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Nutritional Prescriptions

Stocks and Broths: How to Soup Yourself to Health

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Stocks and Broths: How to Soup Yourself to Health

Alternate tittle: How to Cook Bone Broth Like a Witch Doctor. Homemade broth is one of those ancient dishes we have let fall to the wayside. For centuries stocks and broths were the backbone of a family's nutrition, but now it is much easier to drop by your local store and pick up a box of pre-made or a bullion cubes.  I get it.  We, myself included, are all busy rushing around trying succeed in our lives and then feed ourselves and our loved ones.

But I had my eyes opened a few years ago, when I opened my life to a man who is an incredible chef and who takes none of these old traditions for granted.  He really values the taste and depth of food made from scratch and will go to great lengths to make homemade sauces, soups, dressings, and pastas, you name it.  While I agree that flavor is much better, my biggest discovery is how easy it is to actually make these healthy basics. Now I am the lucky owner of a jam-packed freezer.  It is full of homemade fish and chicken stocks, ice-cube trays full of different pesto's and tomato sauces, pre-made crusts and lots of tiny bags filled with veggie and bone scraps to be saved for future stocks.

I first got into drinking bone broth to improve on my digestive system (as it's known to seal and heal the gut), but now I drink one cup a day of this age-old medicine for a strong immune system during flu season, to support my body when I'm stressed out, and to give me beautiful, vibrant skin and hair. It is the very BEST real food way to get your body maximum nutrients.

A South American proverb says "good broth will resurrect the dead." Known as a cure-all in traditional households, bone broths can be found across many generations, continents and healing traditions.  And science validates what our grandmothers knew best, a homemade broth is the healthiest thing you can eat. It's known to cure colds, soothe sore throats, heal ulcers, relieve fatigue, strengthen hair, nails and bones, improve digestion, heal the gut and boost the immune system.  Whether you are a chef, a healer or just trying to live a healthy life, this is a must have ingredient for your kitchen.

INGREDIENTS Broths can take many forms but should always start with a pile of vegetables (or scraps), and pure water. From there you can add just about anything to make it your own and boost the nutrition to fit your needs:

Vegetables: Onion, garlic, celery, carrots, mushrooms or mushroom stems (cut and save your shiitake stems in the freezer), green beans, leeks (or saved/ frozen leek tops), greens, dried or fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary, basil, bay leaf, thyme).

Bones: Organic beef, lamb, turkey, chicken, or fish bones. these can be bought raw from your local butcher or you can save leftover bones after a roast. Keep them in the freezer adding scraps of bones/ vegetables until you have enough to fill half a stock pot. Now you are ready to make stock! Cooked bones work fine, but raw bones produce more flavor.

Boosters: Clean egg shells (for added calcium); Heads and feet of poultry (for added collagen); Dried seaweed, aka kambu, (adds iodine for thyroid support & digestibility); Vinegar (increases nutrient absorption);  shiitake/ maitaki or reishi mushrooms (to deep immune support ).

Nourishing Chicken Stock

INGREDIENTS

1 whole organic chicken carcass including all the bony parts: neck, back, breastbone and wings (Remove as much of the fat as possible.) (Highly recommended option to include the chicken head, feet, or gizzard for increased mineral density and lots of healing collagen. This is a great way to create a medicinal broth that will support your digestive and immune system and give you healthy hair, skin and nails.)

4 quarts of cold water

2 Tbs. vinegar

1 large onion, quartered, papers can be left on

1-2 full heads of garlic, cut width-wise, papers can be left on

3 pieces of celery, coarsely chopped

2 carrots, coarsely chopped

1 bunch of parsley

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp of whole peppercorns

Optional Boosters: 1-4 Tbs. of seaweed (dulce or kambu) optional 1-4 egg shells, cleaned 10 shitake stems (or whole mushrooms)

DIRECTIONS

To begin, preheat your oven to 350 and once ready, add your bones and onions to the oven to brown (about 15 mins). This will deepen the flavor of the broth and give you a dark, rich color (if you are looking to make a clear broth, skip this step.) NOTE: If using the head or feet, do not brown them first

(If using the addition of seaweed, cut a piece of kambu that is a few inches long and soak in water for 10 mins.)

Meanwhile, add the rest of your vegetables and non-roasting bones (like feet or head) to a stock pot with cold water. Cover with enough water that the bones and veggies are just submerged. Remove the roasted bones from the oven and place them directly into the stock pot with the vegetables. Add the herbs, bay leaves, pinch of sea salt, peppercorns and the kombu. Add vinegar and let them sit for 45 minutes in cold water. The vinegar will help to leach maximum nutrients (calcium and collagen) from the bones.

