I know I’m a little late to the bone broth party on the blogosphere, but hey, it’s taken me over a year to fully understand and feel the effects of this healing liquid in my own life. As with all of posts here I want this one to be rooted in my actual experience over time, not just something I tried for two months and decided I was qualified to write a factual article about.
More and more I see bloggers sharing holistic remedies that aren’t solidified in their practice. I am all for sharing information online, but I feel many of these ungrounded approaches dilute the potency of many healing rituals that are meant to be lived, not just tried and discarded like the next juice cleanse protocol.
We are living in very fast times. That is not lost on me. Everyday my social media feeds and inbox is flooded with the next thing that is going to heal you. It’s just like our western culture to take this quick-fix approach to everything, including holistic health. I realize I am going on a bit of a rant here but my aim is coming directly from the heart. I want the internet to be a place where folks can find tried and true suggestions based on actual experience from people that live what they write about.
As many of you know my journal started from eating a whole food vegan diet for years and people reaching out to me for support. Plants of all kinds are still the majority of what I eat on a regular basis, but in order to heal my body I had to introduce nourishing animal foods into my routine.
Having a somewhat public life through my website and social media is such an interesting experience. I was talking with a woman the other day and she mentioned losing a bunch of followers and subscribers because she shifted the focus of her practice. I remember writing a food journey essay and being a bit worried that people would be disappointed in my choices. Typing this out right now makes me feel silly because I know in my heart of hearts that isn’t what any of this is about. This journal started as a platform for me to honestly share my life and create community. In that community people are free to come and go as they please and that ultimately makes me feel really good.
Now on to bone broth and why I am drinking it on the daily.
The first time I tried bone broth I couldn’t even swallow it. Almost instantly after taking the first sip I spit it right out into the sink. The animal smell and fatty consistency of the broth made me gag. I’d already started eating a little meat at this point, but the broth was just next level. I couldn’t drink it straight up.
After a month of fiddling around with different techniques and recipes I found a broth I was able to stomach and eventually really enjoy. Chicken broth was familiar to me. I grew up loving my Mom’s matzoh ball soup and chicken stock was the base. It was the beef broths that were so unfamiliar and weird to me. They are much fattier and have a gamey flavor for lack of a better word. Kinda gross I know but trust me, once you add all the herbs and veggies that I do, you will be amazing at how incredible this broth truly is.
Bone broths are a staple food in many traditional cultures. People around the world made variations of healing broths using the entire animal, not a pressed bouillon cube they got from the supermarket. From Asia to South America, each culture uses different animals as the base of their broths. They all take it a step further and turn that broth into a range of foods from stews, to sauces, to cooked vegetables. You can use bone broth in any recipe that calls for stock and it adds amazing richness to cooked legumes and grains as well.
Bone broth is a deeply healing food. I started drinking it over a year ago to nourish my body, support my digestion and prepare my body for conception. I started the preconception phase super early but with my history of being a little low in minerals and hormone imbalances I wanted to get everything in smooth order long before it was time to conceive. I continue to drink bone broth each day because it has helped my body heal in ways I didn’t think possible and making it has become a ritual that I cherish.
It’s amazing how bone broth works wonders to repair our digestive tract and is a superior food when it comes to healing many illnesses. For the highest quality broth I recommend making it yourself. Fresh broth from well sourced organic free range chicken or grass feed cow bones is far more nutrient rich than anything you can buy in a package at the store. If you live in a city where you can buy actual bone broth that is great option. If you’re going to drink it daily like we do, it’s much more economical to make yourself.
Most bone broths are simmered 36-72 hours, depending on the types of bones you use. This long simmering time releases their minerals and produces gelatin from their joints.
“Broth contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.” – Sally Fallon
Here are just some of the incredible benefits of this miracle broth:
- Reduces joint pain
- Promotes healthy hair + skin
- Heals the gut
- Adrenal support
- Supports healthy digestion
- Fights inflammation which is the root cause of most disease
- Enhances brain function + mood
- Helps sport recovery
And if that wasn’t enough bone broth is my number one preconception and fertility food. Yep. You read that correctly! I can’t even tell you how many clients I’ve gotten on bone broth who were trying to get pregnant and after several months of broth and 1:1 somatic breathwork sessions with me they conceived! Of course pregnancy can be much more complicated than that but for a nourished, strong body, 1-2 cups of bone broth will help create a lovely first home for your babe.
If you want to dive deep into all things broth get you hands on Sally Fallon’s book asap. She is a pioneer in the traditional foods movement and has loads of resource material that is a staple in my life and in my work with clients.
