I awoke this morning to the amazing smell of simmering chicken bone broth.
Before I went to bed last night, I placed a whole chicken into a crock pot with some vegetables, seasonings, water and vinegar. Then I turned the pot to low and let it work its magic.
Twelve hours later I have several cups of nutritious broth to use in soups, and about 4 cups of shredded chicken meat.
I’m not just frugal about healthcare. I’m frugal about a lot of things, and I love seeing the money I spend on food go a long ways. Not only do I want to get several meals out of a chicken or a pile of meat bones, but I want that food to be packed with nutritional value.
That’s why I enjoy making bone broth so much.
It’s called bone broth because adding vinegar or wine to the cooking process leeches more minerals from the bones. My recipe—at the bottom of the post—calls for apple cider vinegar. I also add bok choy or other vegetables that are high in calcium.
Bone broth for bone health
I’ve posted before that calcium supplements are not a good source of bone-building calcium, and can actually be harmful in large amounts. Popping calcium pills isn’t enough for healthy bones.
To be strong and flexible, bones require a wide variety of nutrients—calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins C, D and K, and collagen-building amino acids.
So for optimal bone health, we need to make sure our typical daily diet is rich in these nutrients.
Bone broth is not the best source of dietary calcium, like milk, yogurt or fortified orange juice, but it can certainly be part of a healthy (and delicious!) bone-building diet.
Bone broth for colds
It’s not just an old wives’ tale. Chicken broth, especially, has been shown to have some mild medicinal properties.
Researchers in several different studies have found chicken soup lessens cold symptoms better than a placebo.
It may decrease the inflammation in our sinus passages, and help our cilia—those tiny hairs in our noses and sinuses—move that gunky mucus along more quickly.
The warmth and steaminess help, too, but chicken soup still works better than just hot water.
None of the research is conclusive, and it’s not known whether the changes measured in the laboratory really have a meaningful effect on people with cold symptoms. However, at the very least, chicken soup with vegetables contains lots of healthy nutrients, increases hydration and tastes good, too.
I think it’s safe to say that a healthier body is better able to defend itself against illness, and recovers more quickly.
Chicken Bone Broth Recipe
My recipe is super simple. You might notice that I don’t add any salt. One of the reasons I don’t like canned or boxed broths and soups is their high sodium content. So I only add salt to taste when I make soup using the broth.
In a 6-quart slow cooker add:
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1″ slices
- 2 stalks celery, cut into 1″ slices
- 2 cups bok choy (or other dark leafy greens), coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
Add water until it reaches about ½ inch from the top. Cover and turn to low. Let simmer for at least 12 hours.
Cool and then strain the contents into a bowl. Refrigerate the broth for a few hours before skimming any fat from the top. Use immediately or freeze.
After being cooked for this long, the chicken meat just falls from the bones. I can get so much more usable meat from a chicken this way. If I don’t use it in soups, I use it for chicken tacos or chicken curries.
Tonight I’m using both the broth and the chicken to make Black Bean Soup with Chorizo and Chicken.