Grandma’s Chicken Stock

For me, homemade chicken soup is the ultimate comfort food. The scent fills the house and wraps me in warm memories of my grandmother’s kitchen.  This food was a staple for me growing up.  But for many people a good quality chicken stock has been replaced by the salted water of canned and boxed “stocks”.

Real chicken soup is made from good quality stock. And to make a stock all you do is toss a whole chicken and a few vegetables into a pot of water and simmer it for an hour.  It’s probably the easiest recipe on the planet. If you can boil water, you can literally make chicken stock.

The Benefits of Chicken and Beef Stock:

Because most people’s digestion is far from optimal, eating homemade soup stocks can be a wonderful way to provide your body with vital nutrients while you work to fortify digestion.

  • Stock contains vitamins and minerals in a form that is easy to assimilate.
  • The gelatin contained in stocks is very unique because it actually attracts digestive juices. (Most cooked foods are hydrophobic or water-repelling which means they repel digestive juices making them harder for the body to break down.)
  • The gelatin in stock is effective, therapeutic treatment for digestive and intestinal disorders as well as anemia, ulcers, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, and even cancer.
  • And the collagen contained in stock is beneficial for those with arthritis and other joint problems.

My Grandma’s Chicken Stock Recipe

For the Stock:
• 1 gallon water (enough to cover the chicken)
• 1 whole chicken 4 – 5 lbs (organs removed)
• 1 large white onion, peeled or 1 large leek
• 3 stalks celery broken to fit in pot
• 2 carrots, peeled cut to fit in pot
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Instructions:
• Place all the ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Do not cover.
• Skim off any foam from the pot with a skimmer or large spoon
• After about an hour your chicken should be done. Check this by grabbing a leg of the chicken with a pair of tongs. If the leg has loosely separated from the rest of the chicken at the joint, it should be done. Carefully remove the chicken and place in a large bowl to cool.
• With a hand strainer or large slotted spoon, remove all of the vegetables from the stock and discard. (All of the flavor and vitamins from the vegetables are now in the broth.)

*Note this broth has no salt in it.  This is on purpose! When you use it in other recipes, you may be cooking it down reducing the amount of water.  Then it would become too salty. So make sure to salt your dishes to taste. The plain broth tastes like dishwater! That salt brings out all the flavor and makes it delicious. 

• Once the chicken has cooled enough to handle, remove all the skin and discard it. Pick the meat from the bones and discard the bones (or freeze the bones to make bone broth.)

Use the broth in soups, stews, gravies, or sip as a snack.

Use the meat in soups, chicken salads, or as a filling for burritos, tacos, and enchiladas.

 

 

 

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Why I Love Bone Broth & Flaxseeds

When I grab a mug of bone broth, I love to add a spoonful of ground flaxseeds.  These two nutritionally unique foods blend deliciously and make for one of the healthiest snacks out there.  

While you may know some of the more glamorous benefits of bone broth (such as promoting skin health, arthritis and joint pain relief, and immune system support) I want to talk about some of the less sexy benefits of bone broth.  Things like inflammation control, antioxidant protection, and digestion support.  These properties are hugely important especially from a preventative care perspective – and help to keep us healthy not just “fix” us when we are feeling ill.

And hey guess, what!  Flaxseeds have these same properties!  But because they work in different ways they make a great team.

Here’s why I sip my bone broth with ground flaxseeds:

Inflammation Control:

Bone Broth: Bone broth contains gelatin which is made of protein.  And protein is composed of amino acids. Studies show that many of the amino acids in bone broth (such as cysteine, histidine, and glycine) reduce inflammation, and L-glutamine specifically reduces gut inflammation. 

Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds have very high Omega-3 content. Flaxseeds are the #1 source of the plant-based Omega 3 fatty acid ALA (alpha lipoic acid). Studies show that ALA helps to reduce inflammation.  And the body converts ALA to EPA.  And when people eat flaxseeds EPA increases in the bloodstream.  This Omega 3 also help to provide inflammation protection, especially in the bloodstream. 

Antioxidant Protection:

Bone Broth: Bone broth is rich in glutathione, so working it into your diet is a great way to boost your supply of this powerful antioxidant. The body uses the amino acid glycine (also in bone broth) to recycle glutathione.  Glutathione deficiency contributes to oxidative stress which leads to early aging and many diseases including liver disease, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.

Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds have a high lignan content.  Lignans are antioxidants which scavaging free-radicals and protect against cancer and other diseases.  They actually contain more antioxidant power than blueberries.  Lignans are also a fiber.  Fiber inhibits the formation of platelets in the bloodstream and decreases C-Reactive protein levels (CRP on a blood test) –  which is an indication of the inflammatory status of the cardiovascular system.

