Food-babies and Hangovers: Happy Holidays everyone!

Vintage_Photos_from_New_Year_s_Eves_Past_15_

It doesn’t matter if you’re a clean living, green smoothie drinking devoted whole food-er, chances are around the holiday season you may find yourself at a party reaching for a ferrero rocher- most uncharacteristically. Any level of indulgence can have you registering somewhere on the spectrum between the food-baby and the raging hangover. But don’t despair! There are many ways to navigate this time of debauchery and celebration and live to see another egg nog. Here are my top tips for getting you through…

The basics

These are the tips you can employ before and during a period of indulgence to help prevent the unpleasant side effects that we know all too well. You may know a lot of these already- but here they are, in case you need reminding or convincing.

Don’t drink on an empty stomach- If you know you’re going to be heading out for drinks, make sure you have a proper full meal before hand. This slows down the absorption of alcohol and being full may slow down your drinking. Also, pick your poison. If you know you have a sweet tooth and you won’t be able to resist the rum balls, pavlova and shortbreads- make this your main indulgence, and limit alcohol at this sitting. Alcohol is also full of sugar, and aside from the sugar it contains- part of the process of breaking down alcohol results in an increased amount of stored sugar (glycogen) being broken down in the liver, which sends your insulin through the roof and stresses your pancreas. If you’re going to a cocktail party or can take or leave desert, restrict your intake of sweets and other starchy carbs. Opt instead for extra servings of protein and veggies either way you go. Protein will slow down the absorption of sugar and reduce the insulin surge and subsequent crash- which also contributes to feeling off centre the next day.

Take care to hydrate before you go out- Starting off a night having had enough water and electrolytes is going to definitely put you at an advantage of avoiding some of the symptoms of hangover. When we are recovering from drinking, our body tries to regain it’s optimal fluid balance. One way it does this is with electrolytes. It retains sodium and expels potassium, which then plays a role in our blood pressure (increasing headaches) , and causing fluid retention. Coconut water is naturally high in potassium and can be drunk the day before a party and the next day to help with recovery. Natural based electrolyte/rehydration formulas are also a great idea and can even be drunk during the evening. Have them on hand for the next day too.

Stick to clear spirits- If you know you are particularly prone to hangovers, substances called congeners could be aggravating you even more. These are byproducts of the fermention process, found in greater quantities in dark coloured spirits (whiskey, rum, brandy).

Pre-tox/detox-

Preparing your body for the holiday season, if you know you’re going to let your hair down, is one way to avoid being knocked around. Supporting your organ function and making sure your nutritional status is optimum is the way to cultivate only happy memories.

Protect your gut- I did a recent post on how to look after our digestive systems, here, and it would be a good time to do a refresher. Wether it’s too much feasting or too much merry making- protecting and supporting digestion is so important.

  • Alcohol is a major irritant and can increase stomach acid production- so protect your delicate mucous membranes with soothing demulcents like Slippery elm powder and,or aloe vera juice.
  • Probiotics help prevent the growth of our less favourable organisms, including candida, when we’re eating and drinking too much sugar.
  • Digestive enzymes can be helpful if you are some one who suffers from bloating, or indigestion after meals or who feels uncomfortably full. You may need a little support in this area generally but around the holidays, it’s going to be especially important.

Support your liver- This is where all the magic happens. Once alcohol is absorbed from your digestive system, it’s on up to your liver to process- where it does it’s darnedest to transform the very toxic acetaldehyde your margarita has become to less harmful acetate. There are a few main enzyme players in this process, one of which is called glutathione , an amazingly potent antioxidant that contains high quantities of the amino acid cysteine. If you are drinking too much alcohol, or if you don’t normally consume much alcohol and go on what is called a “binge”, you don’t have the enzymes handy. Either you’ve used them up, or you don’t normally need as much as you do on this occasion, so you aren’t prepared. You then end up with a toxic overload of acetaldehyde- which is poison. It contributes to much of the hangover experience. Women also naturally produce less of the enzymes needed to break down alcohol, which is why women and men of a similar weight may have different blood alcohol effects.

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)- This is a form of the amino acid cysteine- which as we mentioned is an important component of glutathione which helps to detoxify alcohol. Take it immediately before drinking or during the holiday season to support your liver.

