Happy Monday everyone!
Welcome to the official season of Fall! It sure is a beautiful autumn day today here in Maine!
This wonderful Monday continues on with the 4th installment of Inside the Pantry of a Natural Foods Chef and Health Coach. See One, Two, and Three here! Today’s topic is Beautiful, Beneficial Broth. Did you know that broth is widely considered a Super Food?! Well, if you didn’t you’ve come to the right place.
When you think “broth” you may think chicken soup, and although there’s so much more to it, that’s okay! Broth is an extremely healing food, and that is exactly why we offer chicken soup to sick loved ones to offer the healing properties of stock.. and why stock/broth reminds us of chicken soup in the first place.
Now here is an important time to note the difference between stock and broth. Stock is unseasoned (aka does not contain salt) and broth has been seasoned (aka has had salted added, and is more enjoyable to eat by itself, for example). Stock and broth are relatively interchangeable in home kitchens, as long as you remember when cooking with it, that broth has more salt than stock. I will be referring to broth in this article because I am suggesting that the below are the benefits that you would receive from consuming broth/stock, which will contain salt and seasonings by the time you are enjoying it! I will refer back to this point in the “buying” section of this article.
- Broth contains gelatin, a form of collagen, which is largely considered a dietary aid because of it’s amino acid profile: arginine (L-arginine), glycine, and proline (L-proline). Did you know that although it takes all 9 essential amino acids to make a protein, all aminos (essential and non-) provide their own benefits for our bodies?
- Arginine (an essential amino acid, meaning the body cannot produce it) helps the body: heal wounds, remove waste products from the body via supplementing the kidneys, and to maintain immune and hormone function. It also changes into nitric oxide (NO) in the body. Nitric oxide is a powerful neurotransmitter that helps blood vessels relax and improves circulation.
- Glycine (a non-essential amino acid, aka the body does produce this, making it a great dietary aid) is involved in the transmission of chemical signals in the brain. May help schizophrenia and improve memory. Some researchers think glycine may have a role in cancer prevention because it seems to interfere with the blood supply needed by certain tumors.
- Proline (non-essential amino acid): plays an important role in combating arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries- a leading cause of heart disease. This occurs when the blood vessels, or arteries, that carry oxygen and nutrients from the heart to the rest of your body become thick and stiff from the buildup of fat on artery walls. Proline aids the body in breaking down proteins for use in healthy cells. In conjunction with lysine, another amino acid, proline is a precursor for hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine. The body uses hydroxyproline to make collagen, tendons, ligaments and heart muscle. Also, a lack of proline in the body might be responsible for strains or tears in soft tissue and slower-than-normal healing.
- Gelatin supports: skin, hair and nail growth.
- Gelatin can: improve digestion because it naturally binds to water and helps foods (and toxins!!) move more easily though the digestive track.
- Gelatin can: aid RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis), Osteoarthritis, and shorten recovery after exercise and sports-related injury.
- Gelatin is used: to help digestion because the liquid gets absorbed into the body quickly and without much effort. Making bone broth excellent for people with food sensitivities and gastrointestinal disorders because it is usually very safe and tolerable for the body.
- Broth is used to: inhibit cell inflammation, mitigate cold symptoms, strengthen the kidney, support digestive systems and build blood.
- Broth helps: the immune system by carrying oxygen to cells in the body. Minerals such as calcium and phosphorus are essential for maintaining healthy bones and generating energy
Buying information: Although it is ideal to make your own broth from the left over bones and (inedible) parts of your chicken and fish, I understand that not many people are buying chicken and fish in their original whole forms now-a-days. Next time you buy a whole chicken or fish I strongly encourage you throw the leftovers in a pot with your aromatics, aka: a mirepoix “meerah-pwah” (celery, onion, carrots), parsley, thyme, peppercorns, and salt. Cover with water (apprx. 2qts), slowly bring to a boil, and down to a simmer for as many hours as you can! Strain and freeze in individual servings containers and ice-cube trays for easy access.
Now, when buying here are the brands and things to look for:
- Avoid: boullian cubes.. they’re loaded with MSGs, fillers, and are subject to high heats. MSG (monosodium glutamate) is known as a neurotoxin (read: kills brain cells and damages DNA), an excitotoxin (read: kills healthy cells via overstimulation much like smoking), and suppresses the immune system- yet MSGs are approved by the FDA. Don’t be fooled by “organic” cubes.. they can contain it too!
- Avoid: canned broth. As with any food item, never buy canned food! Always buy stock/broth (and all packaged liquids) in aseptic carton (such as Tetra Paks) or glass (if possible). Why? because canned foods require or contain: BPA (“bisphenol A.” can cause birth defects, infertility, etc.), artificial preservatives (toxins, “free-radical food”), and are susceptible to lethal bacteria such as botulism…!!!
- Buy: stock when possible and add your own salt to season (the different between stock and broth is seasoning: salt.. see introduction).. this helps you control the sodium levels, and the quality of salt added.
- Buy: stock containing the verb-age: organic, free range, low-sodium, and certified gluten free (yes that’s right, you have to actively buy stock/broth gluten free otherwise it is contaminated).
- My favorite brands are Pacific and Imagine… share with us some of your favorite brands in the comment section below!
- Soups, stews, broth-y noodles (think yummy soba noodles with bok choy, carrots, shiitakes, and topped off with steaming hot broth and scallions).
- Rice/polenta/grain cooking.
- Sauteing vegetables without the use of fat/oil, also known as “healthy saute”.
- Steaming vegetables.
- Braising greens.
- Roasting root vegetables.
- Poaching proteins.
- Deglazing pans (which is when you add a liquid to the pan/pot when everything starts to stick to the bottom and you want to scrap it off easily to add more flavor to your dish).
- Reheating liquid (when, for example, you need to add a liquid to reheat or loosen up a leftover soup or entree such as risotto).
- When you’re sick or feel a cold approaching, try heating 1 cup of broth, fresh grated ginger, thinly sliced garlic, and raw vegetables of choice on the stove top. Bring to a boil then down to a simmer until the vegetables have just softened. Add leafy green such as chopped kale and wilt for 1 minute before serving. Enjoy the health benefits of the extremely nourishing foods you are consuming!
- Use within 2-3 days after opening, or freeze for 6 months.
- If you’ve made your own, same timeline as above, but store cooled stock/broth in glass jar or container.
- If store bought, keep in purchased container if it has a screw-on cap, otherwise transfer to a glass jar or container.
- Bonus tip: if you have a spare ice tray, pour your broth into the tray and freeze for 6 months of easy grab and go use! See “uses” for all the ways you could benefit from ice cube sized portions!
Well, that’s all I have for you today! I hope you enjoyed the 4th installment of Inside the Pantry of a Natural Foods Chef and Health Coach! As always, please comment with any and all questions you may have, or requests for future posts.
Be Well and Enjoy!