Digestion Support:

Bone Broth: Bone broth contains gelatin which improves gut integrity and digestive strength.  Gelatin has a unique property of drawing stomach acid into the stomach. This acid enables the breakdown and absorption of nutrients into your body. It also contains glutamine an amino acid that works to repair any leaks in your intestinal tract. Gelatin also absorbs water and helps keep fluid in the digestive tract, promoting a healthy bowel.

Flaxseeds: When you soak flaxseeds in water they produce a goo.  This mucilage or gum contained in flax is particularly soothing to the gut. When consumed, it acts as an emollient coating, helping to delay gastric emptying. Keeping the food in our intestines longer and improving absorption of nutrients. Flaxseed fibers also help to steady the passage of food through our intestines. Finally, the lignans in flaxseed have been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer. This impressive group of digestive tract benefits is likely to receive more attention in future research studies.

When increasing fiber intake, it is a good idea to increase water intake.  And a cup of bone broth counts toward your daily 8-11 cups per day of water.

Most studies are showing these benefits when consuming two table of flaxseeds per day.  

I suggest adding 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds to 1 cup of hot bone broth and enjoying 2x per day.

*In some people, flax causes discomfort at first.  I recommend starting slowly with 1 tsp per day and increasing the amount every few days.

  • Check out my favorite brand of broth: Kettle and Fire uses bones of organic, pasture-raised animals along with organic vegetables, sea salt, and herbs, all slow-simmered for 24 hours.

However you choose to get your hands on this liquid gold, be sure to make bone broth a staple in your diet!

References:

Boosting Surgery Recovery with Bone Broth

Doctors often give us information about pain management, but neglect to offer advice on true healing after an operation. 

My husband just had a hernia surgery.  And those of you how are familiar with this surgery may know that it has a fairly long recovery time. Expect to stop working and driving for 2 weeks, pain usually last 4 weeks, no strenuous exercise for 8 weeks, and no lifting for 3 months.  And because the doctors know how painful this surgery is, they often prescribe hydrocodone which is an addictive narcotic with brand names like Norco, Vicodin, Lorcet and Lortab, and other pain medications like acetaminophen and NSAIDs like ibuprofen for inflammation control.

Beyond the pain, the main concern is often also constipation, so a stool softener and or laxative may also be suggested.  This is because, for one, the anesthesia slows down your bowel function, two, the narcotics and NSAIDS have constipating properties, and they also don’t want the patient to strain and undo the surgery.

While these medications, may make the pain bearable or manage the side-effects that they cause, they really do little to actually help the body recover from the trauma of surgery.  

For both loving and selfish reasons, I wanted my husband back on his feet as soon as possible, (we have a bouncy four-year-old that does not understand things like his dad needing to rest) so I proposed to him a protocol for speeding his healing.  

And after just 1 day, he was not constipated, after 2 days he had stopped taking the Norco completely, and after 4 days was completely off of all painkillers. And on day five he was able to stroll around the park with us for over an hour.  And after 1 week he is back to work.  

Now in no way is he fully recovered, and he is paying close attention to his lifting and driving restrictions.  But by adding a few powerful nutrients to his diet, he was able to reduce his pain and get back to work in half of the time that the doctors expected.

 

Bone Broth

The basis of his healing protocol was bone broth.  I always stock Kettle and Fire boxed bone broth in my pantry.  So as soon as we got home, he began drinking ½ a cup 4 times a day.  This gave me time to make a couple batches of my homemade bone broth which he is still continuing to drink daily.  He’s basically been having a cup or two for the last couple of weeks.

 

Bone broth is an important part of a surgery healing protocol for several reasons.  

  1. Bone broth contains collagen protein.  There are a whopping 10 grams of protein in just one cup. And extra protein is essential when the body is under stress like from a surgery.  This extra protein helps the body to regenerate cells and heal.  And collagen protein is especially useful for wound healing because it contains the amino acid proline. I always recommend adding 25% more protein to your diet during times injury.  And hey, as my son says, “Daddy’s got holes in him!”
  2. Bone broth contains glycine.  This amino acid supports the liver and helps it detoxify.  And between the anesthesia and the medications the liver needs all the help it can get to process and remove these substances. Glycine also promotes muscle repair.
  3. Bone broth boosts digestion. The gelatin in bone broth has a unique ability to draw stomach acid into your stomach.  This helps you break down the food you are eating and helps to counteract the sluggishness that the anesthesia caused to your digestive tract.

 

Vitamin C

I also had my husband take 2500mg of Vitamin C powder every day  

  1. Vitamin C helps to stimulate the bowel preventing the dreaded constipation
  2. And it works synergistically with the amino acids in bone broth to facilitate the building of collagen to repair the wound.

 

Magnesium

I had my husband take 250mg of magnesium glycinate (other forms may cause loose stools) 2x per day.

