By Shannon Keirnan
Bone broth is one of the major buzzwords in holistic and natural health care these days - odds are you've come across it, whether being lauded as one of the best ways to heal gut issues, a tasty way to stay beautiful, or a great old-school remedy for cold and flu season.
So what is bone broth and why is it hailed as a such a wonder food?
Basically, bone broth is simply stock - though not the adulterated store-bought stock most of us are used to these days. Bones, and even things like necks and feet, are simmered with vegetables and an acidic component for 24-48 hours. The liquid is retained, and voila, you have, not only a great base for soups or other recipes, but a tasty drink full of health benefits.
Cooking the bones with something acidic - be it lemon juice, or a little vinegar, or even some wine - will draw out the minerals within the bone, giving our bodies access to something that normally cannot be easily consumed. Collagen, proline, glycine, and glutamine, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, and plenty of other things the body needs are suddenly available in an easily absorbed medium.
Consuming bone broth can heal leaky gut and soothe an irritated digestive tract. It is recommended as a beginning step toward healing the damage from autoimmune diseases like Crohn's, or issues like acid reflux. The gelatin in the broth promotes probiotic balance in the gut, and helps break down proteins.
Gelatin also provides minerals like glutamine, which help to protect and soothe the joints.
Bonus; if you're as vain as I am, you'll be glad to know that the collagen also keeps your skin and muscles supple - meaning it lessens wrinkles, and improves cellulite problems! It increases hair and nail growth, and remineralizes teeth to boot.
Oh, and it also boosts the immune system. There's a reason sick people have been drinking chicken soup for as far back as anyone can remember.
Better yet, it's really simple to make, and you can use just about anything. Now is the time to start sucking up to your friends who hunt and can provide you with some venison bones! Throw in the carcass from that roasted chicken or turkey - feet, neck, and all. I personally like beef the best, so I go the cheap route and pick up dog bones from my local butcher, still full of marrow (don't worry, I share with her).
It's important to make sure you're buying good-quality bones, so know where they're coming from. Look for pastured and grass-fed. Call your local butcher, nearby farms, or check out the farmer's market. The good news is, bones are generally inexpensive!
Bone broth recipes abound on the Internet, so feel free to look up what suits you best and go from there. Add whatever vegetables you prefer for improved taste and nutrition, and, if you're using beef bones, I recommend roasting them first to give the broth a richer favor.
And yes, once that broth has cooled, it should jiggle. It's basically meat Jell-O. Store in mason jars, freeze, or pour into ice cube trays and pop one or two into your everyday cooking!
Check out a few of my favorite recipes below, and get to drinking!