What the Doctor (Should Have) Ordered … All About Stock

What the Doctor (Should Have) Ordered

 

Cooler weather is here to stay and we are on the brink of the holiday season.  This is the perfect time to talk about homemade stock. 

 

Can you identify this processed food?

Chicken stock, chicken flavor (maltodextrin, water, dextrose, salt, chicken flavor [chicken stock, salt, enzymes], autolyzed yeast extract, onion powder, chicken fat, modified food starch, ascorbic acid, sugar, rosemary extract), salt, dextrose, spice extract, carrots, celery, flavoring, onions, water, sugar, sodium phosphate, autolyzed yeast extract, soy lecithin, citric acid.

 

Here is a picture:

 

Now identify the homemade version:

Bony chicken parts, filtered water, celery, carrot, onion, vinegar, parsley.

 

And, a picture …  Can you SEE the difference????

 

Both are supposed to be the same thing yet one can bring good health and healing while the other can slowly rob you of your health.  One originates in a lab and is manufactured in a processing plant while the other comes straight from God’s creation.  Have you figured out what it is?

 

Chicken stock.  Yes, it isn’t just a folk tale – chicken stock, and all properly prepared bone broth (fish, beef, chicken), is truly good for what ails you.  Stocks are definitely nutrient dense for many reasons but the secret to their “power” lies in the use of acidic wine or vinegar which draws valuable minerals from the bones into the stock in a form that is ready to use by your body.  That means your body does not have to work hard to digest stock.  Think of it as “ready to use” minerals, a far better electrolyte solution than Gatorade.  Be sure that any store bought stock will not have undergone this simple preparation.

 

Bone broths (yes I am using “broth” and “stock” interchangeably), like all whole foods, are just loaded with good things but because they are so easily digested broths are superior to other foods. Good stock is your best source of usable calcium, especially if you cannot have dairy.  Other healing minerals include iodine, magnesium, and potassium.  Gelatin is another particularly important aspect of good stock because it is a powerful digestive aid in that it enables the body to fully use proteins.  Gelatin is helpful for cancer, arthritis, anemia, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, and more.

 

If you are sick, whether serious or mild, your body is working hard to strengthen its defenses and repair the problem.  To do this requires vitamins and minerals, as well as energy.  If your body is already running on empty, it makes the job much harder.  Digesting the healthful food you eat is how your body gets what it needs to have a strong immune system.  If you are not giving your body nutritious foods, then it is expending a lot of effort for very little result.  If you are giving your body sugary treats, you are literally suppressing your immune system for several hours at a time.  So your body is working and working and working to fight off sickness and heal itself, yet it is fighting a losing battle.  And even depleting your body of more energy and strength in the process.   This is where bone broths come in.  They are just what your body needs – all the right minerals in a form that won’t require any extra energy to digest.  Lots of bang for the buck.

 

So what is wrong with broths from the grocery store?  Read over the ingredient list at the top and see that store broths are made of a lot of processed chemicals.  Some of them are actually known to cause cancer.  A good stock must be properly prepared using the very best ingredients you can afford.  Think of it as health insurance.  You would spare no amount of money if it meant the health of a loved one.  This is no different.  And the good news is, you can easily make your own nutritious stock at home, using ingredients you probably already have on hand.

 

Here is a recipe for chicken stock from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, page 124:

 

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)

 

feet from the chicken (optional)

 

4 quarts cold filtered water

 

2 Tablespoons vinegar

 

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

 

2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

 

3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped

 

1 bunch parsley

 

If you are using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands an dthe gizzards from the cavity.  By all means, use chicken feet if you can find them – they are full of gelatin.  Farm-raised, free-range chickens give the best results.  Many battery-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels.  Cut chicken parts into several pieces.  Place chicken or chicken pieces in a large pot with water, vinegar, and all vegetables except parsley.  Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour.  Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 24 hours.  The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be.  About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley.  This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth.  Remove whole chicken or pieces with a slotted spoon.  If you are using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass and reserve it for other uses.  Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in your refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals.  Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in your refrigerator or freezer.