  1. Magnesium attracts water. Increasing water in the colon softens stool making it easier to pass.
  2. Magnesium also works as a muscle relaxer and was helpful in helping him to rest and relax.

 

Fish Oil

And after the second day, he added 750mg of high-quality fish oil 2x per day.  (We waited to add the fish oil on the recommendation of the nurse, who said it can cause bleeding after surgery.)

  1. The Omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil act as an anti-inflammatory agent.  Reducing inflammation speeds wound healing.  
  2. Unlike the anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, fish oil does not weaken your immune system.

 

Use the links below to see the exact products that I used to speed my husband’s recovery:

Bone Broth

Magnesium

Vitamin C

Fish Oil

Get 25% off your first purchase at my e-store by using the code: FIRST25

Quick Lentil Soup

Ingredients:
2 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs butter
1 yellow onion diced
3 stalks celery diced
1.5 tsp ground cumin (or more to taste)
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tps garlic powder
1 tbs sea salt or more to taste
1 tsp fresh ground pepper or more to taste
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
4 cups filtered water
1 cup green lentils
1 bunch chopped red chard (or any greens about 3 cups)
1 tbs sea salt or more to taste
1 tsp fresh ground pepper or more to taste

Directions:
Heat the olive oil and butter over med low heat in a 4 quart or larger pot. Add the onion and the celery and saute for 10 minutes. Add the cumin, garlic, garlic powder, salt and pepper cooking 1 minute or so until fragrant. Add the tomatoes including the juice from the can and cook another 10 minutes. Add the water. Bring to a boil. Add the lentils. Lower heat and simmer with a tilted lid for 30 minutes or until lentils are tender, stir occasionally. Add the greens, simmer 10 more minutes or until greens are desired tenderness (spinach may only take a few minutes). Taste and adjust seasoning. Enjoy.

Kale & Quinoa Salad

Quinoa & Kale Salad

This salad is easy to put together and if left undressed will store easily in the fridge since kale is sturdier than lettuce. Make it the night before and bring it with you for a quick lunch. The quinoa, green beans, kale, sesame seeds, and apricots are all good sources of fiber containing plant lignans.

Yields 2 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup blanched green beans
  • 1.5 cups curly kale – chopped
  • 1/2 cup cooked diced chicken
  • 2 tbs sesame seeds
  • 2 tbs dried apricots, chopped
  • 2 tbs sliced scallions

For the dressing combine:

  • 4 tbs EV olive oil,
  • 3 TBS lemon juice,
  • 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast,
  • ¼ sea salt
  • pepper to taste

Directions:
Combine all the salad ingredients. Toss with the dressing and enjoy cold.

Recipe may be doubled or tripled and eaten through out the week.

 

Salmon with Carrots, Green Beans AND Peach Salsa

Salmon with carrots I was on the phone with my mother earlier this week, and somehow we started discussing aging. I think her doctor had recommended a book about how to live longer or age gracefully or something to that effect. As she described suggestions from the book, I could tell that they were overwhelming to her especially the sections about exercising.   But caring for yourself doesn’t mean you have to do a 180. Start with small changes and do them until you feel like they are no longer changes. For example, drink more water. Everyone seems to know that you need 8 glasses of water every day and that’s true if you are fully hydrated. I personally strive for 11 cups per day. And your liquid doesn’t need to be plain water. Unsweetened green tea is a great alternative. Check out my blog on cold brew green tea here.

So as I was talking to my mom, I only gave her one suggestion, “Everyone in that house could stand to eat more vegetables.” She agreed with me and then asked, “We’re having salmon tonight, should we have carrots or green beans?” And my response, “Both!”

I didn’t think that “both” was the most earth shattering response, but it definitely seemed like a novel idea to my mother. My mother is an avid cook. She makes delicious dishes, buys organic when she can, and prepares & eats many gluten free meals in support of my grandmother who has Celica’s disease. But I think growing up in the 50’s with the meat and potatoes mentality has clouded her (and millions of American’s) idea of what a healthy plate should look like.

Because of my nutrition education, I prescribe to Dr. Ed Bauman’s Eating 4 Health model which suggest 2-3 servings of leafy greens per day, plus 2 – 3 servings of crunchy vegetables, plus 2-4 servings of fruit. That’s like 8 servings of fruits & veggies per day. (Kinda like 8 glasses of water).

So I couldn’t have been happier when my mom texted my photos of the meal she prepared that evening.

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It’s gorgeous colors radiate with happy nutrients! She even made a beautiful peach salsa to go along with the salmon, carrots, and green beans. I’m so proud of my mom that I wanted to share her recipe from her kitchen.

Grilled Salmon and Carrots with Green Beans AND Peach Salsa

For the Salmon & Carrots

Combine marinade ingredients. Rub generously over salmon & carrots. Grill over medium heat until salmon flakes with a fork and carrots are tender crisp. About 15 minutes.

