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Bone broth: an after Thanksgiving opportunity

Thanksgiving is coming up and that brings to mind a table filled with delicious foods. One of my favorites associated with Thanksgiving uses something that most people throw away without a second thought. What could that be? Well, let me ask you this — when you finish that turkey, and have carved every last morsel of meat off the bones, what do you do with the carcass? Do you throw it out? Or do you turn it into one of the most nutrient-dense, healing foods on the planet? I am talking about bone broth.

Put those bones into a pot, add some water, a few veggies, a little vinegar or lemon juice, let it simmer a few days and you have an elixir of life. You’ve heard the old wives’ tales about chicken soup curing a cold? Why do you suppose that is? It is because of the nutrients in the bones that are used to make the broth for that soup.

Now, to be clear, the bone broth that I am talking about is homemade and does not resemble in the least anything that comes in a can, container or cubes.

If you have your turkey carcass and some veggies leftover from Thanksgiving, you have all the ingredients you need. Got a big pot? You’ve got all the equipment you need.

Bone broth is not only very easy to make, it is really inexpensive, can be used in a number of ways, freezes well, and has incredible nutritional healing properties. Here are just a few: Homemade broth is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals. What’s more, these minerals are in an easily absorbable form.

The bones contain glucosamine and chondroitin, which can ease the negative effects of arthritis and joint pain. Instead of spending big bucks for glucosamine-chondroitin and mineral supplements, just make bone broth and other nutritive foods a part of your regular diet.

Bones are often rich in gelatin, too. Gelatin is an inexpensive source of supplemental protein and has several uses in the body. The most important being a digestive aid, as well as healing the intestinal lining. Gelatin also shows promise in the fight against degenerative joint disease. It helps to support the connective tissue in your body and also helps the fingernails and hair to grow well and strong.

Now that you know how good it is for you, here’s how to make it:

Add the carcass of one turkey to your pot. Break it into smaller pieces to fit and help minerals from the bones be more easily extracted.

Add veggies like carrots, celery and onion (two or so of each, coarsely chopped).

Tip: save scraps of these veggies from other dishes you are making to use in the broth – you can freeze them until ready to use.

Add enough water to cover the bones completely, but there should be about an inch of clearance from the top of the pot.

Add 1 to 2 tbsp of vinegar (apple cider vinegar is a great choice). If you prefer, use 1 to 2 tbsp of fresh squeezed lemon juice instead of vinegar.

Optional: Add about 6 peppercorn, 2 bay leaves and any other herbs you like.

Have parsley ready to add at the end of the process – don’t add it in at the beginning.

Once all the ingredients are in the pot, let it sit for about 30 to 60 minutes to let the vinegar/lemon juice extract minerals from the bones. Then turn on the heat to high and bring to a boil. Scoop off any scum that rises to the top, and then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for a minimum of 12 hours – up to 72 hours. You should see just a few bubbles rise to the top as it simmers. The longer it simmers, the more nutrients will be extracted from the bones and veggies. If you feel nervous about having the stove on at night or if you leave the house, you can turn the stove off and then back on when you are around. You can also make this in a crockpot on low for the same amount of time. Add extra water as needed.

About 10 minutes before you are done, add the parsley to further enhance the mineral content of the broth. When it is ready, strain out the liquid into a bowl to cool and then refrigerate. That’s it.

You now have broth that can be used as the base for soups, gravies, or just to sip by itself. You can measure out small amounts to freeze for future recipes, or even put some in an ice cube tray for when you only need a tablespoon or two. I drink bone broth as I would tea. How will you use it?

This is an everyday recipe that can use whatever bones you may have on hand — from chicken or fish bones to beef bones, etc. You can save up your bones in the freezer, alongside your veggie scraps and you will always be ready to enjoy a delicious, nutritious and very affordable staple to add to your diet.

Don’t have bones handy or don’t eat meat? You can make this with egg shells, too. Try it for yourself and enjoy.

Jeni Hall of Dublin is a board certified nutritional therapist practicing in the Monadnock region. Her mission is to empower her clients to heal their own bodies and keep them healthy with nutritional and lifestyle changes. See www.jenihall.com, for more information.

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