 

A few comments … chicken feet sound gross but they are a very valuable addition to your stock by adding silicon which is good for strong, flexible bones, healthy cartilage, connective tissue, skin, hair, nails, etc.  A local farmer is your best source for healthy chicken feet.  Also, I rarely use a whole chicken in my stock.  My family eats a roast chicken several times a month.  When we have had all we’re going to eat, I take the entire carcass, skin, fat, meat bits, and all the juice and put it in the freezer.  When I go to make stock, I will use 2 or 3 of these carcasses at one time and add in 4 to 6 chicken feet.  I don’t even wait for them to thaw – just dump it all in the pot with the vinegar, water, and vegetables like the recipe says.  This is an extremely economical way to make stock – we lose count of how many meals we get from just one chicken!  And the stock is always gelatinous, rich, and delicious.  I try to let my stock simmer 24 hours, even when we are not home.  Sometimes I just turn the heat off when we leave and turn it on when we return.  The results are still excellent.  Remember that simmer doesn’t mean rolling boil; simmer means just barely bubbling.  Finally, you’ll need to let the stock cool on the stove before you strain it.  I have left it sitting on the stove for an entire day before and when I finally got around to straining it, it was still warm.  Once you refrigerate the stock, it will take at least one overnight in order to gel and form the fat on top.  After skimming the fat, I freeze it in quart sized containers.  Sometimes it is helpful to freeze a little in one or two cup amounts or even in ice cube trays so you always have the right size for your recipes.

 

Good news:  you can use the above recipe with the carcass from your Thanksgiving turkey!  Just put the whole thing – skin, bones, meat bits, juice, fat, everything – into the pot and follow the above recipe.  You will get 6 to 8 quarts of golden rich, nourishing, and truly delicious stock.  For FREE!

 

Bone broths are not just good for you, but they are truly delicious.  Once you have had the real thing you will never be able to go back.  Anything else will be bland and watery.  Soups will become a special treat that you will want to eat frequently because they will not only be so easy to make but delicious as well.  Last year I got caught without stock and ended up getting a mild flu.  My sweet husband knew I needed some good soup so he made a special trip to the health food store and carefully read the label of every can/carton of broth available.  He did his best to pick the least offensive one.  He came home and made my special soup … No one could eat it!  It was absolutely tasteless.  And this was certified organic, all natural broth!  There is a huge difference between the processed stuff at the store and the real thing you make at home.  Homemade broth is superior in every way.

 

Our ancestors may not have understood the science behind it, but they never doubted the healing power of bone broths.   They witnessed it many times.  I have felt it myself, and seen it work on my own family.  Be a wise woman and make stock right away.  Make sure you always have a good supply on hand, and make a point to eat it once a week during cold and flu season.  It is just what the doctor should have ordered!

Dinner Tonight

After spending so much time defining whole foods and talking about buying directly from the farm, I thought I would give you an example of just such a meal.

I don’t know that I have ever actually photographed my dinner plate before!  I know for sure I have never posted a picture of it on the web!  Well, this is what we had for dinner tonight.  Everything we ate came straight from a local farm and is in season in Tennessee right now.  OK, maybe some of the seasonings didn’t quite come from the farm but the big stuff did.  Parmesan drumsticks, sweet potato dollars, and kale.  A very satisfying, and very healthful meal.  A great end to this would have been a fruit salad of fresh cut up grapefruit, oranges, apples, and banana (citrus and apples are also in season right now).

Here are the recipes (with a few comments):

Parmesan Drumsticks from Saving Dinner by Leanne Ely, p. 27

Combine in a bowl:  1 cup parmesan cheese (freshly grate your own!), 3 teaspoons oregano, 2 teaspoons paprika, salt and pepper to taste (remember to use unrefined sea salt).

In a small frying pan, melt 1/4 cup butter with either 1 T olive oil or coconut oil.

Dip 12 chicken drumsticks, no skin (you could leave the skin on if you like), into butter mixture and then into cheese mixture and place on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for about an hour or until chicken is completely cooked.

