Unless we’re tucked away in a cozy snowflake-dusted cabin in the woods, the mainstream holiday season can get a little draining…don’t ya think? With all the holiday hype and frenzied mall parking lots, that precious festive spirit can start to wane.
‘Holiday stress’ sounds like an oxymoron (or a first-world problem), but feeling out of balance and immune-suppressed around this time of year is fairly common. Waking up looking like the ghost of Christmas past is not what we’re going for. More like glowing snow angels, right?
Whether we’re on the verge of a winter cold bug or simply craving a bit of comfort, chicken soup has an astonishing way of soothing what ails us. Our ancestors were pretty wise; they didn’t let any of the animal go to waste, and bone stock has been used since forever ago for its nutrient density.
After my recent cooking class with Rooted Nutrition on traditional bone stocks, I wanted to share some fun facts I took home…
To clarify, a stock is usually made with the bones and marrow of livestock (like chicken & beef) or fish along with veggie scraps. Chilled stock has a jelly texture from the gelatin in bones, whereas a broth is typically meat or veggie-based, translucent and seasoned with herbs, salt and spices. Whatever term we’re going with, both stock and broth are equally special.
Homemade bone stock plays a starring role in both the Paleo and GAPS (Gut & Psychology Syndrome) diets, and it jives well in soups, gravy, curries, grain dishes, sauces and stews, or straight up in broth form.
Bone stocks have also shown progress in helping out with a number of chronic conditions like diabetes (both type 1 & 2), arthritis, Crohn’s & colitis, anemia, cancer and psychological disorders. Stock is also super budget-friendly to make at home!
Other cool benefits of stock include…
- Better digestion. Thanks to gelatin, bone stock/broth has actually been known to heal and seal a leaky gut (aka intestinal permeability) as well as balance stomach acid levels.
- Gelatin. Bone stock is rich in this stuff. Since gelatin contains collagen, and collagen makes up our bones and cartilage, a healthy dose of bone broth supports hair, nails, skin AND bones. Bonus.
- Mineral absorption. As bone broth helps to restore gut health, our mineral stores get more love too. Calcium, magnesium and phosphorous are far better absorbed when our intestines can keep up with the load. We also reap nutrients from the veggies cooked with our stock.
- Glycine. This amino acid helps out in fetal development and DNA/RNA synthesis, making bone broth a super source for mommas-to-be.
- Glucosamine. Another biggie for building cartilage and reducing joint inflammation, glucosamine is readily attainable through stock.
To make your own bone stock, all you really need is a high quality, pasture-raised/grass-fed supply of bones from a trusted butcher (or local farmer’s market), a stock pot, roasting pan, ladle and strainer. In Vancouver, we have a few sweet sustainable meat shops like Pasture to Plate and Home on the Range Organics. In an ideal world, we’d know our butcher and fish monger like friendly neighbors!
For a simple recipe, check out Danielle Walker’s Chicken Stock (Bone Broth) from her cookbook Against All Grain. If you’re interested in testing out a fish stock, here’s a yummy Salmon Head Soup courtesy of Honest Food. Another pioneering resource on bone stocks is Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions. Many of us grew up on homemade broths (my mom and grandma were stock queens), so we might already have our own family recipes!
If you’re opposed to the idea of consuming anything with the word ‘bone’ attached (or simply looking for a vegetarian/vegan stock option), a plant-based broth still offers up plenty of nutrients – here’s one from Forks Over Knives.
Pouring stock into an ice cube tray is an awesome way to have easy-access ‘bouillon cubes’ at your disposal. No hydrolyzed vegetable protein (ie. MSG), excess sodium or flavour enhancers needed! Hurray.
Enjoy a warm cup of broth while shopping online or hand-crafting green gifts this season 🙂