B vitamins- While the research on whether B vitamins help with the symptoms of hangover are not supportive of the claim- We do know that B vitamins are an integral part of the liver’s enzyme formation and detoxification process. So your fizzy B tablet or similar isn’t a waste of time. B vitamins can also give us a lift, which many of us are sorely needing the day after a big night.

St. Mary’s Thistle- This is the main ingredient in many herbal liver formulas, the gorgeous herb Silybum marianum.  This is a powerful ally of the liver helping to increase glutathione production. It also protects the liver from the toxic effects of alcohol by acting as an antioxidant, and has even been found in studies to reverse fatty liver. It is the #1 go to if you want to treat your liver right, and the best way to take it is for the duration of the holiday season as a general tonic. Tablets are fine and there are many good quality one-a-day formulas out there containing about 15,000 mg of the herb, which is what you’re after.

milk_thistleMilk Thistle gets it’s name from the milky white veins of it’s leaf, and is as beautiful as it is powerful. Easily grown, you can collect the small black seeds and add them to your smoothies, as you would other seeds. 1 teaspoon ground to a powder is a dose. See this resource for more on this incredible herb. http://www.superfoods-for-superhealth.com/milk-thistle-benefits.html

Zinc- Zinc has been clinically found to reduce the toxic effect of alcohol on the liver. Zinc is also depleted from the body when drinking, so it is absolutely necessary to replenish your reserves, as zinc can be quite tricky to get in the diet (main sources include organ meats, some whole grains, oysters and pumpkin seeds). Take a good quality zinc supplement (best forms include citrate, piccolinolate, or amino acid chelate) throughout the season, or take one before retiring for the evening with a nice tall glass of water.

OOPS! I’ve managed to get hungover anyways!!!

Don’t despair. Pretox protocols in place, keep up the good work the day after a night out. There are few other tricks you can have up your sleeve while you’re sipping away at the coconut water.

  1. Nux vomica– Whether it’s a food-baby or a hang over, Nux vom is the homeopathic first aid for over indulgence. The symptoms you might have include: Headache or migraines triggered by food or alcohol; sensitivity to light, odours and noise; nausea and/or vomiting; dry retching (so awful), and undigested food which “sits like a rock” in the stomach.
  2. Eggs- You crave them because you know you neeeeeed them! Eggs are naturally high in cysteine- so yes, the cafe breakfast is a good idea- GO! Don’t overdo it on the coffee though- you may think it’s what you need, but it’s not. Just one cup to avoid more dehydration and havoc on your liver and kidney.
  3. Umeboshi plum- This is a medicinal food coming from the macrobiotic tradition. It is a japanese plum which has been salted. It’s quite a wonderful idea- the plum never ripens but falls off the tree and rots. People believed there had to be a purpose to this fruit- as nature makes nothing by mistake- and so began to pickle the unripened plums. It therefore combines perfectly opposites- unripened fruit (yin) and salt (yang). It is believed to balance you out which ever way you need. I don’t know if all that is scientifically true- but the stuff makes you feel great. Either eat the plum neat (it’ll blow you head off it’s so salty- but kinda cool), or drop a plum or a spoon of the paste in a cup of boiled water and sip. It really does bring you back to earth, whatever it is you are suffering from. The electrolytes from the salt are also beneficial.                                                10014_alb_xlarge_500x375_19346_1295652239These crazy shrivelled up looking morsels might remind you of all kinds of odd things- but let me tell you, they taste like nothing you’ve ever had. Used as a condiment in Japanese cooking and a powerful medicine in macrobiotics. 
  4.  Soups- Think miso and bone broth. Miso for reasons similar to umeboshi and bone broth is a nutritive elixer for the gut, as I’ve discussed before here.
  5. Sleep and rest- Hopefully you’ve been civilized and planned to party when the kids are at the grandparents or you have a whole day off. Your body didn’t really get much proper resting done last night while it was in full out damage control dealing with the mess you’ve made. You have heaps to catch up on.

Everything in moderation- including moderation

           IMG_3415Party time! 

I’d be a big liar if I didn’t say I hadn’t had my fair share of ails associated with over indulgence. And I’m happy to say, that while the hangover or the gut ache were unpleasant, they were usually associated with some wonderful times with friends and loved ones- connecting, celebrating and having a laugh. This is what life is about! We aren’t just here to preserve our machine- we are here to USE it. So don’t be afraid to let your hair down and enjoy yourself. But it does help to know your bodys’ limits, and practice a bit of pre-tox and detox along the way.

