Bone Broth Recipe

bone brothEveryone has been asking me for a recipe for bone broth, especially since my last post about Adrenal Fatigue.

Here is one from Epicurious.  We modified it to make it easier for you!

Nourish yourself and enjoy!

Bone Broth Recipe:

YIELDbone broth: Makes about 8 cups of broth, depending on cooking time

ACTIVE TIME: 30 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 9 to 24 hours

INGREDIENTS

    • 4 pounds beef bones, preferably a mix of marrow bones and bones with a little meat on them, such as oxtail, short ribs, or knuckle bones (cut in half by a butcher)
    • 2 medium unpeeled carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
    • 1 medium onion, quartered
    • 1 garlic head, halved crosswise
    • 2 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
    • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Special equipment:

    • 6-quart (or larger) stockpot or a large slow cooker

PREPARATION

    1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place beef bones, carrots, onion, and garlic on a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Toss the contents of the pan and continue to roast until deeply browned, about 20 minutes more.
    2. Fill a large (at least 6-quart) stockpot with 12 cups of water (preferably filtered) . Add celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, and vinegar. Scrape the roasted bones and vegetables into the pot along with any juices. Add more water if necessary to cover bones and vegetables.
    3. Cover the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to a very low simmer and cook with lid slightly ajar, skimming foam and excess fat occasionally, for at least 8 but up to 24 hours on the stovetop. The longer you simmer it, the better your broth will be. Add more water if necessary to ensure bones and vegetables are fully submerged. Alternately, you can cook the broth in a slow cooker on low for the same amount of time.
    4. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool slightly. Strain broth using a fine-mesh sieve and discard bones and vegetables. Let continue to cool until barely warm, then refrigerate in smaller containers overnight. Remove solidified fat from the top of the chilled broth.

Do Ahead: Broth can be stored for up to 5 days in the refrigerator and up to 6 months in the freezer.

The Truth About Coffee!

coffee cup

Every now and then someone says to me, “I heard that coffee is good for you,” or, “I heard that coffee has such and such nutrients.”  Let’s set things straight.  Coffee is a plant.  Of course it has nutrients in it.  More in the beans than after it is brewed.  All plants probably do.  On the other hand, health and healthy food has become a big, big market.  Companies and food industries are all anxious to convince you that their new product or their food is good for you.  So anxious, that the ones with money can even afford to pay for research.  I know that there is even “evidence” out there that coffee has nutrients and is “good” for you somehow. I’m not even going to look for it or point it out to you or try to tear it apart.

What they leave out is what ELSE is in coffee, or what else it does, basically the side effects.  This is where Chinese Medicine shines, so much so, that Western herbalists are realizing that all herbs should be classified according to Chinese Medicine principles.  Every food has certain properties, such as temperature and toxicity.   Through thousands of years of close observation that far surpasses any research that we have, Chinese herbalists have been able to classify plants based on what conditions they create in the body.

Coffee is hot and greasy.  It creates heat in the body, and, if you think about coffee beans, you can even see the oil.  This is not in and of itself bad.  If you are someone who is very cold and dry, you might need that.  The problem is most Americans are already hot and damp.  Heat and damp are basically inflammation.  All the stuff we love creates heat and damp and so inflammation.  Coffee, sugar, meat, dairy, alcohol, smoking, gluten……  We are mostly all a little bit inflamed due to growing up eating all of these.  More coffee is not going to help this problem, but only make it worse.

And don’t start thinking that just because you have cold hands and/or feet or feel a little cold sometimes that you are cold and need coffee.  This more often comes from stagnation, meaning basically poor circulation.  Exercise would be better.  Generally, only the very malnourished, the very old, or those working outdoors in the cold a lot are cold enough to need coffee.  So coffee isn’t  ALWAYS too hot, just wait until you are old, or save it for a cold day.

On top of that, caffeine is both toxic and draining.  It is a DRUG, and has to be eliminated through the liver and kidneys.  Constantly doing this every day is hard on them.  If feels like it gives you energy, but that is not coming from any root source of energy.  Ginseng or a good food gives you energy because it nourishes.  My herb teacher used to say, caffeine is like using a credit card with no money in the bank.  Keep doing it over a long period of time, and you’re going to go bankrupt.  That’s exactly what coffee can do to people.  Sorry, I know many will be unhappy to hear this, but that’s the truth about coffee.  Whatever benefits it’s said to have are probably best gotten another way.

Meet Your Liver!!

