The nights are cooler. Some of us have to cover our gardens for fear of the goods perishing under the waning moon. We start to turn inwards, as the daylight gets shorter and the furnace turns on. It's time to get a slow simmer going on the stove.
You have probably heard it by now, and if you haven't, I think you should come out from under that rock. Bone Broth. Stock. Chicken Stock. Meat Stock. It's all the rage. And with good reason! This frugal save-your-scraps kind of cooking that our grandmothers' grandmothers were doing, and all grandmothers before them (in all walks of life, and all parts of the world) has been an integral part of the diet in just about every culture around the globe.
Food was never a plentiful thing; grocery stores have only been on the scene since the late 1920s. You used to have to cook from scratch all the time. And you used every morsel you had; nothing was wasted. That is the food with which our bodies and our genetics evolved for countless generations. It's time to bring it back to the table.
To be clear, we're not talking tetra packs of stock or broth; we're also not talking about the powdered or cubed kind of 'insta-stock' either. Sorry to disappoint. Sure, there are places for these types of manufactured stocks or broths, but they won't impart the health benefits of a real deal from scratch kind of meat stock or bone broth. So know that when I'm referring to meat stock or bone broth in this article, I'm talking about simmering in your own kitchen some bones with or without meat on them with a few added tasty things.
These terms seem to be interchangeable; and certainly when it comes to following a recipe that calls for either meat stock or broth, you can use easily substitute with what you have on hand. I want to outline here, though, the difference between a Meat Stock and a Bone Broth in order to help clear up the confusion.
The clarification between the two became crystal clear when I spent a long weekend in Colorado two years ago with the lovely Monica Corrado, a Traditional Foods Chef and Teacher, as well as a Certified Nutritional Consultant who put together a fabulous weekend of cooking for the GAPS Diet, a revolutionary diet from Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride intended to 'heal and seal' the gut. It was here that I learned there are massive differences between the Meat Stock (let's call it MS) and Bone Broth (let's call this one BB).
A bone broth (BB) is a traditional kind of broth cooked with the bones of an animal for a long time at a wee simmer. A meat stock (MS) is a shorter cook time of bones with meat on them, on a low simmer. The big difference? The length of time the bones or bones+meat will simmer.
MS=short, BB=long. MS=meat+bones, BB=bones.
This is not where the only differences lie, however. If you're like me and are working on improving your gut health, you may have run across a few issues when consuming a long-cooked stock. I remember when my kiddo was wee, I made a vietnamese soup with bone broth I had cooked for the requisite 72 hours they called for in my early days of Nourishing Traditions exploration.
Within an hour and a half of chowing down the good soup, I fell apart. And I mean that quite literally. We were at my kiddo's dance studio at the time; thank goodness my in-laws were there to take her home. I was escorted out the door via the ambulance as I had a pretty violent reaction to this long and slow simmer of a stock as it messed with my body. I'll spare you the images, but know that it wasn't pretty. They couldn't explain what happened to me, or why I reacted the way I did. They chalked it up to food poisoning; I was left scratching my head as my daughter and I had eaten the same foods, yet she never reacted like I did.
It wasn't until I attended this weekend cooking retreat with Monica Corrado that it all came into focus: this long, slow simmer of a stock was at the root of my troubles that day. And quite a few times since then. I was cooking like the folks who know these things were cooking it; I was following the rules. Why did I feel so rotten?
It is the long, slow process that concentrates amounts of glutamic acid in the final product. Monica goes into a brilliant explanation on the troubles with glutamic acid. For those with digestive complaints in this article, I highly recommend you take the time to read through, in order to understand what is happening here.
Her conclusion? For anyone with a compromised digestive system (read: intestinal permeability / autoimmune disorders / any diagnoses with the nervous system like ADHD or seizures or depression or anxiety / any digestive diagnoses like IBS IBD or Celiac), you must stick to the shorter cook times, keeping to a more nutrient-dense short cook meat stock.
Fret not though; bone broth will come in to the picture further on down the road, once some of that support to the gut starts to take hold. Cooking for a shorter time reduces the amount of glutamic acid, which is a substance that can exacerbate any kind of physiological concerns you have that are related to the gut (which is just about everything.)
The other thing to think about when making a meat stock or a bone broth is the amount of histamines in the final product. If histamine overload is a problem for you (migraines, acid reflux, chronic pain, hives, allergies, urticaria) this is important information. The longer the cook time, the higher the amount of histamines produced in the final product. Whenever there is an issue of histamines, you can rest assured there is a need to look at reducing inflammation in the individual.
