of cash on products that promise a rockin’  mane, glowing skin and healthy nails. Who knew all you had to do was drink some good ol’ broth. The high collagen content in broth along with the gelatin are responsible for the benefits to your hair, skin and nails.

Oh oh, and I’ve read that bone broth may even get rid of cellulite because it maintains healthy connective tissue. Lack of good connective tissue typically shows up as that trademark lumpy, dimpled skin aka cellulite.

Seriously, why would you ever get botox or any other skin-improving procedure again?!

Bone broth for strong bones, teeth and joints. Yes please!

Makes sense that bone broth would be good for your bones and teeth right?  Broth contains a high calcium, magnesium and phosphorus content and thus keeps bones and teeth strong. Many people even claim that their teeth have been re-mineralized – as in cavities have healed. I’m working on this and will do a followup post on my findings 🙂

Do you have creaky, painful joints? I sure do. I’m totally prone to physical pain and I’m excited to see what happens with my bad knees. Bone broth contains high amounts of glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid, the same compounds found in expensive supplements that supposedly treat joint pain, arthritis and inflammation. Imagine all the fabulous things you could buy instead of supplements!

Bone broth is rich in the amino acids glycine, proline, glutamine and arginine. 

Without going into too much detail, I’ll say that these amino acids profoundly affect everything – your immune system, sperm production, liver function and detoxification (remember, very very important to a woman’s hormonal health) and gut/digestive health. Basically these amino acids have an effect on every cell in your body so it would be wise to make sure you’re consuming adequate amounts.

Best bones for bone broth:

  • You can save leftovers from when you roast a chicken or turkey
  • Check with a local butcher, especially one who butchers the whole animal
  • Ask farmers (who raise grassfed animals) at your local Farmer’s Market
  • Online from US Wellness Meats or Tropical Traditions – both great options for meat and bones!

Lots of choices for ya – now you don’t have to deal with a butcher who might look at you like you have two heads!

UPDATE: If you’re not into making your own broth, it’s your lucky day because I’m partnered with The Flavor Chef, an online store that will deliver bone broth to your door anywhere in the US. Don’t you just love the 21st century? 😉

Pressure cookers and recipes for bone broth

I am not trying to re-invent the wheel here so I’m going to give you recipes from the people who know what the heck they’re doing.

For those who want bone broth in 60 minutes vs 24 hours, here is an awesome pressure cooker recipe from NomNomPaleo.

If you want to take the slower route to broth, try the recipe below. I borrowed this information from Sarah Wilson of “I Quit Sugar” fame. Here is the link to her original post.

This recipe is mostly taken from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions.

about 2-3kg of bones (beef marrow, knuckle bones, meaty rib, neck bones – whatever the butcher will give you)
about 3-4 litres of cold water
1/2 cup vinegar (I prefer apple cider vinegar)
2-3 onions, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
several sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together
1 teaspoon dried green peppercorns, crushed or a tsp black peppercorns

Place the bonier bones (ie not much meat) in a very large pot with vinegar and cover with water. Let stand for one hour.

Meanwhile, place the meaty bones in a roasting pan and brown at 350 degrees in the oven. When well browned, add to the pot along with the vegetables.

Add additional water, if necessary, to cover the bones; but the liquid should come no higher than within one inch of the rim of the pot, as the volume expands slightly during cooking.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the thyme and crushed peppercorns.

Simmer 12-72 hours.

As Sally says: You will now have a pot of rather repulsive-looking brown liquid containing globs of gelatinous and fatty material. It doesn’t even smell particularly good.

Strain the lot (you’ll need to use tongs our your hands to pull out the bones) into a large bowl. Let cool in the fridge and then…

Operation Remove Fat Layer.

This is a little gross, but somehow satisfying. The congealed fat on top is usually a good 1-2cm thick and you can literally pick it up in chunks (like ice over a pond) and turf it.Things to know:

  • You brown the meatier of the bones in the oven first to 200 degrees C/395 F for 45-90 minutes. Lamb/beef bones give better broth if roasted in the oven first.
  • Acid is necessary in order to extract the minerals from the bone. Add some vinegar  to aid in leaching these minerals – in particular calcium -and other nutrients from the bones.
  • The water should be cold, because slow heating helps bring out flavors.
  • Stock will keep several days in the fridge…I mostly freeze it though.
  • Boiled down it concentrates and becomes a jellylike fumée or demi-glaze that can be reconstituted into a sauce by adding water.
  • For more information Nourished Kitchen is a great resource. Ditto Sally’s Nourishing Traditions.

Some things to do with bone broth:

* Drink it like a soup

* Make this amazing Wild Mushroom stew (picture above).

* Braise vegetables with it. I use a tablespoon or two instead of oil when doing stirfries.

* Gravy!!!

UPDATE: If you’re not into making your own broth, it’s your lucky day because I’m partnered with Au Bone Broth, an online store that will deliver bone broth to your door anywhere in the US. Don’t you just love the 21st century? 😉