It’s at this point that I do need to be a bummer and remind you that alcohol is a drug- a nerotoxin and one which will disrupt your hormones, create systemic inflammation, ravage your digestive system, and is certain to cause major health issues if you are a regular over consumer. It is also defined as a Class 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organisation- which means- yes, it’s bad for you. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_and_cancer

What “moderation” is exactly, is a bit fuzzy and depends on what country you live in and who your doctor is. I’ve read between 2-4 drinks max per day for men, and 1-2 drinks per day for women. And that doesn’t mean EVERY day either. You should have regular alcohol free days. Below are a few resources I found interesting on this topic, if you want to work it out for yourself.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/katiebell/2013/09/03/are-you-drinking-too-much-the-myth-of-moderation/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/alcohol/art-20044551

http://www.gastro.net.au/diets/alcohol.html

SO… The balance is to nourish BOTH your body and your heart-

I hope you have fun over the holidays everybody-

be safe & SALUD!

Genna

Follow your gut- simple every day things to support your digestive health 

 

The Hows and Whys of digestive wellbeing

In naturopathic medicine there is an old adage “it all comes back to the gut”.  And though it could be considered a bit of a “yeah yeah yeah…” cliche- It reeeeeallllly does. The impact the health of our gut has on the rest of our body, from physical disease to mental health can’t be over stated. Whether you’ve been diagnosed with one of the myriad of digestive disorders (IBS, Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD), Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), diverticulosis, fructose malabsorption, gluten sensitivity etc…) or a seemingly unconnected illness (autoimmune, inflammatory,depression/anxiety, hormonal imbalance) – the state of affairs in your GIT (gastrointestinal system) could be playing a major role. Even for those of us who may be in general good health, who maybe experience a few seasonal allergies, occasional bloating/fluctuating bowel motions, recurring colds and flus, fatigue/ sluggishness, acne or skin conditions- yup- digestive wellbeing could be at play.

Listen to the symptoms 

When we become accustomed to tuning our attention to our bodies, we get direct messages about how the things we eat or drink effect us. There is either a neutral experience, one of particular balance or nourishment, or immediate imbalance or upset. Of course, while we don’t want to be neurotic or overly sensitive to the play-by-play, listening to our body can tell us what is going on and is crucially important. I don’t believe major illness just happens over night. In fact, a person was probably ignoring and not addressing symptoms- for sometimes years- before the more serious pathology presented itself. If you’re in the fortunate position of being in good health, with no major diagnosis against your name, you are in the perfect position to prevent disease (which we know is worth a pound, right?) through listening to your digestive system, and taking measures to support it’s health and function. If you are the type of person who is experiencing some unpleasant digestive symptoms, whatever they be- it’s time to look a bit closer.

Diet-

“I eat a healthy diet”. I hear this a lot. But what does it MEEEAAAANNNN??? If you’re presenting with persistent digestive symptoms, minor to major, chances are your diet isn’t as healthy as it could be, at least FOR YOU.

Another thing people say, is that they can’t work out what it is they are eating that upsets them. “I don’t seem to react to any one particular thing. I can eat pasta or a salad, the symptoms are the same” This is because, when you have inflammation going on in your gut, it’s the same as if you had a wound on your skin. Say you’ve grazed yourself on the arm, the skin is broken, it’s red and sore. ANYTHING you do is going to cause it to hurt, right? Even just having a shower and getting water on it could irritate it. This is exactly the same in your gut. If you have inflammation internally, everything you eat will irritate it. By eliminating the CAUSE of the inflammation and healing the gut, you will then be able to see a more clear reaction when you consume the offending food. 

Is it allergy? Or intolerance? NEVER in our evolution have we been able to access the same foods day in and day out year after year. There has ALWAYS been seasonal variability and periods of time when a particular food wasn’t around at all, giving our body breaks and time to heal. The modern world which has refrigeration and international movement of out of season foods around the globe has created a situation where we never get a break. And industrial agriculture has also reduced the variety of species we grow. Many people are living on a max of 20-30 foods if they are lucky! And let’s not even START on how highly processed and full of chemicals and preservatives, OR GMO’s sneaking in ever so many more places- it’s no surprise our digestive systems are more and more inflammed and irritable.

