Easy Techniques To Make Super Gelatinous Bone Broth!

Bone Broth

SUPER Gelatinous Bone Broth

There is a lot going around these days about the health benefits of eating bone broth and, or gelatin (aka collagen). Bone broth contains gelatin, which in turn contains the amino acids glycine and proline. These amino acids are found in the bone, connective tissue and organs of animals. Our ancestors used to consume these parts of the animals they ate, but modern diets don’t usually include them, which is a shame because gelatin is great for our skin, nails, hair, joints and even our digestive organs, which directly relates to our immunity.

This article  discusses the many health reasons to consume gelatin, including, digestive health, releasing toxins and wound healing. It also gives suggestions for how to incorporate it into your diet.

I stated taking collagen when I was pregnant with my daughter. I started craving jello at about 4 months – and it made me think, why am I craving this? The main ingredient in jello is gelatin and what is gelatin good for? Bones. I was craving jello because I was literally growing my daughter’s bones, skin, joints and teeth. If that doesn’t put “you are what you eat” into perspective, I don’t know what does! I always say collagen is the reason why she is in a very high percentile for height! This post is not officially a part of my Post-partum Foods series, but it should be! If you know someone who is pregnant, make a batch of bone broth for her!

When anyone I know asks me what they can do for immunity, or especially if they are having digestive issues or joint issues, one of the first things I suggest is eating bone broth because it is so easy to make and so good for you! In fact both of my parents managed to break bones this year from accidents, and I made sure they both got some collagen to take during the healing processI make sure to include bone broth in our family meals, mostly in the way of soups and stews, but I also take this collagen* every day, stirred into my morning hot drink (usually Dandy Blend, sometimes Lavazza Decaf). 

So now that you are getting a general idea of why it is so important to add bone broth, or gelatin/collagen to your diet, how easy is it to make it? SIMPLE. It is one of the easiest things to make.

In my house, I am known affectionately as “the bone collector”. At any given time we have lots of bones in our freezer. We also have lots of whole chickens in our freezer, because we homestead and raise our own meat birds. Some years we have to “turn over” our laying hens when they stop producing eggs, and these hens are usually too small to roast, so I will use them to make bone broth. I also collect bones from other meals and sometimes buy beef bones from our favorite farm. The point is you have a lot of options when it comes to getting your raw materials. Collect bones, freeze them and then pull them out whenever you need to make more broth. I often mix and match my bones; one of my favorite broths to make is a chicken and pork broth, which is what I used to make the soup I will share with you in my next post.

All you need to make your own bone broth are: bones, apple cider vinegar (preferably raw), water and a crockpot.

Step 1: Place bones or whole chicken in the crockpot
Step 2: Cover bones and or chicken with water
Step 3: Pour in 1 TBS of raw apple cider vinegar (at this point you could also add seasoning, I like to season simply with salt, pepper and one or two bay leaves)
Step 4: Turn Crockpot on High setting and let cook for 24-48 hours.
Step 5: After 12 hours, put crockpot on the Low setting
Step 6: Strain broth and store

If you used a whole chicken, you can now take the meat off the bones and reserve to make classic chicken soup,  chicken tostadas, even my Moroccan chicken salad or throw it in some pasta! Then I store all the skin, tendons and other less desirable pieces to mix in with my pets’ food. I burn the brittle bones in our wood stove. This means there is never any waste.

This is a simple process that is mostly hands off, very cheap (you already bought it!) and so good for your health. There really is no reason not to do it! Plus, if you have pets they will literally love you forever!

Norwegian Inspired Winter Solstice Dinner!

Kjøttkaker med Brunsaus

Kjøttkaker med Brunsaus

I know I said I was taking a break – but here is one more post for the year!

Monday marked the holiday of Winter Solstice or Yule as it was known to the Germanic peoples in pre-Christian times. The word Yule or Jul is still used in Nordic countries to describe the Holiday or Christmas season – which also coincides with the 12 Days of Christmas. Yuletide is a melding of the secular and religious celebrations of the season. Originally Yule was a Solstice celebration of the coming of the sun after the longest night and has been celebrated for likely as long as humans have been around to live through the longest night of the year and rejoice the longer days ahead.

