The Benefits of Bone Broth (Turns Out Our Grandmothers Were Right All Along)

January 6, 2017

A number of years ago I brought Christmas lunch to

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the Youth Recovery House, a residential treatment program I'd come to know all-to-well, during the harrowing years my son was a teenager

There were twenty-two mouths to feed and a handful of picky eaters, so the menu chose me, soup.  To the voices of Bing Crosby and Amy Grant, I simmered tomatoes for chili and began to prep the star of the show, a cheese soup I'd dogeared months before.  A riff on one of the kid's all-time favorites

The puppies were underfoot as I studied the recipe.  My daughter rummaged through the fridge for the ingredients.  “How much cheese do you need?”

I peered down at the cookbook.  “It says five pounds.  Oh, and two and a half cups of butter.”  I walked to the front window to see what Wally was barking at (yet again)

“Five pounds of cheese?”  She asked, “For how many servings?”

“Ummm .. twelve?”

We stared at each other in disbelief before I sent her off on a last-minute grocery run.  Truth be told?  It was the best cheese soup I've ever tasted, but neither of us could stomach more than a spoonful.  We knew what was in it

I think of this (often) when everyone's online lives look like masterpieces.  Their pots are creamy and decadent and simmered to perfection.  And here I am, just trying to get the dog to stop eating out of the litter box.  (Sally, leave it!)

I think of it lately, when I no longer make soup with copious amounts of cheese and butter.  Instead, our freezer is filled with containers full of bone broth, and nourishment of a far different kind

Beef Bone Broth - From a healthy gut, to radiant skin, hair, and nails, bone broth is the superfood our grandmothers have been making for generations

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Today Part III of a week-long series about bone broth.

In Part I – The process our family uses, along with a few tips and tricks we've picked up along the way.

Part II featured a recipe (of sorts) for my mom's bone broth stew; one of the most incredible things I've ever eaten

It was hard to know where to start, and even harder to know where to end, when it comes to the benefits of bone broth.  So I thought I'd share a few highlights.  Those that have stood out to me during the many hours I've spent reading, and point you in the direction of some of my favorite resources if you'd like to explore further

What is the difference between Bone Broth/ Broth / Stock?

The difference between stock and broth is elusive in the bowl but clearer in the kitchen.  Lots of people use the terms interchangeably, but strictly speaking, both broth and stock include bones and meat, with stock, having a higher percentage of bones to meat.

For those of us who make bone broth, the focus isn't the amount of meat on the bone.  Instead, what the bones contain (think collagen, minerals and amino acids) because they're the source of the health benefits we're after.

Therefore, we'll eye the pot through the filter of how many knuckles, necks, oxtails, feet, and hooves it contains.  Another telltale sign?  Bone broths are simmered for a very long time, not only to produce gelatin from the collagen-rich joints but also to extract the maximum amount of minerals and other nutrients

Bone broth and cultures around the world

Around the globe, there are so many cultures for which bone broth is a part of their daily lives.  There are financial considerations,  they may not have as much money, and therefore use every part of the animal.  More important, they're keenly aware of the health benefits

They know it's one of the simplest things for keeping their digestive systems healthy (which in turn improves the health of every other part of the body).  Certainly we are what we eat, but more importantly, we are what we absorb.

Bone broth is incredible for hair, nails, and skin.  It's also great for detoxing the body and improving our mood.  It can help soothe the gut wall, repairing damage like leaky gut, and aid in digestion.  In terms of beauty, some refer to it as the elixir for glowing skin. It's filled with protein, good fats, collagen, and keratin; all of which play major roles in strengthening hair and nails and lead to smooth, clear skin


Why did traditional foods (think organ meats & bone broth) fall out of favor and why are they making a comeback?

When pharmaceuticals came into vogue, and people started looking for “modern” ways of healing, they turned toward medicine and pharmacy.  More traditional methods of healing went by the wayside as “processed” and “fast” became ingrained into our society.  People lost sight of what is truly beneficial

“Before pharmaceuticals, there was broth”     ~ The Weston A Price Foundation

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How the invention of MSG contributed to the decline of bone broth

If there's one processed food ingredient that contributed to the decline of bone broth, it's MSG.  MSG is an excitotoxin that makes food taste really, really good.  It's quick, easy, and cheap.  As food became a science, people said, “Hey, we can do this better.”

The secret to our grandmother's cooking?  Sauces, gravies, soups, and stews, all the things people think are hard to make?  They're really easy if you have homemade broth on hand.


When sourcing bones, do the best you can

The better the quality, the better the broth, and organic is always best.  If an animal is exposed to toxins, they're far more likely to accumulate in the bones and organs.  That being said, as the broth cooks, many of the toxins will leach out, float to the top, and be skimmed away

“I wouldn’t let the unavailability of the very best stop you from making stock.  Even using a Costco chicken would be better than not making bone broth at all.  I just don’t want people to obsess about it.  I’ve always said that.  Do the best you can.” ~ Sally Fallon

Beef Bone Broth - From a healthy gut, to radiant skin, hair, and nails, bone broth is the superfood our grandmothers have been making for generations

Flavorings for Bone Broth

With bone broth evolving from a prehistoric food to a cool Paleo drink, people have started adding lots of different seasonings like turmeric and chili flakes

A few that might be fun to try?

If you're into Asian flavors: ginger, lemon, and miso.  Maybe add some nutrient-dense dulse seaweed for an extra mineral boost?

If you like spicy, a combo like ginger, lemon and any chili or hot sauce.  My husband's been known to poach the egg in boiling broth and top it with a squirt (or two) of Sriracha

The great thing is, anything goes


Where to go from here?