So what if you feel like mostly you avoid processed foods and additives and still have symptoms? Most digestive symptoms aren’t caused by a true allergy, but an intolerance. Probably because of a combination diet/lifestyle factors and some of the circumstances listed above. So aside from recommending a reduction in obvious culprits like alcohol, sugar, refined grains, processed food and excessive caffeine- I usually start by looking at what I call- the big 5. The most irritating foods, and ones that are likely to cause intolerance if consumed regularly. That means daily. Wheat, dairy, soy, corn, yeast. By looking over what a person eats in a 3-5 day period, you’ll often find one of these foods is over consumed. Sometimes (often) the offending food is also the person’s absolute favourite, which they don’t think they could ever possibly live without (pasta, cheese, milk, beer, bread are some common examples). It’s mean, but true: the thing you love the most could be the worst thing for you 😦 sorry bout that. This is because if our gut is inflamed and absorbing the larger, undigested molecules of foods we are sensitive to, those larger molecules can trigger the morphine receptors in our brains, and give us a particularly good feeling when we eat those foods (this is especially true of grains and dairy). We become addicted to the feeling and those foods, the very ones that started the process and that may be causing health issues. Totally sucks- I know, but it’s time to say adios amigos if we want to stop the cycle. 

Notice that gluten isn’t in there. Gluten is very often a sensitivity for people, but not always. I find that wheat is more often the culprit and by going off wheat and replacing with other grains or low grain diet (often times gluten free, but not always) many people’s symptoms improve. If they do not improve, well, then we can move on to stage 2, eliminating gluten, looking at carbohydrates/starches which could be feeding bad bugs in the gut, and other potential food allergens. This is where the help of an experienced naturopath or nutritionist comes in handy- when things get confusing and not so straight forward. 

Staying regular having regular (daily) bowel motions is vitally important to digestive health. That means not to many or too little. Every day is ideal. Every second day for some is normal, but any longer than this, and you’ve got old food putrefying in there, feeding harmful bacteria and creating a toxic burden for the liver. Some people go 2-3 times per day, but any more than that and you run the risk of malabsorption. For most people the things required to stay regular are, LOTS of fresh plain water (2 L is ideal), exercise, high fibre diet (fruit and veggies or fibre supplements), and bitter digestive herbs. Many cultures value bitter greens and herbs for their ability to stimulate digestion and they are a feature of aperitifs and many tonics. Bitter is a flavour westerners have shied away from during our love affair with sugar. Time to embrace the dark side… try bitter teas like Dandelion root if you find your bowels are a bit sluggish. It gets bile moving and your bowels will follow. 

IMG_2945Dandelion “coffee” is the roasted root of the Dandelion plant and is a fantastic bitter digestive. It clears stagnant liver energy and can really lift your mood. Consume with abandon. 

Maintenance

So what are the every day things that we can do to give our digestive systems a little extra lovin’, heal and soothe inflammation and maybe prevent some chronic conditions? Things that EVERYONE can and should do to nourish our GITs.

Demulcents- This is the technical term for mucilaginous substances which heal and sooth the digestive tract with their gooey sliminess. Sounds yum, right? Some demulcents are yummier than others, and most you wouldn’t even know were doing such a good job of it- especially if you get crafty at hiding them in food and drinks. Here are some of my favs.

Chia seeds and flaxseeds– These are easy to use every day, and offer so much more than just their gooey goodness. Both are high in omega 3 essential fatty acids, and in the case of chia- a particularly good source of protein and the minerals calcium, magnesium and manganese. The soluble fibres found in both are excellent for keeping the bowels regular and helping to eliminate toxins.

IMG_2938Here are some chia seeds I have soaking for my morning smoothie

Slippery elm-The inner bark of the elm tree, Slippery elm is a demulcent par excellance. Another soluble gentle source of fibre it’s an all around excellent food for the gut. It is used for both constipation and diarrhoea- as it absorbs water, so please please remember, if you don’t have loose stools or diarrhoea- drink a big glass of water after. Hot tip: stir up a teaspoon of it in water and get that stuff down the hatch toute suite. It’s mucilaginous nature will soon become apparent if left in the glass and you may find it reminiscent of the glue you used in preschool. (don’t let me turn you off it- it’s really amazing stuff and a must if you have inflammation or pain in the gut).