Once you have soaked your cold stock, turn on the stove to high heat and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer then skim the top of the broth with a ladle to get the scum (small bubbles) off. (These are the toxins the bones release.) Remove the kombu after 45 minutes and discard, but let the broth continue to simmer for a minimum of 8 hours, but up to 24. If needed, you can add water to replenish any evaporated liquid

Once done cooking you will need to strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer. Save the liquid-stock, then compost the remaining bones/veg.

Your stock will keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to four-five days. For the stock you don't think you'll use right away, let it cool and then add it to plastic quart containers (old yogurt jars) or zip lock bags to freeze. I like to freeze some in ice-cube trays so that I can have small portions to throw into sautéed veggies.

I love to drink a cup of steaming broth with my lunch with a little parsley and salt, but I also add it to my cooking by making rich soups, cooking grains, beans or even oats with it. It is the very BEST real food way to get your body maximum nutrients.

Alkaline Vegetable Broth

This is an excellent broth to make if you are vegetarian, fighting a cold, or on a whole-food cleanse. This broth is completely alkaline and will help your body re-set from the acidity of a regular diet.  You can use it as a soup base, to add extra flavor and nutrition to any recipe that calls for water, or as a great nourishing, hydrating and cleansing meal.

INGREDIENTS

Choose a combination of the following vegetables equaling about 1 1/2-2 cups of each: celery, carrots, zucchini, green beans, parsley, kale, spinach, chard, parsley, and onions. Add several cloves of garlic, a handful of your favorite herbs and a couple of bay leafs. Include boosters like kombu, vinegar, lemon juice, or shiitake mushroom stems.

DIRECTIONS

Place all of your vegetables in a large stock pot and saute for a few minutes. Add more than enough filtered water to cover them. Bring to boil and then simmer for 45 minutes. Turn off and let cool on the stove. Strain and discard the veggies and keep the broth.

These will keep in the fridge for up to three days, or you can freeze and use later as a soup stock.

The Skinny

When cooked for a long period of time bones and vegetables release their nutrients into the water. Bone broth's contain high levels of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur, and trace minerals. Vegetable broths contain the potassium and magnesium , but with little to no protein.  And in its liquid form, these nutrients are very easily absorbed by the body. Broths made from fish bones and seaweed provide iodine and thyroid strengthening substances.

When broths are cooled they congeal due to the presence of gelatin. Gelatin has been used for historically by many cultures to treat a long list of diseases including treat ulcers, hernia, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle disease, digestive issues,  infectious disease and cancer. Infant chicken stock that includes the head is called the "Jewish Penicillin".

Broths drastically improve the bodies mineral content, repair digestion and boost the immune. And as a low-calorie, protein rich food, vegetable and bone broths are hard to beat.

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Natural Sports Drinks

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Natural Sports Drinks

During exercise the body loses many fluids and electrolytes. It is important to keep them replenished to avoid dehydration and allow your muscles to repair themselves more quickly.  When your out for long bouts of training (runs, cycling, swims over 45 mins.),  drinking only plain water can cause bloating, cramps and actually suppress, rather than quench, feelings of thirst which can lead to dehydration.  The body's cells need salt in order to actively transport water between them and replenish hydration within the body.  In other words, an active body needs constant electrolyte replenishing.

When looking at the major sports drink on the market you will find that many of them are packed with high fructose corn syrup, unhealthy levels of caffeine and a wide range of additives and preservatives. While it is possible for high levels of sugar to be burned off by a serious athlete, most of us are not performing at a level to properly deal with that insulin boost.  This can disrupt our blood sugar levels causing weight gain, energy crashes and a lowered immune system.

I've been tinkering with ways to get those electrolytes in without all the junk of the shelf versions. Some times that means I mix 50/50 coconut water and filtered water; sometimes I add a dash of salt to filtered water; some times I add 1/2 tsp of baking soda and 1TBS of honey to 1 liter of filtered water; and when I am really inspired and have the time to plan ahead I turn to the botanicals to create an electrolyte sun tea. The herbs used in this tea specially blended by a herbalist friend of mine to address the needs of an athlete. The Skinny: Hibiscus and lemon balm both lower blood pressure, peppermint is a stimulant that increases both speed and strength, tulsi is a metabolism booster and lowers cortisol, and eleuthro is an energy booster and that can aid in muscle recovery.  These teas can be bought loose from the bulk bins at your local health food store (if you live in San Francisco, Rainbow is your best bet.) You can mix and match herbs and flavors depending on your needs and tastes.

