** I have edited this post and am re-posting it current so that you don’t have to search for it — but it was originally written in 2013!
As my baby neared 6 months old, I knew that I wanted to do something different this time around when introducing solid food. I never felt great about rice cereal (the ingredients horrify me). When I had my first child I was the model parent for introducing foods. I made everything myself, introduced cereal first for a certain number of days, then introduced veggies one at a time for a few days each (to look for obvious reactions, of course), then introduced fruits last as recommended by “everyone.” That was five years ago, and a lot has changed. I am still pro-make your own baby food, because it’s so simple and easy and cost effective! However, I’m not keen on the idea of introducing rice cereal first. I read an article (highly recommend reading it) several months ago explaining how cereals and grains in general can be harmful to our tiny babies and how they can’t even digest them until they’re a year old! I was intrigued, and decided to purchase the book being reviewed in the article. The book is called, Beautiful Babies, by Kristen Michealis. I skipped straight to the section on introducing solid foods and couldn’t put it down. Everything she said fit right in line with what I’ve been feeling and it just made sense. I loved it. After reading about solids, I went back to read the entire book through a couple of times. She talks about nutrition for fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and introducing solids. It’s fabulous.
One of the things that caught my attention was her advocating babies drink bone broths as they start solid foods, instead of juice in a sippy cup. I have read about bone broths and their nutritional benefits a lot lately as I’ve been searching for a higher protein source to fuel my workouts and aid recovery. I didn’t want to use protein powders laden with extra chemicals and refined sweeteners. I came upon the benefits of bone broths and went back to re-read the section on broths in Nourishing Traditions. I loved it. After searching for a method to make my own broth, I found they are all pretty much the same.
How To: Make Bone Broth (crock pot or stove top):
- Begin by cooking a whole organic chicken. If you don’t want to cook your own, you can purchase a rotisserie chicken from the store and take off the meat. You are left with the carcass, which usually ends up in the garbage, right? NOT THIS TIME. Take the carcass with all of the skin, bones, and cartilage and plop it into your crock pot (mine is 6 qts) or a large pot on the stove.
- Add: 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped, a couple of handfuls baby carrots (or 2 large carrots, chopped), 2 onions, quartered, 3-5 sprigs fresh parsley, 2 tsp sea salt, black pepper, and 2 T apple cider vinegar (don’t leave this out – it’s crucial to pull all of the nutrients from the bones).
- Cover everything with water and turn your crockpot on high. When it boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 12-24 hours.
- Gather a mesh wire strainer or some cheese cloth and a colander (my improvisation when I couldn’t find my mesh strainer) and some glass quart jars.
- Strain your broth into a large bowl.
- Ladle into glass jars or ice cube trays if you want to freeze and save some for later.
- Allow broth to cool completely before placing it in the fridge or freezing it.
- Use it up! You can use this in any recipe calling for chicken stock/broth: soups, stews, rice, quinoa, etc. You can also sip a cup of it hot every day to get all of the benefits. I plan on freezing cubes of it to add to recipes later. The glass jars should last a week in the fridge and I hope that my baby likes to drink it!
Some of the many benefits of consuming bone broth:
– reduces joint pain and inflammation – contains gelatin from the cartilage and bones. Gelatin makes up about half of the protein in our bodies, so you are “body building” when you consume it.
– heals leaky gut
– fights infections (drinking broth when you’re sick isn’t just an old wives’ tale!)
– produces beautiful skin, hair, and nails (collagen and gelatin in the broth contribute to this)
– promotes sleep and can calm your mind
– aids digestion
– contains minerals from the bones that are abundant and easy to assimilate into our bodies
– it’s CHEAP
– it’s SUPER EASY.
What more could you want? I was so impressed by how easy it was to create my own bone broth! I knew everything that was going into it. I cooked the chicken, and making the stock made me feel that I was truly utilizing everything that chicken had to offer, instead of merely throwing it into the trash when the meat was picked off of it. I’m excited to introduce this into our diets more regularly. I’ve looked into using gelatin in place of protein powders but I think this is a good alternative to that. No matter how you look at it, it will be a lot more nutritious for you to make your own stock instead of using bullion, canned, or cartons of broth from the store. They all contain additives that your body doesn’t need (or want) – natural chicken flavor is a common one.
So, the next time you look at that carcass after you have taken off all of the meat, think twice about throwing it out! You can also get adventurous and ask your butcher for chicken feet, heads, and other parts of the chicken which are loaded with nutritional value. I dare you.