Aloe vera- We use the inner gel of the Aloe plant- either in juice or if you have some growing- cut a leaf through the middle and scrape the gel in to you blender when you’re blending your smoothie. Aloe has been used forever as an important internal and external healer of skin and tissues. (The outer leaf has a laxative effect- so again, it’s the just the gel you are after)

IMG_2933This perky specimen grows in my herb garden. I really need to grow more of these beauties so I can have a continuous supply of fresh aloe for morning smoothies and juices.

Kudzu- This is one many people aren’t as familiar with- Kudzu or Kuzu is also known as Japanese arrowroot. It is often used as thickener similar to cornstarch, in macrobiotic cooking. It comes in rough little white rocks which dissolve in warm water. It’s an excellent and nourishing demulcent for the entire gut- and something about it makes you feel relaxed and balanced. I drink it dissolved in bancha twig or green tea. Take ½ – 1 tsp and put it in the bottom of your cup- pour a little bit of boiling water over it, and stir it to a paste with your spoon (similar method to how some people make hot chocolate). Then fill the rest of the cup with water or hot tea. Especially yummy on a cold winters morning. You can find it in most health food stores which carry macrobiotic foods or japanese foods stores.

xkuzu-root-starch-300.jpg,q79f2b8.pagespeed.ic.1TFtM4bZvvThis strange chalky looking substance is Kudzu. 1/2 to 1 tsp dissolved in water 1-2 times per day is a fantastic nourishing tonic. 

Gelatine/bone broth- I have written a whole blog piece on the virtues and wonders of bone broth here. Short story- bone broth is probably one of the most valuable healing tools for the gut- and something severely lacking in our western diets. The healing capacity for gelatine the minerals in bone broth is like no other and should be consumed regularly and with abandon. Always use the bones of pasture raised, free range animals that haven’t been fed antibiotics or growth promoting hormones.

Probiotics The inside of our guts is kind of like a garden. The various bacteria and other organisms that usually live there need to be in the right kind of balance for the environment to stay healthy and for functions of the system to run smoothly. If the garden becomes overrun by weeds (bad bugs)- it makes it hard for the beneficial organisms to thrive. The bad bugs also produce toxins and waste products that are damaging to the gut, and add toxic burden to the liver. They make us bloated and feel yucky, they make us crave things (sugar usually) that feeds them so that the cycle continues. A garden full of weeds is not what we are after.

As a supplement- Whether you have major pathology or some niggling symptoms, a probiotic supplement is a great way to maintain the balance of our digestive system and improve immunity, detoxifying and mental clarity. I actually believe that if you had to chose between a multivitamin and a probiotic, I’d go the probiotic. A healthy gut is better at absorbing nutrients and there fore you’ll be getting more out of your food with a probiotic. It inadvertently does the job of both.

There a many kinds of probiotics on the market, and some strains have been found to be particularly useful in certain conditions (Irritable bowel syndrome, allergy, candida and eczema for example). There are also lots of good all rounders which help stabalize the environment by adding in the biggest players (Acidophilus and bifidus strains), making it easier for the little guys to proliferate. If you’re in general good health, those may be the ones for you.

As foods- Fermented foods are the new black. Everyone wants to eat sauerkraut and drink kombuscha. This is a wonderful hands on way to get a hit of probiotics in you daily life. But let’s also remember other fantastic things about fermented foods. They are pre-digested. You’ve got the bugs to do part of the work for you before you’ve even eaten the food! You’ll have little work to do digesting it now and nutrients are easy to absorb. There are about a million books on the subject- with heaps of recipes and ideas. Some of my favs include:

Wild fermentation-by Sandor Katz

The Body Ecology diet-by Donna Gates

Nourishing Traditions-by Sally Falon

My recommendation is to find 1 or 2 that you enjoy doing and do them regularly… I personnaly love water/milk kefir and sauerkraut- and of course I ferment my dosas.

10639610_777548365640499_4719359839147229758_nTypical Sunday counter top getting ready for the week. Water kefir, Milk kefir, Sourdough and soaking buckwheat and quinoa for my dosas. YUM! 

