“Sarah Elizabeth. What are these?” My husband’s voice is slow, deliberate and dripping with hesitation as he calls to me from the outside freezer. I cringe because I think I know what he’s found.
“What are what?” Trying to sound innocent isn’t going to work here. There are two people in our home who stash things in the freezer; if it’s not steak or ice-cream, it was probably me.
This exchange took place about a year and a half ago, before bone broth was a staple in our weekly roundup of dishes. It is odd to think about saving and freezing bones, but we do it instinctively now. Our freezer is full of chicken carcasses, beef rib bones, oxtail, chicken feet, and occasionally a pig foot or two. Before you turn me in for _____-slaughter, let me share with you what I do with all these bones and how it saves us money.
I originally started looking into making bone broth as I was following my friend and nutritionist Tracey’s journey @wholedailylife. “The Wellness Mama” writes about it here and provides detailed instructions for making it. Last week I mentioned that bone broth contains glycine and proline, two amino acids that have special health benefits. Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, PhD (or The Paleo Mom) says this (full post here):
“Glycine and proline are two key components of connective tissue, the biological “glue” that holds our bodies together…So, it is no surprise that we need these two amino acids to heal, not only gaping wounds, but also the microscopic damage done to blood vessels and other tissues in our body caused by inflammation and infection. In fact, glycine is known to inhibit the immune system and reduce activation of inflammatory cells in your body. Whether you are trying to heal from an infection, address an auto-immune disease, or reduce inflammation caused by neolithic foods or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, high levels of dietary glycine are critical.”
“Glycine…is involved in detoxification and is required for production of glutathione, an important antioxidant. Glycine helps regulate blood sugar levels by controlling gluconeogenesis…In the brain, it inhibits excitatory neurotransmitters, thus producing a calming effect. Glycine is also converted into the neurotransmitter serine, which promotes mental alertness, improves memory, boosts mood, and reduces stress.”
“Proline has an additional role in reversing atherosclerotic deposits. It enables the blood vessel walls to release cholesterol buildups into your bloodstream, decreasing the size of potential blockages in your heart and the surrounding blood vessels.”
In summary, glycine and proline are two amino acids that aid in digestion, blood sugar regulation, detoxification, brain function, cholesterol management in order to reduce inflammation and help our bodies operate at 100%. When we are sick, our immune system is on overdrive trying to heal our bodies. These amino acids help our bodies out by boosting what it’s already trying to do.
It is important to note that these are not essential amino acids, so our body will produce more of them. The Paleo Mom mentions this too, saying that “building our own amino acids is much less efficient than consuming them from foods, and scientists believe that we probably can’t make proline or glycine efficiently enough to keep up with our body’s demand in the absence of dietary sources.”
That’s why I have “these bones” in my freezer these days. I try to make it once a week, using it as the base for soups like this one and this one. I freeze the excess (if I have any) to keep on hand in case we are sick. It’s an excellent way to get the most out of what you buy. For example, I buy whole, organic, pastured chickens. We cook it once and eat the meat. We cook it twice and eat the broth. Often, I reserve the bones from the first round of broth to be used a third time. If I’m conservative with my estimate I would say we get two meals from each round for a family of four (two adults, a toddler and a baby). That’s six meals from a five pound organic chicken at $2.99 a pound. This does not even account for when I find meat on sale, or when I know those six meals stretch to 8-10.
Now, the nitty-gritty – how else do we eat it, and how do we get our toddlers to eat it? (For instructions to make it, see here.)
Adults and toddlers:
- Add it to smoothies. This is especially easy if you freeze the broth in ice cubes. You won’t even notice them hiding in there.
- Use it to make grains. Give your grains a nutritional boost by using broth to cook them instead of water – we do quinoa and rice a lot.
- Use in any recipe that calls for broth or stock.
- Use instead of water when making mashed potatoes. White, sweet, yams – it works with all of them and adds another depth of flavor.
- To cook meat. Use to provide moisture when braising, roasting, simmering meat.
- Replace coffee…wait, what? I know this seems crazy, but sometimes a steaming cup of salted broth does the trick, especially if I’m feeling under the weather.
- Use in purees. For the tiny ones, use bone broth to mash up pureed veggies or meats.
- Put it in the sippy cup. My little ones have both had broth in their sippy cups when they’ve been sick, and they drink it up.
There you have it! Let me know what you think! Would you drink broth instead of coffee? Do you have any health issues that would benefit from a routine dose of bone broth? Do you have any fun stories in the kitchen with your spouse where you’ve been misunderstood? I’d love to hear it all.