Whenever it’s cold, I always get this big craving for a large pot of something hearty and warming. I usually go for a stew or a soup full of nutritious vegetables. These kinds of foods warm me up and make me feel all cozy while watching the snow fall outside. They are my perfect winter meal.
And the base of the meals I eat during winter is usually a flavorful bone broth. It’s a very simple broth that can later serve as a base for other dishes. By adding some homemade broth to your stew, you are making sure that it will be full of necessary nutrients and have a deep flavour that is hard to replicate with anything else.
To make a bone broth, I use a variety of ingredients: it can either be a leftover carcass from a roasted chicken or duck, meaty bones, or cleaned marrow bones with no meat attached at all. Whenever I have leftovers like these, I usually make a steamy pot of broth to use later. You can use poultry, pork, or beef – the best thing about broths is that they are fully customizable!
Even if you have never made your own stock or broth before, it’s never too late to start. Having a fresh batch on hand will make it easier for you to eat healthier meals throughout the week. And it’s a good method of boosting your immune system which is vital during the winter times.
Stock is also great if you feel cravings for unhealthy fast food meals or meals with plenty of processed fat. By eating fast food a lot, we gradually become addicted to all the processed ingredients and harmful preservatives. I know I certainly felt like that before I made a switch to real food. And even now, despite my brain knowing fully well what goes into making fast food, I still sometimes feel an urge to stop by a local McDonalds for just a little cheeseburgers.
If you suffer from these cravings very often, then a homemade stock should help you combat them. The main culprit behind them is MSG – the monosodium glutamate. It makes fast food taste so good by enhancing its flavour in an artificial way. And the craving you feel could be satisfied by a MSG-containing meal but only for a very short while. A much better choice is to instead eat a big hearty meal of real food, like stock. I have been avoiding MSG for a long time now and I can clearly feel my body react negatively when I ingest some of it when I’m eating out.
The Weston A. Price Foundation “Broth is Beautiful” page says that:
“Research on gelatin came to an end in the 1950s because the food companies discovered how to induce Maillard reactions and produce meat-like flavors in the laboratory. In a General Foods Company report issued in 1947, chemists predicted that almost all natural flavors would soon be chemically synthesized. And following the Second World War, food companies also discovered monosodium glutamate (MSG), a food ingredient the Japanese had invented in 1908 to enhance food flavors, including meat-like flavors. Humans actually have receptors on the tongue for glutamate. It is the protein in food that the human body recognizes as meat.
Any protein can be hydrolyzed to produce a base containing free glutamic acid or MSG. When the industry learned how to make the flavor of meat in the laboratory, using inexpensive proteins from grains and legumes, the door was opened to a flood of new products including bouillon cubes, dehydrated soup mixes, sauce mixes, TV dinners and condiments with a meaty taste. “Homemade” soup in most restaurants begins with a powdered soup base that comes in a package or can and almost all canned soups and stews contain MSG, often found in ingredients called hydrolyzed porteins. The fast food industry could not exist without MSG and artificial meat flavors to make “secret” sauces and spice mixes that beguile the consumer into eating bland and tasteless food.”
MSG is nothing but a poor excuse for all the flavors you can find in a real homemade stock. But it won’t replace its nutritional value. Your body won’t get all the vitamins and minerals from eating fast food so don’t give in to your cravings!
And it’s okay if you’re only making a change now. It can never be too late to start eating healthy. As a child, my mother fed us plenty of MSG-full store-bought canned foods but it’s okay because she simply didn’t know any better. But nowadays, we have plenty of research that clearly tells us: MSG is not good.
MSG isn’t always listed as „monosodium glutamate” on the packaging. Search for buzzwords like “autolyzed”, “hydrolyzed”, “disodium glutamate”, “citric acid”, and, the worst one in my opinion, “natural flavors”. That’s how corporations try to trick us into thinking that their product healthy and free of additives. So if you do buy ready-made food from a supermarket, read the labels and avoid MSG as much as you can.
But let’s get back to the stock. I use the recipe below to make delicious beef stock that can later be turned into a stew or even a French-style onion soup. I use a combination of marrow bones and meaty bones to make it but if you only have one type then it will work too.
Stock is one of the healthiest meals there is. It’s excellent for when you have a cold or flu and can’t digest any solids. Whenever I’m feeling under the weather or simply want to boost my immune system, I drink a mug of steaming hot broth once a day. It’s also one of the vital components of the GAPS diet, especially at the beginning. Stock incredibly healing for the body.
I would also like to mention that you can actually reuse beef bones when making a stock. Once you finish making your first batch, take out the bones and keep them for later use. You can start another batch with the used bones and fresh vegetables. I successfully reused the bones for three times now!
- a large stockpot OR a slow cooker OR a French oven with a lid
- a large baking dish
- a large mixing bowl
- a large steel strainer
- glass jars with lids for storage
- 1 ½ pounds of grass-fed beef meaty bones (knuckle or neck will do)
- 1 ½ pounds of grass-fed beef marrow bones
- 4 to 5 stalks of celery
- 4 to 5 unpeeled carrots
- 1 onion
- ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ t. of black peppercorns
- sea salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Put the meaty bones in a baking dish and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until they become slightly brown.
- Take out of the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
- Put the meaty bones in a large stockpot.
- Add raw marrow bones and all the vegetables (celery, carrots, onion). The vegetables can be used whole, you don’t need to cut them into smaller pieces.
- Add the bay leaves and peppercorns.
- Cover with water almost to the top, leaving an inch or inch and a half of space at the top. Add the apple cider vinegar to the mixture.
- Cover the stockpot with a lid and leave at room temperature for one hour.
- After one hour, put the stockpot on the stove and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover, and leave simmering for at least 12 hours but preferably more. The maximum simmering time is 72 hours.
- The water will evaporate with time. Keep adding more water so that all the bones and vegetables are covered at all time.
- Once done, turn off the heat and uncover your stockpot. Strain all the ingredients using a strainer until you are left only with liquid broth.
- Transfer the stock to glass jars for storing. If you are using meaty bones then you are probably going to get some tallow (fat) on top. You can remove that tallow and keep it in the fridge for later use. It’s great for frying savory foods.
- Drink the broth as it is or use it as a base for other dishes.