As many of you know, I was busy this past fall taking care of my mother, who is now in End Stage Liver Disease due to a rare autoimmune condition.  Damn, I never thought I would know as much about the Liver as I do now!  At the moment, my mother has recovered from her last bout of blood loss (due to GI bleeding, common in this situation) and is gaining energy, in a kind of remission for a while, you might say.  This leaves me some time to write to you about all that new knowledge I’ve gained.

Image

If you come to see me at all for Acupuncture or Chinese Herbs, you already know that your Liver is a pretty important organ.  In Chinese Medicine, it’s one of the first things to get messed up, with Liver Qi Stagnation, meaning the Qi energy is not moving well, kind of stuck.  This can lead to all sorts of other problems.  From a Western Medicine point of view, this makes total sense!  You might also already know that your Liver is your body’s filter.  It’s located on the right side of your body, just under the ribs, and they say it’s about the size of a slightly deflated football.  It filters toxins (including alcohol and fats) from the blood by using various enzyme processes to break things down and change things to forms we can either use or more easily excrete.

So Qi Stagnation is kind of like the filter getting clogged a bit, although in Chinese Medicine, we say this can happen not only from toxins we ingest, but also from emotions, particularly stress and anger.  That might seem “out there” to some, until you think about the fact that stress and anger causes the release of certain hormones in the body that the Liver then has to break down!  For most people, this clogging leads to irritability, maybe some aches and pains,especially around the ribs or in the shoulders, maybe some stomach upsets, PMS in women.  In more severe cases it can lead to headaches, insomnia, and even high blood pressure, to name just a few.

We also say in Chinese Medicine that the Liver stores the Blood.  Well, if you’ve seen a Liver, it is a pretty bloody looking thing, and ALL of our blood has to flow through it to get filtered.  But did you know that the Liver stores vitamins, minerals, and sugar until we need to use them?  So it IS a storage place!  And it’s said that the Liver demands 25% of the blood pumped by each heartbeat! So if you’re low on blood or anemic, it can really have an effect on the Liver.  I witnessed this happen as each time my mother’s blood levels got extremely low, Liver failure symptoms started to show up, like ascites (fluid in the abdomen) and edema (in the legs).  Once they gave her blood and stopped the bleeding, the Liver function gradually returned some, even though she only has 10% left!

One thing that I didn’t know that I found out through researching my mother’s condition is that the Liver also produces clotting factors.  This is why if the Liver function gets really low, like in End Stage Liver Disease where less than 10% of it is operating, there can be a difficulty to stop bleeding since there aren’t enough clotting factors.  Don’t worry, though, this only happens in extreme cases.

How can we take care of our Liver?  The good news is that Acupuncture and herbs work really well to clean things up once some stagnation has happened or build the blood if it is low.  Chinese Medicine also has always recommended exercise, and now Western Medicine does, too!  It’s considered one of the best ways to fight fatty Liver disease, which is important not only for the Liver, but also because fatty Liver disease can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

While I consider Chinese herbs and a good cleansing diet a couple of times a year to be the best ways to clear the Liver, vitamin E is also considered important.  Having at least 24 IU per day can lower the risk of Liver Cancer.  You can find it in almonds, olive oil, and spinach among others.  If you do have any concerns about your Liver, or would just like to cleanse, come and see me and I can help you out!

Fall fasting and renewal

Early autumn rain cleanses away smeared heat.
A grateful traveler takes in crystal skies and crisp air
Distant mountains seem more vast and blue,
And the sound of the waterfall grows more loud. Cleansing, from 365 Tao: Daily Meditations, by Deng Ming-Dao

When I went back east to visit my daughter in upstate New York, I got to experience the true crispness of autumn. It felt so good! On my return, I was actually disappointed that it was warm here. Now we are starting to get these fall cleansing rains. Just as this was happening, I happened to open to this page of the daily meditations in 365 Tao.

The commentary goes on to remind us that after the busy-ness of summer, it is now time to slow down:

Autumn is coming. The air becomes fresh and crisp. The fruits of summer are being harvested; the heat of labor is beginning to cool. There is a more relaxed feeling in the air: The fiery activity of summer is replaced by the celebrations of autumn.

In spring, we all had to struggle to make the ascendancy of the year. In summer, we reveled in the glory of fire and vigor. Now, we can begin to let things relax. Just as the pumpkins are beginning to fill out, the squash is hanging heavy and golden on the vines, and the leaves are starting to hint of warm colors, so too can we look forward to mellowness and quietness.

This is the time for harvest. But every planting and growing season also leaves behind excess and inevitable waste. The dust of summer still lingers. The stubble in the fields will have to be burned. We must harvest fully and then clean up fully. Harvest is also the time of cleansing and taking stock.