1 lb wild caught salmon

4-6 whole carrots peeled

Marinade:

3 TBS olive oil

1 lime juice only

2 TBS fresh tarragon

2 TBS fresh cilantro

salt & pepper

Green Beans:

Steam 1lb of cleaned green beans. Toss with salt, pepper, and 2 TBS of butter.

Peach Salsa:

Combine the ingredients below:

½ cups red & yellow cherry tomatoes diced

2 peached diced

1 half of a small onion diced

1 jalapeno pepper seeded & minced

½ a lime juice only

1 TBS cilantro chopped

salt & pepper

 

 

Fish Curry with Fresh Tumeric

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My fiancé is Filipino and loves bold flavors, especially curry. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania and being from an Italian family, my experience with curry or any Indian or Asian cuisine was pretty minor. I always thought that curries were like stews cooked for hours to develop these deep flavors. But once I started looking up recipes and cooking curries in my kitchen, I realized curries are relatively quick to prepare for a weeknight dinner not to mention super versatile and healthy.

Loaded with turmeric, curries have amazing anti-inflammatory powers. So I’m pretty thrilled that my guy likes them.

For the first time ever I saw fresh turmeric in the grocery store. These beautiful roots inspired me to make a fish curry with some wild caught Mahi Mahi, a mild white fish that stands up well in this type of preparation.

Fresh turmeric is a root that looks a lot like an orange colored ginger, which would make sense since the two are related. The oil in turmeric, called curcumin, is what gives it it’s anti-inflammatory properties.

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Studies have linked curcumin with everything from lowering cholesterol to protecting against Alzheimer’s. This is one powerful spice. (Use caution when using fresh turmeric as the curcumin oil can stain your fingers as well as your cutting board.)

To make curries even easier, you can buy a prepackaged curry powder in the spice isle. But to get the most curcumin it is usually best to blend your own. Use powdered turmeric or use fresh tumeric in combination with other spices. Standard spices in curry powder are: coriander, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne. So remember your C spices when making curry!

Ginger or ginger juice is also often added to curries. Ginger along with the cayenne powder or fresh hot peppers will kick up the heat factor in your dish so more of either or both will make a spicier dish.

So how fast can you prepare a curry? It takes me about 30 minutes including prep – if I’m using powered spices. The fresh turmeric slowed me down a bit because I had to grate it. (And yes my fingers are yellow, but my cutting board is not because I grated it on a piece of wax paper.)

As I said earlier, curries are pretty versatile, too. I didn’t have any fish stock so I just used the chicken stock I had on hand. And because I didn’t have any coconut milk I just used almond milk and some yogurt (not pictured) to create a fatty creamy sauce that cuts the heat and protects your stomache. I also used a bit of tomato paste which will usually make more red curry but this tumeric’s vibrant yellow hue even overpowered the tomato. And you can use any type of fish, meat, tofu or chunks of vegetables that you like.

Here’s what I used for this one in the order in which everything went into my skillet:

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  • 3 tbs Olive oil
  • 1lb Mahi Mahi cubed 1”
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 cup Shishito peppers sliced
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • ¼ cup fresh grated turmeric (or use 1 TBS dry)
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick ( or ¼ tsp cinnamon added with ground spices)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 2 tbs yogurt
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 lime juice only
  • 6 basil leaves (or any fresh herb like cilantro)

So how do you make a curry? Here’s a basic method:

  • Gather your ingredients and cut your protein (if using one) into bite-sized pieces.
  • Heat a good fat oil (olive, coconut or avocado) in a large skillet.
  • Sear your protein (if using one) Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Add a little bit more oil to the pan.
  • Add a diced onion and other veggies you want to put in the dish. (I used Shishito peppers in this version) sauté a few minutes.
  • Add your dried spices to the veggies and oil to activate their oils.
  • Once you smell the spices, add a cup or so of stock, any fresh spices, and tomato paste, if using.
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Simmer for 10 minutes or so until the sauce thickens.
  • Add any nut milks or dairy. Return the protein to the pan.
  • Simmer until your meat is cooked through (don’t over cook)
  • Remove from heat. Add some lemon or lime juice and any fresh herbs.

Enjoy over brown rice!

 

Reference:

The George Mateljan Foundation, Worlds’s Healthiest Foods: Tumeric. Retrived from: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=78

Fallon, S. “Nourishing Traditions.” Revised Second Edition. Pgs 266 -267. New Trends, Publishing, Brandywine, MD., 2001.

Murray, M et al. “The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods” Pgs 521- 526. Atria Books, New York, NY, 2005.

The Culinary Institute of America, “The Professional Chef,” ninth addition. Pg. 225. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, 2011.