Today’s blog post comes from Erin and Cameron Smith at EatRealStaySane.com
Bone broths (you might know them as chicken broth or beef broth) are probably the only food that you can usually find in our freezer, our refrigerator, and our refrigerator a second time in some sort of leftover dish. We constantly search out recipes that require chicken and beef broth, and we eat it in some form virtually every day.
Because if there is such a thing as a “miracle food,” I’d say bone broth is it (cod liver oil might fit the bill, but it’s nowhere near as versatile and not used in cooking).
We use it in soups, stews, drink it plain, and even substitute it for half the water when cooking rice (criminally delicious) – in addition to using it in the numerous recipes that call for it.
So what does it actually do for you?
Benefits of Bone Broth
- Heals Your Gut
While bone broths provide a myriad of benefits, the fact that it heals your gut is probably most important. A health gut usually indicates that you’re an overall healthy person, and vice versa.
According to Natasha Campbell-McBride (creator of GAPS), bone broths are excellent for “healing and sealing” your gut – which prevents toxins from entering your bloodstream through your intestinal lining.
- Promotes Healthy Bones
A unique health benefit of drinking bone broth is that you get a variety of minerals that most people don’t get quite enough of (what, you don’t normally chew on bones for your health?).
Minerals like calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and potassium help maintain critical functions, as well as strengthen your bones!
- Boosts Your Immune System
As Jenny over at Nourished Kitchen says, “I credit good broth, cod liver oil, and fermented foods with the resilient immunity my family enjoys each flu season.”
Part of that can be attributed to sealing your gut lining, as that helps boost your immune system as well.
- Reduces Joint Pain and Inflammation
I’ve noticed this in myself for sure – when we’re extra dedicated to drinking bone broths, my knees don’t hurt like they normally do. It’s amazing to feel an immediate difference!
Bone broths contain such science-y mouthfuls as chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, which helps eliminate joint pain and inflammation (often caused by unhealthy foods and can be a precursor to cancer and heart attacks)
- Supports Strong Nails, Hair, and Skin
The high collagen and gelatin content of bone broths actually can help heal your skin and keep you from having brittle nails and hair. Many women drink bone broth to help prevent stretch marks and wrinkles. And ‘cause chipped nails, crow’s feet and split ends are a girl’s nightmare, ya hear what I’m sayin’?
- It’s Delicious and Convenient
It’s not uncommon for us to have a couple gallons of broth frozen at our house – meaning we can quickly make broth-based soups with very little work.
Plus, like most home-made versions of their processed, store-bought counterparts, it’s just better. It’s fresher, chemical-free, and flavored with a variety of veggies. Plus, it tastes a little different every time, adding some excitement to your life (well, maybe if you’re a weird real foodie, like I am)!
How to Make Bone Broths
The first step for us in brewing our own bone broth is to start collecting all our veggie scraps in a plastic bag in our fridge. Whenever you chop an onion, throw the peel and the ends in your bag! This makes your broth taste a little like whatever veggies you ate in the past week or two.
Ideally, you’ll buy grass-fed beef bones for maximum health benefits. Many places will give you bones for free or wholesale if you buy their meat in bulk. We get ours at a little store called Real Food Market that gets everything from a local farm. We buy 5 lbs of bones at a time.
Then, we’ll toss all this stuff in our 6 quart crock pot:
- 2.5 lbs grass-fed beef bones – A variety of bones is best like knuckle bones, marrow bones, and meaty bones. We only have marrow bones available to use.
- Veggie scraps from freezer (if no scraps saved up, chop up some onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and whatever else you’d like but NOT broccoli! The broccoli stinks like no other!).
- Handful of peppercorn
- Lots of unrefined sea salt to taste
- 2 bay leaves or so
- ½ C Vinegar to pull out minerals particularly calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous
- Fill to top with water
I’ve honestly never had bad tasting beef broth, so don’t worry too much about the amounts of everything. You will be astounded at how much salt you need – but that’s easy to taste and measure.
Set your crock pot on low, and cook for about 2-3 days or so (I’ve gotten lazy and left it 4-5 days before…Netflix aint gonna watch itself). If the water goes down a few inches due to boiling, we fill it back up.
Usually after about a day, we’ll usually take out about half the water, strain it, and store in mason jars. Then fill the pot back up again to stretch out the broth even further. We’ve never had a problem feeling like it was watered down.
To store, strain out all the chunks, fill up your mason jars (leave a little breathing room at the top… we’ve had cracked jars before), let cool, screw on lids, and put in freezer! Since they’re not processed with MSG or other nasties, they don’t last a super long time in the fridge, maybe 4 days or so.
The process is extremely similar! However, we admittedly haven’t used pastured chicken bones for this because we haven’t been able to find any around here for a price we can stomach.
However, we’ll do the next best thing and use the carcass of a rotisserie chicken.
Some people add gizzards and feet to their crock pot too for more flavor and gelatin.
Really, the only difference from beef broth is that you don’t need to cook it as long. Throw in all the same ingredients and use all the same processes from above, just cook it for about a day.
Chicken bones get really soft, which is a good way to know that it’s done!
You can also make bone broth from lamb, fish, turkey, rabbit (seriously, my naturopath does) – basically anything, really.
I consider this an essential part of any healthy person’s diet. When people ask me what changes they need to make, homemade bone broths always make it into my top 5 suggestions because it can help just about any part of their body get healthier.
My fingernails are definitely harder to clip now than they used to be, and they grow a lot faster, for example. I said above that my joint pain goes away, and I’d be curious to hear first-hand the effects bone broths have on someone with severe arthritis.
Plus, if you’re a busy mom and you need healthy meals that can feed an army, there’s nothing like brewing a pot of soup with an incredibly healthy bone broth base!
What do you do with your bone broth?
Erin and Cameron Smith teach people how to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes eating real food, eliminating toxins, and overcoming chronic illness. You can get her 7-part series about how to incorporate a real food lifestyle to help you lose weight, reverse disease, and be healthier than ever.