When I get the signal I’m fighting something, my first reaction is to jump into action and prevent it from getting any worse.
And where’s my first stop? Not the pharmacy or the medicine cabinet, but you guessed it, the kitchen!
I’m a huge believer in natural home remedies to boost the immune system and prevent colds and flus from taking hold.
My favourite remedy is bone broth.
Bone broth is pretty trendy right now in health circles and especially with the paleo crowd, but when you think about it, the idea of nourishing and healing with hot soup is not new.
Sipping broths date back to mid 18th century France where weary travellers would stop at inns and be served resoratifs or bowls of broth.
Almost every traditional culture uses some form of meat or fish stock in their cooking. Born out of a time when animals were locally slaughtered and nothing went to waste – all the leftovers went into a stock pot and boiled up for sipping on its own or as a base for soups and stews.
And we can’t forget our grandmother’s home made chicken soup as the cure for the common cold.
“Good broth will resurrect the dead,” according to a South American proverb.
What is bone broth?
There are many different recipes and definitions for bone broth, but essentially it is very similar to stock, bouillon or consommé and is the liquid left over after boiling up a pot of animal bones.
The latest recommendations are to roast the bones first and then boil the roasted bones for long periods of time up to 24 hours. The idea is that roasting and boiling for so long breaks the bones down releasing all kinds of goodness like minerals, nutrients, collagen, gelatin, and glucosamine.
(I’m personally not a fan of roasting the bones first as I think you can get into issues with toxins forming from the damage cause by high heat)
The stated health benefits of bone broth are many. It’s been said to promote bone and joint heath, improve digestion, help with detoxification, has anti-inflammatory properties and boosts the immune system.
To ward off my cold bug, I took a big mason jar of bone broth, added lots of local seasonal veggies and prepared a hearty soup. After two days of eating it a couple times a day, my symptoms were gone and I was feeling good.
I’m not sure if there is actual scientific research to back up the healing properties of bone broth, but from my own personal experience, I am a believer in it’s potency. If I can start my healing in my own kitchen, with natural ingredients, then I’m all for it.
How to prepare bone broth
At my house, my husband and I have gotten into the habit of preparing a big pot of beef bone broth every few weeks. We sip on it just like a cup of hot coffee or tea and then pressure can the rest for later use.
You want to buy bones with the marrow still inside them. Bone marrow is the most dense source of fat-soluble vitamins and contain the collagen, gelatin and glucosamine.
Locally here in Nova Scotia we have access to good quality grass fed beef. I personally shop at Getaway Farm Butcher Shop in the Seaport Market and they are happy to cut up some bones for me. Highland Drive Storehouse in the Hydrostone is owned by Getaway and another great source for marrow bones.
To prepare, simply place about two pounds of grass fed beef marrow bones, in a large stock pot. Cover with water, add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to help draw the nutrients from the bones. Then simmer on medium to low heat for anywhere from 6-24 hours.
You can add all sorts of herbs, veggies, onions, garlic etc, but I like to keep mine pretty basic to start, so it can be used later in other recipes.
Bone broth has been used for centuries and is one of those traditional practices being revived for its healthful benefits. Give it a try this fall to boost your health, ward off colds and flus and for simple, wholesome nourishment.
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This post first appeared here in the Halifax Citizen on Sept 22, 2015.