I always double the cheese and butter mixtures, and use 15 chicken drumsticks for my family of 5.  There are usually about 3 or 4 leftover for lunch the next day.  This recipe is a big favorite of my kids and it is all whole foods, nothing processed, no chemicals.  Hooray!

Sweet Potato Dollars from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, p. 405

Peel 3-4 sweet potatoes and slice crosswise in 1/4" thick slices or "dollars".   Melt 3 Tablespoons butter with 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I used coconut oil).  Brush a cookie sheet (you may need two cookie sheets) with the butter mixture then arrange the dollars in one layer on the pan and brush with the remaining butter mixture.  Season lightly with sea salt.  Bake about 45 minutes at 350.

These are another family favorite and there are never any leftovers.  Again, all whole foods, nothing processed, no chemicals, and loaded with nutrition!

Kale

The kale came from our CSA box.  All I did was chop off the long stems, rinse it well, then chop it into smaller pieces.  Pour a couple tablespoons of olive oil into a large pan, heat it on medium low, toss in a few cloves of finely chopped or minced garlic (however garlicky you like it is how you decide how much) and saute for a minute.  Don’t let the garlic brown — just flavor the oil.  Then add the kale, toss it to coat it with the oil, add a pinch or two of red pepper flakes and a splash of balsamic vinegar while tossing the kale, then when it is slightly wilted just turn off the heat and put on the lid.  I let it sit on the stove until we are ready to eat.

OK OK my kids don’t like kale either!  But everyone has to have one bite or one small portion, depending on their age.  The 2 year old will get one small piece on her plate before she gets any other food.  When she eats the whole bite, she can have the rest of her dinner.  This works best if she has NOT been snacking before dinner!  My 8 and 11 year olds will get a small portion on their plates with the rest of their meal.  They know that the kale must be entirely eaten before getting seconds.  And they have learned from experience that it is much better warm than cold.  Remember, it takes dozens of times of trying a food before a child will like it.  So don’t give up.  My kids learned to LOVE brussels sprouts this way (well, we are still working on the 2 year old).  It really makes a big difference to have only one thing per meal that the kids are not crazy about so that they will be more motivated to eat it in order to get more of what they do like.  And if they choose not to eat it, they don’t get seconds, and they won’t starve.  They really won’t starve.

This meal does take a little hands on preparation but it is really very easy to make.  The chicken goes in the oven first, then prepare the sweet potatoes and they can go in the oven at the same time as the chicken.  It will take you about 15 minutes to do the potatoes so both dishes will be ready at the same time.  While they are baking, prepare the kale then set the table.  It really helps to have a helper washing and peeling sweet potatoes.  I really wanted a fruit salad to go with this tonight but I had a very late start and my husband said we had enough food already.  But a fruit salad could easily have been prepared ahead or at any time during the meal.

I really like this meal because it is all from the farm, not the grocery store so I have had personal contact with each person who grew or raised what I fed my family.  I know that everything was farmed organically by good people who really care and who know me on a first name basis.  And rather than having my food shipped across the country in big 18-wheelers, I obtained it by simply driving to the local farmers market or farm within a few miles of my house.  Another great thing about this meal is the rich color.  It is not only pleasing to the eye, but that rich color is truly all natural and it means the food is LOADED with good stuff that is good for my family.  The chicken lived outside in the pasture, soaking up the sunshine, and ate a healthy meal of bugs and grass, the way God designed, which makes the chickens healthier.  Animal foods are our best sources of protein and without them our bodies cannot effectively assimilate other vitamins.  The sweet potatoes and kale were grown in fertile soil free from pesticides and chemical fertilizers.  Both are overflowing with vitamins that will boost my family’s immunities, strengthen their heart and bones, support their vision, and many other things.  The use of fresh butter and coconut oil will also support our thyroid.  And, as I talked about earlier, the garlic is a powerful ani-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial herb.

What did you have for dinner tonight?  We had chicken, sweet potatoes, and kale.  It was really good.