Stress

Our nervous system has only two states. Parasympathetic and sympathetic. That’s rest and digest OR fight or flight. They are mutually exclusive and you can only be switch on in one state at a time. The fight or flight state is certainly not one we are meant to be living in long term, though we do find that more and more people in the modern world are living in a state of adrenal stress that can shut down digestion, reducing the enzymes needed to properly break down foods, therefore leading to malabsorption, irritation and toxic overload. Stress management is vitally important to good digestion. Things like exercise, meditation, counselling, and taking time out to recoup and nurture ourselves are things we can do. If you know you are under a lot of stress, short or long term, there are many things your naturopath can do to support you, help balance your nervous system and digestion at the same time. Both the nervous and digestive system depend on the other to be in balance so that they themselves can function properly.

There are so many approaches to improving digestive health, it’s almost impossible to cover in one short article. Often it’s as much about what you don’t put in as what you put in. And definitely there is no “one size fits all” approach to dealing with it- which can be frustrating if you’re navigating it on your own. So whether you are suffering a niggling upset or one of a more chronic nature- I hope this short list of practical digestive supports has proved helpful, or at least offered some food for thought– cuz after all, without a healthy functioning healthy digestive system, we really are, in the shit!!!!! (puns are also good for your health) 😉

 

 

 

Missus One-Pot-Wonder and the virtues of bone stock

So, sometimes you just want to make dinner. It’s mid week and there is a lot of other things to think about besides your biological need to consume food of some description. Of course, there’s this little voice inside my head during these times, that reminds me that though I’m busy or uninspired, I HAVE STANDARDS, and these standards must be adhered to. This is where I become- Missus One-Pot-Wonder. As with all holism cooking for busy people- planning is the key. I always think about what I’m going to be having for dinner either the night before or in the morning before  heading out. Defrost such-in-such, soak the thing-a-ma-bobs or remind yourself to swing by the shop to pick up what-sy before you get home in the evening. Having a plan for dinner, well in advance of actual cooking time prevents HEAPS of stress, and makes the whole process run like a well oiled machine. And the end result is more likely to be delicious and up to those STANDARDS you’ve set for yourself. Full tummy with a side of chuffed. Good combo.

The one-pot-wonder of the eve- chicken, broth, quinoa and veggies

So, as it turns out- 2 nights ago I made an organic free range roast chicken (thanks birdie!)- today, I pulled off all the remaining meat, and stuck the bones etc in a pot with: 2 sticks of celery 2 med sized white onions 2 carrots 1 tblspoon each Chinese cooking wine and apple cider vinegar Fresh garden rosemary and sage (dried italian type herbs can substitute) 1/2 tsp himalayan or other good quality salt 2  litres of water Let this mix stand for 15-20 mins and then bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling for about 5 mins, reduce to a simmer with the lid on, occasionally skimming off any bubbles or foam that may appear on the surface. I was going in and out of the house all day, so I felt comfortable leaving this guy doing it’s thing on the stove. A good 8 hours at least is what we like ideally for a healthful stock. But, if you feel uncomfortable leaving something on the stove, use a slow cooker. If you don’t have one- this is a BIG hole in your wholefoods kitchen. Slow cookers are lifesavers for busy health conscious folks, and they generally aren’t that expensive. Go get one! If using the slow cooker, you can bring your stock to the boil on the stove, skim off the foam, and transfer to the slow cooker. This is a great way to make stock in your sleep- which makes your preparations for the next days meal even easier! (though technically now we are using 2 pots)

Stock

Fish broth will cure anything. ~ South American Proverb

Indeed, stock is everything in cooking. . . without it nothing can be done. ~ Auguste Escoffier

Good broth resurrects the dead. ~ South American Proverb

Stock is a magical food. It is not only the liquid currency of your meal, that provides base and flavour- it is also DEEPLY nutritious. I was a vegetarian for almost 15 years, and still eat largely a vegetarian diet. However, if there was one thing I wish my vegetarian friends could benefit from it would be stock. Bone stocks and broths have been considered powerful medicines for as long as we’ve been cooking with fire and are part of the diets of most human cultures. The gelatine that is released from bone into the broth has benefits so numerous it needs it’s own whole post to fully appreciate. But here are just a few of it’s attributes:

Nutritional Facts & Benefits of Bone Broth

-The gelatine in bone broth aids digestion. It not only stimulates digestive juices (thereby preventing harmful parasites and bugs from slipping through the primary defences of the gut) – but increased digestive enzymes means more efficient breakdown of foods and as a result- more vitamins and minerals are able to be absorbed.