Typically bone broth is made with bones and sometimes a little meat. Bones can be roasted before making broth but I almost always skip this unnecessary step. I haven’t found it changes the flavor drastically enough to warrant the extra time in prep.
I highly suggest getting a good crock pot for making broth. I prefer clay pots as they season over time like a good cast iron skillet and are the safest to use for long periods of time. If you’re cooking for a family definitely get a larger crock like this one. It’s a bit of an investment upfront but they last forever and you will get your use out of it. I get 2 batches of broth out of each bag of cow bones that I purchase. Chicken bones are much smaller and one batch of bone broth is all they are good for.
You know the bones have had it when they crumble when pressed with a spoon. At that point it’s time to toss them. You can make broth once, cool and freeze the bones for later use. Simply toss the frozen bones in your crockpot, cover with clean water and start again.
I know this probably goes without saying but please get your hands on really high quality bones. Research some local butcher shops or farmers markets. Ask questions. My favorite neighborhood spot in Los Angeles is McCalls in Los Feliz. I buy several pounds of their marrow bones and cartilage bones each month for our broth.
The key to a supportive broth is to SIMMER it the entire time. You don’t want to bring the broth to a rolling boil. It’s fine for chicken soup but for authentic bone broth use the simmer setting, or lowest setting on your crockpot. On ours it’s the WARMING setting. Keeping the broth simmering on the lowest setting helps extract the most nutrients and gives your broth a beautiful golden color. Do not salt the broth until you are ready to serve it. I prefer to salt each serving on its own with a little miso or Celtic sea salt.
About the gelatin. You want the gelatin in your broth, that is one of the reasons for making it. I like to make sure that at least 1/3 of the bones in the broth are coming from joints—this is where the cartilage is that will breakdown in to a form that our body recognizes when we drink it – gelatin. Some folks swear by chicken feet and necks, I often use beef knuckles. You will know your broth has a good level of gelatin because it will get clumpy when chilled. Don’t worry if your broth doesn’t gel on the first try, keep practicing and always include cartilage in the broth.
There is no wrong way to make broth. It is simply bones and water. Don’t be intimated by all of this, trust your intuition and try it. Initially it was difficult to overcome my fear of handling raw bones and the heavy feelings of sadness touching these animal parts. I always say lots of prayers when I am making my broth and give loads of gratitude to the animals lives that were taken. It’s really important that we connect with this process and learn to heal our relationships with how and why we eat, as well as how and why we prepare certain foods.
Below are two recipes. The first is just for the straight up, no frills bone broth. The second is for the flavored broth, the way we like to drink it around here. I add a boost of Chinese herbs to take the soup to a new level. You can always add dried herbs to the no frills recipe too. Depending on the size crockpot you have the bone amounts will vary. My base recipe is for a 3 qt. crock pot, if yours is larger just double the recipe. You want your crock pot filled to the top with bones and water to just cover.
For overall health and wellness drink 1 cup per day. For preconception/fertility drink 1-2 cups per day. Bone broth is excellent during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. As mentioned before you can use this broth as a base in many recipes. It keeps for one week in the fridge and will last frozen for months.
No Frills Bone Broth
Makes 2.5 quarts
- 2 lbs. grass fed, organic marrow bones
- 1 lbs. grass fed, organic beef knuckles
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Place the bones in your crock pot. Cover completely with clean water. Add the vinegar and cover. Let sit for 1 hour. Adding the vinegar helps the bones release more of their nutrients.
Set your crock pot on the lowest setting. Simmer at that low setting for 72 hours.
Allow to cool completely before storing in the fridge in glass or in the freezer in a container of your choice.
Ashley’s Nourishing Broth
Makes 5 quarts
- 5 quarts bone broth
- 1 large bulb fennel with fronds
- 1 bunch Swiss chard stems
- 4 large carrots
- 4 stalks celery
- 3 leeks
- 4 stalks lemongrass
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
- 1/2 bunch cilantro
- 5 inch knob ginger
- 5 inch knob turmeric
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 slices of dried astragalus (optional)
- 3 Tbsp. reishi powder (optional)
- Non soy miso
- Fresh lemon juice
Roughly chop the fennel, chard stems, carrots, celery, leeks, lemongrass, garlic and add them too a large stock pot with the broth. Next add the parsley, cilantro, bay leaves, astragalus, and reishi powder. Bring to the lowest possible simmer and simmer for 1 hour until all of the veggies are well cooked.
Drain the veggies and add to your compost.
Serve warm with a bit of miso stirred in and a squeeze of lemon.
Ok there you have it! I know this was a super long post but this is HUGE topic and there is lots of cover.
Have you made bone broth? Has it supported your wellness? I’d love to hear your experience with this incredibly healing food.
Lots of love,