Thursday, February 16, 2012

Broth, a GAPS Essential and a Beautiful Super Food!

I have so much I want to share on this blog that I've had a hard time deciding where to begin. Because GAPS has become such an important part of our life, I want to share as much about how GAPS fits into our life as I can. Often I'm asked questions about how we find time for GAPS, how  I get my kids to eat these foods, how  we afford it... I hope to eventually get around to writing posts on each of these topics, but I decided  the best way to start would be to share with you a few of the basics, the habits I've had to develop to make this all work. Two of the most important elements of GAPS are Bone Broth and probiotics, both in supplement form and in the food we eat. We try to eat as many fermented foods and beverages I can stuff into us. Ferments are not hard, they just require some new habits. I found when we started, that once I jumped in and did each new task, none of them were hard. It just took doing it to find that out. I started with one new thing and added that to our routine, then I added another and another....

Bone broth was easy for me as it was something I already made often. I have always LOVED soups and we eat a lot of them. A good broth is essential to making a good soup and to so many other recipes. Broth has so many health benefits I wish that everyone would drink it daily and I am convinced that it is the most important food a pregnant mom can consume.  I'm assuming most people know how to make broth but I have encountered a few who don't, so because it is such an important food that everyone can benefit from I'll give a quick rundown here of how to make a great broth. 

As with any recipe, your results are only as good as the quality of your ingredients and the same is true here. Bones from grass fed cows or a carcass from an organic and preferably pastured chicken or turkey  are your main ingredients. Because poultry, even pastured poultry, are fed grains, buying organic is crucial with poultry. Most poultry feed is made from genetically modified corn and soybeans that are terribly detrimental to your health. You are better off avoiding poultry if it has been fed these genetically modified grains.  We are so pleased to have been able to find a beautiful, organic, whole grain, soy and corn free feed for our chickens. Beyond this you will need vegetable scraps, good quality salt (I prefer Himalayan but Celtic or Real Salt are good too), pepper and a good splash of Apple Cider Vinegar.

I save veggie scraps in a 1/2 gallon tub in my fridge that I collect from making meals throughout the week, this way I don't have to "waste" usable vegetables in my broth. Onion skins, carrot and celery ends, broccoli and cauliflower stems, garlic peels and ends are the ones I most commonly save. I often add additional garlic to my broth as well.  If I know I'll be making beef broth I save left over tomatoes.

For chicken or turkey broth, simply place the carcass and veggies in a stock pot, add your salt and pepper, add a good splash of apple cider vinegar and just enough water to barely cover it all. Bring to a slight boil, reduce to a slow simmer and simmer overnight. Strain the broth through a colander and that's it.

If you have access to them, chicken feet make beautiful gelatinous broth. We save the feet from the chickens that we raise and butcher in the freezer so I usually throw one or two in with the carcass. Chicken feet do need to be peeled and have the toenails removed before adding them to your broth, but once you get over the oddness of peeling a chicken foot it's quite simple and you'll be over any squeamishness in no time, especially once you see what they do for your broth ;) . Ours are generally frozen (I rarely remember to remove things from the freezer before I need them) so to prepare the frozen feet,  I blanch them by tossing them into a pan of boiling water for about ten or so seconds, just long enough to see the toes start to stretch out. Then I drop them into a bowl of ice water for a bit. To peel them, use a paring knife to lift the yellow from the rest of the foot, it should then just pull off rather easily with your fingers. Chop the toenails off at the knuckle above the nail, rinse it off well and you're all set. The purpose for doing this is to expose the good stuff under the yellow, the good gelatinous tendons and bones, as well as to get rid of any dirt that is under the skin around the toes.

For beef broth, the only difference is that the broth is so much better tasting if you roast the bones in the oven before adding them to your broth. In addition I prefer beef broth when tomatoes have been added along with the other vegetables to simmer. If you buy beef soup bones from the butcher they will likely have a lot of meat left on them. I pick this off after I have strained my broth and use it to make shredded beef tacos or  I add it to my soup if I am making vegetable beef soup. If you can get them, the good joint and marrow bones are the best for broth making. Once you have roasted your bones you can scoop the marrow from them to use right away, (I like it melted over veggies or on a GAPS legal toast) or once your broth has simmered, scoop it out with a spoon and add it back into your broth (if it hasn't already simmered itself out). It is so good for you.

Some people make broth perpetually in a crock pot which is an easy, great way to make it as well. I prefer my stock pot though since our family is larger and because I always cook in bulk, I generally have more bones than my crock pot can hold. We use gallons of broth a week. I've learned to love drinking it from a mug as you would tea or coffee, it's just the most nourishing comfort food.

To help convince you to add broth to your daily diet, here is a great article about "Why Broth is Beautiful"!