Farm Fresh

Back in September I wrote about the importance of buying as much of your food as possible from the farm, and also buying food in season.  The same farm where we buy our beef also sells awesome vegetables.  This past summer they offered their first "Simply Summer CSA", and today was the first day of their third Winter Vegie CSA.  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  This is simply a way for the farmer to guarantee sales in advance (and make a living wage!) and a guarantee for the consumer to receive local, farm fresh produce all season.  It is a great deal where everybody wins.

The summer CSA boxes were loaded with awesome summer produce.  We loved the bounty of fresh potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, squash, zucchini, herbs, corn and even some eggplant.  But I have to say that nothing quite beats the beauty of a winter CSA box when it is loaded with huge heads of fresh lettuces, bunches of dark leafy greens, brightly colored red and purple radishes, fat red beets, bunches of purple turnips, fresh onions, and bright orange carrots that are the sweetest you’ll ever taste.  Just the sight of one of those boxes will make even the pickiest eater’s mouth water.  Yes, it is picture perfect and I admit I have taken a few pictures of my CSA boxes!  Here are two pictures from today’s box:

Today’s box had several heads of lettuce, a bag of mixed lettuce, a big bunch of bright radishes, a mixture of peppers, parsley, turnips, and a variety of fresh greens.  I have never been one to like greens, but because of the large quantity that came in my CSA box I have not only learned to like them but have actually been looking forward to them this year!  As we were unloading the box together I mentioned to my son that because greens are so plentiful this time of year, God must have intended for us to eat them now.  Greens are absolutely LOADED with a plethora of vitamins but especially vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C.  This means that, among other things, greens will help your body build strong bones, fight cancer, fight heart disease, and have strong immunities.  Just what our bodies need during flu season!  And because these greens were just picked this morning they have more of these good vitamins than greens from the grocery store.

Recently Dr. Joseph Mercola wrote an article for his newsletter about why it is so good to buy your food locally.  Some of the reasons included better taste, better for you, supports local farm families, etc.  It is true that fresh, locally grown food is better for you and the environment.  Local farmers are less likely to use GMO seeds, they are more likely to practice sustainable farming that protects and nurtures the environment, they use less packaging (and recycle most of it) and the environment is not polluted by emissions from delivery trucks.

We love driving to the farm to pick up our boxes of fresh vegetables.  It is great to get outside the city and see Tennessee’s rolling farmland with the trees changing colors.  We get a break from the busyness of the week for a short drive in the country and a breath of truly fresh air.  Sometimes we get to walk around the farm and visit the greenhouses where our food is grown, or feed the chickens and gather eggs, or help lead the cows to new pasture.  We learn something new every visit and always leave assured that the very best care was given to insure that our food was raised in the best possible way.  The healthiest way.  The animals are better off, the land is better off, even the bugs are better off.  And we know for sure that we are better off.

Farm fresh!  It sure is different than the grocery store…

 

**edited to add:  My dear mother has kindly pointed out that I said that buying from the farm keeps from polluting the air by emissions from delivery trucks, then immediately said how I love driving out to the farm.  She felt that was contradictory.   Let me clarify by pointing out that there is a difference in my personal vehicle driving a few miles to my farm vs. a big 18-wheeler driving across country or even across a couple of states.  While both vehicles produce emissions, my vehicle is much more kind to our air than the big truck.  Hope that clears it up!

Recipe Break!

Something really satisfying to me is preparing a meal or dish that I know is 100% good for you, that is rich with color, and that tastes like it was prepared by a gourmet chef.  Tonight was one of those experiences and as I was cleaning the kitchen I thought it would be good to post the recipe on the blog.  I well remember the early days of our diet changes when it seemed there was nothing to eat because it was all so bad.  Something tells me that there are a few of you out there who are feeling the same way.  Well here is a totally healthy recipe that is extremely easy to make, and my husband gave it RAVE reviews tonight!