Where can someone go to source the best ingredients?  Who offers quality bone broth for sale?  What are some resources (books, websites, etc .. ) if you'd like to know more?

( .. to be continued .. )

ps:  You can read more about bone broth in Part I  |  Part II  |  Part IV  of the series


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  • Reply candy January 6, 2017 at 10:49 am

    Yes our mothers and grandmothers really knew what they were doing. They ate so much better. No additives. Farm fresh. I make my own beef, vegetable and chicken broth/ stock all the time. We raise a big garden and do all of our canning. Process our own meat and grown and grind our own wheat. We are living a great life.

  • Reply Michelle C. January 6, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    Great start to your 3-part blog on Bone Broth! I have been seeing a lot of posts on bone broth and its benefits. I have always made homemade soups and stocked up on broth I would make. Never knew it was “a thing” ~ looks like I am finally in style LOL

  • Reply Have a Wonderful (and Warm) Weekend | Veggies By Candlelight January 7, 2017 at 2:28 am

    […] my mom’s bone broth stew .. one of the most incredible things I’ve ever eaten.  Part III highlighted a few of the many benefits of this amazing […]

  • Reply Rae January 7, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    I really prefer the flavors of bone broth, in fact that’s what I use for french onion soup to get an incredibly rich flavor. Sure it takes a long time to make, but that final product is worth it. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Lauren January 7, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    My friend swears by bone broth so this post grabbed my attention. It was very informative so thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Prateek Goel April 24, 2017 at 8:49 am

    The bone broth is an attraction of the blog! I’ve never known this, hence attracted me a lot!! Nice pick of the blog

  • Reply Nick December 21, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    I never knew this, thank you so much for sharing! Like you said yourself, it’s a good way bone broth is making a comeback – it is so important for the main flavor! I’m sure my grandmother would totally approve of this post.

  • Reply Brandi December 21, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    Thanks for educating me today. I had no idea but I’m going to definitely try the bone broth. I listen to all grandmothers wisdom! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Rach Rob December 21, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Ali, I am so smitten with these recipes! They’re beautiful, healthy, and I bet they’re absolutely delicious. Cannot wait to try making my own!

  • Reply Soonjoo December 21, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    My husband’s grandpa just moved to senior living center and I know there are handful of picky eaters I know how it goes for you. I know the fascinating health benefit of bone broth and since it’s winter time, when we get meat or chicken we get with bones and make bone broth or stocks to make base it’s efficient and still nutritious!

  • Reply Esperanza Scotto December 22, 2017 at 1:14 am

    I was lucky enough to receive some homemade bone broth and I agree, it’s divine. The flavor is so rich there’s really no way to describe it, you just have to try it. I made a simple stew with it as the base, added chicken thighs, carrots and rice. A bit of Dijon mustard in the stew pairs wonderfully and adds a unique undertone. Thanks for the post on how to make it!

  • Reply Deborah Regen December 22, 2017 at 3:01 am

    Up until modern times most people were poor and had to stretch out food portions as much as possible. A pot over a fire with water and a few animal bones carefully saved from a previous meal plus a few root vegetables, and at the end of the day you had soup. It may have been made from scraps, but it filled stomachs and was more nutritious than they could have guessed. It is kind of funny how we have come full circle with new respect for the once “lowly” bone broth.

  • Reply Made Adayasa December 23, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    I like it much bone broth . In one part on Indonesia there’s a specialty call soup Tengkleng , made out of Lamb bone broth with local spicy , its one of my favorite . Thank for sharing your great recipe , I would love to try the different style of bone broth specialty from a different country

  • Reply Denni December 24, 2017 at 1:04 am

    I didn’t knew there is a difference between stock and bone broth ! Not long ago I was suggested to have more bone broth (gut issues) and since then I was reading a bit more over it . even tried to make it , but mine was not so clear as yours . Need to try your recipe

  • Reply Preeti December 24, 2017 at 6:18 am

    I really loved the idea of eating fresh through farms.I am a vegetarian but we are unable to get fresh farm grown things

  • Reply Sarmistha Goswami December 24, 2017 at 6:40 am

    I am from a country where bone broth isn’t a part of our regular diet. In fact I remember having a bone broth soup made by my mother when I was kid and was unwell. But I always knew about the health benefits of bone broth and l loved learning more about it from your post. In fact, i am going to check out the previous parts as well to know more about it. I would love to make it a part of my diet if I can.

  • Reply EG III December 24, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Growing up I never knew the difference between bone broth, broth and stock. It was only until recently that I was reading up on how beneficial high quality bone broth actually is for our bodies. I’ll have to encourage some of my family members to try and incorporate it into their diets more often. Perhaps even using it for skin as well as you suggest!

  • Reply David Elliott December 24, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    I have to say that I am now very curious about that cheese soup recipe. I have done one before, but I didn’t use the 5 pounds of cheese. I do think I might have used two pounds though. But I am with you. It can taste delicious but only getting a couple of spoons in my mouth would be enough. Just too rich. Was half tempted to make it into a nacho cheese sauce. As for the bone broth, it’s sad that MSG took us away from realizing what was good in what we had in the first place. We take medicine far too easily I think. I have done bone broths a few times, but I haven’t gone to purchasing bones from the Meat people at the market. Usually it’s taking them after cooking the meet with the bones in them. Frequently I do so with the leftover turkey.

  • Reply Vasundhra December 24, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    You have rightly said that we are what we eat! I believe in the power of natural remedies to maintain good health. It was interesting to read that bone broth has several health and beauty benefits, loved that it is known as the elixir for glowing skin!

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