How to reduce chronic inflammation? Short cook meat stock, to the rescue. Lower in histamines than a long cook BB, the MS will be a nutrient dense way to support your intestinal lining, in order to reduce inflammation at the source and therefore, radiating outwards.
The health benefits of including this elixir in your dietary regimen are everywhere these days. This stuff is golden when it comes to supporting collagen production in your body, a substance we need for every skin cell in our body including those all important skin cells of our intestinal lining. MS and BB are both rich in nutrients necessary to support healthy cartilage and connective tissue, including bones. They are easy assimilated forms of protein for the body, making it a super nourishing drink for anyone feeling under the weather or facing a serious health challenge at this time. They're a great source of nutrients when you're in repair or building mode (like say, mending that broken leg of yours or making a baby).
If you or anyone you love has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, psoriasis, any kind of autoimmune disorder including that of the thyroid, any type of digestive disorder like IBS or Crohns; anyone in your life working on a cancer diagnosis, any kind of motor-neuron disorder or degenerative disease like MS or ALS; for the person looking to support mental health and balancing moods or decreasing anxiety; anyone looking to upkeep their body's functions for high performance sports or fitness endeavors; anyone looking to age like a champ; consuming meat stock (and bone broth in some instances or at some point down the road) can be of tremendous support.
Let's go over how to easily make a meat stock. For today's blog post, I am going to stick to a chicken meat stock for the sake of simplicity. I will be including other meat stocks in my repertoire as the months go by and cooking classes get built. But for now, let's look at what it takes to make a good ole meat stock.
A low, slow simmer is key to making a meat stock that will gel.
I love to boost my meat stock with additional herbs or veggies to increase the nutrient density of said stock. Think of adding any number of these things when next you brew. Add them in to the soup pot at the beginning of your meat stock:
If you've made your meat stock well, allowing it to come to a slow simmer, not used an excessive amount of water (use enough to cover the bird, and you should be good), your end product should gel upon cooling. This will happen especially if you have some connective-tissue rich feet, heads, necks or backs in the mix; it's worth seeking them out and adding them to the mix! If it didn't gel, do not despair: this is still good stuff to eat! Adjust your water next time, or keep a more watchful eye to make sure the simmer is slowly bubbling.
Once it has cooled, go ahead and store the goods in the freezer. I'd aim to use it up in 3 months' time; it never lasts that long at our house. We have a weekly soup night; plus I often make myself a good cuppa with an egg swirled in for my breakfast on short-on-time-mornings.
If you're looking for a cookbook that could catapult you in to soup making things and broth and stock recipes, track down Monica Corrado's Grandmother's Kitchen Book. I have a well worn copy that lives in my kitchen and is referred to on a regular basis. At the same link, you will find Monica's e-book on Meat Stock and Bone Broth, an essential in any kitchen looking to support gut health.
You may also want to purchase a copy of the wonderful book Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World by Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel. While they do not differentiate between a meat stock and bone broth in this cookbook, you will find this book has myriad recipes and ways to use the nourishing stocks and broths you will be making. Delicious recipes!
OK friend. You got this. Go make some meat stock. And play with your food, if you please'm.
Article By Luka Symons, Guest Blogger for the BodyMind Institute
Luka Symons's "Good Food + You" Website: lukasymons.com
Luka Symons is a Calgary-based C.H.N.C. and Holistic Nutrition Practitioner for people who are wondering where their food-and-body groove has disappeared to. Through her uplifting and informative workshops, talks, and one-on-one consults, she's here to shake up your approach to food and your gorgeous self -- while making it all feel like a walk in the park. Luka guides you towards optimal health; her specialty is creating a personalized plan that allows good food to be accessible, fun, and easy to attain. Her emphasis is on reducing inflammation and improving your body's ability to digest, in order to maximize the nutrients locked within. This work is done through one-on-one consults, or via classes and workshops. Luka works one-on-one with clients via private consultation and meal planning; she offers classes in a few different venues around Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Check her classes/events for workshops on helping you reach for optimal health. Luka is on staff as the resident Holistic Nutritional Consultant at Renewal Homeopathy & Wellness, and is on staff as one of the instructors at The Light Cellar. You can find her online at the home of Good Food + You: http://www.lukasymons.com/ .
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