Many of my clients right now are complaining about how tired they are. I can’t emphasis enough how, after this very active time of summer, we now must slow down and rest. As the passage mentions, it is also a time to cleanse.

In the fall and winter, when Yang is declining, it is better to cleanse using clear broths of root vegetables and mushrooms. Here’s a simple recipe I once found:

Broth with root vegetables and mushrooms

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 cup carrots, thinly sliced

1 ½ inch piece of ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced

2 T extra virgin oliv oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

5 cups vegetable stock or water

2 T light miso or to taste

2 scallions, chopped

a small sevaIn a heavy pot over medium heat, sauté shiitake mushrooms, carrots, and ginger in olive oil for 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté one minute. Add vegetable broth or water and simmer covered for another 5 minutes or until carrots are tender. Turn off heat. Dissolve miso in a small amount of hot broth and stir into soup. Add scallions and cover. Let stand 2 minutes, and serve. For a hardier soup, and some additional cleansing properties, you can add things like burdock root, cabbage, parsnips, and red onions, and simmer a little longer than 5 minutes.

I don’t recommend fasting for too long based on Chinese Medicine principles, but when cleansing, I keep the food really simple: whole grains, steamed vegetables and fish and tofu. I have a lot of pineapple, which is anti-inflammatory, either on its own, or in smoothies with a soy/green protein powder. Spirulina and flax or fish oils are also good to add in. I try to eat lots of greens to alkalize and cool the body.

Green Soup

A great way to alkalize and get your greens chock full of vitamins and minerals is this cleansing/anti-inflammatory Green Soup:

1 bunch broccoli, broken into small flowerets

1 bunch spinach, already washed makes it easier

Vegetable broth

1 Avocado

1 tsp Turmeric

salt and pepper to taste

I prefer to use all organic ingredients. Blend the broccoli flowerets and spinach a little at a time in a blender with vegetable broth. I just add a handful at a time, pour in some broth, blend, add more, until it’s all blended, adding enough broth so it blends well, and is a nice “pureed soup” consistency. At the end, add the avocado. Pour the mixture into a pan, and warm very gently, do not boil, just warm long enough to heat through. Add 1 tsp turmeric, and salt and pepper to taste. Some people like to add other spices or Worchester sauce, but I like it simple. Enjoy and feel healthy!!!

A delicious curried squash and mushroom soup recipe for autumn

Fall is a time of declining Yang energy, and the season of the Lungs.  As such, it is a time when Asthma and allergies can be aggravated, when we are more likely to get colds and flus, and also sadness and grief, which are associated with the lungs.  It is therefore very important to pay special attention to these at this time of year.  For this reason, I have stocked up on all my cold, flu, and lung formulas.  In addition, it’s time to start slowing down our energies, getting ready for turning inward in the winter.  It’s also a good time to start eating root vegetables and nourishing stews.

Here is one of my specialties for autumn cooking: a recipe for a great curried squash soup to get you going!. My family always asks for it around this time of year. The squash is a vegetable that is storing a lot of Qi and Yang energy, good for helping us transition at this time of year and store our own energies inside. The mushrooms help nourish the lungs and boost the immune system, especially if you use something like shitake or maitake. There are lots of nice mushrooms out there these days. Here’s a great site where you can learn more about Chinese Medicinal cooking.

Curried Squash and Mushroom Soup

1 Butternut Squash
1 T. butter
8 oz Mushrooms of your choice, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
2-4 C. Chicken Broth
1 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
yogurt and croutons for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 deg. 

Cut the butternut squash in half, place it face down on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake for 30-45 min, until a sharp knife glides in and out easily in the thickest part.

In the meantime, wash and slice mushrooms, chop onions, grate ginger, get spices ready.

Melt the butter in a large pan, big enough to hold all the soup later.

Sautee onion for a few minutes, then add the ginger, cumin, and turmeric.

Sautee a little more until it is a nice mash, then add the mushrooms.

Sautee until mushrooms are tender. Set aside.

When the squash is done, scoop out the seeds and discard, then scoop the cooked squash into a blender, a little at a time, alternating with chicken broth.

Continue adding squash and a little chicken broth until all the squash is blended and you have a nice consistency. The exact amount of broth used will depend on how big the squash is, and also your personal preference.

Transfer the squash and broth mixture into the pan with the sauteed mushrooms, onions, and spices. Stir to mix, scraping up all the yummy stuff from the bottom. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Continue to cook on low for about another 30 minutes to mix flavors. Taste to correct seasoning.

Serve with a dollop of yogurt and a few croutons if you like.