I enjoy celebrating the Solstices and Equinoxes throughout the year. It helps me stay connected to the natural world and appreciate the natural cycles that could have meant life and death to our early ancestors if they were unprepared. In turn, these celebrations help me think about being more prepared in my own life by canning and preserving foods and enjoying a more seasonal bounty. Winter Solstice is a time to celebrate the bright and joyous times in our lives and give thanks for days filled with more light and less harsh times.

I get very inspired to cook Norwegian foods this time of year. When I lived in Norway I really enjoyed all the special foods that were served and enjoyed during the Christmas season. Of course in my family we have own own traditional foods that we enjoy during this season too. So when I came back to the US, I decided that I would celebrate the Winter Solstice by feasting on Nordic cuisine, that way I could enjoy all of the food traditions that I love this time of year. Usually I make Gløgg and Rommegrøt however, I already made versions of them this year for my birthday party that you can read about on a guest post I contributed to Outside Oslo . So I wanted to make something different.

Pinnekjøtt is a dish that was served during the Christmas I lived in Norway. It is a preserved and roasted mutton rib dish. The mutton is generally cured in brine or sea salt and served on Christmas eve with boiled potatoes and Akvavit or Akevitt – a distilled potato or grain liquor that is typically flavored with caraway seeds. Pinnekjøtt means “stick meat” in Norwegian because traditionally a layer of twigs from a birch tree is placed in the bottom of the saucepan instead of a metal steamer.

Since I have no access to Pinnekjøtt, and did not plan for making it, I decided to make some Norwegian spiced meatballs – or Kjøttkaker med Brunsaus – meat-cakes with brown sauce for our Solstice dinner. Kjøttkaker are very common in Norway and every family has their own “in house” version. I made the gravy using turkey stock from our Thanksgiving bird, although a gravy made from beef is traditional. I also served it with roasted potatoes and carrots (why have boiled if you can have roasted? Even if it is not the traditional Norwegian way) and sauerkraut.

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This is a quick but festive meal – and I enjoyed every bite, reliving many wonderful times spent in Norway.

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For dessert we had Yule log cookies. The cookies are fragrant with rum and nutmeg, and the perfect crunchiness, while the icing made with brown butter is truly heavenly. We decorated them with some toasted coconut and cocoa powder to make them look more like logs. (Recipes under the cut)…

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Speaking of cookies, don’t forget to make some treats for the furry creatures in your life. We just made some for Pepino and Cipollina today! For some healthy ones, try these Holiday Cookies for Pets .

Happy Solstice and Happy Holidays to everyone! Thanks for reading this blog! Wishing everyone health, happiness and love this New Year!

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Recipe: Holiday Cookies for Pets

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I have seen lots of awesome Holiday Cookies popping up all over the Blogosphere. My friend Judy and a few of my other great blogging buddies are doing the 12 Days of Cookies and I am getting really inspired to start baking. My mom and I always bake Holiday Cookies together (see here and here for last year’s cookie series) and we are heading down to see her the week of Christmas, so we will do our cookie baking then.

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As you all know Roberto and I got a puppy a few months ago, Peperoncino (- but we call him Pepino because we found most people have trouble pronouncing “Peperoncino”). Pepino has been going to Puppy School and the trainers had a big holiday party for all the dogs in all their classes at a dog park over the weekend . So since I can never go to a party empty handed, I decided that I wanted to make some holiday treats for them all to enjoy at the party. I had this recipe for pet treats that came with a cute dog bone cookie cutter, so I decided to make them, and add some peanut butter to the mix since that is Pepino’s favorite flavor. Also making my own treats makes me feel better about what I am giving them. I am not just about healthy eating for humans! The dough was great to work with and it made about 70 treats!!!! Sadly I couldn’t find the cookie cutter, so Roberto put his artist hat on and devised a way to make the shapes.

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Somehow Pepino knew these treats were for him, because the whole time we were making them, he was right at our feet in the kitchen sitting on his “magic carpet” – the carpet that when he sits on it, gets him treats. It was so cute!

We had a great time at the party and Pepino had fun playing with friends. He shared his treats very nicely and asked for us to make them again soon. I am going to make the same recipe again, but instead of Peanut Butter I am going to use cheese. Our cat Nimue, loves cheese and it is the only “treat” she will eat. I am sure Pepino won’t mind! ;)
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