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.
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)
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…