I am not big on fasting – Nothing Compares 2 Food. Do you remember the Master Cleanse? The
torture method diet where you shake up lemon, cayenne, and maple syrup in some water and lose all your excess weight, and also some brain cells, through starvation? A girl I knew in L.A. was a diehard Master Cleanser, until she unceremoniously lost consciousness buying lemons at Whole Foods. It was enough to turn me off starvation diets forever.
Then, over the winter the Bone Broth fast started popping up in my Instagram feed, everywhere. The intriguing thing about bone broth is, due to its stalwart status as a base for nearly all delicious food. It’s healthful, tasty, and disguises itself as a near-soup, so what better to fast with?
I know that this diet phenomena is nothing new, especially in the Paleo world, but as the offering continues to expand, I am starting to believe that bone broth life is here to stay.
As a point of fact, bone broth has always been on the scene, even if it only became trendy of late. Victorian-era cookbooks included sections of healing foods, which all included special broth recipes for babies’ first foods and nursing the ill back to health. To this day in Italy, pediatricians recommend adding homemade bone broth to your babies’ first introduction to food. Unfortunately for our day and age, we are obsessed with speed in convenience, which very often translates into unhealthy options. Funny how we have now returned to cooking standards that take it back to something so simple as bone broth.
Bone broth is made by simmering bones in water for long periods of time, which extracts gelatin, protein and trace minerals into the broth. Traditionally, bone broth requires a low and slow simmer for at least 18 hours. To make bone broth the right way, you can’t just throw any bone in there. Since the goal is a high gelatin content, the bones need to be rich in connective tissue, yielding collagen (so hot right now!). The gelatin is what produces collagen when the broth simmers. So yes, we are talking feet, knuckles, and the parts with joints.
When we get down to the actual chickens (and sometimes cows) used in the broth, I highly recommend that you Pretty Birds use broth with free range and pasture-fed animals. It is super easy to find these products these days without making it yourself, and if you don’t have 18 hours to spare, the plethora of companies ready to make broth for you are endless. When I am in San Francisco, I love the door-to-door service of Broth Baby (not to mention their scrumptious Turmeric Coconut Veggie Broth, yum). Their goal to reconnect you with your kitchen and cook a homemade meal for wellness is something all of us in our hectic lives should hold at high value.
Why is bone broth good for you anyway? The health of our gut is key to our immune balance. Bone broth soothes the gut while also releasing the anti-inflammatory properties of collagen, which are great for aches and joint pains. Since bone broth is so gentle on the gut lining, which helps to prevent food particles getting into the bloodstream, it is a helpful option for those with food allergies. The collagen from the gelatin also acts like a natural Botox: great for skin, hair and nails.
The bone broth craze has reached unbelievable limits. The obvious uses for soups and rice dishes are a no brainer. But serious bone broth fanatics have opened up “coffee shops” serving strictly bone broth and bone broth mixtures. Sipping bone broth is the easiest way to get its benefits into your system, but we have reached a new level when coffee shops are offering pseudo-coffee drinks with bone broth as the hero ingredient – not the caffeine. Brodo, in New York, makes the Oishi Oishi – chicken broth, shitake tea, reishi powder, roasted garlic purée and grass fed butter – and New Yorkers stop by the little window and warm up with their special recipes on cold days. I am not sure how I feel about bone broth replacing my coffee ritual, but obviously I am in the minority, because these shops are popping up all over the place.
Bone broth still reigns top in the Paleo diet, but now fitness gurus are jumping in, too. Bone broth is a great addition to those post-workout smoothie shots due to their high protein content. Using the actual broth a little been-there-done-that for smoothie insiders, but now, the brand Ancient Nutrition has turned their bone broth into actual protein powder. For those of you who can’t digest whey protein, or who opt for plant-based powders (which leave a weird gritty taste in your smoothie, but… do you), this bone broth protein powder gives you all the protein you need without the bloat.
You won’t find me waiting in line outside a bone broth café anytime soon, but I will definitely continue to use bone broth in my home cooking. Are we at the peak of the craze, or have we exhausted the ways to use it? I recommend it as a part of everyone’s diet, but take it in whatever way tickles your fancy! And if you are a strict vegan and not into using bone broth, you can try this concoction as a substitute.