Chicken stock. Maybe your mom made it when you were young, or maybe after Thanksgiving she turned the turkey carcass into soup. It’s not that I ever questioned why my mom did those things, but I didn’t think about there being any health benefits. I suppose if I had contemplated it at all, I would have most likely just thought it was a way to use more of the bird—to make more meals out of it (to save money?). Today, it’s pretty easy to go to the store and buy a can or box of soup stock. The problem is that when you buy the soup, it has been processed enough that it is no longer containing many of the nutritional benefits. Additionally, it probably has things added to it that don’t benefit you to ingest, especially the non-organic canned varieties.
There are so many things chicken stock can do for you in terms of your health, and it really is quite easy to do yourself.
First, the benefits of making stock with a whole chicken (or with lots of chicken pieces that contain bones/joints):
- Chicken broth is hydrophillic. This means that when you ingest it, it attracts water (instead of repelling it, like most cooked foods do), and it becomes especially easy to digest and assimilate the nutrients. For people who have trouble digesting raw vegetables, and for people (as most do) who ingest pasteurized milk, bone broths add significant quality and benefit to the diet.
- The glycosaminoglycans in the connective tissue contain over 100 compounds that are supportive of your own connective tissue. For people with arthritis and/or joint issues, this is especially helpful, but it is also good for everyone. If you think about a person who takes a glucosamine supplement for their joints, consider that consuming broths made from a whole chicken contain that compound plus around 100 more. Additionally, the natural forms of these compounds are more easily assimilated in the body compared to a synthetic supplement.
- The compounds in the bones/joints also translate to healthy (strong but flexible) bones.
- Chicken broth has been shown to reduce the length of a cold, and it assists with recovering from the flu (this isn’t an Old Wives Tale—but it only works with the stock made from whole chicken parts!).
- Chicken broth is soothing and repairing for the digestive tract. People who have IBS, colitis, gluten issues, and/or many other intestinal conditions, will find this especially helpful in repairing damage to the mucosal lining of the intestines.
Second, the instructions:
Buy a whole organic free range chicken (the essence of this animal is going to be in your soup—so if it’s an unhealthy hormone/antibiotic exposed chicken, your soup will reflect that).
Put 4 quarts of filtered water into a large pot. Add the chicken, after you’ve cut off the wings, removed anything that was stored in the body cavity, and chopped it into a few large pieces (you can also use pieces of chicken instead of a whole one as long as the meat is still on the bones). Add 2 tbsp vinegar (this draws the “good stuff” out of the bones and joints) and then let this sit for one hour. Next, add two roughly chopped (peeled) carrots, one roughly chopped onion, and two chopped celery stalks. You can add garlic too. Next, turn the stove on High. When it boils, skim the scum off the top, and reduce to a simmer with the lid on for 6-24 hours (longer is better). When it is 10 minutes from being done, add a bunch of fresh parsley.
Strain the broth, pick the pieces of veg/chicken out of the pot that you may want to eat (I threw all of it out–the veg were really mushy, and there were a lot of little bones loose in there—I picked out the large not-gross pieces of chicken and saved those), and then store the broth in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for much much longer. The chicken you save from this broth also contains many beneficial compounds because it was cooked on the bones. Anytime you eat meat that was cooked on the bone, you are gaining some benefit from it.
Now, what should you do with the stock? Eat it as soup (add whatever you want to it to make soup) or drink it warm (or cold–that might be gross!). Everyday…or as many days out of the week as you can.
Have you ever made soup stock from bones? If not, would you? It’s such a cheap and simple thing to do, with so many great benefits—I’m having three clients test this for the intestinal healing benefit. If they actually stick to it consistently, I will let you know the results!
I hope you’re having a great week—I love the fact that it’s almost the end of the semester, and I have so many things to look forward to in the next month!
I’ve been a little lax on blogging—it’s funny, I have so many things I could have blogged about this week that I researched for clients, but I just didn’t post about them! Any of the topics interest you? Food and anxiety, cholesterol lowering without medication, gluten/thyroid issues/links, higher protein breakfast and lunch ideas, how to add more micronutrients to the diet, benefits of coconut for weight loss and thyroid health, what baby’s first food should be (egg yolks!) and what it should NOT be (rice cereal!)…
It’s cold enough here now that I’m having trouble sticking to my several-times-a-day activity plan (My real desire is to hibernate). I’m still getting 2-3 hours on most days, but definitely not on all days—I’m hoping winter break helps me in that department too.
I have also been experimenting in the kitchen (a lot!) with high fat, high protein recipes that satisfy some old carb cravings…there are a few awesome results that I’ll be sharing soon. I have been eating this way (10% or less of calories from carbs, no grains) since the beginning of August, and I am still a new person—physically and mentally. It’s a great feeling to have found (after so many years of being frustrated) the right plan for myself. I’m sure I’ll continue to evolve my habits too.
Do you feel like you have found your dietary niche?