Saturday, November 3, 2012

chicken bone broth to heal your gut, and that nasty cold...

One thing I have learnt about at the Real Food Symposium, and which I have definitely started to implement, along with fermented vegetables, is bone broth. I had occasionally made a soup with leftover bones from a chicken or from that Thanksgiving turkey, and they always turned out delicious, but there I learnt a whole new level of bone broth making, and discovered the health benefits of our grandmothers' traditional recipe.

If you haven't heard of the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet yet, and you suffer from low immunity, asthma, allergies, arthritis, ADHD, Autism, MS, Chronic Fatigue and Arthritis, among other conditions, you might want to take a look at it. The whole focus of this diet is to heal and seal the gut lining, so that you can better absorb nutrients and allow them to heal and nourish your body. Bone broth is a crucial part of the diet and plays a soothing role on the gut.

- When made properly, bone broth contains a gelatin which assists digestion by attracting digestive juices to itself and preventing gastrointestinal bugs from attaching themselves to the gut wall and wreaking havoc.

- It is loaded with minerals (calcium, silicon, sulphur, magnesium, phosphorus and trace minerals). All these minerals present in bones are macro-minerals which are essential for proper nutrition. Minerals are important, not only for our bones, but also for other functions in the body. The body with draw those minerals from our bones and tissues if it isn't fed enough of them, to maintain steady levels of minerals in the blood and other fluids, which can then cause other issues (deficiencies) such as inflammation, camps, muscle spasms, delusions, depression, insomnia, irritability, hyperactivity, anxiety, palpitations, hypertension, allergies, periodontal and dental disease, osteoporosis, etc, etc...

- bone broth is helpful in treating digestive disorders
- the gelatin in the broth tonifies blood and helps with anemia and other blood disorders. It also helps neutralizing any intestinal poison present during an intestinal bug or flu.
- in bone broth, we use cartilaginous parts of animals, like chicken feet or necks, which have a high concentration of glycosaminoglycans and help with conditions such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, decreased immune system states and malnutrition

- Collagen, which is another word for gelatin (which is in broth), along with minerals are needed for the creation and healing of bone. It is also integral to cartilage formation and repair.
- broth also contains, Chondroitin Sulfate, a jellylike substance, used as a supplement for joint pain due to osteoarthritis. It functions to support and provide adhesiveness. It lines blood vessels and plays a role in lowering atherosclerosis, cholesterol and heart attacks.
- broth can be thought of as a protein supplement, and a calcium supplement. The chemical ingredients extracted from broth are glycine and proline (collagen/gelatin), calcium and phosphorus (minerals), hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate (GAGs), and other minerals, amino acids and GAGs in smaller amounts.
If I haven't convinced you yet, or if I have bored you with all these details, just go back to the roots: didn't your mother or grandmother always suggest chicken soup when you had a cold? And since it is cold season, I figured it might be a good time to share the recipe, even though I have been making it all summer and have bags of frozen broth in my freezer.

You will need:

A whole organic free range chicken
2 or more chicken feet (read below to see where to find that)
and/or 2 chicken necks
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
an onion

a bunch of carrots
a bunch of celeri (or one gallon of chopped vegetables and/or scraps)
a bunch of parsley
2-3 bay leaves
1 tbsp peppercorns
filtered water

Place your chicken in a large chicken pot, with the feet and necks, and cover with iced water. Add 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and let it rest for 30 minutes, with the lid on. The vinegar helps to draw the mineral salts out of the bone. 

After 30 minutes, bring to a boil and skim off the scum or foam that appears at the surface once it starts boiling. Add the onion, vegetables, bay leaves and peppercorns. Reduce flame on low and let it cook for an hour. 

Then remove the chicken, which should be cooked by now, and remove the flesh off the bones. You can use the meat for different dishes. Replace the bones in the stock pot, and let it cook on low for at least 5-6 hours, up to twenty hours. At this point, if you are not going to be home for that long, you can transfer everything into your crockpot and let it cook in there for as long as you want. The longer you cook it, the more minerals you are going to get from it. 

One hour before the end of cooking, add the parsley. When you are done cooking the broth, you can let it cool a bit, or you can sift the liquid and toss the bones and veggies right away and THEN let it cool or drink right away. I sometimes grab a few of the veggies, making sure there are no bones left in the mix, and use some of the broth to make a soup right there and then.

I then let the rest of the broth cool and when it is relatively cold, I pour some in ice cube trays for freezing, or in muffin pans or other containers. You can use your broth to cook any meat or veggies, to make gravy, to cook your rice or quinoa in, or as is. The possibilities are endless. I use it mostly to make soups, which I love this time of year.

It is a pretty greasy broth, because the chicken skin gives out a lot of fat too. If you don't like how greasy it is, you could also just use bones.

You are probably wondering where to find chicken feet and necks (and yes, that is a chicken foot sticking out of that broth :)... If you go to your local Farmer's market, find the stall where they sell meat. Make sure it is grass fed/cage free and organic, and ask for those items. Dey Dey, who you will find at different markets in the LA area, namely Pasadena and South Pasadena, sells them frozen by the bag. I bought two bags 6 months ago, kept them in my freezer, and just finished them this week. I have made several batches of broth in 6 months.

So stay healthy this winter, and all year round, with that good old-fashioned chicken broth your grandma raved about :)


  1. Alexine, wow, you do your research and experiment. Great to read.

    I'm basically in line with you. You and your family actually carry it out more than we do. I look forward to learning from you in this blog posts.

    Here is one place I learn about health.

  2. Hi, Interesting article- admire your courage to put this out..
    When my mom was recovering rather slowly after a hospital-stay- I was advised to give Mutton bone broth along with feet.
    She recovered very quickly.