A Whole Chicken for Your Nest Egg: Bone Broth

Crockpot Bone Broth

We typically think of cooking an animal only for its meat, but we’re missing some of the best part!  French culinary masters consider stock/bone-broth to be a kitchen essential in flavoring soups, rice, sauce, gravy, and much more. Our ancestors survived on hearty broth made from bones, especially during the winter when fresh food was hard to come by – our bodies have gotten used to the nutrients that animal bones provide and depend on them to grow, repair and function.  This is just one of the many reasons I’m not a vegan.

Animal bones (and the marrow) contain a protein molecule called glucosamine.  Glucosamine, the main ingredient in arthritis meds and joint supplements, helps build and repair joints and also triggers the growth of new collagen. Collagen provides structural support for our bones, tendons and ligaments, and gives our skin shape, texture and youthfulness. While collagen injections may make the Real Housewives’ lips temporarily plump, consistent regeneration of the collagen in your skin, hair, bones, arteries and more can only come from making it part of your diet. I don’t know about you, but as I age, I want to look and feel young… here’s to a retirement full of active travel and less wrinkles! The good news is that natural collagen and glucosamine are an easy and tasty addition to your diet, and will not only help prevent issues, but also rebuild and repair. By simply simmering the nutrients out of the bones, joints and cartilage slowly, you are able to safely extract the minerals and vitamins (magnesium, vitamin D & calcium), as opposed to the high-heat damaging methods used in making glucosamine pills.

So here’s how I make my weekly bone broth: After I cook my whole chicken, I put the bones back in my crockpot, along with 8 cups of filtered water. I roughly chop any mix of the following to add to the pot: onion, celery, beet greens, carrots, garlic, leek or fresh herbs. You can also add a couple tablespoons of white wine or apple cider vinegar, as the acid in those liquids helps get more minerals from the bones.

Bones + Veggies in Crockpot

Simmer on low for around 4 hours.

Broth after 4 hours of simmering in crockpot

Then strain and transfer to a BPA-free container.  Use within a couple of days from the fridge, or store in the freezer.

Broth

You can use it in any recipe that calls for chicken broth, as a soup or gravy base, to replace water when making rice delicious or drink by itself. And of course, you can do the same with beef bones or fish bones for different broth flavors.  Considering how expensive a container of broth costs, this is a great deal – plus, no chemical preservatives or flavor additives!

A special tip for dog owner’s: I sometimes add a little broth to my puppy’s food to help her joints and she loves it! But, be sure not to use any onion in that batch as it is toxic to dogs).

Sources: Wikipedia searches of collagen & glucosamine and, of course, Deep Nutrition.

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Parmesan Pesto Chicken with Herb-Stuffed Brussel Sprouts

Pesto Chicken and Brussel Sprouts

Trying to recover from all the cookies and carbs you devoured over the holidays but still craving the rich flavors?  Here’s a new recipe I created for you to try this weekend that is loaded with tastiness and nutrients.  Seriously, I could not stop saying “mmm!” the entire time I was eating this (and then again when I ate the leftovers), just ask my husband.  Hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Pesto Chicken Thighs

One of the “Four Pillars of Authentic Cuisine” I discussed in yesterday’s post was cooking meat on the bone.  Here’s a great way to put this pillar on your menu.  You’ll need:

  • 10 organic, pasture raised chicken thighs (bone-in with skin)
  • 1/2 cup of pesto (see recipe below)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated organic Parmesan cheese
  • juice from 1-2 organic lemon(s)
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper (around 1 tablespoon of each)

To make a batch of pesto, combine 2 cups fresh, washed basil leaves with two cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup of pine nuts or raw almonds, 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil and salt and pepper in a food processor and chop until a smooth paste.  Then put in an airtight container and store in the freezer.  I store it in small 1/2 cup containers and just take it out to thaw whenever I need it for a recipe.

For the chicken, first rinse the chicken thighs and put them skin up into a 9×13 glass baking dish (line with foil or spread a thin layer of coconut oil on the bottom for easy clean up).  Next, massage the chicken to separate the skin from the meat and create a little pouch for your pesto mix. Stir the Parmesan cheese into your pesto and then distribute among the chicken thighs, stuffing the mixture into the pouches.  Then, sprinkle your lemon juice over the chicken thighs, along with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Rub all that goodness into the skin a little.  Put into a 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, or until browned on the top.  I usually check a little on the early side (because overcooked chicken not only tastes dry but also loses its nutrients) and use a meat thermometer to determine if it’s ready – chicken is perfectly and fully cooked at 165 degrees.

Stuffed Brussel Sprouts

While the chicken is baking, you can make the brussel sprouts side dish.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 8ish organic brussel sprouts (mine were small to medium sized and made plenty for two people)
  • 3 tablespoons organic greek yogurt
  • 1-2 tablespoon raspberry-chipotle sauce (optional, but I love the stuff)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon chopped basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped oregano
  • 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (I put my sprouted bread in a food processor for the fresh, cheap kind)

First, boil 4 cups of water and put your washed brussel sprouts in the pot for 1-2 minutes to blanch them.  Basically, when they turn bright green, take them out and put them in a colander to drain them and let cool.  Blanching them makes them easy to cut and core. Once cool, chop the ends off and cut in half. Next, take a paring knife and cut the stem part just enough to where you can pull out the inner part of the sprout, just leaving an outer shell for stuffing. (There’s lots of videos online showing how to do this if you need a better visual.)  After separating the inner sprouts from outer leaves, put the inner parts in a food processor with the garlic and chop until fine.  Then, saute your inner sprouts and garlic in some olive oil until tender.  Once cooked, mix in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and stir to mix everything together. Lastly, fill the sprout shells with the mixture, overfilling each a little bit and arrange on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Put in the oven with your chicken (375 degrees) for 10-15 minutes, until the tops and outer shells are browned.

Happy Cooking!

– Christine