Last year I significantly reduced the amount of animal products I was purchasing, consuming and feeding to my family. We were never true vegans, but we were moving toward a more vegetable-based lifestyle. There are so many reasons to reduce (or eliminate) one’s consumption of animal foods and I am drawn to all the arguments for and philosophies behind veganism. But we are currently on this gut healing journey, and it’s very hard to follow a GAPS-type diet and maintain a vegan lifestyle. So for the moment, I am buying, consuming and feeding to my family much more meat, poultry and fish than I would like. I do so hesitantly, and with much gratitude. And for this season, I’m at peace with it. Who knows what the next season will bring.
One reason for the inclusion of all the meat is the healing nature of bone broths. The GAPS diet in particular stresses not only the removal of complex sugars, but also the inclusion of foods that are healing for the gut like fermented foods and bone broth.
As such, I’ve spent the last three weeks experimenting with this bone broth. I’ve been trying different types of bones, different cooking methods, different vegetable/spice add-in combinations. For something that seems very simple, there is a lot to learn! I think I’ve made at least 5 batches of broth to date, and the variation in colour, viscosity, thickness and gelatinous-ness has been incredible. Clearly I have much to learn.
‘Much to learn’ is kind of an understatement. I’m actually still learning the basics about marrow, and which bones to choose. Beef bones are hard to come by here, but lamb is usually available. I was afraid it would leave a strong lamb-y taste, but it has been very nice. My most gelatinous broth to date came from lamb bones. Buffalo tail made a delicious broth, but it didn’t gel, so I don’t think there is much (or any) marrow in the tail bones. Chicken bones don’t have much marrow either, but they’re better than nothing. I currently have some buffalo feet in the crock pot; we’ll see how that goes.
- Brown bones in the oven if you have time. (We almost never do this, but your flavor will be better.)
- Place bones in a crock pot or soup pot.
- Add vegetable scraps as they are available.
- Cover bones and scraps with water: Set water level about one-inch above the bones.
- Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar if you choose.
- Cover the pot and set on low (crock pot) or simmer (stove top).
- Keep the lid slightly ajar as the broth warms up to avoid boiling. (Or don’t worry about it, but do make sure your liquid does not boil out or you will be left with burned bones.)
- Strain the broth about 24 hours later.
- Use the fresh broth for dinner. (Add the dinner vegetable scraps to the next batch of broth.)
- Add water to the bones again and make a second batch of broth. (Keep doing this until you are tired of it or your bones have disintegrated.)
My random thoughts about bone broth, a couple of weeks into it:
- A slow-cooker is so much better than a pot on the stove. Mine has basically become a dedicated broth-making machine.
- Four-legged animal bones make a richer broth than two-legged birds. (No big surprise here, I’m sure)
- Bone marrow is not disgusting, as I once might have thought. The texture did take some getting used to, however.
- Adding veggies to the bones helps the flavour, but adds an extra layer of slime to sort through when separating the broth from the bones to reuse. Best to keep them out until I’m sure I’m not going to use the bones any further.
Litte Handsome and I have some broth with each lunch and dinner. He has been so good at eating his broth. He has a special little bowl just for “soup”. I started him off with half a bowl of chicken broth a day. When that went over well, I increased it to 1 full bowl. I was nervous when I switched to lamb, but he didn’t mind in the least. Now he’s eating 2 full (admittedly small) bowls of various broths, without any complaint. I wonder if his body knows it’s good for him.
I know you might be thinking, “Seriously…broth at every meal?” Yup. And it’s easier than you’d think. Here are my tricks:
- Create lots of interesting, different soups. I spent a full afternoon creating a pinterest board with just soups and stews, which I’m still only a small pat of the way through! Carrot ginger, cream of broccoli, beef vegetable, roasted red pepper, curried cauliflower, pumpkin and sausage, tomato and fennel, coconut chicken…there are so many delicious soups to choose from (even without grains, legumes and potatoes), I don’t think I’d ever get sick of soup!
- Have a small freezer and stock it up with bones. I have to keep making and consuming broth in order to make room for other things in my tiny freezer like frozen fruit for green juice!
- Replace the meal’s beverage with broth. This one isn’t natural for me because I don’t typically have a drink with my meals, but if we’re not eating soup, I will serve a mug of broth beside my plate.
- Turn meals that would normally be served over a grain into a soup. For dinner one night we ate stir-fried chicken and vegetables. The next day for lunch, I added some broth and a little more salt, and called it a soup! The same thing works with curries and roasted veggies (see below).
- Just make it habit. Broth is now part of my lunch and dinner meals. I’m going to simply add it into breakfast as well. Soon enough, it will seem like a normal way to start my day.
It’s amazing how quickly this just became part of our way of life. I’m at the point where if there aren’t bones in the slow cooker, I feel like a crucial kitchen operation has halted. It throws me off.
I’ll leave you with a delicious way to give bone broth some flavour and body. I’ve eaten this soup with a salad for lunch, with an egg for breakfast, and for dinner as the base of other heartier soups (such as a deconstructed stuffed pepper soup -minus the rice of course)…all delicious. Note: any combination veggies will do. Pick your favourites, clean out your crisper, and enjoy a tasty and nutritious soup.
Roasted Vegetable Soup (a bone-broth rich version of this recipe)
1 sweet bell pepper
1 small eggplant
1 small koosa (zucchini)
1 fennel bulb
3 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
fresh or dried herbs (i.e. oregano, basil, parsley, rosemary)
salt and pepper to taste
Instructions: Roughly chop all veggies and place in baking dish. Pour EVOO on top and season with S&P. Roast in oven (180C) for 45 minutes. Combine roasted vegetables with bone broth in a blender. Blend to smooth consistency. Serve and enjoy!