– Bone stocks are rich in minerals. Minerals such as calcium, silicon, sulphur, magnesium, phosphorous & trace minerals are present in easily absorbable forms. The pre-soaking of the bones in vinegar helps to draw minerals out of the bone and in to the water.

– Bone broth is helpful in treating digestive disorders such as IBS, colitis and even Chrohn’s disease. Gelatine is what we call a demulcent which means it is both healing and soothing to the mucous membranes of the gut. From top to bottom.

– Gelatine can help to build the blood. Glycine, a key ingredient in gelatine, plays a vital role in the blood and some studies have shown gelatine to increase red blood cell and hemoglobin count, increase serum calcium level, increase the absorption and utilization of calcium.

-Stocks made from bones also have been found to be supportive of liver detoxification, have anti-inflammatory effects (especially for our own joints and bones )and it is the KEY to that chicken soup that we talk about having when we are sick. It helps protect us from the toxins of the bacteria we are infected with and aids in their speedy elimination. Bone broths can be considered medicine for an impressive list of conditions, including: food allergies/intolerance, colic, hypochlorhydria, hyperacidity (gastroesophageal reflux, gastritis, ulcer, hiatal hernia) inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, malnutrition, weight loss, muscle wasting, cancer, osteoporosis, calcium deficiency and anemia.

Of course, we must chose our bones wisely. Our stock will only be nutritious and beneficial if the animal whose bones we are using had a good  life with nutritious food itself. Pasture raised/grass fed red meats, free range and/or wild (fish) and organic where possible. Talk to your butcher and make sure you know where your animal foods are coming from and how they were treated/raised.

SO- there’s our stock- a super food, simmering away, waiting for us to get home and cook dinner. Of course making stock and keeping it on hand for daily use is the life pursuit of many who have come to know and experience its’ health benefits. I always like to make a big batch, so I have some for now, and some for later.

The One-Pot point of it all

Strain your stock and set aside. Tonights pot had in it: 2 cups of soaked quinoa (I put the quinoa out in a bowl of water to soak during the day while the stock was going) 1/4 of a japanese pumpkin cut in to biggish pieces 2 carrots chopped in large unceremonious chunks 1 red onion sliced 2 handfuls of green beans chopped 1 yellow squash 4 roma tomatoes chopped 1 cup washed chopped kale (about 6 big leaves- stems removed) fresh/dried herbs- as you like 1 clove of garlic pressed

Whatever is remaining of the chicken meat you put aside earlier- I like to pull it apart into shreds for texture. 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (ghee/ butter would also be fine-0r extra virgin olive oil) This is the easy part. Splash the oil in the pot (same pot as the stock was in- see  1 pot!) Put in the onion, pumpkin and carrots, herbs and garlic. While this is sautéing, strain and rinse your quinoa. Lightly sauté the quinoa in the with the veggies. Don’t let it cook for too long or get too hot, we want the majority of the cooking to take place on a low heat, in the stock. Add your 1 litre of stock (the other litre goes in the fridge or freezer for future use). Most of the fluid in the stock will be absorbed as the quinoa is cooking- the end result is more of a casserole, less of a soup. Add your tomatoes. Let it cook for  about 10 mins, stirring occasionally. Then add your beans and squash. Let it go another 5 mins. Test. Is the pumpkin soft? Is the quinoa tender? The other veggies should be still firm and vibrant. If so- turn off the heat, put in the kale and the chicken meat, stir through and put the lid on. Leave for an additional 5 mins. You’re done!

Now this is amazing as it is- but you may taste it and decide to add some chilli, or more salt/pepper, a blob of butter melted through or a dash of tamari, or some grated parmesan. I decided tonight to garnish mine with some of my kale chips  as they are crunchy, spicy and have preserved lemon throughout adding a wonderful bite. Best of all, there are leftovers for tomorrows lunch. AND I’ve got adzuki beans soaking to make burritos with for tomorrows dinner…