 

I’ll post the recipe and then add a few comments at the end … Now don’t turn up your nose…

 

Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk

from http://www.canada.com

 

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tablespoon minced gingerroot

1 Tablespoon curry powder or paste

4 cups water (or chicken broth – it will taste better and be healthier)

7 to 8 cups diced butternut squash (this is a large one, about 3 lbs, but mine was about 5lbs … to prepare the squash, peel it, then cut the bulb end off, cut that part in half, scoop out and discard the pulp and seeds and dice; then slice the long end in half and dice; you’ll need a good cutting board and a big sharp knife)

2 teaspoons sugar (this little bit won’t hurt anyone)

1 ¼ teaspoons salt (remember to use real sea salt)

1 14-oz can unsweetened coconut milk

2 Tablespoons lemon juice (I omitted this entirely)

 

Warm oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Stir in onions, garlic, gingerroot and cook 5 minutes.  Sprinkle on curry powder and cook 1 minute, tossing continuously.

 

Pour in water (chicken stock) and bring to a boil.  Mix in squash, sugar, salt, and lower heat to a lively simmer.  Cook 30 minutes, or until squash is very tender.  Pour in coconut milk and simmer 5 minutes.  Stir in lemon juice (I left this out).

 

Puree soup in batches in a blender and return to a smaller pot, if desired.  Reheat before serving if necessary.

 

 

This is a rich, creamy, colorful and very flavorful soup.  But what makes it so healthy?   Several things … For one, butternut squash is in season right now.  Eating seasonal vegetables means that it is probably a better price, it has not come a long distance, and therefore it has not lost any nutrients.  However, its thick skin does make it keep its nutrients longer.  Butternut Squash is a winter squash.  One cup has more than 100% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene which is a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.  It is also rich in vitamin C, potassium, fiber, manganese, folate, copper, vitamin B1 and B6, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B3, and pantothenic acids.  All of this means that winter squash can help prevent heart disease, osteoarthritis, cancers, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and many other conditions.

 

Another healthy ingredient in this soup is the ginger.  Ginger is so much more than flavorful (which it definitely has a lot of!).  Ginger is a very powerful healing herb and is used and respected world-wide for its powerful healing properties.  It can help motion sickness, upset stomachs, headaches, congestion, and can even help lower fevers.  It helps stimulate circulation, aids metabolism, can reduce spasms and cramps, cleanse your colon, and is also an aphrodisiac and helps with stress relief.  Ginger is loaded with powerful antioxidants.  It also helps fight off colds, flu, and infections.  I have successfully used it to lower fevers, fight nausea, and lessen the severity of colds.

 

Garlic is yet another powerful healing herb.  It is an antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, antiparasitic, antiprotozoan, antispasmodic … Garlic has been successfully used to treat high blood pressure, bacterial infections, gastrointestinal infections, sinus infections, eye/nose/ear infections, and much more.  Garlic is truly nature’s antibiotic.  But garlic is also directly effective against viruses!  I have personally successfully used garlic to treat colds, viruses, and ear infections.

 

There is no way I could begin to tell you all the great things about coconut products, one of which is the coconut milk that is used in this recipe.  Lauric acid is the principle fatty acid in coconut milk.  It has potent antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties.  It supports your metabolism and is excellent for your thyroid.  Contrary to what you may have heard, coconut products can help you lose weight!  There is definitely not room here to tell you everything about coconut!

 

Finally, this soup is great for you because its base is chicken stock.  Chicken stock, and all meat stock, is a basic element for a healthy diet as long as it is homemade.  The store bought stuff in a can is loaded with chemicals that will damage your health.  When meat stocks are properly prepared they will be loaded with minerals, namely calcium, magnesium, and potassium.  The gelatin that comes from the stock bones is helpful in fighting and preventing cancer, bone disorders, arthritis, and other similar ailments.  And it isn’t just a folk tale that chicken stock is a cure for the flu.  It is good for flu, colds, asthma, and many other health problems when consumed frequently.  And one of the most important aspects of meat stocks is that it aids in your digestion.  If your body is not digesting well, then it can’t get all these great nutrients from your food.  I plan to post about making healthful chicken stock soon.

 

Well, now you can understand why I was so jazzed about tonight’s soup. Isn’t it so cool that just one dish can do so much?  And if you listened to typical, conventional diet advice you would have missed out.  Maybe you will try this recipe too.  It really is a good thing.