Nourishment from Nothing
My experiments with bone broth
Quinoa, palm shortening, sucanat--if nourishing my family depended on these trendy whole food ingredients, we in Belize would be doomed. It’s a constant struggle to find healthy food that is both economical and readily available, which is why I get excited about bone broth. Bone broth is high in nutrients and can be made entirely from food scraps. Anything that helps me get extra mileage out of my food dollars and promotes health at the same time is a win-win here.
What is bone broth?
Broth is a savory liquid made of water in which bones, meat, fish, or vegetables have been simmered.
Bone broth is made from things we’d normally discard—bones and vegetable scraps. And it’s incredibly easy to make.
My method of making bone broth
Many recipes will tell you the exact ratios of marrow bones to knuckle bones that you should use to make broth. Some will tell you exactly what ingredients to add and how many hours to cook the broth before adding each ingredient. In my chaotic kitchen, I choose the simplest route, using whatever bones and vegetable scraps I’ve been cooking with and trust there will still be health benefits from my unscientific method.
When I debone chicken for soup or a casserole, I squirrel the bones away in a gallon bag in the freezer. When I peel a carrot or chop an onion, the carrot ends and onion tops also go into the bag, as well as celery ends and tops. I’ve also added washed egg shells for increased calcium and clippings of different herbs for more flavor.
When the bag is full, I dump the contents into my crockpot (or a stockpot), cover everything with water, add a glug of vinegar—a few tablespoons--to help draw out minerals, and give it a good shake of salt. I may add more vegetables if there aren’t many in the bag, especially if I have some carrots or celery that are starting to get limp. Sometimes I’ll throw in a few cloves of garlic for added flavor and nutrients.
I turn my crockpot on high until the liquid is simmering, then reduce to low for the remainder of the time. As the bones cook, the heat begins to break them down and draw out minerals such as collagen, gelatin, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.
After 24—72 hours (or whenever I remember it), the broth is finished. I pour the broth through a fine strainer and then into glass jars. If there is at least ½” of fat that rises to the top, it will seal the broth and keep it from spoiling for several months in the refrigerator. If not, I freeze what I will not use within one week. Adding chicken skin to the crockpot can increase the amount of fat. Before using the broth, skim the hardened fat from the top and use it to sauté veggies.
Uses for bone broth
I love to pour a steaming mug of bone broth and drink it just as it is, especially on a cold morning. If I’ve put a lot of spices, seasonings, and vegetables with the bones, the broth is rich and flavorful and makes a delicious, nutritious breakfast. Bone broth cafes have started popping up in New York City and Seattle where people can purchase a steaming cup of broth instead of their morning cup of coffee.
A jar of broth in the fridge makes a quick supper – sauté some vegetables and add them along with some leftover meat to the broth and you have supper in minutes. Or try going meatless with a rich French Onion Soup.
Canned cream soups are too expensive to buy on a regular basis in Belize (not to mention all their unhealthy ingredients), so I use my homemade broth to make a delicious substitute.
Cream of Whatever Soup Substitute
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper
1 ¼ cup broth or milk
Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in flour and seasonings. Cook over medium heat until bubbly. Add liquid slowly, stirring to prevent lumps. Cook until thick. Makes one cup or one can condensed soup.
Optional: Add mushroom pieces for mushroom soup, poultry seasoning for chicken soup, or cheese for cheese soup after thickening soup.
This cream soup can be spread over enchiladas instead of cheese sauce, mixed into casseroles, used as the base of breakfast pizza, and countless other things. If the cream soup is well seasoned, our family, as well as guests, do not seem to notice that there are not a lot of rich ingredients like sour cream and cheese.
We love Chicken Alfredo, but once again some of the traditional Alfredo ingredients are out of budget for us. This lightened up version still tastes wonderful and has far fewer calories.
Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo
12 ounces fettuccine (or any pasta shape)
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or butter
4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely-minced
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
(optional toppings: chopped fresh parsley, extra Parmesan)
Cook pasta al dente according to package directions, in generously salted water.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil (or melt butter) in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté one minute, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Sprinkle with flour, and stir to combine. Sauté for an additional minute to cook the flour, stirring occasionally.
Slowly add chicken broth, whisking to combine until smooth. Whisk in milk, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Let cook for an additional minute until thickened, then stir in Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until the cheese melted. Reduce heat to medium-low until pasta is cooked.
Drain pasta, then immediately add pasta to the sauté pan with Alfredo sauce. Toss to combine. Serve topped with chopped fresh parsley if desired.
One of my go-to recipes is this stir fry recipe. It’s quick and easy and delicious.
Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry
2 cups of chicken broth
¼ cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ginger, ground
1 Tablespoon oil
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup red bell pepper strips
Mix broth, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar, garlic powder and ginger in small bowl until smooth. Set aside.
Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken and stir fry 5 minutes until cooked through. Remove from skillet. Add vegetables to skillet; stir fry for 3 minutes. Return chicken to skillet.
Stir soy sauce mixture. Add to skillet, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil on medium heat and boil 1 minute or until sauce is slightly thickened. Serve with white rice, if desired.
These recipes are just the beginning of the many ways to use bone broth. Give it a try yourself and enjoy the results of your labor –nourishment from nothing.