Bone broth is being heralded as a top notch super food these days and it is definitely one of those foods that lives up to this reputation due to the many health benefits derived through its consumption. Our ancestors including many of our grand parents and great grand parents intuitively knew what a great source of nutrition and nourishment bone broths contained which is why they were a staple in their diets.
I am sure scarcity of other food sources and economics were also factors in consuming bone broths for our distant and recent ancestors since they are inexpensive to make, but these factors don’t diminish the nutritional value no matter the reason for consumption.
Adopting The Healthy Habits Of Our Ancestors
Bone broth is becoming a popular staple again for households in the know thanks to efforts from people in the Paleo lifestyle community. The Paleo lifestyle is one that adopts certain healthy lifestyle practices that our distant ancestors successfully followed keeping them fit and healthy with relatively few ailments and diseases. By studying how our physically successful ancestors moved and ate, you can identify certain habits they followed and apply them to our modern society so as to stay connected to and practice those habits which may increase our chances of living a healthy, long life.
I find many elements of these studies fascinating and see a lot of wisdom in their application as long as the derived benefits make sense. I can’t argue with the fact that our modern lifestyle seems to carry the burden of many more new physical and mental ailments, diseases, allergies to seemingly everything and dismally poor health in general.
It seems reasonable that elements of our modern eating habits and constant connectivity to all kinds of media devices which promote sedentary lifestyles combined with poor movement and health practices may be contributing to these woes.
Hey, I like tapping away at my media devices just like everybody else, but I make sure I don’t get sucked into being a slave to it’s trappings which keeps our asses glued to the chair or otherwise immobile for unhealthy lengths of time.
I’m not ready to pack it in and live in a cave carrying a club around chasing my next meal through the tar pits just yet, but there is merit and enduring lessons we can learn from how our ancestors ate and moved.
The Benefits of Consuming Bone Broth
Some of the great health benefits of bone broth cited by Dr. Amy Myers of the Institute of Functional Medicine are:
1. Helps With Bone Formation, Growth And Repair.
The calcium, magnesium and phosphorus in bone broth helps our bones to grow and repair.
2. Reduces Joint Pain And Inflammation.
The glucosamine in bone broth can actually stimulate the growth of new collagen, repair damaged joints and reduce pain and inflammation.
3. Produces Gorgeous Skin, Hair And Nails.
The collagen and gelatin in bone broth supports hair growth and helps to keep your nails strong.
4. Healthier Than Buying Supplements.
Homemade bone broth contains all nutrients and minerals found in bones and tendons rather than just one or two found in pills. Slow cooking preserves the nutrients better than the high heat extraction used to make supplements.
5. Fights Inflammation.
Bone broth is very high in the anti-inflammatory amino acids glycine and proline.
6. Promotes Sleep And Calms The Mind.
The amino acid glycine found in bone broth can be very calming.
Dad Was The King Of Bone Soup
My earliest recollections of eating bone broth was as a kid when my dad would commandeer the kitchen and cook what he referred to as bone soup. I’m pretty sure he had no idea or could care less as to the exact nutritional benefits of cooking these bones and folding them into his different culinary concoctions. All he knew was that they made meals taste good and it’s what his parents and grandparents passed down to him.
My old man ruled the kitchen if he deemed there was anything important to cook up in our house growing up. Routine meals throughout the week were left for the rest of the family to prepare, but my dad usually held court in the kitchen on the weekends and this usually involved a lot of bones going into a pot for one of his soups, stews, stocks or depression-era delicacies. My father relished carrying on the cooking traditions passed down through the generations on his side of the family and his antics in the kitchen were more entertaining than any comedy sitcom you could think up.
When I was a kid, it seemed like everything was fair game for the old man to toss in a pot and boil the hell out of while barking to whoever was within earshot how lucky they were to be eating these self proclaimed masterpieces. Us kids used to joke to our dad that he still cooked like he was living in the depression or why not just throw an old boot or stone in the pot for the same effect. That would usually set him off on a boisterous tirade threatening to trade all us kids in at the orphanage for better kids who would worship the food he cooked. That would usually snap us in line since we actually believed if anybody can pull something like that off it was him!
To put my dad’s persona in perspective he was a combination of Seinfeld’s Frank Costanza, Rodney Dangerfield and the late comedy outlaw Sam Kinison. He had Rodney Dangerfield’s look and boisterous sense of humor locked down long before the movie Caddyshack premiered. He dressed as loudly as he talked, said whatever was on his mind, enjoyed being the life of the party, was always willing to fund a shindig in the back yard and was pretty generous with his successes.
I never appreciated the nutritional value and health benefits of these bone based meals until I got older and actually put an effort into learning about the foods I consumed . All we kids knew was that they sure tasted pretty good and the whole show our old man put on while cooking was priceless.
Here’s how the bone soup routine went – My dad would be up with the birds on a Saturday or Sunday morning usually around 5:30 or 6:00 AM then march down the stairs and lay claim to the kitchen and like a magician would be pulling huge cattle and pork bones out of the deepest corners of the freezer only he seemed to know existed.
Now you have to understand- if the old man was up, then everybody needed to be up. Upon waking, the first thing he would do would be to turn on the Polish polka radio station on the stereo and crank the volume way up to where the house would shake and literally catapult you from your bed. He always claimed not to know how to work that damned stereo, but for these weekend polka serenades he seemed to know how to operate it like a pro!
