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An Ancient (and Inexpensive) Way to Boost Your Immune System

Katya Bowd

Posted on November 06 2017

When it comes to learning time-management skills and optimising our management of the home, mums often struggle most to stay on top of menu-planning and meal-preparation. Finding healthy dinner recipes and keeping junk food out of the kitchen is important so we can feed our families the foods that promote wellness. Junk food is quick and easy, but it’s too costly in the long run.

Time is often at a premium, especially for mothers who work outside the home or own a business in addition to taking care of the household. But, when you work with a slow-cooker, a whole new world of culinary opportunity presents itself! Suddenly, you’re not relegated to a 5pm rush to put something on the table – it’s just ready. You don’t even have to prep and cook in the same day if you get really fancy and decide to make freezer meals for your slow-cooker. All of that sounds very Stepford Wives, but in reality, it’s the best way to manage what is often a stressful part of your day. You also get healthy food on the table more consistently with less fuss!

Honestly, getting a menu-making strategy in place is the hardest part for most mums. But, it is possible to make a menu, have one or two variations of it tucked away for emergencies, and then not do it again until you’re in the mood for a change. You can do it! Creating a menu that lasts a week, two weeks, or even a month might sound challenging, but let me introduce you a component that can simplify the process: bone broth recipes.

This is something that has been used for centuries – and for good reason. The ancients understood the health benefits of boiling the bone when preparing meats and using the broth as a staple ingredient for other dishes.

Now, with modern conveniences like slow-cookers, this method is even more sensible for mums who need an easy way to make healthier meals in less time. This is because they can be safely left unattended through the day or overnight, and the low setting keeps the temperature high enough to prevent bacteria from growing.

For people striving to implement healthy alternatives to “cheap” meals, it’s also one of the most cost-effective strategies, because the foods you’re probably already buying are simply being prepared in a way that maximises the nutritional benefits.

The broth can be used for two or three days as your foundation for meals, using it as needed and simply adding water to the broth to keep it going through the week.  Try adding a different meat after a couple of days and let it simmer for another 24 hours. This refreshes its nutritional value and changes up the flavor, so it literally acts like a starter for every meal of the week if that’s what you need to optimise your menu-making strategy.

Getting started:

To make a bone broth, first decide what meat you want to use. Again, if your family eats meat regularly anyway, go with what you normally serve. Just make sure you don’t go for the boneless options (which are more expensive anyway).

There are a few different ways you can go about initial preparations. Both require a little time at the beginning, so you’ll want to put a day on the calendar to just start the overnight simmering process and prepare meals for the freezer that will use your broth as the foundation. This is going to free up significant meal-preparation time later on, so give it a go!

So, how does one start a bone broth? The idea is to have the bones from your meat simmering on low for at least 12 hours, preferably 24, to give your broth the highest density of nutrients for the greatest possible boost to your immune system (and richest flavour).

For maximum nutritional value:

Roast your meat first. This “primes” the bones before they are used to make the broth, unlocking the nutrients that make bone broth so nutritionally rich. If time is not crunched in your meal preparation routine, this is really the best way to go. Roast the meat, serve it, keep the bones, and use them to make a beautiful, delicious broth for soups.  Add your choice of vegetables to each meal (the roast, then the soup) and the result is a very naturally healthy diet.

Once the meat has been served and enjoyed, the bones themselves don’t require any further preparation – just add them to your slow-cooker, fill it with water, and set it on low.

If you add something, it’s best to add ingredients that coordinate with the flavor of your meat to enhance the broth, both nutritionally and in taste. For pork, try green onion and garlic. Put them into something like fillable tea-bags (or, in a pinch, try a coffee filter tied with string), because you’ll want to pull them out when they have had adequate time to flavor up your broth. It’s easier if they are bundled up like this – you just fish out the bundle after a few hours.

If you don’t have the time needed for roasting your meat, that’s ok. It’s a challenge to get this done in time for a meal when you get home from work! The health benefits of doing a bone broth still make it a priceless addition to your menu even if you skip this step.

For the next best thing:

If you plan to make the bone broth without roasting the meat first, do it on a day when you have a couple hours available to prepare your broth. Simply rinse your uncooked meat and add it to the slow-cooker with enough water to cover the meat. Set it on low and let it go.

In a couple of hours, you’ll notice the foam building on top of the broth. These are impurities that are cooked out of the meat. They can be scooped away with a large spoon, leaving a beautiful, clear broth. The meat can be left to fully cook, or you can remove the meat from the bones to cut up, freeze and finish preparing later.

Either way, you want the bones to continue their simmering. After 24 hours, trying spooning some out in a mug to substitute your coffee each morning. You’ll love the longer-lasting energy boost from this! Pull out a cup or two to make a gravy for your meat. Or, use it for preparing soups, adding whatever ingredients you love best. However you slice it, you will be utilizing a superfood that will help you put healthy food on your table for your family.

For a top-notch, really simple chicken soup, have your chicken bone broth simmer overnight without the meat, and add the following ingredients. Play around with quantities to see what your family likes best. If you really want to be clever about it, dice up all your veggies when you pull the meat out of your broth and put them all in the refrigerator together. All you have to do is pull out the ingredients in the morning and toss them into the broth to simmer throughout the day.

Don’t hesitate to improvise on other additions! But the following is for a basic, hearty soup:

  • Diced onions
  • Celery stalks, cut up (use as many as you like)
  • 4-6 diced potatoes
  • Pimentos
  • Poultry seasoning
  • Rosemary (another superfood to help your immune system!)
  • Salt and black pepper

For a nice thick soup, mix 1 cup cold milk and ¼ cup cornstarch add it in, and bring it to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to let it simmer again. This soup makes tremendously wonderful left-overs because of the creamy texture it takes on when it fully cools.

Let us know if you try it! Share your experience (and other healthy dinner ideas) in the comments below.

Until next time!