I often recommend bones as a nutrient. WHAT?! No, we’re not talking ‘Paleo’ in the sense of a bone chewing frenzy in your gazelle skin over a campfire, or a doggie chew toy facsimile, but something better. This is especially great for my clients who have a risk factor for osteoporosis. But they are a fantastic nourishing choice for ALL of us, not just for bone building, but for our gut, immune system, hair, nails, and joints.
We’re in the middle of our BONES x 3+ this week, and it’s chicken soup night at our house – with two organic chicken carcasses pulled from the freezer (ok, two weeks – it was hot last week and I didn’t feel like making soup then, alright?) to the stew pot. We eat far less meat and chicken for a couple reasons, but quite honestly, it’s mostly economical. As ‘right’ a choice as organic is, the financial factor is a significant one, and the BONES x 3+ system really makes organic animal meats AFFORDABLE for us! For instance, one whole organic chicken might cost me $15.00 (yikes and OUCH!), but making 4 meals out of it for 3 people brings that meat cost down to $3.75 per MEAL, or only $1.25 per person. Even less when you consider leftovers for lunches! Not too shabby – take THAT, fast food! So…go out and be brave, buy your first organic meat today and give the BONES x 3+ system a try!
**Note: as always, remember the ‘HEALTHY IN-HEALTHY OUT’ rule – Do your best to use as healthy a bone source as you can get – try to stay away from commercial feed lot animals whose health hardly has a chance – go for the animals whose bones grow strong and usually more mature on the nutrients from grass, bugs, and weeds (this is where all those great minerals and microorganisms come from to do all that good for us).
This article is specific to chicken, but any meat…or fish….can be enjoyed similarly. Here’s how we do it:
Stage 1+: Main Dish
This is normally spread into TWO main dish meals (hence the 3+).
First we have our “meat” night, roasted, grilled, or whatever floats our boat, with tasty veggie accompaniments. The second meal is very often our favorite chicken enchiladas but sometimes a quick stir fry or casserole dish using the chopped leftovers. And we often have leftovers for lunches to boot! I may need to share some recipes, right?
Stage 2: Soup
These healthy dirt and bug pecking chickens are going to fortify our bones and health deliciously more than a couple times. First, their healthy protein as roast chicken, casserole, ad leftovers. Then the soup, fortified with some nutritious colorful veggies like carrots, celery, onion, and swiss chard (or other dark greens) – plus lotsa garlic, turmeric, sea salt, and pepper. To start the soup, I first simmer the carcasses a couple hours, take them out to cool, and pick the meat off to put back into that lovely broth. Here’s the bone twist – I do NOT toss those bones out yet – see Stage 3. I remove the bones from the soup kettle and add all the goodies, simmer til done, and serve.
Stage 3 is BONE BROTH
Ew, yes, you read that right. Did you know bone broth is AMAZING for your OWN bones…AND your gut, immune system, hair, nails, and joints? Anyway, this is really simple and super cheap – you were going to throw those bones out anyway, and consider all the supplements you won’t be buying so much of!
This is much like making the soup, but so easy there’s no ‘busy schedule’ excuse, and becomes one of those SUPERFOODS in no time and with almost no effort! I pull out my handy dandy crock pot, put those already cooked bones in water to cover, add some raw vinegar (important), seasonings, and cook on low for….24hrs! This allows the very best of all that’s in those bones to become your nourishment. The broth is now infused with all the glorious nutrients of the bones and cartilage in easily absorbent form – from calcium to the valuable chondroitin and glucosamine sold in pricey joint supplements. Add some seasonings and enjoy either as a soup or drink. And if you try beef, HELLO, French Onion Soup! I strain and freeze it in paper cups or ice cubes and toss in a ziploc to keep fresh til I want to warm one up to drink later. In what quantity? I go for consuming one 8oz cup daily til I run out, then I make sure to put ‘meat with bones’ on the grocery list.
Still ‘ew’? As it gets cooler out, this is a great nutritious warm-up drink in lieu of, or addition to, tea the evening in your coffee nook or curled up on the sofa with a book or your favorite TV drama (my latest fave is “Orange Is The New Black”) or comedy.
Easy Chicken Broth Recipe
The following recipe was provided by Sally Fallon, writing for the Weston A. Price Foundation. Her article also contains a recipe for beef and fish broth. (You could also use turkey, duck, or lamb, following the same basic directions.
Perhaps the most important caveat when making broth, whether you’re using chicken or beef, is to make sure they’re from organically-raised, pastured or grass-fed animals. As noted by Fallon, chickens raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) tend to produce stock that doesn’t gel, and this gelatin has long been valued for its therapeutic properties.8 As explained by Fallon:
“Gelatin was universally acclaimed as a most nutritious foodstuff particularly by the French, who were seeking ways to feed their armies and vast numbers of homeless in Paris and other cities. Although gelatin is not a complete protein, containing only the amino acids arginine and glycine in large amounts, it acts as a protein sparer, helping the poor stretch a few morsels of meat into a complete meal.”
Besides that, CAFO animals are fed an unnatural diet that is not beneficial for their intestinal makeup, and they’re also given a variety of veterinary drugs and growth promoters. You don’t want any of these potentially harmful additives in your broth, so make sure to start off with an organically-raised product.
Ingredients for homemade chicken broth
1 whole free-range chicken or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts
(such as necks, backs, breastbones, and wings)
Gizzards from one chicken (optional)
2-4 chicken feet (optional)
4 quarts cold filtered water
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley
Please note the addition of vinegar. Not only are fats are ideally combined with acids like vinegar, but when it comes to making broth, the vinegar helps leech all those valuable minerals from the bones into the stockpot water, which is ultimately what you’ll be eating. The goal is to extract as many minerals as possible out of the bones into the broth water. Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar is a good choice as it’s unfiltered and unpasteurized.
There are lots of different ways to make bone broth, and there really isn’t a wrong way. You can find different variations online. Here, I’ll offer some basic directions. If you’re starting out with a whole chicken, you’ll of course have plenty of meat as well, which can be added back into the broth later with extra herbs and spices to make a chicken soup. I also use it on my salad.
Fill up a large stockpot (or large crockpot) with pure, filtered water. (A crockpot is recommended for safety reasons if you have to leave home while it’s cooking.)
Add vinegar and all vegetables except parsley to the water.
Place the whole chicken or chicken carcass into the pot.
Bring to a boil, and remove any scum that rises to the top.
Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let simmer.
If cooking a whole chicken, the meat should start separating from the bone after about 2 hours. Simply remove the chicken from the pot and separate the meat from the bones. Place the carcass back into the pot and continue simmering the bones for another 12-24 hours and follow with step 8 and 9.
If cooking bones only, simply let them simmer for about 24 hours.
Fallon suggests adding the fresh parsley about 10 minutes before finishing the stock, as this will add healthy mineral ions to your broth. Remove remaining bones from the broth with a slotted spoon and strain the rest through a strainer to remove any bone fragments.
Bone Broth—A Medicinal ‘Soul Food’
Simmering bones over low heat for an entire day will create one of the most nutritious and healing foods there is. You can use this broth for soups, stews, or drink it straight. The broth can also be frozen for future use. Keep in mind that the “skin” that forms on the top is the best part. It contains valuable nutrients, such as sulfur, along with healthful fats, so just stir it back into the broth.