I knew all the words to “Roll Out The Barrel” and “She’s Too Fat For Me” through sheer audio osmosis before I was nine years old thanks to that wretched Philadelphia polka radio station that would jar me out of bed on those mornings.
He would start banging pots and pans, swearing, yelling at the poor dog and bellowing along with the polka songs not necessarily in that order as he prepared those bone- based medley of meals on those early morning weekend cooking rituals. Looking back, I think these antics were a masterful ploy to get us kids out of bed to do our chores early since nobody could sleep through the circus dad was orchestrating in the kitchen. We learned to stay out of his way in the kitchen and his direct line of sight as he would never like to see us sitting around doing nothing which usually resulted in us getting our chores done and just scattering out the door.
Dad was pretty creative in getting us kids excited about being connected to and actually wanting to eat these bone based soups and stews. To a kid, these huge bones with all kinds of stuff hanging from them looked pretty funky and there was understandably a natural resistance to eat the end product after the cooking process was done. The old man knew we loved everything about dinosaurs back then, so he would say he was cooking Brontosaurus bones or Bronto soup.
Of course we were a little skeptical, but he insisted with a straight face that he had “connections” with dinosaur hunters who knew where the last remaining Brontosaurus’ were living. I don’t think we completely bought his story, but it did make us more willing to eat these bone based dishes. Besides, if anybody knew where to find a dinosaur it was the old man based solely on his say so and badger-like tenacity! He also used this ploy to get us to eat any “weird” meats like liver or tripe – He would say they were Bronto steaks or cutlets.
I relay these cooking antics of my dad in the spirit of good natured fun and reverence. Fathers of my generation were of a different breed and more like a force of nature who had wills of steel and were men of action who didn’t over analyze everything before they put an idea in motion. They were embodiment’s of the Nike slogan “Just Do It! ” way before it became a modern media catchphrase and never agonized over political correctness if they knew their course of actions were moral and just.
How To Cook Bone Broth
There are many good bone broth recipes on the internet for you to sample and try these days. Here’s the recipe that has been passed down to me and I have tweaked based on trial and error along with trying some great ideas from others.
Bones – The best bones are from a wild source, organic, grass fed, cage free type of environment. These are best because commercially raised animals that are administered drugs, fed synthesized or crap feeds, allowed to be raised in stressful, unnatural conditions and injected with all sorts of steroids and hormones are only going to pass these accumulated toxins to you to varying degrees during the extraction process.
Almost any type of bone is fair game for the broth. I have used chicken, beef, deer, lamb, wild fish, turkey, ham or any wild game will do. I usually combine chicken bones with beef bones for a nice combination, so feel free to experiment a little – there are no hard and fast rules here! I save bones in the freezer from various meals or try to find a good source at a local butcher or farm that provide organic meats.
Pure Filtered Water
1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar – This is not for flavor. The acidic vinegar’s role in the cooking process is to break down the bones and extract the wonderful nutrients from them. You can use white vinegar, but the apple cider type has a more mellow tinge to it.
1 bunch parsley
6 Garlic Cloves
2 Long Hot Peppers – Optional if you want a little kick to the broth
2 Diced Tomatoes – Optional also, but I like the extra tang and nutrient boost
Place approx 2-3 lbs of bones into a large stew pot, cover with water and add the vinegar.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer/low boil.
Sometimes foam forms on the surface – just spoon it out as it forms.
Let cook for 24 hours stirring occasionally.
Remove the bones and strain the broth through a fine strainer to get rid of all the bone gunk and particles after it cools a bit
Re-heat the strained broth and now add the chopped parsley, peppers, onion, tomatoes and crushed fresh garlic and let cook for an hour.
Let cool and put in the fridge
Note there are two ways to handle adding the vegetables to the broth. I prefer a chunky broth with the vegetables included in the final product as described above. You can also throw all the vegetables in for 2-3 hours to cook before removing the bones and straining. Once you have cooked the vegetables, then you can strain everything including the cooked vegetables leaving you with pure broth.
How To Store Your Bone Broth
Try not to leave your wonderful super broth you just brewed up in the fridge for too long before dividing it up into portions to store in your freezer. Try to get to it within 3 days to preserve its freshness.
I will store the bone broth in glass jars or fill ice cube trays with it and store in the freezer. You can take out the broth and let it thaw to use as an incredibly tasty and potently nutritious base for quick soups, stews or just heat it up and drink it out of a mug which I do often.
You really can’t buy nutritious broth like this pre-made at the store since commercial extraction processes don’t use quality bones, contain unnecessary/unhealthy additives and rush the process only extracting marginal nutrients from the bones. Home made and slow extraction is the way to go if you really want to reap all the wonderful benefits of consuming bone broth.
It’s up to me now to carry on the tradition of making bone soup since my brother and sisters don’t do too much of this type of cooking. While I can’t exactly duplicate all of my dad’s various bone based soups, stews, and self-awarded blue ribbon dishes, I come pretty darn close. And yes I can get pretty animated in and out of the kitchen, but I will never be able to come close to his legendary and unrepeatable performances.
So give it a shot and brew up some bone broth for yourself. It’s pretty easy to make – it just takes time to cook and the experience should be pretty smooth unless you turn the event into a boisterous unforgettable culinary circus like my old man did!
Stay Well! Take Action! Be Consistent! Train and Eat Smart! Get Rid of the Drains and Pains in Your Life! Value your loved ones and friends and get out and have some active, safe fun!
I Eat T-Bone Steaks, Lift Sandbag Weights And Make The Best Brontosaurus Soup!
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