…and 8 possible health benefits.
The first time I came across bone broth was in a book called Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. I hadn’t started intermittent fasting by then. But I was thinking more and more about eating more native and ancestral food. Also about how food preparation affects the nutritional value of food.
It popped up on my radar again when I started doing intermittent fasting.
Some people who fast use it as a way to ease into fasting. If you’re used to eating frequently, not eating can be a bit of a shock physically and mentally.
Bone broth is also a tasty way to increase your salt intake. This is very useful if you’re on a very low carbohydrate/ ketogenic (keto) diet or if you’re doing a longer fast, where you’d tend to lose more salt in your urine.
It is very nutritious so you can add it to your menu even if you don’t use it for fasting or on a ketogenic diet.
I turn mine into pepper soup with native herbs and spices. My kids love it.
I also find that bone broth is great for when children (and adults too) are sick and don’t have any appetite for solid food. It helps to replace some lost fluid and nutrients.
What is bone broth?
Bone broth is a mixture that you get from simmering bones in water for 12-24 hours depending on how hard the bones are.
Why make bone broth?
Simmering bones, ligaments and tendons for a long time extracts the nutrients that are locked inside them. These would usually be unavailable to you because you can’t chew and break down very hard bones.
Nutrients that can be found in good bone broth include:
- Calcium – calcium is important for building healthy bones and teeth and you need it for your muscles to contract properly. Low calcium levels may lead to muscle twitching and weakness.
If you don’t or can’t eat or drink dairy products (milk, yoghurt, cheese), bone broth is an alternative.
- Magnesium – magnesium performs many functions in the body including helping in muscle contraction and keeping the nervous system healthy. Low magnesium levels can lead to muscle twitching, cramps, weakness and an irregular heartbeat.
- Collagen and gelatin – collagen is the matrix that holds everything together in the body. It is found everywhere in the human body and the levels start to go down as you age. When collagen is cooked it transforms into gelatin.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate – these are found in many supplements for joint pain and arthritis.
8 possible benefits of bone broth
- The collagen and gelatin in bone broth can help rebuild and heal your intestines if you have leaky gut.
- Collagen helps to keep your skin more elastic and youthful.
- It also helps build healthier skin and hair.
- It can help build stronger bones and teeth.
- The magnesium in bone broth can help to relieve muscle cramps and twitching.
- It can help restore flexibility to the joint and reduce joint pain.
- It may help reduce general body inflammation and reduce signs of ageing.
- The gut is connected to the brain. Healing your gut with bone broth may lead to better mood and greater mental clarity.
As usual with most things involving nutrition, bone broth is a little controversial. Some suggest that the collagen is too large to be absorbed by the gut and so has little benefit to the body. Also, although bone broth contains many nutrients, there are better sources out there. For example, yoghurt and green leafy vegetables are better sources of calcium compared to bone broth.
I use it more as an addition to my diet than a substitute for other foods.
3 ways I use bone broth
Bone broth is useful when fasting. If you’re new to intermittent fasting drinking some bone broth can help keep hunger at bay for a while until it’s time to eat. If you’re doing a strict fast then bone broth is not an option because it does contain calories and does break your fast.
When I want to start eating after fasting drinking bone broth can be a way to gradually re-introduce food. Eating huge quantities of food to break your fast can lead to stomach discomfort and cramping.
I use bone broth as a base to make casseroles. This reduces the need for stock cubes which are invariable full of MSG which I like to minimise as much as possible.
If anyone in the house is sick and has no apatite, I usually give them some bone broth.
How do you make bone broth pepper soup?
You can use any type of bones for bone broth – chicken, fish, cow, goat, pig e.t.c.
I use bones from cows. In the meat section of the market, there’s a section where they sell bones. I buy my bones and leave them to be chopped up while I do the rest of my shopping.
You may also find bones in the freezer section of big supermarkets. Of course it’s more expensive but you’re paying for convenience.
We do homemade chicken shawarmas on weekends so I save the bones in the freezer. When I’ve accumulated enough, I use them for bone broth pepper soup.
It’s a great way to use something you might otherwise have thrown away.
Step by step process for making bone broth (stock) pepper soup
1kg of bones
2kg of water
1 large onion (chopped)
6 peppers (chili or scotch bonnet, chopped)
5 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 heaped tbs curry powder
1 heaped tbs paprika
1 heaped tbs pepper soup spice (make your own)
1 handful of chopped ntchanwu (scent leaf)
1 handful of chopped uziza
1 tbs vinegar (white vinegar or apple cider vinegar)
- Wash the bones thoroughly. I swish them about in hot water for a few minutes. When it cools down then I remove any left over dirt and debris with my hands.
- Put the bones, water and vinegar in a pot and allow to sit for 3 hours.
- Put the pot on the fire and allow to come to a boil. Then turn down the heat and allow to simmer gently for 12-24 hours depending on the type of bones you’re using.
12 hours is good for chicken and fish bones. Other bones need at least 24 hours.
If you have a steady electricity supply, you can do this in a slow cooker.
A pressure cooker would halve the cooking time.
- Remove the bones.
- If you want a purely liquid broth you can sieve out any solid particles.
I like the little chunks of meat and cartilage that falls off the bones so I don’t sieve mine.
- Add chopped onion, pepper garlic, paprika, curry powder and pepper soup spice.
Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add chopped uziza and nchanwu and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Allow to cool.
- Pour into containers and freeze.
This pepper soup will last for months in the freezer.
Some people advocate roasting the bones in the oven before using them for broth. I tried it once and it tasted horrible so I don’t. Your mileage may vary.
I don’t weigh any of the ingredients. I eyeball everything.
If you put the bone broth into the fridge it should turn thick and become like jelly. If it doesn’t, you have used too much water. Put it back on the stove uncovered to allow some evaporation. Next time use less water.
Give it a try and let me know how it turns out in the comments.