Drinking your electrolytes before, during and after your next workout for sustained energy, increased hydration and fast recovery!

Herbal Electrolyte Tea

INGREDIENTS

3 1/2 gallons water

4 cups lime juice

2 cups of honey

1/2 cup of salt

Fresh herbs of your choice. Try hibiscus, peppermint, tulsi, lemon balm, eleuthro. (These can be bought in the bulk section of a good health food store. i.e. Rainbow)

DIRECTIONS

Brew sun tea using 1/2 gallon of water and fresh herbs.  Let sit in sunny place for 1-2 days until a strong tea is brewed.

When ready to make your electrolyte tea, start by dissolving the honey in salt in hot water.  Then in a large jar, add the additional 3 gallons of water, the diluted honey and salt mixture and lime juice.  Stir until mixed well. Serve in your water bottle over ice.

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Here are a few more ways to create a homemade sports drink:

Energy Water:  In 1 quart water add ¼ tsp sea salt, ¼ tsp baking soda, 2 Tbs honey, 1 tsp. Ginseng

Water Booster: In 1 quart water add ¼ tsp sea-salt, juice of 1 lemon, and 1/2Tbs honey.

Isotonic O.J: Isotonic sports drinks quickly replaces fluids lost by sweating and supplies a boost of carbohydrate.To make-In 1 litre of water add 200ml of concentrated orange and a pinch of salt (1g). Mix all the ingredients together and keep chilled

Coconut water: Coconut water naturally has 650 mg of potassium (15x more than a banana), 25mg of magnesium, and 35 mg of sodium.  Low calorie. Packed with natural electrolytes coconut water hydrates, increases energy, balance bodies pH, cools the body, transports nutrients to cells, improve digestion and increase libido.

*Drink unsweetened coconut water before and after exercise.  Try dilute with water and use for hydration during training.

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Anti-inflammatory Ginger Tea

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Anti-inflammatory Ginger Tea

Ginger, A Powerful Superfood: The Benefits of Ginger Tea Fresh ginger root has many properties that qualify it as a “superfood”. Here are just a few benefits of fresh, raw ginger root:

  • Eases Gastrointestinal Discomfort
  • Anti inflammatory effects on arthritis
  • Induces Ovarian Cancer Cell Death
  • Reduces Pain
  • Aids in Weight Loss
  • Helps Carry Wastes Out of the Body (Detox)
  • Alleviates Morning Sickness and Motion Sickness

Ginger tea has been studied for its healthy benefits on digestion and improving gastrointestinal ailments in a wide number of individuals. It has also been shown to alleviate gas and constipation. Using peppermint tea and ginger root tea together after a meal may help ease digestion, which results in better nutrients being absorbed and utilized. Also, with better digestion comes easy and healthy weight loss. This is one reason why I love adding ginger to my green smoothies.

Ginger tea has shown some promise in aiding apoptosis of ovarian cancer cells, resulting in less cancer cells overall. Although not a sole treatment, it has been documented that the cancer cell death is indeed initiated by properties called gingerols in ginger root. I also believe that the powerful anti-inflammatory compounds in ginger are also helpful, as chronic inflammation has been shown to be connected to cancer (inflammation can occur through eating excessive grains, sugars and not enough anti-inflammatory foods).

Being a powerful anti-inflammatory, it has been shown to be helpful in those with arthritis. Pain in the joints, bones and head may also be relieved through ginger tea. A ginger root tea made with a cinnamon stick and a little stevia may give it an extra anti-inflammatory boost. One of the leading cause of aging is inflammation from diet and lifestyle, as well as general metabolism, so the best thing that one can do is increase anti-inflammatory rich foods and herbs, such as ginger root.

Finally, weight loss can be helped by drinking ginger tea, as inflammation can often suppress hormones that help control hunger and metabolize fat. Ginger root tea, being rather spicy, may also elicit the removal of wastes through causing you to sweat. Spicy foods have also been shown to increase fat burning potential, but it is unclear whether ginger does this the same way peppers do (gingerols are a relative of capsacian).

How to Make Ginger Tea

For two strong cups:

2 tbsp. freshly grated ginger (peeled) 1 cup hot, almost boiling, water 1 cup room temperature water Almond milk, coconut milk and stevia, to taste (optional)

Pour hot water over the fresh ginger and let steep for 30 minutes. For a strong infusion, steep overnight, covered on the counter.

Strain the ginger and add the additional 1 cup of water. Add coconut or almond milk and stevia, if you desire.

For extra anti-inflammatory and blood sugar benefits, steep tea with 1-2 cinnamon sticks, chopped into 1/2″ pieces.

Serves 1-2.

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