My fav immune boosting recipe...
This past July, I very quietly graduated from a year-long coaching program with The Institute for Integrative Nutrition to be a certified health coach. I don’t talk about it much but food has been a huge part of my life. I remember making my first meal for my family (roasted lemon garlic chicken) before I was a teen. I was going through old photos the other day and found a picture of my sister and I helping our dad cook a traditional Lebanese dinner (he’s from Lebanon) when were around 8 years old.
Food is one of my biggest healing tools. It was what enabled me to get off of my anxiety medicine in 2012. It’s what brought me closer to understanding how unique my body and energy is. It’s my medicine.
I wasn’t planning on being a certified health coach; but because food is something that I found myself discussing with most of my clients, it seemed like the next best step.
Anyways, all of this is to say that I’m excited to share with you my favorite, daily “medicine” that makes me feel grounded, full, and strong; bone broth!
Yes: bone broth!
Before I get to the recipe though, I’ll give you some background. When I was 14, I decided to stop eating meat and fast food (after watching Supersize Me- love that film!) and then eventually became vegetarian.
But when my anxiety shot through the roof at age 19 (or rather, I was officially diagnosed with it after a black-out panic attack), I realized that I needed to nourish my body in a different way.
I’ve always been extremely passionate about sustainability, environmental ethics, and keeping a low carbon footprint (that’s a whole other post I’ll do) and so when I moved to Austin, Texas in 2012, I was ecstatic about being able to eat food that came directly from our local food system.
Enter… bone broth.
At this point in my life (I was 22 at the time), I’d done EXTENSIVE research about Ayurveda and how each of us has a different energy make-up (called your “dosha”) and how important it is to nourish our specific dosha, rather than doing a fad diet or over-all way of eating (like vegetarian or vegan).
As I started eating according to my dosha (I was high Vata at that time), I could feel my anxiety slowly melting away. Serotonin is only produced in your gut so literally the way you feel is based on what you eat! I began to get my gut health back in balance and my body was asking for animal products.
As I started introducing meat back in, I began eliminating ALL refined and processed foods (think: breads, sugar, chips, pastries, etc).
Sugar was THE HARDEST thing for me to let go of. I did it by first replacing white sugar with raw cane sugar, then turbinado sugar, then honey, then dates, then I just stopped eating sweets almost all together.
This is the point where I didn’t need my anxiety medication anymore; I was liberating myself through food!
Anyways, fast forward to my food evolution and I’ve been making my own bone broth. Did you know that your farmer’s market might just have organic, grass-fed bones for sale?! Ask around!
Why bone broth?
For me, as a Vata and someone with anxiety, her head in the clouds, too many racing thoughts, a very petite (skinny) frame and no extra body fat, naturally cold, fatigued often, bone broth is VITAL. It’s got lots of protein (since I don’t eat large quantities of meat, this is important), collagen (great for gut health), and other key minerals and amino acids that the body can’t get from other sources. The biggest bonus, for me, is that it boosts the immune system.
Basically, my body loves bone broth. I’m not one to tell others what to eat but if you’re anything like I described (Vata) it could just be your golden elixir, too!
Now, since I’ve been cooking regularly for over 15 years (!), I don’t use recipes anymore. I don’t bake so I literally never measure anything. It’s good for me but bad for trying to post a recipe. So forgive me but… this is a rough idea of how I make my broth!
You’ll need bones. Any kind of animal bones will do; marrow bones, meaty soup bones… bones.
Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice: you’ve gotta have an acid in your broth to help extract the important minerals hiding in those bones.
Garlic, onion, ginger, tumeric (optional but great)- these are immune boosting and will make your bone broth even healthier!
Salt (any mineral salt is good. Tip* if your salt is bright white, it’s been stripped/bleached of minerals. Make sure it’s pink salt or damp, almost gray salt).
Pepper: This is a very important herb for stimulating digestive fire (called “agni” in Ayurveda). You want to stimulate it, especially during cold + flu season so that “ama” or waste products don’t build up in your colon, causing a compromised immune system that can lead to a cold.
Anything else in your fridge: you can add veggies to your broth like carrots and celery. The more veggies you add, the “thinner” your broth will be. You can add additional spices, too! I like to use bay leaves, basil, asofeotida (a GREAT spice for us “Vata’s”), cumin, coriander, fennel and black mustard seeds. Use what you already have!
So, I add two handfuls of bones (see, I literally don’t measure) into a crockpot and then definitely at least one pod of garlic and at least half of a medium red onion and about 2 tablespoon of grated ginger (I actually just add a chunk but I’m trying to give you measurements..)
Then I add about a teaspoon of each spice and about 4 tablespoons of salt, along with ⅓ -ish (....) cup of apple cider vinegar (be sure to shake it first so you get the “mother” mixed in).
Add anything else you have on hand (like chopped veggies) and then cover it with water. Not too much water but enough to cover everything. Turn the crockpot on high. Then when it starts to boil, turn it down to low. I like to cook my broth on low for at least 15 hours. The longer, the better!
Once it’s done and cooled down enough, you can pour it through a colander into a big bowl and then use a ladle to scoop it into either glass jars OR a silicone square mold. Then you can freeze the squares and add a square each time you make soup or rice or anything hot!
I wanted to share with you some photos of the ACTUAL PROCESS of how the bones break down and the collagen gets to be ingested. In the image to the right (or if you’re on your phone, below), you can see the hard bone, then how part of the end of the bone (where the marrow typically would come out) has broken off, then how it’s breaking down to end up as the last piece on the right; gelatinous, fatty protein, ready to be digested!
If you use glass jars, let it cool first then freeze anything you won’t use in the next two days.
The broth, once cold, will form a nice layer of fat at the top! If you don’t have that layer of fat, then next time add more bones and less water and veggies.
Phew; this was long! Comment below if you’ve ever made bone broth!