This is our checklist to make sure that each meal we eat is balanced to optimize gut-healing efficacy. If saturated fats provide the energy to get things working, and probiotics provide the personnel (microorganism) management, broths provide construction materials to rebuild the damaged gut walls.
Broth also helps out with stress management on the construction site, due to its anti-inflammatory capacities.
Broth is one of the few traditional foods preparation techniques that I learned growing up, which, as far as things go, was a pretty important one to learn. Whenever we’d have a Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey, at the end of the meal, once all the meat had been cut off and put away in the fridge, all the bones would go back in the pot to boil until bedtime. The day after Thanksgiving was always turkey soup day (not worship-the-multinational-corporation day). And we’d also have ham-and-bean soup made with a nice ham bone not too infrequently.
My mom taught me (and I assume her mom taught her this) that if you bring stock (i.e. bone broth) up to a boil with a good tight lid on the pot, you can turn it off and leave it overnight, to reboil it the next day. So when I make broth today I usually take a couple of days to get it into the fridge/freezer, and we’ve never gotten sick from this procedure. And apparently we don’t even need the tight-fitting lid, according to Chef Bob’s friend Michael Ruhlman. (I think I’ll stick with what works for me tho!)
To be completely honest, even tho broth is #3 on our list, it probably ends up being the meal component that gets left out the most frequently of anything on this list. Partly because it’s pretty difficult to get large amounts of saturated fats without plenty of proteins and veggies to mop them up, but it’s easy to forget about broth. And partly because I’m just not that big of a fan of broth.
Most of the time the broth we drink is just plain broth–it goes down quickly. I try to make broth extra concentrated, with as much meat, bones, and veggies in the pot as possible, so we can just put a few spoonfuls of it in a mug and add hot water and salt (and magnesium!) to make a serving. Sometimes this results in less palatable broth tho.
Of course, the classic meal preparation of broth is soup — which is what a large part of the GAPS diet is based on. But again, I’m just not a huge fan of soup. J is a big fan of it, and could probably live on soup alone, but unfortunately (or, actually, fortunately) for him, I take charge of most of the cooking responsibilities at this point in our life together. (He is an excellent cook, and still does a lot in the kitchen, just not as much as I do, and certainly not as much as he did when we first started living together and our working/grad school roles were reversed.)
I’ve had a pretty hard time of it making soups that really sounded or tasted good to me on GAPS. There was, in particular, a broccoli-fennel-cilantro-beef disaster that still turns both our stomachs.
Even pre-GAPS it had taken me a good long time to be interested in soups at all, given some traumatic soup experiences in my past. The ones that I counted in my acceptable-to-eat repertoire tended to all have something in them that’s (at least intro-)GAPS-illegal — flour for a roux (which I’ve subbed with coconut flour in the past, but my gut is not there just quite yet on Intro), dried beans (again, not there yet, even for the GAPS-friendly ones), pasta, potatoes … basically something to make it thick. Even cheese, which we didn’t get up to until just recently.
So we’ve actually been doing a lot of the GAPS intro, especially once we got into stages 3 and beyond, without a whole lot of soups. There were certainly times when we ate a fair amount of soup, and when the only thing J wanted to eat was soup, but I’d say probably the majority of the time we haven’t been eating soup.
Which is why putting “broth” on this list is so important — to constantly remind us to add in that cuppa.
And sometimes “broth” doesn’t actually have to mean broth. Some ways that we incorporate broth without drinking it hot, or having soup, have been:
- Adding concentrated broth to sauces: bolognese sauce, curries, stroganoff, anything involving ground meat or leftover meat, veggies, and possibly raw egg yolks and/or sour cream
- Adding what I’ve labeled “soup base” to these same sort of sauces: basically “soup base” is broth in which all the little bits of marrow, cartilage, and possibly veggie trimmings have settled — the bottom of the stock pot. I take our stick blender and puree it to unrecognizability. It adds great flavor, tho it doesn’t taste particularly good on its own.
- Sausages braised in broth: A couple fresh sausages in a pan, a hunk of coconut oil, and a cup or so of semi-concentrated broth (more like pudding as opposed to total jello consistency when chilled), enough to fill about half to 2/3-way up the sides of the sausages. Simmer ‘em pretty hard, turning a couple of times, and in about fifteen minutes or so you’ll have fully cooked sausages with a rich, gooey sauce.
- Headcheese: This is essentially extremely clear, extremely concentrated broth holding together bits and pieces of slow-cooked meat from feet and/or heads of animals, chilled and thinly sliced. Unfortunately, we were only able to get feet, not a head, for our first attempt at this, and it was not something J liked very much. But fortunately it seems to keep quite well in the fridge, so I snack on it occasionally. Goes great with almond bread, pickles, and mustard.
- Gelatin-rich meats and bone marrow: Sometimes I give myself a pass on the broth if most of the meat in my meal is long-simmered cartilage (I do love that gristle!), really cartilage-rich meat (like tongue and, although a bit of a stretch, shin bone meat), or if I’ve got a bunch of marrow stirred in (marrow definitely cuts the spiciness of curries that are too intense for me). This at least gives me the gelatin and/or marrow, which are two of the really key nutritional powerhouses of the broth itself, altho it does miss out on the minerals that get pulled out of the bones from a long soak and simmer in acidified water.
So hopefully my intense cravings for gristle and marrow will in the long haul make up for my lack of passion for broths and soups. But just like cod liver oil (and not nearly as unpleasant!), I know I need the broth too!
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